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Ubergeek
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15,646 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Edited 12/28 for those who found this thread searching: I decided to get rid of the Koni FSDs and install a Ground Control Coilover kit: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=181494. The FSDs didn't give me the increased stiffness I was looking for.

Installed some goodies:



1 - New Koni FSD shock
2 - Rear shock mount gasket
3 - Turner Motorsport rear shock mount reinforcement plate (for good measure)
4 - New rear shock mount
5 - Upper shock bearing w/ Turner Motorsport anti-crowning reinforcement plate
6 - New bimmerworld control arms
7 - New Powerflex lower control arm bushings

My car is close to 50,000 miles and it doesn't feel quite as tight as it used to.

Also, I had UUC/SPC camber plates installed and I didn't like the decreased ride I was experiencing (don't know what camber plates are? click here). They also only provided about another degree of negative camber (which is about all you can get with stock springs, it turns out), so I decided to take them out.

My stock upper strut bearings and strut towers themselves were slightly crowned, so I ordred new bearings from BavAuto. I also ordered the Turner reinforcement plates to keep the new ones from crowning.

After reading numerous reviews, I decided to order some Koni FSD shocks. Some say that OEM shocks start degrading in as few as 30,000 miles. I didn't feel the stock shocks were worn out per se, but I was looking to try something new :). Anyone in the Bay Area want my old shocks (free)? Performance package shocks are stiffer than standard/sport pkg shocks.

Lower control arm bushings are also a known failure point on the E46. Mine looked pretty worn, but I'm no expert as to if this actually means it's worn:



After reading the Powerflex bushing upgrade and Bimmerworld control arm reviews over on E46fanatics, I decided to order both. Easier to just replace them both.... don't have to worry about getting the old bushing off of your existing control arm. Note I ordered the bushings already placed into new carriers.

The only problem with these were that the hole for the xenon auto-leveling sensor arm wasn't quite drilled big enough to get the bolt through. Took me about 15 seconds to fix this with my drill. No worries at all.

While replacing the rear shocks, I figured that I might as well buy new upper bushings (they're cheap and also a failure point) with the Turner Motorsport shock mount einforcement plates.

I only went a mile or two on my test drive and it seems that I completely accomplished my goal... the car feels good as new! I'll be posting a full Koni FSD review in this thread in a week - after an autocross!.

It was 97 degrees here in San Jose today - luckily my garage is connected to my townhouse - I kept the garage door shut and had a fan blowing the A/C from the house down into the garage. Couldn't have done it today otherwise!

Let me tell you - compressing springs by hand sucks. Next big purchase will be an air compressor and a pneumatic impact wrench!





 

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Nothing specific
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984 Posts
Cool! I'm curious about your opinion of the FSDs.

A word of warning about the rear shock mounts: when I had my FSDs installed, I replaced the OEM ones with aftermarket ones from TMS. They ended up producing a very loud, annoying clunking noise over certain types of bumps, like I had something large and loose banging around in the trunk. I guess there was some physical incompatibility between them and the shocks.

I had to go back to the OEM units. I can't tell from your picture whether you're using OEM ones or not, but if you hear a noise...
 

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Ubergeek
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15,646 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
avalys said:
I had to go back to the OEM units. I can't tell from your picture whether you're using OEM ones or not, but if you hear a noise...
They are the OEM ones.
 

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racer wannabe
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3,311 Posts
This is great! I knew I had to replace my shocks soon but recent inspection revealed that my control arms and bushings have very little life left so I can't wait for your full review!

I'm not sure about urethane bushings, I've heard people complain about harsh ride :dunno: What's your opinion?
 

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Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest!
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168 Posts
Very nice! I am planning on doing the exact same CA/B replacement this Saturday, and any info/advice/DIY guides and pics you have would be beyond appreciated. I've had the kit for about 3 months knowing that I would need to replace them, and with a local CCA DIY event coming up on Saturday, I'm taking the plunge.

On a side note, I was also planning on doing my clear front corners and side markers as well as installing some sweet new Mtech door sills I bought from ///M297. But, Friday night poker was cancelled so I stayed home and can now scratch those off of my list! I'll post pics in another thread later tonight.:thumbup:

-JP
 

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Ubergeek
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15,646 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
jpfrog80 said:
Very nice! I am planning on doing the exact same CA/B replacement this Saturday, and any info/advice/DIY guides and pics you have would be beyond appreciated. I've had the kit for about 3 months knowing that I would need to replace them, and with a local CCA DIY event coming up on Saturday, I'm taking the plunge.

On a side note, I was also planning on doing my clear front corners and side markers as well as installing some sweet new Mtech door sills I bought from ///M297. But, Friday night poker was cancelled so I stayed home and can now scratch those off of my list! I'll post pics in another thread later tonight.:thumbup:

-JP
After removing the nut holding the control arm to the wheel hub assembly.. it can be a real bitch to get the bolt out. BMW has a special tool... and I have a tie rod bolt separator thing, but I still couldn't get it out.

I put the bolt back on (enough so that most of the threads were threaded), put the socket on top of the bolt, and just started banging the crap out of the socket with my hammer. It eventually came free. :)

As for the center control arm nut, you have to remove the front-underside plastic underbody protector piece... and from there, you don't have much clearance for a 22mm open-ended wrench. You get about 1/8th turn per attempt... so it takes awhile. Getting that bolt out isn't too bad because you can just put all your weight on the control arm :).

Just things to keep in mind :).
 

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Nice work Chris. I'm curious though, after swapping all those suspension pieces, wouldn't an alignment be in order?
 

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Ubergeek
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
wag-zhp said:
Nice work Chris. I'm curious though, after swapping all those suspension pieces, wouldn't an alignment be in order?
As long as the camber doesn't change (it didn't), then toe should not change either.
 

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Ubergeek
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15,646 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Edited 12/28 for those who found this thread searching: I decided to get rid of the Koni FSDs and install a Ground Control Coilover kit: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=181494. The FSDs didn't give me the increased stiffness I was looking for.

I decided to give my impressions early.

I've only driven about 30 miles on these so far - 1 1/2 commutes (5 mi each way x 3) + my local mountain road testing ground, which is approx 13 miles round trip from my house.

One thing that I believe BMW does better than any other car manufacturer is suspension tuning - pairing the right components with the right valving or spring rate values together to get the best compromise of handling and comfort. I had an E30 325is on which I installed H&R springs and bilstein sport shocks - and I hated them. It handled marginally better while the ride decreased signficantly. I must say I was hesitant to change the shocks for this reason.... but after reading the reviews, I decided to go for it. I love having a comfortable daily driver that I can autocross or do BMWCCA HPDEs with on the weekend, and the FSDs seemed to deliver the best of both worlds.

You should remember that I changed my front control arms & installed powerflex poly bushings at the same time as the shock change. Therefore, I may not easily be able to separate differences that each may have caused.

During the commute yesterday, I must say I was underwhelmed. I expected to feel more of a change than I did. Avalys, in his review, started with a sport package car. I started with a performance package car, which has stiffer springs & shocks as well as different control arms. The FSDs felt a *little* stiffer, maybe 10%. However, it's true that they seemed to soak up the big bumps better than the stock shocks...but once again, not considerably. I didn't go looking for potholes and the roads on which I commute are pretty smooth. Based on these findings, I can tell you that the OEM shocks were still in good shape after 50k miles.

I must say that one negative point is that the front of the car seems to be a *little* less planted over small bumps (such as bott's dots)... steering feels a little loose over them. Once again, this could be due to the shocks or the powerflex bushings, I don't know.

At the end of my commute yesterday, I was still undecided as to whether they were worth it.

Last night I decided to do my test loop. It didn't take more than a few corners to realize that I was going a lot faster than normal. I felt significantly more "preciseness" out of the steering - this is probably mostly a result of the powerflex bushings and the new control arms (which have stiffer ball joints). The car was firm on its feet and with the rear stiffened up a bit, I started really having fun steering with my right foot. Here, it doesn't take much difference in stiffness to make a dramatic increase in speed. Up in the hills, I really like these FSDs a lot. The car just felt more alive than I ever remember it feeling.

In summary, coming from a performance package car... these bushings & FSDs really are the best of both worlds - it's slightly more comfortable on the street and it's definitely more fun in the hills. For a sport pkg car, I think these things would be even a bigger upgrade. I'm not completely blown away or anything, but I'm still very happy with my purchase.

For those that are afraid of polyeurathane bushings, I can tell you that I haven't noticed any excessive noise or vibration from the powerflexs.

I may post some final thoughts after the autocross on Sat.
 

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POPSBMR
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64 Posts
Great post, Kris. Thanks for taking the time to share.
 
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