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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 12-19-2010, 10:52 PM   #1
mripke
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Hartland
Posts: 7
My Ride: 2002 BMW 330Cxi
Excessive Steering Pull Left/Right at high speeds

Excessive pull in steering

I've recently had some issues while traveling at high speeds on the freeway. I've heard somewhat of a clicking or knocking sound coming from what sounds like the front right side, especially while driving. I've also had horrible steering jerk while breaking.

At around 60 mph the steering wheel will begin to vibrate and as I go faster it tends to stop but if I hit 80 mph it gets worse and will go from right to left and pull the car to the right. The first time this happened I was 20 miles from home and would do this on/off during the ride. I found out as I slowed to 40 mph it got excessively worse to the point where I couldn't hold the steering wheel.

To remedy the steering wheel jerk while breaking I installed the polyurethane CAB (just to the right side as that's all the time I had, plan on doing the other at some point in the future) After doing so I took it out for a test run and the breaking was greatly improved. Since we're in Michigan, there's snow on the roads so I tested it around the neighborhood with some power slides and heaving breaking. It seemed as though it was fixed.

I then took it to the freeway where the high speed routine happened again. This time it was worse as it was making a rubbing sound (fuha, fuha, fuha) and I also smelled burnt rubber. I'm assuming something was hitting the tire, but I can't be sure what side. I'm assuming the right since it pulled that way. I stopped on the side of the road and then tried going again. It eventually would straighten out and then I could go again but only slower. Once I got off the freeway I had it happen 2 or 3 more times within 1 mile of my house.

Before the driveI had the car up and inspected the front end and everything "looked" worn but there were no major flaws that I could see (excessive bending of tie rod or loose bolts). I'm going to check the tire to see what happened. I also have had new tires recently put on and the steering seemed fine up until recently. I do hit major pot holes as anyone in MI can attest to missing one only to hit another (I'm talking massive, I've gone through 3 or 4 rims so far). I'm going to check it out tomorrow in better light as I couldn't see anything tonight, plus I'm tired and just can't make sense of anything when I looked.

Any insight is appreciated. I tried scouring the threads but could only find the jerking steering issue which I resolved with the CABs. BMW gave me a list during one of their "free" inspections that totaled up to a new car. Thus far I've replaced the PS pump (4 months ago) and I'm looking to replace the worn CV boot on that same right side (2nd one). I thought that clicking sound could have been the CV bearings but I don't see how it could affect steering. I've had the original boots torn before (and much longer than these have been) and I've never had this issue.

Sorry if there's any grammatical errors, I'm tired. Let me know if you need clarification on any symptom.

Thanks,
Mike
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Old 12-20-2010, 08:20 AM   #2
TX_Bullet
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Houston
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My Ride: 2001 325Xi
Sounds like a ball joint. Jack the car and check for play
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:33 AM   #3
SamDoe1
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I'm going to ask the obvious. Time for an alignment? If not, I'd put my money on tie rods or ball joints.
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:36 AM   #4
Capt1014
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The pulling under braking sounds like the tie rods are shot and may lead to the shaking.
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:41 AM   #5
mripke
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Hartland
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It's definitely time for an alignment, I believe it probably is the ball joint. I'm going to find out shortly as I'm at my local garage and it's up in the air right now.

Any ideas of a fair price on a tie rod repair? I know I could probably do it myself but it's 20 degrees out and I need the car sooner than later.
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Old 12-20-2010, 07:16 PM   #6
Kubica
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Boston
Posts: 4,376
My Ride: 2003 325xi
Tie-rods assemblies at a shop are $167 a piece and between 1 and 2 hours of labor for both.

The only time I take my car to a shop-they end up ruining my tie-rods in the process of giving me the worst alignment of all time. I had to get three quotes for the shop to reimburse me: Turner Motorsports: $558, Bavarian Performance Group: $610, Stealer: $1020. TMS doesn't do their alignment in-house, so they are a few bucks cheaper.

Pick your alignment technician (not just the shop) very carefully.
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Old 12-21-2010, 06:52 AM   #7
lotar_6
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Location: Finger Lakes, NY
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My Ride: '01 xi, '94 Rado
left to right pulls might indicate an issue with the steering rack itself. I've read of them failing on the xi's... how many miles on the car?

also, did you notice any wear marks on the tires from your burning rubber smell? look closely for indications of what might be rubbing to point you where to look further.
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:08 AM   #8
Capt1014
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Originally Posted by Kubica View Post
Tie-rods assemblies at a shop are $167 a piece and between 1 and 2 hours of labor for both.

The only time I take my car to a shop-they end up ruining my tie-rods in the process of giving me the worst alignment of all time. I had to get three quotes for the shop to reimburse me: Turner Motorsports: $558, Bavarian Performance Group: $610, Stealer: $1020. TMS doesn't do their alignment in-house, so they are a few bucks cheaper.

Pick your alignment technician (not just the shop) very carefully.
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