Quick comments: My wife picked up the car yesterday afternoon; the digital outdoor temp read 80F. She said the car ran really badly and wondered if she'd make it anywhere. By the time she left town for home at 6:30 it was about 50F and the car ran much better.
Everyone's comments so far have been useful; thanks. (I used to think changing my oil was a big deal--I replaced a head gasket last year thanks to a similar bmw forum at roadfly.com)
I bought the Haynes manual and at least now I can better understand the CD ROM, as to what and where some of these parts are; Ritter's book is in the mail.
I'm apparently near the end of what I can do myself at this point. My current plan is to drive the car 500 miles to Denver and take it to a good benz mechanic Oct 25. Until then.....
fyi, twice this past week I got the stock Wyoming comment: "your problem begins with that symbol on the hood".
94 E320 Wagon, 170k, totalled in 2006
2002 BMW 525i Wagon, 75k
1991 BMW 318is (two of 'em)