Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/7/23 10:48 a.m.

I have been wanting to do this for many years, but due to life I never had the time. A fly and drive across the country with the wife and kids.

My original plan was to fly out to California and buy a beetle, but unfortunately my kids outgrew a car like that before I could even get the time off. So this one will be a very much modified version of that.

It all started last year when we spent a month in the PNW and had a blast. So I focused on flying to Seattle and find a car in that area.

Will continue in a bit.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/7/23 11:07 a.m.

Good hunting!

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/7/23 6:39 p.m.

Without any definitive schedule set, I started browsing Craigslist daily. I searched both Seattle and Portland, my preference was Seattle though as I had no interest in visiting Portland again lol. 

My oldest turned 16 and I have been teaching him to drive using my car. My idea was to get him a manual, but after much thinking I realized I was much better off buying an auto for the first year. The traffic down here is nuts and a manual, imo, is not going to help. In short, the car would serve as a vacation car and then be turned over to my son. 

I mainly focused on e46s as I know them well. Both manual and autos, just in case. As my search progressed, I started looking at X3s, which is basically a lifted e46. 

After finding the perfect car, I started a thread asking for help from the locals, but unfortunately the car sold quick. It was well priced. 

Enablers thread

At this point I started realizing most of the e46s were in rough shape, and I focused more on X3s. By now I had also stolen my wife's facebook account to search marketplace. In FBM I found some options and I started this thread looking for opinions on a few options:

Opinions thread

By the end of that thread I had gotten enough ideas from all the members that I locked in on a particular car. This one:

I talked to the owner of the car at length, both to get better info on the car and also get a better idea of the seller and whether I could trust him with a money wire or not. The second part is always somewhat difficult and requires a bit of trust and gut feeling.

I thought the seller was honest and I had a good amount of info on him that it would be ok. So I proceeded on tell the guy what I wanted to do, up until now he probably thought I was in Seattle   :)  

He was somewhat surprised by seemed open to my idea. Money was sent and I waited for the title ... which took slightly longer than planned but it arrived. Title was mine:

Off I went to get it tagged!

The owner agreed to store the car until 5/8 at his place as he was moving and needed it out. So a ticket was purchased to go retrieve and store it in the Seattle area until the summer.

I started a thread about that as well asking for ideas and got lots of input, a plan was hatched. 

Parking thread



Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/7/23 6:41 p.m.

BTW, lots of thanks to all the Washington state people that contributed on my thread and answered all my PMs, as well as Steve_Jones, Calteg and John Welsh and any others that also provided ideas/input and help me make this happen. 

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/7/23 6:45 p.m.

Today is the day of the first flight. I am only staying in Seattle for a couple of days. Getting the car, looking it over, do an oil change and put in a storage unit that I already secured. Props to whomever invented the internet, this would have been almost impossible in the 90s. 

I got some clothes and some parts to bring with me and have ready:

Once I arrive there I will buy a couple of more things and do an oil change in a WalMart parking lot or wherever I think its doable :0

I was ready and then I got this text:

Luckily I was home so it wasn't that big deal as I also have no connections to make. Gives me some time to post this. 

Hopefully it takes off when they say. 

I also realized I had forgotten something, so I ran back to the car and placed them with my bag:

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/7/23 6:49 p.m.

Was really sweating the Noco booster and the license plate when going through TSA, but they did not care. 

Also, my ride is here:

bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/8/23 1:49 p.m.

I mean I took a tool roll (all under the required 7"), Steering wheel, quick disconnect hub, and bluetooth adapter through TSA last weekend and they didn't even look twice. Plates are no biggie. 

enginenerd Reader
5/8/23 2:14 p.m.

Working in motorsports I have taken some really weird parts through TSA as last minute race weekend deliveries. Only once did I get stopped for a dry sump tank. Can't say I blame them for checking on a suspicious metal cylinder. 

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/8/23 2:33 p.m.

In reply to bmw88rider :

Yeah, I like to stress myself over stupid stuff like that. I could've brought a bunch more stuff I needed.

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/8/23 4:14 p.m.

This is great. Big time on my list as well but my target is an old Caddy or Lincoln. 

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/9/23 10:55 a.m.

About to fly back now. Will try to update the thread during the flight

Haven't been in a flight this empty in quite a while. I think there are probably 30 people in an A321 ... and to top it off the pilot just said we'll get there 30' early.

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/9/23 1:49 p.m.

Ok, let's pick up where I left off. 

Flight was delayed, which meant I got in 2 hrs after I was supposed to. While on the bus to Avis I got a text that my rental was canceled due to me not picking it up within 2 hrs. of the stated time. Great. I can see everyone else scrambling on their phone, they were probably on my same flight, so I quickly make a new reservation, but my car never gets assigned. I go to the window and they want to give me a Mustang convertible, I think its a bad idea in Seattle so I ask for something more mundane, a Camry is offered, that works. 

Off to the hotel we go. 

Earlier when I started looking at cars, once the deal closed my wife started planning the final trip. She found an AirBnB around Bothell, she knows the area since her work has an office there and she visited a few times before. So for this trip, I wanted to leave the car in that area in order to make its retrieval easier once the whole family lands, so I tried to find storage units and a hotel in that area for my retrieval trip. 

I remembered user "Russian Warship, Go Berkeley Yourself " wrote this in  his Dajiban thread:

"Mrs Warship usually takes care of booking where we stay when we do Epic Road trips while I drive ... She picked it on based on "reviews on cleanliness", and it didn't disappoint. "

That works for me and Lynnwood was in the area, so I stayed there and again, it didn't dissapoint. 

Got there at around 1:30am and the office was closed. I ringed the bell and someone that looked like he had been sleeping for the last 10 years came to open and got me all setup. 

As I am going in the building and to my room I see a girl in her 20s that had been roaming the parking lot and ignore her. She quickly rushes and asks me to let her in the building as she left the key inside, I don't think much and let her in. Around 2 hrs later someone tries to open my room door, no clue, but wonder if she let someone else in and they were checking for open doors. Whatever, I kept sleeping but turned on the heater as I was freezing. 

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/9/23 2:14 p.m.

I failed to mention that since the day that I closed the deal, and the money was wired the seller's communication became more sporadic and less enthusiastic. I had done quite a bit of research on him before I decided to wire the money and had found everything from his work info to where he was born, so I wasn't too uneasy, but more bothered if you can call it that. 

Since day one, I told him what my plan was. He was OK with storing the car only until 5/8 so we made plans for me to fly in and out just to relocate it. I was quite clear on my lack of time and that I wanted to pick up the car early in the morning. Given his lack of communication a week before my flight I sent him an email to remind him, and another one the day of my flight. He replied to the last one with this:

Already then, I guess me asking to meet early in the morning was just a suggestion to him. 

So I shrugged it off and went on with my day and decided to get other things accomplished. I first went to WalMart, then Home Depot and finally to Harbor Freight and pick up a few supplies:

By now its around 10am, so I needed to burn more time and I decided to visit the big REI store. If you are ever in Seattle, its worth a visit  

I spent most of my time chatting with the Park Ranger there; yes, they have an office in the store and can answer any question you might have about any National Park.

By now it was time for lunch, so I went to a hole in the wall place called Tacos Chukis. Good stuff.


Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/9/23 2:18 p.m.

Have to break it up a bit, posting from 37k feet up in the air on the way back home and dont want to upload a bunch of pics at a time and lose them. 

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/9/23 2:41 p.m.

Ok, tacos were eaten and I still have time, so I decided to go checkout the storage unit. Back up north we go. By now I had gotten a text from the seller that we could meet up at 1:45pm at his house. So I decided to leave my rental in the storage unit and Uber from there to his house.


It wasn't quite the agreed time yet but he is a couple of blocks from the Seattle Japanese Gardens, so I get dropped off there and walk around. Beautiful park. 

Finally, 1:45 comes by and I text him that I am right outside. He lives in an apartment building, so again I wait for him outside. I start to realize that time for this guy is just a suggestion lol. 

Get to the car, its inside of a garage and of course, I forgot to take pictures lol. I took one just as I left the garage tho,

annnnnd just as I take the picture ... I am greeted with these beautiful lights (picture taken later as I was too pissed to take one as it happened). I swear I had only driven 50 ft from his place.

Ok, screw it. I don't want to deal with this clown anymore and its quite obvious to me he knew and had just reset them. I decide to stop back at a parking lot in the Japanese Gardens and assess the situation there. This is when I realized I had left my scanner in the rental car at the storage unit. Awesome. 

At least the exterior and interior were just as described and the suspension seems very tight for the age and was probably gone over. 

Off to the storage unit we go!

Once there I connected my scanner and got the codes. Looks like it has a bad steering angle sensor and it defaults to rwd as well as causes the airbag light to go off. The sensor reads 0 degrees all throughout the range. 

Its not a difficult job, but the steering column has to be undone and probably why he left it to me as a parting present. It looks like it can be done in an hour, but the new sensor has to be coded to the car and I really do not want to bring my laptop when I come back. I will either leave it as is until I get home of go to the junkyard and take a used one apart and remove the guts to replace onto this one. The brushes wear usually, so not sure the ones at the junkyard will be any better, at least I can practice the removal process. 

I checked and there are several at the junkyard

And oh look what I found, maybe we need to remove those pedals and shifter linkage

After all, there is that S54 and 6 speed transmission sitting in the garage ...


Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/9/23 4:29 p.m.

While trying to figure out the lights, I wanted to drive it a bit while logging the four speed sensors to make sure they were working properly and rule them out as a source of the lights, so I decided to look for a self wash place and give it a quick wash and good vacuum. 

I found this place nearby

I then vacuumed it out and took a chance on opening the sunroof. The sunroof is a great source of leaks and its prone to breaking, especially when in the vent position as this car has the panoramic sunroof that vents both the front and rear panes. I wanted to open it in order to clean the drains, that is the reason I picked up 10' of stranded 10ga wire at Home Depot earlier that morning ;) When the guy asked me what color I wanted and I answered it did not matter as it was to clean a drain he looked at me like I was nuts. 

After leaving the car wash, I went back to the storage unit and did some maintenance. Change the air filter, cabin filter and went over the whole car. I decided to leave the oil change for when I pick it up as apparently plastic bags don't exist in Seattle and I did not think to buy trash bags to put the oil filter. 

The engine bay is quite clean and dry, I could not really find any oil leaks or anything alarming. 

Oh yeah, I found this guy on my 28 pt inspection, will have to take care of it later

I decided that I wanted go eat dinner and sleep some as I had to be up at 4am the next day for my flight back.

I went and had dinner at a place called Anthonys in Edmonds as I wanted to eat fish. The fish was fresh, but that's it.  

The first leg of the mission was a success as I got the car and was able to get an idea of what I am dealing with on my return. 


thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/9/23 7:24 p.m.

What a cool surprise to see all those lights just after you bought the car. 

I can recommend some restaurants in Portland if your eventual route home comes through here. 

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/10/23 12:42 p.m.

In reply to thatsnowinnebago :

I dont mind the lights as much as the seller being deceptive. It was clear to me that he knew and had just reset them while playing dumb. I guess if I wanted a car with no dash lights I would've bought a Honda/Toyota, but I wanted an adventure :)

Portland is not in the cards this time, I was there last year and I would rate it as the best city in the US to eat ... but the rest is hard to describe or comprehend lol. Heading to Cascade Ntl park as soon as I leave Seattle.

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/10/23 1:01 p.m.

This is the plan for when we return to pick it up in mid June ... the later part of the trip is up in the air and subject to change but the rest is pretty set unless there are any complications and we have to improvise.

Feel free to voice any suggestions for things that are worth visiting on the way.

Somewhere there between Banff and Glacier, before we head back to the states I am going to try to swing by Calgary and visit the Skyline Luge rides, my kids have been bugging me for a while now. Not sure its worth it.

Downhill Karting

thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/11/23 5:57 p.m.

Oh man, you're gonna have a gorgeous drive home going that way!

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/3/23 9:30 a.m.

Less than two weeks until we take off to retrieve the stored car. 

Shipped all the camping stuff yesterday and decided to ship some tools just in case. I left a few tools there in the car, any other tools needed I can pick up at Harbor Freight when I land. 

I shipped a transfer case actuator I pulled from the junkyard and rebuilt it with a BMW repair kit and a steering angle sensor brush kit I picked up from ebay. Changing the brushes only vs a new part on the steering angle sensor helps me avoid having to take the laptop to code the new part. 

67LS1 Reader
6/3/23 11:50 a.m.

Have you decided on a route home?

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/3/23 12:35 p.m.

In reply to 67LS1 :

Its going to be something like this. I have it mostly nailed down to Sioux Falls, and from there we'll improvise a bit. 

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