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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 08-04-2013, 03:35 PM
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Growling brakes

Thought I solved this with new brakes all around but after 5k miles, it is back!!

I replaced my front brakes last year but within 10k miles, developed a "growling" and shudder braking at highway speeds. it seemed to be coming from under the floorboards or dash. Assuming I may have got faulty brakes or the backs were bad, I replaced the backs (pads and rotors) with no change. I then replaced the fronts with Brembo rotors and everything was smooth for about 5k miles. Recently, the shudder and noise has returned.

I had also noticed the steering felt "soft" with not he crisp turn-in I recalled and that the car seemed to move around under harder braking so figured maybe the OE CABs (approx 55K miles) were on their way out.

Just replaced the CABs with Meyle HD and 1) the steering has firmed up noticeably and turn-in is much crisper. Old CABs weren't leaking but certainly were "soft" compared to the Meyle.

Unfortunately, the braking shudder and growling is still there. Also (masked by the soft OE bushings) is a vibration at highway speed that seems to be most pronounced at 60-70mph that wasn't noticeable with the OD CABs. This vibration seems to go away during cornering and is more noticeable when driving straight.

I serviced my brakes in the spring and cleaned pins, etc. Brake wear inside and out is even and smooth. I bedded the brakes using the Zeckhausen directions and the problem likely is worse if anything.

I am running new tire and wheel combo from last year as well so it is not that.

What am I Looking at? Bearings? Tie-rods? shocks?
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Old 08-04-2013, 04:25 PM
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This problem of yours is baffling. We went back and forth a few times and I can't believe it is back again! I honestly can't really say what it could be. Let me think on it some, maybe I can come up with something. Can you post some pics of your tie rods, ball joints and so forth? Maybe we can spot something?

I just put Brembo rotors on my car about 3000 miles ago, I have no issues. And in all my time wrenching on brakes on these things, I have never seen Brembo's give issues. Crazy!
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Old 08-04-2013, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by smolck View Post
This problem of yours is baffling. We went back and forth a few times and I can't believe it is back again! I honestly can't really say what it could be. Let me think on it some, maybe I can come up with something. Can you post some pics of your tie rods, ball joints and so forth? Maybe we can spot something?

I just put Brembo rotors on my car about 3000 miles ago, I have no issues. And in all my time wrenching on brakes on these things, I have never seen Brembo's give issues. Crazy!
Yeah, this is driving me crazy.

I also noticed that the "donut" on the CAB (driver side) keeps coming out. It did this the last time I had the issue too. Only with the Meyle not the OE.

I just checked the tie rods and bearings and all is tight and quiet. If you recall, I even had BMW do a suspension inspection and they said all is tight. NO signs of odd tire wear either on these Contis after 10K kms.

The only thing I didn't do was replace the front pads (I know, always replace them). I was going to if the rotors didn't solve the problem but they did, at least until now. They're OE pads (Textar I think) and only had like 10k kms on them when I changed the rotors. I could replace the pads (there's only 5k miles on these rotors) and see if that solves it but it seems odd.

I'll take a few pics and post.

The vibration could be a slight wheel balance problem but the braking issue is not wheel related.
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Old 08-04-2013, 04:41 PM
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Shoot, I was supposed to send you those pads I have. Crap, I TOTALLY FORGOT. I can send them if you like.

That donut thing is concerning. I haven't run Meyle for a couple years, on my car or customer cars. I recommend Lemforder as I have had great success with them.

I don't think a set of pads that were messed up could affect the rotor that fast, but it is entirely possible I guess. PM Me your addy and I will send you these pads I have. Again, sorry I forgot!
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Old 08-04-2013, 04:42 PM
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Have you checked to see if your calipers are sticking? Feel both rotors, or check temp with a IR thermometer to see if there is a difference side to side. Did you try brake quiet on the back of the pads? I had this issue on a car I used to own a while back. Turns out that when the caliper piston was retracted after releasing the brakes, it left a very small space between the pad and the piston, which caused a very strange noise. I used brake quiet on the back of the pads, and installed the pads while they were still tacky. This caused the pistons to retract the pads when the brakes were released, and cured the problem. Just throwing this out there on the small chance you guys did not try this. I am assuming you change your brake fluid often correct?
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Old 08-04-2013, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
Shoot, I was supposed to send you those pads I have. Crap, I TOTALLY FORGOT. I can send them if you like.

That donut thing is concerning. I haven't run Meyle for a couple years, on my car or customer cars. I recommend Lemforder as I have had great success with them.

I don't think a set of pads that were messed up could affect the rotor that fast, but it is entirely possible I guess. PM Me your addy and I will send you these pads I have. Again, sorry I forgot!
Hey Shad,

Don't sweat the pads. I can get them through my son's garage for about what it would likely cost to have you ship them through customs.

I don't think it's pads anyways. The pad wear is identical inside to our and top to bottom and the rotors are mirror-like inside and out. If it was pads or rotors causing this much of a sound/feel, it would show there.

I'm uploading some shots of the CABs, ball joints, tie rods etc. This is the driver side.
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Old 08-04-2013, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJBimmer View Post
Have you checked to see if your calipers are sticking? Feel both rotors, or check temp with a IR thermometer to see if there is a difference side to side. Did you try brake quiet on the back of the pads? I had this issue on a car I used to own a while back. Turns out that when the caliper piston was retracted after releasing the brakes, it left a very small space between the pad and the piston, which caused a very strange noise. I used brake quiet on the back of the pads, and installed the pads while they were still tacky. This caused the pistons to retract the pads when the brakes were released, and cured the problem. Just throwing this out there on the small chance you guys did not try this. I am assuming you change your brake fluid often correct?
SJ - you raiser an interesting point. I changed the fluid 1.5 yrs ago. I had done a number of bedding procedures and some hard driving since then but could bad or boiled fluid cause these symptoms? If so, why did they go away for 5k miles after replacing the rotors?
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2004 325i - Sport package - 5MT- clears - CDV mod - M3 gauge faces w/silver gauge rings & red needles - SS exhaust tips - strut tower brace - Hotchkis anti-sway bars -50% tint - shadow grills - roof spoiler - silver CF trim
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Old 08-04-2013, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by djstrachan View Post
SJ - you raiser an interesting point. I changed the fluid 1.5 yrs ago. I had done a number of bedding procedures and some hard driving since then but could bad or boiled fluid cause these symptoms? If so, why did they go away for 5k miles after replacing the rotors?
Not sure why it went away, but from what I have seen on occasion, and read many times, heat can cause compromised brake fluid to expand allowing the pad closer to the rotor than it should be. I change mine on all vehicles every 2 years, and I have never had a problem. When I was younger, I never changed the fluid, and all sorts of braking problems like pitted pistons, stuck calipers, stuck wheel cylinders on drum brakes, ect. I really only started the OCD change schedule after I got my first car with ABS, and heard that people who did not change it were paying outrageous prices for ABS modules when they rusted. I would assume that older rotors have some runout, so maybe the new ones were so perfect that they caused no issues.
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Old 08-04-2013, 05:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djstrachan View Post
SJ - you raiser an interesting point. I changed the fluid 1.5 yrs ago. I had done a number of bedding procedures and some hard driving since then but could bad or boiled fluid cause these symptoms? If so, why did they go away for 5k miles after replacing the rotors?
Bad fluid would probably give a mushy pedal. How closely did you inspect the wheel bearings ?
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:16 PM
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I just replaced some wheel bearings on another one of my cars that had alot of "growling". It seemed to have went away afterwards.
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:23 PM
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Bad fluid would probably give a mushy pedal. How closely did you inspect the wheel bearings ?
The usual 6 and 12 rocking...no movement at all.

Spun the wheel slowly back and forth listening...no sound at all.

Didn't take the caps off and look behind but there is no sign of an issue.
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:24 PM
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The usual 6 and 12 rocking...no movement at all.

Spun the wheel slowly back and forth listening...no sound at all.

Didn't take the caps off and look behind but there is no sign of an issue.
Well. so far, it sounds like you`re doing everything right. How about driving on the highway at around 60 mph, and do a little left-foot braking while maintaining that speed....does the noise appear there ? Does the noise increase with more pressure on the brake pedal ?
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:58 PM
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Well. so far, it sounds like you`re doing everything right. How about driving on the highway at around 60 mph, and do a little left-foot braking while maintaining that speed....does the noise appear there ? Does the noise increase with more pressure on the brake pedal ?
I'll give the left brake idea a try tomorrow.

The noise and vibration increase the harder I brake. It is now happening even at lower speeds so appears to be getting much worse. At 30MPH if I apply the brakes with my hands off the wheel, the steering wheel will shimmy back and forth a bit.

The fact I had the same thing that disappeared with new rotors (same pads) - old rotors only had around 10k miles on them - and then comes back with the new rotors in only 5k miles, makes me wonder if it is a caliper problem of some sort. Maybe a caliper is sticking and causing overheating that eventually warps the rotor and creates these symptoms? I read about that happening to someone on the e90 forum.
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by djstrachan View Post
I'll give the left brake idea a try tomorrow.

The noise and vibration increase the harder I brake. It is now happening even at lower speeds so appears to be getting much worse. At 30MPH if I apply the brakes with my hands off the wheel, the steering wheel will shimmy back and forth a bit.

The fact I had the same thing that disappeared with new rotors (same pads) - old rotors only had around 10k miles on them - and then comes back with the new rotors in only 5k miles, makes me wonder if it is a caliper problem of some sort. Maybe a caliper is sticking and causing overheating that eventually warps the rotor and creates these symptoms? I read about that happening to someone on the e90 forum.
Rent or borrow a dial indicator to check the rotor for runout while on the hub if you suspect this might be the issue. The only time I had any type of shimmy while braking, it turned out that I needed new CAB's. It was sort of a "death shimmy" and scared the heck out of me the first time it happened. Good luck, and I hope you find it soon.
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Old 08-05-2013, 11:02 AM
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Bob,

This is getting weird.

I took her out and at 60mph applied the brake with the left foot while maintaining speed. At first the symptoms were very evident but after a couple of attempts, they seemed to lessen noticeably. Drove a bit further and tried again and at first the symptoms were almost gone. Then, tried the left brake thing again (stupidly thinking maybe it was removing surface contamination and solving the problem) and it was back and as bad as ever. Drove some more, symptoms evident and once back in town, low speed stops seemed to have less "shudder" but maybe a little.

It's not so much a growling as a rumbling sound. Kind of like driving over those "rumble strips" they put in the middle of highways.

so...the symptoms are not consistent which would appear to rule out warped rotors as I assume once warped, the symptoms would remain consistent?

Maybe the pressure on the assembly/suspension of driving with brakes on caused something to move temporarily correcting the problem?

Could it be an intermittently sticking caliper? if so, How do I test that?

EDIT - A little more information - took another ride ...hit highway speed of 65MPH and slight side-to-side shimmy in wheel that would go away on moderate highway cornering but return on straight stretches. After about 5 minutes of driving it went away and did not return for the remainder of the drive WTF? Braking at highway still had symptoms of vibration but not as severe as earlier in the day. I do not feel this in the pedal but in the steering wheel and from under the firewall. At lower braking speeds the steering wheel shimmies under braking force and the care seems to like to "wander" under braking left or right depending on the condition of the asphalt.

Doesn't sound like shimmy is tire/wheel related or it would not come and go. Different intensity of braking issue has me baffled. A caliper that doesn't always engage?



The vibration at 60-75MPH is slight. It could be a slightly out of balance wheel. IF I grip the wheel, I can't feel it. IT's only when I hold the steering wheel lightly that my arm shakes a little.
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2004 325i - Sport package - 5MT- clears - CDV mod - M3 gauge faces w/silver gauge rings & red needles - SS exhaust tips - strut tower brace - Hotchkis anti-sway bars -50% tint - shadow grills - roof spoiler - silver CF trim

Last edited by djstrachan; 08-05-2013 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 08-11-2013, 02:25 PM
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Okay guys....I know this is a tough one but, if I can't figure this out soon, I'm going to sell this PIA car and buy a Honda!

Bled the brakes and clutch. Slightly firmer brake pedal but it had only been 1.5 yrs since I last did it so didn't expect much. The clutch, on the other hand, is noticeably firmer and seems to grab stronger and engage more consistently. That's where the good news ends.

Taking the car out for a spin and at 50MPH, the steering wheel starts to shake quote violently (left-right). Then it smooths out for a bit...then it comes back. I slow down to below 50MPH and it smooths out...I accelerate up above 50 and all is smooth until suddenly it starts to shake again. This happens at various speeds from 80MPH to 110MPH.

The brakes still "rumble" when braking at highway speeds.

After getting home, neither rotor appears hotter than the other. Brake pad and rotor wear is smooth and even.

New CABs. NO movement on the wheels when applying push/pull at 12 and 6o'clock.

The symptoms seem to change somewhat when going into a hard corner (diminish) but not always. Sometimes it is shaking going into such a corner, smooths out during the turn and comes out smooth only to start shaking within a hundred yards or so.

Only 64k miles. WTF is wrong with this thing?!!!
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Old 08-11-2013, 04:56 PM
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The next thing I would check would be the steering coupler/Guibo.

Here is a DIY.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?p=13077875

Here is a thread on an M3 where the guy had a strange vibration, and this cured it. I didn't see where you checked this, so if you did, I missed it. I would read all posts, since some people had no play, and this still cured it. If this doesn't do it, I'm stumped. If it were my car, I would break out my dial indicator, and check runout on everything, and then have wheels and tires balanced with them still on the car. Please keep us updated!

http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=338139

BTW, in my experience, any strange feedback through the wheel almost always seems like it comes from the brakes, even if it's not.

Last edited by SJBimmer; 08-11-2013 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 08-11-2013, 05:56 PM
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Maybe loose lug studs? You probably checked these, right? Just eliminating possible suspects.
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:08 PM
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Maybe loose lug studs? You probably checked these, right? Just eliminating possible suspects.
Yea...those have been checked. I've had the wheels off and on dozens of times chasing this problem. Always torque with a torque wrench.
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2004 325i - Sport package - 5MT- clears - CDV mod - M3 gauge faces w/silver gauge rings & red needles - SS exhaust tips - strut tower brace - Hotchkis anti-sway bars -50% tint - shadow grills - roof spoiler - silver CF trim
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJBimmer View Post
The next thing I would check would be the steering coupler/Guibo.

Here is a DIY.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?p=13077875

Here is a thread on an M3 where the guy had a strange vibration, and this cured it. I didn't see where you checked this, so if you did, I missed it. I would read all posts, since some people had no play, and this still cured it. If this doesn't do it, I'm stumped. If it were my car, I would break out my dial indicator, and check runout on everything, and then have wheels and tires balanced with them still on the car. Please keep us updated!

http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=338139

BTW, in my experience, any strange feedback through the wheel almost always seems like it comes from the brakes, even if it's not.
The steering is quite firm with no real play in the steering so I find it hard to believe it could be the coupler at 64k miles.

I had a mechanic check the run out on the hubs before I replaced the rotors last time and he said they were as near to perfect as he has seen.

I hate to start throwing parts at it. It could be ball joints, tie-rods, bearings...

I took apart the calipers tonight and the pins were perfectly clean and smooth except for the top driver pin which had some "gunk" stuck to it. Hard to believe that would have anything to do with these symptoms.

Also, I noticed the "donut" on the driver side CAB is starting to work its way out again. THese are new Meyle but it happened with my old one as well (same side). This would appear to indicate to me a vibration that is making the CABs move front to back working this rubber piece out.

I may have to bite the bullet and have a BMW tech take a look. I've wasted almost 3 years of driving experience on-and-off chasing this and enough is enough.
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2004 325i - Sport package - 5MT- clears - CDV mod - M3 gauge faces w/silver gauge rings & red needles - SS exhaust tips - strut tower brace - Hotchkis anti-sway bars -50% tint - shadow grills - roof spoiler - silver CF trim
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  #21  
Old 08-11-2013, 06:20 PM
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catso catso is offline
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Does the vibration change at all if you rotate the tires front to back?
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by djstrachan View Post
The steering is quite firm with no real play in the steering so I find it hard to believe it could be the coupler at 64k miles.

I had a mechanic check the run out on the hubs before I replaced the rotors last time and he said they were as near to perfect as he has seen.

I hate to start throwing parts at it. It could be ball joints, tie-rods, bearings...

I took apart the calipers tonight and the pins were perfectly clean and smooth except for the top driver pin which had some "gunk" stuck to it. Hard to believe that would have anything to do with these symptoms.

Also, I noticed the "donut" on the driver side CAB is starting to work its way out again. THese are new Meyle but it happened with my old one as well (same side). This would appear to indicate to me a vibration that is making the CABs move front to back working this rubber piece out.

I may have to bite the bullet and have a BMW tech take a look. I've wasted almost 3 years of driving experience on-and-off chasing this and enough is enough.
I hear ya. I have been there with other cars, but not the BMW yet. I'm sure my turn in the fire is coming. Just hang in there and be patient. It's hard to remember the primary objective is to drain the swamp when you're up to your a$$ in alligators.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:44 PM
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djstrachan djstrachan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catso View Post
Does the vibration change at all if you rotate the tires front to back?
Well...These are new wheels and tires and they were smooth until a couple weeks ago. Besides, I took it our tonight after taking the calipers off, cleaning the pins (only one had any stuff on it - see above) re-greasing the pads. Took it out for a spin tonight and the steering wheel was as smooth as silk absolutely no side to side shake!

Under moderate to hard braking there is still the "rumble" feel/sound to braking but it didn't seem as bad except under hard braking.

Here's the thing...I don't feel the rumbling in the pedal at all...no pulsating like bad rotors. I also don't feel it in the steering wheel unless I brake very hard, then the wheel will shake.

That it comes and goes should eliminate wheels/tires as an out of balance wheel is always out of balance.

It could be brakes. When pushing the pistons in before reinstalling the calipers, the passenger front was noticeably harder to push in than the driver side ( I pushed them in by hand with the pads still attached). Could one piston be "sticky" and not pushing as hard under hard braking and also not backing off when not braking? Just taking a stab in the dark here.
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"It is little use listening to other people as they will either be agreeing with you or saying stupid stuff" - Dogbert

I'm not a pessimist. At some point the world sh!ts on everybody. Pretending it ain't sh!t makes you an idiot, not an optimist.

2004 325i - Sport package - 5MT- clears - CDV mod - M3 gauge faces w/silver gauge rings & red needles - SS exhaust tips - strut tower brace - Hotchkis anti-sway bars -50% tint - shadow grills - roof spoiler - silver CF trim
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  #24  
Old 08-11-2013, 08:45 PM
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djstrachan djstrachan is offline
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Originally Posted by SJBimmer View Post
I hear ya. I have been there with other cars, but not the BMW yet. I'm sure my turn in the fire is coming. Just hang in there and be patient. It's hard to remember the primary objective is to drain the swamp when you're up to your a$$ in alligators.
Thanks. The good news is, it will feel like being re-born when I do figure this out. I just want to get it fixed before I start having the major maintenance items coming up.
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"It is little use listening to other people as they will either be agreeing with you or saying stupid stuff" - Dogbert

I'm not a pessimist. At some point the world sh!ts on everybody. Pretending it ain't sh!t makes you an idiot, not an optimist.

2004 325i - Sport package - 5MT- clears - CDV mod - M3 gauge faces w/silver gauge rings & red needles - SS exhaust tips - strut tower brace - Hotchkis anti-sway bars -50% tint - shadow grills - roof spoiler - silver CF trim
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  #25  
Old 08-11-2013, 09:22 PM
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whinojosa whinojosa is offline
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Growling brakes

When you say that the "donut" of the CAB is coming out, are you referring to the 66mm CAB housing that is pressed into the CAB "lollipops?" Is THIS what is coming loose?


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Last edited by whinojosa; 08-11-2013 at 09:24 PM.
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