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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 08-07-2005, 06:58 PM
e46baller e46baller is offline
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Exclamation springs/shocks very strange?

i have a 2000 328ci when i bought her it had bilstein shocks, but no aftermarket lowering/sport springs. Ive looked into lowering the car a bit, ive done my research, and found bilstein made shocks for my car, but they asked do u have sport suspension/lowering springs or oem, casue they make separtate shocks for oem springs and lowering/sport springs. Would it be okay to get H&R lowering springs for the car, even tho these shocks of mine arent "made" for sport springs. anybody have any help?
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  #2  
Old 08-08-2005, 01:55 AM
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Bilstein sport shocks often have shorter stroke to retain spring

As long as your springs have a little pre-load on them with the suspension at full droop, your Bilsteins should be good with moderate "sport" springs. Some aftermarket springs are so short they can become dislodged from the spring seats when the suspension is at full droop (car jacked up).

Bilstein often uses the same damping with two different stroke lengths, but this really depends on the application and may not apply to all part numbers.

Call Bilstein 858-386-5900 and ask for advice with the particular spring you have in mind. Springs that are much stiffer than stock (required with extreme lowering) require shocks with higer damping than the OEM shocks. Bilstein HD shocks are only 10 to 20% stiffer than stock, depending on the application, but may be fine with stock BMW sport springs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by e46baller
i have a 2000 328ci when i bought her it had bilstein shocks, but no aftermarket lowering/sport springs. Ive looked into lowering the car a bit, ive done my research, and found bilstein made shocks for my car, but they asked do u have sport suspension/lowering springs or oem, casue they make separtate shocks for oem springs and lowering/sport springs. Would it be okay to get H&R lowering springs for the car, even tho these shocks of mine arent "made" for sport springs. anybody have any help?
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  #3  
Old 08-08-2005, 01:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dynosor
As long as your springs have a little pre-load on them with the suspension at full droop, your Bilsteins should be good with moderate "sport" springs. Some aftermarket springs are so short they can become dislodged from the spring seats when the suspension is at full droop (car jacked up).

Bilstein often uses the same damping with two different stroke lengths, but this really depends on the application and may not apply to all part numbers.

Call Bilstein 858-386-5900 and ask for advice with the particular spring you have in mind. Springs that are much stiffer than stock (required with extreme lowering) require shocks with higer damping than the OEM shocks. Bilstein HD shocks are only 10 to 20% stiffer than stock, depending on the application, but may be fine with stock BMW sport springs.
Assuming they don't bottom out. If they do, they'll be completely destroyed. Otherwise, there is no difference between the Bilstein Sport and the Bilstein HD.
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Old 08-08-2005, 10:45 AM
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Compressed lengths are identical

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
Assuming they don't bottom out. If they do, they'll be completely destroyed. Otherwise, there is no difference between the Bilstein Sport and the Bilstein HD.
No chance of bottoming out the shock, unless you leave out the rubber buffer when assembling with the new spring.

The fully compressed lengths of the Sport and HD shocks are the same. It is the fully extended lengths that are different - simply by using a different position of the internal collar on the rod that contacts the extention stop.
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Old 08-08-2005, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dynosor
No chance of bottoming out the shock, unless you leave out the rubber buffer when assembling with the new spring.

The fully compressed lengths of the Sport and HD shocks are the same. It is the fully extended lengths that are different - simply by using a different position of the internal collar on the rod that contacts the extention stop.
The whole point of the Sport shock is that you get more margin before bottoming out, and can use less bump stop.
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Old 08-08-2005, 03:42 PM
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HD will be partially compressed when used with shorter springs so it will wear out faster. I have no idea what effect it will have on handling and ride. My guess is that ride will suffer but changes in handling won't be significant.

BTW, on a SP equipped car do you need HD or Sport Bilsteins if you don't change the springs?
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Old 08-08-2005, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F1Crazy
HD will be partially compressed when used with shorter springs so it will wear out faster. I have no idea what effect it will have on handling and ride. My guess is that ride will suffer but changes in handling won't be significant.

BTW, on a SP equipped car do you need HD or Sport Bilsteins if you don't change the springs?
It was always explained to me that if you had the stock springs (SP or otherwise) HDs should be used and Sports were to be used if you used lowering springs like the H&R's.
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  #8  
Old 08-08-2005, 08:14 PM
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That would increase the risk of bottoming the car's belly

The minimum ground clearance on a stock sport package car is 5 inches. If you drop the car 2 inches you have 3 inches of ground clearance. The stock suspension travel is just over 6 inches total at the front - that's 3 inches up and 3 down. Travel is just over 7 inches at the rear to handle sag due to luggage.

To reduce the risk of bottoming the car, the spring rate has to be increased by at least 5/3 or 67%. If you move the bump stops down to regain suspension travel you will scrape the bottom of the car much more often.

Call Bilstein and ask about this.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
The whole point of the Sport shock is that you get more margin before bottoming out, and can use less bump stop.

Last edited by dynosor; 08-08-2005 at 08:18 PM.
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  #9  
Old 08-08-2005, 08:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dynosor
The minimum ground clearance on a stock sport package car is 5 inches. If you drop the car 2 inches you have 3 inches of ground clearance. To reduce the risk of bottoming the car, the spring rate has to be increased by at least 5/3 or 67%. If you move the bump stops down to regain suspension travel you will scrape the bottom of the car much more often.

Call Bilstein and ask about this.
LOL. I'm talking about bottoming out the shock. Not the car. It's not possible to bottom out the car on the ground. There are too many other parts that will prevent that.
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  #10  
Old 08-08-2005, 08:28 PM
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Bottoming of car is prevented by a rubber buffer that contacts the top of the shock

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
LOL. I'm talking about bottoming out the shock. Not the car. It's not possible to bottom out the car on the ground. There are too many other parts that will prevent that.
Bottoming of car is prevented by a rubber buffer that contacts the top of the shock. If you reduce the height of this buffer significantly or leave it out, there is nothing to stop the shock from bottoming out.

BMW shocks and struts have an internal stop to prevent over-extention - when you jack up the car the suspension hangs by this stop only. There is no internal bump stop in the shock - if you collaps it by hand until it goes solid, you are making contact between the piston and the foot-valve in the shock. Slamming these parts together will toast the shock.

Bottoming a car's belly on an undulating road is easier than you think - the lowest part of the car will get within 1 1/2 inch of the road when the bump stops are fully compressed. If the road has a 2 inch high bump at that point, you have a 1/2 inch interference.

If you care about your car you will not emulate Baja racing and slow down when the going gets rough.
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Old 08-08-2005, 08:38 PM
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All shocks are partially compressed

Quote:
Originally Posted by F1Crazy
HD will be partially compressed when used with shorter springs so it will wear out faster. I have no idea what effect it will have on handling and ride. My guess is that ride will suffer but changes in handling won't be significant.

BTW, on a SP equipped car do you need HD or Sport Bilsteins if you don't change the springs?
Note the distance from your wheel hub to the fender lip when the car is on level ground. Noe jack up the car to see the total travel. Shocks tend to spend their lives around the middle of their travel. If you lower the car by an inch, the shock lives an inch lower in its travel. This will not affect its life at all.

Lowering a car makes it more likely to bottom the suspension. When you contact the bump stops the effective spring rate goes to infinity. This tends to reduce the grip at that wheel because it is overloaded. Lowering a car increases the tendency to scrape the car.

Significantly lowering a BMW may help on a smooth track when using much stiffer springs and shocks, but is not suited to improve cornering performance on real roads with real bumps. A stiff car tends to skip when cornering over significant undulations.

Lowering is done mainly for cosmetics - see, it looks like a race car. In my opinion, the sport package suspension is as low as I want to go on the street.
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  #12  
Old 08-09-2005, 09:39 PM
e46baller e46baller is offline
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The whole reason i want to lower my car is for looks, but it seems that this is going to have to be a bigger project than i thought. when my car is at a slant, it has that lowered look that im lookin for. I love my car i wouldnt want to damage her, and i belive im going to have to change the shocks if this is true that u can toast them if i dont get the "proper" shocks for the proper lowering springs. Its a big concern to me.

BTW... if i want to lower the car...i believe im going to have to roll the fenders to fit my 19"rims in the back...this one time going over a overpass on the highway..i actaully heard the tires scrape against the wheel well.
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Old 08-10-2005, 02:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Desertnate
It was always explained to me that if you had the stock springs (SP or otherwise) HDs should be used and Sports were to be used if you used lowering springs like the H&R's.
I *thought* I read somewhere that if you have the SP springs...you'd want the Sport Bilsteins.

Does anyone else have comments on this?
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  #14  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:19 AM
Andre Yew Andre Yew is offline
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I was following a Toyota Corolla the other day, and it scraped the road at a big dip generating lots of sparks. I've also scraped the bottom of my car when it had the stock sport suspension on it on some speed bumps in a parking lot.

--Andre
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  #15  
Old 08-10-2005, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dynosor
Bottoming of car is prevented by a rubber buffer that contacts the top of the shock. If you reduce the height of this buffer significantly or leave it out, there is nothing to stop the shock from bottoming out.

BMW shocks and struts have an internal stop to prevent over-extention - when you jack up the car the suspension hangs by this stop only. There is no internal bump stop in the shock - if you collaps it by hand until it goes solid, you are making contact between the piston and the foot-valve in the shock. Slamming these parts together will toast the shock.

Bottoming a car's belly on an undulating road is easier than you think - the lowest part of the car will get within 1 1/2 inch of the road when the bump stops are fully compressed. If the road has a 2 inch high bump at that point, you have a 1/2 inch interference.

If you care about your car you will not emulate Baja racing and slow down when the going gets rough.
The rear suspension will touch the frame before you bottom out. Likewise, the front doesn't have enough travel to touch the ground.

Obviously if there are bumps, that changes things. But it'd take a pretty substantive bump, even with a car that is MASSIVELY lowered.

That said, the more travel that you can get, the better. That's why you want the least amount of bump stop possible.
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Old 08-10-2005, 02:18 PM
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Travel is good - so is clearance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
That said, the more travel that you can get, the better.
That is why you should not lower the car.
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Old 08-10-2005, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dynosor
That is why you should not lower the car.
CG makes a big difference, too. But a lot of it depends on how stiff your suspension is. Stating that you should not lower the car at all is total bull****, and you know it. Lowering the car involves making certain compromises, it is not necessarily a bad thing.

The key is to make sure you have the maximum amount of travel you need to stay off of the bump stops. The bump stops themselves should not be any longer than you need to keep all the various components from damaging themselves.

As long as you can get over speed bumps without scraping, you've got enough ground clearance to get over anything else.
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Old 08-10-2005, 05:27 PM
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Center of Gravity and Roll Center Height are Equally Important

A high center of gravity (CG) requires higher spring, anti-roll bar and damping rates in order to provide adequate pitch and roll control. Thus, good handling with a higher CG will come at the expense of ride comfort.

A low CG is good because it provides better roll and pitch control for a given level of bump compliance (spring, anti-roll bar & damper rates). Thus, it is easier to obtain good ride and handling with a low CG.

My contention is that the 3-series with sport package is already an optimal balance between low CG and ground clearance. There is such a thing as diminishing returns where you start to loose faster than you gain, if you continue "optimizing".

CG moves down with the car as you lower it, but roll centers do not. If you lower a car too much, the control arm angle moves away from horizontal and at some angle roll centers actually start to go up again. This increases roll sensitivity, despite a low CG.

The X5 and X3 handle pretty well, and would be even better if they were as low as a regular car. The very fact that they exist and do not topple over or skid off the road every day at their extreme height point to the fact that lowering your 3-series another inch or two will not make a significant difference in actual usable cornering ability.

I am amused by the number of people at both extremes of the ride height spectrum: Trucks lifted to make them seem more imposing at the expense of stability, and those that slam their cars into lawnmowers with questionable handling gains. Both, for the sake of appearance.

The Porsche 911 has a lower CG than a stock 3-series because of its boxer engine, but a worse weight distribution front to rear – go figure.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
CG makes a big difference, too. But a lot of it depends on how stiff your suspension is. Stating that you should not lower the car at all is total bull****, and you know it. Lowering the car involves making certain compromises, it is not necessarily a bad thing.

The key is to make sure you have the maximum amount of travel you need to stay off of the bump stops. The bump stops themselves should not be any longer than you need to keep all the various components from damaging themselves.

As long as you can get over speed bumps without scraping, you've got enough ground clearance to get over anything else.

Last edited by dynosor; 08-10-2005 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 08-11-2005, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dynosor
A high center of gravity (CG) requires higher spring, anti-roll bar and damping rates in order to provide adequate pitch and roll control. Thus, good handling with a higher CG will come at the expense of ride comfort.

A low CG is good because it provides better roll and pitch control for a given level of bump compliance (spring, anti-roll bar & damper rates). Thus, it is easier to obtain good ride and handling with a low CG.

My contention is that the 3-series with sport package is already an optimal balance between low CG and ground clearance. There is such a thing as diminishing returns where you start to loose faster than you gain, if you continue "optimizing".

CG moves down with the car as you lower it, but roll centers do not. If you lower a car too much, the control arm angle moves away from horizontal and at some angle roll centers actually start to go up again. This increases roll sensitivity, despite a low CG.

The X5 and X3 handle pretty well, and would be even better if they were as low as a regular car. The very fact that they exist and do not topple over or skid off the road every day at their extreme height point to the fact that lowering your 3-series another inch or two will not make a significant difference in actual usable cornering ability.

I am amused by the number of people at both extremes of the ride height spectrum: Trucks lifted to make them seem more imposing at the expense of stability, and those that slam their cars into lawnmowers with questionable handling gains. Both, for the sake of appearance.

The Porsche 911 has a lower CG than a stock 3-series because of its boxer engine, but a worse weight distribution front to rear – go figure.
Well, even if I agreed with you, which I don't, my Motons won't go that high. The maximum possible height for them is stock E46 M3, and they need ot be a fair bit lower to work properly. While I do agree that there is a point of diminishing returns, I don't agree that it's at stock SP ride height.
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Old 08-11-2005, 06:51 PM
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Road or track?

If you want the best handling for use on smooth tracks then lowering the car significantly will help, providing you stiffen the suspension appropriately. For street driving ride harshness will limit how stiff a suspension can be tolerated. You cannot keep lowering a car without stiffening the suspension, so for street use, you will run into diminishing returns and unacceptable trade-offs before you do for track use.

Most lowered cars are intended to look like track cars, but are driven on the street exclusively.

If I were to try and improve the capabilities of a stock E46 330i with sport suspension for street use I would do the following in this order:

Dump the staggered tires for stickier tires of 225 or 235 mm width on 17 inch diameter style 44 7.5 inch wide rims. The style 68 wheels are 7 inches wide up front. This is to make the car more neutral and increase the grip limit.

Replace the front and rear anti-roll bars with ones that are 20 to 30% stiffer – torsional stiffness increases to the fourth power of diameter, so a 1 mm increase in diameter will be noticeable. Select or set the rear anti-roll bar such that the increase in roll-stiffness is biased to the rear to further reduce understeer. Overdoing this bias could yield a tendency towards excessive oversteer.

Keep the stock springs. Replace the shocks with units that have slightly greater damping in the 0.2 to 0.3 meter per second range. Shock tuning is a big deal and affects response all the way from turn-in up to the cornering limit. An "improved" suspension would be judged on pitch and roll response over a wide range of road surfaces and speeds, combined with varying steering, throttle and brake inputs.

Just because an aftermarket suspension obviously rides harder and can bee seen to be lower does not mean that the capabilities of the car have been increased. BMW does a heck of a job in optimizing handling without compromising ride. It is very hard to extract further improvements without compromising the street ride.

The reason an E46 M3 has greater cornering capability is not because it is lower than a stock 330i. The M3 has a much stiffer suspension with wider gripier tires. The increased capability of the E46 M3 comes with a bigger ride penalty over lesser E46s than the E36 M3 over stock E36s. The E36 M3 has an excellent ride and capable handling for everyday street and limited track use. BMW achieved this without lowering the heck out of the E36 M3.

At the end of the day, it is your car, your money and your kidneys. Lower away and stiffen up if you wish.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
Well, even if I agreed with you, which I don't, my Motons won't go that high. The maximum possible height for them is stock E46 M3, and they need ot be a fair bit lower to work properly. While I do agree that there is a point of diminishing returns, I don't agree that it's at stock SP ride height.
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