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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 03-17-2012, 02:28 PM
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Koni Yellows First Impressions

So I figured I'd start a new thread to deal with the finally installed Koni Yellows I bought.

Install in the light of day with air tools was a cinch. Everything worked out just perfect and I had the last one on in now time. Keep in mind, everything to this point is with the shocks set to full soft.

My immediate impressions before driving the car was the back end was way too stiff. You can push on it all you want, it ain't moving much at all. I was thinking, oh crap, shoulda bought FSD's. Fronts seemed fine, a little more taught than the OEM shocks but not bad. I should mention, the old shocks and struts weren't near as bad as I thought they would be. Probably still had a little tiny bit of life left, especially the rears. Anyways, I got it all done and away I went.

The car is NOTICEABLY more "tight". Kinda like someone put clamps at both ends and squished it together. It is nice. Now I read a lot of posts and reviews of people who bought these saying they reduce body roll, they don't (sway bars and stiffer springs do that). What they DO is make the car razor sharp on turn in. Reason is because they are stiffer and so they compress slower. In the center of the corner the car has less understeer too which is nice. The biggest improvement other than the tight nature of the car is how it handles bumps. I hit some pretty bad stretches of road on purpose and the shocks do a good job of soaking them up to be as taught as they are. I was in total control. Also, on a couple of uphill sweepers, I could tell the car stays better connected to the road. I also noticed that fast transitions left to right are much quicker. I mean with the ZHP rack and these shocks, turn it happens "RIGHT NOW". One other thing, no nose dive or rear squat when accelerating hard.

All in all I am amazed because as tight as they felt by pushing on the car, the ride is not even close to harsh. It is "perfect" in my mind. I am sure in a week or two I may mess with the stiffness and see what happens, but for now I am very happy. All the sloppiness is gone and my car feels proper again.

All in all I am VERY happy with my choice. These are much better than the Tokico Blues I bought as my last set of "performance" shocks (and they were pretty good BTW). I have never ridden in a car with FSD's, so I don't know how they compare to that. But I HAVE ridden in a car I put Koni STR.T's on and these are light years better than those.

And for $550 shipped, I feel like I stole something. I will report back as the day progresses and I drop some more miles on them. Might even tighten up the front some.
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  #2  
Old 03-17-2012, 03:04 PM
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Sounds real good, glad to hear that this change represents a step up & forward in the ZHP`s abilities. Being able to increase roadholding ability while maintaining compliance and roadfeel (i.e., "handling), is not an easy thing to accomplish. If you make the right choice of components, and add a dash of luck, sometimes you hit one of those magical combinations....sounds like you`re on the right track.

For the less well-initiated, who may be considering suspension changes:
Although you may hear the terms "handling" and "roadholding ability" used interchangeably, they are *not* the same thing. "Roadholding Ability" is an expression of a car`s ultimate grip....how many Gs (or hundredths of a G, in most cases) a car will generate before control goes away at the limit. "Handling" is how the vehicle feels while accomplishing this task. So, in Cliff`s Notes terms, a car set up for a smooth track may have stellar "Roadholding Ability" when used in it`s intended arena, but the same vehicle`s "Handling" would truly suck out in the real world, because it doesn`t have enough suspension travel ("compliance") to deal with typical road conditions.

In a nutshell, ALL suspensions are a compromise of sorts, and there is no "free lunch"....you gotta give something to get something....
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Old 03-17-2012, 03:10 PM
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Thanks for the report Smolck! I know that I, as well as many others, value your opinion and experience. I'm at 94k and I know that new shocks are in store for me some day.

Please continue to give us your feedback as you have seat time with them.

Johnny
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Old 03-17-2012, 04:04 PM
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So had some more time to drive while returning the spring compressor I rented. They have seemed to soften up slightly. I have heard this is common. But it is still really close to perfect IMO. I hit a few back roads I know and well and drive hard on, car is VERY well mannered when at the limits of adhesion. The car seems to be much more planted around hard sweepers. With the old struts it still hugged corners, but felt loose. I suppose it is now more "predictable" in what the car will (and won't) do. Where you really feel the increase in grip is when you hit a bump or pothole or something in the midst of a corner. The car isn't upset like before and regains composure immediately, I like that a lot. Another thing that is hard to express in words is the solid feel. I liken it to a subwoofer that is half blown and sounds "loose" vs. a brand new sub with "tight" hitting bass like in a rock song. This is what bumps now feel like. I can tell you a set of sway bars and I may just have one of those "special" combos Fast Bob mentions above.

I might mess around tomorrow and add a turn toward stiff in the rear and see what that does. But again, the Koni Yellow is REBOUND adjustable so the compression stays the same. So when they say "stiff" it isn't what most people think. And I don't want to screw up what I have right now. Keep in mind, my goal in all this was to restore OEM feel but increase overall grip at the same time as I drive 90% on the interstate. I have achieved that for certain. And I have built a "foundation" for better springs or anything else I want to do in the future. So I'll update if I add a turn of "stiff". For now, I'm happy. Still wish I could find someone with FSD's for a comparison though.
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Old 03-17-2012, 04:08 PM
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Glad to hear you finally received them and got them installed. I'm at 93K on the original suspension so I know that I'm going to have to go through it soon. Looking at replacing the shocks, springs and probably the bushing sometime this summer. Its my daily driver and I like the feel of the oem setup. Looking forward to your long-term report, I'm deciding what I want to do. (the VANOS rebuild, VCG, CVV, and OFHG are first).
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Old 03-17-2012, 04:11 PM
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I don't know if I mentioned it, but I also replaced the dust boots, bump stops, front upper strut mounts, spring pads (top and bottom) and rear shock mounts with all new parts from Lemforder and Meyle. Only thing I re-used was the springs.
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Old 03-17-2012, 05:31 PM
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Great feedback, glad you liked the upgrades. Btw, it tightens up even more after an alignment plus stiffer tuning. Turn in can be even faster.

Nothing beats Koni yellows for it's refinement towards all conditions of driving.

Pretty much dead on to remove the body roll with the swaybars (+springs) and torsional twist is removed by the strut bars; however the chassis is stiff enough.
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Old 03-17-2012, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by av98 View Post
Great feedback, glad you liked the upgrades. Btw, it tightens up even more after an alignment plus stiffer tuning. Turn in can be even faster.

Nothing beats Koni yellows for it's refinement towards all conditions of driving.

Pretty much dead on to remove the body roll with the swaybars and torsional twist is removed by the strut bars; however the chassis is stiff enough.
Yea, I'm glad you nudged me the final few steps to buying these. Good call!
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Old 03-18-2012, 07:43 AM
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Smolckie, have you ever spent any time in a sled equipped with Bilstein Sports? I'd love to hear a no BS comparison between them and the Koni Y's.
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Old 03-18-2012, 09:13 AM
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Smolckie, have you ever spent any time in a sled equipped with Bilstein Sports? I'd love to hear a no BS comparison between them and the Koni Y's.
Only Bilstein equipped car I ever rode in was an 05 ZHP sedan with their PSS9 Kit. It was stiff, really stiff. But the car had a LOT of other mods to it so it wasn't really the same as a car that is stock with just Bilsteins.


If you want to send me a set I'll test them for you!
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Old 03-18-2012, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by smolck View Post
I don't know if I mentioned it, but I also replaced the dust boots, bump stops, front upper strut mounts, spring pads (top and bottom) and rear shock mounts with all new parts from Lemforder and Meyle. Only thing I re-used was the springs.
I'll add these to my shopping list. I'm planning on re-using the original springs unless I find a broken one at the time I do the work. I like the OEM ride hight and feel of the ZHP so I don't see a need to upgrade the springs at this time. Just curious why you decided to re-use the springs.
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  #12  
Old 03-18-2012, 10:37 AM
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One of the situations aftermarket shocks resolve is "bump steer" mid-corner. I felt the stock ZHP suspension really suffered from this. You'll be amazed at how much you can fine-tune the car's attitude with these shocks. I make changes in 1/4 turn increments, but if you like where it is now, try 1/8 turn increments and see what you think. Sometimes going a little more taught can actually improve the ride if it helps the springs work better.

Adjustable is definitely the way to go. You made the right decision going with Koni too.
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Old 03-18-2012, 10:45 AM
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A lot of good information on this thread!

tmba2002 (My Torrance neighbor!)-If I understand it correctly, there is no need to replace the springs unless they're broken. Springs don't typically wear out. Anyway, I'm sure more knowledgeable folks will chime in here on this.

Johnny (Born & Raised in Gardena, but now in Nor Cal).
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Old 03-18-2012, 10:47 AM
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Nor cal? Want to explore the capabilities of your ZHP in a safe and controlled environment? Clickie on the link in my signature.
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Old 03-18-2012, 10:59 AM
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Nor cal? Want to explore the capabilities of your ZHP in a safe and controlled environment? Clickie on the link in my signature.
I wish I lived closer to you. I'd love to have you drive my ride.

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Just curious why you decided to re-use the springs.
1. Cost. 2. I didn't want to go lower than ZHP height.

That said, I might be swapping to some H&R Sports in the future. Had them on my 323i and I LOVED them.
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....

Last edited by smolck; 03-18-2012 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 03-18-2012, 11:18 AM
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Nor cal? Want to explore the capabilities of your ZHP in a safe and controlled environment? Clickie on the link in my signature.
HAHA! I was JUST there! I was looking at the CCC at Candlestick in May. I just MIGHT be persuaded to do it. I just know that it will lead to a slippery slope of expensive track days, car mods (on top of the ones I've already done) and addiction!

In fact, last night at dinner, a young kid that worked at the restaurant commented on my car (La Finestra in San Ramon-GREAT FOOD!). Said, he could tell I wasn't the 'typical' BMW owner that drove for status. Told him that I've never tracked the car yet and that I've always wanted to ever since I got it. He said that that was the point of a BMW as they're bred for the track. He's SO RIGHT! He has a 240 and totally digs the RWD for drifting etc. Nice!

Took my car to Edge in Dublin in January-I have fresh FCAB, diff mounts and RTAB deflectors and Michelin Pilot Super Sports. Will probably need to do my brakes and flush before the event. Had 6mm and 2mm F/R remaining. They said my shocks and springs are still good. So, I'm pretty much set.

SORRY TO DERAIL the thread.

Johnny
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Old 03-18-2012, 12:01 PM
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So I just put 1.5 turns stiff into front and rear. No doubt, it is noticeable. Now this car is REALLY planted. Somewhat more stiff than I wanted for normal driving, but impressive in the bends. Im gonna go for a drive when the wife and kids take off shopping over some really rough interstate patches to see if I can live with it this way. I'm gonna drop 1/2 turn stiff out of the fronts and see what that does. Updates to follow. This is a blast. i feel like a NASCAR crew chief!

EDIT: half turn backed off front was no joy. Back to 1.5 turns stiff on both.
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Last edited by smolck; 03-18-2012 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 03-18-2012, 12:19 PM
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One of the reasons I went with the stock ZHP springs just like Smolck said is the ride height. The 1/2 inch drop makes it liveable for clearance on DD in the NorCal Bay Area. Our roads are pretty crappy in some areas going with a 1" drop caused rub and scrub issues. I had an MR2SC that had a 1 1/3" drop and that always had issues with potholes, slanted transitions and steep driveways.
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Old 03-18-2012, 02:35 PM
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Okay. 1.5 turns stiff front and rear rewarded me with glorious amounts of neutrality and road holding ability. Going through my usual back roads resulted in the tires begging for mercy in places they never have before. I was right on that razor edge between perfection and sheer chaos and was very confident walking that line, something this car and I havent done together. The grin on my face was wide. For all its fun though, I had to back it down. On the interstate and uneven bumps, it was just too bouncy. If I didnt drive the interstate as much as I do, I would have left it. But, I settled on 3/4 turn stiff in the rear and 1/2 turn stiff up front. The result is excellent road manners, but still sharp turn in and the ability to push it hard in the corners. I WISH I had the money for the top adjustable rears, playing "pit crew" got old fast. But i guess it isnt that bad.

After today I am more pleased and excited than ever. Thanks to JVR826 for a PM that helped me and AV98 of course and everyone else.
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Old 03-18-2012, 03:24 PM
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So you can adjust these with a screwdriver without taking them off?

I may have to order these when the time comes, thanks smolck.
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Old 03-18-2012, 03:50 PM
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TC Kline makes a top adjustable rear set of Koni yellows for $200 more. Top adjustment comes with a plastic Koni knob that allows you to turn stiffness up clockwise and down counter clockwise.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
I don't know if I mentioned it, but I also replaced the dust boots, bump stops, front upper strut mounts, spring pads (top and bottom) and rear shock mounts with all new parts from Lemforder and Meyle. Only thing I re-used was the springs.
I'm about to put on 4 new Koni Yellows.
Do I need to use bump stops in the rear? Or are there internal bumpstops on the Konis?
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:12 AM
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I'm about to put on 4 new Koni Yellows.
Do I need to use bump stops in the rear? Or are there internal bumpstops on the Konis?
You can reuse your factory ones. When you take apart the rear shocks, just note how it all comes apart and then re-assemble in reverse. The bump stop is not needed IMO (unless you are slammed), but it is what keeps the dust boot on the car so I use them for that reason.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:47 AM
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Shad your still using the ZHP springs right?. I know you don't want to go any lower but I think the normal H&Rs ( not the racing ones ) are about the same height aren't they?. I believe you had the ones I'm talking about on your 323.
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Old 03-19-2012, 09:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
You can reuse your factory ones. When you take apart the rear shocks, just note how it all comes apart and then re-assemble in reverse. The bump stop is not needed IMO (unless you are slammed), but it is what keeps the dust boot on the car so I use them for that reason.
Cool. Thanks for the info!
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