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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 12-30-2009, 05:34 PM   #1
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 18
My Ride: 2004 BMW 330Ci
Vibration Issues

Hello All,

After spending a considerable amount of time reading the archived threads on vibration I still have not yet determined exactly what is wrong with my car..

2004 330ci with Sports Package - 65K miles:

For the past 2 months or so I have been experiencing varying levels of vibration under all kinds of different circumstances. The vibration is definitely a function of speed and road condition, however, sometimes it will not happen at all and it will ride as if it were brand new. For example, merging onto the highway at ~60 mph with a slightly noticeable vibration will escalate almost linearly with speed to a violent, unbearable vibration to ~85 mph, or cruising speed here in FL. Then as I approach 90-95 mph the vibration will deaden out and the ride will be smooth all the way until I begin to decelerate back down to the 70-80 mph window. In addition, the vibration sometimes gets so bad the the steering wheel will wobble/shake so violently that sometimes I feel like I might lose control. The car will also rattle, i.e. the interior will actually shake and I'm beginning to fear it might loosen bolts/nuts/screws that are holding the rest of my car together!

In the contrary, sometimes the car doesn't vibrate at all.. or it will vibrate in the mornings on my way to work around 40-50 mph.. It makes no sense!

Therefore, I finally decided to do the logical thing and take it in to my local shop.. I requested to have the tires balanced and an alignment, which I have the report for. It turns out the car was slightly out of alignment but nothing out of the ordinary. As for the tires, well I forgot to ask since I was in a hurry and they were closing.

I studied engineering in college and design packaging machinery so the vibratory phenomena is nothing new to me. After having the balance/alignment done there has been a noticeable decrease in vibration, yet it still occurs. If the vibration intensity is a function of my speed but it sometimes "equillibriates" itself I'm worried about axles and bearings. I've read much about vibration due to suspension, bushings and the such but you can physically feel something out of balance as something rotates. I know that makes no sense but it is possible for a rotating mass to level or balance itself if there is enough room for it to happen. Unfortunately, I do not know enough about the drive-train and it's components nor does the Haynes manual have a troubleshooting section.

If you do not know the exact answer to the problem, which is unlikely, perhaps you could point me in the right direction.. are there other signs/signals I should be looking for? Anything helps and I know if there is an answer out there, here is where I will get it.

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Old 12-30-2009, 08:18 PM   #2
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 62
My Ride: BMW 330xi
Vibration under load 330xi

Check out this thread (below). My 03 330xi had the vibration from hell at about 121000. Since I had figured on keeping the car, I also planned on performing extensive preventative maintenance on wear parts. The problem was worn 1/2 front axles (2). You can see what I replaced on top of that and the suspension is like new. If you need help with locating parts, drop me a PM. OEM costs $$$ but my originals lasted between 100-122K miles although not all aftermarket are "bad". Some are the same part without BMW pasted on them....same company, less $$$. Good luck.
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Old 01-24-2010, 05:17 PM   #3
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 18
My Ride: 2004 BMW 330Ci
For those that may be interested, I just found out what was causing my problem today.. I had a sticking front left caliper. Sticking so bad that when I would drive on the highway and then park/turn the car off my rim would be so hot I couldn't even touch it. It makes sense as to why the front portion of the car would vibrate, especially at high speeds. Just thought I'd provide the feedback to anyone else who may encounter the situation in the future.
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Old 01-24-2010, 07:20 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: New England //M Posts: 56,959
Posts: 1,385
My Ride: 2000 328Ci 5sp SP
Yes, fairly common with the E46. I have repaired a sticky caliper 2 times on my car over 75,000 miles.
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steering wheel shake, vibration

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