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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 05-25-2013, 12:16 AM   #1
DylanFulton7
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Question Adjusting TC Kline Coils...

So when I purchased my car last year it was fitted with a set of TC Kline coilovers ( http://www.tcklineracing.com/webdocs.../Details18.cfm ) The height was good for the winter but I now want to lower it since the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Since this is my first time dealing with coils I'm not quite sure where to start After searching I haven't been able to come up with anything that I've found to be reasonably useful. I spoke with one of the reps from TC Kline on the phone and he sent me a specs sheet for "optimal" settings for either street or track use. This is helpful but if I don't know how to properly adjust the suspension it's pretty much useless to me. Anyhow if anyone has experience dealing with this kit please give me some pointers. Thanks!

P.S. Please excuse the newb question...
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Old 05-25-2013, 12:45 AM   #2
Drew@Swift Motorworks
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It's pretty simple just use the supplied wrench to spin the spring perches. I think in a pinch you could use channel locks or lube it up with wd-40/pb blaster and you can probably spin them by hand. Just count the threads and measure measure measure to make sure you get the height right.
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:03 AM   #3
fiveightandten
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To adjust them properly?

You will need the following:
-A large ruler (24" or so) that measures at least down to 1/8" increments,
-A small ruler that measures down to 32nds, or at least 16ths
-A level
-Some painter's tape
-A sharpie.

1) Get the car on completely level ground. Ie. a poured garage floor.
2) Disconnect the sway bars. One side off will do.
3) Put some painters tape over the center area of each fender/quarter panel
4) Put the level up against your ruler, position the ruler with one end in the middle of the roundel on a wheel. Tilt it upright until the level indicates that it's perfectly straight. Mark that point on the fender with a sharpie. Repeat for the other 3 wheels/fenders. Any time you make a ride height measurement, make sure the ruler is on those points.
5) Measure each corner and write down the ride heights.
6) Spin the ride height adjusters in the front down the amount you want the front end to drop. I recommend using the small ruler and measuring the perch.
7) Spin the ride height adjusters in the rear down in a smaller increment. Remember that the motion ratio for the rear spring is not the same as the wheel because the spring is inboard.
8) Put the car back on the ground, drive it back about 25 feet, then forward again.
9) Measure your heights again.
10) Repeat this process until you have the heights you want. Re-check every wheel every time you change any wheel. Write down every change. If you don't, you'll wish you did.
11) Connect your sway bars. If the links don't line up with the holes, you need adjustable links.
12) Drive the car for a while, come back, see what has shifted (most likely just the rear) and readjust to compensate.

Keep the following things in mind:
1) Changing the height at any one corner will throw all the others off.
2) The goal is to get the weight distributed evenly at all 4 corners, though some forward or rearward bias may be desired. You will not really know how the weight balance is, but measure the rake between front and rear by measuring under the rocker panel so you have a rough idea (front and rear fenders are not comparable, so you can't go by those).
3) When you sit in the car, the driver's side will sag a little more than the passenger side. The stock car is probably staggered to compensate for this (other BMW's are, but i've never checked my E46). You can predict how much your weight will make the car sag if you know your spring rates, and stagger the sides to compensate. On my E36 M3, my driver's side is slightly less than 1/8" higher than the passanger side for this reason. On that car, the stock suspension is 1/4" higher. Lower spring rates mean more sag under the same weight.
4) Setting coilover ride height by eye with a ruler is a faulted process to begin with. The car really should be corner balanced to get it perfect. So make your measurements as accurate as you possibly can in order to minimize the error, paying particular attention to changes when you re-adjust, and attention to the rake.
5) This is not something you do in 5 minutes. Many people just spin the adjusters without really measuring things. To do this right will take a few hours, and numerous times of putting the car up and down, and backing it in and out to settle things.
6) Certain bushings on the car are designed to be at a position of rest when the car is at its normal ride height. When you lower the car, you twist them. This wears them prematurely and binds things up a bit. You can re-preload the RTAB's and some of the bushings in the rear subframe to compensate for this. You will need to get the car aligned again anyways, so i'd recommend pre-loading the RTAB's at your new ride height (as you can't take the carrier down without an alignment).

Hope that helps.
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Last edited by fiveightandten; 05-25-2013 at 01:19 AM.
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Old 05-25-2013, 09:01 PM   #4
DylanFulton7
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Very informative indeed, as I said in my post I'm relatively new to adjusting coilovers so when I look at my front set I see only 2 adjustment rings where on most I've seen there is 3 (2 at the top and 1 at the bottom) It is my understanding the the 2 top rings adjust rebound, spring rate, etc and the bottom ring adjusts the ride height. Seeing as I only have the 2 rings at the top I'm lost when it comes to setting my ride height... Again please excuse the newb question, I feel like a fool asking this...
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:04 PM   #5
fiveightandten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DylanFulton7 View Post
Very informative indeed, as I said in my post I'm relatively new to adjusting coilovers so when I look at my front set I see only 2 adjustment rings where on most I've seen there is 3 (2 at the top and 1 at the bottom) It is my understanding the the 2 top rings adjust rebound, spring rate, etc and the bottom ring adjusts the ride height. Seeing as I only have the 2 rings at the top I'm lost when it comes to setting my ride height... Again please excuse the newb question, I feel like a fool asking this...
There are 2 collars under the spring that serve to adjust the ride height. The top collar also serves as the lower spring perch. You adjust the top collar to the desired ride height, and spin the bottom one up so the 2 collars lock against one another. This way they do not move. When you are done adjusting, make them TIGHT against one another.

If you have the SA kit, you have adjustable rebound. This is adjusted by spinning the adjuster on the top of the strut shaft. The kit comes with a little tool from Koni to do this. I'm not sure if that was passed on to you. If not, you can gently use a pair of pliers to adjust.

Spring rate is not something that is adjusted. It is determined by the springs you're running. There's no knob you can turn that changes the spring rate. The only way to alter the spring rate is to get different springs.

If you're unsure of any of this, I would not recommend changing anything until you feel that you understand it fully, or have someone with you that does. Coilovers are for users that require a high degree of adjustability from their suspension. If you're not familiar with spring rate, compression, rebound, ride height, sway bars, end links, etc. you may be a bit lost trying to set the car up. When lowering it, you'll have to adjust the rebound, likely have to mess with the sway bar end links (i'm assuming they're adjustable) and make sure everything is working in harmony so the car handles and rides properly.

I'm not trying to discourage you. But the car presumably rides and handles properly now. If you don't adjust things properly, that could very well change for the worst. Also, be advised that lowering the ride height will make the car ride stiffer.

Hope that helps. If you're slightly shaky on things, I can do my best to clarify. But if this is all way over your head, i'd recommend doing some reading on suspension setup before touching any of the adjustments on the car.
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:26 PM   #6
DylanFulton7
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I've attached the sheet that was sent to me from TC Kline showing what the best combination of adjustments would be. I do have the small tool from Koni that you mentioned, when I attempted to tackle the job of adjusting the coils the other day the collars seemed to be extremely difficult to twist. Being in Canada this could be from sand, salt and other road debris being splashed up from my tires, that being said I was having a very difficult time with even getting the collar to complete a full rotation, I didn't want to force it to much and end up mangling the adjustment slots on the collar.
i did give it a good soak with some WD-40 to attempt to loosen them up a bit but with no success. It's quite frustrating because with the car up on jack stands and weight completely off of the suspension I'm able to spin the spring itself freely but the top collar won't budge.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf BMW E46 SET-UP GUIDE.pdf (331.7 KB, 33 views)
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:47 PM   #7
fiveightandten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DylanFulton7 View Post
I've attached the sheet that was sent to me from TC Kline showing what the best combination of adjustments would be. I do have the small tool from Koni that you mentioned, when I attempted to tackle the job of adjusting the coils the other day the collars seemed to be extremely difficult to twist. Being in Canada this could be from sand, salt and other road debris being splashed up from my tires, that being said I was having a very difficult time with even getting the collar to complete a full rotation, I didn't want to force it to much and end up mangling the adjustment slots on the collar.
i did give it a good soak with some WD-40 to attempt to loosen them up a bit but with no success. It's quite frustrating because with the car up on jack stands and weight completely off of the suspension I'm able to spin the spring itself freely but the top collar won't budge.
Are you holding one collar in place and spinning the other away from it so they spin freely? If so, and they're seized up...

Forget WD40. Take a ride out and pick up these items:
-Wire brush (hardware store)
-PB Blaster (auto parts store)
-Brake parts cleaner (auto parts store)
-Spray on chain wax (bike shop)

Spray PB blaster around the collars. Saturate the area where they touch the strut housing.

Use the wire brush to gently clean the threading on the strut housing so there isn't any grit or debris in there. Don't scrub any harder than you need to. If there are stubborn pieces of debris in there, gently remove it by sliding a butter knife or utility knife in the threading slot. Hose the threads down with brake cleaner to clean them off and spin the collars down to the bottom. make sure everything is nice and clean, and liberally hose it down with brake cleaner.

After you're done making your adjustments, coat the threaded area with chain wax. This is optional, but you want something that will coat the threads and protect them from dirt or corrosion. They do make sprays specifically for coilover adjusters, but it's not likely something you can find locally. You can order it online if you want.
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:53 PM   #8
fiveightandten
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Oh, BTW, the TCK setup sheet isn't the best guide. It doesn't take into account which springs you have (they make short and tall), and to be honest, having the perch at the bottom of the threading is far too low for the street IMO (if you're running short springs). Also, the strut mounts you have (stock vs camber plates) can make a 1/2" difference or more in the ride height. There are just too many variables to say, "spin the perch to the bottom and leave it". That's just silly. I love my TCK setup, but when I saw that sheet, the only thing I used it for was to take notes on the other side of the page when I was setting my ride heights.

Their recommended rebound adjustment is spot on for lower rate springs, but you'll need more rebound dampening for stiffer springs. It's kind of a fit-all sheet, and you can do a lot better if you understand what you're doing.

There is a lot to take into account. You really should measure the total travel of the strut/shock and see where you are at while at a given ride height and make sure you're not running out of droop travel, or bottoming the bump travel out while driving (I want to say it's 2 1/2" total travel IIRC). The latter is not likely with this kit, but still possible. You said your spring isn't pre-loaded with the car in the air, so you're not running out of droop as it is now. Lowering it will be fine on that end, so you just have to make sure you won't bottom the damper out.
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Last edited by fiveightandten; 05-25-2013 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:49 PM   #9
DylanFulton7
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Adjusting TC Kline Coils...

I should have all of that laying around in the garage so I'll give it a shot for cleaning them up better. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who thought the TCK guide seemed a little odd. Even with my limited knowledge of coilovers the numbers looked a little to broad to be the "ideal" set up for everyone. As for the rear ride height from what I've read it seems to be pretty straight forward to raise or lower the height, that being said what do I use to spin the collar? Is it just an Allen key that I loosen then I should be able to just spin by hand?


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Old 05-26-2013, 11:20 AM   #10
fiveightandten
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Adjusting TC Kline Coils...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DylanFulton7 View Post
I should have all of that laying around in the garage so I'll give it a shot for cleaning them up better. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who thought the TCK guide seemed a little odd. Even with my limited knowledge of coilovers the numbers looked a little to broad to be the "ideal" set up for everyone. As for the rear ride height from what I've read it seems to be pretty straight forward to raise or lower the height, that being said what do I use to spin the collar? Is it just an Allen key that I loosen then I should be able to just spin by hand?


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You may or may not have a set screw holding the rear adjusters in place. If you do, then yes, loosen that so you can spin them.

I used a strap wrench to adjust my rear ride height adjusters. You can use an old belt or something similar. Anything that wraps around it easily and doesn't scratch it up. It's not difficult to spin when the rear is off the ground. Especially when going down.

Again, don't forget that the spring is inboard with respect to the wheel. So any change in the ride height collar will yield a larger change at the wheel. Lowering the collar 1/4" lowers the actual ride height more than 1/4".

Rear springs tend to settle a bit. Don't be alarmed by one or 2 nasty clunks when you first pull the car out after getting it on the ground. But they should settle quickly, and you can check the height to make sure it didn't shift.


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Old 05-26-2013, 11:45 AM   #11
DylanFulton7
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Well thanks a lot for the insight, I feel much more confident about doing the job. It's supposed to be nice out tomorrow so maybe I'll see if I can free up the front collars and get this going. I'll post on here if I run into any issues or have a question. Again, thanks so much
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:02 PM   #12
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It worked like a charm! My height is set and it's rolling smoothly. Thanks a lot for all of the help
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Old 05-30-2013, 12:12 AM   #13
fiveightandten
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Adjusting TC Kline Coils...

Good to hear. Enjoy!


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