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Old 09-30-2013, 08:54 PM   #1
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Are my strut towers deformed? Alignment issue.

Car is an '06 330Ci ZHP w/ 42,000mi and completely factory; no modifications. Took the car in for an alignment recently, and the front left (driver side) camber was out of spec at -.2*. The tech punched the pin on the strut hat to get some more adjustment and ended up at -.5*. The front right (passenger) is at spec at -.8*. From what I can tell the strut tower is not deformed. I have attached pictures below, take a look for yourself. What else could be causing the front left camber to not come in at spec? Caster is the same value on both sides.

Driver's side strut tower

Passenger side strut tower

Thanks for any help and/or guidance.

Last edited by JFern; 09-30-2013 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 10-05-2013, 12:18 AM   #2
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Not sure if it is the lighting or just pictures, but they both look slightly 'shroomed. On the right tower, the front most stud above the VIN. For the left, the two front most studs shown in all the pictures. When the towers start incurring damage, its a bit hard to see, but the plane with all the prevailing lock nuts is supposed to be completely flat. One way easy way to tell exactly is to get yourself some of the factory strut tower reinforcement plates, part #51717036781. You may want to order 3. Set aside two for now...you'll want to put those in if you are replacing your struts or if you actually have some slight correction of the towers (like if needing to remove the strut to try and pound down the tower).

So now, why buy 3? Well, you are going to take this extra one and set it on top of the tower to use as a guide to see. You'll want to do this with your car in normal position (fully on the ground holding its own weight). Unbolt the lock nuts. You'll want to order replacements of these since they are one time use per BMW. Reuse again at your own risk. So now you have just the studs and (plus alignment nub if applicable) exposed. Take the extra reinforcement plate and set it directly on top of the tower over the studs making sure the alignment nub is going through the appropriate hole on the plate. You will be faced with having to cut the plate towards the back because part of the cubby bins will be in the way. Use a dremel or equivalent to cut the plate.

Once you have cut it, place the plate on top of the tower. Next you will want to see whether you can rock the plate back and forth as it sits on the tower. If it moves, this means you have gaps on the sides of the plate and top of the tower and therefore means your tower has mushroomed, even though it does not look that obvious.

The reinforcement plate is the perfect shape of how flat the top of the tower should be, no matter if you have the new tower design (versus the older ones with the bulges). If you place the plate directly below the tower (and above the top strut mount, which is how it should be installed), there should be no gap between the top of the reinforcement plate and the tower. You would be looking through the center hole on the tower. If you place the plate on top of the tower as previously described, the reinforcement plate is not supposed to move at all as you try to rock it from side to side. Make sure you check front to back or basically try to rock the plate in all directions for the full 360 degrees, and where you are able to move it means that is where it has deviated from its original design.

If you need to correct the tower, you should use an unmodified reinforcement plate as a guide on how much to pound the tower down. You will obviously want to put the plate below the tower when you are doing this but maybe occasionally check with the plate above the tower with your modified plate. Essentially, if you sandwich the top of the tower in between both plates, then this is the exact shape the top of the tower when the sheet metal was pressed from factory.

I'll get around to doing a write up of this one of these days...but give this a try, since it would be the cheapest way to tell and also fix. If you need to correct the tower, after you have fixed it, go get an alignment again and you should be able to hit your spec or be much closer than you are now.
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Old 10-05-2013, 12:28 AM   #3
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Are my strut towers deformed? Alignment issue.

Your strut towers look perfect.

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Old 10-06-2013, 05:53 PM   #4
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You could have other worn front end parts. Your lcab could cause this as well. Its a very slight difference not like its off a whole degree.
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Old 10-06-2013, 09:18 PM   #5
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towers look alot better than mine, and i live in nyc and just had my car aligned.. bring it to a more reputable shop
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Old 10-07-2013, 10:07 AM   #6
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a .-3* difference is nothing to worry about. you'll experience that difference alone by hitting bumps or passengers riding in the car. if you want to make up that difference, you're probably looking at a suspension refresh including springs and control arms. as for the towers, they look fine. passenger one looks ever so slightly beat on but nothing to be concerned about.
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Old 10-08-2013, 04:16 PM   #7
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It could be the assembly item #7 screws onto on the picture below. I had the same issue where I couldn't even put my strut bar on. The drivers side was bent.


Last edited by YOnpds; 10-08-2013 at 04:21 PM.
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