Thursday, October 20, 2016

#SharkNoseDiary: Hibernation and Repair

Mileage: 40 miles.
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg.
Expense: $195 (brake service, reservoir sensor reset).

Winter is here, and unfortunately being in the Pacific Northwest, it only means that people are only thinking about two things: 1. Boy, it is really starting to rain now; and 2. Honey, let's start packing for the emergency ark we have on our backyard. 

Normal winter day in the Pacific Northwest. Surf's up!
Unfortunately for me, it also means that I am going to stash my 6 series for until next year when the sky clears up. Not so easy though...

[Previously on #SharkNoseDiary: After displaying my $2100 classic BMW alongside $2-million hypercars, it is time to activate the Anti-Rust Protection Plan -- storing the car for the Winter]

Ever since I bought the car, it was never my intention to drive the BMW in the Winter -- as discussed before, these cars are notorious rust-buckets and being in the Pacific Northwest certainly doesn't help. To keep my car in good condition, I only purchased insurance for the summer and fall, and I was planning to store the car in the garage when it starts getting really wet outside.

With a little over a week to go on my insurance, I thought I'd take the car out for one last drive on a nice, sunny day. I grabbed my keys, the gas tank was full, and the car started up without a hitch. Great.

I put my foot on the brake pedal, and the brake pedal just stay stuck on the floor like a collapsed marshmallow. Uh-oh. A soggy brake pedal never equates to anything good. And sure enough, once I started creeping forward, much of the normal stopping power for the car has basically evaporated.

Really not good then.

Immediately I had a dilemma -- do I fix it now so I can still drive it for a couple more days, or do I just forget about it, put it back in storage, and wait until next year?

After struggling with the decision for a grand total of 5 seconds, I put the car in Drive and limped my 30-year-old car to the nearest BMW specialist -- who, thankfully, was only a quick 5-minute ride away -- still, the prospect of driving an old car without brakes on a public road is admittedly quite scary.

Two different generations of 5 series. 
Pulling into the garage, I met the owner, Moe. The garage itself is a rather impressive sight -- was littered with classic BMWs, from classic 5 series to a collection of M-badged monsters. Walking inside, the shop is littered with classic BMW parts (maybe he and Paul know each other). I have a feeling that he will do a decent job getting my car back on the road.

Moe is also a proud owner of a 22-year-old BMW 540i and an Alpina 7 series -- two cars which are not exactly easy to find.

As he inspected the problem, he deduced that all the brake fluid was gone (however, we couldn't find any source of leaks), and that the car needed a brake service. He also said he'd give my car a thorough going-over for any quick fixes. He said he probably needed a couple days to get this car road worthy again.

This is a week before the registration for my car expires. No pressure there.

A couple days later, the news was surprisingly good -- no major mechanical fault other than a really old connector that needed replacing. He serviced the brakes, smoothed out some rough patches in the interior, and he finally fixed my coolant warning light for good. All at the cost of $195. Not as bad as I'd originally feared, given that BMW specialists usually charge about the same as a ocean-side mansion in Malibu.

Although he also discovered that the Anti-Lock Braking System doesn't work anymore. In the words of Captain Darling, "bugger." Next year, I guess.

New age vs. Old school. 
When I got my car back, I only had two days left on my registration. So, after work, I went for a drive. It is still as good as the day when I got the car -- even though that was only back a couple months before. Despite its age, the car is still as sporty as it came off the manufacturing line back in the 80s, and there is certainly nothing on the road today that gives the same driving dynamic as a pure mechanical classic car.

After that, it is full hibernation for my 6 series until late Spring / Summer next year. As it currently sits in the garage, I kind of miss driving this car already.

Oh well. I guess I'll have to settle with the Office Miata for now.

The cure to the Classic BMW Withdrawal Syndrome: the Miata.  

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