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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E46 (1999 - 2006)

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 10-06-2010, 06:59 AM
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mlukas161 mlukas161 is online now
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vibration in steering wheel / front end

Car is a 2003 330i, 5 speed, sport package, 70,000 miles, 18" staggered M sport wheels.

For a few weeks now I've been trying to find the cause of my sterring wheel vibration. I also have quite a bit of "bump steer" and the entire car shakes and feels unstable at 70mph. A lot of tramlining as well. (not the tires)

Also, this shaking only started AFTER I installed new Meyle HD control arms, Meyle HD CABS, Meyle HD end links. I know these may transmit some vibration from other worn suspension parts. I had the dealer do an alignment right after.
I also had the tires balanced right after for good measure. Rear tires were very slightly chopped. Wheels were perfect.
I have Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetrics with about 3000 miles on them.


So I'm out of ideas. Here's what I've checked so far.

1.) Not the tires - all are balanced. I put these wheels on another car and they rode smooth.
2.) Not the brakes hanging up - all rotors and pads are relatively new
3.) Not the steering flex disc - there is no play in the steering wheel
4.) When on jack stands - there is no play in the wheel from 12-6 and from 9-3
This led me to rule out tie rod ends and wheel bearings
5.) Not the drive shaft Guibo - looks fine
6.) No play in the rear wheels at all - so I'm saying not the RCABs
7.) Not control arms, or CABs or end links - this is assuming there are no manufactuing defects. Got them new from Max at OEMbimmerparts.
8.) No wheels are bent- I dont even have a scratch on these
9.) No broke springs
10.) Not damaged rear subframe.

What it could be.....
-bad shocks/struts or bad upper stut mount?
-Bad alignment? maybe they didn't tighten something up?
-bad installation on CA's and CAB's - maybe not preloaded before torqueing?
-worn struts and shocks? springs?
The other odd thing is that this vibration only happen 80% of the time. Every once in a while it'll ride smoothly for about 5 minutes and then start up again. This also led me to dismiss tire wear.

Any help would be greatly appreciated..
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  #2  
Old 10-06-2010, 07:21 AM
jcourcoul jcourcoul is offline
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Tire pressure? I've had tramlining when the tires were underinflated (of course, that happened at around 120MPH, not at a measly 70... )
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  #3  
Old 10-06-2010, 07:31 AM
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mlukas161 mlukas161 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcourcoul View Post
Tire pressure? I've had tramlining when the tires were underinflated (of course, that happened at around 120MPH, not at a measly 70... )
Thanks, that's a good suggestion. I check tire pressure regularly and all is ok.. 32psi front 36psi rear.
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Old 10-06-2010, 07:43 AM
jcourcoul jcourcoul is offline
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Mine tramlined @32 PSI. I now run 40PSI even, but mine doesn't use a staggered setup. Check the door sticker...
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Old 10-06-2010, 07:48 AM
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mlukas161 mlukas161 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcourcoul View Post
Mine tramlined @32 PSI. I now run 40PSI even, but mine doesn't use a staggered setup. Check the door sticker...
I'm running exactly what the door sticker says to inflate to. 32 front 36 rear for 18" staggered setup. Thanks for the suggestion though.
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:07 PM
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MicahO MicahO is offline
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The door sticker pressures give you a perfect tire setup for understeer. Ignore it and run relatively square pressures in the 37-40 range. The car will feel better, and it will give you a few more pounds of pressure to protect the rims.

Tires with a sidewall as short and stiff as 18's on these cars tramline. That's a fact. It can be made better (or worse) with different pressures and alignment settings, but trying to tune out tramline on a short sidewall like this is useless.

On the other hand, the car should NOT vibrate, not through the seat, not through the steering wheel.

You seem confident in the tires and wheels, and they are okay on another car. You've done most of the front end components. Bad wheel bearings would tend to make noise (and on these cars the rears tend to go before the fronts). Tie rod ends are on the list of culprits, but they cost more, and will require another alignment.

For $50 and 30 minutes of time, swap the steering guibo. There is no way to test it by hand, even mounted in a vise, that can create the kind of force that old rubber sees when steering the car. I've still got my old one on the workbench, and it still "looks fine" with "no movement." But the car sure drove like **** until I replaced it........and I replaced everything else first, tie rod ends included.
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  #7  
Old 10-06-2010, 06:21 PM
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SJBimmer SJBimmer is offline
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Driveshaft center support bearing or possible CV joint going? What leads me to this is the occasional 5 min. of no problems. Bad bearings or CV joints will occasionally run fine for a few seconds, and the go off center causing vibration. Just guesses on my part.
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  #8  
Old 10-07-2010, 05:58 AM
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Thanks guys for the comments. I put on my winter wheels and tires yesterday night and the vibration is a lot less noticeable. Although I'm also changing from 18" summer performance tires to 17" soft gummy winter tires, so I think a lot of the vibration is muted.

My tie rods can be twisted, but I think thats normal. All bolts appeared tight.
There is definitly no play in the wheel from 12 to 6.

Anyway, the vibration is still there, and I really think it's coming from the front driver side wheel well. The best way to descirbe it is "it feels like a loose wheel that has a wobble to it". I use a torque wrench to tighten my wheels everytime. It almost feels like a "dead" shock.

I did order a steering flex disc and drive shaft guibo just to avoid those possibilities.
Should have the parts Friday and will swap out on Saturday.
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  #9  
Old 10-07-2010, 07:39 AM
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mawana mawana is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MicahO View Post
The door sticker pressures give you a perfect tire setup for understeer. Ignore it and run relatively square pressures in the 37-40 range. The car will feel better, and it will give you a few more pounds of pressure to protect the rims.

Tires with a sidewall as short and stiff as 18's on these cars tramline. That's a fact. It can be made better (or worse) with different pressures and alignment settings, but trying to tune out tramline on a short sidewall like this is useless..
Totally agree - I have been running 40psi square. A little bumpy but has cured my steering shimmys.
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  #10  
Old 10-07-2010, 07:57 AM
oembimmerparts oembimmerparts is offline
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Assuming the arms and such were torqued down under load(if they were not they need to be loosened and re-torqued with the suspension loaded)
That being said if I read one of your posts correctly that after changing the tires the vibration changed quite a bit It almost has to be something either in the wheel/tire or steering areas.
1. corrosion/gunk build up where the inner part of the rim contacts the hub. This is a known area of vibrations if yours has a build up (most do)
2. Tie rod ends if the ends have over 80K they almost have to be well worn
3. Under torqued wheels will also cause a issue.

If the old ball joints and bushings were shot the new ones will make the issue(whatever it is) more obvious whether it be a wheel bearing or cuped tire or what not.
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  #11  
Old 10-09-2010, 01:52 PM
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mlukas161 mlukas161 is online now
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Well, after 3 hours of changing wheels with other BMWs, I've determined that 99% of the problem is the front tires. The bad part is they only have 3000 miles on them and now they're not smooth anymore.

I had ruled out the tires before bc I put them on my Wife's X-3 and they were smooth. But I'm sure her suspension is much more forgiving than my car's sport suspension and may have masked the vibration.

So that's it. The tires were the culprit.
Thanks for the other suggestions.
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Old 10-09-2010, 07:57 PM
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marinekilz marinekilz is offline
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I would ask to see the alignment sheet. Maybe your car was aligned as a "normal suspenaion" instead of a "sport suspension". That would have your camber and toe in the wrong adjustment. since you mentioned bump steer that is where I would start.
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Old 10-09-2010, 10:06 PM
jcourcoul jcourcoul is offline
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BTW, just offhand, when the alignment was done, did they load the car? Specs say to add weights to the front seats or get you and a buddy to sit thru the procedure.

As for salvaging the (near new) tires, someone mentioned tire services that could shave off excess rubber to rebalance the things. Might be worth a shot.
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Last edited by jcourcoul; 10-09-2010 at 10:07 PM.
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  #14  
Old 10-10-2010, 09:05 AM
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mlukas161 mlukas161 is online now
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Here's my alignment sheet. Any idea if this was spec'd correctly for the Sport Suspension.
Thanks!
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Old 10-10-2010, 01:27 PM
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marinekilz marinekilz is offline
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unless someone else gives it to you before hand, I will give you the specs on my machine when I go to work tomorrow
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Old 10-11-2010, 07:06 AM
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mlukas161 mlukas161 is online now
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thanks marinekilz. Anyone have comments on if this alignment is Sport Specific? Thanks!
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Old 10-11-2010, 10:07 PM
Lbert Lbert is offline
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Check whether some of the wheel weights used to balance the tire came off.
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  #18  
Old 10-13-2010, 03:25 PM
dr.j dr.j is offline
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Thrust bushings are worn, any slight imbalance in the front tires or road washboard will start it shaking. Front control arms.
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Old 10-19-2010, 05:25 PM
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Sorry I forgot about this thread. I will check on the specs tomorrow and post the specs for alignment. sorry again
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Old 10-20-2010, 11:04 AM
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mlukas161 mlukas161 is online now
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thanks marinekilz. Whenever you get around to it is fine. I appreciate it!
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