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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 02-13-2013, 07:05 PM   #1
Speed Density
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Intermittent Pull, Shutter to the Left while driving

I've had some sloppy, clanky (if i turn the wheel back and fourth quickly, I can hear a noise like metalish) for about a month. It doesnt feel as firm, tight as it used too. I was driving home last week and my car started to pull to the left more than normal, even with the road crown here and then all of the sudden the steering wheel was vibrating a ton and almost shuttering left and right a bit. I pulled over, inspected and couldnt find anything obvious.

Today, I put the car in the air and started to inspect the front CAB's, Tierods, and ball joints. Everything is kosher, there isnt anything that is extremely hammered to where it should be obvious. So, I decided to take it for a little spin around the block to replicate what issues I may have been having originally.

Well. When driving, about 15mph the steering wheel starts to shutter to the left. Driving straight it will jolt left some, some more and about 25% of a turn until you fight it back and correct the wheel. If you let it go the whole car will wobble and feel really unstable.

The odd thing, is it will go away and drive just fine (still sloppy) and then randomly come back a few turns later.

At this point, I think it could be the rack considering I can't find any suspension that is trashed. However, the shaking, wobbling, shuttering is really violent.
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Old 02-13-2013, 07:09 PM   #2
Ballistic325
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PS pump / belts / pulleys checked? PS fluid level checked?

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Old 02-13-2013, 07:24 PM   #3
Speed Density
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PS fluid is good. What's a good way to check the pump?
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Old 02-13-2013, 07:52 PM   #4
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PS fluid is good. What's a good way to check the pump?
Turn it side to side while stopped. Listen for odd noises.
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:23 PM   #5
Speed Density
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The only noises I hear are fluid rushing through it, no clanks. My guibo is bad, but nothing in the rack or pump.
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Old 02-13-2013, 10:00 PM   #6
e46alfonso
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The PS pump should not cause this problem. Maby the rack.
How many miles?

Have control arms and bushings ever been changed? My CABs were destroyed at 85k miles.

Have you checked the axles? Maby they have lost gerase and are about to disintegrate.
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:59 AM   #7
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Leaning towards a bad CV joint as well.
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:08 AM   #8
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Check wheel bearings as well.
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:18 PM   #9
Speed Density
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Originally Posted by e46alfonso View Post
The PS pump should not cause this problem. Maby the rack.
How many miles?

Have control arms and bushings ever been changed? My CABs were destroyed at 85k miles.

Have you checked the axles? Maby they have lost gerase and are about to disintegrate.
The car has 130k. CAB's got changed two years ago, they are fine after looking at them.

My drivers outer boot is gone, last night on a test drive I heard some low speed clicking which I know is the CV. I've had axles laying in the garage ready to put in, just no time. Could a shot CV cause this?

I drove it last night, zero wobbling and then I heard the clicking. Made another turn and the wobble came back. Then drove it again and it was gone. My car feels like a squishy turd while steering.

I havent checked the wheel bearings.


Last edited by Speed Density; 02-14-2013 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:41 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Speed Density View Post
My drivers outer boot is gone, last night on a test drive I heard some low speed clicking which I know is the CV. I've had axles laying in the garage ready to put in, just no time. Could a shot CV cause this?
Absolutely.
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:57 PM   #11
Speed Density
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So, a trashed CV boot could cause my steering to wobble, car to pull directional, and other suspension related symptoms?
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Old 02-14-2013, 01:58 PM   #12
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Your axle would have to be pretty bad to effect steering but yes, possible. An axle will usually click (getting progressively louder) for a LONG time before steering would be effected. The only things rack related that would cause this that I can think of would be internal damage (highly unlikely unless the rack received a SEVERE hit) or loose mounts.
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:46 PM   #13
Speed Density
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Yeah, the clicking I've rarely ever heard. I wish it was that and I could just fix it.
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:48 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Speed Density View Post
So, a trashed CV boot could cause my steering to wobble, car to pull directional, and other suspension related symptoms?
The CV boot protects the CV joint which transmits power to the wheel in all directions (up/down as well as when the wheel turns as you steer).

If the CV joint has been exposed for an extended period of time, the grease the lubricates the joint is likely gone by now and is causing the joint to bind as it heats up. The reason that this is intermittent is because sometimes the joint won't bind. The longer to let this go, the worse it will get.

I don't think this is a suspension issue at all.
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:48 PM   #15
Speed Density
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Originally Posted by SamDoe1 View Post
The CV boot protects the CV joint which transmits power to the wheel in all directions (up/down as well as when the wheel turns as you steer).

If the CV joint has been exposed for an extended period of time, the grease the lubricates the joint is likely gone by now and is causing the joint to bind as it heats up. The reason that this is intermittent is because sometimes the joint won't bind. The longer to let this go, the worse it will get.

I don't think this is a suspension issue at all.
You may very well be right. That boot has been torn since April of '12. Like I said, I have both sides of axles already but haven't had time to do them and havent had any symptoms of bad axles/CV joints. I scheduled the car to head to the dealer tomorrow but I may just wait, change that axle and see. Worst case I have to take the axle out again if its the rack. But saving $120/hr is worth it.
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:59 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Speed Density View Post
You may very well be right. That boot has been torn since April of '12. Like I said, I have both sides of axles already but haven't had time to do them and havent had any symptoms of bad axles/CV joints. I scheduled the car to head to the dealer tomorrow but I may just wait, change that axle and see. Worst case I have to take the axle out again if its the rack. But saving $120/hr is worth it.
Cancel dealer appointment immediately and go to a respectable independent mechanic.

Swap out axle and see what the deal is.
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Old 02-14-2013, 04:03 PM   #17
Speed Density
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I know my dealership somewhat well. I also understand its an E46 and everything will be "broken" to them however they'll know more than I will about troubleshooting. Either way, axle first.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:36 PM   #18
Speed Density
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So I just got the new axle in, that condition isn't happening anymore so it seems. About 10 miles driven.

However, I dont know if I am being hyper-sensitive to noise but I can hear a sort of drum rolling, wub wub noise coming from the rear of the wagon while I'm driving. It also increases with speed (I think).

Ideas?

Last edited by Speed Density; 02-23-2013 at 06:36 PM.
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:01 AM   #19
miweber929
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On a car where the owner has driven for 10 months with a known torn CV boot but couldn't figure out why it didnt steer right it could be almost anything!!!

I'd start looking at the typical E46 and XI problem areas: guibo, CSB, transfer case bushing, wheel bearings, wheel balance and worn tires, maybe even a bent control arm wearing the tire strangely. Start with an inspection of above items, have your wheels balanced if they are still in good shape which should rule out a bent wheel as well.

Report back from there.
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