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Old 11-14-2014, 02:30 AM   #1
dotca
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wheel vibration at highway speeds, not wheel balancing issue

Hello

2002 sedan rwd, I bought new summer tires last year they were installed and balanced just fine, no vibration, took em out on long road trips no issues.

I put my winter tires on (on a separate set of rims) and again no wheel vibration issues.

Towards the end of the winter season (like literally days before my changeover) I noticed minor vibration around 100 kmh (55mph) and figured I'd lost a weight or something as it was a nasty winter and my city uses insane amounts of salt. I figure I'd just pay for a balance when I do my swap next year (which I just did)

So when I put on my summer boots in spring 2014 I noticed wheel vibration. Took it to the cheap tire shop I use for changes, they attempted to balance it 3 times unsuccessfully. These guys do change overs for half the price of everyone so I figured I got what I paid for.

I took it to my bmw indy mechanic who only does bmw and he said whoever tried to balance my rims did a bad job, basically just kept sticking on weights.

He spent some solid time trying to balance them and made some minor improvements.

I just put my winter boots on and i requested a balance, mechanic said they were slightly off balance and he corrected it (trusted mechanic of 5 years)

The wheels continue to vibrate. I put the boots on before I left for an overseas trip and am soon headed home. I called my mechanic and he said it may be my drive shaft.

I'm not a mechanically inclined guy, and trust my mechanic and he does not rip me off. I also always research my problems online and play dumb when I go in there and he's always been on point with recommendations and price.

I've referred over 7 regular customers so he treats me good.

He knew I was going on vacation and said just go enjoy yourself and we'll figure this out when you get home.

He also said he;doesn't have faith in refurb drive shafts which leads me to believe I'll be buying from bmw parts. where are these parts manufactured? Any shot of one made in usa/canada/mexico as nafta would save me a physical trip to the usa.

How much is this going to run me? I'm in canada and stuff here is generally pricier, so if this is a major repair I may make an excuse to go to the usa and get it done there, or make a trip to the us and bring back the part myself. Using 48 hour exemption to dodge the first $800 worth of taxes.

The car has 191,000 km (118000 miles) and I'd guess it's value at 10k, I love the car, but if the repair exceeds 20% I may look to sell it as is and maybe pick up a used z4 (any comments on good years?)

What could happen if I just ignore the problem? Assuming I'm okay with potentially strange tire wear and early tire replacement? Is this a safety issue?

Tires I buy on sale in the usa from discounttire so I'm not too concerned, however if it's a safety issue I simply won't tolerate it as I drive this car the way the Germans intended it to. Also the highway flow here is usually right at the vibration mark so it's annoying. Feels like my girls crying for help.


Thanks again guys.

Last edited by dotca; 11-14-2014 at 02:39 AM.
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:01 AM   #2
Mr Podman
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Is the vibration you are feeling coming from the front or back of the car?
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:04 AM   #3
dmarkle
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How old are your winter tires? If they're super old they could be the issue?
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:30 AM   #4
dotca
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Thanks for the quick replies guys.

1. I can't determine where it's vibrating, the onlyy thing I notice is the steering wheel visually vibrating about 1 cm back and forth at 100kmh / 55mph, if I'm going 130/140 kmh which I usually drive it's not an issue, just around 90-105kmh I feel it vibrating semi violently.

The winter tires are going into their 5th season but I don't drive far in the winter, just in the city. Further more this issue is happening on my brand new tires (well 1 season old) summer tires mounted on separate rims.

Car is fine otherwise, but the wheel is not stable like it used to be. Although the car is a 2002 I picked it up in 2008 with only 60,000km on it (37000 miles)
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:43 AM   #5
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wheel vibration at highway speeds, not wheel balancing issue

Does the vibration go away when you apply the brakes? Could b warped front brake rotors. I'd also have your FCAB's checked out. Lots of things can cause a vibration. I had similar issue on mine & ended up needing new tie rods.

Last edited by BMANN405; 11-14-2014 at 07:45 AM.
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Old 11-14-2014, 09:06 AM   #6
dotca
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Nah won't be a rotor issue my mechanic took a good look at the car, initially we thought it was a bad rim or bad tire, but considering the second set of tires presents the exact same problem he mentioned drive shaft.

The mechanic hasn't had a chance to further investigate as I literally put on the winter shoes a day before my flight.

Really appreciate the suggestions so please don't take my response as negative.

This mechanic has only worked on bmw for past 25 years so I suspect when I get home he will figure out what is needed without upselling, but of course I'd like your opinions to make sure I can make an informed choice if this repair is worth doing in canada or if I should go to the usa.

The z4's I'm looking at are in the 15-20k range with under 100,000km or 55,000 miles so if this is going to be pricey I might choose too sell my baby. Its in good shape but slight rust starting on rear quarter panel. Might be a good time to sell.

Any comments on if a bad draft impacts safety? I sound like I know what I'm talking about but I don't. Might be a Johnson rod for all I know.

I won't sell an unsafe car

Last edited by dotca; 11-14-2014 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 11-14-2014, 10:22 AM   #7
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Have your mechanic look into the driveshaft again. I don't think he's saying the entire drive shaft is bad, just something wrong with a part of the shaft that's replaceable. Like the flex disc or what BMW calls "the guibo" could be cracked or deteriorating. Notorious on these cars for causing vibrations when they go. Center support bearing or carrier bearing could b going out as well. Guibo will set u back around 400 for parts & labor depending where you take it. Not that bad of a DIY job but you have to drop the exhaust to get to it.
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Old 11-14-2014, 10:32 AM   #8
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Were the wheels checked for any bends? A bent wheel rim may balance just fine on a machine but will cause bad vibrations once on the road.
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Old 11-14-2014, 10:34 AM   #9
dotca
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$400 is chump change, happy if that's more or less the problem.

Thanks for the help guys, I'll drop the girl off at my mechanic when I get back from asia. I was worried this would be a $2,000+ job, if so I'd switch to the z4. Mind you all the z4 I'm looking at are convertibles which is a stupid choice for my climate (under 30 days of true convertible weather)

I'll have the mech take a good look but it's refreshing knowing you guys arnt saying for sure it's a major job.

The financially responsible side of me says buy a hyundai financed over 900000 months at 0% lol. Doesn't help I'm in south korea now to top it off :p

Every taxi I take here are automatic but these guys still shift into neutral at red lights. Jeez come on, drive a manual or don't. Lol
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Old 11-14-2014, 10:49 AM   #10
dotca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMansteve View Post
Were the wheels checked for any bends? A bent wheel rim may balance just fine on a machine but will cause bad vibrations once on the road.
Both my summer tires/rims and winter tires/rims vibrate at the exact same speed. Exact same feeling on the wheel. Two sets of rims.

While it is possible, I'm thinking it's unlikely. Again I'm not technical but it's down to pretty much the same speed. I run 16" winters and 17" summers. The summer rims came with the car. The winter rims I bought. Both are aftermarket and in the case of winters are replica m5 rims. I know I know, buy real rims. Obviously when I downgrade to 16" rims my speedo is a bit off but the vibration is in a similar range.

Judging by the similar problems I'd say something else is going on. I llove my e46 and will pay whatever to make her good again. That said I'm a brute business guy so if this is the time to sell her, so be it. However with a great bmw mechanic and the awesome community here, I'm sticking to bmw til I can affor a prosche and the associated gasket leaks :p

Last edited by dotca; 11-14-2014 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 11-14-2014, 11:23 AM   #11
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I don't see why a drive shaft problem would present itself through the steering wheel. You'd feel it only in the seat. A new drive shaft is out of the question in my opinion.

OP, is your car an Xi? If so, your front axles could be going bad.

In not, I'd look more into the FCABs and control arms.
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Last edited by WDE46; 11-14-2014 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 11-14-2014, 11:31 AM   #12
dotca
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The steering wheel at the 90-110kmh range (sorry for metric but hey we drive German cars) is the only indication something is wrong, car is perfect otherwise.

Not to sound critical but anyone else agree with wd46?

Again I'm sure my mech will figure it out, but if we're talkin hundreds in savings I'd gladly take a trip to usa to get this fixed.

I trtust my mechanic but he's not going overboard to get usa parts into canada.
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Old 11-14-2014, 11:33 AM   #13
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If you get a BMW Genuine driveshaft, it's going to run well over $1000 for the part alone. Driveshaft labor isn't that bad though. Only have to drop the exhaust (~10 bolts) and heat shield to get to it.

Oh and you said RWD sedan earlier. My bad for missing that.

I'd look at bushings right now.
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Last edited by WDE46; 11-14-2014 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 11-14-2014, 11:36 AM   #14
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Oh, but IF it were a driveshaft problem, as others have mentioned, you'd probably just refresh the guibo and CSB for a few hundred dollars.
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Old 11-14-2014, 11:42 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WDE46 View Post
If you get a BMW Genuine driveshaft, it's going to run well over $1000 for the part alone. Driveshaft labor isn't that bad though. Only have to drop the exhaust (~10 bolts) and heat shield to get to it.

Oh and you said RWD sedan earlier. My bad for missing that.

I'd look at bushings right now.
^ I'm thinking the same. Before the shop gets all swap-happy with parts that don't commonly break, start with the ones that do.

How old are your bushings up front? I had a shimmy that I swear were flat-spotting tires until the bushings fixed it completely.

I love the Lemfoerder bushings and the ride they give but being fluid filled they don't last long. Even in my case of relatively nice east bay roads I still wouldn't trust them beyond 60k miles. Now that I know what to "listen" for I think they actually show their wear at 45k, less than that if you drive on sh!tty roads.
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Old 11-14-2014, 12:32 PM   #16
dotca
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Hey thanks for all the info guys, I'll be home in a few days so I'll pay dumb and drop it off at the mech and see what he says. I'll update the thread accordingly.

Awesome getting so much info within hours of posting, really can't thank you enough.

Cheers from busan korea and ultimately toronto!

My mech isn't swap happy, in fact 4 years ago he talked me out of replacing my cooling system when I thought I had a coolant leak, he told me instead to watch thermometer and if ever over heating to pull over asap and get it on a flat bed. 4 years later no issues so he is a decent guy, was totally ready to swap happy to avoid a break down.

Will keep bushings in mind.

Last edited by dotca; 11-14-2014 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 11-14-2014, 01:28 PM   #17
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As others have said, the fact that your steering wheel is moving would lead me to suspect some front suspension issue. FCAB's are easy to check, just grab hold of the control arm and see how much you can move it, mine looked fine but it was obvious they were toast once I tried moving it. I'd also re-iterate trouble shooting the drive shaft components as opposed to just jumping right on a whole new one. I don't personally think that's your problem. How are the tires wearing or do they even have enough km's on them to judge the wear? That would give you a good idea which suspension components to focus on.

As someone else noted, I have two winter wheels that the guy balancing them said appeared to have some degree of a bend in them, he balanced them best he could and other than a very narrow speed range I don't notice anything out of the ordinary. That being said my steering wheel definitely isn't moving.
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Old 11-14-2014, 03:07 PM   #18
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how many miles on the suspension?
Have you checked tie-rods?
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Old 08-26-2016, 01:38 PM   #19
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Back from the dead!!

Was this ever solved? I have the same issue going on with my 02 330i. Very slight (but visible) steering wheel shake at 55mph. Happens with both my summer and winter wheels (not a balance issue). FCABS look good but are my first suspected cause. Tires are new (and again, happens with winters as well).

The interesting thing is that I did the clutch recently and my guibo does have one bolt that's torn out of the rubber... also, my center support bearing has one ear half broken off (but it's still held on tight by the bolts). I'd expect more seat vibration if it were in the driveshaft area.
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Old 08-26-2016, 02:03 PM   #20
hibeemer
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Raise each tire off the ground one at a time. Set a pointer beside the outer edge of the wheel and spin it. I had a very similar problem and it turned out to be the mating surface between the wheel and the hub that caused about 3/16" of runout. After cleaning and reinstalling all four wheels the problem was gone. I took it to two tire shops and neither caught the problem.
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