Saturday was to be my last day on my 2020 YT Jeffsy (mountain bicycle). I had planned to get rid of it because I just could not keep the front wheel from washing out. Ever since I took it to a downhill spot at a ski resort a month or two ago, I have been riding like absolute trash. My last 3 rides have been just awful, either I go into any turn like a complete wuss or I crash...no in between. Going into any kind of steep valley...it was like crashing into a wall on the exit...I watched a bunch of videos on technique figuring I was just too bad of a rider for this fancy bike.
We reached a loose gravel driveway on our ride Saturday afternoon. I got off my bike wanting to throw it and said to my best friend, “here, ride this piece of shit around the corner in that gravel”
He rides it, nearly falls. Then he twisted a knob I have never seen before at the bottom of my front fork. FIXED. The rebound was turned all the way down (I also may need some air in there) so the shock would take the first impact and then no more after that...
He had actually asked me about that setting after I crashed in one of the steep dips but all I could say was “fuckfuckassfuckshitfuckyouletsgo”. I’m kind of the “Medic” in my riding group. I carry everything someone might need, and I can rig/fix anything, but I have NO idea where I’m going and obviously, I don’t really understand how my bike works. Luckily my pal does understand how the bikes work and naturally only carries water. Our other buddy is an ex-Navy heli pilot and an excellent navigator.
Anyway, Sunday was car day. My 1502 has had every fluid changed except coolant since it arrived stateside in January of 2019. It has never overheated, but when sitting at a red light on really hot days it would start to climb a little. The temp fluctuated in other weird ways occasionally. Like it would start to get hot when I got on the highway, and then cool off (maybe a sticky thermostat, but I have always heard those things work or they don’t.) I had added distilled water which stopped highway symptoms, but it still would get warm when idling for a while.
So, while mostly annoying to have a sloped driveway, mine is such that a car is almost perfectly level once pulled up on car ramps! Nose is slightly higher, but that is recommended in the manual for the refill procedure.
First, I changed the oil. It always freaks me out for a sec when I see the blue/green color of the oil that goes in this thing. Believe it or not I can actually change the oil on the ground (and usually do as that gets the most oil out) the plug is at the front left of the oil pan when you look underneath the car and I have a catch tray that is just shallow enough to sneak under. Filter is at an easy angle, so you only need hands to install/remove it.
Next, the coolant. I have previously outsourced coolant flushes because it’s kind of a pain on newer BMWs, but more so because it’s something I have never done on my own and always just figured I’d do it, fuck something up and be left with an overheating car AND a mess. I have helped others and we had to burp the air out of the system, run it without the cap on etc...
I have become much more confident with a wrench in recent years and there is just something about that old Bimmer that makes me feel guilty for even thinking about having someone else work on it. The car is SO simple and the cooling system is no exception. So, I got the coolant, scanned and printed the appropriate page from my Haynes manual and got started.
My biggest concern was containing the coolant. For this I employed a large “under-bed” storage box which worked really well. There’s no drain plug on my radiator, so I disconnected the lower hose from the thermo and turned it until it was pointed down, then I pulled the plug from the engine block and A LOT of coolant came out. 80% made it into the tray, the other 20% bounced all over the suspension components and was then absorbed by huge towel I had under the work area. Now I know where to put the tray for next time!
Next I put a hose in the top of the radiator and let it flush for a sec, then I reconnected the lower hose to the thermo and let the hose rip again until it ran clear out of the engine block (almost immediately). I disconnected the lower hose again to let the hose water out, almost forgot to do this! I poured the coolant/rinse water into a HD bucket and pressed on one of those leak tite lids.
I buttoned everything up and refilled. RED FLAG #1 - missed. I know that the cooling system has just shy of a 2 gallon capacity. I know this because I looked all over the internet AND read it in the Haynes manual because I was SO concerned about how much fluid would come out. In addition, I poured just shy of two gallons of used coolant into a big 5 gallon bucket just minutes earlier. However, I poured in ONE gallon of coolant and it ended up right at the fill level...boom done said my dumbass brain.
I then put the second gallon of coolant that I bought (cause ya know two gallons out two gallons in right?) in the car with me.... JUST IN CASE I NEEDED TO TOP IT UP. I also threw my top up oil bottle in there in case I came up short on that too.
I go off for my TD and obviously it overheats...my heart sinks I start to panic as I pull over. I shut the car off, threw a big towel over the radiator cap and carefully opened it. BURP, and it needed a little coolant... ok no big. Back in the car, overheats.. pull over call my pal he tells me what I already know about air in the system etc. I try running it with the cap open it just gets hot and does not look like the coolant is going anywhere. I was about a mile from my house, so I decided to let it cool for a few minutes and try to get home which I did by shutting the engine off going down hills, haha.
I get back to my driveway kind of defeated/furious with myself. I quickly posted to the BMW 2002 FB group knowing that I would net immediate responses. I tried their suggestions: Park nose up on an incline, squeeze the hoses, run it with the cap off. Each time I shut the engine off I was able to add a tiny bit more coolant. One of those times I did get a big bubble out, but it spit coolant everywhere. So, I had to clean that up before I continued. STILL getting too hot. So, I tried actually driving the car between each burp/coolant add...That got the coolant moving and the engine cooled to about where it would sit at idle before I started this mess. I checked the coolant level one more time and it had dropped more than it had this whole time! I filled it back up and wouldn’t ya know I used almost all of that second bottle LOL. It is now running cool as an MF cucumber. So, I learned a lot and escaped with only a burn on my arm. One of the guys on the FB group recommended squeezing the hoses but said to keep my fingers away from the radiator fan...I did that and in doing so put my forearm on the engine!!
Finally, and most importantly I got my first unsolicited “I love you” from my child this weekend, can’t touch that!