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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 11-18-2012, 08:28 AM   #1
miweber929
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Vibration on a 330xi

I just picked up a 120k mile 02 330xi a month or so ago, have very little BMW experience and I'm wondering if they are kind of "vibratey" about 70 mph or so?

I'll try to sum this up as quick as I can: I have only a couple "long" trips on it and the last big one the car literally shook above 70 and the wheel vibrated in my hand. Had a few other issues I wanted and needed taken care of (cooling system redo, it was throwing some lean mis-fire codes) so I had a local Indy shop which I trust go over it. They replaced the left CV axle, inner ball joint, CAB and control arm, as well as fixed the rest of the issues and gave it a clean bill of health. I picked it up and it seemed to be far better, but still a bit noisy above 70. Say 80% better than what I feel is normal.

Here's the thing: after I picked it up and it seemed better I remembered the steering wheel was turned slightly to the right (the original shop did not do an alignment, nor did I ask them to) and being somewhat OCD with the car driving decent I'd hop over to the local Tires Plus for an alignment. Ever since then I feel like a bunch of the noise came back, say its more like 50% of the old noise gone.

Now it might just be me as I am getting used to the car but its definitely a humming noise in relation to speed, I really don't feel it through the wheel at all, and it increases as you go faster. Wondering if it might simply be the noise the car makes at speed? Since I don't have a ton of BMW driving time, wondering if its normal as my friends 05 Mustang GT feels similar at speed too.

I am taking the car back in a few weeks for them to do a few other wiggling things but was hoping someone could shed some light and maybe ease my mind a bit and say its wind noise, AWD drive noise, whatever. I test drove 2 others before buying this one and they all sounded pretty much the same, I just hadn't driven a RWD E46 (only my old E36 318i which howled at speed as well) to know.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:29 AM   #2
miweber929
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Anything the alignment shop (which I don't 100% trust) could have done to get the vibes back?
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:39 AM   #3
shadow 2
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Had same issue, got front wheels rebalanced, vibration gone.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:59 AM   #4
325xittt
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If you only did the left side, CAB, inner ball joint and control arm and CV axle, then its probably time to do the other side. Also check out your tie rod ends. +1 on re-balance wheels. Check/replace fluid in the front diff. Make sure wheel(s) are not bent or out of round. There should not be a lot of noise and no vibration. Some tires are loud and get louder over time, especially if they have worn funny due to front end alignment issues.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:22 AM   #5
miweber929
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadow 2 View Post
Had same issue, got front wheels rebalanced, vibration gone.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 325xittt View Post
If you only did the left side, CAB, inner ball joint and control arm and CV axle, then its probably time to do the other side. Also check out your tie rod ends. +1 on re-balance wheels. Check/replace fluid in the front diff. Make sure wheel(s) are not bent or out of round. There should not be a lot of noise and no vibration. Some tires are loud and get louder over time, especially if they have worn funny due to front end alignment issues.
Thanks for the quick responses.

Additional info, the tires are literally brand new (put them on the day after I bought the car) and wheels are non-stock style 96 units that were on my old 318. POTENTIALLY this could be the issue, they were installed and balanced by the Tires Plus that did my alignment. They've been ok, but the biggest reason I've used them is they are right by the house and open weekend. I may have them rebalanced by the indy shop when I get the other stuff finished. The stock wheels and tires did this as well, one reason I'm thinking this may not be it.

That local BMW/VW/Audi indy shop also checked the right side over and said PO looks like they replaced the right side CV axle at some point and it, the ball joints, bushings and the control arm all checked out good. I sort of gave them an open checkbook; if they were suspect I'm sure they would have said something but I leaned that way too. May need a re-check, great.....

Ok, so it should be dead quiet and smooth, sounds like I have more issues.

Last edited by miweber929; 11-18-2012 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:01 AM   #6
Pierce1
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Uh, bad guibo?
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:28 PM   #7
E46er75
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Sounds like you have a couple of things going on. First sounds like you need to get it realigned. Second, the noise might be yoiur wheel bearing. Increased noise while accelerating usually points to a bearing.

Last edited by E46er75; 11-21-2012 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 11-22-2012, 07:20 AM   #8
miweber929
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So you think an alignment can cause the noise and vibration? Hmmm, I was wondering that since to me it seemed worse after the alignment but I couldn't see how.

Wheels bearing checked out when they serviced it. But I'll add that to the list for them to look at.
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Old 11-22-2012, 08:52 PM   #9
Kubica
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Sounds like a bent or unbalanced wheel.
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Old 12-02-2012, 04:58 PM   #10
stoneweed1
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I have an '01 330xi and had the same issues and I changed stuff one by one and it didn't do the trick, so I went all out and replaced alot of stuff. Around this mileage alot of stuff needs changed.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...956&highlight=
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Old 12-02-2012, 06:44 PM   #11
miweber929
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stoneweed1 View Post
I have an '01 330xi and had the same issues and I changed stuff one by one and it didn't do the trick, so I went all out and replaced alot of stuff. Around this mileage alot of stuff needs changed.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...956&highlight=
Thanks for the link. Surprisingly, a lot of that stuff has been done, except for suspension, mounts, and guibo. Here's what I've done:

- Left control arm including inner ball joint and bushing (Lemfurter I think)
- New tires and used BMW rims (while this may be an issue I had the vibration on the OEM ones)
- New left CV axle (OEM remanufactured)
- full cooling system overhaul
- DISA valve
- OFHG

It's going in Tuesday for the shop to do the VC gasket, replace a broken exhaust bolt and take another crack at the vibration as it has since returned to almost full strength. What I did notice was it seems better at colder (sub freezing) temperatures and returned to "normal" bad vibration levels yesterday when the temp went up to 50. Also since their work I get a weird idle vibration.

I'll try again to outline the feeling: at below 50 mph, car runs, drives and sounds fine. If I accelerate hard I feel the whole car shake a bit and feel it through the steering wheel; let off the gas and it'll smooth out. My 08 Nissan Frontier 4x4 with 98k on it runs 90% smoother and accelerates smoothly in 4wd or 2wd. So at 65 mph if I set the cruise I feel only a slight vibration but hear a howling from the motor that goes away at 60 and 70 respectively or if I shift to a different gear. My thought is that's intake noise and sort of normal.

However, at 70mph or above there is a vibration and a deeper howl not from the motor that I feel through the steering wheel and in the seat. Changing gears makes no difference, however coasting makes it slightly better. Accelerating hard makes it worse and it gets worse with more speed. Definitely driveline related.

Going to have the shop do their thing but check:

- guibo
- all CV axles
- transfer case bushing
- motor and transmission mounts
- wheel balance and trueness
- anything with suspension, though they checked that stuff last time as well

Not sure how or why, but to reiterate, it was far better (about 75%) when I picked it up from the shop so I went and got an alignment at the Tires Plus up the street. Drive home without issue, but only side streets and when I highway drove the next day the vibration had returned to more like 50% of original and has (to me at least) steadily gotten worse.

We'll see what they say. At this point I have to trust them as I have no time nor will my back take crawling around swapping out parts hoping to find it. They are a good shop with lots of BMW and XI experience so here's hoping.
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Old 12-02-2012, 08:20 PM   #12
Kubica
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Try a different set of wheels and tires.
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Old 12-02-2012, 08:35 PM   #13
miweber929
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubica View Post
Try a different set of wheels and tires.
The OEM wheels and "newer" tires that were originally on the car did this as well. I may end up trying them if they can't find anything but they were Nitto tires which is why I replaced them in the first place.

Last edited by miweber929; 12-02-2012 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 01-29-2013, 07:28 AM   #14
bikesandcars
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I'm having a similar issue.

It was there when I bought the car, just a slight vibration at highway speeds that comes from nowhere in particular. I feel it a little through the steering wheel, and a little through my butt. I replaced front suspension and axles because the boots and struts were bad, new brakes wheels and tires (not for this issue), did an alignment, and still feel this slight vibration. I need to check the rear driveshaft and axles for play.. but there's no wheel bearing hum so I don't think it's an outer bearing. I'm going to do fluids and inspection in the next couple weeks so we'll see if that narrows it down.

side note, had the wife in the car over the weekend and the vibration seemed less.. I usually drive by myself.

Did the OP find / fix the problem?

Last edited by bikesandcars; 01-29-2013 at 07:29 AM.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:40 AM   #15
GSherbs
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Said you replaced the front suspension - including control arms and bushings?
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:02 AM   #16
bikesandcars
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Complete front rebuild with powerflex bushings and new control arms. Steering is better, suspension is tighter, but vibration level is about the same as before all the work.

What I have not done:
changed any fluids besides motor oil
checked rear driveshaft
checked rear axles in detail (just moved them to see how much play and they seemed OK)
Front driveshaft seems OK, I don't know the backlash spec but nothing seems to wobble
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Old 01-29-2013, 07:45 PM   #17
miweber929
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See some of my other posts for a bit more detail. Basically the vibration is still there, though better and more tolerable and the shop that's been working on the car indicates its at a "normal" for this car and other XI's they've worked on.

Additional items than reported above which were replaced and made some improvement were: CSB, TCB, transfer case and a full 4wd fluid service including both diffs and the transfer case was flushed. The TCB bushing and transfer case flush seemed to make the most difference, though I still have a slightly bent wheel but the shop has made it balance out. The TC only holds 2/10's of a quart so the fluid gets beat, mine came out black as hell.

At this point it's livable, and surprisingly somewhat sporadic: at times it drives me crazy and feels horrible but other times its not noticeable. Just a word of caution, if you decide to replace the CSB, make sure you properly preload it and use sound deadening material on the top or you'll get weird noises. Don't ask me how I know!!

Not sure this helped, but its the follow up.

Mike

Last edited by miweber929; 01-29-2013 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:33 PM   #18
Dahlyla
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Had the same problem, changed my tires and fixed a bend and now all is well

Sent from my Note 2
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Old 02-13-2013, 08:15 AM   #19
bikesandcars
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just wanted to report back on progress...

I had a sudden increase in the vibration last friday, so I pulled the car in the garage.. discovered while inspecting that a lot of road grit had accumulated on the inside of the wheels (unevenly) and that was throwing off the balance..

Changed all fluids along with cleaning the wheels and the bad vibration was gone, but that very subtle whomp whomp is still there, coming I think from the back.

I inspected all axles, drive shafts, etc and they appeared to be tight.

While up in the air I noticed that my right rear wheel seems to either be either poorly made or slightly bent, or there is an issue with the hub being out of round... there is a slight but noticable runout on the wheel, not sure yet if that is causing the issue but I'll try to switch wheels or have the current ones balanced and report back.
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:03 AM   #20
miweber929
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Funny you reported in about the wheel as I just had another set of wheels put in last night (used, but its a test) and the vibrations are far better from initial drive last night.

Maybe the XI or E46 in general is very susceptible to out of round wheels as I've NDVER run into this on another vehicle before this one.

I'll report back after some more time.
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