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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 04-22-2005, 05:00 PM
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Impression of Front and Rear Strut Tower Bars on 330i

Well, I finally installed my Front and Rear strut tower bars today on my 330i ZHP.

I went with Dinan and got an amazing deal on the set resulting in a cost substantially less then buying just the Front strut bar from other aftermarket venders.

First, let me tell you the Dinan pieces are beautifully finished, well made and sturdy. Installed without a problem. The only caveat was cutting small holes in the trunk carpet to install the Rear strut bar. But, they were cut just big enough to put the bar in so it looks OEM (can supply pics if desired).

Although many on this site would argue against the Rear strut bar unless tracking your car, I decided to go for it since I got a great deal, wanted symmetry and similiar F/R weight added, and theorized it may improve some of the lean the car was prone to when cornering.

So my impressions after one day can be distilled to one word.... Wow. Taking my favorite turns agressively, the car has substantially less body roll and feels more composed. In addition, the car tracks much truer when driving along bumps, especially when turning.

Some have noted a decrease in steering feel after putting the Front strut tower bar, but I would have to disagree. What I have noticed is that what I call 'fidgitiness' of the steering has been dampened while the actual inputs from the steering comunicating the road surface has been improved. In addition, with the decrease in 'fidgitiness,' there is a corresponding increase in confidence while driving the car aggressively, especially when turning.

For those who were considering improving the handling of their car without wanting to track their vehicle or spending larger sums of money, and would like a quick install, I highly recommend installing a Front and Rear strut tower bar. Although as many have noted the best bang for the buck would be upgrading the sway bars (which will likely result in changing to aftermarket springs/coilovers for many), this a simple and relatively inexpensive way to get that improved handling you desire.

Depending on interest, I intend to give a 1wk follow-up on my driving impression with the strut tower bars installed.

Cheers.
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  #2  
Old 04-22-2005, 05:04 PM
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Nick325xiT 5spd Nick325xiT 5spd is offline
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Tower bars are more of a "feel-good" mod than anything else. I like them, and I've even noticed a hair better performance. But they don't really make any real difference.
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  #3  
Old 04-22-2005, 05:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
Tower bars are more of a "feel-good" mod than anything else. I like them, and I've even noticed a hair better performance. But they don't really make any real difference.
Nick you're probably right, since I have yet to do aftermarket sways and am holding out till I get more track experience, but I'll tell you it does feel good and perhaps in part is the increase in confidence by decreasing the fidgitiness of the steering. And I'm really sensitive to little changes (they laugh at me at the shop because I came in complaining about my left wheel being out of allignment/balance and it was a hair unbalanced when they checked... they call me Princess pea ).

Placebo perhaps, but a damn good one at that and I'm more than happy with it and feel it was money well spent.

I'll probably, based on what others have written about changing the sways, be on the verge of Nirvana from the improvement they'll make. May need to take some days off after they're installed...
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  #4  
Old 04-22-2005, 07:03 PM
bmw330zhpfan bmw330zhpfan is offline
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Pics

I'd like to see pics of the rear install with the cutting of the trunk carpeting.
Thanks.
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  #5  
Old 04-22-2005, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw330zhpfan
I'd like to see pics of the rear install with the cutting of the trunk carpeting.
Thanks.
Sounds good... will get pics hopefully tomorrow, but it may snow. Which I can't believe.

Be up Sunday at the latest.
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  #6  
Old 04-22-2005, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheel-man
Well, I finally installed my Front and Rear strut tower bars today on my 330i ZHP.

I went with Dinan and got an amazing deal on the set resulting in a cost substantially less then buying just the Front strut bar from other aftermarket venders.

First, let me tell you the Dinan pieces are beautifully finished, well made and sturdy. Installed without a problem. The only caveat was cutting small holes in the trunk carpet to install the Rear strut bar. But, they were cut just big enough to put the bar in so it looks OEM (can supply pics if desired).

Although many on this site would argue against the Rear strut bar unless tracking your car, I decided to go for it since I got a great deal, wanted symmetry and similiar F/R weight added, and theorized it may improve some of the lean the car was prone to when cornering.

So my impressions after one day can be distilled to one word.... Wow. Taking my favorite turns agressively, the car has substantially less body roll and feels more composed. In addition, the car tracks much truer when driving along bumps, especially when turning.

Some have noted a decrease in steering feel after putting the Front strut tower bar, but I would have to disagree. What I have noticed is that what I call 'fidgitiness' of the steering has been dampened while the actual inputs from the steering comunicating the road surface has been improved. In addition, with the decrease in 'fidgitiness,' there is a corresponding increase in confidence while driving the car aggressively, especially when turning.

For those who were considering improving the handling of their car without wanting to track their vehicle or spending larger sums of money, and would like a quick install, I highly recommend installing a Front and Rear strut tower bar. Although as many have noted the best bang for the buck would be upgrading the sway bars (which will likely result in changing to aftermarket springs/coilovers for many), this a simple and relatively inexpensive way to get that improved handling you desire.

Depending on interest, I intend to give a 1wk follow-up on my driving impression with the strut tower bars installed.

Cheers.
Yeah, less fidgety. That's actually a good way of putting it.
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  #7  
Old 04-25-2005, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw330zhpfan
I'd like to see pics of the rear install with the cutting of the trunk carpeting.
Thanks.
Here are the pics as promised... a day late, but it was snowing very hard.
Attached Thumbnails
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Name:	Dinan Rear Strut Bar L2.JPG
Views:	196
Size:	77.4 KB
ID:	49078   Click image for larger version

Name:	Dinan Rear Strut Bar R2.JPG
Views:	180
Size:	69.9 KB
ID:	49079  
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  #8  
Old 04-25-2005, 02:32 PM
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Can you show a pick of the bar across the trunk? How much room does it block? Thanks.

And I am definately interested in a 1-week review...
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  #9  
Old 04-25-2005, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitewagon
Can you show a pick of the bar across the trunk? How much room does it block? Thanks.

And I am definately interested in a 1-week review...
Will do. One week review to follow.

Edit: Here's the pic... Let me know if you want any other views.
Attached Thumbnails
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Name:	Dinan Rear Strut Bar2.JPG
Views:	724
Size:	122.0 KB
ID:	49096  
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  #10  
Old 04-25-2005, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheel-man
Nick you're probably right, since I have yet to do aftermarket sways and am holding out till I get more track experience, but I'll tell you it does feel good and perhaps in part is the increase in confidence by decreasing the fidgitiness of the steering. And I'm really sensitive to little changes (they laugh at me at the shop because I came in complaining about my left wheel being out of allignment/balance and it was a hair unbalanced when they checked... they call me Princess pea ).

Placebo perhaps, but a damn good one at that and I'm more than happy with it and feel it was money well spent.

I'll probably, based on what others have written about changing the sways, be on the verge of Nirvana from the improvement they'll make. May need to take some days off after they're installed...
If you're that sensitive, you'd better think long and hard about modifying your suspension.
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  #11  
Old 04-25-2005, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
If you're that sensitive, you'd better think long and hard about modifying your suspension.
I will, I will... that's why I've started threads to get you boys with the aftermarket bits to comment on impressions, and you've been really helpfull.

Going to Auto-X first and decide what to do next... so the suspension will stay as is for a good bit.
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  #12  
Old 04-25-2005, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheel-man
I will, I will... that's why I've started threads to get you boys with the aftermarket bits to comment on impressions, and you've been really helpfull.

Going to Auto-X first and decide what to do next... so the suspension will stay as is for a good bit.
It's not that, it's that every suspension change you make will increase vibration and noise. If that's going to bother you, you need to think really hard abotu what changes you're willing to make.
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  #13  
Old 04-25-2005, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd
It's not that, it's that every suspension change you make will increase vibration and noise. If that's going to bother you, you need to think really hard abotu what changes you're willing to make.
Got it. If the vibration is constant, then I should be alright. It's sudden changes that get me. And the noise thankfully won't bother me.
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  #14  
Old 04-25-2005, 03:49 PM
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Cool! Thank you much.

I wonder if one could rig up some sliding pins w/cotter pins for a quick disconnect. Or maybe just wing nuts.
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  #15  
Old 04-25-2005, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitewagon
Cool! Thank you much.

I wonder if one could rig up some sliding pins w/cotter pins for a quick disconnect. Or maybe just wing nuts.
The way it's set-up now is that the bar is attached via the external allen bolts. Dinan provides an allen wrench that makes removing the bar really easy and most importantly, quick.

Just make sure the car's rear wheels are on an even, flat surface
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Old 04-25-2005, 09:00 PM
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If you don't mind me asking........How much were they? I also want to get some because I remember the difference they made when I installed them on my Civic. Plus I dont want to void my warranty with extreme mods........the suspension is fine in my opinion anyways.
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  #17  
Old 04-26-2005, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by bmw330pp
If you don't mind me asking........How much were they? I also want to get some because I remember the difference they made when I installed them on my Civic. Plus I dont want to void my warranty with extreme mods........the suspension is fine in my opinion anyways.
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  #18  
Old 04-26-2005, 08:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheel-man
Will do. One week review to follow.

Edit: Here's the pic... Let me know if you want any other views.


Uh, so much for the practicallity of the fold down rear seats. I guess not getting the fold down rear seats would pretty much accomplish the same thing right?
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Old 04-26-2005, 08:27 AM
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Uh, so much for the practicallity of the fold down rear seats. I guess not getting the fold down rear seats would pretty much accomplish the same thing right?
Well, when I need them, I just take the bar off, no problem. But the central pass for my snowboard is still usable with the bar.

Now, not sure if there really is an increase in the stiffness of cars without fold down seats.
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Old 04-26-2005, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheel-man
Well, when I need them, I just take the bar off, no problem. But the central pass for my snowboard is still usable with the bar.

Now, not sure if there really is an increase in the stiffness of cars without fold down seats.

That's the only thing I don't like about that set-up, IMO it takes away too much practicallity by really limiting how you use your trunk space and I wouldn't want the hassle of having to remove the bar or remembering to remove the bar, if needed. Plus, you never know when you will need the space. I don't know, I mean the 330i is a sports sedan, it's supposed to be practical. I'm not trying to rain on your parade or anything. Maybe upgrading the sways would give you more performance and you wouldn't have to sacrifice the trunk like that? Hey if you're happy with it, none of this matters but I do make this predicition: within one year you will decide to permanently remove the rear bar.

FYI - cars without the fold down rear seats have significantly more torsional rigidity, I don't remember the exact numbers but it's been posted before.
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  #21  
Old 04-26-2005, 09:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moderato
That's the only thing I don't like about that set-up, IMO it takes away too much practicallity by really limiting how you use your trunk space and I wouldn't want the hassle of having to remove the bar or remembering to remove the bar, if needed. Plus, you never know when you will need the space. I don't know, I mean the 330i is a sports sedan, it's supposed to be practical. I'm not trying to rain on your parade or anything. Maybe upgrading the sways would give you more performance and you wouldn't have to sacrifice the trunk like that? Hey if you're happy with it, none of this matters but I do make this predicition: within one year you will decide to permanently remove the rear bar.

FYI - cars without the fold down rear seats have significantly more torsional rigidity, I don't remember the exact numbers but it's been posted before.
No worries, no rain spotted... I am too much in the sun.

Well, you may be right that the bar may be an eventual casualty. We'll see.

I'll eventually do sways/coilovers but want to track the car more first.
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Old 05-03-2005, 07:41 PM
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One Week Folllow-up

Well as mentioned, here is my one week follow-up of life with my Front and Rear Dinan strut bars.

To date, there was no need to remove the Rear bar since I really wasn't moving any large packages, however a case of wine fit without any worries. With that out of the way...

Overall the car feels stiffer and more solid, and leans less during turns. There is no excessive noise from the suspension and no increased jarring over bumps. The car feels more responsive during lane changes and aggressive turning (that does no evoke the DSC ). The steering feel is excellent with the 'fidgetiness' still gone, as mentioned in my first review.

I am very happy with this relatively inexpensive modification and highly recommend it. The Front and Rear strut bars have done nothing to detract from day-to-day driving over the luxurious Michigan roads (read Lunar surface ), while enhancing the feedback and responsiveness of the vehicle and increasing the joy of driving.
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  #23  
Old 05-03-2005, 08:41 PM
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Cool, sounds good. I'm an OEM kinda guy, so I might get the OEM front tower strut brace, but that'd be it. Not sure if it's really worth it, though, since tracking / autoxing is still a few years away...
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  #24  
Old 05-04-2005, 12:29 PM
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I'm curious as to how much of the changes in the driving feel are attributable strictly to the addition of the front strut bar. I've been thinking about adding UUC sways as well as a front strut bar, but the loss in trunk space from a rear strut bar wouldn't work for me with the golf clubs.
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Old 05-04-2005, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TLudwig
I'm curious as to how much of the changes in the driving feel are attributable strictly to the addition of the front strut bar. I've been thinking about adding UUC sways as well as a front strut bar, but the loss in trunk space from a rear strut bar wouldn't work for me with the golf clubs.
Took the Front off and then detached the Rear. Would say that the decrease in 'fidgitiness' of the stearing is secondary to the front with a slight decrease in lean. The Rear alone does alot to make the chasis feel stiffer and substantially decreased body lean more than the Front. Both together is like butter. Should have written this above, but forgot.

Trunk space in my opinion is still good with the Rear, but I'm single and don't move alot of things around.

Hope this helps. Looking forward to the UUC sways in the future. Let me know what you think.
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