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3 Series / 4 Series
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  #1  
Old 02-05-2002, 05:59 PM
PG PG is offline
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Mein Auto: '03 330i
Steering retrofit issues finally resolved (long)

Ever since having the steering retrofit done on my 330i last year, I noticed that while the steering was somewhat heavier with better return-to-center, something just didn't feel right. The steering had a big dead spot (felt light in the middle), the steering felt twitchy on rough roads, and my car had a tendency to wander on uneven surfaces. One of my friends also has a 330i that previously had the steering retrofit done on it, so we decided to test drive each other's cars one day. Immediately, we both noticed that my car's steering felt nothing like the steering on his 330i. My friend's 330i had heavier steering, his car didn't wander, and there was no twitchy steering feel at all. His 330 just handled much more confidently than mine.

While I did indeed go back to the dealership's service department and informed them of the issues I had after the steering retrofit, they test drove my car and said the steering felt "ok". Of course, this is coming from a multi-make dealership complex (they don't specialize in BMWs), so I knew this didn't mean much. A few weeks later, it was arranged for a BMW rep to test drive my car and make a determination. He test drove my car and he too also described my steering as being "ok". So, at this point, I felt like I was pretty much SOL and would have no recourse for any resolution to my car's steering problems.

A few months went by and I got continuously disgusted with my car's steering. Then, I got in touch with a member of this board who also had the retrofit done on his 330i. Just like with my 330, his car's steering didn't feel as heavy as it should be and there was a big dead spot in the steering. He went back and had an alignment done on his 330i (it apparently was never done at the initial time of retrofit). After the alignment, he got in touch with me and told me that his car's steering was heavier and the dead spot was almost gone, so this made me very hopeful that the problem with my retrofit steering was related to a bad alignment job.

So, today, I walked in to a different BMW dealership and asked them do a 4 wheel alignment on my car. I made it clear that I want them to set the toe-in values to the max that spec allows in order to optimize straight line stability (since my car previously wandered). The service advisor asked me why I wanted an alignment to be done since my car only has ~5,000 mi. I explained the situation to him with how I previously had the steering retrofit done and how I felt a bad alignment or no alignment was done at the time of the retrofit. He assured me that their techs are very good with judging road feel and if there's a problem with my car's alignment, they'll correct it. A few hours later, I got a call saying that they did a 4 wheel alignment on my car and it now handles dramatically better than before with no signs of wandering. I went to pick it up earlier this evening and to my excitement, my BMW 330i finally steers like a real BMW. It feels heavy with no dead spot in the center, it handles curves very aggressively in a confident manner, the steering doesn't feel twitchy like before, and my car no longer wanders. In essence, only now have I fully realized the steering feel that's to be delivered by having the steering retrofit done.

So, if you had the steering retrofit done on your 3 series and feel that 1) steering isn't as heavy as it should be, 2) your car still wanders even after the retrofit, 3) steering feels twitchy on rough roads, or 4) steering has a big dead spot in the center...

I advise you to go to a BMW dealer with an excellent service dept and have them do a 4 wheel alignment on your car, even if an alignment was already done at the time of the retrofit. It cost me $125 to have it done, but the satisfaction I've gotten from having this major issue resolved on a $45k car is priceless.

If any of you have any questions about my steering retrofit experiences, feel free to email me.

Regards,
PG
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  #2  
Old 02-06-2002, 04:51 AM
Nick325xiT 5spd's Avatar
Nick325xiT 5spd Nick325xiT 5spd is offline
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Mein Auto: M3 & 323i/999 KP
You're making me damned tempted to get my car aligned...
Sounds exactly like what I don't like about my car's steering.

Hrrrrrmmmm...

Nick
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