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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 10-24-2011, 04:23 PM   #1
Liam.attwood
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steering play..nearly there?

hello, searched alot about steering play, also posted alot about it.. just to update you on what i have replaced,

steering rack..steering coupling (lower bush) all front end bushes, discs pads etc..

i still have abit of play in the steering, preferbly over bumps, i have been trying to solve this problem for ages, hence all the new parts.. it is getting better, but the play is not gone..

i noticed before, if i put the steering lock on, and shake the wheel side to side, i can almost replicate the sound.. and feel i get when driving over bumps.. to me it feels like alot of play when the steering lock is on,

does this mean i need a steering column?
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Old 10-24-2011, 04:29 PM   #2
GoingNuts
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does this mean i need a steering column?
No, it means your random parts throwing isn't working, and you should get a diagnose from a shop.
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Old 10-24-2011, 05:00 PM   #3
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You replaced control arms and bushings already? Inspected tie rod ball joints?

There's a lot more to the steering than steering stuff, and I thought you'd replaced more already. In any case, read on diagnosing bad ball joints...maybe get someone to move the wheel back and forth while you feel around for where you're getting play.

And, hate to say GN's advice isn't bad, even though he'd never take his own advice. Perhaps when you're done, you'll want GN to do his diy alignment for ya!
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Old 10-24-2011, 05:02 PM   #4
Liam.attwood
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i have been to the garage afew times, hence alot of replacement parts.. im hoping now that all the parts i have replaced.. maybe un-necessarly, will narrow it down to the column possibly... any one have any ideas?

as i say when i shake the steering side to side with the steering lock on, i can replicate the feel and sound it makes over bumps...
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Old 10-24-2011, 05:06 PM   #5
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nice to hear from you doug

yea i had a good go over it with my good friend (mechanic) he seems sure everything (ball joints) are good.. all of them are brand new anyway as you probably know.. i cant think of anything else apart from the column.. but im not an expert
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Old 10-24-2011, 06:31 PM   #6
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Neither am I, but I know as you do that a lot of parts 'feed' into the steering. Ultimately, anything on the car that vibrates is felt in steering to some extent.

Please give us a list of everything you've replaced, and we'll hope that the replacement work has all been good, and we'll keep randomly guessing for you!

I don't think the steering column itself needs to be replaced. There's the steering coupler that a lot of guys swear by. I did mine, original at maybe 180K miles...and the old one was fine. There is a u-joint in the half of the column above, but we've rarely heard of issues with it. I think I recall one post in the last couple of years.
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Old 10-25-2011, 05:34 PM   #7
Liam.attwood
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ok, i have replaced;

sway bars
anti-roll bar bushes
lower control arms + big bush
tie rods
re-con steering rack
lower steering coupling

discs n pads

alignement.. balanced wheels

thats about it so far on the front end... any ideas what else could cause the play
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Old 10-25-2011, 05:46 PM   #8
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Liam, was this a shop doing all this? According to GN, no one in the UK can be trusted with a bmw! LOL

Tires/wheels can be balanced but still bad...I'm sure I would have suggested looking for a hop in the rim when you spin it slowly a long time ago...hope so.

I wrote and then deleted a thought that it could be guibo/csb, but not for steering play as you describe...but, since you said it seems to happen more over bumps...it could just be the bumps...it could be that alignment could be tightened up...could be struts not dampening the bumps enough. I don't know if you did end links with the sway bar, and I'm not sure how much that would cause your symptoms, but that's just about the last suspension part in the front you haven't replaced!

And, not to frustrate you, but not knowing the shop that did this, it's possible you had the right fix, but there was an issue with the installation.

Not to be a jerk, but maybe go looking for another shop and start off fresh? Bring espresso and donuts with you to start your relationship off on the right foot!
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Old 10-25-2011, 08:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Liam.attwood View Post
hello, searched alot about steering play, also posted alot about it.. just to update you on what i have replaced,

steering rack..steering coupling (lower bush) all front end bushes, discs pads etc..

i still have abit of play in the steering, preferbly over bumps, i have been trying to solve this problem for ages, hence all the new parts.. it is getting better, but the play is not gone..

i noticed before, if i put the steering lock on, and shake the wheel side to side, i can almost replicate the sound.. and feel i get when driving over bumps.. to me it feels like alot of play when the steering lock is on,

does this mean i need a steering column?
Does yours make that noise only for the first 5-10 minutes? Mine has been doing the same exact thing, including making the noise when you rock the steering at full lock.
My steering also felt imprecise with vague on center feeling. I flushed my fluid today and the steering feel is just about back to normal (my fluid was black), and the knocking sound seems a bit better but still there. My PS pump was also groaning prior to fluid flush and it seems like the it's gone. I know I need some knew bushings, they're making some noise. But that knocking still remains. It's most noticeable when stopped or at slow speeds or engine is still cold.

Last edited by briangl92; 10-25-2011 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 10-26-2011, 03:54 PM   #10
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mine knocks over every bump.. changed ps fluid when i did the rack and its still the same

i do all the work myself, so i know everything is straigh...

the only thing i can think of is i replaced anti roll bar bushes with powerflex ones, and i noticed a slight gap, almost like the bush was slightly wider than the actual roll bar.

but that wouldnt explain the knock when i shake the steering when stationairy.. would it
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Old 10-26-2011, 04:02 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Liam.attwood View Post
ok, i have replaced;

sway bars
anti-roll bar bushes
lower control arms + big bush
tie rods
re-con steering rack
lower steering coupling

discs n pads

alignement.. balanced wheels

thats about it so far on the front end... any ideas what else could cause the play
make sure you have the correct size bushings for your CA carriers, i had some aftermarket ones on mine that were slightly the wrong size and could feel a tiny clunk when getting on the brakes because it had a little extra play
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Old 10-26-2011, 04:07 PM   #12
Liam.attwood
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yea its worth i check, i had OE ones fitted so i should be safe on that one

i think i will just bite the bullit and take her into the stealership and get a diaganosis
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Old 10-26-2011, 04:43 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Liam.attwood View Post
mine knocks over every bump.. changed ps fluid when i did the rack and its still the same

i do all the work myself, so i know everything is straigh...

the only thing i can think of is i replaced anti roll bar bushes with powerflex ones, and i noticed a slight gap, almost like the bush was slightly wider than the actual roll bar.

but that wouldnt explain the knock when i shake the steering when stationairy.. would it
That would explain the knocks over bumps. I know a couple of my bushings are in need of replacing but I'm still confused as to why it would knock when I shake the wheel when the car is stopped. Yet it doesn't seem to have any play in the steering, despite the knocking.

Keep us updated! It seems we have a similar problem.
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Old 10-26-2011, 05:24 PM   #14
Liam.attwood
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yea i will do i will try an get it into the stealership asap
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Old 11-01-2011, 06:27 PM   #15
Liam.attwood
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just an update, took her the stealership, thay cant decide what the knock is, but there leaning more toward the column..(prob cause its more expensive)

another example of the knock/play.. if i lightly hit the the steering wheel at the bottom (as in clench my fist and hit upward to the bottom of the steering wheel) i feel and hear excessive play, like what i feel going over rough roads.. seems abit drastic but i was shown this by the guy in the stealership

im going to repeat this process tomorrow whilst someone holds the steering coupling, just to see if it makes a difference

any thoughts on this ??
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:00 PM   #16
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Hmmm...interesting. With mine I only hear it while the car is warming up. Rarely do I hear it after about 5 mins of driving.
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:11 PM   #17
Liam.attwood
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maybe yours has something to do with the power steering pump, some say even changing the fluid has stopped a clunk or knock,

i wish mine was that simple, not had a chance to inspect mine yet, possibly tomorrow i will have a look
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:29 PM   #18
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Ya I changed my fluid and it seemed quite a bit better but it's still there.
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:03 PM   #19
Liam.attwood
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possibly the pump then in your case, dont hold me to that though

i changed my lower steering coupling the other day and that helped my knock, but its not gone, just feels abit better thats all, like i say ill inspect mine tomorrow after work
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:13 PM   #20
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Ok thanks! I'll look into it. When the knock started one mechanic said the pump and another said I was slightly low on fluid so it was probably air...and the high pressure fitting coming out of the pump had a slight leak contributing to the idea of air in the system. But now that's all resolved the problem still exists and I'm starting to hear a groan which is indicative of a bad pump.
Thanks go the help, hope you get yours resolved!
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