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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 07-08-2014, 10:20 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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My Ride: 2000 318i E46
Steering Wobble

Hey I have looked at a few posts here and on other forums regarding this but I would like more opinions on this. I have an issue with steering in the 60-80 kph zone (35-50 mph zone). The wheel starts to wobble and shake a bit. I have had the wheels balanced and aligned and the problem still persists. The guys who did my alignment looked at it and found the front right wheel to be wobbly on the axle. They said it was a mechanical issue and nothing to do with the wheel itself. Personally I suspect it is to do with the control arm bushel(s). I did have the CABs inspected around november last year and they were okay at the time. I haven't looked at them recently. But would the CABs be the most likely cause for this? If not will I have to get the rotors/pads redone? I am not entirely sure. I have been meaning to replace the bushels so would you guys recommend doing that first? Purely because doing the brakes will require a lot more time for me.
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Old 07-08-2014, 10:33 PM   #2
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go outside and go to your front tires, hold them with two hands and shake it. does the wheel wobble? if so it's the bushings.

also does your steering shake when braking?
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Old 07-09-2014, 05:47 AM   #3
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Cheers for the reply. I had a look and there's no discernible wobble. But yes the wheel tends to turn to the left occasionally when I'm braking.
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:49 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by enoryt91 View Post
Cheers for the reply. I had a look and there's no discernible wobble. But yes the wheel tends to turn to the left occasionally when I'm braking.

Your left front brake may be the issue when it turns during braking. How old is the suspension?

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Old 07-09-2014, 08:18 AM   #5
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possibly a sticky caliper: drive for about 10-15 minutes (not even sometimes) then spray your suspect wheel down with water (look for steam) if steams it could be a bad caliper or a clogged brake hose
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Old 07-10-2014, 10:22 AM   #6
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I'm having the same wobble in my wheel. Right when I go around 60-80 kmh as well... My mechanic said I need the control arm bushings done so I believe that is what would be causing the wobble in our steering wheels. Doesn't really bother me too much as I just increase my speed if I feel my wheel wobble

I don't have any pulling in my wheel when I brake, just the wobble at around 60-80 kmh. Let me know if the wobble goes away once you get your control arm bushings done.

BTW I'm at 108,000 km

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Old 07-10-2014, 11:32 AM   #7
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I'm replacing my tierods this week. They are seized so I can not perform an alignment. They could also have bad balljoints. I too have wobble symptoms at cruising speeds. My controls arms and bushings were replaced recently.
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:11 PM   #8
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Appreciate the replies guys. Yeah I'm going to replace the CABs and if the problem persists I'll report back. As for the brakes I will have to take a look, I did replace the pads well over a year ago so perhaps there is an issue withe calipers. I'll try the water trick to see which wheel it is. For now I have to focus on replacing my cooling hoses (this will be the third time I'm having cooling system troubles :/). I'll post back on here as I progress.
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Old 07-31-2014, 06:20 AM   #9
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okay heres an update: had a thorough check and the issue was the RH lower control arm as well as both CABs. Had to fork over ~$600 for the job which included replacing both control arms and CABs. The wobble at 60-80kph is no longer there and the car does not pull during breaking anymore. BUT there is now a wobble above the 80kph mark, I've since had the wheels aligned and balanced for the umpteenth time and the mechanic who did the arms insists that the wheels need to be re-balanced. I'm one more wheel balance away from losing my **** about this issue. So I'm going to go back to the tyre place and get them to do it once more and I hope to god this will solve the issue permanently.

I also now have the cog of death to start worrying about. The mechanic did a scan and there were no tranny codes up so I hope its not a major issue. I did an ATF+filter change about 2 years ago (~30000+kms). If the cog keeps coming up I will do another change soon, the bright side is I still have several litres of the ATF in my garage from last time. Just have to find time to get it done!
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Old 07-31-2014, 06:53 AM   #10
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Likely you have a bend wheel.

Bent wheels can be balanced, however, a bent wheel will not roll true and will cause vibrations.

Even Road Force balancing a bent wheel cannot solve the runout and the wheel will still cause vibrations.

Check the inner barrel/bead area as this is where the wheels bend more often.

Swap the front and rear wheels if needed, but any tire tech that has a BRAIN and at least one eye can EASILY find a bent wheel if they pay attention and know what to look for. The problem is most tire techs just put the wheel on the balancer and when the balancer indicates the wheel is balanced they think their job is done.

No special equipment is required, you can even identify bend wheels on the car without much effort, although it is usually easier on a tire balancer. If the balancer has a back distance measuring tool, just pull this out and put it about 1/4" away from the rim and just slowly spin the wheel by hand and look for variations in the rim, watch the center of the tread for movement, watch the center of the tread for up and down movement.

One other thing to verify is the center bore diameter and to make sure the wheels do not required hub centric rings. Also sticking brake calipers have been known to cause vibrations due to the rotor heating up and causing issues.

It's really not that hard to find these problems if someone pays attention to detail.
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Old 07-31-2014, 07:31 AM   #11
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I understand jfoj, thanks for the advice! I shall make a mention of it to the tyre place when I go in next. This seems very likely as while back last year I did have an incident while driving where I ended up hitting the curb fairly hard which I also believe was the cause for the control arm issue. Appreciate the help!
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control arm, shaking, steering, wobble

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