Recently, I had to put in some time under the hood in order to get my vehicle to pass the Texas Department of Public Safety’s vehicle inspection. My car was failing to meet emissions requirements. The vehicle inspection station took its fee, and offered a free inspection retest up to fifteen days from the original date of inspection. I finally took my car to get inspected today, so my vehicle registration can be renewed with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
What follows are learnings from this incident.
AirCheckTexas has a couple of financial assistance programs for qualified individuals whose vehicles have failed to pass the state inspection.
There are no additional fees for late vehicle registration. However, the vehicle registration expiration date does not move forward to reflect the date that registration is renewed.
There is a relatively low risk of getting ticketed for driving with an expired registration. I spoke with one individual who’d allowed their registration to lapse for a period of five months. However, it’s a situation that’s best avoided. The fine for driving with an expired vehicle registration (non-commercial) is $75.
Like driving with an expired driver’s license, this ticket is a fix it or ticket deal.
Under the provisions of Texas Law, the court will dismiss the violations of Expired Driver’s License and Expired Registration upon proof of (official receipt) that the matter was remedied within (10) working days of the ticket date. An administrative fee of $10.00 will be assessed
or why it’s not worthwhile to resurface old headlight lenses
or ignoring the above, the right way to resurface, seal, and protect old headlight lenses
My 2003 BMW E46 330i is just a few months shy of hitting 14 years from its build date.
The years that I’ve had her have not been kind. They’ve often involved long periods of baking under relentless sun, haphazard upkeep, and infrequent washes.
For the first three years, she spent almost every second of every day outside in the Oklahoma sun. She spent half of her summers sunbathing in Houston, Texas. In the winter, I’d take her out on Tulsa’s salted roads. I relished snow days, where I could shred fresh-fallen powder and kick the rear tires loose.
Conditions remained this way while I attended graduate studies at the University of Missouri. The apartment complex that I was living in had no covered parking available, and she endured hail strikes on at least three occasions in that time.
So when I moved back to Houston in the spring of 2013, one of the things that I did was to ensure that she could spend some of her remaining days within the comfort and safety of a garage. By then, the damage had already been done.
While I was working car sales, I decided to patronize the detailer that we had on the lot. His name was Abraham, and he was a Mexican guy that mostly did touchup work on the used cars before they were listed for sale. On request, he would also perform work on personal vehicles. Abraham didn’t have access to the best equipment or facilities, and it showed (holograms aplenty), but I decided to go for it.
I can’t remember how, exactly, but Abraham talked me into letting him resurface my headlight lenses the one time that I asked him to help touch up the various battle scars on my car. The lenses looked good for a while, but their condition deteriorated at some point, and now they look horrendous.
I purchased new lenses (63126924045: Amazon.com, 63126924046: Amazon.com) from RMEuropean.com, selecting those manufactured by Automotive Lighting (AL). I also purchased new headlight cover strips (63126921859: Amazon.com, 63126921860: Amazon.com) from ECSTuning.com.
A little history: AL was established as a 50/50 JV between Magneti-Marelli and Bosch. In the year 2003, Magneti-Marelli took full ownership of AL. Small wonder, then, that my new headlight lenses arrived in boxes proudly bearing the Magneti-Marelli logo.
I had just finished installing the Mishimoto silicone air intake boot kit, and decided that I’d take a moment to swap out the driver’s side headlight lens. The new headlight lens was infinitely clearer.
When held next to the old lens, I could see the degree to which the original equipment had yellowed.
I turned on the xenon headlights, and was surprised by the difference in clarity and color rendition. The driver’s side light output was tack sharp and bright white, whereas the passenger’s side was dull and yellow in hue.
I quickly moved to replace the passenger’s side headlight lens as well. The car’s front end appearance is remarkably improved. Talk about eyes being the windows to the soul…
There are inherent risks involved in replacing the headlight lenses on any vehicle. On the E46 sedan, there’s a painted trim piece that goes beneath the headlight assembly. The old plastic tabs may crack during removal, especially when done without the use of trim removal tools.
Why do headlight lenses degrade?
Mechanical and/or chemical failure of UV-protective coating resulting in direct exposure of polycarbonate to the elements. Polycarbonate has low scratch resistance and is susceptible to UV degradation, which takes the form of yellowing.
What’s wrong with plain resurfacing of polycarbonate headlight lenses?
By polishing the lenses, one removes the original UV-resistant coating. Unless this coating is replaced, the results can be expected to fade rapidly.
What are qualities to look for in a coating for headlight lenses?
The ideal coating to apply after resurfacing a lens would be clear, protect the polycarbonate from UV exposure, form a strong bond with the polycarbonate surface, and have wear resistance. I’ve identified the following products through my own research:
Coatings suitable for polycarbonate headlight lenses
Dupli-Color Headlight Restoration Kit – Clear Coat Step 2 5 oz – HLR300 ($14.99 kit, Amazon.com)
Krylon UV-Resistant Clear Coating, Clear Gloss, 11.0 oz – 1305 (~$12, Amazon.com)
(both Dupli-Color and Krylon are owned by Sherwin-Williams)
Solaray UV Clearcoat – 12 oz (~$40, Amazon.com)
Ideal protection for headlight lenses would include a clear vinyl appliqué. Lamin-X is the leading brand name in this department. They offer precut films for a wide variety of vehicles.
I applied Lamin-x B011CL (BMW E46 Sedan fitment, Amazon.com) to my new lenses to ensure that they will hold up through the years to come.
Sound coming from the rear passenger window switch (61316902174). Sounds like electrical crackling.
Rear passenger window switch sometimes not responsive.
Rear passenger window goes up by itself
It does this in a jerky fashion, sometimes pausing
OBC function 14 shows frequent voltage fluctuations
Reading the state of the passenger-side rear window switch from the General Module (GM5 / GM V) within ISTA/D shows that it is cycling states between “Rest position” and “Closing” frequently.
Removed and inspected rear passenger window switch. Completely stripped down rear passenger window switch, and cleaned electrical components. Reassembled and observed that symptoms were no longer present.
In the course of replacing the CCV system, I discovered a couple of defects in my 2003 BMW 330i’s air intake boot.
On the upper part of the boot (13541438761, part #3 in the diagram below), the protrusion that accepts the F-shaped connector (13327503677) was developing a tear
On the lower part of the boot (13541438759, part #6 in the diagram below), the accordion section that plugs into the idle control valve had a tear
I’ve been replacing components on the vehicle with more durable materials where possible.
Part of this entails replacing rubber components in areas subject to high temperatures with silicone. Mishimoto’s silicone intake boot kit for the BMW E46 330i (MSRP $175, Amazon.com, Mishimoto) will suit the task perfectly:
Direct fit for the 2001-2006 BMW 330i (including the ZHP)
Maximum Temperature: 330°F
Constructed with high grade silicone and heat-resistant embedded fibers
Mishimoto Lifetime Warranty
Mishimoto does offer its silicone intake boot kit for the E46 323/325/328 as well (MSRP $175, Amazon.com)