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View Full Version : Question about E46 Control Arms.


Sean
01-08-2003, 09:46 PM
Do they have to be replaced as a pair (L&R) or can they be replaced separately?

e28Will
01-08-2003, 10:08 PM
They can be replaced individually, but if you are going to replace one might as well (budget permitting) replace both. If one ball joint is bad, it's probably safe to assume the other one is soon to be bad as well. And also you will only have to pay for one alignment.

:thumbup:

DrBimmer
01-09-2003, 06:58 AM
Originally posted by Sean
Do they have to be replaced as a pair (L&R) or can they be replaced separately?

I assume this is related to a warranty replacement. Initially, they were told to replace both in pairs, but as the number of cars affected started to grow and dealers became weary of the increase in their warranty index (the amount and percentage of warranty work they do), as well as BMW trying to cut back to avoid having a recall, they started to replace only ones that were clearly defective. Also, at one point, they could not be replaced unless the shop foreman or service manager authorized the repair.

They also started trying a similar tactic with the window regulators. That one was quite interesting...

Sean
01-09-2003, 08:33 AM
What a mess!

325xi-SteelGray
01-09-2003, 08:57 AM
I have had 2 sets replaced under warranty and the alignment was included, which it SHOULD be! My car is a June 2000 production.

Good luck!

bmw325
01-09-2003, 09:19 AM
Originally posted by DrBimmer
I assume this is related to a warranty replacement. Initially, they were told to replace both in pairs, but as the number of cars affected started to grow and dealers became weary of the increase in their warranty index (the amount and percentage of warranty work they do), as well as BMW trying to cut back to avoid having a recall, they started to replace only ones that were clearly defective. Also, at one point, they could not be replaced unless the shop foreman or service manager authorized the repair.

They also started trying a similar tactic with the window regulators. That one was quite interesting...

Funny how BMW becomes more confrontational when they actually do have a design defect (M3 motor, regulators, control arms, etc). I wonder when they'll figure out that they'll be far better off in the long run by just treating customers fairly. They have such high profit margins, and these parts cost the comparatively little to produce and install--- why not just be nice to your customers? I think they've managed to build up a fair amount of resentment among their customer base w/ these policies.

Well, personally, I'm glad that no one w/ post 3/01 control arms has responded yet. Fortunately, I haven't had to deal w/ the "dark side" of BMW yet.

Bill97Z
01-09-2003, 09:39 AM
What are the symptoms? My car feels fine at 26K miles......2001 325i

HW
01-09-2003, 09:47 AM
i have an oct/99 build 323 and i worry about having to replace the control arm after the warranty period. :( do people who eventually need to replace the control arms drive their cars hard. i don't tend to drive my car very hard and try to avoid potholes and bumps.

Whohangs
01-09-2003, 10:16 AM
I had to replace mine and the car had just passed the warranty period. :( I do a fair amount of city driving so potholes are unavoidable and probably was the main cause.

In my case, the car was drifting a little and when I turned the wheel to the right while travelling at lower speeds (under 20 mph) I would hear a sound (I don't recall what it sounded like). After replacing the control arms/ball joints both symptoms went away. I had them replaced as a pair.

Artslinger
01-09-2003, 10:40 AM
IMO, replacing the control arms on a 99 or later car under 60,000 miles is way to early.

HW
01-09-2003, 10:44 AM
IMO, one shouldn't have to replace the control arm (period!) well, unless the car was in an accident. regular and even aggressive driving should not cause it to bend. :mad: if it does then it's a poor design :thumbdwn: :confused:

bmw325
01-09-2003, 10:52 AM
Originally posted by Artslinger
IMO, replacing the control arms on a 99 or later car under 60,000 miles is way to early.

well, there was a design probem w/ the pre 3/01 control arms. They tended to fault between 30-50k. They failed in different ways-- sometimes they bent (the new arms are slightly beefier), sometimes the bushings were worn out (the new bushings are slightly bigger from 60mm to 66mm), and sometimes the ball joints went (I don't think anything about the design of the ball joints was changed). Fortunately, I haven't heard from anyone w/ post 3/01 control arms that has a problem.

Artslinger
01-09-2003, 11:05 AM
If I owned a '99 or a '00 BMW I'd probably be thinking about trading the car in on a '04 model. But if I was forced to drop a bundle of cash replacing the front control arms, it would more than likely delay my new car purchase for another 6-12 months.

When car companies play hard ass on repairs and make the customers pay for obvious defects, do they realize it may cost them a new car sale.

teamdfl
01-09-2003, 11:07 AM
Originally posted by robg
well, there was a design probem w/ the pre 3/01 control arms. They tended to fault between 30-50k. They failed in different ways-- sometimes they bent (the new arms are slightly beefier), sometimes the bushings were worn out (the new bushings are slightly bigger from 60mm to 66mm), and sometimes the ball joints went (I don't think anything about the design of the ball joints was changed). Fortunately, I haven't heard from anyone w/ post 3/01 control arms that has a problem.

I had my 9/2000 production control arms replaced under warranty in early 2002 and they are bad again. One ball joint and both control arm bushings are shot.


Ed

Whohangs
01-09-2003, 10:08 PM
I probably should have been more specific, the control arms on my car were fine, it was the ball joints which were bad.

DrBimmer
01-10-2003, 06:28 AM
Originally posted by robg
Fortunately, I haven't had to deal w/ the "dark side" of BMW yet.

Hopefully I'll never have to, either.

My son ("DrBimmer" Jr., occasionally posts under my username) worked at the dealer for a couple of years during high school, and he will probably go back this summer, so I know everyone. He worked in the service department, so I know everything that goes wrong on these cars and get it fixed immediately. Also, I know all the management, all the service advisors and the shop foreman is a good friend of mine. Needless to say, I don't have to deal with the "dark side". I have even met and spoken with the BMW reps before, and they aren't actually that bad... Go figure! ;)

Its also good to go in, tell them what car you want to buy, and have them provide you their best price without having to negociate or haggle. Gotta love RI, where everyone "knows someone in the business". The benefits of the smallest state in the country!

DrBimmer
01-10-2003, 06:36 AM
Originally posted by HW
i have an oct/99 build 323 and i worry about having to replace the control arm after the warranty period. :( do people who eventually need to replace the control arms drive their cars hard. i don't tend to drive my car very hard and try to avoid potholes and bumps.

I don't drive my car hard, and they were shot after 19,000 miles. I got them both replaced and the car aligned before BMW started to crack down on it.

The problem is pretty easy for even a novice to notice. I have seen alot of people around that went to a local gas station for a state safety inspection and they failed the car for having excessive play in the front end. If they can notice it, then the dealer should be able to. Of course, they won't replace anything unless you specifically complain.

Maybe you can take it to an independent garage and have them lift it for you and check them? If they are bad, you want to get them replaced before your warranty ends. The parts are expensive.

bmw325
01-10-2003, 08:31 AM
Originally posted by DrBimmer
Hopefully I'll never have to, either.

My son ("DrBimmer" Jr., occasionally posts under my username) worked at the dealer for a couple of years during high school, and he will probably go back this summer, so I know everyone. He worked in the service department, so I know everything that goes wrong on these cars and get it fixed immediately. Also, I know all the management, all the service advisors and the shop foreman is a good friend of mine. Needless to say, I don't have to deal with the "dark side". I have even met and spoken with the BMW reps before, and they aren't actually that bad... Go figure! ;)

Its also good to go in, tell them what car you want to buy, and have them provide you their best price without having to negociate or haggle. Gotta love RI, where everyone "knows someone in the business". The benefits of the smallest state in the country!

It is nice to have someone "in the business". So, overall do you think BMW cares about customer service--- from an insiders perspective...

I have a 2001 325i that was built 5/01. You mentioned that you know what goes wrong w/ these cars and you get it fixed before it happens. I think I have a pretty good list in my head, but I'd like to run it by you. For my particular car, I can't think of anything that I should have replaced pro-actively.
1. Sunroof won't fully close or open- I think these problems were fixed prior to my build date? Haven't had any issues
2. Window regulators- Again, I think this was fixed before my car was built. My windows to make a squeak when they are first lowered or closed all of the way. Its just the glass contacting the rubber-- not a regulator issue.
3. sticky pedal- already done
4. Thermostat- not applicable
5. cooling fan- not applicable (my car was built w/ the bOsch fan)
6. control arms- not applicbale. Possible that ball joints could go-- I don't think BMW ever addressed their high ball-joint failure issue-but there's nothing i can do about this now.
7. outer door handle problems-- not applicable
8. steering to light- had steering retrofit
9. Cd not ejecting. not applicable (my car doesn't have wood trim which causes the problem)
10. B pillar clicking/rattling. Had it, even though car was built post TSB. Dealer couldn't fix. Fixed myself (mostly) w/ some felt
11. Creaking rear deck: fixed myself w/ some felt. I think the "body flexing noise" that some people complain about is nothing more than the rear deck making noises. Easy to fix w/ some felt.
12. Vanos failing prematurely- I've seen a few cases of this, but I don't think there's anything I can do. There's been no redesign of this unit AFAIK.
13. Driver's door opening while driving- not applicable
14. differential whine- had it. dealer fixed w/ butyl strip insulation on center bearing as per TSB. Slightly worried that I do have a bad diff that I now just don't hear-- but this is the official BMW fix for the diff whining- and it seems that a lot of cars exhibit this. I've heard of cases where people had their diffs replaced and they still heard whining-- so i'm pretty comfortabe w/ the fix i have in place. BEsides, even if my diff is slightly bad, it will probably last another 80k or so (have 13k now).
15. Leather drying out/cracking prematurely: haven't had a problem yet. BMW never acknowledged this as a problem anyway.
16. MDK/EDK (throttle control unit): the older MDK units used to fail-- but my car has the newer DBW EDK. I've also heard of these failing a few times but if they're going to, they seem to fail in the first 5k miles or so.

So, what am I missing?

Bill97Z
01-10-2003, 04:26 PM
My 325i was a south african build in 4/01.

So far I:

Had 2 window regulators replaced - waiting for the other 2 to fail
Thermostat replaced
Final stage resistor replaced in climate system
CD's eject slow, but I can live with that
Aux fan replaced twice.

Never had any sticky pedal stuff or anything like that...

I do have that idle problem I posted the other day, where the rpm's fall too quick and it almost stalls when I push the clutch in while stopping......no dealer knows how to fix it...........

DrBimmer
01-10-2003, 04:57 PM
Originally posted by robg
It is nice to have someone "in the business". So, overall do you think BMW cares about customer service--- from an insiders perspective...

BMW does in fact care quite a bit, and they do a decent job most of the time, but usually when the screw up its a big one... (S54 engine issue, etc)

I would say the most important thing these days is the relationship you have with your BMW center. It is crucial to have a solid relationship with the service advisor you deal with, and it doesn't hurt to know the service manager. If you ever have any problems in the future, it will ultimately be these people that will help you out. It is also important to have a full service history with the dealer during the warranty period, and if anything is done elsewhere, to have full documentation. BMW has an excellent "good-will" assistance program and every year spends a fortune on covering repairs after cars are out of warranty. To benefit from this, you need to work with the dealer as they will have to submit the proper forms to their field rep and the warranty department. If you don't have a good relationship with them, you are out of luck. Also, BMW often asks to see the service history. It does help if you have been a paying customer and kept going to the dealer for service visits after your Full Maintenance expired, for example. They are especially generous on common problem areas, like window regulators, control arms, hvac final stage resistors and other repairs.

The one area that they compromise in is one that all manufacturers compromise in, and that is watching the bottom line. When they see a problem start to pop up repeatedly, they fear the dreaded recall and go into defense mode.

As far as your list goes, it is very comprehensive, and it includes most (if not all) of the complaints I have seen on your model. The E46, while suffering from several minor glitches, has been relatively free of expensive problems (if you ignore the S54 issue). Previous models have had much more expensive problems, such as the bad radiators and cats on 540s and 740s, the bad fuel pumps on the 95 740s.

bmw325
01-10-2003, 07:42 PM
Originally posted by DrBimmer
BMW does in fact care quite a bit, and they do a decent job most of the time, but usually when the screw up its a big one... (S54 engine issue, etc)

I would say the most important thing these days is the relationship you have with your BMW center. It is crucial to have a solid relationship with the service advisor you deal with, and it doesn't hurt to know the service manager. If you ever have any problems in the future, it will ultimately be these people that will help you out. It is also important to have a full service history with the dealer during the warranty period, and if anything is done elsewhere, to have full documentation. BMW has an excellent "good-will" assistance program and every year spends a fortune on covering repairs after cars are out of warranty. To benefit from this, you need to work with the dealer as they will have to submit the proper forms to their field rep and the warranty department. If you don't have a good relationship with them, you are out of luck. Also, BMW often asks to see the service history. It does help if you have been a paying customer and kept going to the dealer for service visits after your Full Maintenance expired, for example. They are especially generous on common problem areas, like window regulators, control arms, hvac final stage resistors and other repairs.

The one area that they compromise in is one that all manufacturers compromise in, and that is watching the bottom line. When they see a problem start to pop up repeatedly, they fear the dreaded recall and go into defense mode.

As far as your list goes, it is very comprehensive, and it includes most (if not all) of the complaints I have seen on your model. The E46, while suffering from several minor glitches, has been relatively free of expensive problems (if you ignore the S54 issue). Previous models have had much more expensive problems, such as the bad radiators and cats on 540s and 740s, the bad fuel pumps on the 95 740s.

Cool. Thanks for your perspective. Speaking of radiators, how are the radiators on the e46? I know the big problem w/ the e39 and e38 were the plastic radiator necks. Doesn't the e46 use a similar design? I haven't heard of e46 radiators failing, but then again, this part usually failed around 100k on the 740s and 540s IIRC. The final stage that Bill97Z mentioned is another big one that I forgot on my list. Fortunately, this seems to fail well before the warranty ends if its going to do so. Also glad to hear that goodwill service is so prevalent. My only problem is that I really dislike all of my area dealers. I wouldn't even know where to begin making a "relationship" with them since I've despised nearly everyone I've dealt with. I've tried being very nice, understanding, bringing donuts, being on time for appointments, not arguing even when they're wrong, chatting w/ them, etc.. All I get are gruff and rude responses. Makes it very hard to stomach the idea of building a "relatiionship" or even knowing how to. :dunno: also, I always give 5's on the surveys even if I hated the experience because I know that the negative feedback won't be construed constructively and will ultiamtely hurt me more than them if I have to use them again. Maybe I should bring my car to Rhode Island for servicing...

Maybe its like some sort of hazing process--- if you put up with enough of their **** for long enough they'll eventually throw you a bone. I've yet to have a dealer do anything right the 1st time (or even the 5th time for that matter), even oil changes. I doubt i'd last that long-- or my car in their hands. If you know of a good dealer in the NY/NJ/CT area, please let me know. I've tried:
Difeo BMW
GReenwich BMW
Continental BMW of Darien
Westchester BMW (one of the worst)
Pace BMW

I don't want to go to Long Island for servicing, or deep into New Jersey. Thanks for your help and support!

Artslinger
01-10-2003, 08:01 PM
I give them bad survey responses because they manage to screw up something every time I bring my car in. That's probably why they treat me like crap, its a catch22. Sometimes I feel like I'm being sucked down a big black hole to a service netherworld.

DrBimmer
01-10-2003, 08:06 PM
Originally posted by robg
My only problem is that I really dislike all of my area dealers. I wouldn't even know where to begin making a "relationship" with them since I've despised nearly everyone I've dealt with. I've tried being very nice, understanding, bringing donuts, being on time for appointments, not arguing even when they're wrong, chatting w/ them, etc.. All I get are gruff and rude responses. Makes it very hard to stomach the idea of building a "relatiionship" or even knowing how to. :dunno:

I think one of the biggest problems is that there is such a gap in the level of service people here are receiving. Some can't give their dealers enough praise, while others have trouble finding one within a 100 mile radius that won't screw up every time. I think BMW needs to address this issue, maybe with some national survey to see where the problem areas are in certain dealers (sales, service, parts, body shops, etc) and then work to improve the problem areas so that all the dealers are on an equal ground and all customers can get the same level of service.

Sorry to hear that you are the latter and not the former in the above example. I am familiar with the Boston Metro area, but I don't know much about the dealers in the NYC region.

Top dealers in the the Boston market, FYI, are the following:
1. Automaster (VT)
2. Newport AutoCenter (RI)
3. Inskip AutoCenter (RI)
(2 and 3 belong to the same company, Newport is smaller and does less volume, hence a slightly higher level of service per customer)

The actual Boston dealers are much farther down on the list.


So, if you want to take a ride up, you *might* get lucky. Then again, you might be the unlucky one.

bmw325
01-10-2003, 08:17 PM
Originally posted by DrBimmer
I think one of the biggest problems is that there is such a gap in the level of service people here are receiving. Some can't give their dealers enough praise, while others have trouble finding one within a 100 mile radius that won't screw up every time. I think BMW needs to address this issue, maybe with some national survey to see where the problem areas are in certain dealers (sales, service, parts, body shops, etc) and then work to improve the problem areas so that all the dealers are on an equal ground and all customers can get the same level of service.

Sorry to hear that you are the latter and not the former in the above example. I am familiar with the Boston Metro area, but I don't know much about the dealers in the NYC region.

Top dealers in the the Boston market, FYI, are the following:
1. Automaster (VT)
2. Newport AutoCenter (RI)
3. Inskip AutoCenter (RI)
(2 and 3 belong to the same company, Newport is smaller and does less volume, hence a slightly higher level of service per customer)

The actual Boston dealers are much farther down on the list.


So, if you want to take a ride up, you *might* get lucky. Then again, you might be the unlucky one.

I guess the general rule is: the larger the market, the poorer the service.

Any idea on e46 radiators? Are they plastic? Any known failures?