Dr. Bimmer’s Dictionary of Useful Terms
Fuel Injection – Complicated array of pumps, tubing and plumbing whose sole purpose is to filter dirt particles from fuel. The fuel injection system signals the driver when it has found dirt by causing the engine to stop run ning. This always costs $1500.
Distributor – This is someone sort of like the dealer except you never get to talk to them. They sit on parts orders in Montvale while your car is laid up and you have to take the bus to work. The distributor is the most likely cause of the car not making noises when you turn the key.
Battery – This is something that you d o to someone who has opened the door of their Checker Marathon into your mint 3.0CSi. Batteries are conse quently always located outside the car. A decent battery will last about 3 to 5 years with good behavior.
Radiator – Everyone knows that in your house a radiator is something that keeps you warm. In your BMW, however, the radiator is designed to keep the engine cool. This does not last forever. Even though it has no moving parts, a radiator will eventually revert back to its natural function and cause the engine to be very warm. (See sec tion on cylinder head cracking.)
Water Pump – This is something that pumps water furiously while the engine is running. You will have noticed by now that generally you d o not see any water gushing from your car. This is because unlike most water pumps that move water from one place to another, the pump in your BMW takes water and moves it back to where it came from. A second ary function is to squirt coolant out from a worn water pump shaft seal thus convincing the radiator to begin heating the en gme.
Alternator – This is someone who goes back and forth between buying American and imported cars because he or she buys dismal examples of each. For instance: first a Fiat 850 sedan, then a 1960 Corvair, then an English Ford Anglia, then a Chevy Vega, then a Hillman Minx, then an Oldsmobile Diesel, etc., etc.
Carburetor – This is a French word meaning “Leave it alone.”
Clutch – This special term is used to describe passengers who grab for the door armrests when you take them for a ride in your car.
Brake Pads – These are the little fric tion pads that squeeze the brake rotors and cause your car to stop. In an emer gency, worn brake pads may be re paired by layering them with racer tape.
Cylinder Head – Big trouble here. The function of the cylinder head is to muffle the noise of the exploding gaso line in the engine so as not to interfere with the stereo. It also functions as a kind of engine thermometer. When the rad iator decides to overheat the engine, it will crack and several d ays later sig nal the driver that it is too late to add coolant.
Cigar Lighter – A code name for the place to plug in rad ar detectors.
Emissions Systems – Something that you pay extra for so that your car will run better when you take it off.
Transmission – Box full of gears and other bumpy things between the engine and the drive shaft.
Intermission – The time between when you floor the accelerator and when a d ownshift occurs in a BMW automatic transmission.
Secret Mission – What you tell the police you are d oing when you are stopped for going 85 mph in a 55 zone.
Ignition Advance – When a member of the opposite sex threatens to set fire to your shorts if you take one step closer.
Ignition Points – Design features of BMWs that increase the likelihood of spectacular blazes. The most famous of these are the location of the fuel filter and the battery in the 2002tii. In a frontal collision, the fuel filter is crushed and gushes gasoline at the same time that the battery positive terminal sparks when it is shorted to the body sheetmetal.
Retard ed Timing – Buying your spouse a present the day after his or her birthd ay.
Lubrication – Precise automotive fluids that protect vital engine and other parts from heat-ind ucing fric tion. (Well, what did you THINK I was going to say?)
Oil Pressure Warning Light – Light on the d ash that comes on when the oil pressure switch fails, thus giving a false ind ication of no oil pressure. It will cost you $100 in towing fees and the cost of dealer service to find out that nothing is wrong.
Spark Plug – A $1.00 item that on BMWs cost $7.00.
As I’m sure this is all you can absorb for now, see you next time. Gut zundfolge!
This article was originally published in the December/January 1988/89 edition of Zundfolge