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Hi everyone,
I have an '01 325i Touring w/ Sport Pkg. I've had it for about 3 months now and it has just passed 100k miles. I'm noticing that the steering wheel has about 2~3 degrees of freeplay, and the steering seems really soft & unresponsive around center at speed. I checked the steering shaft guibo (rubber coupler) and the tierod ends, but the looseness seems to be within the rack.

It's build date was 7/01, meaning that it may have the notorious "overboosted" steering effort. Before I spring for a used or remanufactured rack, I've been doing some research to try to upgrade my car's steering feel. Unfortunately, now I'm more confused since there seems to be a lot of misleading info out there about steering rack interchangeability.

My car has 3.2 turns lock-to-lock (measured). I believe the steering ratio is 15.4:1 (from forum information). It's a daily driver, but for me slightly heavier & more direct is better. I've seen this subject discussed on several older forums, but I'd like to see if anyone has some newer or clearer answers. Has anyone made a steering rack retrofit?

Q1: What options do I have that would be a direct bolt-in, give me improved steering feel, and not screw up my DSC?

Q2: What's the difference between 323/325 versus 328/330 racks? Do the higher models get "sportier" steering feel? Are they interchangeable? Any ratio/lock-to-lock differences?

Q3: Post-'02 "compact" racks supposedly have revised ratio & lock-to-lock specs. Would they be compatible in an older E46? What about side effects to DSC steering angle sensor calibration?

Q4: Are there any dimensional or connection differences between ZF & TRW supplied steering racks?
Upon researching remanufactured racks, I found that the model numbers are the same for '99~'01 323/325 racks. This doesn't make sense if there was an "overboosted" variation for the '01 model year. Model numbers differ between ZF & TRW racks, though. They are also different between 325 & 330 racks.

Q5: Any recommendations on remanufactured racks? Am I potentially buying someone's else's problem, or are reman racks up to OEM standards if rebuilt correctly?

Sorry for the long post. I just have lots of questions and don't want to waste my time or money. Thanks for your help on this matter.
Regards,
Braden
 
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