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Old 11-03-2010, 06:38 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Fredericksburg, VA
Posts: 14
My Ride: '03 ZHP & '01 740iS
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Exclamation Alignment Problems - TC Kline S/A Coilovers

Hello everyone. First time E46 owner. First time coilover owner. I'm pretty much a noob at this stuff but I've been trying my hardest to research as much as possible before posting. And so here we go...

In August, I picked up an '03 330i ZHP 6MT that came with TC Kline S/A Coilovers and Powerflex LCABs/RTABs. Currently mounted on it are BBS RV 212 wheels 17x8.5 ET13 on Dunlop Graspic DS-2 winter tires in 225/50.

Previously, the car was on 18" staggered wheels and I blew a rear tire two weeks ago. Since it was the end of October, I decided to simply swap to the winter setup (currently mounted, above mentioned) instead of replacing the tire. At that time also, the car was lowered to the limit. So I decided I would raise the car up for the winter, just for convenience and the ability to go through automatic car washes, for when snow and salt are all over the vehicle and it's too cold out to hand wash.

I raised the car up following instructions from TC Kline and some fellow forum members. I had trouble getting the car to be 1/2 inch taller in the rear than in front (TC Kline recommendation) but I kind of pulled it off. However, (a) the rear driver is shorter than the rear passenger a tad bit; and (b) I'm not sure about this but I think I may have the car standing too tall all-around.

Anyway, when I finished raising the car to what I believe are acceptable heights, I decided to take the car for an alignment. Prioir to the alignment, the car was driving straight although I felt some play in the steering, and I wasn't feeling any weird feedback from the tires or hearing any noises.

I took the car to my local Firestone because it's 2 miles from work, I've taken a few cars to them in the past and never experienced any problems, and I don't know of any local indy shops with a good reputation for this kind of setup. I figured, at best, Firestone could align to BMW spec.

Wrong. I got the car back and was told they couldn't adjust the camber in the rear/left (RL or rear driver) wheel and that because of my "aftermarket" suspension mods they were unable to align the car to BMW spec. I took the car, went on a drive and discovered that not only was my car pulling to the right somewhat hard, but there was a METALLIC SCREECH/GRINDING kind of noise coming from my RL wheel ONLY ON RIGHT TURNS. Unacceptable as neither of those two conditions existed before I dropped the car off.

I called and complained and was asked to bring the car back in today. When I got the car back, I was told that my front was "fine" but they couldn't adjust the camber because their Hunter machine did not provide BMW spec info for the front (what?). I was also told that they were able to adjust my RR (rear/passenger) camber better then yesterday, as well as my RL although ever so slightly. They went on to say that my RL eccentric bolt is bad and that every time they would max it out, it would jump back to where it was before (what?). None of what they were saying made much sense to me and honestly it just sounds like they don't know what the hell they are doing right now and are using the excuse that my "aftermarket" parts prohibit them from properly aligning the car. IT WASNT PULLING RIGHT BEFORE. I took the car back again because they said this time the noise went away and that it was driving straight. They couldn't answer what was making the noise or how they fixed, but called it "tire rubbing" although it sounded metallic to me. Once I drove it, I discovered that yes, the noise went away, but the car was still pulling to the right just as bad, if not worse.

So here I am. Asking for some assistance trying to figure what I should do next. I have a friend that recommended a local NTB who aligned his 350Z with aftermarket springs/shocks to appropriate settings and went above and beyond to please him. I suppose I could try them. Or I could take my car to a highly recommended performance shop www.roadracetech.com but I would rather avoid this because they are 1hr 30min away in traffic and they told me it would cost $300 or so to have my suspension tuned.

Below is some data I've collected concerning my vehicles current conditions:

Ride Height (measured from bottom of rim to bottom of fender, center on wheel from front to rear, in inches)

EDITED 11/4/10
Measured the car again on ground that seemed to be more level.

FL - 23.0" FR - 23.0"
RL - 23.125" RR - 23.0"

Other Misc.

Front Tire Pressure - 32 psi
Rear Tire Pressure - 38 psi
Spring Rates - 450 Front/ 500 Rear
Alignment - Not ballasted (weighed down). Car was cleared of any misc. items in the cabin that weighed anything, trunk was cleared. Full tank of gas.

Question 1: I adjusted the rear spring adjusters to the same spot on each. RL is considerably lower than RR and the only way to fix this is lowering both and trying to match because I don't have any room left to go higher (23.5"). Is this what everyone refers to as "body lean" which is believed to be BMW's fault by design?

Question 2: I adjusted both front coilovers to the same level on each. If I go lower to try and keep the rear 1/2 inch taller than front, I wont be able to clear car washes probably (I only have 4" clearance from the bottom of the bumper to the ground). Should I bring the front down to 22.5"?

Question 3: Could the ride height being too tall be the reason they can't get my camber to spec?

Question 4: Could the ride height difference between both rear wheels be the reason I'm pulling right? If not,

Question 5: ... Could the difference in camber between both rear wheels be the reason I'm pulling right?

I will provide pics of the alignment sheets shortly. I don't have a scanner but will take digicam pics and share.

Thanks to all in advance. Please keep in mind I'm not experienced with this stuff but am trying to learn. I've researched as much as I could in two days but decided posting this thread could be a better way to learn, especially from others experiences. Thank you.

-OT in Fredericksburg, VA

Last edited by Enemy; 11-04-2010 at 04:52 PM.
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