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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 06-02-2006, 06:47 PM   #1
SLO Town
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Sway bar upgrades using factory BMW parts

Based on the advice of a fellow board member, I upgraded the rear sway bar of my 2003 330Ci with an official BMW part. My 330Ci comes standard with an 18mm rear bar. The 330Ci convertible comes with a 20mm rear bar.

The installation was a snap - the advantage of using this official BMW factory part is that everything fit perfectly, it used all the standard end links, and it used rubber bushings which won't squeak like polyurethane bushings are prone to do.

Here are is the parts list for the rear sway bar components and the prices I paid:

33-55-6-751-267 stabilizer, $106.05
33-55-1-094-619 swing support, $17.20 each, two required
33-55-1-096-669 rubber mount, $2.95 each, two required

I ordered the swing supports rather than remove the old ones from the old 18mm bar. I think it's likely that the bushings would be damaged by removing them from the old bar.

The verdict on handling? My car (see details in my profile at the end of this message) has always understeered more than I like. The rear bar radically changed the balance of the car - for the better.

I wanted to do this little project in phases and I also ordered an M3 front sway bar. The M3 bar is 26mm, my 330Ci came with a 23.5mm. I plan on installing the M3 bar after driving the car as is for a few days. If I think the balance is ideal as it is now, I'll probably not install the M3 sway bar.

Regardless, the front sway bar parts and prices are as follows:

31-35-2-229-755 stabilizer, $140.00
31-55-2-229-756 rubber mounts, $4.05 each, two required

I want to give credit where credit is due. As I said in the beginning of my post, I got this idea from a fellow board member on either E46 Fanatics or Bimmerfest.

I did a search so I could give this gentleman credit, though I couldn't find the post I was looking for. So if you're the one who originally posted this idea, speak up. I appreciate the great information you provided. For me, it worked out just as you said it would. Thanks!
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Old 06-02-2006, 07:26 PM   #2
Ti330Ci
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You are the man SLO Town! A wonderful post. I have been thinking along the same lines as I wanted to retain the factory sway bar end connections due to all the clearance issues I have read about with UUC bars and didn't want to contend with greasing the urethane bushings. I too own an '03 330Ci with sport package as well. Don't you just love the pre-facelift coupe? Please be sure to update this post upon installation of the M3 front bar. If you like the car better after the M3 front bar installation, I will install the M3 bar and the convertible 20mm rear bar...both stouter then the ZHP bars... when I have the car up on jack stands this winter to perform a few other things.
Thanks again for the great post!
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Old 06-02-2006, 07:31 PM   #3
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Great post!

Also look into the ZHP sways
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Old 06-02-2006, 07:48 PM   #4
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George and Andrew, thanks for your kind words.

I am fairly certain the 26mm/20mm combo I'm using is stouter than the ZHP bars. The ZHP sticky on Bimmerfest says the ZHP came with a 23.5mm/18.5mm combo, whereas sport package came with a 23mm/18mm combo.

That said, my car has the sport package, though it came with the 23.5mm front bar when it supposedly was to have the 23mm bar. I bought my car new so it came like this out of the factory.

In case you want to check your sway bar size, the OEM rubber bushings have the diameter specified on them. Check the side of the rubber bushing where it's not covered by the bracket. The size is moulded in on one side only, so be sure to check both sides of the rubber bushing if you have to.

Scott
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Old 06-02-2006, 09:07 PM   #5
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Damn you! Where were you a month ago when I dropped the coin on UUC bars?!

Great post!
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Old 06-02-2006, 09:30 PM   #6
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Ahh ok, I skimmed over the M3 bar part on accident there.
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Old 06-02-2006, 09:52 PM   #7
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I'm sure the UUCs will be just fine. Alot of people have them.

One thing that anyone who is using polyurethane bushings should be careful with is that they are certain the bushings are not binding. There is a known problem where the sway bar mount brackets have been known to break with aftermarket sway bars.

I'm not talking about the bolt-on brackets that can be easily replaced. I'm talking about the brackets that are part of the subframe assembly. When those brackets fail, they break were the slot is. Turner makes a kit to reinforce that area.

All this said, I think it has nothing to do with aftermarket sway bars being stiffer. Rather, I think this failuure is caused by the bar binding in the aftermarket polyurethane bushings. Keep your polyurethane bushings well lubed!!!

One thing about the OEM rubber bushings - you don't lube them where they wrap aound the sway bar. The BMW rubber bushings are designed to tightly grip the sway bar. The bar twists in the rubber bushing because the rubber bushing is compliant enough to allow it. And since the rubber bushing tightly grips the sway bar, this is why they don't squeak.

FWIW,

Scott
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Old 06-03-2006, 12:09 AM   #8
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I don't get it? You're spending like $300 for non adjustable OEM bars that won't perform or tune/adjust like something like UUC bars? Now picking them up used would be cheaper and maybe worth it, but the UUC bars have so much more going for them. Too large a bar in the rear, you might as well go drifting.
Not trying to kill your post and nice info as I'm sure I'll save the part numbers. Thanks for posting.
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Old 06-03-2006, 12:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex323Ci
I don't get it? You're spending like $300 for non adjustable OEM bars that won't perform or tune/adjust like something like UUC bars? Now picking them up used would be cheaper and maybe worth it, but the UUC bars have so much more going for them. Too large a bar in the rear, you might as well go drifting.
Not trying to kill your post and nice info as I'm sure I'll save the part numbers. Thanks for posting.
even if he does install the m3 bar, he will still be ~$50-70 less than the uuc bars, and the real reason is: he never has to worry about squeaks and noises that may coincide with uuc bars. as of now though he has upgraded his handling for $145, thats pretty good.
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Old 06-03-2006, 01:32 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by drummersam65
even if he does install the m3 bar, he will still be ~$50-70 less than the uuc bars, and the real reason is: he never has to worry about squeaks and noises that may coincide with uuc bars. as of now though he has upgraded his handling for $145, thats pretty good.
But the reason those bushings "use to" squeak was because of the durometer of hardness used/material. they have a new design(takes grease) and they could have always used rubber like the OEM ones, but they "give" too much for upgraded sways. The diameter of bar is absolutely not the only thing that makes a good swaybar perform well. For the cost of new, I would suggest others buy aftermarket that have slotted endlinks to dial in as needed.
I'm certainly not saying going the route posted doesn't have it's value, sorry if I typed it like that was stupid. It's just that for little more, you get a matched set that is desgned together for the coupe-sedans and can be adjusted on top of all the other gains. Heck, I'll probably lose the UUC ones and buy some used ones that are listed. I'm not pretentious, if it works? it works!
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Old 06-03-2006, 05:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex323Ci
But the reason those bushings "use to" squeak was because of the durometer of hardness used/material. they have a new design(takes grease) and they could have always used rubber like the OEM ones, but they "give" too much for upgraded sways. The diameter of bar is absolutely not the only thing that makes a good swaybar perform well. For the cost of new, I would suggest others buy aftermarket that have slotted endlinks to dial in as needed.
I'm certainly not saying going the route posted doesn't have it's value, sorry if I typed it like that was stupid. It's just that for little more, you get a matched set that is desgned together for the coupe-sedans and can be adjusted on top of all the other gains. Heck, I'll probably lose the UUC ones and buy some used ones that are listed. I'm not pretentious, if it works? it works!
Alex, this can be debated adnausseum as those that know swaybars understand the tradeoffs. There are tradeoffs with whatever you decide to go with. I side with Scott who elected to go the OEM route for more roll stiffness. Some love the UUC bars and others have noted clearance issues not to mention the squeaking issue of urethane bushings which require service. Your argument has a complement and that is BMW could have spec'ed urethane bushings. Indeed urethane has much higher durometer and hence less deflection and more energy transfer but not without a downside...that being...NVH levels are increased. This the tradeoff with any high performance mod. As to adjustability...at the end of the day most set their UUC bars at full stiff in back and medium or soft up front. Ratio of bar diameter can be extrapolated into how neutral the car will end up being based upon all the data out there known on the E-46. And one has another option...going to the ZHP bars which are both a bit more tame then the M3 front and convertible rear bar combination. Its good to have options. It has been my experience having modded BMW's for many years that when factory parts are available, they almost invariably work better with fewer tradeoffs then aftermarket parts because all the tradeoffs mentioned have been considered.
George

Last edited by Ti330Ci; 06-03-2006 at 05:05 AM.
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Old 06-03-2006, 10:53 AM   #12
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Insightful, civilized comments from all! Too bad some of the other useful threads don't enjoy the same fate. There's alot of really good information on this forum for those who are willing to listen to it.

About the only thing I miss with this type of communication, is hanging with all of you in the garage with our machines nearby. Collectively we possess an amazing amount of experience, insight, and know how. Those who didn't grow up turning wrenches could really appreciate and benefit from the things some of us could show them.

I've been turning wrenches for most of my 53 years. I'd have to say my biggest project was pulling the motor and transmission in my V12 E-type Jag and replacing the clutch. There's nothing that different with this compared to doing the clutch on an MG or Triumph. But a V12 Jag has a zillion more fasteners, and without question 800 pounds of motor and transmission hanging in the air is a bit intimidating, especially when you're reaching in beside it to insert bolts into engine mounts as it's hanging freely!!

All this said, I'd like to put pullies on my 330Ci, but am hesitant because I'm not sure how all the plastic **** comes out! I find that laughable. But I also know there are some of you who may not have the experience I do, but would gladly she ME how easy this was to do. Ad I just have to say this, I am NOT talking down to anyone.

I think all this is cool, and is just one example of the power of our collective knowledge.

You guys have a great weekend,

Scott
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Old 06-03-2006, 11:05 AM   #13
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Old 06-03-2006, 03:20 PM   #14
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Pretty clever SLO town - thanks for the post.
But regarding your handling balance, I would caution you that installing the M3 bar in the front will essentially restore all the understeer you just corrected with the stiffer rear bar.
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Old 06-03-2006, 05:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ti330Ci
Alex, this can be debated adnausseum as those that know swaybars understand the tradeoffs. There are tradeoffs with whatever you decide to go with. I side with Scott who elected to go the OEM route for more roll stiffness. Some love the UUC bars and others have noted clearance issues not to mention the squeaking issue of urethane bushings which require service. Your argument has a complement and that is BMW could have spec'ed urethane bushings. Indeed urethane has much higher durometer and hence less deflection and more energy transfer but not without a downside...that being...NVH levels are increased. This the tradeoff with any high performance mod. As to adjustability...at the end of the day most set their UUC bars at full stiff in back and medium or soft up front. Ratio of bar diameter can be extrapolated into how neutral the car will end up being based upon all the data out there known on the E-46. And one has another option...going to the ZHP bars which are both a bit more tame then the M3 front and convertible rear bar combination. Its good to have options. It has been my experience having modded BMW's for many years that when factory parts are available, they almost invariably work better with fewer tradeoffs then aftermarket parts because all the tradeoffs mentioned have been considered.
George
As I said, I see some of it's benefits going this route. As for going the ZHP bars, for a non coupe yes. But the ZHP only have 0.5mm thicker diameter over the Sport suspension bars. Although BMW does use a firmer bushing on these, unlike the softer durometer of the cabrio bar. Another easy upgrade on OEM is to get firmer bushings, BMP sells the correct size upgrades and some other company(maybe TMS can't remember)also has upgraded bushings in three different durometers. But I guess the east coast people have issues with the bushings drying out, so once again..back to using this OEM set-up posted.
I agree that often factory parts are best. But not always when it's not specifically designed for the car. It's very easy to miss match suspension handling using what some might consider "incorrect" parts. But like I said, if this works, it works and more power to those it helps out. For me, I have 265 rear tires on the back end. So you can see how this wouldn't be such a great choice for myself without more options to dial-in than just air pressure.
I appreciate the exchange of info and ideas. I'm not squatting on anyone's thread. I just think it's important for those who have little knowledge on the subject reaading this to not run out and buy if they don't know if this is right for them.
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Last edited by Alex323Ci; 06-03-2006 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 06-03-2006, 06:04 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jpr
Pretty clever SLO town - thanks for the post.
But regarding your handling balance, I would caution you that installing the M3 bar in the front will essentially restore all the understeer you just corrected with the stiffer rear bar.
Scott knows that the balance will change. But the overall roll stiffness of the car will be higher with the M3 bar in front and vert bar in the back. If you extapolate from the M3 itself...not a bad handling car in its own right :-) since the vert bar is stiffer then the M3 rear bar the car should push less then a M3. The other thing worth commenting on and perhaps others would agree with me on this...is be careful what you wish for. If a car is set up neutral or just a bit loose with too big a rear bar then the car becomes a much greater liability at speed for the average enthusiast driver. My stock 330Ci Sport at the limit is pretty easy to control because it understeers which is deliberate from the factory. Get off the gas the car falls back in line which keeps most of us on the road when we are a bit over our heads.
In summary not a bad idea to keep roughly the same ratio of bar thicknesses as the factory keeping that balance only raising the amount of roll stiffness by thicker bars front and back.
George
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Old 06-03-2006, 06:42 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Ti330Ci
Scott knows that the balance will change. But the overall roll stiffness of the car will be higher with the M3 bar in front and vert bar in the back.
The increase in overall roll stiffness is definitely a gain, but if the goal is both overall roll stiffness AND less understeer, you won't get there with the M3 front
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ti330Ci
If you extapolate from the M3 itself...not a bad handling car in its own right :-) since the vert bar is stiffer then the M3 rear bar the car should push less then a M3.
I beleive the M3 has a 21.5 mm rear bar.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ti330Ci
The other thing worth commenting on and perhaps others would agree with me on this...is be careful what you wish for. If a car is set up neutral or just a bit loose with too big a rear bar then the car becomes a much greater liability at speed for the average enthusiast driver. My stock 330Ci Sport at the limit is pretty easy to control because it understeers which is deliberate from the factory. Get off the gas the car falls back in line which keeps most of us on the road when we are a bit over our heads.
Definitely agree with you here - understeer does have its vritues, particularly for a daily driver
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ti330Ci
In summary not a bad idea to keep roughly the same ratio of bar thicknesses as the factory keeping that balance only raising the amount of roll stiffness by thicker bars front and back.
George
I'd agree with that under the general rule that you shouldn't really monkey with things you don't understand. But none of the OEM or aftermarket setups are really that crazy and so long as you aren't trying to randomly mix and match bars, you'll be okay.
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Old 06-03-2006, 08:43 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpr
The increase in overall roll stiffness is definitely a gain, but if the goal is both overall roll stiffness AND less understeer, you won't get there with the M3 front

I beleive the M3 has a 21.5 mm rear bar.

Definitely agree with you here - understeer does have its vritues, particularly for a daily driver

I'd agree with that under the general rule that you shouldn't really monkey with things you don't understand. But none of the OEM or aftermarket setups are really that crazy and so long as you aren't trying to randomly mix and match bars, you'll be okay.
Monkey with things you don't understand? Huh? Believe Dinan keeps the same bar ratio as stock only thicker. No question this is deliberate.
George
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Old 06-03-2006, 08:49 PM   #19
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.. Believe Dinan keeps the same bar ratio as stock only thicker.
I'm not sure I follow what you mean by this?
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Old 06-03-2006, 08:50 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Ti330Ci
Believe Dinan keeps the same bar ratio as stock only thicker. No question this is deliberate.
George
Dinan's bars are 24F and 22R and have a very different balance than the factory bars, in fact very similar to that of the UUC bars.
And yes, I beleive this is deliberate.
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