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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 07-10-2013, 04:19 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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What can I have done at the alignment shop to reduce my drastic E39 inside tire wear?

This is a followup thread to one of a couple years ago:
- Curious what you think of my excessive tire wear (is it due to camber or toe-in?)


What can I have them do at the alignment shop to reduce my drastic E39 inside tire wear?



I haven't been on in a while due to personal issues - but, I can't hold off any longer on tires.

While all E39s have (rear) negative camber wear, I think a combination of extremely curved hilly roads coupled with my (rear) presumed negative rear camber is (apparently) excessively chewing up the inside edge of my front & rear tires in less than two years and less than 18K miles (even with sporadic rotation, including the spare).
  • Tire size and rating: P225/55R16 99V 420/A/A
  • Date installed: 9/1/2011 at 102,278 miles
  • Worn to steel: 7/1/2013 at 119,778 miles
    • ~17,500 miles
Maybe that's normal ... but ... I think that's excessive (for an A/A/420 tire) especially the sedate way I drive (i.e., although I do a lot of miles of steeply hilly twisting roads lately as I try to enjoy my life, I take them relatively slowly, and I really drive rather tamely, and, lately, I've had very few highway miles).

Googling for what would happen if I reduced rear camber to zero, I find this interesting tidbit regarding camber & reserved cornering:
Quote:
Originally Posted by tirerack
An enthusiastic driver who corners faster than a reserved driver will receive more cornering grip and longer tire life from a tire aligned with more negative camber. However with the aggressive negative camber, a reserved driver's lower cornering speeds would cause the inside edges of the tires to wear faster than the outside edges. ... Less negative camber (until the tire is perpendicular to the road at zero camber) typically will reduce the cornering ability, but results in more even wear.
I fit the latter description (sedate), and not the former (spirited); however, I do daily drive a lot lately on very steep (9% constant grade for miles) curvy roads, due to an extreme change in my situation. I think the extremely curved roads (taken at slow speeds of about 20 to 40 mph), including multiple hairpins, over the past year is a factor - as well as possible negative camber or toe issues (I need to measure mine).

In fact, all four tires (with rotation once or twice) are now worn to the steel on the inside edge, with the center and outside tread being relatively unscathed (and a similar thing happened to the last set, only not nearly as pronounced at the edges):
My old tires, two years ago:


My standard-suspension (16-inch stock wheels) 525i automatic has never been in an accident, since I've owned it, and it has never been in a collision to my knowledge prior to my owning it (I bought it when it was still under factory warranty).

I don't remember if I had it aligned two years ago, but I think I might not have done so (much to my current chagrin).

I'm wondering if the 2 degrees of negative rear camber of our E39s may be the sole culprit, but, as you know, front (nearly zero) camber isn't adjustable without the addition of camber plates:
- The dozen alignment specs and which are adjustable (1) & cn90's alignment DIY (2) & one user's attempt at understanding normal camber tire wear & new tire selection (1)

Flipping through section 320 in the paper Bentley (Steering and Wheel Alignment), I find the specifications for my 2002 525i standard suspension automatic on the chart on page 320-36:

Front axle:
  • Total toe = 0░ 5' ▒ 10'
  • Camber (difference between left/right maximum 40') = 0░ -13' ▒ 30'
  • Track (differential angle with 20░ lock on inside wheel) = -1░ 56' ▒ 30'
  • Caster (difference between left/right maximum 30') = N/A
    • With ▒10░ wheel lock = 6░ 28' ▒ 30'
    • With ▒20░ wheel lock = 6░ 42' ▒ 30'
  • Front wheel displacement = 0░ ▒ 15'
    • Inside wheel (approximate ░) = 42░
    • Outside wheel (approximate ░) = 33.5░
Rear axle:
  • Total toe = 0░ 22' ▒ 4'
  • Camber (difference between left/right maximum 15') = -2░ 04' ▒ 5'
  • Geometric axis deviation = 0░ ▒ 12'
As can be shown from the quote below, the front camber can only be adjusted with plates; but at least the rear can be adjusted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post

These are adjustable on the E39:

0. Measure ride height to be within specifications (note almost 500 pounds of weight is added, in addition to 112 pounds of fuel)
1. rear camber (adjustable, do first)
2. rear toe (adjustable, do second)
3. front toe (adjustable, do last, after centering the steering wheel)

These are changeable on the E39 (can change only by adding special parts):
4. ride height (change springs or add coil-over shocks)
5. front camber (add special camber plates)
6. front caster (you may need really special camber plates)

These are non adjustable on the E39 (replace bent or worn or broken parts if they're off spec):
7. steering axis inclination
8. included angle
9. scrub radius
10. set back
11. thrust angle
12. toe-out on turns
Given that I drive sedately, around a LOT of hilly slow-speed corners, and that my P225/55R16 99V 420/A/A tires were put on my sedan on 9/1/2011 at 102,278 miles, and they're all badly worn to the inside edge steel at the current odometer at 119,778 miles less than two years later, I ask:

My primary question:
Q: Would lessening the rear negative camber (perhaps to zero for better tire wear) be all that detrimental to sedate handling on corners?

My secondary questions:
Q: Do you know how to convert the toe spec above into inches or millimeters?
Q: Is the Bentley correct that the front Camber is -13' ▒ 30' ? [The slack seems huge at more than twice the setting? Should that actually be -13░ ▒ 30'?]
Q: Do you normally ask the alignment shop to replace the rear camber rear control arm mounting nut (as shown in the Bentleys on page 320-33)?
My tertiary questions:
Q: What is "front wheel displacement" anyway?
Q: What is "Geometric axis deviation" (is that steering axis inclination)?
Q: Is it true wheel diameters do not matter for alignment specs (e.g., the Bentleys list the specs irrespective of rim and tire size)?

EDIT: The attached pictures explain a lot of the questions I had initially.
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 08-05-2013 at 02:42 AM.
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  #2  
Old 07-10-2013, 04:48 AM
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I would have the front camber checked. I never have a uneven wear issue on the fronts. The rear, its pretty normal with a spec alignment to wear the inside first. But you can have that adjusted to neutral camber as much as possible to help with that.
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Old 07-10-2013, 06:21 AM
Aussie528iT Aussie528iT is offline
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Bluebee,
The severe inside tyre wear could be due to excessive toe out or worn or bent steering or suspension components. The tyre wear rating can also have a significant effect. I got approx 50K kms from a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 2 with a wear rating of 240. The Pilot Sport 3 tyres I now have have a wear rating of 320 and after approx 25Kkms look to be good for up to 75K kms. Rear wear rates are higher than front wear rates and should give approx 50Kkms. Tyres are 235/45/17.

Your questions

Q1. Probably not a lot. Depends on if you wan't to go around corners at the maximum possible speed or not. BMW engineers spend a lot of time getting these settings correct to get the right feel at the steering wheel and to suit a broad range of road and speed conditions as well as getting reasonable tyre life.

Q2.
a/ The specified toe in of 5'+/-10' is approx 1mm total toe in at the specified ride height, which is with the car weighted to get it to the specified height. Because I don't have a spare 150Kgs laying about I did a few sums to get an approximation of the toe in at the unloaded ride height. The toe in reduces as the suspension is loaded up. A bit of basic trigonometry taking into account the different control arm and steering tie rod lengths and angles gave approx 2.5-3mm total toe in when measured on a 530mm tyre diameter at wheel centre height with the car unloaded. This is what I set my toe in to. So far so good.
b/ The TIS gives the same settings as Bently. 0deg, 0 min, -13 secs+/- 30 secs. If the camber was 13deg the wheel would be leaning in at the top approx 100mm/4 inches.
c/ I do my own wheel alignment, I can't do the geometric axis variation bit, but the rest can be done with a builders set square, a piece of flat timber or tubing, a pencil and some string. Its probably not necessary to replace the nut unless its obviously worn. However BMW recommends replacing every nut whenever they are removed. Some nuts and bolts are coated with a dry type locking compound but a bit of Loctite 243 would suffice on a used nut. Also allways use a torque wrench.

Q3.
a/ Front wheel displacement is the maximum allowable variation from the specified castor angle when the wheels are turned through 10deg and 20 deg. Max allowable variation is +/- 15secs per wheel with a maximum total difference of 30 secs between both wheels. Any marked variation could be due to worn or bent steering or suspension components, rubber bushes etc.
b/ Geometric Axis deviation is the variation in angle between the front and rear axle axis. The front and rear wheel axis should be parallel and central to each other. If they aren't then you will get a "crabbing" or sideways effect. You can occasionally see this when a car you are following has the front or rear displaced sideways to the direction of travel. There will be pulling at the steering wheel and you will have to constantly fight the wheel to keep the car going straight.
c/ It depends on what type of wheel alignment equipment you are using. If its a modern wheel aligner which has the measurements taken remotely from the car such as projection onto a wall at a fixed distance it doesn't matter as the wheel diameter isn't relevant. If its an older system where the measurement is taken at the wheel, the diameter over which the toe in is measured is critical. 1mm toe in measured at 530mm dia gives a vastly different toe angle to 1mm toe in measured at 1000mm dia.

Hope this helps
RonR
99 528iT M52TU

Edit: Changed Q3. a/ Front wheel displacement. I misread the TIS.

Last edited by Aussie528iT; 07-10-2013 at 06:46 AM.
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  #4  
Old 07-10-2013, 06:53 AM
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Bluebee is simply diving into turns too hard

That is pretty high wear for someone that probably doesn't run her car like a track animal as I do. How fresh are your suspension components? Even my car wears the tire a lot more evenly than yours and my alignment specs reflect a OEM sport spring value.
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Old 07-10-2013, 07:21 AM
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Zero out toe on all four corners, not total toe. That would be out of BMW spec however. It'd still be fine for everyday driving, without pre-mature inner tire wear.
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Last edited by tmvE39/E53/Z32; 07-10-2013 at 07:23 AM.
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  #6  
Old 07-10-2013, 07:26 AM
kysteezy kysteezy is offline
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you might want to check balljoints in the front.. I had a similar issue on the front and couldn't align it well enough. I'm sure someone as e39 savvy as you probably already did this but just a thought
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Old 07-10-2013, 07:29 AM
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BB:
18K is definitely excessive tire wear, especially for Michelins. Excessive or inadequate tire pressure can can uneven tire wear but your specific symptoms are excessive. What tire pressure do you run at? Many tire shops include an alignment check or perform an alignment when new tires are mounted. As part of an alignment, most shops provide a readout of your before and after alignment data. Since you have no data regarding your previous suspension settings and you drive "sedately", if you are running normal tire pressures, the most likely cause of your excessive tire wear is probably the suspension. I would recommend that you use a tire shop that provides a free alignment with a Hunter or equivalent system and can provide before and after suspension data so you can determine if there is a structural cause to this problem. WRT your questions, I agree with Aussie528iT except Q2c. I have never asked for a replacement nut in two alignments performed over 85K over driving my e39s.
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Old 07-10-2013, 09:56 AM
rdl rdl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie528iT View Post
...
c/ I do my own wheel alignment, I can't do the geometric axis variation bit, but the rest can be done with a builders set square, a piece of flat timber or tubing, a pencil and some string.
...
I agree this is quite possible taking a little care. But the challenge doing alignment this way is the establishing reference plane (on which the car sits) from vertical.

A concrete garage floor may look flat and horizontal but it almost certainly isn't. I've checked mine with a 6 foot level and found dips or scallops of 1/4 inch and side to side slopes of 1/2 to 1 degree. The result is that the car is not actually level; it will be tilted to one side or the other. Camber measurements using a plumb bob can easily be off by a degree or two unless you measure the surface on which the car is sitting very carefully and then make adjustments in your calculations.

Caster would be affected by end to end slope, but caster is VERY difficult to measure and calculate DIY at home & in any case isn't adjustable without special top mounts for the struts. Also, caster won't affect tire wear. Caster and cross-caster affects steering pull, self centering and steering effort.

Toe measurements won't be affected by uneven floors unless they are gross.
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  #9  
Old 07-10-2013, 01:13 PM
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your problem maybe in a rear camber , you should keep it below -1.5 , -1.2,-1.5 MAX
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Last edited by champaign777; 07-10-2013 at 01:14 PM.
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  #10  
Old 07-10-2013, 03:13 PM
poolman poolman is offline
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TMVE39 hit it pretty good--thats what I have mine set on and and I'm getting 60k miles on Toyo's--gave up on the miches
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:55 PM
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As far as your front tires go, I would suspect your front end is out of alignment like most of the posts state. Without the tools, I woule let the alignment shop handle this. With one tire on the rear wearing on the inside, the alignment shop should check the camber on that wheel and the ball joint. I had one tire on the rear wear to the steel like yours and the ball was bad. The wheel had play (directionally like play in the camber) when jacked up and a good amount of force applied. I couldn't feel this in the ride which was surprising. Sorry about your Mechlins.
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Old 07-10-2013, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flybot View Post
I would have the front camber checked
Thanks for the advice. I will check the alignment after the new tires are put on (they should arrive in a couple days).
- What expensive equipment is used at the stealer to align your suspension (1) (pdf)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flybot View Post
you can have that adjusted to neutral camber
You guys helped me decide: I'm going to aim for zero degrees of rear camber, and (I think) I'll leave all the other specs at their defaults.

I realize there are many threads on the 500 pound weighting issue - (which I never quite understood the summary of) - so - I'll have to bone up on the real purpose of adding weights - so that I can bring something heavy with me when I get the professional alignment (as I've never seen them add weights ... have you?).
- The theory of BMW alignment with 500 pounds of weights (1) or without adding weight (1) (2) (3)

EDIT: Egad! I read the threads above. I'd have to bring 500 pounds with me! Do they really weigh down a car with 500 pounds? What do they use (cement blocks?)
Quote:
Originally Posted by MatWiz View Post
According to Dinan the purpose of the weights is to simulate the angles in the suspension when the car is driving at high speeds.
1. Driver seat centered = 150 pounds
2. Passenger seat centered = 150 pounds
3. Rear bench centered = 150 pounds
4. Rear trunk centered = 50 pounds
5. Fuel tank = full (~18 gallons x ~6.2 pounds per gallon ~= 112 pounds)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie528iT View Post
Q1 ... Q2 ... Q3
Thanks for the detailed answers. Here's a summary with the questions next to the responses.

Q1: Would lessening the rear negative camber (perhaps to zero for better tire wear) be all that detrimental to sedate handling on corners?
A1: Probably not a lot. Depends on if you want to go around corners at the maximum possible speed or not.

Q2: Do you know how to convert the toe spec above into inches or millimeters?
A2: The specified toe in of 5'+/-10' is approx 1 mm total toe in at the specified ride height, which is with the car weighted to get it to the specified height.

Q: Is the Bentley correct that the front Camber is -13' ▒ 30' ?
A:
The TIS gives the same settings as Bently. 0deg, 0 min, -13 secs+/- 30 secs.

Q: Do you normally ask the alignment shop to replace the rear camber rear control arm mounting nut (as shown in the Bentleys on page 320-33)?
A: It is probably not necessary to replace the nut unless its obviously worn. However ... a bit of Loctite 243 would suffice on a used nut. And torque it properly.

Q3: What is "front wheel displacement" anyway?
A3: This is the maximum allowable variation from the specified caster angle when the wheels are turned through 10 deg and 20 deg. Max allowable variation is +/- 15secs per wheel with a maximum total difference of 30 secs between both wheels. Any marked variation could be due to worn or bent steering or suspension components, rubber bushings, etc.

Q: What is "Geometric axis deviation" (is that steering axis inclination)?
A: Geometric Axis deviation is the variation in angle between the front and rear axle axis. The front and rear wheel axis should be parallel and central to each other. If they aren't then you will get a "crabbing" or sideways effect. You can occasionally see this when a car you are following has the front or rear displaced sideways to the direction of travel. There will be pulling at the steering wheel and you will have to constantly fight the wheel to keep the car going straight.

Q: Is it true wheel diameters do not matter for alignment specs (since the Bentleys make no mention of wheel size)?
A: It depends on what type of wheel alignment equipment you are using. If its a modern wheel aligner which has the measurements taken remotely from the car such as projection onto a wall at a fixed distance it doesn't matter as the wheel diameter isn't relevant. If its an older system where the measurement is taken at the wheel, the diameter over which the toe in is measured is critical. 1mm toe in measured at 530mm dia gives a vastly different toe angle to 1mm toe in measured at 1000mm dia.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherGeezer View Post
How fresh are your suspension components
I picked up the bimmer during its original warranty period and I haven't replaced a single suspension component. So, I'd say they're all 10 years old.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmvE39/E53/Z32 View Post
Zero out toe on all four corners, not total toe.
I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean each tire should be zero degrees of toe with respect to the centerline? If so, wouldn't that also make total axle toe zero degrees tire-to-tire?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kysteezy View Post
you might want to check balljoints in the front
I will have to look up how to check them. From memory, I jack the front up, I think, and then shake side-to-side (3 and 9 o'clock) for steering components and up-and-down (noon and 6 o'clock) for bearings. Right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
18K is definitely excessive tire wear
That's the undeniable fact that is bothering me. Since my situation changed drastically, most of my driving has been on hilly roads (9% grade) whose curves are so great that there are a dozen or more hairpins per mile. I wonder if this, alone, can account for the extremely edge-focused wear, as if the tire's edges were sharply filed off?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
What tire pressure do you run?
I must admit I don't check tire pressure all that often.
Every once in a while, if there are no lines at the tire center, I put the green stuff in the tires at Costco.
For the pressure, once I'm at the nitrogen pump, I read the door jamb sticker and then set the Costco nitrogen pump to those numbers.
I don't usually doublecheck it with a tire pressure gauge (I guess I should) and I only add nitrogen once every few months - as there's almost always a line at the Costco tire pumps.
- Tire air: Recommended tire pressures (1) (2) (3) & the claimed benefits of nitrogen gas (1) (2)

Quote:
Originally Posted by rdl View Post
Camber measurements using a plumb bob can easily be off by a degree or two unless you measure the surface on which the car is sitting very carefully and then make adjustments in your calculations.
I wonder, aloud as it were, if I want to set the rear camber to zero degrees, whether that immensely simplifies a home DIY rear camber alignment?

If, additionally, I want to set front & rear toe at near zero degrees, would that make the whole home alignment measurement a lot simpler?
- cn90's front (1) (2) and rear (1) wheel alignment DIYs & how to keep the steering wheel (SW) straight during home alignment (1) (2) & what tools measure rear camber at home (1) (2) and what tools measure front/rear toe at home (1) & what tools lock the steering wheel & brake pedal at home (1)

Anyway, my plan isn't to do a home alignment - although I always loved the idea of a DIY doublecheck, just to see if a professional alignment is warranted:
- Philosophically why most people prefer to let a professional alignment shop align their suspension (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by champaign777 View Post
your problem maybe in a rear camber
From all that is said, I'm leaning toward having the rears set to zero degrees camber.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdlkd View Post
With one tire on the rear wearing on the inside, the alignment shop should check the camber on that wheel and the ball joint.
Unfortunately, I had rotated the tires sporadically, and recently swapped in the spare, so, it's hard to tell which tire was worn on which wheel.

I "think" most of the wear was on the rears, but, I don't really remember as I've had a big change recently and I haven't even driven the bimmer for long periods.

In summary, I think I'll do the following:
1. I will have four new tires mounted & dynamically balanced (making the best of what's left my spare).
2. I will attempt a DIY for a zero-degree rear camber, and 1 mm wheel-to-wheel toe, front and back - but almost certainly - it will turn out to be too complicated for me to accomplish (I'll read the cn90 DIYs) - and so I'll probably end up getting a before-and-after professional alignment where I'll ask the technician to give me zero degrees rear camber and proper specs otherwise.
3. Meanwhile, I'll see what I can scrounge up by way of testing the ball joints, steering suspension, and tools for a quick garage DIY doublecheck of gross errors in alignment.

See also:
- Internet references for how to DIY caster, camber & toe at home (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) (21) (22) (23) (24) (25) (26) (27) (28) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) (34) (35) (36) (37) (38) (39)
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Last edited by bluebee; 08-05-2013 at 02:49 AM.
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  #13  
Old 07-11-2013, 05:26 AM
Aussie528iT Aussie528iT is offline
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Bluebee,
A bit more info.

Q: What is "Geometric axis deviation" (is that steering axis inclination)?
A: Geometric Axis deviation is the variation in angle between the front and rear axle axis. The front and rear wheel axis should be parallel and central to each other.
Add: They should also be at 90 deg to the longitudinal centre line axis of the car. This is the actual axis deviation they are refering to. The difference between 90 deg and the actual angle is the "Geometric axis deviation". IIRC somewhere in the TIS there is a sketch showing this.

The rear toe in setting is there to help minimize any tendancy for the car to oversteer. If you set this to 0 toe in or, even worse toe out, then you increase the tendancy of the car to oversteer ie "hang the tail out". OK if you are into "drifting" but not nice at speed on a wet slippery/icy road.

The first thing to check if you have too much camber on the rear is the wheel carrier ball joint. These wear before any other part of the rear suspension and it doesn't take much wear to make a significant difference to the rear camber. A small amount of wear at the joint can give 3mm/1/8" movement at the wheel, enough to increase the -ve camber to the point where inside edge tyre wear increases. Its probably the weakest link in the rear suspension. The upper rear control arms have an odd type of rubber???? boot on the outer ball joint. Its a semi translucent type of material and it perishes quickly. I replaced mine with Lemfoerder (BMW OEM) arms and they still use the same type of rubber???? boot. Even though the boot was long gone the actual ball joint was still OK but I replaced them anyway.

Hope this helps
RonR
99 528iT M52TU

Last edited by Aussie528iT; 07-11-2013 at 05:28 AM.
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  #14  
Old 07-11-2013, 07:57 AM
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tmvE39/E53/Z32 tmvE39/E53/Z32 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmvE39/E53/Z32 View Post
Zero out toe on all four corners, not total toe. That would be out of BMW spec however. It'd still be fine for everyday driving, without pre-mature inner tire wear.
I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean each tire should be zero degrees of toe with respect to the centerline? If so, wouldn't that also make total axle toe zero degrees tire-to-tire?
Let me clarify my response: zero out toe on each corner, not JUST total toe since they can offset one another.
Contrary to most believes, a little camber (within BMW spec) would NOT kill the inner of your tires as fast as toe-in.
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Last edited by tmvE39/E53/Z32; 07-11-2013 at 07:59 AM.
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  #15  
Old 07-11-2013, 09:26 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie528iT View Post
The rear toe in setting is there to help minimize any tendancy for the car to oversteer.
Thanks for the clarification. The rear toe is only 18' to 26' (i.e., 22'▒4'), so it's darn close to zero from the start.

Googling for "wheel alignment how to convert degrees to inches for toe", I'll see if I can convert that to a linear number. I've already built a rudimentary toe gauge, so, I may as well try it out.

In addition, I bought a magnetic level that reads in tenths of a degree with more than 1/2 degree accuracy (which is all that is needed, I'm told). I need to find something so that it fits flat on the wheel, and then I can check the camber.

Note: Yes, I realize some say that a garage floor isn't flat enough - but - my (ambitious) plan is to check and set in my garage - and then - go get a professional before:after alignment - and from that, I'll learn how well I approached the professional numbers.

Of course, with all that is going on in my life, I may just give up and get it aligned to zero camber in the rear and all other specs as specified in the Bentley.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie528iT View Post
The first thing to check if you have too much camber on the rear is the wheel carrier ball joint.
Do we check that ball joint by shaking at 3 and 9 o'clock?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmvE39/E53/Z32 View Post
zero out toe on each corner, not JUST total toe since they can offset one another
I understand that each wheel can have a toe with respect to the centerline of the bimmer.

Since we need to be accurate to a millimeter or less, the next question is crucial (I think):
Q: Do we know of a convenient point to use as the centerline for the front and rear axles respectively (when measuring an individual wheel to that centerline)?
Attached Files
File Type: pdf BMW_E36_E38_E39_Alignment_Specs_and_Procedures.pdf (177.6 KB, 15 views)
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Last edited by bluebee; 08-05-2013 at 02:49 AM.
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  #16  
Old 07-12-2013, 05:35 PM
Aussie528iT Aussie528iT is offline
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Bluebee,
The TIS gives the rear toe in setting for standard suspension as 16' +/- 10' not 22' +/- 4'. I don't know where you got your figures from. This is approx 3mm when measured at a 530mm wheel diameter, not almost zero. Compare this to the front toe in setting of 5' +/- 10' which is approx 1mm toe in. At such tiny angles there is an approximately linear relationship between differences in angles. (Small angle formulae) Once you go beyond these small angles the relationship becomes the more usual sinusoidal curve.
Small differences in toe in can have a large effect on both handling and tyre wear.
To check the ball joint you need to grab the wheel at the 6 o'clock and 12 o'clock positions. You are checking for horizontal movement at the bottom of the wheel. In my case this gave about 3mm play at the wheel. The actual joint play was small but this is magnified by the difference between the wheel diameter and the distance between the upper and lower control arms at the wheel carrier.
I would use the centre line of the bumpers as a starting point to find the centre line of the car. If you are really serious about this you could take off the bumpers and use the collapsible crash tubes for the bumpers to find the centre line. That is assuming they are equidistant from the centreline of the car.
Unless you have steel wheels the magnetic gauge isn't going to stick to aluminium wheels. Aluminium isn't magnetic. Half a degree accuracy probably isn't enough as we are talking +/- 10' which is 1/6 of a degree.

Hope this helps
RonR
99 528iT M52TU
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  #17  
Old 07-12-2013, 05:50 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie528iT View Post
The TIS gives the rear toe in setting for standard suspension as 16' +/- 10' not 22' +/- 4'. I don't know where you got your figures from.
Hmmm... I read the specs directly off of page 320-36 out of my paper Bentley (version BMW 5 Series (E39) 1997 to 2002, Volume I, Editorial closing 08/03.)
EDIT: Doing a search for the PDF Bentley, I find the same tables on Steering and Wheel Alignment, page 694 and 695 (section 320-36 and 320-37) as uploaded below (see the attachments for larger easier-to-read images):


Since we have two different sets of numbers reported, may I ask why the TIS doesn't agree with the Bentley - and - if that holds true - would someone kindly post the chart in the TIS so we can compare and figure out where the errors lie?

PS: My concerns, if it matters are regarding the following vehicle, wheels, and tires:
- 2002 BMW 525i, standard suspension, automatic, with P225/55R16 tires mounted on stock BMW 16" wheels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie528iT View Post
Half a degree accuracy probably isn't enough as we are talking +/- 10' which is 1/6 of a degree.
Actually, the digital level I bought has a stated degree of accuracy much greater than half a degree; but elsewhere, we had already determined that a half degree is sufficient for a home DIY camber doublecheck:
- Philosphically, why do you choose NOT to perform a home DIY alignment on your E39?
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Last edited by bluebee; 07-12-2013 at 10:47 PM.
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  #18  
Old 07-12-2013, 06:20 PM
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Heh heh ... Caveat emptor.

I just helped get MIDAS booted off the TireRack web site for the "recommended installer" program.

At least all the MIDAS shops owned by the large corporation (MIDAS International?) that owned the one I had my tires shipped to are no longer visible when I search the San Jose zip codes on Tire Rack.

Since MIDAS has been booted from TireRack yesterday, I had to call the guy at Tire Rack in charge of the recommended-installer program to send me the pricing that was on the Tirerack web site up until yesterday.

The screenshot below is from TireRack showing what they agreed to charge us (but they were actually charging appreciably higher fees):
- 55 series tire = $11.25 mounting + $1.99 valve + $2 disposal each = $60.96 + tax for four tires

But, they lied.

A friend of mine had gone to them just two weeks ago, and I knew that they charged a higher price than they reported on TireRack. So, I, on purpose, told TireRack to send my tires to them and, guess what, they tried to charge me that higher price. Heh heh. Got it all in writing with my signed quote which I faxed to Tire Rack and sent by snail mail as paper proof. They probably shouldn't have picked on little ole' me!

When I reported it, TireRack said it was the third complaint for them, and their policy is to remove a company if three people complain about them not honoring their pricing agreement with Tire Rack.

So, they booted (at least this) MIDAS from the Recommended Installer program (and all the ones under that large corporation).
NOTE: It would be interesting to see if your local MIDAS was also booted, as Tire Rack said mine was owned by a huge corporation and that they booted the entire corporation.

Anyway, here are the prices.
Now I have to find another installer (no big deal) because I also complained that they:
a) Overcharge their customers daily (millions of dollars in overcharges given the number of tires they install)
a) Do not torque the lug bolts properly (they use 100 foot pounds for ALL cars!)
b) Do not pressurize the tires properly (they use the same psi for both axles!)
c) Do not mount the heavy spot properly (they don't follow the dots nor spin the wheels prior to mounting as per this Tire Rack article:
- Match Mounting to Enhance Tire & Wheel Uniformity

See also:
- Where to find the wheel markings on our BMW E39 wheels for proper match mounting (1)

I also wrote to Consumer Reports (customerservice at cr.consumer.org) saying a study of how many tire installers improperly install tires would make a nice exposÚ!

One question:
Q: While it's clearly WRONG for a tire professional to make all the mistakes above, what safety implications do you think result from millions upon millions of tires and wheels mounted improperly so?
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Last edited by bluebee; 07-12-2013 at 06:23 PM.
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  #19  
Old 07-12-2013, 07:06 PM
Aussie528iT Aussie528iT is offline
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Bluebee,
I checked my copy of the Bently manual and it gives different settings for the I6 sedan and wagon. The 22' +/- 4' is for the sedan not the wagon. The TIS gives the same settings for both sedans and wagons. The Bently specs for the wagon are the same as the TIS . The only difference in the TIS for rear toe setting for both I6 and V8 cars and wagons is a slightly higher tolerance for cars with the rough road package. Probably not applicable here. You pay your money and take your chances but where there is a difference between the TIS and the Bently I would go with the TIS.

Regards from downunder
RonR
99 528iT M52TU
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  #20  
Old 07-12-2013, 08:19 PM
rdl rdl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Hmmm... I read the specs directly off of page 320-36 out of my paper Bentley (version BMW 5 Series (E39) 1997 to 2002, Volume I, Editorial closing 08/03.
EDIT: Doing a search for the PDF Bentley, I find the same tables on Steering and Wheel Alignment, page 694 and 695 (section 320-36 and 320-37) as uploaded below (see the attachments for larger easier-to-read images):

...
Since we have two different sets of numbers reported, may I ask why the TIS doesn't agree with the Bentley - and - if that holds true - would someone kindly post the chart in the TIS so we can compare and figure out where the errors lie?

PS: My concerns, if it matters are regarding the following vehicle, wheels, and tires:
- 2002 BMW 525i automatic with P225/55R16 tires mounted on stock BMW 16" wheels


Actually, the digital level I bought has a stated degree of accuracy much greater than half a degree; but elsewhere, we had already determined that a half degree is sufficient for a home DIY camber doublecheck:
- Philosphically, why do you choose NOT to perform a home DIY alignment on your E39?
...
It appears to me that Bentley has presented the toe adjustment range as the target value for rear toe. Here are the relevant pages from TIS. Since TIS is a BMW document, I'd take it a as the authority.
Note that tire/wheel size does not affect alignment angles. But it does affect ride height measurement as defined by BMW, bottom edge of wheel rim vertically to fender arch.





Regarding camber, I don't want to become a broken record on the point, but the tilt of the surface the car is sitting on, or lack of it, is as important as the accuracy of the plumb bob or level. I promise that I will never re-repeat the point again.
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  #21  
Old 07-12-2013, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdl View Post
Since TIS is a BMW document, I'd take it a as the authority
I'm a bit confused, as I wish to bring the correct specs with me when I have the tires mounted and wheels aligned - but only the front axle is shown above in the TIS.

Are these the correct relevant specs from the TIS that I should print and provide to the alignment shop?

Weighted ride height:
Note: Some say the whole point of the added weight is to add just enough weight (no more, no less) until the ride height meets the spec below.

  • Approximately 600 pounds of weight
    • 150 pounds in each centered front seat (= 300 pounds)
    • 150 pounds in the center of the rear bench
    • 50 pounds in the center of the trunk
    • Full tank of gasoline (18 gallons x 6 pounds/gallon = ~100 pounds)
  • Front ride height = 23.3 inches ▒ 0.4 inches (592 mm ▒ 10mm )
    • Maximum variation between sides = ▒ 0.4 inches (▒ 10mm )
  • Rear ride height = 22.0 inches ▒ 0.4 inches (560 mm ▒ 10mm )
    • Maximum variation between sides = ▒ 0.4 inches (▒ 10mm)
Note: Ride height is measured from the bottom edge of the wheel rim (at the 6 o'clock position near the floor) to the bottom of the center of the fender arch.
Front axle:
  • Total toe = 0░ 5' ▒ 10' (Bentley = TIS)
  • Camber (difference between left/right maximum 40') = 0░ -13' ▒ 30' (Bentley = TIS)
  • Track (differential angle with 20░ lock on inside wheel) = -1░ 56' ▒ 30' (Bentley = TIS, only TIS calls this "toe angle difference with 20░ lock on inside wheel)
  • Caster (difference between left/right maximum 30')
    • With ▒10░ wheel lock = 6░ 28' ▒ 30' (Bentley = TIS)
    • With ▒20░ wheel lock = 6░ 42' ▒ 30' (Bentley = TIS)
  • Front wheel displacement = 0░ ▒ 15' (Bentley = TIS)
    • Maximum wheel lock
      • Inside wheel (approximate ░) = 42░ (Bentley = TIS)
      • Outside wheel (approximate ░) = 33.5░ (Bentley = TIS)
Rear axle:
  • Total toe = 0░ 22' ▒ 4' (Bentley != TIS)
    • Note: TIS specifies an Alignment check = -0░ 16' ▒ 10'
  • Camber (difference between left/right maximum 15') = -2░ 04' ▒ 5' (this is from the Bentley but what does the TIS say?)
    • Note: TIS specifies an Adjustment = -2░ 4' ▒ 5'
  • Geometrical axis deviation = 0░ ▒ 12' (Bentley = TIS)
    • Note: See RDL below where we assume "geometric axis deviation" means the same thing as "thrust angle".

EDIT: As per RDL below, ▒10mm is ▒0.4 inches, not 0.04 inches as sometimes shown incorrectly in the Bentleys.
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Last edited by bluebee; 07-13-2013 at 10:24 AM.
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  #22  
Old 07-13-2013, 06:22 AM
rdl rdl is offline
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The rear axle specs are highlighted in this picture of the TIS screenshot.
I assume that "alignment check" is the target value and "adjustment" is the range of adjustment for that particular angle, but haven't ever seen that explicitly defined.

BTW, I think a typo on the Bentley ride height tolerance: 10 mm is 0.4" not 0.04". Bentley got it correct for front height, but slipped a digit on rear values.



Descriptions of alignment angle are found in section 5 of this attached PDF document.
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/att...1&d=1373716475

Items 5.5 & 5.6 addresses geometric drive axis deviation and wheel displacement. Geometric drive axis deviation is commonly termed thrust angle, at least in North America, and this is likely what will appear on the alignment rack's printout.
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  #23  
Old 07-13-2013, 06:36 AM
rdl rdl is offline
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I forgot to mention that a modern alignment rack will have all alignment angles in a lookup table in its software. The technician will enter the brand, model, and year to call up values for the specific car being aligned. During the alignment, the rack's screen will commonly display the current values as red or green as the technician makes adjustments to the links and eccentric washers controlling alignment angles.

It is though worthwhile to have BMW's specs on hand to ensure that the rack's data is correct &/or that the car's data has been entered correctly.
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  #24  
Old 07-13-2013, 07:01 AM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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To add to the original post up top, camber only benefits "spirited driving" if the car has alot of body roll. Camber pretilts the tires to compensate for the car leaning to the outside in the corners. For those of us with much stiffer suspension and sway bars the body roll is less of an issue and the camber not as useful therefore it should be set closer to zero.
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:44 AM
rdl rdl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Topaz540i View Post
To add to the original post up top, camber only benefits "spirited driving" if the car has alot of body roll. Camber pretilts the tires to compensate for the car leaning to the outside in the corners. For those of us with much stiffer suspension and sway bars the body roll is less of an issue and the camber not as useful therefore it should be set closer to zero.
Notice that the M5 with stiffer anti-roll bars (and spring rates too?) specify 1 deg 50 min for rear camber versus 2 deg 10 min for the standard suspension. So a little less camber but not much. Certainly not the 0 deg camber recommended in some earlier posts in this thread.

I'm not so sure that camber is used only to correct for body roll. When I watch Formula 1 races with open wheel cars it seems to me that there is noticable camber, and those cars have very little body roll while cornering. Perhaps at least part of the benefit of camber is to compensate for deflection in the tire with respect to the wheel as side forces are developed while cornering. With 0 camber net net after body roll while actually turning, the outside edge of the tire tread will tend to get more loading as the tire is deformed by the side force. But maximum side force is developed when the tire tread is flat on the road with equal loading across the tread. So I think that camber is used to compensate for tire deformation as well as body roll.

It also seems plausible to me that BMW designed the E39 with a fair bit of -ve camber in the rear and very little in the front in order to promote understeer which is much safer for "civilian" drivers. As does virtually every automotive OEM. I recall for instance that early Porsches were notorious for oversteer, to the regret of many when they discovered they didn't have the experience or reflexes to control it as they slid off the road - backwards. Racing drivers have the skill to both control and use oversteer to their benefit. For civilians oversteer is an accident waiting to happen, at least for the vast majority of us.
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