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TD
12-20-2002, 08:15 AM
ARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!

My car fiasco continues.

Quick backstory...

A few weeks back, prior to my car being vandalized, I made an appointment at a local BMW-only shop to have my front Konis installed. I took it in and THEY DID NOT GET TO IT that day. The next day I had an appointment scheduled at Sterling BMW to address my rough idle ECU issue and front end vibration so I didn't want to leave it for them to finish it the next day.

So I reschedule (grudgingly). Sterling diagnoses that the vibration is due to shot control arm bushings and suggests I go aftermarket rather than have them put in OEMs. Cool. I order aftermarket bushings that night.

When I go back to the BMW-only shop the next week, I ask them to install my Konis and my control arm bushings. In the interim, the vandalism occurred and I scheduled body shop time. The body shop is scheduled for the day after the Koni/bushing install.

Well, I take it in that day AND THEY DON'T FINISH. They only got the Konis in but the bushings are not in and they don't align it.

So home I go with the steering wheel cocked and I'm off to the body shop the next morning. It takes until the day before the newly scheduled follow-up appointment for the body shop to finish.

So after I pick up the car from the body shop, the next morning it's back to the BMW-only repair shop to finish the work. That evening, things were supposedly all done.

But, now, a week later, my steering wheel is all of about 1.5 inches off center. It has gradually worsened over the course of the week.

So I call the BMW-only shop this morning at 7:30. I ask can they get me in for an alignment while I wait. They tell me the alignment rack board is empty and it should be no problem.

I get there shortly after 8 and I am told (BY THE SAME PERSON) that there are now 3 people ahead of me and they had appointments, so they would not be able to get to my car today even if I were to leave it.

I should add that this shop is significantly out of my way and a PITA to get to. My little detour this morning cost me about 45 minutes.

As I type this, I am scheduled (WITH AN APPOINTMENT) to have the car aligned there Monday. But I am furious and really don't care to go back there. And from our exchange, I think they are going to try to charge me again for the re-alignment.

Meanwhile, there is a Goodyear shop around the corner from my office that has a Hunter alignment machine (I called), would charge me $10 less, and would have no problem getting it done today.

What would you do?

webguy330i
12-20-2002, 08:29 AM
Personally I would have it aligned at the dealership. DO NOT go to Goodyear. I have had too many bad alignments and experiences with these private/non-job-specific shops in the past. At least at the dealership you would have been able to raise enough hell to get it taken care of by now, even if you did pay $100 for it.

webguy330i
12-20-2002, 08:30 AM
BTW I should state that after 26k miles I still haven't aligned my car, and it still drives just like the day I picked it up! :thumbup:

TD
12-20-2002, 08:31 AM
Originally posted by webguy330i
Personally I would have it aligned at the dealership. DO NOT go to Goodyear. I have had too many bad alignments and experiences with these private/non-job-specific shops in the past. At least at the dealership you would have been able to raise enough hell to get it taken care of by now, even if you did pay $100 for it.

Why would a BMW alignment be any more difficult?

TD
12-20-2002, 08:32 AM
Originally posted by webguy330i
BTW I should state that after 26k miles I still haven't aligned my car, and it still drives just like the day I picked it up! :thumbup:

If you have your front shocks replaced, you need an alignment.

31st330i
12-20-2002, 08:37 AM
Originally posted by TD
If you have your front shocks replaced, you need an alignment.

why is that?

webguy330i
12-20-2002, 08:38 AM
Originally posted by TD
If you have your front shocks replaced, you need an alignment.

No way, really?????

Anyhow, who said anything about the BMW alignment being more difficult? If anything it will be easier because they will actually honor your service appointment and you will have a guarantee on the work! Just suck it up, accept the loss since you already paid for one alignment, and get the F out of that little **** shop you're working with.

webguy330i
12-20-2002, 08:41 AM
Originally posted by 31st330i
why is that?

When you replace any suspension component, you should (although not technically REQUIRED) get an alignment. As the car naturally ages, the alignment will adjust slightly (very) depending on the component wear, shocks and springs being basically the two major components. It's especially proper to do if you only replace 1 shock, or 3, rather than 2 (in pairs, front or rear) or all 4. Think of it as a suspension "recalibration" if you will.

ff
12-20-2002, 08:41 AM
I'd trust an independent shop long before I'd ever trust Goodyear with my car (a few poor experiences with them in the past). Never been a big fan of chain shops like Goodyear, NTB, Tireplus, or whatever else. They're too likely to hire green-horn mechanics and inexperienced "help".

bmw325
12-20-2002, 08:47 AM
Originally posted by TD
Why would a BMW alignment be any more difficult?

It wouldn't be. But, I do think BWMs tend to be more sensitive to aligment settings than many other cars. From what i've read and seen, BMWs are relatively easy cars to align-- but for some adjustments (like rear camber and toe, its very helpful to have some special BMW tools). Setting the front toe, is of course, easy since you just adjust the tie rods. I'm not sure how they adjust front camber on an e36--i assume its with shims of some sort. I actually think the dealership is just as likely to screw up your alignment as the goodyear shop. But, for just a a $10 difference I'd go with the dealer since, as another poster pointed out, you'll probably have better luck raising hell if they don't do it right. If you're really lucky, and you have a really good dealership, they'll have a German alignment machine called a Beissbarth. This is the machine that BMW shops in Germany use and what BMW recommends. If they have this machine, i'd definitely use the dealer.

Regardless of what you do, make sure you get the alignment printouts showing the before and after, the acceptable range and the alignment settings.

Ausgang
12-20-2002, 08:52 AM
Originally posted by ff
I'd trust an independent shop long before I'd ever trust Goodyear with my car (a few poor experiences with them in the past). Never been a big fan of chain shops like Goodyear, NTB, Tireplus, or whatever else. They're too likely to hire green-horn mechanics and inexperienced "help".

I agree with ff here. You want a shop that has not only good equipment but a guy dedicated to alignments. Someone who considers himself a specialist and a notch above the average oil change, brake change, muffler guy. A good independent BMW shop or at least a specialist in German cars. (I wouldn't even trust a chain shop to tighten the lugnuts properly when done.)

TD, the fact that the steering is CHANGING worries me. When they do it wrong, it tends to stay wrong exactly the same way. i.e. steering wheel not aligned, a tug to the right, or whatever. The fact that yours has changed suggests something isn't tightened properly and is loosening under way.

AF
12-20-2002, 10:30 AM
My experience with my past alignements have been that for some reason, no one can get it right EXCEPT for the dealer . . . I don't know if this applies to the E36 but on the E46 there are requirements such as a certain amount of weight needs to be put on the seats . . . rob can tell you more about this. I am sure most shops do not know to do this.

When I had the alignment done on my Coupe after the steering retrofit I asked the dealer to make sure that the steering wheel was straight . . . nto only did they do that pefectly but they also got the alignment correct the first time.

Bottom line . . . suck it up and take it to the dealer

The HACK
12-20-2002, 10:46 AM
1) Suspension change != Alignment needed. If you are only changing out for OEM spec shock and/or springs, and NO TIE ROD adjustment is made you do not need alignment. there's an alignment pin on the top mount of the strut tower that aligns the suspension for you. Now, if the lower control arm is removed (need to remove tie rod), spring is shorter, or the strut is shorter then an alignment is absolutely NECESSARY.

2) BMW alignment IS more difficult than any other brand, if you have any of the later models equipped with DSC. DSC system includes a YAW sensor and steering angle sensor. Both of these needs to be reset and re-calibrated after an alignment...If you don't reset these the DSC system may be reading in-accurate readings and may kick in at unexpected times. However, since TD's car does not have DSC he does not need to worry about going to a BMW specific shop.

Magna
12-20-2002, 10:51 AM
i brought it back to the dealer after they replaced front control arms (worn out bushing problem just like you) with a cocked steering wheel. it's still cocked expect in the other direction. i am wondering if i should bring it back again to have it fixed. it's not dead-on center, but it's not bad either. i wonder if it's worth the hassle. it could be worse that it is now. that's why i asked in another thread whether it's difficult to correct a cocked steering wheel.

TD
12-20-2002, 10:56 AM
Originally posted by Magna
i brought it back to the dealer after they replaced front control arms (worn out bushing problem just like you) with a cocked steering wheel. it's still cocked expect in the other direction. i am wondering if i should bring it back again to have it fixed. it's not dead-on center, but it's not bad either. i wonder if it's worth the hassle. it could be worse that it is now. that's why i asked in another thread whether it's difficult to correct a cocked steering wheel.

Well, with me, there is a pull to the right if I release the steering wheel. So things are screwed up beyond just the tie rods.

What I can tell you is that there is a position marked on the steering column where the wheel atteaches that indicates where the wheel should be positioned. While you could, technically, take off the wheel, move it and put it back, all in less than 15 minutes doing it yourself, I do not think that would be a good idea. The fact that's it's off center means that something IS wrong.

In my case, I just don't feel like dealing with this shop AGAIN. And the only decent dealers in the area are very inconvenient (I will not go back to VOB).

AF
12-20-2002, 12:04 PM
Originally posted by TD
Well, with me, there is a pull to the right if I release the steering wheel. So things are screwed up beyond just the tie rods.



I know a lot of people (like Rob) don't agree with this but I truly beleive that when any component of a car is changed, your car needs to break-in.

When I first got my Coupe back from the dealer after the retrofit, I had a slight pulling in the rear, it was a strange feeling and I thought the rear alignment was off. After about 500 miles of driving, my car tracked very well and no longer had THAT feeling.

When I first got my 330i over a month ago, it felt like it pulled to the left . . . 800 miles later, it tracks straight.

I am a serious beleiver in driving your car at least 500 miles after doing ANYTHING, Even if you did no suspension work and all you were doing is to get an alignment, your tires would then need the 500 miles to break in to the new settings.

bmw325
12-20-2002, 04:08 PM
Originally posted by The HACK
1) Suspension change != Alignment needed. If you are only changing out for OEM spec shock and/or springs, and NO TIE ROD adjustment is made you do not need alignment. there's an alignment pin on the top mount of the strut tower that aligns the suspension for you. Now, if the lower control arm is removed (need to remove tie rod), spring is shorter, or the strut is shorter then an alignment is absolutely NECESSARY.

Good points.


2) BMW alignment IS more difficult than any other brand, if you have any of the later models equipped with DSC. DSC system includes a YAW sensor and steering angle sensor. Both of these needs to be reset and re-calibrated after an alignment...If you don't reset these the DSC system may be reading in-accurate readings and may kick in at unexpected times. However, since TD's car does not have DSC he does not need to worry about going to a BMW specific shop.
I've never heard this before. Where did you read this? But this is an interesting point-- if the tie rods were adjusted unqeually (causing the steering wheel to be off-center in a straight-ahead poistion), this could conceviably cause a problem. And, if the steering wheel were removed and re-positioned, the steering angle sensor (which is mounted on the steering column I think) would still be out of whack. Interesting

JPinTO
12-20-2002, 04:39 PM
I've has 2 suspension swaps in 70k miles.

OEM shocks+UUC Springs

Eibach Shock+Eibach Springs

Both installs done by non-BMW "import"-style speed shop. Both times they checked the alignment by hand (no fancy dancy machine) and I have perfect alignment.

- JP

sp330i
12-24-2002, 03:13 PM
Funny, BMW says a re-alignment isn't necessary after replacement of the control arm bushings via the Service Bulletin issued earlier in the year. That was straight from a regional rep, but we both agreed that was horse pucky. Anytime you disassemble any part of the front suspension, you should definitely re-align the car.

As far as where to take it. I'd recommend you find a good garage that specializes in BMWs but is not the dealer. After two failed attempts at correcting my alighnment from my dealer after my retrofit, my local BMW specialist (not the dealer) finally got it right.

Good luck TD - alignment issues can be a pain in the ars :thumbdwn:

nate
12-24-2002, 04:39 PM
My advice: Go for as much front negative camber as you can ;)

The 328Ci can take -0.8 and that's what I'm having it set to :thumbup:

JLee
12-24-2002, 09:46 PM
TD

i've been running into the same problem, after my suspension install my car pulls to the right. i even brought it Currys and the guy aligned it in 20 minutes, i was in and out.

i would recommend curry's, you can get in and out but it costs as much as a dealer alignment. the ashburn facility has the newest machines. also i forget who else is there, but don't deal with chris, while hes a nice guy he quotes higher that the other dudes there

BUT all that said, i walked out still with a pull to the right, apparently my front camber is off by a hair and i do have a slight pull. i've been debating whether to go to a dealer and see if they can fix it. everything i've read says camber can't be fixed up front without plates. they did put everything else into spec....

i would say that i've heard tischer can do good alignments and maybe bmw arlington, at the last NCC DIY session there i got to know the tech guys and they really know their ****

jeff