Sunday, August 09, 2009

It's been a busy few weeks! The M3 has had a ton of work done on it. When I bought it, it needed ALL the periodic maintenance. I had to assume that nothing had been done. I've changed the oil and filter, air filter, cabin air filter, NGK Platinum spark plugs, body-color front grilles (see photo), BMW short shifter kit with a new shift knob, Amsoil 75W-140 in the differential, fixed a wonky turn signal socket, cleaned the leather, changed the belts, and did a TON of little details inside, outside, and under the car. The car is really starting to shine and come up to my usual standards.

One interesting product I used is Dr. ColorChip. This is a paint touch-up system that is designed to help repair road rash and chips. My M3 has a lot of tiny chips on the lower part of the front valance and along the leading edge of the hood and fenders. You can read about how this product works on their website. Suffice to say I'm pretty happy with the result. It's not perfect by any means, but the road rash on my car is pretty bad. I'm sure I'll get the front repainted at some point. But for $60 or so, this product greatly reduced the appearance of road rash on my car and eliminated some bigger chips, too, without making a mess like touch-up paint usually does.

The other really significant thing I did with the M3 was a complete detail from top to bottom, using a random orbital buffer. The paint had a lot of very fine scratches. The previous owners of this car kept it pretty clean, but didn't do it properly and the result was a lot of scratches. I needed a serious tool to tackle this job. I settled on the Griot's Garage Random Orbital Polisher. The results are amazing. I used Griot's Machine Polish no. 3 to remove most of the fine scratches, and then waxed with Griot's Best of Show Wax. There's still a few swirls visible, so I'm going to go back with Machine Polish no. 2, which is slightly more aggressive, but overall the car looks fantastic already. I also noticed that it stayed much cleaner after this was done. In the last week I drove through three separate Florida thunderstorms, which usually gets my car really dirty from road grime and water spots. This time, though, the car still looked absolutely clean. I can only figure that the paint is SO smooth that dirt can't stick to it. The Mystic Blue Metallic paint on the M3 is really beautiful and the Best of Show wax really makes it look deep. I found that the BMW paint is REALLY hard and you have to work it hard to polish it. The random orbital makes it a lot easier but you still have to put some muscle into it. I don't think I'd be able to correct the swirls in this paint by hand.

Finally, today I tried some P21S wheel cleaner. A small bottle of this stuff is about $15, but it comes with a sponge and a little goes a long way. I chose it because something previously used on these wheels has stained them slightly and I don't want to make it any worse. It did a really nice job today of cleaning the wheels on the M3. I used to just use the same soap and water that I wash the rest of the car with but I'm sold on this stuff. It really cleans a lot better. There are some wheel cleaning products on the market that will really damage the finish on alloy wheels. Be careful what you use. I've found that paying a little more for the good stuff usually is worth it. Most of the consumer-grade products sold at your Friendly Local Auto Parts Store (FLAPS) just don't work all that well. I've been buying more and more of the pro-level products lately. I'm really impressed with the Griot's Garage stuff.

Still remaining on the M3 is a valve adjustment, new brake pads and rotors, and new shocks. I'm sure I'll think of some other things to do as well.