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Old 05-08-2007, 01:21 PM   #1
burj 323
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Steering wheel play. How I found the cure.

For those who are suffering steering wheel play and could not find the cure, I would like to share my horrendous story with you:

I first discovered a little “looseness” at the steering wheel about 3~4 months ago. The symptom is like when I steer to either right or left, the first inch the car won’t turn. I sent my car to the garage and they fixed a re-built steering rack and OEM control arms. That didn’t help a bit.

Then I visited another BMW workshop to see if they can find out what’s wrong. These geniuses test drove and checked whole day and confirmed the vane pump is to blame. Well, they are not even close. The play did not go and my USD 1000 is gone. I complained and they insisted that unless I am willing to replace with a BRAND NEW BMW steering rack, I’ll have to live with the play. That’s complete rubbish.

The third workshop I visited focused on the chassis. They blame the OEM control arms and replaced with original BMW ones. They also have the tie rod end replaced. Guess what? The play is still there, even they kept saying it has improved and it can only be better unless a new steering rack fixed. Another bull ****.

Then I went back to the first garage and complained about the “re-built” rack they fixed for me. They turned the steering wheel a few times and immediately they found the culprit—a u-joint in the steering column. I waited for 2 weeks to get the part and again, zero improvement. They garage said it (the play) is normal for E46 and asked me to get used to it. What a total nonsense.

I almost gave up until I met our workshop manager who is looking after all the construction equipment on site. I told him the sad stories of my car and he volunteered to check the car. He asked a helper to turn the steering wheel and we checked all the connections/joints looking up from the service trench. Less than one minute we found the problem, a flexible coupling connecting the lower steering column was worn. I ordered the part and have it replaced. Everything is now perfect. The solid and tight handling is back again. Total cost? 30 USD.

If you are having a similar problem of your E46, try to follow my rout, backward.
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Old 05-08-2007, 03:03 PM   #2
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got a part number/name?
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Old 05-08-2007, 03:35 PM   #3
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http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...42&hg=32&fg=30

Look at #2
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Originally Posted by roronoah View Post
so 2004 bmw's dont come with a diff?

Last edited by Hrvat; 05-08-2007 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 05-08-2007, 04:32 PM   #4
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you wouldn't have the old part around to show what a "worn" one looks like would you? i'm not sure i get how that coupler gets worn. does it not tighten enough?
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Old 05-08-2007, 04:35 PM   #5
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Would you hear a little knocking noise when you would shake the steering wheel left or right really quickly about 2" each way?
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Old 05-08-2007, 04:37 PM   #6
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HMM interesting, never seen one do that but hey if that fixed it!!! Was the car in an accident?
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Old 05-08-2007, 05:18 PM   #7
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Why did you pay for repairs that don't fix the problem?
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Old 05-08-2007, 05:50 PM   #8
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They worked you over good on this one.....I hope they used a lot of lubrication

glad you got it sorted out
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Old 05-08-2007, 06:17 PM   #9
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well iam having a problem now with my steering and it might be that. everytime i turn right it makes a weird noise like clunking but not loud i have to turn of the radio and i hear it. i might be that. i had both control arm bushing replace dur to two mini accidents in the rain. so i hope its wat happen to u.
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Old 05-08-2007, 06:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeaponR View Post
Would you hear a little knocking noise when you would shake the steering wheel left or right really quickly about 2" each way?

OMG...Thats EXACTLY what I have now and I cant find the problem...I hope someone can give us some imput on that...
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Old 05-08-2007, 06:43 PM   #11
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Found the cure.

Now that is a valuable post. Thanks.

Jim
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Old 05-08-2007, 06:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burj 323 View Post
For those who are suffering steering wheel play and could not find the cure, I would like to share my horrendous story with you:

I first discovered a little “looseness” at the steering wheel about 3~4 months ago. The symptom is like when I steer to either right or left, the first inch the car won’t turn. I sent my car to the garage and they fixed a re-built steering rack and OEM control arms. That didn’t help a bit.

Then I visited another BMW workshop to see if they can find out what’s wrong. These geniuses test drove and checked whole day and confirmed the vane pump is to blame. Well, they are not even close. The play did not go and my USD 1000 is gone. I complained and they insisted that unless I am willing to replace with a BRAND NEW BMW steering rack, I’ll have to live with the play. That’s complete rubbish.

The third workshop I visited focused on the chassis. They blame the OEM control arms and replaced with original BMW ones. They also have the tie rod end replaced. Guess what? The play is still there, even they kept saying it has improved and it can only be better unless a new steering rack fixed. Another bull ****.

Then I went back to the first garage and complained about the “re-built” rack they fixed for me. They turned the steering wheel a few times and immediately they found the culprit—a u-joint in the steering column. I waited for 2 weeks to get the part and again, zero improvement. They garage said it (the play) is normal for E46 and asked me to get used to it. What a total nonsense.

I almost gave up until I met our workshop manager who is looking after all the construction equipment on site. I told him the sad stories of my car and he volunteered to check the car. He asked a helper to turn the steering wheel and we checked all the connections/joints looking up from the service trench. Less than one minute we found the problem, a flexible coupling connecting the lower steering column was worn. I ordered the part and have it replaced. Everything is now perfect. The solid and tight handling is back again. Total cost? 30 USD.

If you are having a similar problem of your E46, try to follow my rout, backward.
Thank you
I noticed this too about a few months ago. It just felt odd. Any idea on how hard the install is? I wouldn't want to take it to the dealer because they'd charge me at least 200 just to look at the damn thing
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i'd cosign loans for that ho
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Thanks dude. I knew she was a keeper when she blew me during a game of cod. I didn't do too well that game
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Old 05-08-2007, 09:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeaponR View Post
Would you hear a little knocking noise when you would shake the steering wheel left or right really quickly about 2" each way?
+1 on this one for me. Anyone fixed it already? Dealer says it's the steering rack. Some say it's a loose U-joint in the pic of the lower steering column, some say it's the telescoping spline.

Posted it before: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=448081

I disappears for awhile when I unlock the telescope adjustment lever, then push on the steering wheel while re-locking the lever. I do it at least a couple times a day when it appears. But need to finally fix it one day of course.
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shockin330i View Post
Thank you
I noticed this too about a few months ago. It just felt odd. Any idea on how hard the install is? I wouldn't want to take it to the dealer because they'd charge me at least 200 just to look at the damn thing
I know excatly how to install it as I swapped the steering rack last summer.

-> You will need a helper
-> This part is accessed from left wheel well area.
-> Part #2 has two bolts. One end connects to steering column and other end to steering rack
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...42&hg=32&fg=30
-> The bolts are male TX50 so you will need female equivalent of TX 50, however 8mm rachet will work (just don't use open end wrench as you WILL strip the head)

1. Have helper turn the steering wheel until bolt head is pointing toward you. Use 8mm rachet or 'female TX50' to unbolt it
2. Have helper turn the steering wheel more until 2nd bolt head is pointing towards you. Again unbolt it.
3. You see part #1 in the pic? Well the far end slides in.
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...42&hg=32&fg=30
4. Once both bolts are out, slide that far end of part #1 into the steering column.
5. Pull of part #2 from steering rack
6. Reinstall in reverse order.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roronoah View Post
so 2004 bmw's dont come with a diff?

Last edited by Hrvat; 05-08-2007 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 05-08-2007, 11:10 PM   #15
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burj 323 and croat, you're two more reasons why everyone loves this forum!

Thanks especially for the 8mm ratchet tip. Would have been a major pain finding a T-50 female socket. Again -
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Old 05-08-2007, 11:15 PM   #16
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burj 323 and croat, you're two more reasons why everyone loves this forum!

Thanks especially for the 8mm ratchet tip. Would have been a major pain finding a T-50 female torx socket. Again -

Edited - sorry for the double-post, got a server busy error, thought it didn't go through.
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Old 05-08-2007, 11:22 PM   #17
2005_330xi_BMW
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Is the point of this to dampen vibration and wheel jerk from road conditions? I know a lot of hot rod guys replace these types of things ("rag joints") with solid parts, better feel for the road but less comfort.
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Old 05-08-2007, 11:29 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeaponR View Post
Would you hear a little knocking noise when you would shake the steering wheel left or right really quickly about 2" each way?
I have this same problem.. I have replaced everything and the sound is still there..
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Old 05-09-2007, 02:39 AM   #19
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Great info...sorry it had to be so painful.
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Old 05-09-2007, 08:42 AM   #20
Hrvat
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I wish I had seen OP's other threads before as I would have suggested that he takes a look at this. Would have saved you some serious cash.
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so 2004 bmw's dont come with a diff?
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