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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 04-27-2011, 10:46 PM   #1
antoniostarr
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Third attempt at alignment failed! No idea what part is bad...

I'm trying to minimize my spending while trying to fix this rear left side of my car. The shop asked if the car has even been hit which it hasn't but they are saying that they can't adjust the toe anymore. To offset this the right rear was adjusted out off range to get the total within range. Butler Tire is Austell told me the alignment is in a "dog tracking" setup until I can get this corrected. Has anyone seen anything like this before? Any idea what pry could be bad/bent? The steering knuckle was mentioned but speaking to a collision guy he didn't understand how it can be the knuckle of the car has never been hit. Any insight will help greatly.

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Old 04-28-2011, 12:01 AM   #2
6spd330i
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Im assuming the car does not drive straight right?
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Old 04-28-2011, 12:10 AM   #3
antoniostarr
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Pulls to the right bit it's not a hard pulling.
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Old 04-28-2011, 02:42 AM   #4
vegito
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Try to check your control arms bushing and tracking bushing on the rear end.
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:30 AM   #5
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This may sound a bit odd, but I have seen several cars in the past, long after the owners have spent big money replacing bushings, ball joints, tie rod ends, etc. etc. and still couldn't fix the issue. I'm not saying this is the issue, but if all the parts are good, here is a possible explanation.

There are manufacturing tolerances and a single suspension pickup point may be within tolerance, but stack several of these points together (a condition known as tolerance stacks) and then the final point, where the tire hits the road, may be out of spec. If you'd like more details, Wikipedia has a good article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolerance_stacks

So basically, the LCA length could have a tolerance of +/- .25", the bushing hole needs to be in the center to make this an accurate measurement and the tolerance there may be +/- .1", you keep all these variables going (there are about 20 additional points that effect the rear suspension based on my quick math) and if everything is on the high side, or low side, you might honestly not have enough adjustment. So unless the engineers have given you enough adjustment to account for the total tolerance stack, you can't adjust it all out.

Does this make sense?

Last edited by Spyder_Venom; 04-28-2011 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:26 PM   #6
antoniostarr
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It makes sense but I'm confused as to why this wouldn't be a wide spread issue with E46? the car is all stock so I'm confused by that fact. Ultimately I want to get it corrected so I will regain my BMW ride and preserve tires.
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Old 04-28-2011, 05:49 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by antoniostarr View Post
It makes sense but I'm confused as to why this wouldn't be a wide spread issue with E46? the car is all stock so I'm confused by that fact. Ultimately I want to get it corrected so I will regain my BMW ride and preserve tires.
It is the luck of the draw on where within the tolerance the each part comes. Every single part that comes off the line gets check to a +/- range. If all of them wide up on the + side, this stack could cause the issue. The odds of that happening are quite low (or if engineered correctly, impossible).

Do your do-diligence checking the parts, but if everything is still out, I'd chalk it up to stack and not let it bother you. It is possible nothing is actually wrong. There are corrective bushings, plates, etc. that one can purchase to give you adjustments beyond the factory ranges, you just might need one. A good alignment shop should be able to suggest the right solution.
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Old 04-28-2011, 08:52 PM   #8
antoniostarr
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Originally Posted by Spyder_Venom View Post
It is the luck of the draw on where within the tolerance the each part comes. Every single part that comes off the line gets check to a +/- range. If all of them wide up on the + side, this stack could cause the issue. The odds of that happening are quite low (or if engineered correctly, impossible).

Do your do-diligence checking the parts, but if everything is still out, I'd chalk it up to stack and not let it bother you. It is possible nothing is actually wrong. There are corrective bushings, plates, etc. that one can purchase to give you adjustments beyond the factory ranges, you just might need one. A good alignment shop should be able to suggest the right solution.

thank you for that insight! I would to have to deal with it because the car does drive oddly now so I will as you suggested do my due diligence on the issue with hopes that I will not waste too much money.
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:16 PM   #9
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Its not the stack up of tolerances trust me with this one, there is more than enough adjustment for suspension angles. If you stack up all the tolerances were talking a couple hundredths of an inch, not 1/2 or 1/4"


This shop must not have the correct tool or knowledge to adjust the trailing arm plates to adjust the rear toe. Also, make sure they selected the correct vehicle. There is a huge difference in rear specs for sports package vs non. As a Ci you should have a sport suspension standard.
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:22 PM   #10
antoniostarr
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Originally Posted by cimper43 View Post
Its not the stack up of tolerances trust me with this one, there is more than enough adjustment for suspension angles. If you stack up all the tolerances were talking a couple hundredths of an inch, not 1/2 or 1/4"


This shop must not have the correct tool or knowledge to adjust the trailing arm plates to adjust the rear toe. Also, make sure they selected the correct vehicle. There is a huge difference in rear specs for sports package vs non. As a Ci you should have a sport suspension standard.
You make a good point about selecting the right car Cimper but the second attempt was done at the dealer and they couldn't get it right either. I would think that they woul select the right car....they told me I need to pay another $150 for a suspension analyst...Hmmmm
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Old 04-29-2011, 04:16 AM   #11
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I wonder if mine is similar, having replaced the rear bushes (with Powerflex) of the front control arms, mine now pulls very slightly left, with not much play at the steering wheel. It was straight before, but with play at the steering wheel. Its been checked and adjusted, and it is within spec, but only just. To get it to go dead straight, I have to travel along a length of road that has a camber to the right. All very funny!
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:57 AM   #12
antoniostarr
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I wonder if mine is similar, having replaced the rear bushes (with Powerflex) of the front control arms, mine now pulls very slightly left, with not much play at the steering wheel. It was straight before, but with play at the steering wheel. Its been checked and adjusted, and it is within spec, but only just. To get it to go dead straight, I have to travel along a length of road that has a camber to the right. All very funny!
Funny indeed...I'm worried about the potential cost to get this issue resolved.
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Old 05-02-2011, 03:55 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by antoniostarr View Post
Funny indeed...I'm worried about the potential cost to get this issue resolved.
Frankly, it shouldn't be bad with some non-OEM parts. Call the guys at Turner or Bimmerworld, they've got the parts to get it square.
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Old 05-02-2011, 05:31 PM   #14
tincup33
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Mine pulled to the left slightly and couldn't really be aligned. Then I noticed that my shock towers were convexed so I bought reenforcement plates, new tops for the struts (can't remember what they are called), and a 3lb sledge hammer. Then I replaced the tops of the struts, pounded the tower mounts back to level and installed the reenforcement plates. Now the car is within tolerance and there is no pull.
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Old 05-02-2011, 05:37 PM   #15
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Funny indeed...I'm worried about the potential cost to get this issue resolved.
it's going to be cheaper than the shop that's for sure.
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