Handling / Steering Advice. Twitchy Handling - Alignment?
I've got a 2008 325d in Germany. Car is a I6 diesel with an automatic. I purchased it about 6 months ago used, when work took me from the US to Germany. Car has 50k km (31,000 miles) on it. So it isn't old and beat up by any stretch.
With that said, I still to this day am not completely satisfied with the way this car drives, and I'm trying to find out why. As some background, I have driven many many BMWs over the last 15 years. Late 90's 7 and 5 series (the 97 540i was still my all time fav car), 2003 7 series (hated it, but not mine), 2 E90 sedans (06 & 07) and a 2011 5 series.
My mother owns the 2006 330i. It is a brilliant machine. It makes me feel like the best driver on the planet when I'm home for holidays or vacations. Perfect in corners, and 100% dead steady straight on the interstate. I love driving that car.
A friend in Germany has a 318i, 07. Driven it a bit as well. Really, feels nearly identical to my mother's car in the handling department (power....not even close)
Both these cars have the very very "heavy" steering feel. That's what I have always loved about BMWs. Part of the reason I decided to also get an E90. I know them, I love them, they are in my price range.
So, I decided to purchase mine. I did notice on the test drive that my car's steering was noticeably lighter. That's OK, not a deal breaker, just a bummer. So I got the car.
My biggest problem though, is this car just doesn't track 100% dead steady straight on the Autobahn at any speed - reasonable or crazy fast. Where the 06 330i and 07 318i are rock steady even at 100+mph, with nearly zero correction of the wheel required, my car feels like it is all over the road. I am constantly making small adjustments back and forth on the wheel at similar speeds. The nose of the car seems incredibly "twitchy", nowhere near the arrow-straight drive of those other 2 cars. The smallest crosswind or passing another car causes my car to change direction, and more back and forth with my hands to keep the car straight. It is highly annoying, does not deliver confidence, and after awhile actually gets tiring.
I'm really annoyed with it. I can deal with the lighter steering effort of my car, but I expect a BMW to go down the highway dead perfect, like the other E90s. It simply does not. I would in fact say that my old 2008 VW GTI in the USA tracked better and more solidly than my car does. It is a very un-BMW feel.
I've checked tire pressures (spot on recommended levels), had wheels balanced, looked at by tire shops, etc., everything seems fine.
The car performs this way on summer V or Z rated tires and on my performance winter tires. So I don't think it is a tire problem.
Tire wear is even. however, I'm considering having an alignment done on the car with the hope that might settle it down a bit.
Does anyone have experiences like this? Alignment worth doing even if tire wear is OK?
Is there anything else I need to look into? Anything in the suspension that could be worn that would cause this kind of feel?
Just really want to settle the car down and get rid of this extreme twitchy-ness.
As a somewhat related question, did BMW switch to electric power steering for my model year (my car is pre-facelift/LCI)? Or do all the diesel cars have the electric power steering? Or is is possible I have hydraulic power steering but BMW increased the assist for 2008 or the diesel engines? It is what it is, but I'm curious why my steering is so different from the 06 and 07 gasser cars.
And if all the new 3ers have the steering feel and lightness of my car, hate to say, but that is a big loss in my mind. The old heavy steering and the feel and steady tracking it delivered were (in addition to rear drive and straight 6's), possibly the top reason why I loved driving BMWs over anything else. Nothing could touch it. My current car simply does NOT feel like that any more. Yes it drives nice, but there is very little difference in feel between it and various other cars I've driven the last few years. If they've gotten rid of one of those distinguishing features, I may very well find myself considering other brands for future purchases. I'd always wanted a BMW, finally could pay cash for this one, I love it here in Germany, but it just does not have the brilliance of my mother's 330i. Really a big bummer, especially if you cannot find that feel in any 3 series any more....(I know my heavy diesel 6 also affects handling....i can definitely tell it is more front heavy than her gas I6).
Anyway, long post. My apologies. Appreciate the advice on how to make this thing go straight.
I'm pretty sure that EPS was not on any of the E9x cars.
There are two different steering systems on those cars, however.
2) Active (variable)
I would do a 4-wheel alignment (the rear being out might cause this).
I would find out what type of steering you have (and the others) - run the vin.
I would find out whether it has ever been in an accident.
OK I've heard enough.
When was that last alignment?
Behaves as if camber is uneven side/side and toe's out. Normal wear of the rubber bumpers BMW uses for non-M bushings would do it, as would many miles. Alignment will likely solve your issues provided you don't have a bad tire.
Toe & camber, please - ain't rocket science but should be with a tech familiar with BMW. Believe that last part, simple as it sounds....'cause if nothing else he's gotta check BMW bushings & ball joints for wear. Be certain your steering wheel's centered on completion.
Should be on rails when yer done!
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