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Ölmeßstabmeister
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I need some help from those that have had the steering retrofit done... What's the strategy you used to get it, especially if you received pushback from BMWNA?

Here's the background... I did ED of my 325Ci in May '01. I immediately noticed how light the steering was (I had previously been driving a Z3 on a fairly regular basis, so it was easy to tell the difference). My car is an April '01 production, which is aparently the month the "new new" / fixed steering was put into production.

I originally emailed BMWNA and was put on the retrofit list about a year ago. I then eagerly waited the call saying I could schedule it. It took a couple months for the call to come in, during which the 3-er was the only car I was regularly driving. When the call came about 3 months later, BMWNA said I did not need the retrofit since their records indicated already had the newer steering rack. Since I had been driving the car for a couple months and had gotten used to the light steering and it really wasn't bugging me anymore, I figured it was worth the try, but I really didn't need to push to get the retrofit done. This was around Nov last year.

Since then, a couple things have happened:
1) I had a June '01 production 330i as a loaner when I took the car in for its 1-year oil change. The steering on this car was 1000x better (firmer with noticably less boost) than my car. I actually had a hard time adjusting back to my car when I picked it up.
2) My girfriend took delivery of her Mini Cooper S last month. After driving it, my car feels like I can turn the wheel with only my pinky.
3) I met up with my family on vacation last week and spent a day driving my stepdad's new X5. Once again the steering in his "truck" was firmer and less boosted than my 3-er.

After these 3 experiences in the last couple of months with 3 different BMW products, I know BMWNA was BS-ing me when they said I was not elgible for the retrofit. I now want to pursue getting the retrofit. Any recommendations on Strategy? Any success with Atlanta-area dealers that actually knew what you were trying to do?
 

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ZBB, I read somewhere only 328/330s qualified for the retrofit.
By your comments on BMWNA's response, that's not the case.
My car's steering doesn't feel overboosted, but feels vague on-center, like if it had recirculating-ball.
I'll try to follow your thread and see what happened. If you happen to have a chance to Email me, I'd appreciate it.

JC
[email protected]
 

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Ölmeßstabmeister
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
JC - Your sig states you drive an '00 323 -- you have the original e46 steering that everyone raves about. BMW lightened the steering on the '01s, but after much negative reception in literally all the car magazines (lets just say a common reference was that it was like a Buick), they recalibrated it to be firmer about half way through the model year (although they aparently didn't put back the original steering from the '99 and '00 e46.)

BMWNA retrofitted the steering upon request for those owners that had a car produced with the light steering. Both 330 and 325 owners have had the retrofit done and I'm looking for some strategy help to convince BMWNA to provide the retrofit on my car since they originally denied my request...
 

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superwagon pilot
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ZBB 325Ci said:
JC - Your sig states you drive an '00 323 -- you have the original e46 steering that everyone raves about. BMW lightened the steering on the '01s, but after much negative reception in literally all the car magazines (lets just say a common reference was that it was like a Buick), they recalibrated it to be firmer about half way through the model year (although they aparently didn't put back the original steering from the '99 and '00 e46.)

BMWNA retrofitted the steering upon request for those owners that had a car produced with the light steering. Both 330 and 325 owners have had the retrofit done and I'm looking for some strategy help to convince BMWNA to provide the retrofit on my car since they originally denied my request...
We had the retrofit performed on our Feb '01 production 325i. You'll need to call BMWNA customer service and hunt down the right person to get it done. Let me do some digging and see if I can find out who I talked to (the name rosemary rings a bell).

JEC
 

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Hve you tried driving another 325 to see if it feels different . . .


Just so you know, the 330 you drove has a different steering rack then both the 325 (no matter what month of production) and the retrofitted rack.

Also, just some more info for you . . . I've driven at least 14 different E46's and there is no consistancy in the steering feel.

I drove Robg's retrofitted 325i and he drove my retrofitted 330Ci and his steering was totally different feeling then mine. My car was considerably heavier (which I am sure he will agree with)

This does not make it better, just different . . . I felt his steering was excellent . . .

So what I am trying to say is, maybe you do have the later production rack, why don't you find out what rack part# is on your car and then do a search here and find out what the 'new-new' rack part number is . . .

You'd be surprised . . . also to confuse you more, 2002 325's have a different rack then 2002 330's . . .
 

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I got the retrofit on my '01 325CI (Nov '00 prod)
I talked to my dealer first and they said "you don't qualify" then I talked to NA and they said "You don't qualify". I knew people here had it done but I was getting stonewalled.

2 months later NA called and said "We are ready to set up your retrofit, where do you want the parts sent?"

:dunno: Go figure!
 

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Alan is definitely right. Somehow, its actually impossible to drive 2 E46s that actually have a similar steering feel.

Part of this is due to all of the various suspensions, tires, vehicle weights and steering rack, and steering couplers used. But I think part of it is just that there is actually a great degree in variance among racks that supposedly have the same part numbers.

If you really care about steering feel, and want to buy an E46, I think you'd actually have to go to several dealers and drive multiple cars on each lot- and the find one w/ just the right feel and buy it on the spot. Otherwise, who knows what you'll get...

Unfortunately, once you "tune in" to how your car's steering feels, you'll begin to notice all sorts of wierdness. I've gotten used to my steering, but I still think it doesn't feel right (pre or post retrofit). I will say this-- if your car tracks straight now and doesn't wander on the highway DO NOT get the retrofit.

You will regret it. The dealer will never get the alignment the way it was when it left the factory. In retrospect, I was much happier w/ my car when it had lighter effort steering that tracked straight and felt accurate. My current steering seems to have more "slop" and acutally feels more "floaty" possibly because it tramlines much more due to the dealer's crappy alignments.

My point is, before you wish for the steering retrofit, really think about your current steering and what you don't like about it. You may end up w/ something much worse than what you have.
 

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I wasn't happy with the light steering, and against the advice of particularly robg, I went with the retrofit. To say the least, I am miserable. The car was totally awesome for a very short period of time, but the "honeymoon" didn't last long. I am about to have the 3rd control arm bushing replaced. I am getting very frustrated. If I was in a better position I would get rid of this car and start over again. :(

Robg - did you check your pm? :) Any help and specifics on your problems would be great!!!
 

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Ölmeßstabmeister
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all the replies everybody...

I think I'm not going to push for the retrofit -- other than having an overboosted feeling, my steering is fine - perfect alignment, decent feel. I figured this out after having a rental Camry last week (talk about a car that feels like a sterotypical Buick...). I've also been going back and forth between the Mini and my 325Ci -- there's a difference, but the adjustment back to it is less noticable than after my first long drive in the Mini.

By the way Rob typed this above:
"The dealer will never get the alignment the way it was when it left the factory"

I think that's funny since my car came from the factory with an off-center steering wheel. I noticed it almost immediately during ED (within about 2 minutes of being on the Autobahn -- if I held the steering wheel straight, I'd drift slightly to the right and I could hold it straight to go around mild curves). I had my dealer fix it after US delivery and its been fine ever since (they did a full alignment to fix it)

Oh - and Alan asked if I had driven other 325s... Yes - I've driven an '02 325Cic, but it was when I was home at Christmas and my mom just took delivery. My memory's fuzzy, but the steering wasn't as light as my car, but I also don't remember having to "adjust" back to my car like I did after driving the X5 a couple weeks ago and the 330 in May.
 

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ZBB 325Ci said:

Oh - and Alan asked if I had driven other 325s... Yes - I've driven an '02 325Cic, but it was when I was home at Christmas and my mom just took delivery. My memory's fuzzy, but the steering wasn't as light as my car, but I also don't remember having to "adjust" back to my car like I did after driving the X5 a couple weeks ago and the 330 in May.
Just so you know, I've read here many times that the Convertible has heavier feeling to the steering the the coupe & four door
 
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