The WarCamp Line - March 2002

  Thoughts on Turning 100k

By Warren Campbell

When the Bondmobile turned 90,000 miles I started to worry about all kinds of things. The clutch didn’t seen right, there were a few more squeaks and rattles and more paint chips on the nose than a gallon of Lanka could fix. Edmonds told me that my mileage was really going to hurt my trade-in value. In the back of my mind there was that reoccurring thought that basically, cars were just worn out at the 100,000 mile mark. I thought about trading her in but I got over it.


While I can remember turning 90k, I don’t even remember turning 100,000. I don’t know why, maybe I was just having to much fun that day. This week I turned 111,666 and for some strange reason my fear returned… for a day or so. I got over it.


It would be tempting to get one of the last new Z3’s out there. I’m even tempted by a new Mini, seems like they would be a lot of fun. I’m mostly over it.


I’m writing this with the thought that some of you may be having the same thoughts and since the Bondmobile has more miles than most of you, it might give some insight as to where your Z3 is going. If you get bored with this, just skip to the ‘How’s she doing now’ section.


If this should give the impression that I know the Z3’s better than most, you should reconsider. The Network of Z3 devotees like DougM, JohnM and FredR have been out there since before the first Z3 hit the showroom in 1996. These are the drivers that have taught me so much and that make the Z3 all the fun it is today.


A little background:

The Bondmobile did not come to me totally new. She was a Certified Pre Owned from a Houston Dealer. A 1998, manufacture date November 1997, purchased by me in April 1999 with about 12,000 miles. It is a 1.9 liter with very few options. In fact, I think the only options were the metallic Boston Green and the On Board Computer. No garage queen here, this is my daily driver and while most of my miles are on I-45, some are on routine city streets. I autocross every chance I get. It’s hard for me to imagine that a total time of 5 minutes per month could affect much but some may think it does.


The car really didn’t seem to be totally loose until about 50,000 miles. By loose, I mean that the power seemed to grow until this point. This seems to be the consensus of most Z3 owners in the network.


Big Problems:

Big is a relative term but I will call anything over, say, $400, whether paid by myself or covered by warranty, a big problem.


67,209 miles The catalytic converter developed a quite noticeable rattle. In my case, the entire ceramic unit came loose from the housing and therefore had to be replaced. It was covered under warranty and cost me nada. In fact, I got a nifty 3.0 Coupe as a loaner. There has since been a service bulletin issued on this and BMW gives every indication that they will stand up to the problem. My cost: $0.00


83,479 miles In August of 2001, I had two incidents of cooling system problems. This was a very hot month even for Houston and at the time I was going through the downtown area fairly regularly. Incident number one started with the temperature gauge going hot while downtown in rush hour traffic. She was towed in and diagnosed as a cracked (plastic) thermostat housing. The radiator was replaced.


A week later, while downtown in rush hour traffic, she again went hot. There was the little altercation with one of Houston’s Finest that thought I just wanted to park in a no stand zone but that’s another story. She was towed in (again) and the auxiliary fan was replaced. Cost for trips, two tows and the radiator that may not have been needed: $530.00


In the 28,000 miles since then, I’ve had no problem at all with the cooling system. Through the network, I have heard of other BMW’s manufactured in this time frame with similar plastic cooling system parts that have had similar problems.


Important to note: In each instance of this problem, the first symptom was that the A/C stopped working. I don’t why, but rest assured, when it gets hot inside, I’m watching the temperature gauge!


100,500 miles I guess I started worrying about the clutch at probably 70,000 miles and while that was totally without rational reason, it was still something between my ears if not between the rear engine seal and the drive shaft. At the March 2002 autocross, DanDan Baker drove the Bondmobile and when he accelerated out of the start box he said, "Did you know your clutch was slipping?" Of course I knew it! I just didn’t want to admit it but now it was bad enough that I had to do something. At the same time, FredR was having some problems with his 1.9 and so we both got a new Centerforce clutch and throw out bearing. I also got a Rod Sygar short shifter. Cost about $800 for parts, labor and the short shifter.


It might be worthwhile to note that a lot of Z3’s have gone much longer than this without a clutch replacement. I do not ride the clutch. I do downshift virtually every time I decelerate and that’s all the way down to second. At 84,400 miles I replaced the brake pads but they were not in bad shape at all. It would be much more cost effective to decelerate using the brake than the clutch but I’m not going to change. It’s more fun this way.


That’s really all the bad news. I have had most of the ‘Standard’ little problems such as:

  • Rocking passenger seat

  • Rear window coming loose from the top

  • Rock chips (not so little anymore)

  • Rattle in the glove box

  • Cracked fog lights

  • Seat belt retraction problem

  • Leak in center tail light


There have been, no doubt, some others but really, they were fairly minor since I can’t even remember them.



I think I really do keep up with the maintenance. In addition to the Owners Manual, early on I got a Bentley’s manual. It is worth its weight in gold. Not 100% for everything but I wouldn’t be without it. Period. Scheduled maintenance has always been done before the red light comes on the service indicators and it’s possible that it doesn’t even work, I wouldn’t know.


Also, I always do an ‘Intermediate’ oil change between every scheduled service. It is not required, I just do it. My Scheduled Maintenance comes about every 5-1/2 months or about 9,000 miles. By now, I can drive in with a warm engine, change the oil and filter in an easy 30 minutes and not get a drop of oil on my fingers. A filter kit cost about six bucks and the oil cost may be $25. It’s cheap and easy.


I use Castrol Syntec synthetic, 10W-40. Early on I used 5W-50 but mainly switched because it was so hard to find. Debate it if you will, it just seems right to me. My tyranny and rear end fluids are also synthetic.


As noted in the Owners manual and or the Bentleys, I have flushed brake fluid, flushed and changed coolant, and replaced O2 sensors. When the manual wants me to ‘check all bolts for correct torque’ I have always done it.


When I started doing my own maintenance, I started a spreadsheet to track the work. As time goes on, I seem to add more and more details to the list:


Maintenance on Z3

Z3 / 1.9L / 1998 / Note: Period of Oil Service and Inspection Service is 5.5 mts; 9000 miles







Service II

estimate time & Miles



Replace cat converter-BMW North-covered under warranty



Service II




Oil Service




Trans Flush

Differential Flush



Replace t-stat

Car overheating - towed to BMW-North




Car overheating - towed to BMW-North



Brake Pads

Replaced all 4 sets with PBR Metalmasters


Wiper Blades

Bosch wiper blades replaced with entire blade and holder

Blade only = Bosch # 43320




Blade and Holder = Bosch 40720A



Replace 3rd Brake light lens and o-ring.




Wash, Zymol HD Clean and Carbon wax




Replaced 2 tires due to road hazard incident-AVSdB




Replaced License plate bulbs - Wagner Lighting # BP194



Service I

Completed Service I have not reset computer




Installed Z3CCA Badge



Reset Service Lights for Service I



'Flipped' Kumo track tires inside to outside. Spin balanced tires.


Tire gauge

New tire gauge 'Accutire' reads about 0.5 psi higher




than old Victor gauges. I assume new gauge is best.



Intermediate oil change




Changed broken gas pedal, clutch & brake pedal cover




Replaced clutch with Centerforce clutch plate

also throw out bearing




also installed Rod Sygar short shifter - all at BMW North



Oil Service

Changed oil and filter




Changed wiper blades




Replaced 2 tires



Intermittent oil change

Changed oil only - not filter



Inspection II Service AND 100,000 Service (Fixit Day-North Harris College)

Replaced serpentine belt [OEM part]

Replaced A/C belt [OEM part]

Change oil and oil filter [OEM filter kit & Castor Syntec 10W40 oil]

Replace Battery [OEM part]

Added 4 oz engine coolant [OEM fluid]

Replace spark plugs [OEM parts]

Change manual transmission oil. [Royal Purple synthetic ATF]

Change final drive fluid [Royal Purple 75W40 synthetic]

Replace fuel filter [OEM part]

Added 1 oz power steering fluid {Royal Purple ATF synthetic]

Replace O2 sensor [Bosch]

Replace plug wires [Magnecor 8mm]

See details on file BMW Service I & II & Oil



Replaced front lower air dam [OEM part]



Reset service indicator it read 'Inspection' - used 23 blinks



Replace windshield washer nozzles and filters



Replaced center tail light liens, o-ring and housing - 2nd time



Estimate - next intermediate oil change - Merry Christmas



Estimate - next scheduled oil service


Ok, you think it’s silly to do this. You’re probably right.


How’s she doing now?


Quite nice, thank you! Runs good, looks good. I really feel as though she has the same power as new, perhaps a little bit more. The M44 Engine is rock solid. I probably use from ¼ to ½ quart of oil per every 4,500 miles. I would estimate that coolant loss is 4 oz per every 9,000 miles. I have never added clutch, brake, tranny or rear end fluid other than when it is changed.


The leather inside is a little used but without any readily noticeable faults. The shift boot is worn and I need new floor mats. Curious, I’m on my third windshield and in the sun I can see small sparkles. Very small chips, I guess. There is a small spot in the trunk mat that I can’t seem to get out but I haven’t tried very hard.


The body paint shows the miles more than anything. From 10 yards there is nothing you notice but up close the nose shows the rock chips, there is a small area on the front air dam where the paint has come off. The balance of the body has a few small dents. Probably all of these could be removed with the paintless ding removal process.


Here is my ‘I want’ list:


Z3 I NEED this list




Estimated Cost


Repair center tail light leak – Done today



Clutch peddle squeak – starting to be a nuisance



Adjust passenger window – starting to be slow



Replace Accelerator cable – hardly noticeable



Front end balance – hardly noticeable



Shift knob – would be nice to have



Gauge brake rotors – not a prob, just want to know



Glove box repair – sagging door



Remove air bag signs on sun visors



Repaint hood – getting to be a high priority



Repair trim strip on door sill – simple to do



Install Garage door opener – ‘like at’



Need soft top care kit



Replace exhaust – Want it or need it?



Adjust top



Relocate CD changer (aftermarket that I installed)



Touch up paint - several places



Replace shocks – would be nice for autocross



Floor mats – starting to get narley



Seat belt retract – needs to be cleaned



Wood dash – I like the look




Some of these were just a passing fancy and I’ll never do them. Most are not a high priority or I’d be doing them instead of writing this. This is really an ‘I want’ list, not an ‘I need’ list.


When we start talking about out cars, I always say, ‘Oh it’s just stock, I haven’t done anything to it.’ Well, here are some things that I have done:

  • Bavarian Motorsports strut brace

  • Magnacore ignition wires (performs, but a bear to install)

  • Fogged Air box (performs great, easy and inexpensive)

  • 2nd set of OEM wheels with Kumo R compound tires

  • Fog and Headlight covers (after busting 2 fog lights)

  • Leather Z armrest

  • Hawaiian seatcovers (not to most people’s taste)

  • Assorted cup holders

  • OEM bra and wind screen

  • Jensen CD changer (ok-not great)

  • Chromed tools

  • Magnetic ‘J Bond’ and numbers for autocross


The car is still fun and I still get that silly grin when the top goes down. Problems? Sure. More than most Z’3’s? Just average I would guess. Overall, BMW builds a car that sticks together very well. It’s hard to see me in anything else.




For more info contact
Warren Campbell


Jeff Newton - Webmaster

Posted:  Monday, May 5 2003