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lou's garage

We have an older model BMW 740iL 2001, with 100,000 km driven. Our problem has always been a failed starter that costs more than $1,000 each time we bring it to a BMW service centre. I am sure it is replaced with a rebuilt starter mechanism, and the guarantee is only for three months. As we seldom drive this beautiful car except for long highway drives to visit family in Alberta, it is now getting very expensive. Other than that, this car is a beauty to drive. Are we being foolish to keep going to a BMW service centre? – Mr. & Mrs. Denis M, Vancouver

A three-month warranty indicates to me that your BMW service centre is not installing an original equipment manufacturer quality part, but a locally sourced and rebuilt starter. I also find it hard to believe that, after multiple failures of the same part, they actually had the nerve to charge you the third replacement. This is just bad business, in my humble opinion. I’m also thinking that the starter may not be the core initial problem, as three failures of the same piece is pretty rare. Have you had the ring gear examined? Since it appears that you are paying for, but not receiving, the full dealer experience, it is indeed time to start looking for an alternative service facility.


My well-kept, 225,000-km 2001 Acura 3.2 CL Type-S has developed a gas-tank leak somewhere at the front of the tank. By all indications this is a big job, requiring removal of the rear suspension in order to replace the tank. Is there any way to repair the leak without removal? If not, am I right in assuming that the repair may very well create the need for additional repairs to suspension components once we start mucking around with them? – Mark

Mark, an out-of-car tank service is required to fix your vehicle. While this is a dirty job, it’s not as bad as it initially appears. Your CL uses a rear cradle system, which holds the tank and suspension up in place. It unbolts, allowing everything to be dropped to the floor as a complete unit. With the exception of the rear strut upper mounts, which need to be unbolted from the body of the car, everything in the rear suspension is attached directly to the cradle and does not need to be touched. Corrosion will present technicians with their main difficulty and unpredictability. While the main cradle bolts will usually come out without too much fuss, all the steel brake and fuel fluid lines running on top of the tank will be corroded and typically require replacement. This is a great time to perform this service, as everything in the rear will be sitting on the floor, giving the technician ample space to fabricate and repair these lines.

Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.