After being stuck in New York City traffic for four hours one evening, our BMW 2002tii seemed to have lost all willpower to continue running -- loused up spark plugs, we thought.

The next morning found the car eager to go again, so we left for a 200 mile trip to a board meeting in Framingham, MA. However, as soon as the car reached its normal operating temperature, the 125 horses seemed to fall into eternal sleep, and all we could do was coast all the way to Boston 70 mph downhill and as low as 40 mph uphill. But we got there!

We blamed the spark plugs again and a new set was installed the next morning. The tank was treated to Sunoco 260 and the car felt like new again, happily revving up to 6000 . . . only for the next 15 minutes, which took us about ten miles along the Mass. Pike. The return trip took a little over two hours with extensive cooling-off periods.

Although it was Saturday, Circle Tire's top mechanic happened to be in the shop and performed a complete electronic test on the car, which proved all mechanical and electrical systems functioning perfectly. This left only the fuel supply as the critical area. Since the fuel pump was happily humming along and the injection pump appeared to be working right, the fault could only be in the fuel lines. Unfortunately, no pressure gauges were on hand to locate the trouble spot, so we decided to leave the car in the loving care of Foreign Motors West, Natick, MA, and enjoy a bus ride home.

What happened: The filter at the bottom of the suction tube in the fuel tank was completely filled with dirt, causing the fuel to trickle through the lines.

Some dealers automatically include the cleaning of fuel filters and lines in their major services. (Foreign Motors West has now begun this as a result of my experience.) If your dealer doesn't, I highly recommend replacing the filters and cleaning the fuel lines at least once a year.

Author: Michael Lenhardt