Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DAY 17 - Car Wash

It's been raining. Water spots abound. I can't stand a dirty car, so we took a trip to the do-it-yourself car wash. It was a quick in and quick out and $1.75 later we were on the way home. When we arrived I wiped off the remaining water drops with a microfiber towel, including inside the hood, trunk, and doors. I felt much better afterwards.

The temperature was around 85 degrees today. We spent some time hard-driving on the interstate, and the oil temperature got up to 250 degrees for the first time. From what I've read, that's not out of line or excessive. I did notice during our highway trip that the cabin seemed a bit nosier than the old Lexus as I remember it. Perhaps I just didn't drive that fast in the Lexus. And it didn't have run-flat tires. I'm sure I'll get used to it. Even at 85 mph, the car still seems to be begging for more speed. It's tempting, but we're still in the break-in-stay-under-100-mph period. But we've passed the 500 mile mark now so it won't be too much longer.

And that's about it for the news today. Oh, still haven't checked that BMW Assist button again to see what happens. Supposedly, according to my SA, they were going to get that taken care of. I'll check it tomorrow and let you know what I find out.

Monday, May 30, 2011

DAY 16 - BMW Assist

I decided to check my BMW Assist button yesterday. I was surprised and a bit disappointed when I got a recording stating that my vehicle wasn't enrolled in the program. Hmmm, thought I, perhaps my vehicle did not come with the BMW Assist option.

A quick check of my spec sheet showed that my car did, in fact, include the BMW Assist option. In addition, an internet search informed me that the BMW Assist option automatically comes with any vehicle that includes the Premium Package. It appears that my dealer failed to enroll my vehicle in the program. That's not an issue at this point, since we've caught it in time. However, it COULD have been an issue if we hadn't discovered it. According to BMW USA, owners have to enroll within the first 60 days or lose the option.

I wanted to get this fixed as soon as possible (I hate loose ends) so I placed a call to BMW. Unfortunately, they're not in today. Naturally, the dealership isn't open either. So, I'll need to remember to give them a call tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm sending an email to the SA at the dealership to inform him of the issue. Hopefully, I can handle the enrollment with BMW by phone. After it becomes active, I'll let you know how it works.

UPDATE: Just received a call from my SA. He said he would take care of it, and it should be activated within an hour or so. We shall we what happens.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

DAY 15 - Oil Level Checking

We previously touched on this subject, but only briefly. Let's take a little longer look at it, shall we?

As mentioned in an earlier post, the 335i has no dipstick. Since it's missing an old friend that a lot of us grew up with, how do we go about checking the level or the considtion of our car's vital fluid. Never fear, technology comes to the rescue in this vehicle and makes it an easy task to get the information we need. Actually, there are a couple of methods we can employ.

If you have Voice Command you can simply press the talking head button on the steering wheel. After the chime, say "Vehicle Status," and the control center monitor will bring up the Vehicle Status screen. Turn the iDrive wheel clockwise until you get to the icon of the little oil can or whatever that thing is. Click it and you will see a vertical graph with "Min" and "Max" lines. It will show where your oil level is and will (hopefully) give you a readout that says "System OK" or "Oil Level OK" or something like that. I can't recall exactly what it says.

The other method involves the steering wheel stalk on the top left side. There's a little toggle button you can move up or down. Move it until you see "Oil" on the readout and then press the BC button on the end of the stalk. This method will give you the same info as the other one.

There's one thing you need to remember. You won't get a reading until the engine is warmed up. The oil temperature needle has to move off the peg before the system will give you a reading. And there you have it. Oil checking the new way. Enjoy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

DAY 14 - The Turbo

I watched a movie last night entitled The Black Legion. It was a 1937 film starring my long-time favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart. I did a little research afterwards and learned, to my total surprise, that he and Lauren Bacall had a son named Stephen Humphrey Bogart.

Now that in itself isn't anything astonishing. However, the amazing part is that Stephen was born on January 6, 1949. I couldn't believe it! My favorite actor's son and I were not only born in the same year, we were born on exactly the same day, maybe even at the same time! Wow. How cool is that? But, as interesting and phenomenal as that may be, that's not what this blog is about. So let's get back to the subject at hand.

It's been two weeks today since picking up Zelda and bringing her home. We've clocked a little over 400 miles in those two weeks, and I'm anxious to give that Turbo a little kick in the pants. But we're still in the break-in period, so I can't.

I did a little research tonight to figure out how that Twin Turbo on the N55 engine works. To be honest, all the details left me a little verklempt, but I got the basic technology of the system through my thick skull. At least partially. So, here's an attempt at 'splaining it to my readers, if there are any.

First of all, the N55 is not actually a "twin" turbo, as was the N54. BMW redesigned it and currently calls it a Twin Scroll Turbo. The way I understand it, turbocharging involves putting more air, or pressurized air, into the cylinders. It uses the exhaust to spin the turbo fins which compress the air. Naturally, when it's compressed, heat is produced, so it has to be cooled before being forced into the cylinders. The Twin Scrolling feature is related to "turbo lag" and this technology reduces or eliminates that undesirable feature.

And that's about all I was able to learn. But if you'd like to read a more detailed narrative, you can find a really good explanation HERE. Check it out.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

DAY 13 - Run-Flat Tires

The BMW 335i comes with run-flat tires. If you’re not familiar with them, I thought I would write a post today that would give you a primer on them and the pros and cons. 

There is a long-running argument about them. Some drivers love them. Others hate them. But, beyond all of this disagreement, it’s safe to say that no one in their right mind looks forward to experiencing the inconvenience and danger of a blow out. 

Also, it’s never cool to be stranded on the side of a busy highway waiting for roadside assistance or, heaven forbid, having to figure out how to use that jack that’s been hiding in the trunk since the car was new.

But exactly what is a run-flat tire and what makes it different than the tires we grew up with. According to Edmunds.com:

Run-flat or zero-pressure tires are intended to support the weight of the car for a short time, providing the driver with 100 or so miles of range to get off the highway and find a repair shop. Two kinds of zero-pressure tires exist in the market today. Both types still require the usual amount of air to provide day-to-day performance. Self-supporting tires (SSTs) are the original and most common run-flat type. Heavily reinforced sidewalls support the vehicle after air departs the scene. This sort of run-flat is designed to fit on normal wheels with no modifications. Michelin's PAX, a patented auxiliary support run-flat system, is a relative newcomer. PAX sidewalls, while still stiffer than normal tires, are not as rigid as SSTs. Instead Michelin designed a unique wheel that positions a semi-rigid "support ring" inside the tire to hold the car up when the air goes bye-bye. A non-standard bead design is necessary where wheel and tire meet.
Since these tires have stiff sidewalls, they don’t appear flat, even when they’re out of air. So how does a driver know if their tires are low on pressure without continually checking them?

Edmunds.com says:

TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system, ed.) has become mandatory in run-flat applications. Since run-flats only provide a limited zero-pressure driving range, TPMS is critical to help the driver know when the mileage clock starts ticking, and more importantly, when time is up.

Do the advantages outweigh the negative aspects? Let’s see.

You can drive on a flat tire. You’re typically limited to 50 mph and 100 miles maximum distance.

Better stability after a blowout. Since these tires can support the car without air, steering and handling remain pretty much normal after a blowout.

Repairability —Run-flat repair guidelines are similar to standard tires, provided the speed and distance limits are not exceeded after a flat.

You have no spare. Of course, you really don’t need one with a run-flat tire. That’s the whole idea behind them.

You’re going to get a harder ride. The stiff sidewalls that are the prime design feature of the run-flat tire result in a harder ride.
They don’t last as long. The jury is still out on this, but most resources tell us that run-flats tend to wear more quickly.

Blowouts are still possible, as they are with standard tires.

Run-flat tires are heavier, due to the weight of the reinforcement.

Run-flat tires are more costly. Compared to standard tires, expect to pay double, or more.

And one other thing that Edmunds failed to mention is that run-flat tires are a little noisier than standard tires. The Goodyear Eagles I had on the Corvette were terribly noisy. When I switched them out for the MIchelin Pilot Sports, the sound level dropped dramatically.

So there you have it. And just so you know, the new 335i currently has a little over 400 miles on it. The break-in period limitations on speed are partly in place so that the new tires can get a little wear on them so they grip the road a bit better. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DAY 12 - Problem Solved!

If you've been reading along, you know the recurring issue I've been trying to resolve. In case you haven't been following closely, the issue is the continual appearance of the radiator icon indicating a low coolant level. Thanks to the experts on the Bimmerfest forums, I've learned that you're not supposed to add antifreeze, unless it's the BMW branded variety. I was also advised to speak to a service assistant rather than a salesperson regarding what to do to resolve this issue.

This afternoon I called the dealership and spoke with the service manager. He verified the accuracy of the Bimmerfest poster's suggestion of not adding antifreeze. He also told me it was perfectly fine to add regular tap water to the coolant reservoir (which is what my sales associate correctly advised).

So, this evening, after everything had cooled down, I began the process. It took approximately two cups of water to bring the level above the "minimum" level indicator. I could have added more and brought it up a little higher, but I opted to leave it at that level and test it. When I started the engine, my familiar radiator icon failed to appear. That was a good sign, but I decided to dig a bit deeper to be sure. I checked the "vehicle status" on the iDrive and went to the "Check Control" data field. Instead of the usual "Low Coolant Level" announcement, the computer gave me a message I had never seen before: "All Systems OK."
Can you tell that I'm more than just a little happy about that outcome?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

DAY 11 - Stormy weather

The weather continues to deteriorate tonight as more storms move in. That factor makes it an easy segue to the rain-sensing wipers on the BMW. These are standard equipment on the 335i, which was a bit of a surprise to me when I found out I had them. Since then, I've been wondering how they work. I found the following explanation at the JDPower website.

The technology behind rain-sensing wipers is not complicated. A small area of the front windshield glass (usually located on the outside of the vehicle, opposite the rear-view mirror) is monitored by an optical sensor. The sensor is designed to project harmless infrared light at the windshield at an angle and then read the amount of light that is reflected back. A clean windshield will reflect nearly all of the light back, while a wet or dirty windshield will cause the light to scatter. The optical sensor can determine the necessary frequency and speed of the windshield wipers by monitoring the amount of light reflected back into the sensor.

As a safety precaution, and to prevent damage to the wiper mechanism, nearly all rain-sensing wipers must be activated each time they are used. The activation process prevents the system from automatically wiping a frozen windshield, or triggering while the vehicle is in a car wash; both instances could damage the blades or electric motor powering the wipers.

So, there you have it. Just in case you were wondering.

Monday, May 23, 2011

DAY 10 - Smokey and the exhaust issue

New satellite radio favorite: Soul Town. Channel 49. Lots of great soul music from the 60s. Lots of Motown artists.

Speaking of smokey, let's talk about the BMW 335i exhaust system. I've noticed that my right exhaust pipe always has more black soot in it than the left one. I wondered about that and decided to find out why. Here's the scoop.

There is a deflector in the exhaust system that either closes or direct the exhaust to the right side during cold start and warm up. Several other manufacturers employ a similar method and it appears to be the right side in most cases that the exhaust is directed to. So there you have it.

On another note from a previous post, my pesky little radiator icon was on the instrument panel again this morning, reminding me to call my salesman and find out what he learned since Friday about my low coolant warning. He told me that I could simply add coolant or water, even tap water, he said, with no problem. I'm guessing the coolant level isn't more than a pint low, so I'm thinking a pint of tap water might not be a destructive addition to the total volume of the radiator. Any thoughts on that?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

DAY NINE - Dragnet and the Case of Continual Rain

Dragnet, the radio version, began broadcasting in 1949, the year I was born. And today, 62 years later, I listened to an original episode. It was broadcast on satellite radio channel 82 (Radio Classics). In case you're too young to remember, those actors in the photo on the left are Jack Webb and Harry Morgan. You may remember Harry as Colonel Potter from M.A.S.H. I'm kind of a NOSTALGIA lover, so I'm liking this Radio Classics channel.

This iDrive is pretty nifty. It's going to take me some time to figure out all its capabilities. So I'll need to read the manual some more and get the facts. Just the facts, as Joe Friday would say.

Meanwhile, it rained again yesterday. It doesn't look too threatening right now, but the weather in KC has a tendency of changing when you least expect it. According to the forecast, it's supposed to rain Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this coming week. I'd love to wash the car to get all of those irritating little water spots off the paint, but it seems like a waste of time and water at this point. I may wait until next weekend.

Although, now that I think of it, I do have some Meguiar's Detail Spray and a microfiber towel I could use to clean the water spots out of the door openings and off the thresholds. And I could check that coolant level when the engine is cold and see where it's setting.

Leave a comment if you have a favorite radio station or specific washing or detailing hints, or favorite products, or iDrive info, or anything else you'd like to comment on.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

DAY EIGHT - Brake Dust and New Shoes

I didn't get a chance to wash the car today. Too many other things to do around the house and in the yard. I did purchase some Armour All Wheel Protectant after watching their video. It made a believer out of me that this product will solve my brake dust issue. Check it out for yourself.

On a different note, I picked up the 10-year-old granddaughter this afternoon. It was her first ride in the new car. When she got her seatbelt clicked and we took off she said, "Wow! You new car smells like a shoe store." It was classic.

We're sitting at about 330 miles now, on the second tank of gas, and still haven't heard from the dealer on that "low coolant" warning. Hopefully we'll have an answer next week. It's starting to become a bit irritating to see that radiator icon every time I start the car.

Still loving it and looking forward to getting through this break-in period.

Friday, May 20, 2011

DAY SEVEN - 1 week and a tank of gas

I discovered channel 19 on my satellite radio today. Elvis Radio! I love it.

Back to the low coolant issue. I made a trip to the dealer today to have them top off the coolant reservoir. When the technician opened the reservoir, it was full. Further investigation was required. He asked for my key, which he plugged into a slot on his computer and a "historical readout" came up on the monitor. When he hit the print button, the printer spit out a data record containing lots of info. He said he would give this to the "analyst" and someone would call and let me know what needed to be done. I had no idea the ignition key held all that data.

Also, when he slammed the hood, that uneven closure disappeared. Apparently, I had been too gentle in shutting it and hadn't engaged it completely. In the future, I'll just slam it. Duh!

So, at this moment, my low coolant warning is still an unsolved mystery. But as soon as I find out what's going on, I'll be sure and pass it along.

On the way home from the dealer, I got a "low fuel" warning on the instrument panel. I stopped at the Shell station and filled the tank with 91 octane, which is what the manual recommends. The total bill was $60.01 for the 15.35 gallons it took to fill up. After checking the "vehicle info" on the iDrive and learning that the car has averaged 19.8 mpg since I picked it up, I hit the "reset" option and punched the trip button. I'm hoping the second tank will get better mileage, but that remains to be seen.

It's supposed to be sunny and warm tomorrow in the Kansas City area. It seems as if it will be a good day to give it a wash and wax everything that I haven't waxed yet. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Rainy day. Kind of dreary, but kind of cool to experience those nifty rain-sensing wipers again.

Although, with the nasty weather, my car looks horrible with the dried rain splatters all over it. I'd love to go out there in the garage and clean it up, but it would be an effort in futility. It's supposed to rain again tomorrow. Saturday should be sunny, but then we have thunderstorms predicted for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I guess my car is going to be dirty for a little longer. But that Meguiar's Master Wax sure makes the water bead up on it!

Tomorrow I have a dental appointment, and the dentist's office is close to the BMW dealership. I'm planning on stopping at the dealership and getting that coolant topped off so I don't keep seeing that pesky Check Control warning. I'll also see if they take care of that hood adjustment so I don't have to worry about doing it myself.

You'll notice in the photo that the odo is setting at 265 miles now. (You may also notice that radiator icon previously mentioned.) The car is starting to loosen up a bit. Or maybe I'm just becoming more familiar with how it drives. Either way, it's working for me.

I'm also quite happy about the oil temperature, which has never gone over 240 so far. I think that's fairly normal and within the safe range. Have I ever mentioned that I've had some bad experiences with overheating cars?

So that's where we are today. Check back about this time tomorrow and I'll fill you in on what happened at the dealership. I also have a couple of key rings coming. I'll take a picture and show you what they give me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DAY FIVE - Run Flat Tires

There is an ongoing debate between those who hate run flat tires and those who understand their value. Personally, my driving history has placed me in the latter category. My Corvette had run flats on it when I purchased it (as all of them do now). Unfortunately, they were the Goodyear Eagle brand, which is known for creating a hard and noisy ride. Once I changed them out for the Michelin Pilot Sport version, the ride became softer and the noise level decreased significantly.

My new 335i comes with run flat tires, as they all do. Since I opted for the ZSP Sport Package rather than the M Sport version, my car came equipped with all season tires. I felt these would be a better option for winter driving than the performance tires included in the M Sport Package, and I didn't want to deal with changing them over for snow tires when winter arrived. Also, had I gone with the M Sport package, it would have included 18" wheels. As far as I know, they don't offer all season run flat tires in the 18" wheel size.

The run flat tires have been perfect so far. In fact, if you didn't know they were run flats, you would never suspect it. The ride is smooth and quiet. The owner's manual recommends 33psi in the fronts and 41psi in the rears. I'm thinking a 5psi reduction on the rear tires wouldn't hurt anything and might soften the ride a bit. I'll let you know what happens. Luckily, I didn't pay extra for the nitrogen fill in the tires. And that's a subject for another day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DAY FOUR - The Joy of Parking

Finding that perfect parking spot for a new car can be a frustrating endeavor. You want to find a place where you're not being too obvious. Naturally, you don't want to park with that diagonal approach. I think that's a sure-fire way to tick someone off. You really want your car to just kind of disappear in the lot and not draw any attention from ne'er do wells.

Also, if you can find a really nice, expensive, well-cared-for car to park next to, that's always a plus. Parking between two BMWs would be ideal, but that rarely happens. And if you can find a spot at the end of a row, then that's sometimes a good choice. Being on the end only gives one side of the car the opportunity to gain a door ding. If you can find an end spot on the right end of the row that's even a better choice. If it's a work parking lot, chances are good that the driver will be the only occupant. If that's the case, he or she will be exiting on the side away from your car so your potential door-ding possibilities just dropped dramatically. That's a positive.

So, even though parking can be a challenge that increases your heart rate and almost makes you want to turn around and take the car back to the safety of your garage, it's something we have to get over. We just have to choose the most attractive option and hope for the best. And that's all I have to say about that.

On another subject, I need to have my hood adjusted. The hood is tight an immovable on the driver's side. However, the other side, when you press on it, moves up and down an 1/8 inch or so. I'm guessing that's an easy adjustment for the dealer's service department.

And finally, I'll get around to explaining that illustration at the beginning of this post. I found Satellite radio station 71 today - Seriously Sinatra. I like it. I may listen to it tomorrow on the drive to work. Before having to find a parking place.

Monday, May 16, 2011

DAY THREE - Learning to Drive

When I started the engine this morning, before pulling out of the garage, that pesky radiator icon came up on the display again. I called the dealership, and the service advisor told me to drop by and they would top it off for me. Problem solved apparently.

After that call was completed, I took off and Zelda gave me a nice ride to work. I drank my coffee out of the new mug my wife found at a garage sale. I'm still having a little (ok, more than a little) trouble keeping my foot out of it, (the engine, not the mug) but I'm maintaining control.

Mileage seems pretty good so far. I checked the iDrive and learned that I've averaged 19.6 mpg since I picked up the car. It came with a full tank, which is about half empty now. I'll probably reset it when I fill the tank. I'm hoping the mileage will improve as the car gets broken in a little more.

I rolled the windows down for the first time today. Since they did the tinting Friday, they suggested I not roll them down until Sunday. I waited an extra day, just to be on the safe side.

I do have one issue so far, although it's probably something that will work itself out in time. When I take off from a stop light, it seems that I either take off way too slow or way too fast. I haven't found that middle of the road procedure for driving normally. It seems to be eluding me. Is this something that just works itself out as you get used to the car and how it drives? Is it possible the engine needs some adjustment? Research may be required to figure this out unless one of my readers has an answer.

Zelda is in the garage now, safe and sound. I've cleaned the exterior glass from the rain we drove through yesterday (with those magical rain-sensing wipers!). I may do a little waxing after it cools down a bit. I'm thinking hood and fenders tonight. Doors and rear quarter panels on Tuesday night. Roof and rocker panels on Wednesday night. That should work well, because it's supposed to rain Thursday and have thunderstorms Friday and Saturday.

So far, I'm still lovin' it. Feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

DAY TWO - And what a great driving machine!

As I mentioned earlier, we were planning on taking a ride to my sister's house today. We did just that. And I played with the Navigation feature of the iDrive a bit on this trip.

When we got on the highway, I spoke the address (love the voice command feature!) and the map came up on the display. When it was time to turn, I noticed that the German GPS girl (I shall call her Gypsy) wasn't paying attention, because she wasn't giving me any directions. This seemed strange and very much unlike most of the women I've been around, especially when I'm driving. I knew something wasn't right with this situation.

In Gypsy's absence, I scrolled around in the Nav system for a while, and I learned that you have to put a "check" by the "Voice Instructions" option. Once I did that, Gypsy came back and started giving us some very good directions. So I was pleased with how that worked out after I got the pilot error corrected and figured out how to program it correctly. My bad.

The technology and the toys on the car are great, but driving it is where the fun really happens. I'm not overly thrilled that the car is still in "break-in" mode because it would be so easy to drive it a little faster. And it certainly feels like it wants to go faster. It's like a cobra, coiled and ready to spring. I tried to vary my speed on both the outbound and return trips, actually getting up to 85 mph a few times. The car had so much power left at that point that it was very hard to keep from using it. But I didn't. One thing I noticed was that the oil temperature never went past the centerline 250 degrees. In fact, the highest it got was one click below 250.

The ride was smooth and quiet, even with the Continental run flat tires. The car was responsive to my every instruction, and it had a very confident attitude at all speeds. What a pleasure it is to drive. And I'm beginning to think I may have those rain-sensing wipers after all. I'm not sure, but I pushed the button on the end of the stalk with the "A" on it. It swiped the few drops off the glass on an intermittent frequency. At some point I noticed it wasn't raining any longer and the wipers were not moving. I didn't recall turning anything off. I still haven't quite figured that one out yet. If you know, leave a comment.

I need to figure out how to modify the radio "Tone" in order to boost the bass a bit. Speaking of the radio, my wife mentioned that this is the first car we've owned that the radio actually sounded like music. So there's a good plug for the Harman Kardon Sound System that came with this car.

I'm off to wipe the brake pad dust out of the wheels and see about that "Tone" adjustment. We're currently sitting at 138 miles.

DAY TWO - Post One

We're planning on a short road trip today. From Raymore to Independence. From Cass County to Jackson County. From our house to my sister's. It should be a great opportunity to add some miles to the odo and loosen the engine or the transmission up a little more and let things settle into their places. Also, it will give me an opportunity to plug an address into the Navigation system and see how that works. Looking forward to that experience.

But here's some info you might find of interest. Here are a couple of things you won't find:

FIRST AID KIT: I was searching for my first aid kit. Couldn't find it anywhere. I learned that BMWs sent to the American market do not have them. Apparently the factory installs them, but the port authorities remove them, either in German before they leave or in the US when they arrive. I'm not clear on the reason for this but it has something to do with the DOT (or some other authority) regulations. If anyone is more familiar with this, please feel free to chime in with a comment.

DIPSTICK: Nope. There isn't one. Which I find a bit disconcerting. I grew up in the sixties with muscle cars. Checking the oil was an important part of the service station adventure (back when they washed your windshield). Apparently, BMW wants the computer to take care of monitoring our oil and doesn't want out sticky fingers involved with it.

So, I'll be back later today. I have an announcement that hopefully will get some of you more involved with this blog. I'll be thinking about it while I'm driving today so I can have it all figured out by the time I get home.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

DAY ONE - Last Post of the Day

I took another drive this afternoon. Added seven miles. And then another drive that added another 3 miles. So we're currently at 54 miles on the clock. Not bad so far. Fortunately, I only work six miles from home, so that's only adding another 60 miles per week; 250 a month, or 3,000 a year. I should be able to insure it as a pleasure vehicle with less than 5,000 miles per year. That will save me a little cash on the insurance portion.

In addition, I won't have to pay any personal property tax on it until a year form this coming December. In Missouri, you pay property taxes in December but only on vehicles that you owned on January 1 of that year. Since I didn't own it on January 1, no taxes until the following December. That's another good deal.

So, here's a couple of photos to look at until I come up with some new info for tomorrow. The vignette effect was done on my Macbook Pro from iPhone photos that I sent to myself.

I also cleaned out all that black soot from the exhaust pipes. I found Semichrome to be the weapon of choice for this project. There was a lot more on the right pipe than on the left. I wonder why that is?  I had the same issue with my Corvette—the right exhaust always had much more soot in it. I'm going to have to research that and find out.

DAY ONE - Post Four

Meguiar's products are amazing. I used them on my Corvette for several years. I just did a little number on my new BMW 335 (Zelda) to see what would happen. Actually, the car looks very good from the dealer delivery last night. HOWEVER...

When the weather gets warmer I will definitely claybar it. For a new paint job, there are lots of contaminants in the clearcoat. Easy to feel when you run your fingers over it. So, the photos below are pre-claybarring. I only worked on the top of the trunk deck and it was all done by hand. No Porter Cable or any other electric buffer. Also, I never use anything on the paint other than microfiber towels. So, here's the procedure.

Step One: Meguiar's Detail Spray to remove any dust.
Step Two: Meguiar's Show Car Glaze (You apply this wet and wipe it off wet. Don't let it dry.)
Step Three: Meguiar's Gold Master Wax.

Whenever the weather warms up I plan to claybar the entire car and get a good coat of glaze and wax on it. Check out the shine in ten minutes time!

DAY ONE - Part Three

The garage doors have been programmed. It was actually simple, thanks to the clear instructions in the handy-dandy BMW Owner's Manual.

So that's everything I had planned to do today, other than drive it a little.

DAY ONE - Part Two

That was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. The iPhone is paired to the car. iDrive is relatively intuitive and quite user-friendly. Good job BMW!

I love the voice that tells you exactly what to do and guides you through making a call. I case you've never paired a Bluetooth device to your iDrive, here's a video that explains it. It's quick and simple.

DAY ONE - Part One

It wasn't a dream! When I looked in the garage this morning, the car is actually sitting there. Waiting.

The drive home from the dealership last night was interesting, if not a little disconcerting. When we picked up the car, the odometer showed a grand total of 11 miles. Everything is new, and all the engine parts are learning how to work with one another. I found the response a little unsure, as if the car wasn't certain what it was supposed to do. I'm certain that's simply a function of the "newness" and everything getting settled in, or perhaps it was my own unfamiliarity with the car and what to expect.

The main thing I noticed was that I seemed to be taking off from stop lights at a faster-than-expected rate of speed. But I was barely on the accelerator, or at least that's how it seemed to me. So we will get used to one another as the days pass and things will settle into a more comfortable and natural relationship. We currently have 44 miles on the odometer, so she's not new any longer. My how those miles add up.

But we're not going to worry about that. Today is a special day. It's really the first day with Zelda, and I have much to do. Much. First of all, there is an iPhone I need to link with the iDrive so I can call without having to dial. How handy is that? Are we just lazy these days? On that same subject, Zelda did not come with rain-sensing wipers. So, I guess I'm going to have to be ever watchful and alert, and if it starts raining, I'll need to remember to turn the wipers on.  I guess I can do that without too much trouble. At least I hope so.

I'm off to the garage to see about getting that iPhone linked up. If that goes okay, the garage door openers are next on my hit list. And, if the sun comes out, I'll pull her out of the garage and snap a couple more photos for you to see.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Delivery, sort of

It's late. We just got home after driving picking up the car. We spent an hour at the dealership, and by the time we were finished with the paperwork, we were both hungry. We decided to schedule another time for the actual "delivery" process, during which the salesperson goes over all the bells and whistles of the car.

I've spent some time reading the owner's manual, and I think I have a good feel for how most of the options work. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here's the first picture of the car, still at the dealership. Sweet! I'm naming her Zelda (German for Gray Warrior Maiden. Or something like that. I'll provide a more detailed post in the morning. I really like the Double-spoke wheels.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The day is drawing near.

I received a call yesterday from Laura at Baron BMW notifying me that my car had arrived. I actually had received that same information previously from Ron, my salesperson. Laura's job is to schedule delivery. And add-on accessories for those items you simply must have.

I was relatively frugal. The only things I added were the carpeted floor mats and a 35% charcoal window tinting all around. With black interior and the blazing midwestern sun, tinting seems like a good idea.

So that's where it stands right now. Delivery is scheduled for Saturday morning, and I'm anxious to see it. This car and I have never met, so it will be a first date. Saturday has always been a good day for a first date. At least, that's how I remember it from the FIFTIES.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Now here's some news!

My salesperson called me today. It was exciting when my phone rang and I saw his number. And it was even more exciting to hear the news.

My car has arrived from New Jersey!

The dealership will do their work on it, which, according to my salesperson, involves unpacking, removing internal packing materials, setting the computer (not sure what's up with that) and other things that are apparently necessary. I really don't have a clue as to what all they have to do. I just hope they use microfiber towels if they wash it.

He also told me that Laura will be giving me a call to set up the delivery. I'm sure there are a bunch of costly "add-on" items that they'll want to sell me at that time. Anyone have any info on what the accessory items are that they offer at the delivery stage? If you do, please leave a comment.

Monday, May 9, 2011

No News... but a question...

I have nothing to report today regarding the status or location of my new car. Darn it! But I do have some information to share with my readers (if I have any at this point.)

It was a hot day in Kansas City. I mean, really hot and sticky. It got into the 90s and the humidity was very high as well. By the time I left work and walked through the parking lot to my car, I was sweaty. And I thought to myself:

If I was driving my new BMW would I feel right just hopping into it and getting my sweaty shirt on the nice new leather seats? I don't think so.

And it made me wonder what other BMW owners do. I'm thinking perhaps a seat cover? It would be a shame to cover up such lovely interior, but it would also be a shame to ruin it or mess it up. So what do you do? Leave a comment and let me know what YOU do to protect that nice leather interior.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What's this iDrive thing?

I almost didn't order the iDrive. After all, I have a Garmin GPS device. However, after reading the comments on Bimmerfest (which I highly recommend to anyone interested in the BMW) I learned that the iDrive is more than a GPS device. It's actually a command center for several systems. A little more research led me to the BMW North America site where the following was found:

The BMW iDrive system is an on-board system that integrates the vehicle’s main dashboard components—Navigation, Communications and Entertainment, as well as Phonebook, BMW Assist™ (not available in all models) and Vehicle Info—into one central, easy-to-access system.

The BMW iDrive system offers convenience, performance and safety. By integrating your vehicle’s Navigation, Communications and Entertainment functions into one centralized system, iDrive eliminates the fumble for controls and allows you to focus on your driving. iDrive features a single toggle switch and seven keys located at hand level near the gear shift. Innovative and intuitive, iDrive can be used without taking your eyes off the road, allowing for a safer, more enjoyable ride.

So there you have what I've learned so far. I'm sure I'll have more input once my car is delivered and I get a chance to experiment with the features and gizmos that come along with it. If you have iDrive and want to leave a comment regarding your personal experience, I hope you will click the "comment" thingy below and tell us what you think. Isn't technology grand?

And finally, here's an amateur video I found on YouTube. It's fairly comprehensive and shows a lot of the features. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Something Different

I'm not going to talk about my new BMW today, or how exciting it is to be waiting for it to arrive from the east coast. Instead, I thought I'd post this YouTube video related to the origin of the BMW roundel logo. I found it interesting. I hope you will, too.

Afterwards, move the right sidebar and find the poll where you can select our car color. We can see what the most popular colors are if everyone checks their selection.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Off the Boat!

My contact at the dealership (Baron BMW in Overland Park, Kansas) called me this afternoon to let me know my car made it off the ship safely and has been transferred to the cartage company. It will soon be heading for home. He indicated it should arrive some time next week, but didn't give an exact date. I'm getting more excited about it and looking forward to driving it for the first time.

I would also like to mention here that if you're in the Kansas City area and you're looking for a BMW, I can recommend a great salesperson. I don't want to mention his name here without his permission, but if you'd like to leave a comment with your email address, I can certainly send you an email with his contact info. He's a very nice young man, and he knows what he's doing.

Monday I will present more details on the accessories I ordered with my new car. Meanwhile, I have to figure out how to reprogram a garage door opener so it only operates one door at a time. (I don't know why it operates both door, but it does. It's a hassle when one is up and one is down.) Once I get it fixed, it will be easier to program the Homelink system on the Beemer when it arrives.

Leave a comment and let me know there's someone out there reading this.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A new BMW made to order . . .

Wow! That previous post was a bit much, wasn't it? I'll keep this one shorter. Not that I'm immodest enough to think there's anyone actually READING any of this, but just in case.

After looking over the available vehicles on the dealership lot, I didn't find anything that had the right color exterior, the correct material and color interior, and the options I wanted. I asked the salesperson if we could order one with the specifications I was looking for. He informed me that we certainly could do that, but we would be looking at a six to eight week delivery time. He also suggested that he could do a vehicle search and possibly locate one either in transit or in the Port of Entry in New Jersey. I told him to go ahead with that plan and to let me know what he found.

The following day, he called and told me he had found the exact car I was looking for. It was sitting on the ship in the harbor and we could nab it and have it shipped to KC if I wanted to proceed. Below is the skinny on what it is. I'm not going to include everything here. I may need more stuff for the next post.

  • 2011 BMW 335ix SEDAN

That's enough to start with. But I'd like to add a little clarification as to why I chose what I did. Everyone has their own list of options they want and need in their car. It's all personal, and, if you remember from the previous post, I like power. That's why I bypassed the 328 and went with the 335i. Like the 328, this model has an inline six cylinder engine. But it's power is boosted with a turbocharger. For the 2011 model year, BMW redesigned the previous twin turbo and turned it into what they refer to as a "twin-scroll" turbo. They've kept the original turbo design for the new 335is model. So my love of power is one reason for choosing the 335i.

Why a sedan? Well, you may be surprised to hear that I almost ordered a coupe. It was a close call. But the sedan just has so many more advantages that I changed my mind and went with the four doors. I also came very close to going with the Black Sapphire exterior. So classy. And so darned hard to keep looking good without constant attention. The Lexus is white, and that's a great color for a BMW, but I wanted a change. I've never been a fan of blue cars in any shade. And red seems more like a muscle car color. And it seems like there are way too many silver cars on the roads these days. When I saw the Space Gray I decided that was the color for me. Still classy, but more practical since it's not so prone to swirling and showing dirt.

From there we go to the interior. Leatherette is not my cup of tea. I grew up with something called Naugahyde, which was a predecessor of Vinyl and Pleather, and which is something I do not like. Materials of this ilk do not belong in a luxury or near-luxury vehicle. Leather is the only option, in my opinion.

And speaking of leather, the oyster and black interior is absolutely gorgeous, and I came very close to making that selection. But after reading several horror stories on the BMW forums about the blue dye from new jeans leeching into the lighter leather colors, I decided to go with the classic black. That color also was more harmonious with the Space Gray than the warmer tone of the oyster. I also had several options I could select for the trim. Aluminum is modern, but a lot of forum posters said that it scratches easily. In the end, I went with the Dark Burl Walnut, as shown in the photo.

The Sports Package was a must have. Although it has several features included, the primary reason I selected that package was because of the Sports Seats. They are the most comfortable seats I have ever had the pleasure to sit in. And you really do sit "in" them rather than "on" them. If you're ever near a BMW dealer stop by and find a model with the sports seats and check them out. It will make you want them.

The Premium Package gives you power seats on both sides with adjustable lumbar support. It also gives you Homelink for garage door operation. There are other things included, but those are the two features I was most interested in having.

Cold Weather Package provides heated seats with three levels of heating, plus a heated steering wheel. You also get a ski bag. Since I'm not a skier, I'll have one of those for sale shortly if anyone is interested.

At this point, I don't know when my car is going to arrive, but it should be next week. Hopefully. I can hardly wait to see it. Tomorrow I'll mention some of the other accessories  the car has as well as give you a photo of the wheels.

That's about enough for this post. If anyone is out there reading this, feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In the Beginning . . .

Anyone who knows me is probably of the opinion that I'm obsessed with cars. Maybe obsessed is a bit strong, but cars have been one of my loves from as far back as I can remember. It all began at an early age. In the fifties and sixties, my father had a subscription to Mechanix Illustrated. Every month a new issue would arrive, and I loved reading all the car articles. I was especially fond of Tom McCahill's monthly review of a new model.

As a member in good standing of the Baby Boomer generation, the cars from that era have been a part of my life since the day I bought my first set of wheels in the form of a jet black 1957 Ford Fairlane. As first cars go, it wasn't bad. In fact, I loved it. Unfortunately, Mother Nature and the laws of physics are always on the job, and things mechanical don't last forever. When they wear out, as they always do, we eventually have to part with an old friend and become slowly familiar with a new one. Such was the case with my Fairlane and every other car I've owned since then.

A few months ago, my 2001 Lexus ES300 and I moved into a new phase of our long relationship. We both seemed to know that our time together was growing short. And it was a sad thing, really, because the Lexus had been a faithful and trouble-free partner for eight years. But as time passes, the years and the miles move behind us. The intuition that our time together was coming to an end started to trouble me. It didn't come all at once; it was more of a gradual "knowing" that snuck up softly and slowly.

That's a good thing, actually, because I take the "new car" decision very seriously. Since the choice of a new car is something that I will typically live with for several years, I spend what time it takes to ensure that I'm making the right choice. And since this is a new blog, I thought that decision process, and how it came about, might be appropriate fodder for the first post. So let us take a look at what's happened so far.

STAGE ONE: Research.

I drove a lot of cars during the research phase. I visited numerous websites and read a lot of reviews, including Edmunds, Car&Driver, and Kelly Bluebook. My situation was somewhat unique in that I was looking for a luxury vehicle to replace the Lexus and something sporty to replace my 2001 Corvette. The short list of contenders included the Audi A4, Mercedes C300, Lexus ES, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Cadillac CTS, and Infiniti G37. I had a brief fascination with the Chrysler 300 HEMI, but I've had some bad experiences in the past with Chrysler products, so I decided to look at other options.

STAGE TWO: Narrowing the Field.

During the data-gathering stage, I drove American-made cars as well as imports. I even test drove the new Mustang 5.0 and the 400+hp Camaro SS, but I nixed both of those because they were only available in RWD. Although either would have satisfied the "sport" aspect of my requirements, Kansas City winters require more traction than either car would give me on those nasty days when we have a few inches of snow on the streets. If I lived in a more temperate climate, the result may have been different. But I don't.

Since the Lexus ES was something I was familiar with, that seemed like a logical starting point. The ES has a great reputation, and, as I mentioned, mine has provided flawless service for eight years. Unfortunately, since we have only one Lexus dealership in KC, they seem to be of the opinion that they don't have to deal with buyers. I decided to investigate other options.

The Acura was a potential choice, but I couldn't get past that evil jack-o-lantern smile of the new grille. The Honda Accord was another possibility offering a well-respected and attractive sedan. But that turned out to be a dead end because of the overly busy center stack in the cockpit. There was just too much going on there.

In the same class, Mercedes offers the C model. Nice car, but they're missing the boat and losing a sale to me because of their interior. It's surprising that they are still trying to pawn off that pitiful MB-tex material on their customers. Why not just put leather in there and be done with it. At that price point, leather should be a standard feature.

At the opposite end of the price continuum, I found the unpretentious Nissan Altima. This is an understated jewel that deserves some consideration. It has a great body and ample power. A unique feature is their CVT (continuously variable transmission) which was a unique experience for me. If you haven't driven one, try it. You may be pleasantly surprised.

 Known for their excellent interior material and workmanship, the Audi was another possibility. But with only four cylinders, the 2.0L A4 was obviously underpowered, and it wasn't difficult to discern that when I drove it. Conversely, the Cadillac CTS had more than ample power and a high quality interior, but there's something about the angry, angular lines of the body that was a turn-off for me.

Of the cars driven, the Infiniti G37 was the strongest contender. It actually finished in second place. There is really a lot to like about this one: the body style is classy, the power is definitely available if needed, and the interior quality is good. The one thing that killed the deal on this entry was the automatic transmission. There's something not quite right about it. I experienced a definite and significant delay from the time the accelerator was punched until the resulting acceleration kicked in. If that issue hadn't been present, my final choice may have been different. Once Infiniti gets that bug worked out, I think they'll see an increase in market share because everything else about the car puts it near the top of its class in my opinion.

STAGE THREE: The Decision.

When you look at the BMW 335i, it doesn't scream sports car. It doesn't yell luxury car. It just sits there, sedately, waiting for you to get inside the cabin, turn the key, and drive it. That's when it happens. You simply fall in love. My first impression was WOW!

There was an immediate response from the 300hp twin scroll turbo engine when I punched the accelerator. The steering wasn't sloppy or mushy, and the tires held the road like velcro, even in the sharp, high-speed turns I put it through on the test drive. The brakes had a more-than-capable feel about them with no noticeable nose-dip, even in the quick stops.

The interior is leather, and the sports seats wrap around you like they were custom made to fit your exact shape. The instrument panel is simple and uncluttered. The ride is firm, but there's no jarring from any uneven surfaces you encounter. It feels solid and capable in every situation. Overall, it was highly impressive, and the car's response to my directions seemed almost intuitive.

So, in the end, after four months of struggling to come up with the perfect choice, this was too good to pass up. A deal was struck. My new car is currently at the Port of Entry in New Jersey, hopefully off the boat by now and getting ready to be transported to the dealership.  According to my salesperson, it should be here within a week "or so." I'm not sure how long "or so" is, but hopefully something less than a second week.

Tomorrow I'll provide more details including the packages, options, and colors of my new BMW. Stay tuned! The best is yet to come.

If you're a BMW enthusiast, owner, or fan, feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to hear your input. And I hope you'll come back to read more as the story continues to unfold.