After having the steering retrofit done in September '01 on my April '01 production 330i (originally had new-new steering), I still couldn't say that the steering felt quite right. Although the steering felt somewhat heavier on turns after the retrofit was done, the steering felt loose in the center and had a wide open dead spot. A few months after having the retrofit done, I finally decided to have a 2nd alignment done on my car thinking this would solve the problem. Although the alignment initially made the steering feel somewhat better, i still couldn't say that the steering felt the way it was supposed to.
Keep in mind that my opinion about my car's retrofit steering was based relative to 2 other 330s that I've driven. One of my friends at work has a 330i that had the retrofit done on it. His rack had the 3.2 turns lock-to-lock ratio and felt very firm and heavy. And, another friend at work has a 5/01 production 330ci with the heavier rack (non-retrofit) that has the 2.8 turns lock-to-lock ratio. Although I could sense a difference between the steering feel in both of my friends' 330's steering feel, I still felt that I would easily be happy if my 330's steering felt like theirs.
In the process of getting to the bottom of why my 330's retrofit steering still didn't feel heavy, I made my way through a total of 3 different dealerships and 1 technical rep from BMWNA. The first dealership was the one that did my steering retrofit and they felt that my car's steering felt fine. Ditto with dealership #2. And, the technical rep from BMWNA also felt that my car's steering was ok but he was very honest in saying that he had not driven a 330 with the retrofit.
At dealership #3, I got to know an excellent service rep that does his best to understand a customer's concern and then effectively communicates the concern to the tech that will work on the car. After having them do the 2nd alignment on my car, I told my service advisor that things still didn't quite feel right with my retrofit steering rack. After having one of the dealership's best techs take a drive with my car, it was concluded that something with my retrofit rack must be faulty. So, a new steering rack was ordered and it was decided that my steering rack would be replaced under warranty. Since I felt that it was pretty big accomplishment to get them to order a new retrofit rack for my car and replace it at no charge, I didn't question them much or ask them to order a specific rack for me. We simply agreed that a new retrofit rack (part #32131097315) would be ordered for my car.
One month later (this past Tuesday), I finally got a call back from the dealership saying that new steering rack was in. After bringing my car in this morning, I asked the service rep to verify with me which part # was ordered. He looked it up and to my surprise, he told me that the rack they ordered is not the regular retrofit rack (part #32131097315). He said, "Instead, we ordered the revised rack that is on all May '01+ 330s and also on the E46 compact." After looking up the part # of the rack they ordered (part #32136755065), I confirmed that they ordered the same rack that is on my one friend's 330i with the 2.8 turns lock-to-lock ratio.
This afternoon, I got a call from the dealership saying that my car is ready. I went to pick it up and to my excitement, my steering concerns have been solved. The new steering rack (same as the rack on post 5/01 production 330s) has a good amount of heaviness to it and feels very solid. In addition, the lower lock-to-lock ratio gives the steering a quicker feel so that lane changes require less movement. At last, I am satisfied.
To any individuals out there that feel that your E46's retrofit steering is not right, I'd encourage you to find a dealership with a good service department and do your best to get them to replace your retrofit rack with the rack that I have (part #32136755065) under warranty.
In my opinion, there's no reason to pay $40k for a car and not be happy with it. You need to be aggressive and do what it takes to get any steering issues resolved.