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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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Old 11-03-2009, 01:00 AM
Zed82 Zed82 is offline
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SW is not straight after alignment?

Ok, so i have replaced some suspension parts on my E39 lately and it was time to do a wheel alignment.

I have done it FOUR times now without the shops being able to get the wheel perfectly straight. Should i just give in and accept that the wheel will never be perfectly straight again or should i go back and let them try again?

I did the alignment last three times at the same shop, the first time was in another shop but he couldnīt align the SW perfect either.
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Old 11-03-2009, 04:10 AM
franka franka is offline
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It should be straight, its adustable. Screw them. Alignment should always be done at the dealer. Never at a corner gas station or the like.

You are pinching pennies and loosing dollars.
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Old 11-03-2009, 05:30 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Go back to the shop, it is their job to do it right.

Or: if you know the alignment is correct, i.e., correct camber and toe-in, then you can always adjust the tierods with equal increments.

How far is it off (let's say pointing 12 o'clock is dead on, where is the SW pointing to when going straight?).
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Old 11-03-2009, 06:48 AM
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The tierod ends are not adjusted properly....take it back and complain....
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Old 11-04-2009, 12:03 AM
Zed82 Zed82 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Go back to the shop, it is their job to do it right.

Or: if you know the alignment is correct, i.e., correct camber and toe-in, then you can always adjust the tierods with equal increments.

How far is it off (let's say pointing 12 o'clock is dead on, where is the SW pointing to when going straight?).

I was back at the shop yesterday and he managed to adjust the tierods so the SW became almost straight. Itīs now 99% ok, when iīm going straight the wheel is pointing a tiny bit to the left.

The weird thing is that the car became more stable on the road after that and he didnīt even use the computer.
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Old 11-04-2009, 05:27 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zed82 View Post
I was back at the shop yesterday and he managed to adjust the tierods so the SW became almost straight. Itīs now 99% ok, when iīm going straight the wheel is pointing a tiny bit to the left.

The weird thing is that the car became more stable on the road after that and he didnīt even use the computer.
Because he did exactly what I told you: adjust in equal increment.
Get some liquid paper (white out) and mark the tierod outer end (just inward a bit from the adjusting nut).
Then let's say you move the L side inward 1/8th of a turn, then you move the R side outward 1/8th of a turn.
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:15 AM
franka franka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Because he did exactly what I told you: adjust in equal increment.
Get some liquid paper (white out) and mark the tierod outer end (just inward a bit from the adjusting nut).
Then let's say you move the L side inward 1/8th of a turn, then you move the R side outward 1/8th of a turn.

Good idea
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:40 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Zed82,

In my Suspension Overhaul, I mentioned how to do the Alignment using Carpenter Square/Plumb Bob (Just scroll down to see it):
https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=399580

I just took a pic of my car so you can see:
- I place a dot of white paint on the tierod, next to the Adjusting Bolt. Actually I placed a single mark on one side and double mark on opposite side at 6 and 12 o'clock position.
- This way when the Adjustment is done, I know how much of the tierod has been turned (I use the conventional clock as my landmark, so basically 30, 45, 60, 90 degrees etc. from the reference point).
- As I mentioned above, if the car tracks straight and you know the alignment is good but the SW is not dead center, all you have to do is adjusting equal increments on both sides.

The person who did your alignment was a rookie.
The experienced people always make sure the SW is dead center when the job is done.
Nothing wrong with off-center SW (with otherwise perfect alignment) but it is ANNOYING like hell looking at it day in, day out.




PS:
Quote:
...Itīs now 99% ok, when iīm going straight the wheel is pointing a tiny bit to the LEFT.

- Now with the alignment perfect.
- If SW is moved from the imperfect (slightly LEFT of center) position ---> dead center, both Front wheels now point a tiny bit to the RIGHT.
- Since the tierods in the BMW E39 are in Front of the axle's axis of rotation (In my 1998 Volvo, it is behind the axle!), you can do tiny adjustment such as 1/12th of a turn (30 degrees turn):
a. Adjust Right tierod inward a tiny bit.
b. Adjust Left tierod outward a tiny bit.

This should do it.
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  #9  
Old 11-04-2009, 03:40 PM
franka franka is offline
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Where do you get time for all of your posts? Out of work?
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:46 PM
Zed82 Zed82 is offline
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Cn90: THANKS ALOT, people like you make this board fantastic!!

Iīll try this during the weekend!
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Old 11-05-2009, 05:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zed82 View Post
Cn90: THANKS ALOT, people like you make this board fantastic!!

Iīll try this during the weekend!
Whatever you do, mark the existing setup before disturbing it.
Once you disturb it, you cannot go back UNLESS you mark it beforehand.

As mentioned above:
- Mark with white out with the tie rod in NEUTRAL position (you can turn the tie rod along its axis because it rotates around the outer balljoint) so you can compared it to the same position when done.
- Then adjust only 1/12th of a full turn = 30 degrees.
- Keep notes of what you do, it is easy to forget it.

Post a follow-up.
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Old 11-05-2009, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Whatever you do, mark the existing setup before disturbing it.
Once you disturb it, you cannot go back UNLESS you mark it beforehand.

As mentioned above:
- Mark with white out with the tie rod in NEUTRAL position (you can turn the tie rod along its axis because it rotates around the outer balljoint) so you can compared it to the same position when done.
- Then adjust only 1/12th of a full turn = 30 degrees.
- Keep notes of what you do, it is easy to forget it.

Post a follow-up.
Excellent advice....thanks for sharing !
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Old 11-06-2009, 07:58 AM
Sarinas Sarinas is offline
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Hi, just my 2cents here.. the opposite adjusting as seen above should work great, if you take good care doing it!

The comment i am posting is about the wheel aligning in the shop (with thw machine). When setting the SW straight, one should check that the free wandering of the SW is centered. Otherwise, if you just take it from a full side turn until it's straight, it will actually be tensioned to that side.when you align the wheels straight and take it on the road, you will get a slight turn.(ammount of this would depend on how much of free movement your SW has..) I have seen many make this mistake,and never get it right..
Not sure if I managed to explain this the right way in english..Hope it helps..

Cheers
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Old 11-06-2009, 10:10 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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1+,

No worry, you explained very well.

Every SW has a little play between R and L, basically a little wiggle from the center position.
Sometimes after a test drive, you find that the SW is a tiny bit off-center, then make a note and re-adjust it a tiny bit.
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Old 11-06-2009, 10:55 PM
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The steering wheel gets locked down to the brake pedal. It's one of the first steps. Not sure how they F that up, let alone 4 times.
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Old 11-07-2009, 05:43 AM
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My SW was straight, then I went from an 8.5 rim with a 225 tire to a 9" wide rim and a 245 tire. Now my SW is cocked to the right!
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Old 11-07-2009, 06:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan M View Post
The steering wheel gets locked down to the brake pedal. It's one of the first steps. Not sure how they F that up, let alone 4 times.

Shortcut
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Old 11-07-2009, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by franka View Post
Shortcut
That would be the poorest shortcut I have ever seen. Locking the wheel down literally takes 60 seconds, if that. It's a lot quicker than having the car come back 4 times.
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Old 11-07-2009, 01:05 PM
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By shotcut I meant they skipped it altogether.
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Old 01-13-2010, 11:02 AM
hokiehigh hokiehigh is offline
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Hi, CN90.

The picture shows tie-rod with locking/adj nuts is fantastic, I wouldn't have any idea where to adjust otherwise.

My car has good alignment but SW is off by a tiny bit (to the right when going straight), it's been annoying as hell. So do I need to jack up both front wheels together to make the tie-rod adjustment? also since I don't see the thread on the tie-rod, which way should I turn the adj nut?

I assume the process is like: jack up one front wheel, mark tie-rod, loose locking nut, turn adj nut 30 degree, tighten locking nuts, move to the other side do the same. please let me know if I'm wrong.

Thanks very much!
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Old 01-13-2010, 11:49 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hokiehigh View Post
Hi, CN90.

The picture shows tie-rod with locking/adj nuts is fantastic, I wouldn't have any idea where to adjust otherwise.

My car has good alignment but SW is off by a tiny bit (to the right when going straight), it's been annoying as hell. So do I need to jack up both front wheels together to make the tie-rod adjustment? also since I don't see the thread on the tie-rod, which way should I turn the adj nut?

I assume the process is like: jack up one front wheel, mark tie-rod, loose locking nut, turn adj nut 30 degree, tighten locking nuts, move to the other side do the same. please let me know if I'm wrong.

Thanks very much!
For minor EQUAL adjustments, this is what I do:

- Drive car up my wood ramps (I use 2x10 lumber, 3 layers, so it is 4.5" tall)

- Mark the tierod with liquid paper as a reference point. All you need is here:
https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=399580

- Use the 16-mm wrench to adjust it.


The KEY thing is "COMMON SENSE". Just read my post #8 above carefully.
Whatever it is:
- Find out your current problem: SW pointing a bit to the R when going straight.
- Now imagine the SW is straightened, both front wheels will now be pointing slight to the L.

- Now you need to bring the L wheel INWARD a tiny bit (16-mm wrench going CLOCKWISE a bit, viewed from center of car) and the R wheel OUTWARD a tiny bit (16-mm wrench going COUNTER-CLOCKWISE a bit, viewed from center of car), and that is all.
- Don't forget to lock the Lock NUT. Moderate torque is fine, no need to overkill the Lock NUT!
- Make sure you study the tierod to understand how it works. It is pure common sense, no rocket science here!
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:46 PM
hokiehigh hokiehigh is offline
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cool! I think I got it. I will work on it this weekend and report back. Thanks a lot for your help!
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Old 01-16-2010, 05:02 PM
hokiehigh hokiehigh is offline
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YES!!!

I made the tie rod adjustment and my SW is dead center now. It was pretty easy, I can't believe I had put up with it for so long while it can be easily corrected!!

the 540's tie rod is BEHIND the front axle, and instead of locking nuts, I have locking bolts! I adjusted each side quarter of a turn (90 degree). Didn't take any picture but the locking bolt is #12 in following diagram.



CN90, thanks again for your help, I'm a happy camper now.

Last edited by hokiehigh; 01-16-2010 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 06-21-2011, 11:07 AM
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obscure thread revival alert!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Zed82,

In my Suspension Overhaul, I mentioned how to do the Alignment using Carpenter Square/Plumb Bob (Just scroll down to see it):
https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=399580

I just took a pic of my car so you can see:
- I place a dot of white paint on the tierod, next to the Adjusting Bolt. Actually I placed a single mark on one side and double mark on opposite side at 6 and 12 o'clock position.
- This way when the Adjustment is done, I know how much of the tierod has been turned (I use the conventional clock as my landmark, so basically 30, 45, 60, 90 degrees etc. from the reference point).
- As I mentioned above, if the car tracks straight and you know the alignment is good but the SW is not dead center, all you have to do is adjusting equal increments on both sides.

The person who did your alignment was a rookie.
The experienced people always make sure the SW is dead center when the job is done.
Nothing wrong with off-center SW (with otherwise perfect alignment) but it is ANNOYING like hell looking at it day in, day out.




PS:
- Now with the alignment perfect.
- If SW is moved from the imperfect (slightly LEFT of center) position ---> dead center, both Front wheels now point a tiny bit to the RIGHT.
- Since the tierods in the BMW E39 are in Front of the axle's axis of rotation (In my 1998 Volvo, it is behind the axle!), you can do tiny adjustment such as 1/12th of a turn (30 degrees turn):
a. Adjust Right tierod inward a tiny bit.
b. Adjust Left tierod outward a tiny bit.

This should do it.
I'm doing some research online before I go in to correct a similar steering wheel alignment issue on my E39. Parallelism and equal increments suggestions aside, my issue in this picture above, I can't seem to get the rod loosened to do the adjustment. I know I have to loosen the adjusting bolt, but is there something I'm missing? Is the adjustment bolt really torqued down tight? Do I have to put a wrench on another part of the tierod to counterhold?
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Last edited by aa240sx; 06-21-2011 at 11:08 AM.
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  #25  
Old 06-21-2011, 11:21 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aa240sx View Post
...my issue in this picture above, I can't seem to get the rod loosened to do the adjustment. I know I have to loosen the adjusting bolt, but is there something I'm missing? Is the adjustment bolt really torqued down tight? Do I have to put a wrench on another part of the tierod to counterhold?
Yes,

To counter-hold, place "Adjustable Wrench" as shown.
Then undo the Lock Nut as shown (standard right-hand thread).
The key thing is to mark the "existing" setup with white-out paint before touching anything.


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