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Old 02-08-2010, 05:11 AM   #1
SpeedDemon
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Question Style 135M Wheels Causing Problems

Background Info:

I have two E46s, a 2002 325i and a 2005 330Ci ZHP. The 325i is my daily driver and the 330Ci is mostly for fun and taking to the track. I have 3 sets of wheels (for the street), all of which have different tires mounted on them; these sets get swapped between the 2 cars depending on the time of year. The wheel/tire sets:
  1. 16x7" OE 325i Style 45 wheels w/ 205/55-16 Michelin X-ice Xi2 winter tires
  2. 18x8"/18x8.5" OE ZHP Style 135 wheels w/ 235/40-18 & 255/35-18 Dunlop Direzza Z1* tires
  3. 18x8.5" D-Force EmPOWER wheels w/ 255/35-18 Dunlop Direzza Z1* tires
Being that it has been very warm in Seattle lately, I took the winter wheels off the 325i last week and put the 18" Style 135 wheels/tires on. I had the 18" Style 135 wheels on my 330Ci for the winter because my nicer set of D-Force wheels were getting a bend repaired.

The Problem:

The 18" Style 135 wheels are very heavy and I can definitely feel without question that my 330Ci's AST suspension responds very differently when it has heavier wheels on; bumps are absorbed much more harshly. The 18" Style 135 wheels weigh 29lbs while the same-sized D-Force wheels only weigh 19lbs.

Now that I've taken the 16" Style 45s off the 325i and put the 18" Style 135s back on, the handling has gotten noticeably worse in many aspects. The car has a tremendous amount more grip due to the very impressive Z1* tires, but the steering feels unpredictable as a result of what can probably best be described as tramlining.

I noticed a little bit of the same on the 330Ci (not as bad as the 325i though) when it had these 18" Style 135 wheels on, and the handling definitely feels much better with the D-Force EmPOWER wheels back on it.

The Questions:
  1. Is it possible for a heavier wheel to change the feel of the steering?
  2. Is it possible that the ZHP wheels just have "strangely worn" tires that are causing the poor handling?
  3. Shouldn't the narrower 235 front tire on the staggered 18" Style 135 wheels cause the car to tramline less in comparison to the wider 255 tires on the D-Force wheels?
  4. Since the 18" Style 135 wheels are OEM shouldn't they be within BMWs tolerances for what should do well on the E46?
I'm sure I'll have more questions if this thread unfolds with some good insight, but that's all I got for now. Thank you if you made it through reading my very long post
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Old 02-09-2010, 05:30 AM   #2
Bimmerguy82
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[QUOTE=SpeedDemon;11292595]Background Info:

I have two E46s, a 2002 325i and a 2005 330Ci ZHP. The 325i is my daily driver and the 330Ci is mostly for fun and taking to the track. I have 3 sets of wheels (for the street), all of which have different tires mounted on them; these sets get swapped between the 2 cars depending on the time of year. The wheel/tire sets:
  1. 16x7" OE 325i Style 45 wheels w/ 205/55-16 Michelin X-ice Xi2 winter tires
  2. 18x8"/18x8.5" OE ZHP Style 135 wheels w/ 235/40-18 & 255/35-18 Dunlop Direzza Z1* tires
  3. 18x8.5" D-Force EmPOWER wheels w/ 255/35-18 Dunlop Direzza Z1* tires
Being that it has been very warm in Seattle lately, I took the winter wheels off the 325i last week and put the 18" Style 135 wheels/tires on. I had the 18" Style 135 wheels on my 330Ci for the winter because my nicer set of D-Force wheels were getting a bend repaired.

The Problem:

The 18" Style 135 wheels are very heavy and I can definitely feel without question that my 330Ci's AST suspension responds very differently when it has heavier wheels on; bumps are absorbed much more harshly. The 18" Style 135 wheels weigh 29lbs while the same-sized D-Force wheels only weigh 19lbs.

Now that I've taken the 16" Style 45s off the 325i and put the 18" Style 135s back on, the handling has gotten noticeably worse in many aspects. The car has a tremendous amount more grip due to the very impressive Z1* tires, but the steering feels unpredictable as a result of what can probably best be described as tramlining.

I noticed a little bit of the same on the 330Ci (not as bad as the 325i though) when it had these 18" Style 135 wheels on, and the handling definitely feels much better with the D-Force EmPOWER wheels back on it.

The Questions:
  1. Is it possible for a heavier wheel to change the feel of the steering?
  2. Is it possible that the ZHP wheels just have "strangely worn" tires that are causing the poor handling?
  3. Shouldn't the narrower 235 front tire on the staggered 18" Style 135 wheels cause the car to tramline less in comparison to the wider 255 tires on the D-Force wheels?
  4. Since the 18" Style 135 wheels are OEM shouldn't they be within BMWs tolerances for what should do well on the E46?
I'm sure I'll have more questions if this thread unfolds with some good insight, but that's all I got for now. Thank you if you made it through reading my very long post [/QUOTE





Yeah Aaron, I'm pretty sure it just the weight difference between the 135's and the EmPower wheels. I mean 11lbs per corner is a huge difference and can definitely affect the steering feel and suspension of the car. I too have a problem with tramlining sometimes, I think it's either the width of the tires or the crappy ass roads in King county.

I didn't know our 135's were 29 f*ing lbs a piece.

Edit: You have a sick Zhp. I met you last year at Concours in Renton, I had the Alpine Zhp w/ black 135's. Hit me up if you want to go for a drive.
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Last edited by Bimmerguy82; 02-09-2010 at 05:34 AM.
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Old 02-13-2010, 12:26 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmerguy82 View Post
Yeah Aaron, I'm pretty sure it just the weight difference between the 135's and the EmPower wheels. I mean 11lbs per corner is a huge difference and can definitely affect the steering feel and suspension of the car. I too have a problem with tramlining sometimes, I think it's either the width of the tires or the crappy ass roads in King county.

I didn't know our 135's were 29 f*ing lbs a piece.

Edit: You have a sick Zhp. I met you last year at Concours in Renton, I had the Alpine Zhp w/ black 135's. Hit me up if you want to go for a drive.
Hey Josh,

Yeah, I definitely remember meeting you at Concours last year. I hope your ZHP has been treating you well I'll definitely hit you up once I get my car put together this Spring. I've got a bunch of mini projects in the pipeline that are going to keep me from enjoying it for the rest of the Winter. That's why I've got the 325 though
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Old 02-09-2010, 10:16 PM   #4
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Well, I feel dumb but I should have figured this out much sooner. The problem seemed much worse lately on the 325i and it ended up being that the people at Discount Tire had mounted the wheels on the wrong sides
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Old 02-09-2010, 10:26 PM   #5
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that makes sense too.
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Old 02-10-2010, 05:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeedDemon View Post
Well, I feel dumb but I should have figured this out much sooner. The problem seemed much worse lately on the 325i and it ended up being that the people at Discount Tire had mounted the wheels on the wrong sides
Did not know you could only mount wheel on one side only. Never heard of this with our cars. Staggered yes, but side to side?
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Old 02-10-2010, 05:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadow 2 View Post
Did not know you could only mount wheel on one side only. Never heard of this with our cars. Staggered yes, but side to side?
Directional tires maybe?
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Old 02-10-2010, 07:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Acarder View Post
Directional tires maybe?
Good guess, nothing else makes any sense.
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:49 PM   #9
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yep, directional tires.

That didn't end up fixing it though entirely. Although it was better, I drove the car for a couple of days and realized that it still felt like sh1t.

Soooooo, I put an extra set of fairly new 225/50-16 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S tires on the 16" Style 45 wheels and now everything feels fantastic with the car! Night and day difference.

I'm going to try sending the staggered 18" tires back to Dunlop and see if they'll do a partial warranty refund towards a new set of them. I went to Discount tire and they told me that they'd help arrange this.

I'll report back after I get the new set back from Dunlop :redspot
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Old 02-13-2010, 08:26 AM   #10
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Good luck with the exchange. Let us know if it works for you.
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Old 02-18-2010, 12:34 AM   #11
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I went to Discount Tire today to have the replacement tires put on and the difference is staggering. The big difference is no doubt due to the fact that the manager at Discount Tire let me choose between getting replacement Dunlop Direzza Z1* tires or instead opting for Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus tires like I had on the 16" wheels. Being that these tires are going on my 325i daily-driver, I gladly chose the MPS A/S Plus tires and I couldn't be happier (much better suited to the car).

The car drives just as well as it did on the 16" wheels but now with the 18's on. The new Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus tires are in a staggered setup with 225/40-18 on the front 18x8" wheel and a 255/35-18 on the rear 18x8.5" wheel.

Consider this also a very positive review of the MPS A/S Plus tires. I'll also update this post after the first 300 miles with further thoughts after the tires have broken-in.

Moral of this story should be to not put Extreme Performance Summer tires on a car without "Extreme" suspension to cope with the stiff sidewalls (regardless of tire pressure).

DISCLAIMER: I'm not slamming the Dunlop Direzza Z1*. I think they have their place; I love them on my ZHP which has a considerably stiffer suspension setup that is tuned for the track.
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:57 AM   #12
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Good end result and service from the Tire Store. I have been extremely happy with PS2 Michelins on my E36 M3. I will probably get some for my 325It with sport package. In my experience, wide tires have less satisfying steering characteristics, especially on uneven pavement.
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:27 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicad View Post
In my experience, wide tires have less satisfying steering characteristics, especially on uneven pavement.
The strangest part to me though is that I don't have problems with the wider tires on my 330Ci. I have 255/35-18 on all four corners and that car drives straight as an arrow, even on uneven pavement.

I'm still unsure why it is that my 330Ci with stiffer suspension is able to handle the wider/stiffer tires so much better. Even with this great new setup on the 325i, the 325i's steering wheel will still turn slightly in the direction of a bump or a large drop (pothole, groove, etc.) in the road on one side of the car. I've decided that it has to do with one or all of the following...

1. The 330Ci has more positive caster (7 degrees vs. 4.5)
2. The 330Ci has stiffer front control arm bushings (Powerflex on the ZHP vs Meyle HD on the 325i)
3. The 330Ci has OE ZHP front control arms (the 325i has Meyle HD)
4. The 330Ci has less boosted power steering pump with it's LUK LF-20 (vs. the 325i's LUK LF-30)
5. The 330Ci has stiffer springs/dampers (AST 4100 w/ 550#/650# on the 330Ci vs. Koni FSD w/ Eibach Pro-kit on the 325i)
6. Slim chance, but possibly there is something that I'm missing that is worn out and related to mileage (the 330Ci has 44k miles vs. the 325i which has 77k miles)
7. Or maybe it is all of the above combined

Any thoughts?

Last edited by SpeedDemon; 02-18-2010 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:29 PM   #14
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upgrade some of your suspension components on the 325 to handle the larger diameter/width tires. Control arms, poly bushings, sway bar links, rear shock mounts/trailing arm bushings in poly. The 325i won't feel like such a slouch when exposed to a staggered set of 18"s
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:29 PM   #15
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sport struts/shocks make an unbelievable diff too.
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:41 PM   #16
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Have you ever replaced the steering column flex coupling on the 325? Looks like the rest of the suspension got a refresh somewhere along the way but the coupling is an easy thing to overlook and is critical to precise steering. I was experiencing similar symptoms recently, even after replacing worn CABs. Replaced the flex coupling and the steering became laser sharp once again.
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Old 02-19-2010, 12:29 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TxZHP04 View Post
Have you ever replaced the steering column flex coupling on the 325? Looks like the rest of the suspension got a refresh somewhere along the way but the coupling is an easy thing to overlook and is critical to precise steering. I was experiencing similar symptoms recently, even after replacing worn CABs. Replaced the flex coupling and the steering became laser sharp once again.
I haven't replaced the steering column flex coupling, but I have thought about it as well.

The thing that seems different between my experience and everyone else's who has replaced the flex coupling and had positive results is that my steering doesn't seem to have play when driving straight. Instead, it just feels loose whenever I hit a pothole, groove, bump, etc. in the road.

For example, if there is a short groove on the right hand side of the road, and if I drive my passenger (right) front tire into that groove, then I feel the steering wheel pull to the right. With the same groove in my '05 330Ci, I'd drive over the same groove and not even feel it in the steering wheel.

Still sound like the flex coupling?
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Old 02-19-2010, 01:13 PM   #18
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Very well could be. A worn flex coupling introduces slop in the steering allowing road irregularities to provide "steering inputs" that aren't counteracted by resistance at the steering wheel. Could also be any number of other things too, this just hadn't been discussed yet.

I could definitely feel some slop in the steering when parked if I bounced the steering wheel from L to R quickly (maybe 5 degrees each direction, not enough to really move the wheels but just enough to load up the flex coupling). You might try this with both the 330 and 325 and see if you notice a difference.

If you decide to replace it, the flex coupling isn't overly expensive and it's super easy to R&R.
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Old 02-19-2010, 01:30 PM   #19
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How long did it take you to replace the flex coupling?
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Old 02-19-2010, 01:50 PM   #20
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Maybe a little over 30 min including time to raise the car onto jack stands. I don't think I even bothered to remove the wheel or underbody tray. But I probably spent another 20 minutes in the middle of the job comparing the worn part to the new part. If you're easily distracted like me, plan for an hour.
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