Thursday, April 16, 2009


There have been a few happenings in the auto-repair world. I'm starting to get some confidence in my DIY skills, so I went ahead and purchased the repair manual for the 325. Needless to say, it is a far more complicated car, so I'm trying to be very measured with what I'll attempt. For example, there is a complete electrical diagram in the manual for the BMW. That portion of the manual itself is nearly 500 pages. There are an additional 60+ pages of codes for the on board diagnostic computer. Though there is much on that car I'll never touch (or really need to), I did want to pick something up to get some help with the preventative maintenance I could be doing. As expected, parts are also pretty easy to come by and relatively inexpensive if you shop around. The car turns 8 on Sunday (yes, I remember these things), and there are a few common points of failure that could be taken care of as the car approaches this age. I have also found that many of the tools needed to work on the BMW are common to the Benz.

Thus, here is my scratchpad of things that need to be done or checked out and that I'll work to complete this spring:

Water Pump - My version has a pump with a plastic impeller, and they are notorious for giving out right about now. There is one special tool I need to do the job, which I think is well worth the dough. While I do that, I'll replace the coolant and accessory belts.

Oil Change - It's due, and I have done this myself already. Very easy job to do.

Brake Fluid change - Uses the same fluid type and bleeder adapter. Why not do both cars at the same time?

Fuel Filter - I did it on the Benz last year. Pretty simple.

Suspension Overhaul - Not by me, but would still like to get it done.

Brakes - I don't know if or when the brakes have ever been done. I took a good look at the discs, and they are definitely old, grooved and somewhat pitted. Brake jobs are good to know how to do anyway, so why not give it a whirl on the third car? I'm going to start on the rear axle so I can work out the bugs on a less important system, and I was already able to find most of the parts locally. I do have some locking bolts on order from the dealer that are being shipped from California. I question the need for new ones, but these are an important safety item - it's not how fast you go, it how qickly you can stop. While I do the front axle, I may also replace the wheel bearings at the same time, depending on my level of courage.

Brake Fluid - part of the yearly maintenance.

Oil Change - With a suspect timing chain design, probably wouldn't hurt.

Differential - It's leaking. Not too much, so I'll probably just add fluid. Resealing the thing doesn't sound like fun. I had to do this on the BMW, and it was $400. I think keeping it full of fluid will suffice for now.

Fuel Smell - If I drive it more, it smells less. I think I have my answer there.

Excess steering wheel play - Again, not a high priority. Maybe I'll have it looked at when I get it aligned and the suspension redone.

Convertible top fix - One of the cables that pulls the top latch doesn't work right. There is a fix I saw online, but I usually resort to a screwdriver to fix it. I'll keep this a low priority.

I'll keep posting pictures and methods as I get to them.