Z3 Paint Problems

While in for a service check, I asked the BMW Center of San Antonio, Texas to look at the trunk lid to make an assessment of why the paint was fading. They stated there was nothing they could do and were not sure why it was fading. They thought it was oxidation and tried to buff it out, which did not work. Since the car was past the four year warranty, they would not repair it. Within two months, the faded area spread to almost two-thirds of the trunk lid. Areas on the left rear fender and hood have also appeared. I took the car to a third party paint shop. Their analysis was that the paint was fading between the clear coat and the base paint. If the clear coat got thin enough, it would start peeling off. The only solution is to repaint the affected areas. The fading will only get worse no matter what precautions are taken. Since I have had the vehicle, it has always received the best wax treatment and care. A decision will have to be made whether to invest money into a full vehicle paint job or put it towards a new Z3.

Editors Comments: It’s my impression that BMW Service departments will just about always avoid any kind of paint warranty repairs. I don’t think they are necessarly the guilty party as it’s BMW North America that is ultimately holding the check book. Service departments know they are going to have a hard time getting BMWNA to pay for paint repair warranties and they are just automatically on the defensive. Bottom line, its going to be an up-hill battle and you are probably wasting your time discussing it with the dealerships service advisors. Ask when the BMWNA service rep is going to be in the area and schedule an appointment to meet him. Provide him with the facts, and avoid using the word “internet”.

Custom Stripes

Custom Stripes

Pictures taken at the 2000 Z3 Homecoming

Custom Checkerboard Stripe

It’s vinyl. We had a short thread about it a month ago in the coupe forum. The guy who did it (Lockwood Racing, a bit north of Atlanta) first designed it on the computer, using a Z3 template. Then the computer cut two foot long sections, straight and curved. He picked out the blanks, then attached another sheet of adhesive on top of the vinyl. Peeled of the main adhesive on the vinyl, showing the vinyl’s adhesive surface. Sprayed that with a special solution so it wouldn’t stick immediatley to the car. Applied sheet to car, and he could still move it around. When it was in position, he squeegied the liquid out.

The shop could have done essentially any design, but I liked the checkerboard that they had in their ad. Starts under the driver side headlight, on the air dam, swoops over the hood, down the side, and drapes all the way over the trunk to the drivers rear wheel well.

I am not terribly worried about fading, as my car spends 98% of its life in the garage. It is my daily driver, but I don’t commute. I will probably remove the graphics in a year or so. I used an intermediate quality of vinyl, so it is thicker and has a lower quality adhesive – easier to remove.

The pic I sent was taken at the Churchill Downs autocross in Louisville.

X-Pel’s Invisible Bra for the Z3

Pros: Protects the fragile paint on the Z3. Hard to detect from a distance of 4 or more feet.
Cons: Moderately hard installation
Cost: Contact XPel at http://www.xpel.com/ or 800-447-9928
The Days Events

  • Gathering at Rory’s
  • Fixing Paint Chips
  • X-Pel
  • Swapping Mirrors
  • Boot Cover Swap
  • Chrome Front Grill
  • The BMW Z3 is painted with EPA backed “environmentally friendly” paint. The makers claim that the new paint is less susceptible to fading and oxidation, but an apparent downside is that the new paint is much more brittle. While BMW has never openly admitted this, the evidence is overwelming. Rock chips are appearing on nearly all BMW Z3s and there really isn’t a solution to stopping them. While owners can’t win the war in the long run they can protect themselves and prolong the life of their paint using a product developed by 3M.

    3M makes a thin clear layer of protective film which can be applied directly over the paint. With this protective layer of clear skin the Z3 has additional protection against rock chips. It appears 3M decided to not market this new product directly to consumers but rather they offered the product to vendors that could make custom kits specifically made for certain vehicles. This is where X-Pel enterers the picture.

    X-Pel has kits made for the Z3 and M roadster that fit over the more vulnerable areas on the Z3. The front bumper and front 1/3 section of the hood are the most frequent places where the chips occur. The X-Pel kit covers all this area. In addition X-Pel also offers additional (optional) kits for the headlights, foglights, rearview mirrors and rear fender flares.

    Installing the kit requires patients and lots of water. The Z3 is watered down with soapy water so the thin layer can me float and move easily during the fitting process. A Squeegee is then used to press the film against the paint and remove the water from under the film. With the film in direct contact with the paint it adheres to the surface and stays in place. The film itself is not water tight so any remaining water trapped under the film eventually evaporates.

    Once installed, the thin layer can be seen on close inspection, but its difficult (you have to be looking for it). From a distance of four or more feet the kit can not be seen. On closer distances it is possible if you look for the edges. Occasionally you can catch it at the right angle and see the difference in refection. I stood over Larry’s car for several minutes trying to find that “just right” angle to show this to you in a picture. In the picture on the right you can see a flatter and slightly more yellow tint from the covered area. The yellow tint is really more of trick of the camera than an actual trait of the X-Pel kit. To the naked eye I never saw this yellow tint (sometimes cameras see things we don’t).

    X-Pel said that once applied, wax and wash the car the same as you usual. Except you should take a little more caution around the edges so you don’t get wax buildup on the leading edge of the kit. The expected life of the kit is four to five years.

    The Z3 club in Texas had a gathering in Dallas that didn’t involve driving but rather car care. The club invited X-Pel to come along and demonstrate the kit. By the time the event was over X-Pel had installed their kits on several Z3s and M roadster and each owner was pleased with their purchase.

    Swapping Mirrors

    Paint Chip Fixing Day at Rory’s House

    The Days Events

  • Gathering at Rory’s
  • Fixing Paint Chips
  • X-Pel
  • Swapping Mirrors
  • Boot Cover Swap
  • Chrome Front Grill
  • It all started with a casual conversation at the conclusion of the Texas River Run drive. I made a comment to Rory that we should have a non-driving Z3 get-together, maybe a Z3 fix-it day or something. One thing led to another and eventually we came up with a paint chip fixing day. We contacted a paint touch-up guy that Moritz BMW recommended, and a company that sells and installs invisible bras. Unfortunately, we had to limit the guest list because we could only handle so many Z3s at Rory’s house. Priority was given to Z3 owners that live in Dallas, however I bet there will be future events similar to this one so others can attend.

    This has got to be a record. Click on the picture to the right for a larger view of 11 BMW Z3s parked in one Z3 owner’s driveway. There were actually 12 Z3s at the event but Phil left in his Boston green Z3 before we took the picture. For fun, the Texas Z3 group would like to challenge other Z3 groups to take a picture with more Z3s in a residential (Z3 owner’s) driveway.

    Fixing Paint Chips

    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

    Buffy Gets a Pedicure

    Required materials:

      Folia Tec brake caliper lacquer
      1″ fine natural-bristle brush
      wire-bristle brush
      container to mix paint
      popsicle/mixing sticks
      masking tape & newspaper
      lacquer thinner (for cleanup)

    Costs:

      about $60 for kit and other materials
      a few hours time

    What do you do when even though your car has a red top, you think it just isn’t quite loud enough? Easy, you paint its toenails … err … brake calipers.

    Required materials:

    Folia Tec brake caliper lacquer

    1″ fine natural-bristle brush

    wire-bristle brush

    container to mix paint

    popsicle/mixing sticks

    masking tape & newspaper

    lacquer thinner (for cleanup)

    Costs:

    about $60 for kit and other materials

    a few hours time

    As you can see from this picture, the stock calipers really don’t stand out at all, even though they are good-sized. I had seen other cars with bright glossy calipers (yes, even P-cars…shhh) and I liked the look. When I found out that Folia Tec made lacquer specifically for brake calipers, I had to try it out.

    The Folia Tec kit comes with a can a lacquer in your choice of color (I chose red, but yellow, blue, green, black, silver, gold (shudder), etc. are also available), a can of “hardener”, and a spray can of brake cleaner. Before beginning, put blocks behind the wheels of the car, make sure the handbrake is set, and jack up the car (now might be a good time to call BMW and complain if you are an M roadster owner without a jack).

    The instructions say to use the supplied brake cleaner and the wire-bristle brush to clean any brake dust off of the caliper. Clean it well–you don’t want anything to come between the paint and the metal of the caliper. Be careful to avoid damaging any rubber parts towards the rear of the caliper with the wire brush. After allowing the caliper to dry for a few minutes, you should mask off anything you don’t want to get paint on (if you’re too lazy to remove the caliper from the car, like me!). Don’t forget to put some newspaper on the floor under the caliper to prevent drops of color on your driveway or garage floor.

    (Now’s a good time to see a cool detail I hadn’t noticed before about the M calipers–the nifty ///M cast into them.)

    Before you can begin, you must mix the paint and hardener in a 3:1 ratio. Since I didn’t have a lift and was doing one wheel at a time, I didn’t want to mix the full contents of both cans all at once. I just eyeballed the amount I poured out of each can into my mixing bucket and it seemed to work out fine. After stirring the paint and hardener, wait 15 minutes and stir it again.

    Use the brush to put on a thin even first coat. It will start to harden quickly, so quickly brush out any runs or drips in the paint. The rear of the caliper is hard to reach, but you can’t see it when the wheels are on anyway, so don’t worry too much about painting there. I’ll appreciate no giggles about my masterful masking job.

    Let the first coat dry for 15 minutes and then apply a second coat. After the second coat, let the paint dry for one to two hours before replacing the wheel. If you are doing the job with one jack/one wheel at a time, you will want to rinse out your brush using the lacquer thinner now, or it will be completely stiff by the time you get around to doing the next caliper.

    The final result is, in my biased opinion, pretty sharp. I hope some others out there try this kit as well, as I’d really like to see some of the other colors. I believe Folia Tec even makes a chrome-look caliper paint, which would look sharp on a certain monochrome car I know…

    Black Cars, Never Again

    My very first vehicle was a black 1980 MGB special edition that my father purchased for me in 1984. I loved that car, and that old MGB had a lot to do with my decision to purchase the BMW roadster. However, I learned at an early age that black cars are always in one of two states. The first state is Clean the second state arrives an hour after you wash it Dirty. Sometime during the three years I owned that car I vowed not to own another black car again.

    Flash forward to 1991 and we find Robert purchasing a brand new black Ford Explorer Sport. Somewhere between 1984 and 1991 I must have forgotten my vow. However, I took comfort with my decision by saying, “the Explorer looks so good in black, and hey it’s a truck, who cares if it’s dirty.”

    Now flash forward to August 1996. A BMW salesman has just loaned me a Montreal blue 1.9 Z3 for the weekend, and it’s just too much fun. I decide I have to own one. Later in October of that same year I took delivery of a silver 1.9, remembering my anti-black vow and resisting to acknowledge how good the black BMW roadsters looked in the brochure.

    By the following spring I had made many “Internet friends” on a BMW roadster message board. It was through this board that owners started noticing a trend that the black BMW roadsters seemed to be picking up more chips than the silver ones. The theory seemed to hold water, and was broadened a little to also include dark green in the “chip prone” category. People were trying to speculate why one color would be more prone to chipping than another color, but we really never came to a real conclusion. In my mind, I acknowledged that this theory might be true, but since we were just talking over the Internet it was hard to see the evidence.

    Over Labor Day weekend later that same year, several of us drove to South Carolina for the first BMW roadster homecoming. It was there that we started re-discussing the paint chip issue. I saw with my own eyes Ulrich’s black roadster with lots of small paint chips on the hood. It was just as he described over the Internet, but it still wasn’t concrete evidence. I jokingly asked if he worked at a gravel pit, but the point was his daily route may be much different than mine. Despite all the evidence, I still couldn’t convict the black paint as “guilty”.

    Flash forward to March 1998, I have sold the 1.9 to a friend and I am currently waiting to take delivery of a new 3.2 liter BMW roadster. While I am waiting for the new roadster to show up, the salesman is loaning me a 2.8 liter model so I can have the experience of driving each of the three engine configurations. As fate would have it, the loaner 2.8 turned out to be a freshly cleaned and waxed black roadster. The black looked really good as I pulled out of the dealership and it reminded me why black was such a popular color. Two days later I was already washing it, but it looked so good I really didn’t mind. One week and a thousand miles later the black 2.8 already had six very noticeable paint chips on the hood. The evidence is just stacked too high now; I am firmly convinced that the black paint is not only more prone to chipping, but the chips are also more visible.

    I would strongly suggest that those considering the purchase of a BMW roadster avoid the black paint available on the Z3. If the lure of the black is just too strong, then I suggest you talk your salesman into throwing in some BMW touch-up paint because I think you are going to need it.

    The 3.2 model has a different black paint, and while the jury is still out, it would appear that it is much better in regard to its durability. But it was my fear of the unknown that confirmed my color choice for the new roadster, Arctic silver.