Based on Scott Chamberlain’s 101 Tips for 2002’s (Roundel September 1993), here with another batch from equally fanatical Mike Self. Mike Self is well-known to St. Louis Gateway Tech attendees as Professor Rust lecturing often on the prevention and cure for that dreaded disease.

  1. The little plastic cap on the end of the door latch (on the door) is what makes the door close easily, without slamming. If yours is missing, replace it. A short length of plastic or rubber tubing will substitute temporarily.
  2. If you’ve got a sunroof car, reroute the rear sunroof drain hoses (behind the rear quarter panel upholstery). The factory routes them into the rocker panels (!), it’s easy to route them into the rear fender wells.
  3. Early 2002s with six position fuse boxes have unfused headlights. Using the wiring diagram in the owner’s manual, interpose a fused relay in both the low beam and high beam circuits. It could save melted wires and/or a fire. It’ll also make your lights brighter.
  4. Until 1974, even the 12-fuse cars didn’t have a fuse for the high beams. See #104 above.
  5. If brake fluid is disappearing from the reservoir and you can’t find a leak, check the pedal bucket. A leaking clutch master cylinder will fill it up with fluid, with no exterior leaks. And it holds nearly a pint of fluid!
  6. Chrome bumper cars: check the insides of the bumpers periodically for rust, especially around the rear bumper guards. Packed dirt and exhaust fumes will cause the bumper and guards to rust through.
  7. Use household carpet padding under your carpets and under and behind the back seat to lessen road noise. Filling the space under the back seat cushion with old chunks of foam rubber packing helps too.
  8. Reflectors that have gone bad in taillights & parking lights can be revived with aluminum foil.
  9. Use anti-seize paste on any threaded fitting exposed to weather or heat
  10. ’72 and later cars with a stalk-mounted windshield wiper switch can be retrofitted with interval wiper controls from a 320i.
  11. Pre- 1972 cars have a flimsy right-hand engine mount that eventually stress cracks and breaks. Inspect yours now and replace it with the later style having a welded cross brace.
  12. Any time you have the interior upholstery panels off the doors, clean out the insides, inspect for rust and spray with rustproofing. Do the same for the quarter panels.
  13. If you have a ’76, inspect the front floors carefully for rust. For some reason, the ’76s are far more prone to rust than other years.
  14. Testors makes a blue model airplane paint that’s perfect for repainting weathered metal BMW Roundels. Thin the paint to eliminate brush marks.
  15. A good upholstery shop can use the material from the (usually) unworn rear seat of a parts car to repair the worn/torn center section of the driver’s seat in your car.
  16. Same goes for carpeting use the unworn back seat carpet from your parts car to repair the worn front.
  17. Most 2002 factory colors can be formulated in urethane paint which lasts a lot longer than the factory enamel.
  18. Krylon “dull aluminum” spray paint is a great match for the silver paint used on both steel and factory alloy 2002 wheels. On the alloy wheels, spray clear urethane over the silver paint.
  19. When draining your cooling system, don’t forget to remove the block drain bolt (under the exhaust manifold) and set the heater temperature control to “hot.”
  20. Next time you have your cooling system drained, take the block drain bolt down to a hardware or auto supply store. There’s a commonly available brass petcock that matches the block drain’s threads. Install with Teflon plumber’s tape.
  21. Lubricate your speedometer cable periodically they’re a nuisance to replace. Disconnect at both ends, and squirt lubricant into the speedometer end ’till it runs out the transmission end.
  22. A leaking master cylinder can cause the driver’s side frame rail to rust out under the driver’s seat.
  23. The next time your gas tank is nearly empty, unbolt it and remove from the car to check the tank-to-body seal for deterioration and rust. Replace the original seal with closed cell weatherstripping foam (available at a hardware store).
  24. There are several different seemingly identical bulbs that will fit 2002 taillights. Make sure you use the one with the highest wattage for best visibility.
  25. Clean out the heater plenum chamber (below the base of the windshield, where the wiper motor lives) drain hoses periodically. Prevents rust and keeps water from entering the car via the heater.
  26. A balky heater temperature control lever is often caused by a sticking valve. It can be removed (leave the lever attached to the cable), dismantled, cleaned and lubricated.
  27. A scissors type jack is far more efficient and safer than the one-legged horror supplied by BMW.
  28. Don’t ever jack or lift a 2002 by the rocker panel jacking points. They’re probably rusty and weak by now. Use the subframes.
  29. Lubricate the windshield wiper linkage periodically.
  30. Always carry a fire extinguisher in a location where you can reach it quickly.
  31. You can retrofit inertia reel seat belts to pre-1973 2002s. The “Autoflug” brand lasts a lot longer than the “Repa” brand.
  32. Make your stock driver’s seat more comfortable by (1) raising the front end of the seat track with 1/4 to 3/8″ thick washers and (2) installing extra padding in the seat back to give your lower back more support.
  33. If the turn signal flasher bulb on your dashboard flashes only intermittently but both front and rear turn signal bulbs are OK and flash properly, clean or replace the fuse before suspecting the flasher unit itself.
  34. Any reluctant or non-operating electrical item should have its fuse checked first. Those German cartridge fuses actually wear out and should be replaced every few years.
  35. Use spray rustproofing in the perimeter seams of the hood and trunk lid. These two panels invariably rust around the edges, from the inside out.
  36. If you need extra wheels and a five inch width is OK, Chevette (!) and German Opel wheels fit just fine.
  37. Periodically lubricate the slides and pivot points of the heater control cables under the dashboard. You don’t want to have to replace a broken cable!
  38. If you normally park your car outside on a slope, make sure the drain holes in your doors are clear. Water will puddle at the front or back of the door when the car isn’t level.
  39. If your rocker arm shafts have worn so that you can no longer adjust the valves to the proper clearance, any good machine shop can make oversizeed (.020-.040 is fine), case hardened adjusters for a lot less money than the cost of removing the head and replacing the shafts. Take them an old one to use as a pattern.
  40. A constantly varying idle (both speed and smoothness) points to a vacuum leak. Check to insure the vacuum advance/retard diaphragm in the distributor doesn’t have a leak.
  41. A floppy shift lever can be rebuilt for about $20 worth of parts and a few hours time.
  42. A driveline vibration occurring in a specific speed range can be caused by a worn or broken rear transmission mount and/or a broken or cracked guibo. Check them before suspecting a bad drive-shaft, center bearing or rear U-joint.
  43. Periodically peel back the carpets covering the front wheel wells (under the dash, ahead of the doors) down at the bottom and check for rust starting there. Evidence of rust indicates a leak into the cowl area, which if left unattended can have fatal structural implications.
  44. A piece of ribbed, rubber-backed carpet (try a building materials store) cut to fit the trunk will help prevent things from sliding around under vigorous cornering (and that’s all you do in an ’02, isn’t it?).
  45. It’s also a good idea to pad the sides and back of the trunk (pre ’73 models) to keep migrating objects from denting the quarters and rear panel.
  46. With a little patience, you can remove the lenses from a round taillight housing if you need to replate the chrome rim. Look for a small set screw on the inside of the chrome rib that divides the lens segment. The set screw and sealer hold the lenses in place.
  47. Periodically inspect the rubber boots on your rear- axle CV joints, particularly if you drive on gravel roads a lot. Boots are a lot cheaper than CV joints. Temporarily patch a torn or leaking boot with layers of kitchen plastic wrap secured with tape.
  48. A group 26R battery fits a 2002 just fine and usually has a higher CCA rating than an equivalent group 42.
  49. Erratic electrical accessory problems can be caused by a deteriorated or broken battery-to-body ground strap.
  50. Once a year, take the battery out, clean the area with baking soda to neutralize the acid, touch up rust spots and replace the battery. The Eastwood Company makes an acid-resistant spray paint specifically for battery areas. Pre-1974 battery boxes unbolt from the body; later ones are welded in.
  51. A door that’s difficult to close properly that isn’t missing the little plastic latch bolt cap may have a loose latch plate (the part mounted on the door frame).
  52. A door lock that’s sluggish in cold weather can be lubricated by removing one or both screws that hold the rubber guide wedge on the door. Poke the extension wand of a WD-40 can through the screw holes and squirt. Saves taking the upholstery panel off just to lubricate the lock.
  53. A dead windshield washer pump can often be resurrected by a careful dismantling, cleaning and lubricating of the motor. And failing that, the washer pump from an older VW Rabbit, Jetta or Audi is a perfect replacement.
  54. Periodically check the tightness of your taillight lenses where they meet the bodywork. Loose lens assemblies are prime culprits for trunk leaks that will rust out the spare tire well and/or the gas tank mounting.
  55. A thumping or soft banging sound coming from the rear of the car may be loose or worn upper rear shock mounts.
  56. The early and late style fuel pumps are interchangeable on all non-tii 2002s; however they use different thickness insulator blocks and different length pushrods
  57. If you’re fortunate enough to have 2002 factory alloy wheels, coat the mating surfaces of the stainless steel center caps with anti-seize compound before installing them. Otherwise they’ll seize to the aluminum wheels and be damaged when you try to remove them.
  58. If you have alloy 2002 road wheels and a steel spare, be sure and carry a set of steel wheel lug nuts. They don’t interchange.
  59. Pre-’74 2002s have very weak rear bumper mounting points. They can be considerably reinforced by cutting two 4 x 6 in plates out of 1/4 ” steel and drilling to match bumper bolt holes. Install between the bumper mounts and the body. Be sure and seal the plates to the body with caulking to prevent rust or leaks.