Wednesday 3 March 2010

168,570 Miles

Just the day I went on paternity leave, we were luckily just getting home when the car started making a very funny noise and I could feel it too. It was an awful rumbling noise accompanied by vibration from the engine being felt through the steering wheel. Not nice. I had grim thought when listening to it at first thinking, oh no maybe the crank bearings have gone, as it sounds like a horrible, low down, internal knocking noise.

As I had just started paternity leave I luckily didn't need to go to work, so the next day I limped to the garage and asked someone to have a quick look. The very helpful people at TS Motors, Watford, had a quick look and spotted the obvious that the water pump had gone. The symptom being the rad fan, which is mounted to the pump on the front of the engine via a viscous coupling, was wobbling all over the place.

I was quite surprised, but also relieved, but the thought that the water pump had gone didn't cross my mind initially as the system had not lost any water. Usually, if the bearing fail in the pump, it tends to dump all its water in one go and you over heat. So I was surprised this had not happened. Anyway, looking at it, it was obvious as the fan was just flopping about, I knew the part wouldn't be too expensive, just a labour intensive job, i.e. lots of labour charge.

I would ordinarily do a job like this myself at home, but seeing as we had just had a new baby, it was not really convenient, so I booked it in to the garage to have the work done.

Whilst in the garage, I wanted them to do a few other jobs, seeing as it would be on the ramps. I needed to change the glow plugs, as the engine was becoming very reluctant to start, cranking for 30 seconds plus easily to get started. The cold winter had finally taken its toll and killed them off. The poor starting was becoming a major problem, especially when leaving for work at 0630 when all is quiet and then there's me cranking for a minute!

Also, unfortunately, I suspected the lower front control arm bushes had gone again. I could easily shove the front of the wheel inwards and see the bush flexing far too much. The car had not been handling brilliantly even after changing all the control arms only 2 months earlier. I think it is down to one of two things: Either I fitted them incorrectly or the components were inferior/faulty.

The only way I could think I fitted them wrong was if they were super sensitive to being tightened up with the arms in the correct orientation. You are supposed to tighten the bolt through the bushes with the arms positioned as if the car is at rest on its wheels on the ground, so that in most situation, the bush is not twisted, only temporarily with movement away from the rest position of the suspension. I tightened mine up with the hub jacked up, not literally with the wheels on the ground, so I could only think the angle was not quite right, but I find it very difficult to believe this would cause the bush to fail within two months.

The other idea is inferior or faulty components. I doubt they were faulty. Its possible but very unlikely really. So perhaps inferior. These were the cheapest option arms I could find, only 20 GBP each. I am sure I had read somewhere someone saying that you should really use OEM parts, like Lemforder, other wise cheaper alternatives will just fail quickly and end up costing you more in the long run. I will let the garage choose whatever arms they like and see how it goes.

So all in all, water pump, glow plugs and lower front control arms replaced, in a day's work. Wasn't too costly either, although 90% of it was labour, as usual, which makes me a bit sick knowing I could do it for free. But it was convenient to be free for a day instead of tied up outside with the car.

Got the car back and it starts on the dot, even when cold (very nice!), obviously no more noise from the water pump and handling seems.... better, still not perfect but better. Still things to investigate in that area I think.

Also on my to do list....

  • Tailgate gas struts all needed replacing.
  • Air/con not working
  • Heater still giving me hot air only

Side note... fitted some new interior lights as the ones I had were very basic, as in no map reading lights and no switches at all on the rear ones for someone to turn it on in the back to read. So I got some new ones from someone breaking a 535i which had individual map spot lights and switches in all four positions.

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