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Suspension & Braking Forum by BimmerWorld
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:05 PM   #1
titan05
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Front End Alignment Help

I replaced my front a arms,bushings and end links on our E46 so i had the wife call around about an alignment but most places are saying we have to take it to a bmw deal that they cant do it. Is this true? I seen nothing much different as most other cars. Any help is appreciated
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:26 PM   #2
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Yes, it's true.
These are performance vehicles and the alignment tolerances are specific >

The stock alignment specs on the E46 require the car to be weighted or ballasted: ~150 lbs in each front seat; ~150 lbs in the center of rear seat; ~50 lbs in the trunk, and a full tank of gas. This will cause the car to "squat" quite a bit, which will significantly affect rear camber, and slightly affect toe and front camber. If the car is set to stock alignment specs without the ballast, it'll be wrong, especially the rear camber which will be set way too negative without the ballast.

Some BMW dealerships and specialty shops have newer alignment machines which can figure out the unballasted alignment specs on-the-fly by measuring ride height. Without these specialty machines the shop should use the ballast if they expect to use the stock alignment specs.

To further complicate matters, there are multiple sets of stock specs, depending on your suspension package: standard, sport, or AWD.

Last edited by BimmersGarage; 01-21-2013 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:55 PM   #3
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thanks for the info
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:21 PM   #4
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Thanks for internet BS?? Dealers do a poor job in general and will cheerfully charge an arm and a leg, at least twice what my shop charged $85! Ballast is NOT required! Turner didn't weigh down car! Any competent shop with a good machine can align these cars. If they send you to a dealer, they are incompetent! In 12 years and 183K miles it went once to the dealer and they didn't fix my issue. Have never been back!
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:34 PM   #5
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^
Which dealership(s) are you specifically talking about?

By the way, the info is BMW.

And, it depends on the mechanic's experience and his available equipment.
If a shop was honest enough to say they can not do a proper alignment and that you should take it to a dealer...

I don't see why that's a bad thing or why it would rile you up enough for you to call them incompetent?





Would you rather have them send OP/you to another indy shop/competitor,etc. or just take your money?... knowing all the while they aren't going to get you to proper specs...

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Old 01-22-2013, 06:52 PM   #6
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I just had my 330 aligned today at an independent all-makes shop with a nice laser alignment rack. The shop is aware of the ballast requirements for our cars but they normally guestimate the alignment specs to use without ballast. They don't do a ton of BMWs...

Anyway, when the tech set up the machine, it led him thru menus of body style, selections for standard, sport or rough road suspension, and wheel size, before it presented him with the required spec that matched my Bentley book. It also described checking ride height, recalibrating the steering angle sensor, some other calibrations, etc, that don't apply to my car, and of course, diagrammed the placement of ballast.

Happily, I provided and installed my own ballast - ten 50LB bags of concrete, wrapped in trash bags. Only $32 at Lowes.

So, to answer the above issues, any shop CAN align a BMW. Whether they choose to turn you away, or whether they will take the job and not perform it to spec, or if they do it properly, well, YMMV. I paid $90 and, with a little guidance, got the job done right.

But I do have a question of my own, regarding my Sport Package convertible, stone stock, with 125K miles. My previous tires were Toyos that lasted about 35K. They should have been replaced at least 5K sooner, as one rear tire was thru to cords on the inside. The tread on the outside was decent, and all of them were worn unevenly like this, just not quite thru to cords. I think all the tires could have gone 10K further if the car had a more tire-friendly alignment. I assumed the car had far more negative camber, especially in the rear, than specified. That would explain the tire wear, and correcting it would get me better life out of my new Continental tires. I was surprised to learn I had LESS than the specified negative camber amount. The tech brought it closer to stock, but not to the full 2-point-something degrees.

My ride height, btw, is about 0.6" lower than the spec, which allows a 0.4" deviation.

If you have a mostly stock car with stock alignment, do y'all eat up the inside edges of your tires while the rest of the tire has many miles left? I don't like throwing away $200 worth of tread when the inside edge of my tires goes bald. What will I lose by going to 1 degree negative camber, like a non-sport pack car, instead of 2?

thanks
kevin
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:46 PM   #7
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I was going to say it's NOT true. Any shop can align a BMW. The adjustments are very simple. That doesn't mean the alignment can be done without regard to EXTREME precision. My tech lets me sit in the car and I specify what settings I want.

Front only has ONE adjustment which is the same on ALL CARS via the tierod locknut.

The rear has CAMBER adjustment via eccentric bolt -- AGAIN same on ALL CARS.

Now the unique (YET EASY) rear toe setting is via the rear trailing arm. Three 18mm bolts. VERY easy. Loosen, move wheel to desired toe, then tighten bolts to 54 ft-lbs.

EASY.
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:09 PM   #8
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well called dealer and they are gonna charge $100 to do it so not too bad imo Thanks for all the help
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:55 AM   #9
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Front toe and camber and rear toe and camber are adjustable.
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