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From digest.v6.n372 Sat Mar 15 14:52:09 1997
From: Don Eilenberger <>
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997 11:53:43 -0500
Subject: RE: Mechanics vs DIY..

Samir rightly ends his message with:

>Ah, hell with it. I'm off to rebuild a brake caliper.
>Samir Shah
>Stamford, CT

I think part of the discussion misses one point - some of us LIKE to tinker on things mechanical.. I do! (Hello! I'm Don, and I like to tinker on my BMW cars and motorcycles!). I suspect Samir is the same.

There are some jobs I just won't tackle, 'cause I've been-der-done-dat and don't wanna do it again, or I know I don't have the tools for it (exhaust - a thankless job that gets rust in your eyes, nose, mouth, and blood on your knuckles, suspension - which requires tools I don't have and don't intend to buy since I'd only use'em once...).

Other jobs I enjoy - debugging problems - my background is experimental physics originally - then computers (currently - after physics died in the US). As such - problems are fun to figure out - and rewarding when solved. I enjoy a puzzle. Trying to understand what the engineer had in mind originally is fun. Improving on it is also fun. It's my nature.

SO - what do *I* do? - Well, it depends. On BOHICA, I bought an extended BMW warranty when I bought the car - it was very worthwhile - for a cost of about $600 of my $$$ - the warranty covered about $4500 of repairs and replacements. I determined the tranny was going south - they replaced it. Did a fine job even if it did take a few days. I determined the driveshaft had a bad universal - they replaced it.. took three tries for the dealer to get the right one, but they did and it worked fine. I found the leak in the radiator - they replaced it. I got to do my diagnostics - they got to make some $$$ and we were all happy. Things they couldn't fix were things like the crappy idle - 'they all do that' was the reply.. I diagnosed it, and diagnosed it - and finally cured it with help from a CCA tech-tips fellow.. since the cure was non-standard valve settings and plug gaps - I suspect the dealer would have never found it - and was correct in saying 'they all do that..'

When the warranty ran out - I became more proactive with Bohica.. I troubleshot and fixed lotsa little electrical gremlins, big electrical gremlins (like the Motronic going south) that would have cost a minor fortune at the dealer (a dealer is NOT gonna call around to find a used Motronic for $300 - you're gonna get socked for $800 for a 'rebuilt' one)..

Things I didn't want to do - like front end suspension stuff, exhaust, I diagnosed and then went to a friends garage where 'we' did them (he grunted, I watched) - it was more cost effective this way than the dealer (exhaust was stock but cheaper than a dealer price, suspension - his labor rates are lower than the dealer)..

The new E34 I also bought with an extended warranty (a really GOOD one this time - $0 deductable) - and I've used it. A leak in the auto-tranny ended up having the tranny removed and all gaskets replaced with an 'upgraded' kit.. it isn't a job I'd even attempt if it wasn't under warranty.

So where does this lead us? I agree with Brett that in lots of cases - the dealer is better equipped and more cost effective for lots of repairs - for the average BMW owner. This also is really very dependant on the dealer and the skill of the mechanics working there. Some of us on the list are not average - we are died in the wool enthusiasts, born again DIY'ers - and we ENJOY it.

We also have the best resource I know of to fall back on - THIS LIST. Any question I've ever asked here has been answered - mostly with very good answers, in many cases allowing me to pinpoint the cause of a problem 'cause someone else has BTDT..

I don't think there is a single answer to the debate - it depends on YOU, your warranty situation and your individual talents. Hopefully all list members WILL realize what a great gift this list is and use it in the manner Richard Welty intended it.



Don Eilenberger
Spring Lk Hts, NJ, USA
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