The Torture Never Stops...

March 7, 2006 update:

I didn't get around to finishing the story since The Three Tow TruckThanksgiving, you know how the holidays get...

Another set of surprises involved the tires, which the dealership later said were actually too worn and needed to be replaced. There is some debate about the wear, since it is on the inside of the tires only, some say this is inherent for all Z3s, some say the alignment should be towed out to adjust. I set off on a research project learning about the new tires that were available and trying to figure out if I was going to get winter tires, and if I was, how would I get the winter wheels and tires on the car, but keep my summer wheels as well? There is not enough room in the car to carry a set of wheels and the dealership had no way to send my wheels. Even if the dealership could have sent my wheels, how would I have gotten the summer wheels to where I could have the summer tires mounted later- and then how to get the winter wheels home? And where exactly would "home" be for wheels and tires that were not on the car, considering I live in an apartment with no garage space in New York City?

With help from my cousins in Philadelphia and the nice folks on Z3 rides email list, and a patient salesperson at, I came up with my evil plan: I would have the summer tires sent to the dealership where they would mount them, and I would have winter wheels and tires mounted at TireRack and sent to my cousins' house. Then I would drive to my cousins' house on the summer wheels and tires and swap them for the winter set at my cousins'. The summer wheels and tires would rest in their garage for the duration of winter. (My cousins are SO nice to me!)

    Summer set up:
  • Wheels~ BMW 17" Round Spoke Wheels 7.5/8.5
  • Tires~ Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3 Blackwalls
    Front 225/45YR17, Rear 255/40YR17
    Winter set up:
  • Wheels~ 16x7 Sport Edition E1 Bright Silver
  • Tires~ 205/55VR16 Dunlop Winter Sport M3s
So the next time I saw my car after Thanksgiving was December 2, 2005...

I asked them NOT to wash her, because I wanted to rinse her myself. I didn't get to rinse her, but she looked good even dirty.
No doubt about it I was happy to see my girl, and I will always be grateful that the dealership was open on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I wish that was the end of the story- but it wasn't. As I drove out the driveway I heard a faint jangling sound coming from the area of the heretofore flat tire, rear right. I got a tech to ride with me and he heard the sound right off the bat but couldn't identify it.

When I got to the shop down the road where I was buying the new battery- and saving something like $200 by buying it there instead of the dealership- we investigated the jangling sound. Since the dealership had forgotten to put my Ed Bansch spare tire carrier back in with the new spare, I asked them to pull out the donut (oh joy) and replace it, this time with the spare tire carrier assembly. While doing so we got a chance to check out the new 16" spare donut that replaces the 15" spare.

This tech reasoned that the noise was coming from the tight fit of the spare inside the tray, and added a piece of foam in hopes of dampening the squeaky sound. He couldn't fit the spare tire carrier back in though, and it didn't affect the noise, it was still jangling. In any case, it was freezing and we were just on the side of a road with the wind blowing, and there wasn't a lot of time. At least we know the 16 inch spare and wheel does fit in the tray designed for the out of production 15 inch tires and wheel. We also noticed that there was some sort of sticky black goo on the nut that holds the tray in place from the trunk interior. It didn't seem to fit quite right either, it was not sticky or gooey when we were dropping the tray on Thanksgiving to release the donut. I don't think the 16 inch donut wheel centers quite right for this nut. Maybe the dealer service had coated the nut because it didn't fit right.

And then there is something I only noticed now, in March 2006 while going over the pictures from December. Here is a picture of the confusing diagram in the trunk you see when you lift up the carpet to get to the spare that is meant to explain how to use the spare in case of emergency:

Putting aside how useless this diagram is for the moment, I only just now read that circled part:

I wonder if THAT'S why my spare shredded almost immediately? Maybe not, since Emmy's ASC never comes on. Really. Never. I only see it when I am stuck in a mud puddle or something. The only time I ever saw the ASC come on in a Z3 was in my rented identical Z3 in California, the German Roadster Rebellion in 2000. Still, it is right there in MV's Guide to Changing the Spare Tire if I had read that recently.
Ah well, then it was about replacing the battery, which was fine in and of itself but didn't have the right Cold Cranking Amps.When this tech started to replace the battery he discovered part of the bracket that holds the battery in place was missing. I don't know if it was removed at the dealership, or if it was removed the last time my battery died in 2003.Lucky for me the tech had an extra bracket piece lying around and gave it to me as part of the install.

No picture of that bracket because by this point the tech was really tired of fooling with my car and fixing bits and pieces in the bitter cold on the side of the road. If their lot hadn't been wall-to-wall with Rolls Royces and Bentleys I might have worried a little bit more. All that time spent sorting out issues cost me every penny and then some of the money I saved by buying the battery down the road instead of the dealership, and as much as I am still grateful to the dealership for being open, I am reminded of why I usually drive 110 miles to Daniels (or bother Shawn) for repairs. This was a pretty simple issue, a flat tire and already I had a gooey nut in my trunk, a jangling sound that I later realized was a broken shock mount- because I had one years ago that took 3 trips to Daniels to figure out, (a common problem in Z3s and all E36s as it turns out, and not terribly surprising considering I drove on a flat tire, and then a flat donut), they chucked out my old 15 inch wheel against my express instructions to retain it, first they said I didn't need new tires, then they said I did, they had taken a week to get this far... but still, all in all they could have done worse.

Later that day I found the microphone for my telephone car kit which should look like this:

Sitting taped with electrical tape on the neck of the steering wheel, now was wedged between pieces of trim under my dashboard like this:

Again, I don't know that this happened at the dealership, it's possible it happened when the tow truck driver (the 3rd one) was getting the car on or off the truck ramp although I don't see how any contortion of driving the car could move the microphone to that spot. Needless to say I was not pleased when I found it there, because it doesn't function well as a microphone in that position and it was a sonovagun to get out of there. Actually, the NYPD came by to ask me if I was in trouble because my head was down on the wheel for so long.
I was still very lucky, as the weather warmed up a little bit and I now had new summer tires on Emmy and had to get down to my cousins' house to swap the new summer tire for the new winter tires. I was insanely lucky because when I showed up at my cousins' house, my cousin just happened to be home for lunch and swapped my tires for me. Watching him do it (he wouldn't let me help, I was just in the way) I realized just how lucky I was. I was going to use my electric jack and new lug wrench, but Bill was already using the Z3 jack he had just used to switch Cousin Lisa's Z3 winter tires.

Placing the jack at the mount point under the car, this time the lug wrench doesn't break when he loosens the bolts and he's so smart, he labeled the wheels inside the spokes so we know which wheel was aligned in which position come the Spring.

I'm such an idiot, I marked one wheel between the spokes. He explained it's better behind the spokes where no one sees it when they are back on the car. Doh. Now you know why he didn't want me to "help".

OK the new wheels are ugly. Shut up. They are supposed to take all the salt and stuff and not need care and be cheap.

Bill pointed out more blonde-proofing - the arrow showing tire rotation.

Repeating the process 3 times and voilá

The car felt a LOT more sure-footed driving home on the winter tires than the summer set-up, but I would NOT go so far as to say I LIKE it.

A couple notes from people who know more than me about this stuff:

Bimmerbum wrote:
Due to the suspension set up on the rear of the Z3's they will always eat the inside of the rear tires. It can be dialed out with the addition of offset bushings but you will sacrifice handling.
In addition when you lower the car the tire wear will only get worse, negative camber and toe will increase.
Best thing you can do is track your
car more often, you will get more even wear then ;)
Nothing in the Z3's rear suspension is adjustable, you still need to align but the only thing they can adjust on aliginment is the front tie rods and that only controls toe on the front tires. If I had to guess you probably wore out the rear tires on the inside.
Also you are running rear tires that are 1 size wider than recommended.

~~~~~ and ~~~~~
Dr Biggly wrote:
Having gone through about 20 alignments and through a few sets of tires in the past year, here is how it breaks down:
1) Toe is the biggest tire wear due to the fact that any toe is akin to dragging the tire sideways down the road. 0 toe is optimal.
Toe out give quicker turn-in response, toe-in gives better high speed stability.
Toe out wears the inside of the tires, toe-in wears the outside of the tires.
2) Camber is good for grip.
Camber doesn't cause lots of inner edge wear as many places will claim; it takes many thousands of miles with significant camber to cause a lot of inner edge wear. The biggest reason why folks see highly accelerated wear on a lowered car is that when camber is added often toe isn't compensated for.

Imagine some extra negative camber (tire leaning inwards.) Now couple that with the knowledge that toe-out causes inner edge wear, and the fact that when camber gets added, the tie-rods (things that move the wheels when you turn, or connecting rods) are located on the front, do not move and thus cause more toe-out, one gets highly accelerated wear.

So instead of a flat tire taking the brunt, now one has a tire that isn't flat in a straight line that is being dragged sideways by bad toe. Super wear! Of course even most alignment "techs" and common folk believe that the camber is causing this as a 1/8" difference between front and rear toe is difficult to see while camber is not, thus the general populace "knowing" that camber kills tires.
Hope all that makes sense!
On Jan 12, 2007, at 6:44 PM, Jeff wrote:
... there is a trade off with All Seasons, they do it all, but they don't do any one thing great. If you don't have to worry about snow & you drive spiritedly, stick with a high performance/summer tire for the best performance. Your ride comfort will suffer some what, but you'll enjoy your Z even more. Also, make sure that the tire you choose has good wet performance as well as dry performance because we all have to drive in the rain at some point. I wouldn't recommend the staggered setup as you can't rotate your tires and you'll have issues when you wear out the rear set first and decide you want to replace them with a different brand (For best performance keep the same make & model at all 4 corners). Use Tire Rack to research your choices & either by from them & have them installed locally or find the same item locally & bargin with the retailer to get a similar price.

changed their shoes since March 7, 2006

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