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Arizona BMW Z Series Club logo
Convertible Tops
Fix intermittent headlight issue
Enhance under-hood plastic and rubber
Changing water pump on Z-4 w/ 6-cyl
Club radio information
Audio connector may be available on your car.
Installation of adjustable trailing arm bushings.
Top replacement
Tire buying info
Check your vehicle for torn sheet metal
Neatly stow your garage door opener in your Z-4
Update your radar detector's software and firmware
Fabric around rear window
Detailing tips from the 11/10/01 tech session
Make sure you get your brake and cooling systems flushed
Flags are great, but care for your paint
Coolant system tips
Caring for your convertible top
Check engine light and gas caps
Care for your rag top
Special tire pressure for special driving
Be careful with your tire dressing
Fix that squeaky clutch
Change those pesky clips holding your convertible cover on
Keep your air conditioner conditioned
Protect your rear window from creases
Clean your tan top
Check your battery fluid

Mike Hunt offers another tip for those experiencing intermittent headlight issues.

Long story short; intermittently, one or both of the headlights on my 2006 Z4-M would fail to light in either the manual mode or “auto” mode. The problem only presented itself a few times per year.The dealer from whom I had purchased the vehicle could not find a cause.  

As it became more frequent, I never knew if I was going to have headlights or not. So, I took it in to a new BMW dealership here in town.

I told the Service Writer my long history and asked him  if he could find the actual cause of the problem. But I wanted to have input into what parts were going to be replaced.

He called the next day to say that they had decided the problem was the light switch and for a mere $729, they would replace the switch. I swallowed hard and authorized the work.

I picked the car up the next day. On my way home, I tested the headlights. On about the 3rd try; the driver’s side headlight failed to illuminate. Back to the dealer it went.

The Service Advisor called two days later to say that they had put my old switch back, replaced both headlight bulbs and the problem was resolved. The cost of replacing the two bulbs came out to within a couple of dollars of what I had been originally charged for replacing the switch.

This time, I tested the headlights in both manual and auto mode a half dozen times Before I left the dealership.

That was 6 months ago and I have not had the problem since.

These bulbs are not that hard to replace and are available from a Roundel advertiser for significantly less than I paid for them! Note that the bulbs are the same in the M and non-M version of this particular vehicle.

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Mike Hunt offers the following regarding extending the life of your under-hood plastic and rubber parts.

I recently had an interesting conversation with Mike Miller, the Technical Editor for Roundel magazine, the BMWCCA monthly publication.

We were discussing the life of rubber and plastic parts, which tend to be shortened in above average temperatures, such as here in the Valley. He mentioned that he had been discussing the same subject with some Club members living in Beirut, Lebanon. Their solution was to remove their hoods!

We did not think that such drastic measures would be required, but in places like Phoenix one might want to open the hood after parking the vehicle. This is not always convenient, or secure. But I have started leaving my hood open any time the car is parked in my garage.

 So as to not decrease the life of the hydraulic hood hinges. I pop the hood and then lower it onto an old towel that I have placed over the hood latch. This leaves a gap of a couple of inches for the hot air to exit the under hood area.

- Mike Hunt

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Mike Hunt gives tips about changing out the water pump on Z-4 BMWs with 6-cylinder engines:

Before I endeavored to replace the water pump on my 2006 Z-4 M roadster; I cruised around the internet for suggestions. I never found anything Specific to my S-54 engine in a Z-4. I found a number of videos related to other BMWs with 6 cylinder motivation. The most detailed indicated that you needed to loosen the passenger side motor mount and lift the engine in order to get the water pump out of it’s home.

I found that this is not actually necessary. You can get the pump out from under the car with a little twisting and turning.

Another “aha” moment was removal of the lower radiator hose. The connection this hose makes with the radiator is a rubber on to plastic fitting. After 70K miles, it does NOT want to come off. Luckily, there is a temperature sensor mounted on the bottom of the hose. If you remove the sensor; you then have a pry point to help get the hose disconnected.

One other thing. If you are considering changing your thermostat; go ahead and get a new pump. By the time you get to the thermostat; you will be 80% of the way to changing the pump.

Good luck!

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Barbara Thompson tells us she was told there's a guy who will replace your rag top.  

"The people at Beyer Motor Works in Chandler say there is a guy in Mesa at Top Notch named Ken (480.834.8015) who can replace that canvas top.  He has the fabric there and does an outstanding job from what this guy said.  The cost is around $1700-$2100 to replace it."

Barbara also recommends Beyer (480.961.9449) who does the work on her Z3.

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Many of you may have heard about the "tearing sheetmetal syndrome" in the rear of the car. Sometimes this occurs where the differential mounts to the trunk floor and other times, it fails where the anti roll bar mounts attach to the in the attached picture. It's a good idea to take everything out of your trunk, get right down to the sheeting and examine it for cracks, splits, tears or other signs of failure. Also check from the underside.

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Here's another hint from Mike Hunt for Z-4 owners looking for a place to keep that garage door remote:  

I wasn't willing to pay a couple hundred dollars to have a factory installed garage opener put in my Z-4, so I came up with the following solution.

Underneath the HVAC controls ( heat, ventilation, A/C), I discovered a small removable panel; it's about 3" x 5" and cannot be seen unless you are looking up from the console area. Gently pry this panel from the dash. It will bow out, releasing the small plastic clips. Using the sunvisor clip on your garage door remote control, hang the remote onto the panel and replace the panel. You won't be able to see it from outside the car (for that matter from inside the car). But it will be conveniently, and firmly held, eager to open your garage door, community gate, or estate gate.


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Mike Hunt offers provides the following information:

On a recent Club drive, I noticed one of our other member's radar detector seemed to be picking up warnings my unit never noticed. Since we both have Valentine 1 units, I was surprised. After going over the standard stuff, location of the mounting, sensitivity setting, hearing test, etc., it occurred to me that his is almost new and mine is about four years old. So I went to Valentine's webpage and discovered that they offer updates, both firmware and software. It's not cheap, but it is sure cheaper than throwing your old unit away and buying a new one.  If you have a different brand, check out their web pages to see if they have similar upgrades.  

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Mike Hunt offers this tip:

The fabric on the Z-3 has a tendency to pull out from under the rubber that surrounds the rear window. I have found the most effective tool for getting the fabric back into place is a steel ruler with a rounded end. And it is a lot less dangerous to the surrounding area than screwdrivers etc. The last time I performed this operation (about 10 months ago) I put a smidgen (that's more than a drop, but less than a dollop) of "Seals All" glue between the rubber and the fabric. It has not come loose since. Of course your other alternative is........don't put the top up!

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Member Dennis Bassi took these notes from the November 10th, 2001 Tech Event, and shares them with us:

While attending the tech meet last Saturday, I talked to Julio Picchio for quite a while about his detailing techniques.  I took a few notes, and figured that the rest of our group may want the information also.  This is what I learned:

1) Microfiber towels are really excellent for finishing work, such as wiping off wax, using quick detailer, or wiping away the clay treatment.

2) Julio used a rubbing compound for getting out scratches, swirls, and other stubborn stains. His rubbing compound of choice is 3M Body Repair Rubbing Compound – Fine Cut (which is about 2000 grit).  It can be obtained at many auto parts stores.

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Former Secretary/Treasurer Virgil Jackson reminds us to take advantage of service under warrantee:

If you are still lucky enough to be under the 3 year/36,000 mile maintenance warranty, you should take advantage of the free brake system flush at 2 years and cooling system flush at almost 3 years.  Please see your owner's manual for details. These systems should still be flushed as the maintenance schedule dictates to maintain proper working order (even if you are not still under warranty). 

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A reminder from TripMeister Mike Hunt to the patriotic among us:

Many of us have chosen to fly the American flag, ribbons, etc. from our vehicles during the last few weeks. You will want to remember that if these objects touch your paint, they can wear through your paint. Try to mount these objects of pride where they won't damage your exterior.

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TripMeister Mike Hunt passes along some helpful information on your cooling system:

I recently discovered that BMW was kind enough to solve any problems with air in the coolant system. You can inadvertently get air into the coolant system any time you have to add a significant amount of coolant to the system (such as when you change the coolant, or replace a hose, etc.)  With most vehicles, you have to spent quite a bit of time working with a hot motor trying to get all the air out, since as you know, air is not a very effective cooling medium.  BMW has located an air bleeder valve at the top of the radiator next to the filler cap. It looks like a slotted circle, flush mounted to the top radiator tank. Once you have refilled the system, warm the motor so as to open the thermostat. Then turn the bleeder screw counter-clockwise until you hear air escaping. You do not need to remove it entirely. Once coolant starts to come out, you will know that all the air is out. Let the engine cool again, then refill the radiator to the Cold ( KALT) mark. And you are done.

While we are on the subject, antifreeze is not necessarily the most effective coolant medium either.

This is a case where more is not necessarily better. Pure water would be the most effective coolant. Of course the problem is water can freeze. Which will damage your vehicle since water is the only liquid known, that expands when it freezes. The point being, you need antifreeze to keep the coolant from freezing. And you need the anticorrosion additives that are put into the antifreeze. But you only want as much of this stuff mixed with your water as you have to have. And unless you plan to drive a rather long way from Phoenix in the dead of winter, you don't need to protect yourself down to -40 degrees F. And the more water you have in your system, the better it will be able to handle those 100 degree plus days.

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Virgil Jackson sent in this update about caring for your convertible top - from the Z3 message board:

Thank you for your interest in our products and web site. We have discontinued recommending the 303 product as a result of our discovering a superior product. Although our web site has not been updated yet, we are now recommending "Raggtopp" Protectant as marketed by Wolfsteins Pro-Series.

For future reference, The Haartz Fabric Cleaner will also be marketed via Wolfsteins Pro-Series, under the "Raggtopp" brand name.

Thanks again for your continued interest in our products.

Sincerely, THE HAARTZ CORPORATION Gordon Goodwin Sales Manager - Exteriors

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Former member Matt Metz was given the following information from a local BMW service advisor:

One of the functions of the engine computer is to ensure that the air-fuel mixture is correct.  If this mixture is outside a preprogrammed tolerance range, your "Check Engine" light may come on.  But the fuels dispensed in Arizona's major metropolitan areas are oxygenated, and this slightly skews this mixture.  If your "Check Engine" light comes on soon after refueling, pull over, stop your engine, and check that your gas cap is seated securely.  You might try removing the cap and reinstalling it, making sure you get a good seal.  If there was even a slight leak (allowing additional air into your fuel system), that extra air (combined with the extra oxygen contained in the oxygenated fuel) could be the cause of the "Check Engine" light coming on.

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Former member Matt Metz gives this hint:

Most of us know that maintaining proper tire pressure is important for safety, performance, and getting maximum mileage from your tires.  Most of us also know that tire pressure should be checked when the tires are "cold" (after resting overnight, they are cold and stay cold if you don't drive more than about a mile or two).  But most of us don't know that if you travel at high speeds, you must adjust your tire pressure.  Discount Tire recommends that you increase your cold tire pressure by 1.5 psi for every 4 mph over 100 mph.  (You would only do this if you were driving on a closed racing track, of course.)  This means that if you plan on going 120 mph, you should increase your cold tire pressure by (120 - 100) / 4 x 1.5 = 7.5 psi for that track.

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Club member Mike Hunt reminds us:

Most tire dressings contain silicone, and silicone makes rubber very slippery. So when you clean up those tires with tire dressing, make sure not to get any on the tread (including those parts of the tire you are going to roll under during those fun and challenging turns)!

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Your president, Paul Ebeyer, submits another bit of help for those with "creaking" clutch pedals.

The clutch pedal of my 1997 2.8 Z3 roadster (with 7,500 miles at the time) suddenly began a strange creaking sound during operation. The sound was most noticeable during a slow depression or release. Since the 1.9's have the same clutch linkage, I suppose this fix applies to them as well.
The problem: the factory lubrication has dried out and must be replaced.
The solution: This process takes only about 10 minutes.
  • Remove the plastic cover surrounding the pedal shafts. There are two slotted plastic fasteners holding the cover in place - turn the slots 90 degrees in either direction and then GENTLY pry down on the cover. The fasteners will fall to the floor and you can now remove the cover.
  • You'll see a thick coil spring approximately one inch in diameter and four inches in length. It is coiled around a shaft, and the bottom end of the shaft attaches to the clutch pedal arm. THIS IS WHERE THE NOISE IS COMING FROM. (By the way, this shaft and spring originate from above. There is a bright metal clip on the right side of the clutch arm to ease disconnection, but DON'T DISCONNECT IT - IT IS NOT NECESSARY).
  • Protect your carpeting at this point - you are about to use grease.
  • Apply a small amount of white grease to this spot where the noise is coming from. I did this by putting a dab of the white grease on my pinkie finger and shoving it up into the contact point as best I could. It's not necessary to get it exactly in place because as the clutch pedal moves through its cycle, the grease will be distributed to the affected area.
  • Depress the clutch pedal to confirm the sound is gone. If not, you may have more than one spot where the lubrication is gone. One way to find the other spots is to spray a SMALL bit of WD-40 on a spot, then testing to see if that eliminates the noise. If it does, apply the grease to that spot.
  • Replace the plastic cover and reinstall the two plastic fasteners (don't try to turn the fasteners more than 90 degrees or you could damage them).
  • Enjoy your quiet clutch!

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Has your convertible cover ever threatened to come off your Z3 at high speeds? That might have been because you left those two middle pins unattached - and you probably left them unattached because they are a pain in the you-know-what to get secured.

Well, from Greg Wenzel and Peg, here's a modification to your Z3 to make it easier to secure those two center pins. And of course if you secure these two middle pins, this will prevent the convertible cover boot from coming off at high speeds.

This is a simple (about 45 minutes) modification that installs easy-to-use twist locks in place of those two difficult-to-attach clips. It's cheap (about $7 in parts), and easy.
In this procedure, we're going to remove those difficult-to-reach pins on the back of the rear console, and replace them with twisty clips. We are NOT going to change out the pins that are at the edges - near the door - because those are easy enough to use.
You'll need a few common tools - vice grips or pliers, exacto knife, and a screwdriver.
So here we go. You might want to print out the PICTURE PAGE - it has the pictures referred to in these instructions.
  1. Here is the part of the car you'll be working on (picture A). Of course, you'll also be working on the removable convertible cover, not shown in this picture.
  2. Here are the parts you will be using (picture B)
  3. Remove the old pins from the car, using a pair of pliers.
  4. In their places, install the twisty-clips. You might want to space them out just a bit using a few spare washers.
  5. Now remove the old grommets from the convertible boot with pliers or a screwdriver. (picture C)
  6. And here is what the convertible boot looks like when you've removed the old grommets (picture D)
  7. Now you're going to replace the old grommets with the new ones. Place the new grommet over the old hole. Make sure that the shiny half of the new grommet is on the INSIDE of the cover - so that when it is installed, this piece faces the REAR of the vehicle (picture E). The dull side of the new grommet goes on the opposite side. You'll use the exacto knife to create small slits for the ears of the shiny half of the new grommet to go through the cover (picture F). Those little ears will poke through to the other side and bend over the dull half of the new grommet. Greg used a small nut and bolt to hold the two halves in place while he bent the ears over, then removed the nut and bolt.
  8. You're done!

Thanks, Greg and Peggy, for this great and simple fix!

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Here's a tip that applies to all your vehicles, not just your Z. It was provided by former member Matt Metz:

Make sure your run your car's air conditioning at least once a week, every week of the year. Run it for at least three or four minutes - enough to make the compressor run through a cycle or two.
Although it may seem silly to run your air conditioning when you don't need it, running it once a week ensures that the seals and bearings remain lubricated, possibly avoiding VERY costly repairs.
In the winter, you can turn your temperature knob all the way to the right (heat) while the air conditioning is running.

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This tip comes from your former Treasurer, Virgil Jackson:

Does your back window get a crease when the top is down? Are you using a window pillow?
You can make an inexpensive window pillow to be used in conjunction with the window blanket out of pipe insulation. This foam pipe insulation can be purchased at HomeBase, Home Depot or Ace Hardware for around two dollars. I used the 1 inch pipe size which makes the outside diameter approximately 3 inches. A slightly larger pipe size will work as well. The insulation can be easily cut to the window size with a sharp knife.
The window pillow must be held in place when the top is put down so that it falls into the window fold. This is no problem for one person to do if they have a manual top. It becomes more difficult for one person to do with a power top as they have to be inside the car with their foot on the brake, pushing the top down button. I solved this problem by making a flannel sleeve that the pipe insulation slips into and attaches to the window blanket with Velcro strips that hold it in place.

Virgil, thanks for that suggestion. This is especially important for those of us who seldom have the top up.

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Our second technical tip was submitted by Vice President Emeritus and Tech Expert, John Swetish:

I really tried this one personally and it did work well for me. For those of you that have the tan top, you may have found that it gets quite dirty and the dirt spots are difficult to remove. I've discovered a solution that should remove those black spots on the bow areas from putting the top up and down.
For best results vacuum the dirt off the top first, and inspect the areas that need the cleaning.
The product I recommend is called "Nature's Miracle." (It comes in a white bottle with red lettering.) The product is actually a clear solution formulated to remove pet stains and odor, but don't worry - it works great for this problem. Squirt the product onto a clean white cotton cloth and blot the cloth on the dirty spot. Frequently change to a clean area of the cloth and repeat the application per directions. Reapply as necessary.
You should find that the cloth has removed the dirt and the top has become clean!

Thanks, John, for your suggestion. Everyone should feel free to submit more technical (or cosmetic) tips to your WebMeister.

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Our first technical tip was submitted by (who else) our president, Paul Ebeyer.

When was the last time you checked the fluid level in your Z3 battery? Have you ever SEEN the battery? If not, stop looking under the hood, as the battery is under the floor of the trunk. The battery LOOKS like the "sealed" type that won't accept added water. However, the caps DO screw out giving access for fluid replacement. Refill with battery electrolyte that can be purchased at any auto parts store and it's VERY inexpensive. Next choice is distilled water. Fill to the BOTTOM of the ring below the cap. Always work VERY CAREFULLY and don't spill a single drop (of electrolyte) on anything.
There are battery fillers you can buy for a few bucks at your nearby auto parts stores - these devices have a nozzle that seats directly over the fill hole (avoiding spills) and automatically stops when the appropriate level is reached.
Here in Arizona the battery fluid has a way of disappearing from the intense heat. When the fluid level drops below the "plates" in the battery, it can short out. Low fluid levels make for weak batteries and shorter life. In the summer check monthly, in the winter bimonthly.

That's about it, hope you get a CHARGE out of this tip.

Well, Paul, that last line was a bit corny, but we appreciate the help.

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