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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 07-14-2013, 05:51 PM   #1
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xi on FK coilovers?

Looking to put my 330xi on a set of FK coils, does anyone have a picture of their car on these, or any comments for/against them? thanks
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Old 07-15-2013, 06:30 PM   #2
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Good timing as I just finished my install this weekend. I got the basic set with non-adjustable dampers from ECSTuning. they shipped them same day and shipping was free. No instructions, but none were really needed.

I got these as a similar price alternative to Eibach + Konis and if you are in the market for a mild drop with a somewhat sportier ride, I'd probably stick to a strut + spring setup to be honest. If you want a more serious drop in ride height, and to move away from a plush BMW handling to a more track/curvy road oriented car, go right ahead.

Disclaimer: I have driven for 5 days now, 1 day after a basic alignment. It will be in the shop for proper ride height adjustment, camber adjustment if needed, shortly.

The good thing is that the car corners like it is on rails. I have never been able to push this car so hard and have it corner so flat and confidently. I only managed one chirp from a tire in the twisties, pushing pretty hard. Based on one blast in the twisties the car handles better than my Miata did on stock springs and with Koni adjustable shocks.

Initially the car also felt more like a Miata than a BMW, but after a basic 4wheel toe-only alignment the car has recovered some of the BMW refinement, and bumps are absorbed with less transmitted harshness. This was surprising. I expected the alignment to help with steering, bump steer etc, but not ride quality.

The coilovers were described by ECS as 'comfortable enough for everyday driving'. Before the alignment I thought they were 'bearable' for most people for everyday driving, however post-alignment they are 'liveable to comfortable' in my opinion, while making the car handle way better than stock.

My only nit to pick is that they are described as 15mm-45mm lowering from stock. I have the rears on the highest setting, the fronts about 9 threads from max (about 15mm on the damper body). After my 10 mile shakedown ride the rear is sitting 30mm lower, and the front is sitting 40mm lower than stock. It seems the stock rake is optimal for weight distribution, so I will likely drop the rear another 10mm to restore that. I don't think a 15mm drop is possible though. For most buying coilovers this will be seen as a plus .

I'd suggest with these you can probably achieve easily a 60mm (>2 inch) drop on the rear, and 70mm on the front if you were into such a thing. So I suspect the advertised 'drop' is understated on both the realistic minimum, and the maximum possible.

In terms of installation it was pretty smooth - rears - nothing noteworthy to mention, and just a couple of tricks/gotchas on the front I learned:

- There is a protrusion on the shock body that stops the brake line/abs sensor bracket sitting flush with the shock. So you will need to bend the brake line bracket up and in, otherwise your brake line will rub on the anti roll bar end link, which is obviously not good.
- You need a 16mm bicycle cone bearing wrench (very thin) to hold the swaybar link ends while you tighten the nut - there is no hex in the bolt to hold them still. Luckily I had one lying around.
- You must tighten the steering knuckle pinch bolt BEFORE mounting the upper strut nut, or you will misalign the pinch bolt just enough in the knuckle/strut indent that it will mash its threads rather than going cleanly through the knuckle. This is true even if you jack up the suspension arm - I learned that one the hard way. Luckily I did not damage the threads in the knuckle and had a spare bolt on hand (CA weather - original bolt cleaned up OK!)
- There is a nut on the top of the coilover holding it all together, in addition to the locknut. This can be done away with before mounting in the car as otherwise there are not enough threads to get the locknut on.
- Make sure you have an open collar 19mm socket for the front so you can get an allen key through the collar to hold the front shaft still while you tighten the locknut. I hear people talking of impact wrenches to do this - but that does not work on these struts :-). Maybe it would with weight on wheels before tightening?

You lose the rear lower spring mounts - the adjustment collars go there. You retain the upper spring mount/pad.

I swapped out all the strut mounts etc on both ends (I also did lower control arms, tie rods, RTAB and LCAB bushings, and inner ball joints - they were all due).

Hope that helps. I'll likely update the Suspension thread with more detailed info when I get my car aligned and drive it some more.

Before I go for an alignment, what is the school of thought on optimal ride height front vs rear? Consensus seems to be to keep the stock rake of 10-12mm?

Last edited by dgknight; 07-19-2013 at 02:59 AM. Reason: Update after basic 4wheel toe alignment
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Old 07-15-2013, 07:53 PM   #3
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Some photos with 'max ride height' possible on the FK Coilovers (Rears at max height, fronts 10mm higher than rears as per stock pitch):

About an inch lower than stock for the XI.





Last edited by dgknight; 07-19-2013 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 07-15-2013, 07:55 PM   #4
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Re: xi on FK coilovers?









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Last edited by chaso; 07-15-2013 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 07-15-2013, 08:19 PM   #5
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Chaso - looks like you are probably 2" lowered - how did your alignment go? Did you reseat your front CV axle boots?
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Old 07-16-2013, 07:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgknight View Post
Chaso - looks like you are probably 2" lowered - how did your alignment go? Did you reseat your front CV axle boots?
Sure seems like more than 2"...more in the realm of 3". Stock ride height is crazy high! I'm all the way down in the front and about four threads left in the rear.

As far as CV boots go, I replaced that when I had the coilovers installed about 20k ago. Need to get an alignment since I just got beefier tires.
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:39 AM   #7
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Awesome! I knew these things were good for more than 45mm...

Yeah stock ride height on the xi is high compared to the i. Prob gonna drop mine a little more, but want to be able to clear the snow in winter, so gonna keep it modest. Your car looks great though!
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Old 07-16-2013, 12:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgknight View Post
Awesome! I knew these things were good for more than 45mm...

Yeah stock ride height on the xi is high compared to the i. Prob gonna drop mine a little more, but want to be able to clear the snow in winter, so gonna keep it modest. Your car looks great though!
Thanks.

On another note - I am thinking 20mm spacers in the rear and 10 in the front to reduce the wheel gap. Does that sound about right?
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Old 07-16-2013, 03:45 PM   #9
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I am not sure on spacer sizes, but I do notice the wheels look a little set in, even at my modest drop - I will ask the BMW shop, Edge Motorworks when I go for an alignment, probably Friday. These guys track and race E46s so they know a good setup, and they are not afraid to remove the pins from the front strut support so they can dial in the camber. Most alignment shops will only set the toe on these cars, as the camber is fixed unless you are willing to drill out the nub on the mounts, so I am excited to see what Edge can do.

My rears especially are still sinking. On max height they are at 40mm lower than stock height now.

The BMW shop says they will also adjust my ride height to optimum for my coilover setup, including the correct pitch. They seem to imply a nose up pitch, as the cars are stock, will be the best for handling. I will see how much pitch they give me once they are done.

I am measuring from the top of the wheel rim to the bottom of the fender, which is not a true vertical line, so there will be some error introduced that way (remember pythagaoas theorum?). But anyway my measurements stock were 170mm front, 160mm rear. I am now at 120mm rear and 140mm left front, 135mm right front. I am not sure why the 5mm difference, unless it is the LCAB bushing offset that is slightly rotated on one side.

Last edited by dgknight; 07-16-2013 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 07-19-2013, 02:22 PM   #10
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Here's a few more from earlier today. Took a trip out to the park on my lunch break. .







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Old 07-19-2013, 04:55 PM   #11
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Chaos which set do you have?
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Old 07-19-2013, 05:16 PM   #12
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Re: xi on FK coilovers?

Quote:
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Chaos which set do you have?
FK Highsports.
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Old 07-19-2013, 05:42 PM   #13
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Ditto - I have the highsports too. Sounds like ECS will get the other kits in November.

I will post some updated pictures next week after the align and ride height set by the local BMW shop, Edge Motorsports. Hopefully it looks more like Chaso's.

Last edited by dgknight; 07-19-2013 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 07-19-2013, 05:43 PM   #14
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thanks for all of the feedback guys! this is really helping me make my decision. I have Bilstein shocks, and H&R springs now, which is a nice drop, but there is still plenty of wheel gap. I was hoping that FK's could eliminate that, and it appears as though they will
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Old 07-19-2013, 07:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgknight View Post
Some photos with 'max ride height' possible on the FK Coilovers (Rears at max height, fronts 10mm higher than rears as per stock pitch):

About an inch lower than stock for the XI.




Nice how does it affect your ride?
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Old 07-19-2013, 07:57 PM   #16
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Please see post 2 in this thread.

My car has 118k and though I had replaced the front control arm bushings, the ball joints, tie rods etc were all loose, as well as the front strut mounts.

I replaced all that stuff as well as poly front and rear control/trailing arm bushings. My car used to handle like a shopping cart with a bad wheel. Every bump or ripple would pull the car around, and the steering had a fair bit of play. Now it is tight, with just a little steering play that the steering shaft guibo would need replacing to get rid of. Most notably I have much less brake dive now.

The ride is definitely firm with this setup. Over freeways with expansion joints you are going to feel every one. Hitting serious bumps in the road is going to transmit some of that to the passengers.

I don't think there is any aftermarket kit that is as plush as OEM. If you want to keep the OEM feel, replace worn components with OEM.

The FK highsport kit has fixed damping too, which is on the firmer side as coilovers are obviously designed to be more aggressive.

Hope that helps.
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Old 08-02-2013, 02:46 PM   #17
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Here are a couple of 'not very good' snaps after the corner balance/alignment treatment by Edge Motorworks.





The fronts are still 6-7mm higher than the rears, so this seems optimal. They also drilled out my front strut mounts to get more negative camber. I need to ask them for the final specs as they did not provide a copy. I am very happy with the results. The turn in is much quicker, and the car handles perfectly on the limit, which is very hard to find under normal driving. Can't wait to get this thing out for a track day.

They offered me three settings, primarily a daily driver, aggressive street, or track setup. I went for the middle one. The major difference is they left me a little more ride height so I can get over speed bumps etc without scraping the undercarriage.

Their opinion is that the front CV axles go out frequently anyway, and lowering the car doesn't seem to accelerate that significantly. I forgot to ask about wheel spacers. I will try to remember next time I am in there.

The overall drop from stock is now right around 2 inches all round. No camber plates needed, no rubbing. I will see how the CV joints hold up, but this is my second set anyway, and they were installed at 8xk miles, I am now around 120k. One of the inner boots was already bust when I was installing the coilovers.

Last edited by dgknight; 08-05-2013 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 08-05-2013, 05:59 PM   #18
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my old xi on fk's
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:57 PM   #19
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I have a set of the koni adjustable versions for sale. PM me
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Old 05-28-2014, 04:38 PM   #20
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Long-Term Updates Anyone? I'm considering these over KW due to the price savings. I want the lifetime warranty from KW not sure if it's worth $1,700 though!

Joe
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