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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 12-27-2012, 07:17 PM   #1
spdracr137
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getting alignment done and question about weight ballisting

I'm planing on getting an alignment done next week at the dealer and I asked the service manager if they do the alignment with weight ballasting per bmw procedure and this is the reply I got:

"We do not do a weight ballasted alignment. We use a Hunter machine that makes the simulated weight not needed."

Does this make sense, I been on this forum for few years and search and read a lot about alignment and seems weight ballasted alignment is the proper way so since all the local alignment specialists stated they use a hunter machine but don't do weight ballested alignment I was going to take it to the dealer but I'm getting the same thing from the dealer so I don't know what to do. Any input would be appriciated.

thanks.
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:37 PM   #2
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Yes, I get my bimmer aligned every 15k whether it needs it or not and never have I needed weight ballasting during any alignment process. The new alignment system simulate the weight. I however never use the dealerships. Race shops provide a better product when it comes to alignments at a much better price point. Just my two and a half cents worth...
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:44 PM   #3
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Curious how it simulates weight...
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:15 PM   #4
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"Hunter has designed the KDS II wheel alignment systems to meet the strict requirements of BMW workshops and provide high-precision alignments on all cars and light commercial vehicles. A customized version of Hunter's WinAlignŽ alignment software has been designed to meet the specifications of all BMW Group vehicles, including those equipped with single-joint, spring-loaded front axles and multi-link rear axles with spherical kinematics." It appears to be all about the software...
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:23 PM   #5
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Thanks zchild. Thanks for confirming.
My dealer has special going so I guess I'll take it there as it's almost the same price right now.
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:24 PM   #6
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Suggest that you have at least 1/2 tank of fuel in the car.

Even when I have ballasting on my cars for alignment, I only ballast for the driver and I usually have a full tank of fuel to simulate some load in the trunk.

I rarely have more than myself for any length of time in my car.
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:35 PM   #7
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Suggest that you have at least 1/2 tank of fuel in the car.

Even when I have ballasting on my cars for alignment, I only ballast for the driver and I usually have a full tank of fuel to simulate some load in the trunk.

I rarely have more than myself for any length of time in my car.
Will do, I'll go in with full tank of gas. Appreciate the info.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:04 AM   #8
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I suspect that the alignment specs Hunter gives are different than factory. They probably aligned a car per factory spec with ballast, took the ballast out, measured the alignment again, put those measurements in their machine, and said - if you align to this spec unloaded, then load the car per factory spec, you'll end up at factory settings.

That said, the most precise $100K machine in the world is only as good as the tire monkey using it.

I just bought 500 lb of concrete mix. I'll wrap the 50-lb concrete bags in trash bags, go to my alignment shop with my Bentley manual and ask them to align the car per BMW spec. Then I'll put the concrete in my other BMW, get it aligned, then take the concrete back to the store and get my $32 back.
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by spdracr137 View Post
I'm planing on getting an alignment done next week at the dealer and I asked the service manager if they do the alignment with weight ballasting per bmw procedure and this is the reply I got:

"We do not do a weight ballasted alignment. We use a Hunter machine that makes the simulated weight not needed."

Does this make sense, I been on this forum for few years and search and read a lot about alignment and seems weight ballasted alignment is the proper way so since all the local alignment specialists stated they use a hunter machine but don't do weight ballested alignment I was going to take it to the dealer but I'm getting the same thing from the dealer so I don't know what to do. Any input would be appriciated.

thanks.
Never had a car "weight balanced" yet for an alignment. Never been an issue.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:06 AM   #10
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Buddy works in an indy shop, I just sat in the drivers seat. Ask if you can do the same?
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:08 AM   #11
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Buddy works in an indy shop, I just sat in the drivers seat. Ask if you can do the same?
That's like giving a kid a lollipop at the doctors.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:12 AM   #12
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"Hunter has designed the KDS II wheel alignment systems to meet the strict requirements of BMW workshops and provide high-precision alignments on all cars and light commercial vehicles. A customized version of Hunter's WinAlignŽ alignment software has been designed to meet the specifications of all BMW Group vehicles, including those equipped with single-joint, spring-loaded front axles and multi-link rear axles with spherical kinematics." It appears to be all about the software...
Doesn't say anything about compensating for the weight. I watched my last alignment on a Hunter machine. It told the mechanic to ballast the car (per BMW specs). He told me he wasn't capable of doing that and asked if I was okay with an unweighted alignment. I told him to put the camber about 10% less negative than spec and to keep toe the same. My car drives great.

The Hunter alignment tool is pretty fool proof. The hardest part is putting the laser reflectors on the wheels. After that you just turn the tierods or camber bolts until the left and right are within spec and as close as possible according to the computer.

Last edited by WDE46; 01-16-2013 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:54 AM   #13
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I just bought 500 lb of concrete mix. I'll wrap the 50-lb concrete bags in trash bags, go to my alignment shop with my Bentley manual and ask them to align the car per BMW spec. Then I'll put the concrete in my other BMW, get it aligned, then take the concrete back to the store and get my $32 back.
Man you get your workout for $32!

If you know the guys at the alignment shop and have other BMW's, I would try to donate the concrete mix to the shop!

Once the concrete hangs around a while it will set up with humidity and be much easier to handle!
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:56 AM   #14
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Man you get your workout for $32!

If you know the guys at the alignment shop and have other BMW's, I would try to donate the concrete mix to the shop!

Once the concrete hangs around a while it will set up with humidity and be much easier to handle!
Just soak the bags in water and then let them sun dry. Then wrap them in several layers of canvas. Bam! ballast weights.
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:33 PM   #15
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A good machine knows what it's doing.

I weighted mine last time...my buddy said, "Dougie, I'll do this for you, but you don't need to do that...the machine compensates for no weight."

It asks at one point whether the car is weighted or not in the set up routine.
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:37 AM   #16
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I hate to quote myself, but here's something I put in a different thread:

Quote:
I just had my 330 aligned today at an independent all-makes shop with a nice laser alignment rack. The shop is aware of the ballast requirements for our cars but they don't ballast, they normally guestimate the alignment specs to use without ballast. They don't do a ton of BMWs...

Anyway, when the tech set up the machine, it led him thru menus of body style, selections for standard, sport or rough road suspension, and wheel size, before it presented him with the required spec that matched my Bentley book. It also described checking ride height, recalibrating the steering angle sensor, some other calibrations, etc, that don't apply to my car, and of course, diagrammed the placement of ballast.

Happily, I provided and installed my own ballast - ten 50LB bags of concrete, wrapped in trash bags. Only $32 at Lowes.

So, to answer the above issues, any shop CAN align a BMW. Whether they choose to turn you away, or whether they will take the job and not perform it to spec, or if they do it properly, well, YMMV. I paid $90 and, with a little guidance, got the job done right.
So the end result is, if the shop doesn't use ballast, they're either making up settings to use without weight, or using the factory settings even though it's wrong.

I would like to set up the car on the rack and measure the alignment, then put in ballast and re-measure to see the difference, but that's way too much work. It would be very educational though.

later
kevin

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Old 01-23-2013, 11:05 AM   #17
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This is a very easy topic.

Ballast changes the alignment settings. More ballast = more negative camber.

The alignments specs from the machine will only be your actual alignment specs when your car is weighted with the exact same amount of ballast added during the alignment.

If you are setting up a car for motorsport, you take everything out of the car, add the amount of fuel you expect to have mid-race, and add ballast to the front seat to simulate how the car is weighted while being driven. On a street car, if you generally drive around with a passenger, add ballast to both front seats. Use a half tank of gas if you generally fill-up and drive to empty. Add less if you don't usually fill up.

Ballast should be driver/vehicle specific. Use your head.
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:08 AM   #18
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I sit in my car for no other reason, really, than to hold the steering wheel straight as the tech adjust the tie rods and locks the jam nuts. Don't ever rely on the tech's "centering tool" as you'll almost always have a decentered steering wheel when going straight.
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:21 AM   #19
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Curious how it simulates weight...
Purely a guess here but...

Assuming one knows the spring rate of the springs used, as well as angle at which the wheels rotate as weight is added or removed it would be pretty trivial for a computer to calculate how the car would sit with ballast.

This is of course assuming that that angle stays the same on all cars and the spring rate is either known or available.

Its also possible they just guesstimate based on testing wish other cars of the same spec and model... I dont know but I would probably trust the computer to adjust correctly its not exactly a difficult calculation.

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Old 01-23-2013, 12:37 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by CharlieFoxtrot View Post
I suspect that the alignment specs Hunter gives are different than factory. They probably aligned a car per factory spec with ballast, took the ballast out, measured the alignment again, put those measurements in their machine, and said - if you align to this spec unloaded, then load the car per factory spec, you'll end up at factory settings.

That said, the most precise $100K machine in the world is only as good as the tire monkey using it.

I just bought 500 lb of concrete mix. I'll wrap the 50-lb concrete bags in trash bags, go to my alignment shop with my Bentley manual and ask them to align the car per BMW spec. Then I'll put the concrete in my other BMW, get it aligned, then take the concrete back to the store and get my $32 back.
You're such a smart guy, period!
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