Let it be known that I am a sadomasochist. I own not one but two older German cars off warranty. Neither had one during the time I’ve owned them, anyway.

The first is a 2002 BMW 325Ci. It’s a mostly stripper model, having only been specced with HID headlights and a CD player. That means it’s quite reliable. For a BMW. It usually works fine except for self leveling headlights that think four feet in front of the car is a reasonable place to point from time to time and the squeak it developed due to the ultra-high quality bearings they use for belt pulleys. It’s also a jealous bitch. It doesn’t like the idea of being left alone. The other day it thought I would finally put it away for the winter as I had (thought I had) finished preparing the other Kraut for road duty. As such, it decided it wasn’t going to start. It’s over it now, I suspect since it knows the other car is not ready for prime-time. Which brings me to my other German wundersled.


I also have a 1999 Audi A4 Avant Quattro. I got it for a song. Can’t complain there. It’s a manual and a wagon! Jalop heaven! I can’t even complain that it needed a bunch of work. It has 219k on it. So it needed brake pads and rotors. And a steering rack. And tie rod ends. And the radio doesn’t work. And the mirrors are broken. No big deal. Turns out it needs some other suspension work too. And a timing belt, water pump, valve-cover gasket, thermostat. Okay, still not that big a deal when you factor in that parts are actually pretty cheap since it’s just a Passat in a business suit. It’s got Bilsteins and H&R springs! Totally worth it!

So, I’ve taken care of all those things. And the other minor things that crop up when you rip a third of a car apart and put it back together. I don’t even mind that I’ve had to replace three brake calipers. I have observed that in Germany they don’t seem to know that calipers can have banjo fittings and that it makes life much easier. But this brings me to the part I feel I can be annoyed.


I expect that the replacement parts I am sold will work. That’s why when I smelled hot brakes the other day I was surprised to find out that the smell was coming from one of the wheels on which I had replaced the entirety of the brake system. I guess someone over at the brake remanufactory missed the memo about how pistons ought not to bind in their bores.

Fine. Whatever. I’ll go scare up another caliper. Hey, look! The auto parts store even has a 35% off coupon! I’ll order this one I’ve triple checked is labeled “front right for rear mount applications.”


Get it home, pull the car apart, discover that “front right for rear mount applications “ means the opposite of “you’re working on the passenger side of a left hand drive vehicle with the calipers attached to the trailing side.”

And the auto parts store closed half an hour ago.

Son of a bitch. My back hurts. I just want the damned thing to be done.

Am I allowed to be annoyed? I mean, I’m now having to do this three times. Is this real insanity, where one performs the same experiment over and over expecting different results? Or is this just because I invited the Germans right in? Should I have expected one of them to take a dump in the middle of the carpet?


I’m so bent that I can’t even.

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