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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 09-30-2012, 08:55 PM   #1
daimler55
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krappy handling

so far i have changed my front ca, cab, front flex coupler, sway bar links, tires and got three separate alignment....steering is still off center and pulling to left. highway speed can feel slight vibration and steering wheel play still there but very suddle...bmw advised front shocks and shock mount bent but tie rods are in good condition...anybody have experience with this?
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:58 PM   #2
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Did you check tire wear?

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Old 09-30-2012, 09:00 PM   #3
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yes...i have brand new tires...
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:01 PM   #4
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:06 PM   #5
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well bmw dealer did the alignment for me...they told me could get the caster to specs because front shocks and front shocks mounts bent....what do u mean when u say "quality alignment"
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:14 PM   #6
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well bmw dealer did the alignment for me...they told me could get the caster to specs because front shocks and front shocks mounts bent....what do u mean when u say "quality alignment"
There are struts in the front, not shocks. So, the dealer told you what the problem is, and you're asking what the problem is? I'm confused.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:17 PM   #7
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no the dealer told me thats the reason they cant get the caster to specs...which i understand. what im confused is they are telling me everything else in the front end is in good shape...so i cant figure out whats causing steering wheel play at higher speed and off center steering wheel
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:25 PM   #8
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no the dealer told me thats the reason they cant get the caster to specs...which i understand. what im confused is they are telling me everything else in the front end is in good shape...so i cant figure out whats causing steering wheel play at higher speed and off center steering wheel
So let me get this straight. They told you your front struts are bent and everything else is good? How bout you replace your struts since they are bent

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Old 10-03-2012, 06:17 PM   #9
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no the dealer told me thats the reason they cant get the caster to specs...which i understand. what im confused is they are telling me everything else in the front end is in good shape...so i cant figure out whats causing steering wheel play at higher speed and off center steering wheel
Caster affects steering feedback and will affect the steering's tendency to go to the home position. Depending on how far off it is, that can be the cause of the car pulling to one side. The wheel is likely off center because it's being pulled.

That is not the only thing that can cause what you're describing. But if the dealer told you that there's an issue, you need to fix it before you start assuming there are additional unknown issues.

If the strut mount is bent, the tower is probably bent as well. If that's the case, you need to have a body shop put the car up on one of those racks and bend the metal back into place. Then the strut mount needs to be replaced, and I would strongly recommend that you have the reinforcement plates installed.

The shaking you're feeling at speed is most likely a bent wheel or a tire balance issue.

I don't have a clear understanding of what's going on here without more info. But from what info you've given, by advice would be:
-Have a competent shop fix the issue with the strut mount and/or tower and replace whatever parts are needed, along with installing reinforcement plates when they bolt it back together.
-Isolate your shake to the front or rear and take that pair of tires to a competent wheel/tire shop to have them balance the wheels, paying specific attention to the wheels to look for any bends.

That should solve your issues, but the first part will not be a cheap fix.

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So let me get this straight. They told you your front struts are bent and everything else is good? How bout you replace your struts since they are bent

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Struts can't work if bent. It's the mounts that are bent. Probably from a bad impact, but also very likely from the shocks being worn and therefore not dampening impacts properly.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:06 PM   #10
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well correct me if im wrong...but strut is the full assembly on the front end. but the dampers in the front are still called SHOCKS. as far the caster goes...what the dealer recommended from their experience is to do a $1300 repair on the front shocks and mounts to see if that adjusts the caster since thats what they know from experience causes the caster to be off. they advised me they are not sure but i would need to do section at a time to narrow it down. so its not a sure thing that replacing these front end parts would fix the problem for sure. they are telling me there is no mushrooming on the strut tower but possibly there is damage to the shock mounts and shocks themselves from a impact of some sort from their past experience. so im not gonna just throw money into something even the dealer is not sure of....to explain whats going on, the car will a) vibrate at speeds above 60, b) steering wheel has about half inch of play. c) occasionally alignment will pull towards left unless steering is cocked towards 1oclock position on a straight road and when braking. all the work i did on the front end is mentioned in my first post. so thanks for all your replies
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Old 10-04-2012, 09:38 PM   #11
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http://www.differencebetween.net/obj...ks-and-struts/ here is some reading for you to learn a little more which might help or not.

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Old 10-04-2012, 09:58 PM   #12
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well correct me if im wrong...but strut is the full assembly on the front end. but the dampers in the front are still called SHOCKS.
The E46 has Macpherson strut assemblies up front and separate shocks and coil springs in the rear. While the Macpherson assembly can technically be described as an "assembly that houses a shock absorber inside a strut housing with a coil spring seated on it", that's what a Macpherson "strut" is. In automotive applications, we basically just refer to them at "struts" to differentiate from "shocks", which are just the damper without a housing that holds a coil spring around it.
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Originally Posted by daimler55 View Post
as far the caster goes...what the dealer recommended from their experience is to do a $1300 repair on the front shocks and mounts to see if that adjusts the caster since thats what they know from experience causes the caster to be off.
I can't comment on that without knowing what this $1300 repair is.
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Originally Posted by daimler55 View Post
they advised me they are not sure but i would need to do section at a time to narrow it down. so its not a sure thing that replacing these front end parts would fix the problem for sure.
Understood. But if your caster is far out of spec, a good mechanic should usually be able to tell what the issue is without having to replace parts.

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they are telling me there is no mushrooming on the strut tower but possibly there is damage to the shock mounts and shocks themselves from a impact of some sort from their past experience.
This is where I get confused. Either there's damage, or there isn't. The strut mounts are cylindrical pieces of aluminum. If there is deformation from an impact, it should be visible.

Here's a picture of one (I've taken this from the ECS tuning website)



And, the top...



See how you should be able to tell if that's bent just by looking at it?
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Originally Posted by daimler55 View Post
so im not gonna just throw money into something even the dealer is not sure of
I agree. I think maybe explaining the issue to a good indie shop may put you in a better position where they can actually look the car over well and tell you what needs to be replaced without throwing parts at the car and hoping they fix the issue.

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....to explain whats going on, the car will a) vibrate at speeds above 60,
This is most likely a balance issue or bent wheel as mentioned above. It sounds like the car had an impact, so a bent wheel is quite plausible.

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Originally Posted by daimler55 View Post
b) steering wheel has about half inch of play.
This could be due to a lot of things, including: worn front end components (ball joints, tie rods, etc), worn steering guibo, or possibly even the steering rack. Seeing as you replaced the control arms and bushings, that limits the components that could be responsible.
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c) occasionally alignment will pull towards left unless steering is cocked towards 1oclock position on a straight road and when braking. all the work i did on the front end is mentioned in my first post. so thanks for all your replies
If it's ONLY when braking, then you probably have an issue with brakes. But I suspect that if your caster issue is fixed, the car will not pull anymore. Right now, if the caster is uneven between sides, it could cause the car to pull. It could be the brakes, or even RTAB's. But First things first and get the caster issue sorted out. The vibration still sounds like a balance issue to me (bent wheel, or wheel out of balance).
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:19 PM   #13
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well thanks for replying once again....as far the front end i understand what ur saying...i did replace the flex coupler and sway bar end links on it. tie rods are in good shape i was told EVERYTHING in the front end is tight....what BMW DEALER tech is telling me is they cannot tell me exactly whats causing the caster to be off but just from dealing with cars before most of the time its due to the strut and strut mount being bent...i do have bent rims and i have gotten a wheel balancing done on all four rims. the $1300 job they quote me is to replace the struts and strut mounts. as far as the brakes...i just put on akebonos ceramic pads on the car last week. so my frustration comes from the fact that they told me about the caster out of specs after alignment was done and they cant tell me for sure whats causing the problem....so i did go back to them and they are just telling me over n over they cant see what it is exactly but to start with the strut & mounts, if that doesnt do the job, than change something else next
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:59 PM   #14
fiveightandten
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well thanks for replying once again....as far the front end i understand what ur saying...i did replace the flex coupler and sway bar end links on it. tie rods are in good shape i was told EVERYTHING in the front end is tight....what BMW DEALER tech is telling me is they cannot tell me exactly whats causing the caster to be off but just from dealing with cars before most of the time its due to the strut and strut mount being bent...i do have bent rims and i have gotten a wheel balancing done on all four rims. the $1300 job they quote me is to replace the struts and strut mounts. as far as the brakes...i just put on akebonos ceramic pads on the car last week. so my frustration comes from the fact that they told me about the caster out of specs after alignment was done and they cant tell me for sure whats causing the problem....so i did go back to them and they are just telling me over n over they cant see what it is exactly but to start with the strut & mounts, if that doesnt do the job, than change something else next
Man, that's a lot of money. Haha. You're looking at about $500 in parts tops, so that must be about $800 in labor, or around 6 or 6.5 hours, right? That may very well be the book time for the job. But FWIW, you can do this yourself with some $30 spring compressors and normal hand tools in 2 hours or so (that's how long it took me last time I did struts on one of these cars). I'm not sure if you have experience working on the car. But $800 is $800.

If you're going to spend $1300 at the dealer, make sure they install the reinforcement plates.
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Old 10-05-2012, 12:38 AM   #15
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well bmw dealer did the alignment for me...they told me could get the caster to specs because front shocks and front shocks mounts bent....what do u mean when u say "quality alignment"
well theres your answer.
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