May 182015

Act 4a – Cliche or not, information truly is power. In our last episode I was waiting for a diagnostic computer to read codes from the cars on board computer, specifically the Digital Motor Electronics (DME). The DME  controls all key aspects of the engine’s operation, ensuring optimum reliability, maximum performance and the lowest possible fuel consumption and emissions. This includes the pesky Variable Valve Timing (VVT) System that refuses to work for me. The typical OBDII code reader, which I already have, will read codes but they are translations of what the DME is reporting. Much like translating German to English, I don’t speak German. In this case it reports the code P1056 which translates to a generic VVT issue. I replaced parts based on a faulty VVT system without success. The new code reader, the Creator C110, returned the code 2A3F which translated more precisely to NO power to VVT system. This is useful information. A short troubleshooting session later revealed that the VVT system has its own power connection from the main distribution box and that somehow I had blown the internal, non-replaceable fuse. There are zero visual indicators that this fuse is in tact or blown. Lucky I know how to use the good old Fluke multimeter and sure enough the fuse was blown. So, here is a reason that most home mechanics tend to steer away from a car like the BMW. Almost all the parts are stocked at the dealer and not at the chain auto parts stores. I found the part I needed online at my now trusted parts provider for $59. I have nothing but good things to say about their site, customer service and very thorough tech articles so far. I wanted to get the car going so I was willing to spend a little extra money at the dealer to get it the same day. They did have the part in stock, cool. They wanted $177 for it, not cool. So I wanted almost a week for the part to be shipped from California.

Act 4b – It took about 10 minutes to install the new distribution box and with much fanfare the car started and ran perfectly. The ease of the fix makes all the earlier lessons all that more painful but I am just happy to get the car back on the road. Another cliche that comes to mind now, haste makes waste. If I would have just waited for the correct diagnostic computer to start it would have saved me a lot of heartache and money. I am going to keep telling myself that this was all a really good learning experience until I convince myself that it is true.

Bonus – While waiting for parts I decided to clean up someone else’s mess, namely the front bumper which had suffered what carfax describes as minor damage. It is obvious that the bumper was replaced and painted, poorly. Paint was peeling off of it at an alarming rate. I decided to try out Plasti Dip for the first time. If you are not familiar with this product, it sprays on like paint but finishes as a rubber coating that can be peeled off without damaging the finish underneath. I made it easy on myself and pulled the bumper off and removed all the accessories before masking and painting. Like any paint job, prep work is key to a good finish. I am really happy with how easy it applied and how nice the finished product looks.

Spray on thick coats, just the way I like it.


Plasti Dip application


A nice durable finish.

Plasti Dip Results


Thanks for sharing in my misery and triumphs. I promise to report on some cool, fun stuff next time.

 Posted by at 8:35 pm