Hi, Michael here! Time for a long personal story about fuse pullers that nobody asked for! That probably sounds ridiculous for something as inconsequential as a fuse puller, but it’s a big part of the E30 Update journey!
I grew up in the back seats of air-cooled Volkswagens and eventually my first car, which I still have, was an air-cooled VW. If you know anything about the old “air-cooleds” (and other older European cars), you know about the old-school, “pill” style fuses. If you don’t (and I’m learning that some people do not), they’re little pill-shaped pieces of plastic (the OGs were ceramic) with thin, hourglass-shaped metal strips which extend the length of the pill structure and are then formed over the ends. They snap in to the fuse panel like an AAAA battery
. They are very easy to replace because you can just pinch them with your fingers and pull them out. Not only that, it’s easy to tell if they’re blown or not because you can easily see if the metal strip is totally charred or not.
Why they decided to change that design, I’ll never… well ok, FINE I understand why,
but the downsides weren’t THAT
big of a deal……. In My Opinion!
Whatever… what was I gonna say?
Oh right, eventually I got a car with modern fuses; a 1990 BMW 325 is! Holy Crap! I was only three years out of college and driving a dream machine! How did I pull that off?!?! I’ll save that story for another time. Before getting that car I was still super skeptical of BMWs in general, but my mom’s 2001 E46 wagon
started to change my perception a little. Besides, I loved the look of the older models so I figured I’d take a chance.
Man was I sold.
I was a little bit intimidated though – now remember, I came from air-cooleds, so I didn’t even know the ins-n-outs of a liquid cooling system (more on that another time). One thing that drove me absolutely NUTS though, was that extracting fuses was a total nightmare! WHY I thought to myself… the HELL… would ANYONE… design something SO… HARD…. to get OUT?!?!?!?!
Then one day when I was at my grandfather’s, who was a big inspiration for me to work on my cars myself, went to check a fuse, and popped out a little fuse puller out of it’s little nook in the fuse box. DUUUUH! Fuse puller! Of Course! First thing I did when I got back to my car was check for the fuse puller, which naturally, was missing from my fuse box. Damn car had it’s original flashlight, but not the fuse puller. Because of course it didn’t.
So I forgot about it and kept pulling fuses by
finger. Ouch. So ouchie was it, that, I have to admit, I got a bit lazy about checking fuses…
One day I noticed I had a headlight out. Well, I thought, who knows when those things were replaced last. So I got all four headlights because they were on sale at BavAuto – Remember those guys
After procrastinating replacing it (got a written warning for having my brights on) I finally popped the new headlight in… Still no light. After scratching my head for a few seconds, I did the next cliché thing that one does after scratching one’s head: facepalm.
THE FUSE! NO! NOT THE FUSE!!!
Yes. It was the fuse.
I sheepishly went to the auto parts store after consulting the user manual (another original item the ’90 had other than the fuse puller) and got the appropriate fuse. After painfully wrenching it out with my fingers and popping the new one in, the headlight un-miraculously worked again.
I blame it all on not having a fuse puller and I’m sticking to my story!
After “Isis” was tragically totaled, I drove several other cars. E36’s, E46’s, I drove an SMG for the first time which was pretty rad, but the car was a junker and they wanted WAAAY too much for it. After several months, I was finally able to find another E30 to look at during a family reunion in Memphis. After only a couple minutes in to the test drive I knew I was back in my automotive home. Even though it was an es, rather than an is, It nevertheless sank in: there really is something special about the E30
. They don’t call it God’s Chariot for nothing.
After taking delivery (yes, the guy drove it across the state for me(!!)) of Isis’s replacement, I naturally started doing a deeper dive. “Oh! Hey! It has a fuse puller!” I noticed. Of course, after 4+ years I still haven’t needed it… not that I’m hoping to.
Another thing my ’86 has is heated seats. I haven’t done a bunch of research on this, but I think there was some kind of factory, or possibly dealer option for heated seats. However, I’m 93% certain the upgrade on this car was probably done long after it rolled off the dealer’s lot; probably at the same time the front seats were reupholstered (in vinyl 😞).
The drivers seat heating element was operational when I purchased the black, 1986 coupe, but the passenger’s side was not. This time I remembered to check the fuses. After poking around the fuse box a couple minutes I realized what that mysterious box grafted to the side of the fuse box was… a mini fuse box just for the heated seats. Lo and behold… Pill fuses!? One of them was obviously charred to oblivion. “Well that may explain why the passenger’s seat heat is inoperable” I thought to myself. A quick trip to the auto parts store will fix that problem… so I assumed.
Now, I know you’re thinking “why is he veering off topic talking about heated seats”? Don’t worry, it’s about to make sense!
As I scoured the fuse section I was amazed at all the fancy, light-up fuses, the tiny mini fuses… almost an entire aisle’s worth… but no pill fuses?!?! I wandered back up front to find an associate. “Do you have any of these?” I asked incredulously. “What’s that?” the employee who couldn’t have been much over twenty asked. After a few seconds of awkward silence I stuttered “wuh.. ahf.. a.. fuse?”…
I’m not sure anything has yet made me feel quite as old as his reply:
“Huh……. I ain’t never seen one o’ them before”.
Then again, I’d never seen a fuse puller until a couple years prior, so I’m not sure which is worse 😅.
Either way, if your fuse box is missing this finger-saving little accessory, here’s a cool replica. Only from E30 Update.