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From digest.v5.n297 Fri Sep 27 19:33:13 1996
From: Rion Groh <>
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 1996 10:24:17 -0700
Subject: Head bolts on M20 engines

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Over the years we have seen three different vendors for the hex head style bolts (12.9 grade) found in M20 engines- "Kamax", "Verbus" and "Ribe". The "Ribe" bolts are the ones that seem to have the most problems. We have never found a broken "Kamax" (used primarily on earlier M20's) or "Verbus" bolt. You can easily check the vendor and type of bolt by removing the oil fill cap and looking inside the valve cover with a flashlight. We replaced these bolts years ago on our customer's cars routinely during Inspection I or II services, because we had the valve cover off for the valve adjustment anyway. The Torx style headbolt set has a current BMW suggested retail price of $28.22. The labor time we would charge for this job was 0.75 hour ($36.75) to install the set. I am surprised that anyone still has the old style bolts. The service bulletin has been around since April of 1990.

I am attaching a letter that I sent to an unfortunate Digest member a few weeks back. So often when I read these Digests, there will be someone struggling with a problem that is way over their head. If you take your problem to a qualified and trained BMW specialist, you might just be doing yourself a favor. Please read on...

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You should consider finding yourself a good, independant BMW specialist to help you with your more technical problems. We see it time and time again where a good intentioned owner will "try to save a few bucks" by attempting to solve a more technical problem themselves. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the time, unneeded (and often expensive) parts get "hung" onto the car. The owner's frustration level goes way up, along with the car having it's "condition" for a protracted period of time. Good BMW technicians are out there, and you may have to search a bit to find one, but you just might find that you can strike up a mutually beneficial relationship (really, this happens).

If you had a problem with your gall bladder, would you attempt to remove it yourself to save a few bucks? I'd bet that it would be possible for someone who was determined enough, but I wouldn't want to be around to watch the "learning" proceedure (or see the final results).

Why not pay someone to do what they can do proficiently, while you pay for it with money that you have earned from doing what you do proficiently? Isn't this the economy of specialization and expertise? On the other hand, maybe you can only marginally afford to own a BMW (or any car). A BMW does not have to be expensive to maintain, if you can find the right professional to help you take care of it.

One of our now loyal customers, who took suggestions from the "digest", ended up "hanging" a fuel pump, an air flow meter, and a fuel pressure regulator on his car to solve an engine "quitting" problem (about $600 worth of guesses). When he was totally frustrated and finally brought the car in (his first visit to us), we **DIAGNOSED** the problem and found a faulty control relay. The total cost of the repair was $40 ($15 relay + $24 labor charge). I could give you many other examples similar to this.

You may be attempting to fix this problem yourself, because you consider yourself to be a "hobbiest", but if you find you are running into some excessive grief or frustration that this type of technical problem can cause you, maybe it's not wise to "lose a dollar to save a nickel...".

When you post a technical question to the digest, you should realize that any replies that you may receive will most likely be from other enthusiasts or car owners that have no formal BMW technical training. Sure, they may have had a problem similar to yours, but from my experience, many types of failures (like the "links in a chain" analogy) can result in the same apparent symptom or symptoms.

Not very many BMW technical professionals subscribe to the digest because of it's amateur nature, and of those that do, very few would be foolish enough to guess at your expense. When I do ocassionally read the postings, I cannot believe how much misinformation and "voo-doo" type beliefs are out there. I personally don't believe that there is a tangible "cost to benefit ratio" of using expensive "snake oils" (e.g. Zymol, Slick 50, WhiteRhinoHornWax, etc. etc.). This type of product fanaticism surprises me in a group that you would think would be comprised of mostly intelligent, professional types.

I could spend a lot of time trying to answer problems from the digest, but honestly it is hard to do without having a crystal ball or being able to guess from (usually shallow) problem descriptions. This means I sometimes actually need to see the problem or symptom, and use my diagnostic skills, knowledge and expertise to solve that problem. Consider also that (maybe like you?) I have bills to pay and a family to feed.

Just a thought.

Rion Groh
European Motorsport
BMW Service and Repair Specialists
2520-D Dominic Dr, Chico CA 95928

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