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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 11-28-2011, 08:54 PM   #141
Steve855
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As far as Bilstein saying its the rear suspension geometry, I'd say it is possible, HOWEVER, if you ever replaced the rear shocks/dampers on an E30, you also have to push the shock/damper a little bit to get it on the mount and even when torqued, it is at a slight angle. I never had the problem of Bilstein Sports failing on my E30s. Again, I will say, I don't know if it is a problem with the Bilstein Sports, something not engineered or manufactured correctly with either BMW or Bilstein (but Koni doesn't seem to be having this problem of failures for the E46s), BUT as long as they honor the warranty and want to use the M3 Sport shock/damper for the rear, all is good.
An interesting experiment; buy two of the std Bilstein E46 sport shocks. Leave one as-is, convert the other to a full heim/monoball type mount at both ends to eliminate any side load. Mount both to the same car and observe.

Quote:
At one point, either on this thread or another thread on the general E46 side, there was plenty of chatter about using Eilbach, H&R or Bav Auto lowering springs and using the stock OEM or OE stock rear shocks/dampers, that is way I've been saying that with lowering springs, you need to use Sport/Lowering Shocks/dampers.

Steve, no harm no foul, I'm just trying to replay my experience in this field so guys don't make mistakes that can be costly or even dangerous.

Now, do you guys know that there was an "off-road" option for these cars (the E46 XIs)? Longer springs and longer shocks to raise the ride height for more ground clearance. With bump stops that when you installed the lowering springs and sport shocks/dampers, that only had about an inch or so of clearance, are you sure that yours didn't have that off-road option (just a thought as I have not lowered either of my XIs as yet), so I really haven't looked too deeply into the XI set up (though in function it is the same as an E30 ix).
Tom, I saw something in the Bentley manual about the "rough road" option, and I wondered the same thing. Maybe the shocks for this option have longer extended and compressed lengths than standard E46 shocks. If that's the case, even the oem rear shocks from a RWD E46 would be an improvement on a lowered Xi. Honestly, my car isn't that low compared to some, but it was nearly sitting on the bumpstops with H&Rs and the oem Xi shocks. I have not measured the ride height, mainly because I know my garage floor is not flat or level enough to get any accuracy.

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Old 11-28-2011, 09:28 PM   #142
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Here's another point to consider;
We were talking about whether lowering the car on oem shocks will cause them to fail. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. However, I think it's even more important what this could do to your shock mounts, towers, etc. If you are driving around banging off the bumpstops all the time, it's got to be putting higher loads into the shock mounting points than the stock ride height would. Over time, it could damage the shock/strut mounting points. This, combined with the harsh ride you get with stock Xi shocks and lower ride height, should be enough to convince people to change to shorter shocks when they go lower. If you blow out your stock shocks, no big deal, you buy replacements. If you damage your shock towers, you're looking at a major sheetmetal repair project. This is basically the same reason I would not put coilovers on the rear of an E46. The shock towers were not meant to support the weight of the car. I know lots of people run them, I just don't think it's a good idea.

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Old 11-29-2011, 07:35 AM   #143
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Im on H&R springs and both my rear sport shocks have failed. This setup only gives approximately 10mm of space between the bumpstop and cylinder of the shock tube. I cut my bumpstops .5in and this seems to help. When i upgraded my suspension to this setup i swapped all components related to this. Its definitely not user installation error. The shocks, err.. dampeners, simply fail.
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:21 PM   #144
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Definitely using the stock/OEM/OE shocks/dampers with not only damage the shocks, it will indeed damage the upper shock mounts, possibly the shock towers, and put lots more stress on the entire rear suspension causing parts to fail prematurely.

wdeerfield, I was not implying that you didn't do the job correctly, just an overall statement of what should be done when lowering an E46Xi or any BMW for that matter. I believe everyone that has said that their Bilstein Sport shocks/dampers has failed/leaked when used with any of the lowering spring sets. I also have stated several times, that back in the late 90's and early 2000's, Koni was also having failure/leaking problems with some of their models. I also stated, that if Bilstein is replacing the model Sport Shock with the Sport M3 Model, that is a good thing, they will fit and the increased dia of the components should hold up. I would venture to say that some of the problem would be that the E46 XI's are heavy cars compared to the other E46s (I believe my 2003 325 Xi weighs 3500 lbs, that's more than 1000 pounds more than my 1989 325ix, and 1500 pounds more than my 1991 318is!), and maybe the rear Sport shocks for the XI's should have been the dia that the M3 ones are from the get go. I'm also wondering if some of the side play I've heard some of you talk about could be gotten rid of if adjustable rear camber plates/bushings were used instead of keeping them stock? BMW's have always been know to run lots of camber, thus wearing out the insides of tires well before the outside and it is more evident on the ix and xi models. But this excessive camber is one reason that BMW's have always handled so well, so its a trade off. Not saying that you completely did a bad thing by cutting some (.500 inch) off your rear bump stops, but normally you shouldn't have to do so as the shorter, but a good bit stiffer lowering springs should maintain about the same distance from the bump stops so that they shouldn't hit unless a very big/deep pot hole, curb, etc is hit at fast speed. As long as the suspension can not go over center when compressed fully, cutting a little off the bump stop should be ok.

I know the rough road/off-road option was available and many cars up in the New England area and I'd also say in Canada, owner's have opted for this option and/or have installed that option so that they have more clearance between tires and wheel wells for better deep snow driving and slightly increased ride height or stock set-up.
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Old 11-30-2011, 08:30 AM   #145
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Does anyone know if the E36 M3 rear shocks will work on non-XI's?

About to put on my third set of rears (sports) and getting a little annoyed with having to constantly change them up.
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Old 11-30-2011, 09:57 AM   #146
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Does anyone know if the E36 M3 rear shocks will work on non-XI's?

About to put on my third set of rears (sports) and getting a little annoyed with having to constantly change them up.
100% yes. You won't be sorry, so much better.
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Old 11-30-2011, 10:14 AM   #147
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So, I called Bilstein directly and spoke to their engineering department about my failures. They were very apologetic and accommodating and agreed with my estimation that the E36 M3 shocks should hold up better on my car.

They took full blame and agreed to warranty my shocks, but they did say that the urethane TMS RSM's I am using may be contributing to the failures. According to the engineer I spoke to, the OEM rubber RSM's allow the shock to move more, whereas the urethane aftermarket ones do not. I told them that even if this were the case, there's no excuse for 4 failed shocks in 30k miles and they agreed.

For anyone with a warranty that is running into failing shocks I highly recommend you skip your vendor and go straight to Bilstein.

Also, they have changed their part numbers so that their US #'s match those in Germany. For anyone interested, the "new" (not sure how recent it is) part number for the E36 M3 shocks is: 24-024532

This number is replacing BE5-2453

Same product, different number.

I hope to have these by Saturday and installed on Sunday, I will let you know how it turns out.



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100% yes. You won't be sorry, so much better.
Hah, looks like we are talking in both threads. Thanks for your recommendation.
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:22 PM   #148
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Just to add a little more info on this file.

2004 320 i, stock spring, 4 bilstein HD installed this summer. New front shock mount OEM BMW and new rear mount. Front are okay. Rear both failed after 5000k . Replaced this week-end by M3 E36 Bilstein. Bigger and stronger with a new protection boot. Perfect fit and the car is feeling a way better.
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:29 PM   #149
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Here's another point to consider;
We were talking about whether lowering the car on oem shocks will cause them to fail. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. However, I think it's even more important what this could do to your shock mounts, towers, etc. If you are driving around banging off the bumpstops all the time, it's got to be putting higher loads into the shock mounting points than the stock ride height would. Over time, it could damage the shock/strut mounting points. This, combined with the harsh ride you get with stock Xi shocks and lower ride height, should be enough to convince people to change to shorter shocks when they go lower. If you blow out your stock shocks, no big deal, you buy replacements. If you damage your shock towers, you're looking at a major sheetmetal repair project. This is basically the same reason I would not put coilovers on the rear of an E46. The shock towers were not meant to support the weight of the car. I know lots of people run them, I just don't think it's a good idea.

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Old 12-14-2011, 11:06 AM   #150
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Do the E36 M3 rears work on stock springs? I've got Bilstein HDs on the stock springs right now...no problems yet, but should I run into 'em, what part(s) would I need?
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:58 PM   #151
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Do the E36 M3 rears work on stock springs? I've got Bilstein HDs on the stock springs right now...no problems yet, but should I run into 'em, what part(s) would I need?
I believe Kubica had that setup (HD on OEM springs) and was given the M3 shocks on warranty.
You would have to check with him what he recommends as the perfect 'fix'.

BUT, keep in mind that if your springs are not lowering the car, there is much less stress on the shock and you should get longer life out of them than those on H&R springs.
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Old 12-15-2011, 06:10 PM   #152
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Some interesting input here recently!
But, on the topic of Owner induced failure, I have some comments...

The shocks we are talking about - ALL Bilstein e46 Sport Rear shocks are the problem, and not just on the Xi.

It is true that the Bilstein "Heavy Duty" shocks are also leaking - and they may not be made specifically for a lowering spring, so yes, the additional stress is an additional cause. (although Bilstein is replacing them with the M3 shock as well.)

However, my post was specifically about the rear SPORT shock, which is specifically made for a lowering spring.
I bought them to go WITH my H&R lowering springs, this is not owner induced failure! The shafts are indeed shorter to accommodate the shorter spring.

BTW, Tom, after speaking to Bilstein after repeated failures, they told me a few things you may find interesting...
some additional info as to why they say the shocks fail... (Take this with a huge grain of salt - they have to blame someone!)
Bilstein claims that BMW is actually at fault lol (This is nothing more than what Bilstein told me, yet no other shock mfg has these leaks on the e46 platform)
They say the geometry of the rear end on the e46 is off and actually putting the shocks on an angle, so the load is not straight UP/Down, but on a slight angle and the rubber seals just cannot handle the stress of being worn unevenly long term. They first tried adding extra seals to the standard Sport shock, but only the bigger diameter M3 shock solves the problem.
Thankfully, Bilstein does stand behind their product, which is exactly why I have been using them since 1995

I honestly don't know if any of that is true, but I am certain BMW will never admit to anything lol
Yes Yes Yes....... IT'S BMW UNIBODY/ GEOMETRY DESIGN.

After reading all this my blood pressure was rising. To finally get to this thread.

What Tom is saying is 100% correct. The angle, seal design.....everything!!

The large diameter shaft can resist a larger twist (moment).

My experience.

Masters Mechanical Engineer specializing in automotive design
15 years of solid FEA Modeling and Structual Analysis
Active ASME and SAE member
currently designing Aircraft launcher and holdback hydraulic systems

my first was a 77 320i and have owned and raced several 3 series.

I was looking to upgrade my XI suspension and wanted to see what people where saying.

these failures are due to fatigue over time of the unibody (mainly the upper inner strut tower area), body geometry/unibody design and the way we LOVE to drive our machines.

When I read the "experimental" shock thread I already knew the design and when I saw the pix I had a big o' smile.

If you plan on driving hard at least look into tower brace. But the complete package is installing lower frame stiffeners & upper brace.

My $0.02
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Old 12-16-2011, 05:18 PM   #153
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Yes Yes Yes....... IT'S BMW UNIBODY/ GEOMETRY DESIGN..

these failures are due to fatigue over time of the unibody (mainly the upper inner strut tower area), body geometry/unibody design and the way we LOVE to drive our machines.
Firstly - I am in NO way disagreeing about anything you said - I just want to fully understand your point

Do you mean that those of us with leaking rear shocks also have strut towers that are out of spec compared to brand new?
Meaning the same shock that leaked on my 2003 100k mile car would not have if installed on a brand new e46? (Until that e46 also suffered fatigue?)
How would you check this?
How could you avoid this to begin with? Or will every e46 end up with deformed strut towers?
I am using the Rogue Engineering RSMs with the reinforcing top plate now, but it was years on OEM mounts.

The other confusing issue is why KONIs don't seem to have this problem. Could it just be better seals that save them from failure in this situation?
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Old 12-16-2011, 06:47 PM   #154
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kinda regret buying Bilstein. I want a more smooth ride.
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Old 12-16-2011, 07:42 PM   #155
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Hello blemarBMW, thank you, you have even higher experience than I do you actually have the degrees that I never got, though I am a Certified Automotive Technician, Electronics Engineer, Journeyman Tool & DIe Maker and Journeyman Machinist, and to say that I've hit it all on the head is a great compliment. I never listed my experience though out my postings to this thread; 10 years as a Master Automotive Technician, in all phases of minor and major repairs at a Dodge Dealership, 23 years as the Lead Prototype and Tooling Developer (Journeyman Tool & Die maker & Journeyman Machinist, and advanced FARO CMM User) for The Vehicular Structures Division of the former DANA Corporation Parish Frame Division of Parish Pressed Steel) which was based out of Reading, PA, former driver and/or wrench on sprint cars, drag cars and SCCA Hill Climb and SOLO cars, and still doing over 90% of the work on all my vehicles, besides helping friends out with their troubles (currently completely rebuilding entire suspension and drive train on a 1989 Jeep Cherokee Sport for a work associate). Also in my bag of experience is being both an amateur Bicycle Racer and Bicycle Tuner and Builder.
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Old 12-17-2011, 12:39 PM   #156
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Canadian Warranties?

Anyone from Canada successfully receive a warranty replacement? I purchased my bilstein sports from Turner and would like to avoid going through them again if possible. They told me to purchase a new set and send in my defective set. Upon confirmation of defect they would refund my new purchase. I would prefer calling Bilstein directly and having them ship me a set of m3 rears.

Which phone numbers do I call for Canadian warranty issues?

Thanks for your help
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Old 12-17-2011, 02:11 PM   #157
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Anyone from Canada successfully receive a warranty replacement? I purchased my bilstein sports from Turner and would like to avoid going through them again if possible. They told me to purchase a new set and send in my defective set. Upon confirmation of defect they would refund my new purchase. I would prefer calling Bilstein directly and having them ship me a set of m3 rears.

Which phone numbers do I call for Canadian warranty issues?

Thanks for your help
I am the one that started this thread, I am also in Canada.
You have a few options:
** Americans, you are SO lucky you don't have to deal with this!!! **
option 1 - call Bilstein directly in Cali, (AVOID dealing with LISA - she dropped the ball many times in my case)
You buy M3 shocks and they will refund you when they get the defects back - WATCH OUT for additional brokerage charges by UPS when they deliver!!!!! I was raped $49 for ONE shock, then $99 for the next 2 lol

Both times Bilstein refunded me the money, after much grief, but, they seemed all too happy throwing it at UPS for NOTHING. They don't know how to fill out documents, I told them how to make it arrive N/C, but they never cared to fix it, clearly saving wasted money is not an issue, yet, she wouldn't even consider sending me a cap or T-Shirt - quite sad & ridiculous.


Option 2 - call the Canadian distributer in BC, Essex Distributers. http://www.bilsteincanada.com/
Bilstein had them ship me one shock rush N/C, but I have heard they charge ppl a "warranty" charge of $30 or so to do the exchange - no idea if that is true.

My advice is this: Essex is best IF they do the exchange at no additional cost to you. It will cost you less to return them to Essex than Cali as well.
I see no benefit to Turner doing it. You will still have potential duty, tax & brokerage, especially if shipped ups and they won't refund your brokerage if it happens, Bilstein is a safer choice.

Let us know what you do & how it works out
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Old 12-17-2011, 02:27 PM   #158
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Advice you should replace shocks by axle some might tell you its unnecassary but i always would.
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Old 12-17-2011, 02:56 PM   #159
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I am the one that started this thread, I am also in Canada.
You have a few options:
** Americans, you are SO lucky you don't have to deal with this!!! **
option 1 - call Bilstein directly in Cali, (AVOID dealing with LISA - she dropped the ball many times in my case)
You buy M3 shocks and they will refund you when they get the defects back - WATCH OUT for additional brokerage charges by UPS when they deliver!!!!! I was raped $49 for ONE shock, then $99 for the next 2 lol

Both times Bilstein refunded me the money, after much grief, but, they seemed all too happy throwing it at UPS for NOTHING. They don't know how to fill out documents, I told them how to make it arrive N/C, but they never cared to fix it, clearly saving wasted money is not an issue, yet, she wouldn't even consider sending me a cap or T-Shirt - quite sad & ridiculous.


Option 2 - call the Canadian distributer in BC, Essex Distributers. http://www.bilsteincanada.com/
Bilstein had them ship me one shock rush N/C, but I have heard they charge ppl a "warranty" charge of $30 or so to do the exchange - no idea if that is true.

My advice is this: Essex is best IF they do the exchange at no additional cost to you. It will cost you less to return them to Essex than Cali as well.
I see no benefit to Turner doing it. You will still have potential duty, tax & brokerage, especially if shipped ups and they won't refund your brokerage if it happens, Bilstein is a safer choice.

Let us know what you do & how it works out
Thanks buddy. The info you gave is going to save me alot of hassle and headaches. One more question though. So far I only have 1 defective leaking rear. Is it possible for them to send me a pair of M3 rears? I don't want to go through the hassle of waiting for my other rear to blow and go through the process again in the future.

Thank again sharkman
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Old 12-17-2011, 03:30 PM   #160
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Again, a few options!

I would insist they warranty both, even if only one is leaking - matter of time, and they know well it's a problem.
Worst case scenario, you buy one M3 shock and warranty the other.
But, I would push them to warranty both, just don't take no for an answer lol

At the beginning they refused to do it for me, shipped one e46 sport, leaked right away, then they sent another, leaked... finally 2 M3 shocks showed up.
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