It is tough to learn to drive! Some people learn and others just fake it.

Recently, I have noticed a new trend as I drive around Phoenix-simultaneous Accelerating and Braking. I coined a term Acceler-Brake to help make it easier. Given that most of the population drive automatics they only have two pedals to deal with. This group of drivers have figured out it is easier to be prepared by keeping both feet in place. Pretty clever actually!

Here is just one of my experiences:

I was driving the M3 down one of our local back roads and stopped at a traffic light. Up pulls a new BMW 3 series and stops next to me–you can sense what is going on in his mind. The light changes to green and he floors it. I just chuckled and started normally.

As he gets further in front of me his brakes lights are blaring as he accelerates down the road ahead of me. Now for the funny part. He gets caught at the next traffic light and repeats the exact same actions.

Got a good story. Use #Driving101 as a search term in Twitter and let’s see if we can’t start a trend.

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A Breath of Fresh Air

I completely understand the importance of basic maintenance (auto, home, etc.).

  • I change the fluids and filters
  • I have changed the brakes and rotors
  • I have fixed the master and slave cylinders
  • I have replaced springs and shocks
  • I have even fixed the gears in the front seat when it froze in the permanent reclined position
  • I can go on…

I have never personally changed the cabin filter in the 1999 M3. The dealer changed it under warranty on a few occasions but I have always dreaded taking apart the dash with its many screws, tight spaces and FRAGILE plastic clips and multiple wiring harnesses.   I finally bought a filter and set to the task of changing it after five or more years.

“Behold the filthy beast!”

M3 Cabin Filter

As with every BMW repair job you should search the Internet (thank you Google and other enthusiasts that share your experiences) and check your BMW 3 Series (E36) Service Manual: 1992-1998.  The job entails taking the glove box and associated dash panels out along with the unbolting of the electronics main panel.  The job itself is not difficult but it is that fear of the BMW plastic clips and pieces that never survive the second use or 1/4 turn too much of a screw.  I often wonder if there is a technical term for those mechanics that fear the thousands of plastic pieces on the modern automobile.

The clutter below illustrates the mass of wires and components that end up in the footwell before you actually get to the filter panel.  A simple turn of a dial on the filter panel and you are ready to swap the filter.  Now all that remains is to get it all back together with no spare parts or rattling.

M3 Disassembled Dash

All I can say is that I am glad that the 1997 Z3 did not come with a cabin filter. I am betting the next cabin filter change won’t be five years from now and I am positive that I will not be so apprehensive about the task.

I highly recommend you purchase a Bentley manual for your BMW or other car make to help with all of the repair and maintenance projects.

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Buying American-It’s a Jeep!

It\'s a Jeep!

It is a Jeep. Yes, you read correct a Jeep. Perhaps not the Ultimate Driving Machine, but as Jeep proclaims, one that will allow us to Have Fun Out There. And, fun it has been on a recent trail crawling along at a snails pace and stopping to wave at a caravan of various 4x4s as they passed us. But, hey we’ve been driving Bimmers and Minis now for the past 11 years both on and off the track and its going to take a bit of getting used to this new higher wheel base and dirt.

We always start out by emailing local dealers to see what they can do with regards to price and once narrowed down we make our choice, finalize the transaction via email and briefly visit the dealership to take care of the paperwork and payment and we are out the door. The purchasing of this Jeep took many emails and 12 hours of time at the dealership on a recent Saturday. It should have been simple–the dealer was suppose to honor their advertised AutoTrader .com price of $2,000 under invoice, which did not show two add-ons of $399 each. Instead, I still cannot believe that we had to argue from MSRP down with every Manager at the dealership?not only about the price, but that we didn’t want to use Chrysler Financial because we had our own financing. In the end it did result in $1,200 under invoice, a poor survey response and an immature email from our salesperson stating we were not deserving of another tank of gas promised to us because of our poor survey response to Chrysler. I caught myself laughing out loud as this reminds me of the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld no gas for us.

Ok, so most folks would of told this dealer to take a hike much earlier on in the day, but amazingly in this turbulent economy no other local dealer wanted to move much at all off MSRP. I find this funny because our 1999 BMW E36 M3 was built in the last month of production. The Atlanta dealer gladly sold us our car with seven miles on the odometer for $4,000 off MSRP no add ons. This was an extraordinary deal considering that the E46 M3s would not be released until a year later. In 2006, the newly released unibody pick-up, the Honda Ridgeline, was taking a while to gel with the American public. We were able to purchase one for $6,000 under MSRP at a Charlotte dealer and when we sold it just last year, the cost of ownership was close to nothing.

So in concluding I ask, Is this an American thing? The pricing games and long hours spent at the dealership, or is this a left coast game. We’ve all heard in the enthusiast world that many of our west coast counterparts have far out spent us when buying a car. I almost want to believe it is indeed what goes on in purchasing an American made vehicle and I say this because last year I had a very pleasant Mini Cooper S buying experience with Brecht Mini of San Diego, CA. I even received $500 off MSRP and free floor mats on this top ten seller. But, maybe it’s just a Phoenix thing after all I had to go to San Diego to purchase a Mini.

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