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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 09-12-2009, 07:38 PM
PPXYZ PPXYZ is offline
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Help! Brand New X3 super bumpy, rocking ride

Hello all you experts, I have a question...hopefully it will not sound too stupid.

Just took delivery on a brand new X3. We didn't notice anything in the test drive and have owned BMWs before so were aware of the stiff suspension.

This is something else entirely. When it goes over small bumps or pockets in the road at <30 mph it bumps along like a carnival ride for a few feet before resuming normal driving.

Is this supposed to be this hard a ride? We had been reading about the original (and those with sport suspension) having teeth chattering rides (some british wag said that people would have to be clinically insane to drive one but he didn't like the 911 either) but that they had been smoothed out in later models.

We can't figure out if this is a problem with:

1. The design/car problem
2. Us.
3. The road we live on.

Since we are coming from nothing but sedans, is this a common feature (or problem) of this car or any other tall SUV? We like the HP, the handling is always BMW great, the brakes are phenomenal, etc. but the ride is something else.

It is going back to the dealer for a look see but is this just something we just live with? We plan on keeping the car for 5-6 years so we need to figure out what we can do.

Can this be eased with different tires from the basic OEM pirellis it comes with? We have tried easing the tire pressure to the low normal range and that doesn't seem to make any difference.

I find it hard to believe that this suburban ute is this rough....any ideas?

Thank you
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  #2  
Old 09-12-2009, 08:05 PM
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welcome to the X3 harsh ride world. yes, it is that way.
sad but true.

did you get sport package? also, the pirellis are the best of the tires. what PSI?
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  #3  
Old 09-12-2009, 08:32 PM
PPXYZ PPXYZ is offline
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Hello,

Thank you for answering.

We took the tires from 36 to 32...made no difference. I can feel the tires on the road at highway speeds. The manual says that the tires will settle in after 200 miles and we are finally over that.

The transmission was jumpy initially as well but that has settled down considerably. When coasting to a stop it would down shift hard and nearly stop the car all by itself. There is still a bit of jumpiness when moving up an incline from a stop but that isn't as noticeable and I am hoping that will also smooth itself out over time...or with a different driving style.

I am still finding it hard to believe that they sells tens of thousands of these cars with this kind of ride especially as many (most?) are driven by women. I spoke to other owners and they said the ride was fine...perhaps our bodies adjust to the ride over time....bumpety, bumpety, bump.

I wonder how it works with a cup o'coffee in hand....maybe safe only with a straw.

It is going back to the dealership for a visit. I will look for a road where it exhibits this behavior. I don't know if there are any other adjustments possible?

No sports pkg --- thank goodness!

Last edited by PPXYZ; 09-12-2009 at 08:34 PM. Reason: additional comments
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  #4  
Old 09-12-2009, 10:20 PM
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madurodave madurodave is offline
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Mine is typical German stiff, but not harsh. I asked my wife today and she agreed it is a little harder than our 5 series. Great on most roads, but still on the bumps.

Hopefully you find something! It should be an enjoyable ride!

Did you test drive a few before purchase? Is this worse?
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Old 09-13-2009, 12:05 AM
spokelizard spokelizard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PPXYZ View Post
When it goes over small bumps or pockets in the road at <30 mph it bumps along like a carnival ride for a few feet before resuming normal driving.
I got my X3 a few months ago. The only time I've experienced a ride as bad as what you're describing is going slowly over speed bumps, very stiff, and vehicle pitches if I'm at an angle.

But what I also found was that rough roads smoothed out at speed, and the handling allowed that, even encouraged it. Don't know what your road is like, but if it's safe try taking it at 45 instead of < 30, see if that improves things.

I also found that I was very sensitive to road surfaces at first, now everything seems smooth, guess I've gotten used it in the course of a few months.

FYI, I have an '07, which is supposed to be the year the ride improved.
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Old 09-13-2009, 02:09 AM
PPXYZ PPXYZ is offline
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Rocking and rolling

Thank you.

I did test drive and did not feel this. If I had, I would not have bought the car. It would have been hard for the salesman to explain ...I think.

It doesn't do it all the time which is the hardest thing to diagnose. It happens to happen most frequently in the streets around the house.

Test driving was fine. It felt zippy with great acceleration, braking and overall handling. It drove pretty much like the 5 sedan. The height of the car was noticeable of course but it didn't feel bumpy or harsh in the least. It was very comfortable. It was a much more comfortable test drive than the Audi Q5 which felt too 'sporty' to me.

I find it hard to believe if every time it went over a slight indentation or small bump in a paved road and it rocked back and forth or side to side anyone would buy it. Then again, maybe I have been spoiled for years and SUVs or SAVs in general drive just like this.

Hard to say. I am going to take it in anyway and try and recreate the problem. I am a bit concerned about the possible stress it puts on the car if it bounces around frequently like this.


=================

Yes, the rocking or pitching (that's a better word) is at <30 speeds on regular residential roads. If the road has some patches it keeps pitching between each one which is not fun at all.

During acceleration at any speed and at highway speeds it is smooth. I can still feel and hear the road but it is smooth as long as the highway isn't in bad shape. If it is bumpy, there is a vibration in the wheel. I figure that is normal.

I am sure I am hyper sensitive as well as not used to a tall car with a smaller wheelbase. At the same time, I want to make sure that there isn't something wrong.
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  #7  
Old 09-13-2009, 09:55 AM
bluskye bluskye is offline
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Problem is 2, and 3. Compared to sedans, the X3 is quite "bouncy" at low speeds. The X3 essentially started the small crossover/sport concept. In 2004, nothing was quite like it. The Q5/GLK/RDX are supposed to be better (milder), but those are recent introductions. Drive a FX and its less bouncy but stiffer. Drive a RX, and you wont know you are driving. If you want the perfect suspension setup, this class of vehicle is not for you. The X3 seriously is not bad. Try to find a 1997 4Runner or Pathfinder with real truck setup ..... you will vomit from the suspension.

Last edited by bluskye; 09-13-2009 at 09:57 AM.
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  #8  
Old 09-13-2009, 10:33 AM
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X3-terrestrial X3-terrestrial is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PPXYZ View Post
. When it goes over small bumps or pockets in the road at <30 mph it bumps along like a carnival ride for a few feet before resuming normal driving.

Is this supposed to be this hard a ride?
No. I don't think that's normal. I have a 2005, and the ride is stiff, yes, but is controlled all of the time and I've never noticed any erratic bouncing. And never like a carnival ride!

Yes, you feel more the imperfections on the road, due to BMW's are made to effectively transmit feedback to the driver. That's the price you pay for a great handling car, just wait until you push her through curves, or you have to make and emergency avoidance or stop sudenly; I guarantee you, there will be a smile on your face. After all it's a bimmer and it demands to be driven like one.

Per your description, I would say it sounds like deffective or totally gone dampers, which would be hard to believe after the final OK from the factory, but always a possibility.

And finally, yes, you have to be VERY careful when holding your coffee!
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  #9  
Old 09-13-2009, 11:14 AM
PPXYZ PPXYZ is offline
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Angry Dampers.

Thank you, that's something else to look at.

I had a 5 series sedan, lots of miles, best handling and most comfortable car I have ever driven. Test drove an X3, no problem, similar handling but with much more power and a high ride height.

Expected to have some maintenance issues in the distant future (I don't drive that many miles anyway) but no serious issues (as with the 5) right out of the box...just 300 miles so far. After reading all of the posts in a sleepless night on the GM6 AT thread, I think the problem is the AT.

1. hard downshifting when coasting to a stop.
2. rocking/rolling/bouncy ride at low to moderate speeds

The same symptoms appeared on cars with AT problems so I surmise that I have the same problem right out of the box...luck of the draw.

Coffee would only be a possibility with a stainless steel straw. I did see a Thermos thermal coffee cup with a really deep well at the top to contain spills but even that wouldn't be enough to prevent coffee stains on the windshield.
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  #10  
Old 09-13-2009, 11:26 AM
George Allan George Allan is offline
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Hi,
Sorry you find the x3 ride so bad. I have 2007 x3 (not sport) and find the ride stiff but not harsh, very well controlled . The wheels stay on the ground in all situations which give it such great control.
Maybe you can get used to it and eventually enjoy the type of suspension that is about the safest out there in emergencies .

All the best

Geo Allan
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  #11  
Old 09-13-2009, 12:18 PM
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b-y b-y is offline
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I just looked at this quickly and didn't see a response to the key questions--do you have the sport suspension? standard wheels or oversize?

If you have the standard suspension and wheels, it sounds like there is something wrong. Assuming the tire pressures are correct, you need to do an A/B test. Drive another X3 (same or similar year and eqt) on the same roads and compare the two. Are you in the Bay Area? If so, I'll volunteer to let you compare my 2008 (standard suspension & wheels, Pirelli Scorpions, AT) with your X3. You drive mine & I'll drive yours, and we can go from there.
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  #12  
Old 09-13-2009, 12:19 PM
Tolland Mark Tolland Mark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PPXYZ View Post
Hello,

Thank you for answering.

We took the tires from 36 to 32...made no difference. I can feel the tires on the road at highway speeds. The manual says that the tires will settle in after 200 miles and we are finally over that.

The transmission was jumpy initially as well but that has settled down considerably. When coasting to a stop it would down shift hard and nearly stop the car all by itself. There is still a bit of jumpiness when moving up an incline from a stop but that isn't as noticeable and I am hoping that will also smooth itself out over time...or with a different driving style.

I am still finding it hard to believe that they sells tens of thousands of these cars with this kind of ride especially as many (most?) are driven by women. I spoke to other owners and they said the ride was fine...perhaps our bodies adjust to the ride over time....bumpety, bumpety, bump.

I wonder how it works with a cup o'coffee in hand....maybe safe only with a straw.

It is going back to the dealership for a visit. I will look for a road where it exhibits this behavior. I don't know if there are any other adjustments possible?

No sports pkg --- thank goodness!
This is my first experience with an SAV/SUV. I have the sports pkg and the 19"wheel/tire package - with Pirelli PZero Rosso tires. In my area, we have asphalt roads and while on certain surfaces the sport suspension produces a bit of a choppy ride but this is very rare in my experience. Prior to buying I tested both the sport and regular versions and felt that for the very rare pavement issues that the big improvement in handling with the sport pkg was worth it.

This of course is subjective and for me (and the roads I'm on) I definitely do not find the ride rough or bumpy in the least and was really impressed by BMW's job in balancing the ride and handling trade off. I do favor a tighter feel however. If you drive on concrete with lots of expansion joints it might be a totally different story though.

Anyway, you should have your service center confirm that all of the shipping blocks were removed. Mis-alignment, unbalanced or bent wheels can induce vibration but this would be different than what you seem to be describing. Best of luck.
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Old 09-13-2009, 01:04 PM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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It is a horrible ride over rough pavement! I have an '06 non sport with the 18 inch factory option. The mistake I made was to do my long test drive on smooth freeway and well paved arterial streets. I was enjoying the crisp handling, nice performance, and great brakes. What I failed to do was drive over some of the nasty streets, raised expansion jointed freeways, and indifferently paved county roads. Unfortunately with the economy going south one of the big cutbacks has been road maintentance. So, instead of the wonderful smooth roads, I get nasty potholed streets. Only this morning we came back from a trip and decided this is enough. I am going to get rid of this buckboard before all of my fillings are gone. BTW, I have driven the later X3's as loaners and they are no different IMHO. When the FX came out about the same time as the X3 it was widely panned for having a horrible ride. Infiniti fixed the suspension and now it is a decent ride with great handling, so it can be done. Good luck, if its any consolation you get somewhat used to the X3 ride, but be careful or you will be wearing your latte.

Last edited by UncleJ; 09-13-2009 at 01:07 PM.
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  #14  
Old 09-13-2009, 01:13 PM
PPXYZ PPXYZ is offline
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Thanks to all who replied. I am learning so much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by b-y View Post
I just looked at this quickly and didn't see a response to the key questions--do you have the sport suspension? standard wheels or oversize?

If you have the standard suspension and wheels, it sounds like there is something wrong. Assuming the tire pressures are correct, you need to do an A/B test. Drive another X3 (same or similar year and eqt) on the same roads and compare the two. Are you in the Bay Area? If so, I'll volunteer to let you compare my 2008 (standard suspension & wheels, Pirelli Scorpions, AT) with your X3. You drive mine & I'll drive yours, and we can go from there.
I have the standard suspension, standard everything I think. I took it into the dealership (Oregon) and they took the tires from 36 to 32. No difference. Scorpions, 235/55 R17 written on the side.

I test drove another X3 and it felt fine. It felt tall and narrower in comparison to my 5 series sedan but otherwise it felt fine or I wouldn't have bought it.

This one started acting up immediately and hasn't quit.
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Old 09-13-2009, 01:25 PM
PPXYZ PPXYZ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tolland Mark View Post
This is my first experience with an SAV/SUV. I have the sports pkg and the 19"wheel/tire package - with Pirelli PZero Rosso tires. In my area, we have asphalt roads and while on certain surfaces the sport suspension produces a bit of a choppy ride but this is very rare in my experience. Prior to buying I tested both the sport and regular versions and felt that for the very rare pavement issues that the big improvement in handling with the sport pkg was worth it.

This of course is subjective and for me (and the roads I'm on) I definitely do not find the ride rough or bumpy in the least and was really impressed by BMW's job in balancing the ride and handling trade off. I do favor a tighter feel however. If you drive on concrete with lots of expansion joints it might be a totally different story though.

Anyway, you should have your service center confirm that all of the shipping blocks were removed. Mis-alignment, unbalanced or bent wheels can induce vibration but this would be different than what you seem to be describing. Best of luck.
Right.

What you experienced is what I expected. I knew the taller SAV wouldn't be exactly like my 5 sedan but the test drive was smooth with great handling and great acceleration and braking.

The one I bought is completely different. I called the dealership back almost immediately and said, is this normal? Then I decided it couldn't be normal and took it back in for a test drive with the service mgr. We decided it was 'bucky' but he said that was 'normal' and I thought...well, ok.

The more I drive it, the more I know that it cannot be normal. No one would buy a car that does what mine does all the time, at low speeds in normal driving on normal, paved streets. I called to set up another visit to the dealership next week. I need to find a resolution to this.
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Old 09-13-2009, 01:35 PM
PPXYZ PPXYZ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleJ View Post
It is a horrible ride over rough pavement! I have an '06 non sport with the 18 inch factory option. The mistake I made was to do my long test drive on smooth freeway and well paved arterial streets. I was enjoying the crisp handling, nice performance, and great brakes. What I failed to do was drive over some of the nasty streets, raised expansion jointed freeways, and indifferently paved county roads. Unfortunately with the economy going south one of the big cutbacks has been road maintentance. So, instead of the wonderful smooth roads, I get nasty potholed streets. Only this morning we came back from a trip and decided this is enough. I am going to get rid of this buckboard before all of my fillings are gone. BTW, I have driven the later X3's as loaners and they are no different IMHO. When the FX came out about the same time as the X3 it was widely panned for having a horrible ride. Infiniti fixed the suspension and now it is a decent ride with great handling, so it can be done. Good luck, if its any consolation you get somewhat used to the X3 ride, but be careful or you will be wearing your latte.
When driving on highways with bad pavement I get vibration through the steering wheel. Most of the time I just get road noise from the tires. Faster is much better than slow in this car.

I don't know why I didn't find this thread when I spent weeks researching new cars. Bummer with the Bimmer! I found articles talking about a harsh ride in the backseat of the original cars but then other articles that said the later ones, esp 2007+ were fixed and were fine.

I think people use 'harsh' to mean 'stiff' or 'sporty' and chalk up uncomfortable rides to people being unused to a sportier ride. I am used to the sporty BMW ride and this isn't it. This is a wobbling, jerky, bouncy ride that goes this way then that way and then keeps bouncing until finally settling down.

It is a real treat when going over roads that have strips of slight uneven pavement. That kind of surface makes the car bounce all over the place. Honestly, I couldn't put a senior citizen in this car and I can't have a drink in this car either. Well, maybe something with a straw but I would still be prone to dropping it during the wobbling.

What a Bummer. I like so much about this car but this problem overwhelms all of the good features.
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Old 09-13-2009, 02:09 PM
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Here are my candidates for the culprit, with the most likely first:

(1) Shipping block(s) still there. (Easy to spot on a lift.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tolland Mark View Post
...
Anyway, you should have your service center confirm that all of the shipping blocks were removed. ...
(2) One or more bad struts. (Relatively easy to test on a shock absorber testing machine, if anyone still uses these things.)

(3) One or more bad silent blocs or suspension bushings. (Also fairly easy to check on a lift.)

Keep us informed.
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Old 09-13-2009, 02:51 PM
ubermax ubermax is offline
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we got the X3 after owning a cushy Audi A6 - the X3 is stiffer and we also were surprised at first - we've had it now 14 months and have gotten used to it - would buy it again - the pluses outweigh the minuses for us - peppy, great look, & good cargo space.
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Old 09-13-2009, 03:43 PM
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archrenov8 archrenov8 is offline
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My '08 X3 with standard suspension has a firm ride, but it only gets strange on one section of road that has a series of bumps or subtle ridges that seem to set up a harmonic reaction in the car that makes it shake. It could be some fatal relationship between the somewhat short wheelbase and the spacing of bumps or ridges in the road. Other than that, it is just German firm.
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Old 09-13-2009, 05:53 PM
PPXYZ PPXYZ is offline
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Will take to dealer

Quote:
Originally Posted by b-y View Post
Here are my candidates for the culprit, with the most likely first:

(1) Shipping block(s) still there. (Easy to spot on a lift.)


(2) One or more bad struts. (Relatively easy to test on a shock absorber testing machine, if anyone still uses these things.)

(3) One or more bad silent blocs or suspension bushings. (Also fairly easy to check on a lift.)

Keep us informed.
Good ideas all.

I will take the list to the dealer and see what can be done.
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Old 09-13-2009, 07:02 PM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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The first thing I did was what b-y suggested, took the car back to the dealer and asked them to check the shipping blocks, et al. No joy, it was just the nature of the beast. I suspect you will find that to be the case in your situation too. Harsh in my view is not firm, it is bouncy, jerky and a totally unpleasant experience. It is not in my view the price you pay for having a "sporty ride". I have had many other cars that handled equally as well, or better, and traversed nasty roads with aplomb, not controlled crashes over bumps and into potholes. But, as a previous poster or two wrote, it is subjective. I agree totally, and I don't like it and will be getting rid of an otherwise exceptional car because of it.
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Old 09-13-2009, 07:36 PM
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Can you get a loaner while they work on yours? Take the loaner (same setup, tires, etc) on the same roads. Does it behave the same way? If yes, then it probably is "normal". If no, there definitely is an issue with yours. Push the dealer until they fix it. Take the dealer on your roads with your X3 and the loaner if there is a big difference.
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:10 PM
PPXYZ PPXYZ is offline
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Angry If this is normal.....

"If yes, then it probably is "normal". If no, there definitely is an issue with yours. Push the dealer until they fix it. Take the dealer on your roads with your X3 and the loaner if there is a big difference."

Good idea. If this is normal I would have to say....this is NORMAL? In what universe?

I am making a list of problems and have developed a few additions. I hope they do not stick around. Sudden burst of acceleration when just driving along a street at moderate speed. That was interesting. A random surge of power? Clunking noise during a turn from one street into another.

Plenty to keep them busy!

"Harsh in my view is not firm, it is bouncy, jerky and a totally unpleasant experience."

In that case then I have super harsh. I cannot imagine that having this kind of a ride is good for the car. Over time, it is like shaking it hard so things become worn or come loose. If this is normal and there is no permanent fix then I have a car I cannot use for many passengers including the dog.

That's useful.
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Old 09-14-2009, 03:46 AM
PPXYZ PPXYZ is offline
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The X3 is a Buckboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleJ View Post
The first thing I did was what b-y suggested, took the car back to the dealer and asked them to check the shipping blocks, et al. No joy, it was just the nature of the beast. I suspect you will find that to be the case in your situation too. Harsh in my view is not firm, it is bouncy, jerky and a totally unpleasant experience. It is not in my view the price you pay for having a "sporty ride". I have had many other cars that handled equally as well, or better, and traversed nasty roads with aplomb, not controlled crashes over bumps and into potholes. But, as a previous poster or two wrote, it is subjective. I agree totally, and I don't like it and will be getting rid of an otherwise exceptional car because of it.
From what I can deduce, you and I have the same bouncing around problem with our cars but most other people do not. I think we have a problem and not an 'operating within design' situation.

I find it hard to believe that this ride would be even remotely acceptable on a $40K+ car so I am thinking that there is an actual problem that might even have an actual fix other than taking a huge hit on a brand new car. If this was actually built into the design, it would have been mentioned (how could it not) in reviews and I do not remember the comments of coffee flying around or people being bounced around their seats or of anything hitting the ceiling because of it.

Besides, what would be the point of having this designed into any car? It's not like we are getting anything in return. This is a pure negative.

I don't know how long you have had your car but I don't want 5+ years of this thing doing the basketball....pogostick....buckboard thing as it is liable to cause injury from constant jostling.
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  #25  
Old 09-14-2009, 08:09 AM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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Location: Silicon Valley
 
Join Date: May 2006
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Mein Auto: '06 X3
PPX, I have had my '06 X3 since new and have driven nearly 50K miles. The ride has improved slightly since new, but is still awful. I have had 4 X3 loaners during that time and took each one over a stretch of road that I found was representative of the nasty pavement/potholed/raised expansion jointed conditions that gave the worst ride. All four were virtually the same, awful. I have come to the conclusion that it is just the nature of the beast. It is my fault for not using the test drive before purchase to better evaluate the X3's performance under those conditions. I don't blame BMW, I blame myself for being too anxious to get what otherwise was a superb car. In fairness I have to add that in all that driving I have had but one problem, a faulty seatheater pad. It has been totally faultless otherwise. On smooth asphalt roads it is a dream to drive and gobbles up the miles with very decent fuel economy. Too bad the ride is so awful under all too frequently encountered situations. Good luck.
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