Swapping Z3 and M Roadster Rearview Mirrors

Pros: Easy to uninstall and reinstall
Cons: Expensive to purchase from BMW
Cost: unknown (possibly free if you can find someone to swap with)
The Days Events

  • Gathering at Rory’s
  • Fixing Paint Chips
  • X-Pel
  • Swapping Mirrors
  • Boot Cover Swap
  • Chrome Front Grill

  • The Z3 and the M roadster have different rear view mirrors. The M roadster mirror is bigger and sometimes gets in the way of taller drivers. The Z3 mirror is smaller but maybe isn’t as attractive as the M roadster mirror. The question was, could the two mirrors be swapped between cars.

    Turns out that all you need to do to remove the mirror as a counter clockwise, quarter turn (turn the entire mirror and its mount). We removed a Z3 and M roadster mirror and installed them in opposite vehicles in just a couple minutes.

    Boot Cover Swap

    Fixing a Paint Chip on Robert’s M Roadster

    Pros: Less noticeable than with no touchup paint, inexpensive
    Cons: Not “good as new”, still noticeable on close inspection
    Cost: $20 for entire car with roughly 10 chips needing work (Shane Reed @ 972-000-0000)
    The Days Events

  • Gathering at Rory’s
  • Fixing Paint Chips
  • X-Pel
  • Swapping Mirrors
  • Boot Cover Swap
  • Chrome Front Grill
  • After last years homecoming I picked up a real nasty rock chip on the hood of my M roadster. The rock that hit me caused a chip about 5mm wide and a pair of secondary chips that appear to have come from fragments of rock. Needless to say it was a big blemish that I wanted to get rid of.

    Shane Reed commented “boy that’s a nasty one”, and started to work on it. Using a fine paint brush and some thin paint that he mixed up, Shane applied a couple coats trying to fill in the chip.

    It was a definite improvement but Shane still thought he could do more. The paint he mixed up was a little off on the color. Turns out Arctic Silver has a touch of blue in it and the blue in the original paint really stood out next to the pure silver touch up paint.

    So Shane went back to his pickup (which doubles as a rolling paint shop) and added a touch of blue tint to the touch up paint. It was obvious that Shane had a keen eye for matching colors, a couple minutes later he had the right tint and went back to work.

    This time the paint color was a much better match. I’m not going to claim that it’s “like new” again but the improvement Shane made was definitely worth the money.

    Once the big chip was taken care of Shane scanned the car for other chips and touched them up as well. The lower part of the bumper had lots of litte chips and it appears Shane fixed them all. For those in the Dallas area I recommend Shane’s work if you are in need of touch up, contact information for him is below.

    Touch of Perfection (Shane Reed-Owner)

    Mobile # 214-695-1058

    Pager # 972-327-1393

    X-Pel

    Improving the Boot Cover Snaps

    When I first got my Z3, I used the boot cover regularly, but then over time I slowly started using it less and less. I had always considered it a purely cosmetic piece of equipment and eventually grew tired of the hassle of installing it.

    When I traded in my Z3 to get an M roadster, I took the new boot cover out of the trunk and put it on the shelf where it pretty much stayed. The few times I used it left me frustrated at how hard it was to install. I’m not sure why the new one was harder to install than the old one. I kept trying to convince myself, “maybe if I use it more, the boot cover will get broken in and be easier to install.”

    Despite my repeated attempts, the boot cover would eventually find its way back onto the shelf for another extended stay. I had become spoiled with the power top, and found the boot to only lesson its usefulness. I had also become lazy and just plain fed up with the hassle of installing the boot cover.

    The boot cover made a comeback when I started using the roadster tonneau cover. The tonneau cover required the boot cover be installed to function, but it also enabled me to keep the boot cover on for extended periods of time. The two products proved to be a great combination when the weather allowed for extended top-down periods. But the tonneau isn’t a year-round product, and eventually the boot cover found its way back onto the shelf for another extended stay.

    Then I installed a light gray interior liner to the convertible top. It didn’t take me long to realize that light gray doesn’t look very good dirty. Without the boot cover, the liner was picking up a lot of dirt and dust when the top was down. So now I’ve got two accessories somewhat dependent on the BMW boot cover. So I find myself once again saying, “maybe if I use it more, the boot cover will get broken in and be easier to install.” I still hold some hope in that theory, however this time I’m going to make things a little easier on myself.

    I remembered an additional paragraph tacked onto the end of the original BMW windscreen instructions that said to install some washers to make the boot easier to use with that windscreen. BMW doesn’t even make that windscreen anymore, but I managed to find my old copy of those instructions and figured I would share an old idea (slightly modified) to those that were not Z3 owners back in 1996 when the first windscreen was introduced. The official name for this “knob thingy” is a Tenax fastener. There are two of them screwed into the back of the storage area that the boot cover snaps onto. The theory behind the fix is that if these fasteners were sticking out a little farther, the boot cover would be easier to install since you were not having to stretch it as much.

    Once you locate these two Tenax fasteners, you can unscrew them with a standard 11/32 open ended wrench. The screws are longer than you would think they should be, but this extra length is about to work to our advantage.

    The original BMW instructions had you using standard everyday washers. However, on the suggestion of an MZ3.Net reader I went to the hardware store and found some black rubber faucet washers. Looking at the different sizes I determined that the “00 Flat Washers” appeared to be just what I was looking for. I used one of them on each side rather than a stack of regular washers.

    With the rubber washers installed behind the Tenax screws, the fastener portion of the snap now sticks out an extra 1/8 inch. That small difference makes the boot cover a little easier to install. However, even with this addition, I still consider the boot cover a pain to put on. But this upgrade cost me under a dollar, so I’ll take any help I can get and I’ll keep telling myself, “maybe if I use it more, the boot cover will get broken in and be easier to install.”

    Discuss this article and other Convenience upgrades in the

    ///MZ3.Net discussion forum.

    Cell Phone and Radar Detector Power, Another Way

    I was getting tired of plugging my cell phone charger into my cigar lighter, so I decided to permanently wire it into my car. I was thinking that I would use power from one of the various unused connectors or perhaps from the radio. But then I came across Vince’s article and it gave me the idea that I could use the BMW cell-phone connector.

    What’s more important to note here is that I could use this connector for more than just a cell phone. I could use it for anything I wanted. Vince’s article details a way that you can order the connector and pins for the cell phone connector. In addition, both switched and unswitched power are available, and they are both regulated by individual fuses in the fuse box, so you can play around without the danger of seriously hurting the car. But best of all using this connector means no permanent wiring changes to the car. I would not have to cut a single wire that was part of the car, which sounded pretty good to me!

    First thing I did was prepare the charger. I opened it up, and replaced the metal contacts on the circuit board that ran to the tip and the sides of the cigar lighter with wires about 1 foot long. Then I closed the charger back up, running those wires out the hole in the tip of the charger.

    Next I prepared the radar detector by cutting the cord right before the cigar lighter plug. I placed the radar detector where it was supposed to be on the windshield, then ran the wire along the inside of the window and down the seam of the door, and under the steering column. From there, if you lift the cover on the shifter and the handbrake, you should be able to fish the wires through to where the cell phone connector is. NOTE: Those that are truly anal-retentive will probably want to run the wire INSIDE the plastic pieces along the inside of the windshield. Other articles here can tell you how to remove it.

    I then found the cell phone connector as detailed in Vince’s article. I took the wires from the charger and the radar detector and started soldering the pins on them. One wire from the radar detector (the positive lead) goes to a pin. One wire from the charger goes to a pin (once again, the positive lead). The remaining wires (which should both be ground [negative lead]) should go together into one pin.

    Now put the charger inside the center console, with the piece that connects to the cell phone (and the coiled cord with it) coming out from under the bottom of the console on the passenger side behind the seats. I used a piece of Velcro (the non-fuzzy side) to hold the cell phone connector against the back wall.

    Time to start the final piece. Put the pin for the radar detector into the hole in the connector for switched power, and put the pin for the cell phone charger into the unswitched power hole. Put the shared pin into the hole for the ground connection. Plug the connector into the cell phone connector in the car and you’re ready to go!

    NOTE: I also replaced the fuses in the fuse box that related to the cell phone power with 5 amp fuses (smaller than the standard fuses). This just gives me an extra degree of protection that I like. I would have used smaller fuses (like 1 or 2 amps), but I couldn’t find any in that form-factor that had such a small rating.

    I Can See Clearly Now, Too!

    Let me state for the record that I DO enjoy the fact I have a folding rear window like the classic roadsters of days gone by. The day I start whining about wanting a defrosted glass rear window, seating for four, and more storage space — please sentence me into a LeBaron for 30 days. Even so, after reading Robert’s eye-opening article on Meguiar’s plastic window product, I figured I should recommission the one I bought months ago and shelved away.

    I’ve never really done too much to clean mine since delivery back in September ’96. Upon recommendation from the dealer, I remember once trying Pledge spray on it. That didn’t work well. It just resulted in me having to exert lots of work getting rid of oily residue off the surface. I HAVE taken care of the window by using the supplied Rear Window Blanket #82-11-1-469-778, but two years will build a hazing no matter what precautions are taken. This hazing or fogging is caused by microscratches on the surface. The bad practice of using a glass cleaner might rid the surface of dirt and waterspots, but thanks to FredK’s excellent explanation, you’ll know better to stay away from it…besides, it doesn’t remove the microscratches.

    Robert used the heavy-duty regimen of Meguiar’s #17 Cleaner followed by Meguiar’s #10 Polish. I used a slightly different product, Meguiar’s #18 Cleaner/Polish. I suspect most who’ve cared for their rear window as I have will only need to use this all-in-one product. The steps are quite simple — spray on, wipe with cloth, and use a drier side to buff clean.

    I elected to use smooth cotton polishing cloths. They were the consistency of a thick cotton t-shirt (which would probably work just as well). One cloth was used to spread the sprayed liquid, another cloth was used to polish dry the area. I worked in small sections at a time and only used straight back and forth motions… not circular! Both inside and outside of the window was cleaned this way. The passenger’s half was done first to show how dramatic the difference was.

    Use newspaper or a beach towel to line the rear console plastic as errant spray droplets will be bothersome to buff clean. Once you’re finished, the plastic window will look just as clear as the day it rolled off the assembly line! The bottle was hardly used and I suspect the window will only require no more than three cleanings a year.

    banner advertisement

    BMW Roadster Tonneau

    Pros: Installs Easily, Covers Cockpit, Lightweight
    Cons: Requires Boot Cover
    Cost: $78.90 (with shipping)

    I’ve always been in a love/hate relationship with the roadster’s boot cover. I liked the way the Z3 looked with the boot cover installed over the folded down top, and I recognize the protective benefits of using the boot cover. However it is such a pain to install that I seldom used it except on long drives (when I knew the top was going to stay down). The problem was that I was never comfortable enough to leave the car parked with the top down. The exposed leather interior would be subject to bird bombs, harmful UV rays, dirt/dust, and prying eyes.

    Back in highschool I drove an MGB that had this great accessory called a tonneau cover. This thick vinyl cover snapped around the cabin of the MGB on specially designed snaps that were part of the interior. That tonneau cover effectively covered the interior of the car and it was much easier to take on and off than the convertible top was to put up and down. The other really neat feature is that it had a zipper down the middle so you could unzip just the drivers side and drive the car with the tonneau cover still in place. I’ve been wanting a cover similar to that MGB one for my BMW roadster every since I first got the car. However no one made one, and from a development standpoint since the car wasn’t designed for one chances are it would never exist.

    M&M Marketing produced a car cover that was very similar to what I was looking for, and I almost got one. Except the M&M design is really closer to a car cover and I never really cared for the looks of it. From a utility standpoint I’m told that the M&M design works well. It stands up okay to the elements and is moderately easy to take on and off. But it just isn’t that attractive to look at (to me it always looked like a small tent had been pitched over the car). I’m told that the M&M cover is actually a Miata cover that happens to fit, but sometimes it looks just a tad too small to me.

    Apparently Carter Lee had the same thoughts and undertook a project to design a simple tonneau cover specifically made for the BMW roadster. Carter’s design fits flush with the dash and it is custom made for the Z3’s interior. There are “pockets” designed to go over the seats and dash pod. Carter even designed two different versions to account for Z3s with and without roll hoops. Carter’s design was not the same as the original MGB tonneau I had always wanted, but it was so close that I just had to have one.

    My first indication that Carter had gone all out in making these was the very professional packaging that arrived shortly afterwards. However, after admiring his packaging handy work I immediately ripped the bag open, tossed the instructions and went out to the garage to try it out. Initially I fumbled around trying to figure out the best way to install it (guess I should have read the instructions first). But finally decided that I like to slip the custom pockets over the seats, then get the front of the cover tucked in, secure the sides via the velcro straps, and lastly tuck the back of the cover into the crease at the rear of the boot cover. First couple times took me a few minutes but now I’ve got it down pretty good.

    Basically there are four places in the design that attach the tonneau to the roadster. The leading edge of the cover has a foam like trim sewn into it, this is designed to be tucked into the area where the windshield meets the dash. The foam slips into the crack with a push but then expands and secures rather well. Around each side mirror the tonneau cover has two velcro straps that secure the tonneau to the mirror. This works well but does require that you leave the windows down. In the back the tonneau cover tucks into the convertible top storage area along the trailing edge of the boot cover. This leaves a nice smooth taught look, I’m told by Doug and Eileen Morgan that it even keeps water out of your interior should you get caught in a quick shower (however it shouldn’t be considered an acceptable cover if you are expecting a rain storm).

    With Carter’s tonneau my MZ3 finally had a cover that matched its sleek styling. The tonneau fit nicely over the instrument pod, seats and roll hoops (non roll hoop version available). It seemed pretty secure but I wanted to put this thing to the test. I got out my $30 Sears electric leaf blower and and decided to give it a wind tunnel test, at the same time I was curious to see what the motion sensor on my Clifford car alarm would think of a fluttering tonneau cover. What I found out is that if the cover is properly installed I could not blow it loose. The first time I didn’t get the front tucked in good and was able to get the front of the cover loose but the velcro straps and rear tuck kept the cover in place. Not sure what this says about the motion sensor, but it never went off even the one time the front of the cover came loose.

    Needless to say I was pretty impressed with what Carter created, and I knew it was a keeper but I decided to do some additional tests. At the time I got the cover we were in the middle of an extreme heat wave in Texas. Everyday after work it was a race to see how quickly I could drop the convertible top to let off all the heat that had built up in the cabin. For a week I kept a fancy digital thermometer in the car, and every time I parked I would place the additional temperature sensor out side the car in the shade. During that week I found out that on average Carter’s cover kept the interior of the car about 7 degrees cooler than with the top up. I’m sure the color of the tonneau had to do with that (silver vs black) but I suspect the open air made the biggest difference. Carter now makes a version of the cover in black and there is a part of me that wishes I would have ordered the black version, but I’m sure it gets a little hotter.

    Removal of the cover is super easy. I just unvelcro the cover from one of the side mirrors and pull, off it comes. A couple of quick folds or more likely just wad it up and shove it into any storage space like the top storage behind the seat (if you have it). I usually shove it in the trunk over the tiny crevice above the power top motor. If you have the trunk organizer it would fit in there as well.

    I asked Doug Morgan what he thought of his tonneau cover (he has a black design without the roll hoop pocket), Doug replied

    It does keep leaves and dust out very effectively and at least moderate amounts of rain; yes I have tested this out. If you are careful you can even get the water out without getting it on your interior. For those that live in the hotter areas of the country it does a great job of keeping the interior cool. It became an invaluable item on the BAD IV tour to keep the seats from burning your legs when returning from one of the little jaunts (the steering wheel and door edge didn’t burn either). Carter’s tonneau is a must have on the Homecoming Convoy also. The tonneau is make of lightweight water repellant fabric, which makes for great protection without being bulky so it avoids taking up valuable trunk space.

    Personally, my only complaint is that it requires the boot cover, without the boot cover it really doesn’t tuck into or get secured in the back. It is still usable but I suspect a strong breeze could blow the back end loose. But considering it is only $78.90 it really is a fantastic cover. I think the fact that it is designed by a BMW Z3 owner tells you that the product is well thought out and functional. I’m very impressed with it and use it quite often, since that initial leaf blower test it has never come loose, and it has still never caused a problem with my car alarm. I guess the motion sensor goes right through the material because the motion sensor still works.

    Carter sells the tonneau cover via a web page, and has lots of information about the roadster tonneau at that web site. Carter offers versions designed for Z3s with the BMW roll hoops and for Z3s without the roll hoops. Both versions of the roadster tonneau are available in black and gray. They are made of a strong, lightweight, compact, and water-repellant nylon taffeta. Whichever version and color you choose the total cost including shipping is only $78.90

    Discuss this article and other Convenience upgrades in the

    ///MZ3.Net discussion forum.

    Cleaning the Plastic Rear Window

    To say my rear window was dirty was an understatement. Honestly, I can’t remember ever washing it in the time I’ve owned the MZ3. It had gotten to the point that rear visibility, especially with the windscreen, was zero. With the homecoming approaching, I figured it was time to clean this window. Turned out to also be a good time to try out the Meguiar’s window cleaner and polish to see just how good this stuff is.

    In the graphic below, the top picture is of the window before I did anything (except remove the windscreen). The middle picture is after I used Meguiar’s #17 Clear Plastic Cleaner on both the inside and the outside. The cleaner was difficult to use, especially on the inside. This stuff coats on then dries to a paste just like car wax does. Rubbing off that dried pasty/wax was difficult especially when trying to work on the inside of the window. It took me about 30 minutes but the results were simply amazing. Except for a harsh black line of buildup in a fold mark, it removed everything.

    The next step was to use the Meguiar’s #10 Clear Plastic Polish, I had already decided I was not going to mess with the inside window since my back was aching from the cleaner. But honestly it wouldn’t have been very hard since the polish doesn’t dry to a paste like the cleaner. The polish took the buildup in the fold line off with very little effort. The very bottom picture in the graphic below was after the cleaner and the polish. Looks like a practically brand new window as far as I am concerned. I’m very pleased with the Meguiar’s cleaner and polish, however I think I’ll clean and polish the window a little more regularly from now on.

    I’ve seen BMW dealerships sell some of the Meguiar’s products in their parts department. But if you are having a hard time finding them you can always purchase directly from Meguiar’s. Meguiar’s has a web site with a dealer locator, but you have to call the number below to actually place an order.

    To Order Call: 1 (800) 545 3321

    Fax: 1 (949) 752-6659

    Or Write: 17991 Mitchell South, Irvine, CA 92614

    Direct V1 Power in the 2.8

    I wanted a switched direct power source for my V1. I tried to follow the directions for the M Roadster and discovered the 2.8 is wired a little differently. The MZ3 directions called for pulling the lower portion of the dash on the drivers side which I did. This was no easy task and I recommend that you avoid it if at all possible.

    After my first failed attempt, I decided to go after the Cell Phone power since I have no plans for installing a phone in the car. I also wanted to try and take the power cord through the passenger side since it seemed like it would be easier.

    I followed some of Vince Parsons Directions for locating the cell phone wiring harness by raising the shifter boot cover. It is only held by 2 clips on each side and can be open by pressing on the sides. Wait, what’s this? There is this big piece of foam that wasn’t in Vince’s pictures. No problem, just lift it up to gain access to the inside of the console.

    Well I searched and there was no wiring harness to be found. Just the wires for the window switches and hazard lights switch. Went back to Vince’s directions and he mentions that it might be under the carpet beneath the parking brake handle. I found it! Wait, how do get it out of there? I’ll be damned if I know. It’s wedged in there and didn’t want to come out. I didn’t want to remove the entire console so I gave up on trying to get it out.

    While peeking in through the OBD door on the passenger side of the console, I had seen an unused wiring harness. I decided that this was going to be my new target power source. Fishing this thing out was not easy because it was wrapped around other bundles of wire but with a little work I had it exposed. I didn’t have much room to work with so I went after the other unused harnesses I saw in there. I found three additional harnesses. I tested for a switched power source and found that the green with white stripe was what I was looking for.

    I grabbed the wire tap that came with the V1 and attached it to the wire. I then removed the black plastic panel below and behind the glovebox. It is attached with plastic clips that are removed with the half turn of a flat head screw driver. There is a single one of these plastic clips holding the kick panel covering the speaker at the passengers feet. This provided plenty of room to run the V1 Direct Wire Power Adapter wires. I velcroed the Direct Wire Power Adapter to the top edge of the carpet and used the grounding point next to the speaker.

    Next I ran the V1 power wire from the V1 Unit to the Direct Wire Power Adapter. Alan Riley instructed me in the technique of removing the trim along the top and right pillar of the windshield. First remove the pillar piece which just pops off. Then remove the visors. This requires a Star Tool which I just happen to have. Next you must remove the clear plastic cover from the dome light which pops out. Then pop out the light assemble and behind there you will find one more screw to be removed.

    Then you can pull down the side that you are working on. In fig. 9 you can see how I wrapped the wire around the dome light wires to keep it from falling out. I then ran the wire down the windshield pillar, beside the dash and door frame where I pushed it behind the insulation and along the bottom of the dash to the Direct Wire Power Adapter.

    At this point, hookup the V1 and verify that it works as expected. Now is the time to find out that it doesn’t work. Mine did. Once you have proven that it works, it’s time to reassemble your car. First secure all the loose and excess wires and check one more time to see if it’s still working. Reverse the steps to put all the trim pieces back in their rightful places. When your done you’ll have a direct wired V1 radar detector.

    Let’s see John Law try to mess with you now.

    Tender Lovin’ Car Care

    For all the fun your roadster brings you, it’s only right that you treat it with the proper cleaning only an owner can provide. If it were a slab-sided sedan or SUV (Some Ugly Vehicle) you’d be well within your right to hand the keys to those scrub monkeys at the local auto-wash or sandblast it with the recycled water often found at the self-serve BayWash.

    But how exactly do you go overboard to indulge your Ultimate Driving Machine? Want to take pride in redefining the word “anal”? Read on…

    First, let’s lay down some ground rules. The purpose of this article is to maintain that silky smooth factory finish for as long as humanly possible without resorting to permanently encasing the car in solid lucite. This does NOT include slathering it with some miracle laser-deflecting, scratch-healing, fireproof, SuperTeFlornPolymerSilicone wax or protectant. If you think your roadster’s finish won’t look good without these late-night infomercial snake oils, you’ve probably been clueless on proper car care. The following procedures will instruct you to go as far as you can to be LEAST harmful to your factory clearcoat.

    You’ll want to gather the following items:

    A plastic 5 gallon bucket or larger. A metal one close to the car might scratch it if tipped.

    One or more cotton wash mitts

    Large soft sponge

    Wax applicator pads

    Half or full dozen 100% cotton terrycloth handtowels, laundered using no detergent and dried without fabric softener.

    Medium firmness fiber bristle wheel brush

    California Mini-Duster™

    Synthetic Chamois

    Small Window Squeegee

    Concentrated Car Wash Solution

    Pro409 or Simple Green cleaning solution

    Vinylex for leatherette interiors

    Lexol for leather interiors

    Meguiar’s #18 Plastic Cleaner or Pledge furniture polish

    Pre-Wax Cleaner

    Carnuba-based Wax (no Polymer Waxes!)

    Bug & Tar Remover

    Old Newspapers

    Halogen Worklight

    Unless you’re in a shaded carport or waterproofed garage interior, NEVER wash your car under direct sunlight. The best times of day to wash are dusk and dawn as the sun will probably be behind an obstruction in the horizon. Washing in hot weather is a no-no as well. General rule of thumb is if the car’s surface is warm to the touch, it’s not the time to wash. In direct sunlight, each droplet of water on the surface acts to collect the sun’s energy. If the surface is already hot, this speeds the droplet’s evaporation leaving the water’s natural minerals to etch into your clearcoat thus giving you “waterspots”. No additional scrubbing will get these stains off. A hot surface will also cause wax to be easily stripped from the surface. A proper wash should only serve to lift off dust and dirt. The underlying wax should last for several washes before requiring another application.

    Once you’ve moved your car into it’s wash area where you can reach all sides with the hose, put your wipers up before you turn off the ignition. Simply raise the right stalk and remove your keys the moment the wiper arms have reached their apex. This will enable the arms to be hinged away for unobstructed access to the windshield’s forward edge. Check the blades for wear or muddy debris while you’re at it. Don’t forget to return the stalk and blades back to their normal position afterwards!

    Fill the bucket with slightly cool water. Warm or hot water will give the same results as having a hot surface. To this, add THE ABSOLUTE smallest amount of wash solution. (Dishwashing liquid does not count as car wash solution) This should only be enough to create a few bubbles when swishing the water with your hand. This wash water merely needs to lift dirt from your surface. The mile-high bubble baths formed from too much wash solution will take much longer to rinse off thoroughly and worse, any areas you’ve missed in the rinse will leave a dull residue when dried. The concentrated solution in these pictures only required approximately a teaspoon to reach the desired results.

    Use a wash mitt instead of a sponge to wash the body surfaces. Chances are better that grit or debris can get caught in the sponge’s pores and turn your wash experience into a scratch session. Avoid brushes as well regardless how soft the bristles may feel to you. The soft fibers of a wash mitt will release grit the best.

    Spray down the car to wet all areas. Throughout the wash, continuously spray all areas to keep surfaces wet. If there are spots with dried splattered bug parts, moisten a paper towel and lay it over the area. When you return to it later, you’ll find it softened and much easier to remove.

    Gently scrub the canvas top. The advice you heeded in avoiding overly soapy wash water will especially prevent soap residue here. Tan tops will probably require more gentle scrubbing and rinsing to lift embedded dirt. If you do spend time on washing the top, be sure to pay close attention to rinsing thoroughly.

    Continue to the glass surfaces and don’t forget your side mirrors. Once you’ve moved to the body panels, start from the cleanest surfaces along the top and work your way down. Clean one section at a time to allow for immediate rinsing. Heavy scrubbing shouldn’t be required to lift grime from your previously waxed surface. Work the scrub mitt in a straight back and forth motion. Rinse the mitt of grime repeatedly…better yet, use the hose to rinse away the grime. Heavy scrubbing in circular motions over time will encourage swirl marks often seen under harsh sunlight. At this time, those bug spots should be moistened. If not, apply a commercial citrus-based bug-remover according to directions. The last and dirtiest body sections to be washed are areas immediately following the wheel wells and rocker panels. You’ll find the wash mitt reporting back with brake dust and kicked-up mud. At any point throughout this entire process, if the wash mitt gets dropped to the pavement, do not continue washing without thoroughly rinsing the mitt several times.

    If the car hasn’t been washed in a while, check the side marker lamp underside for a layer of dried mud. This lamp assembly is removed by first sliding it towards the back of the car. Clean the area as necessary, but DO NOT force water into the wiring. At the bottom corners of the doors drain holes need to be cleaned and cleared of any grime that may prevent moisture from escaping. When these holes are dirty, they are often the culprits in leaving an ugly streak as water drains from them. Since the grime in these spots are typically greasy, clean it with something you can discard…like a paper towel.

    Once all body surfaces have been washed, rinse and remove the wash mitt from the bucket. Soak a large, soft sponge and clean the wheels. The sponge’s ability to hug the wheel’s complex curves should make the job quick and easy. Brake dust should come off easily provided the wheels are regularly cleaned two or three times a month. A long-handled brush will offer better access to cleaning the wheel wells.

    Using an inexpensive mini-squeegee will make quick and efficient work of drying the windshield and side windows.

    By now the canvas top should have wicked most of the moisture to the surface. Start drying this area next with a synthetic chamois. Open the hood and trunk to let the large water droplets run off. Open the doors to keep the drain holes unobstructed from any possible beads of water tension. Since you’re no longer misting the car at this stage, it’s important to remove all droplets or pools of water as soon as possible. Nothing beats the synthetic chamois for its ravenous water-soaking properties. Wringing out a waterlogged synthetic versus the pricier genuine chamois would show you the benefits of synthetic. Once wrung dry, the synthetic feels just as buttery soft. More often than not, draping the chamois across a spot and dragging it across once will leave a bone-dry surface that no bath towel can match. Dry the hood and trunk moving to the sides afterwards. Don’t forget some favorite hiding spots like the seam under the reptilian side gills or lip edges in front and back. Drying your roadster by immediately driving it after the rinse leans toward foolish as the water droplets will simply serve to collect road dust and exhaust to etch into your paint once the moisture evaporates. The wheels will probably have water droplets that need to be dried as well. After this, it’s time to clean the glass.

    Typical glass cleaners may be good for fingerprints, but they don’t cut it for automotive interior glass. The haze you often see is a result of off-gassing from your vinyl dash’s exposure to UV rays. A far more effective solution is to dilute a cleaner like Pro409 or Simple Green according to directions. Using these products full-strength would require more work than necessary in wiping it away and would leave a soapy residue. Keeping the diluted mixture in a small atomizer bottle will make it easier to reach the forward windshield from behind the dash.

    As farfetched as it may sound, using newsprint to clean glass is devastatingly effective. Most major-city newsprint contain ink that doesn’t come off. Spray the glass directly with the diluted solution, scrunch a sheet up and begin wiping. You’ll find the newsprint absorbent enough while it cleans the glass thoroughly. Paper towels become waterlogged much too easily and can leave pieces of itself behind.

    While near the subject of off-gassing, the interior vinyl should be cleaned with a product that offers some UV protection. Vinylex is a popular choice that (thankfully) does not leave as wet a look as other bigger-name brands. Extra buffing with a dry cotton towel may reduce the shine further.

    Cleaning and conditioning the leather seats with an expensive product may be futile as some detailers have claimed BMW’s seats have been sprayed with a thin protective coating of plastic. Notwithstanding, Lexol or Connoly’s Hide Food seems to be the popular picks for those with leather interiors.

    A California mini duster is an invaluable gadget for instant interior cleaning. One swipe will remove that reoccurring layer of dust. The mini duster is sized to easily reach the furthest parts of the dash. Be careful not to leave this sitting on your dash for any prolonged time. The duster is lightly embedded with parafin wax (to attract dust) that may leave a wax stain on the dash’s plastic.

    Pledge Polish will work for the plastic rear window provided you use an absorbent lint-free cloth. Again, use straight back and forth strokes here. Alternately, Meguiar’s #18 is especially formulated for plastic windows. Scratched and hazed rear windows should try the combination of Meguiar’s #10 and #17.

    Before you start putting your water-stained roadster up For Sale because you were careless in avoiding direct sunlight during the wash, you can pamper the paint back to its glory by using a pre-wax cleaner like Zymöl’s HD Cleanse. This is designed to remove existing wax as well as waterspots and pindot droplets of hardened treesap so you can start anew.

    Work in small patches on the bodywork. Apply the pre-wax paint cleaner to the applicator and lightly rub into the paint. Do this in a straight back and forth motion — never circular! Once you’ve thoroughly applied a layer to that spot, buff it off with the cotton towel. It may help to bounce the glare of a halogen worklight to more-easily catch areas you missed buffing. Continue in this fashion for the rest of the car, turning the towel or grabbing a fresh one as necessary. Stay away from textured plastic surfaces like wash nozzles and door handles. In the previous formula HD Cleanse, the cotton towel would actually make a scritch-scritch noise on the sheetmetal when the surface was clean! An alternative to liquid pre-wax cleaners is to use a patent-pending product called Clay Magic. This blue slab of slightly-sticky clay is used in conjunction with the included lubricant solution. As the clay is dragged across the paint’s surface (with help of the solution), it essentially scours off imperfections and stubborn debris on the paint surface.

    After stripping the old wax from the car, it would be an opportune time to fix paint-chips and scratches with touch-up paint from your dealer. One highly recommended product to help this process along is Langka. Fixing these spots early assures moisture or debris does not work its way to the bare sheetmetal underneath.

    The final process in your roadster’s TLCC is the wax. A good waxing will leave a protective barrier between your paint and the harsh environment. It would be far preferable for waterspot minerals to etch themselves to your coat of wax rather than the paint’s clearcoat. Carnuba-based paste wax is the choice of respected detailers. Carnuba is extracted from palm leaves in South America. Finding a $5.00 bottle of liquid wax claiming to be 100% Carnuba would go nicely if you were also buying a bridge in Brooklyn. A TRUE sample of 100% Carnuba Wax would look like a brick and would require you to use the heat of your hand to warm it enough to apply to the paint. That $5.00 bargain bottle likely has a true concentration of 5%…if that. Serious detailing wax only has a 30%-50% Carnuba concentration. These paste waxes with a partial Carnuba concentration work well because it contains essential oils and carrying agents. Carrying agents surround the Carnuba giving it a smoother viscosity thus allowing easy application. This is what gets buffed out leaving the hard protective Carnuba. The oils serve to nourish your clearcoat. While petroleum-based Polymer waxes may protect, it does not nourish.

    Using a new applicator pad, apply the paste wax in the same gentle back and forth motion as the pre-waxing process. Work in small sections at a time. Varying brands differ in their application process. Zymöl requires buffing off almost immediately. It does not haze as much as other waxes, so use that halogen worklight for additional help. To use the terrycloth buffing towel efficiently, fold it into four sections and turn to a new section after the last one loses it’s ability to buff the surface clean. It usually takes 3 or 5 handtowels to buff the entire roadster. Once again, avoid getting wax on black plastic surfaces like doorhandles and spray nozzles. Don’t forget to wax and buff the side-mirrors. A slick surface should make the job of removing kamikaze insects from those spots much easier. Once the roadster has been waxed, it should be able to withstand several washes in the months to follow. Typically, a car should be waxed three to five times a year…and HD Cleansed once or twice a year.

    Before you reach for that celebratory beverage of choice, don’t forget to clean the paraphernalia you’ve used. Wash mitts and bucket should be cleaned and rinsed of dirt and silt that may have settled. Sponges should be cleaned of anything lodged in its pores. Terrycloth towels should be laundered by themselves in hot water preferably without detergent. Be SURE to ask your significant other if it’s OK to subject the washing machine to this. If not, a coin-op laundromat would work. Wax applicator pads are more difficult to clean and at 95¢ a pack, it’s preferable to get a new one when the occasional wax job is needed. Wash the synthetic chamois under warm water, wring it out and store it in it’s plastic container. If you used Zymöl, store it in a cool location or refrigerate it (don’t freeze!) to preserve the natural oils within. If possible, store the rest of the detailing products in the wash bucket so that everything’s handy for your next TLCC session. Until next time, take the long way home!

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    Power for your Radar Detector

    I was looking to find a way to hard wire a power connection for my Valentine One radar detector. I had already read through Richard Carlson’s “cutting the cord” article so I felt familiar with the task at hand. This was a great resource, and I recommend you read it first because he has excellent instructions at how to get the plastic panels off, as well as some good warnings. However I wanted the power source to drop from top of the A-Frame rather than up through the dash. The MZ3 has enough room above the rear view for the V1 to slide into (click on the picture for a larger view).

    First, a quick lesson about BMW wiring. Turns out that everything is color coded, which makes finding a power source a little easier. Red wires are unswitched power sources (on all the time). Purple (with white stripe) wires are switched power sources (on when the car is on). Brown wires are ground. Depending on which type of power source you want you can choose which wiring harness to use.

    The information below is specific for the M roadster’s, it has come to my attention that the wiring on the 1.9 and 2.8 roadsters is different. The color coding is the same but wiring harness locations are different. If you own a 1.9 or 2.8 you’ll want to focus on the area behind your stereo, tapping into its switched (purple and white wire) power source.

    A couple M owners spoke with me after using the information below. The first spent about 45 minutes to an hour and commented that everything was straight forward. Thought he could do the job again in less time. The second M owner that spoke to me said the wiring was straight forward but the black plastic trim pieces (under the dash) gave him a lot of trouble. I think he summed it up best by saying “I did it!, but you couldn’t pay me $100 to do it again”.

    If you want an unswitched power source there is an unused power connector down by the drivers feet (click on the picture for a larger view). This connector has a positive and a negative unswitched power source. It is in a convenient location just below the speaker. To gain access to this area you will need to remove the lower kick panel and the panels covering the underside of the dash.

    Problem was, I was in a picky mood and wanted a switched power source. Under the dash you can locate this connector (BMW calls it X223 – the connector is next to the 40amp fuse strapped to the MAIN wiring harness), it had 5 wires in the connector (click on the picture for a larger view). I know it’s hard to distinguish colors in this picture because of the flash but the left most wire is ground (brown) and the one next to it is switched power (purple with white stripe). In this picture the middle wire is pulled out of the connector (speed sensitive volume connection – another project).

    The Valentine One radar detector came with a wiring kit. The black box in this picture is part of that wiring kit. Since this box wasn’t a BMW part the color scheme doesn’t quite match but the red wire out of the box was connected to the purple power source. The black wire was connected to a good grounding point (see the bolt and brown wires next to the speaker)

    Once the connection was made all that was left was getting the wire to the radar detector. There was just enough of a gap on the side of the dash to slide a wire back to the corner (like using dental floss). Now the wire had made it to the top of the dash the A-Frame cover just pulls off and you can run the wire under the plastic cover. Along the top you don’t even need to pull off the plastic cover. There is enough of a gap to push the wire in where the plastic piece meets the window.

    You should actually work backwards so you have just enough wire sticking out where the radar detector mounts, and bundle up any slack down below where it is easier to hide it.

    If you are anywhere near Dallas and would like a trained BMW expert to do work like this for you, I can highly recommend Larry Nissen. Larry did the work on my car and took the time to explain everything for me.