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Suspension & Braking
Have some questions about suspension or brake setups for your E46 BMW? Get all your answers here!

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Old 01-30-2013, 05:26 PM   #1
thefrog1394
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Alignment guru's needed

Ok guys, what do you think of these alignment specs? Is the cross camber in the front and rear anything to worry about? How about the difference in rear toe? (Shop claimed they didn't know how to adjust rear toe ugh) do you think it's worth going somewhere else to have that fixed?

Also how important would you guys say having equal rear camber is? Like should I bump the one rear side down to equal them out or is it irrelevant and I should just increase rear camber as high as each side will go?

PS car is an e46 sedan with stock sports springs and bilstein sport dampers. 18" wheels with 235/40's. This is a daily driver with a lot of highway miles so decent tracking and tire wear are important in addition pure performance.

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Old 01-30-2013, 06:08 PM   #2
thefrog1394
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Oh, and it was aligned with (pretty much) full gas tank and my ~50lb subwoofer in the trunk but no weights in the front or rear seats. When looking at printout from the hunter alignment rack that normalizes to BMW's specs you add about .5 degrees to rear caster and that everything else is pretty darn close to the same, so I figure I am at about 2 degrees and 2.7 degrees in the rear.

Thoughts guys? Thanks!!
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:25 PM   #3
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Should done alignment with 3/4 of a tank and nothing in the car. Also, they can just use a pry bar to adj rear toe. not hard...Could have done a better job...
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Old 01-31-2013, 07:56 AM   #4
thefrog1394
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Any alignment experts out there?
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:12 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thefrog1394 View Post
Any alignment experts out there?
What you want us to tell you? That your car pulls to the left little?

Get camber arms and realign...

Last edited by TrippinBimmer; 01-31-2013 at 08:14 AM.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:34 PM   #6
thefrog1394
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Originally Posted by TrippinBimmer View Post
What you want us to tell you? That your car pulls to the left little?

Get camber arms and realign...
Well thats the thing, my car isn't pulling. But alignment has a lot more effect on handling and tire wear than just whether your car pulls or not. I guess I am trying to get some people with more expertise in this area to tell me whether they think my settings are far enough off to warrant me spending time/possibly money to get it closer to specs or not. I don't really even know what handling behavior to look for with mismatched toe and camber. Would this cause the car to track ruts in the road more? less? Make the back end feel more stable at high speeds? Less stable? etc etc.
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:35 AM   #7
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my camber was slightly off in the rear from both sides... it wasn't perfect according to spec, off by .1 or .2 or so and i learned that was ok for our e46. but if they say they don't know how, take it to a diff place.. and don't pay them full cost since they can't do it.

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Old 01-31-2013, 09:59 AM   #8
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.. actually, just remembered, my rear is in spec after installing my rtabs.. i installed it in original place and it was right on... the front was slightly off and they tried everything.

take it to a different place.

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Old 02-02-2013, 03:47 PM   #9
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Definitely take it somewhere else, that is nowhere near acceptable, and the fact that they don't know how to adjust rear camber on a BMW (not exactly a Ferrari) means they just don't know what they're doing in general.

You want even camber on both sides, you want even toe on both sides. Unless they just can't get it there, don't let them get away with that garbage. Yes, it will likely cost more to get a competent job done, as it will take more time.
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:30 AM   #10
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This is kind of a haul for you for an alignment, but north of Cincinnati is a shop called Turn in Concepts who specializes in performance and race alignments among other things. They are well versed in BMW's and the owner has a ZHP for a daily driver. I would give them a call.

Your toe is the biggest concern IMO. I like to run mine with much less toe for daily driving to promote even tire wear. I tend to run about .05 total toe in front and .1 total rear. This seems to work very well. I also like to run as little camber as I can in the rear which on my car is about -1.5*.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:17 AM   #11
thefrog1394
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I also like to run as little camber as I can in the rear which on my car is about -1.5*.
What is your reasoning behind this? I have heard a number of people claim they like to max out their camber (-2.5ish?). What effects do you see when running less negative camber?
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Old 02-05-2013, 12:26 PM   #12
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Running less camber will help reduce uneven tire wear. Toe is the biggest factor in tire wear for sure. A car could be aligned to 0* camber with .5* toe and stil have horribly uneven tire wear. A car can be aligned to -2.5* camber with 0 toe and have perfectly even tire wear.

The BMW being rear drive for most dictates increased tire wear on the rear when driven aggressively. It also dictates that a potential unsafe driving condition could exist with too little toe in adjusted in the rear due to snap oversteer conditions. That means that some toe in is a good thing for stability and needed. The problem comes in when too much toe is mixed with a good amount of camber on a rear drive platform that has a bit of weight to it. It's a receipe for terrible tire wear. Limiting the toe and camber to as little as possible on a street driven car will help to fix this. With my settings I have perfectly even tire wear.

Last edited by subieworx; 02-05-2013 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 02-05-2013, 02:17 PM   #13
thefrog1394
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Originally Posted by subieworx View Post
Running less camber will help reduce uneven tire wear. Toe is the biggest factor in tire wear for sure. A car could be aligned to 0* camber with .5* toe and stil have horribly uneven tire wear. A car can be aligned to -2.5* camber with 0 toe and have perfectly even tire wear.

The BMW being rear drive for most dictates increased tire wear on the rear when driven aggressively. It also dictates that a potential unsafe driving condition could exist with too little toe in adjusted in the rear due to snap oversteer conditions. That means that some toe in is a good thing for stability and needed. The problem comes in when too much toe is mixed with a good amount of camber on a rear drive platform that has a bit of weight to it. It's a receipe for terrible tire wear. Limiting the toe and camber to as little as possible on a street driven car will help to fix this. With my settings I have perfectly even tire wear.
Ok, so more rear toe will make the rear end LESS likely to rotate, am I correct? I've also heard that increased toe in the front on a RWD car will increase stability... although my car doesn't feel any more or less stable with .27 front total toe. Although that is pretty much within the center of the Bentley specs, but I know a lot of people here swear by 0 toe in the front. And technically according to Bentley specs, I actually have too LITTLE rear toe right now?

Are the specs you guys are talking about subie and pawl with the recommended BMW loading? I've heard that loading the car according to specs will increase the rear camber by about .5, although I don't know how true that really is. Which would mean that my rear actually has quite a bit of camber.

BTW, what I noticed from my previous settings was tons of inside wear on the rear tires and a decent amount on the fronts as well. Seems to be pretty much par for the course with e46's.

FYI, Bentley alignment specs for "sport suspension" e46's assuming proper loading:
Quote:
Front Camber: -.38 to -1.05
max difference left/right .5
Front Toe (total): +0.1 to +0.37

Rear Camber: -1.82 to -2.32
max difference left/right .25
Rear toe: (total): +.17 to +.37
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Old 02-05-2013, 12:35 PM   #14
pawelgawel
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for reference.. this is what i had

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Old 02-06-2013, 06:01 AM   #15
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The wear doesn't have to be par for the course, trust me.

All of my cars are aligned with my weight in the passenger seat. I am the one who is in my car most and I don;t often take around passengers in this car so why shouldn't it be setup for the most common situation. I can tell you that my 200 pounds in the driver's seat does change the alignment, but not drastically. All LHD cars will typically gain -.1* of camber in the front right and maybe the same in the right rear, lose a .1* of negative camber in the front left and typically none in the left rear. Toe will change as a result of camber depending on the setup of the suspension.

The specs I use are much less than what BMW recommends, but I never follow the recommended OEM specs anyway. On the E36/46 0 toe in the front works pretty well. I typically dial in a hint of toe in for straight line stability on my daily driver. On my track cars though I go with zero or a hair toe out.

I really think you would be happier with a different alignment. Again, I would really recommend the guys at Turn in Concepts. They do all my alignments on my cars and know what they are doing.
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Old 02-07-2013, 12:36 PM   #16
thefrog1394
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The wear doesn't have to be par for the course, trust me.

All of my cars are aligned with my weight in the passenger seat. I am the one who is in my car most and I don;t often take around passengers in this car so why shouldn't it be setup for the most common situation. I can tell you that my 200 pounds in the driver's seat does change the alignment, but not drastically. All LHD cars will typically gain -.1* of camber in the front right and maybe the same in the right rear, lose a .1* of negative camber in the front left and typically none in the left rear. Toe will change as a result of camber depending on the setup of the suspension.

The specs I use are much less than what BMW recommends, but I never follow the recommended OEM specs anyway. On the E36/46 0 toe in the front works pretty well. I typically dial in a hint of toe in for straight line stability on my daily driver. On my track cars though I go with zero or a hair toe out.

I really think you would be happier with a different alignment. Again, I would really recommend the guys at Turn in Concepts. They do all my alignments on my cars and know what they are doing.
Thanks for the recommendation. I actually have firestone's lifetime alignment, so I will probably try another firestone first. Anyone know of a Firestone that actually knows about alignments in Ohio? I will probably post up on OhioBimmers as well, maybe someone there knows. But yea, if they fail as well I may consider giving somewhere else a shot.

But yea, I'm thinking targeting .1 degree total toe front, equal out the front camber if possible (some say front camber isn't adjustable?), equal out the rear toe, but try and keep it towards the low end of the range (.15 to .2) and equal out the rear camber (keeping it low as possible while still being equal)
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Old 02-07-2013, 03:18 PM   #17
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Front camber is adjustable. There is a pin in the tophat that can be pulled out that once removed allows the tophat to slide for adjustment.
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:10 PM   #18
thefrog1394
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Front camber is adjustable. There is a pin in the tophat that can be pulled out that once removed allows the tophat to slide for adjustment.
Thats what I thought. Some people were claiming the strut mounts need to be flipped around or something to get any adjustment out of it?
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:58 PM   #19
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Not at all.
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