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Dumping ground for my thoughts

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Suspension Refresh

Feels like de ja vu doing all of this again albeit on a different E46!

A couple of weeks back I sourced new Sachs M Sport shocks all round, Lemforder top mounts, Lemforder tie rod ends and a replacement upper steering union joint from a low mileage compact. And as with the 320d I also bought some Eibach Pro Kit springs.

Finally got round to working on the Touring this weekend and started with the rear setup as its easier. Annoyingly the Touring requires half the interior boot trim to be removed before you can get to the sound proofing that protects the suspension turrets. As with the saloon, I decided to cut an access flap in the sound proofing to save the hassle of trying to remove it all completely. Once I was past the interior panels, the shocks, top mounts and springs were swapped out with ease.

After some lunch I decided to start on the fronts, it didnt take long for me to remember why I don't like doing this particular job! In my haste I snapped the headlight level sensor arm and also managed to lose the ARB stabiliser nut in the shingle next to my!

The biggest issue I had was getting the new EIbach springs compressed enough to be able to screw the new top mounts onto the struts....what an absolute pig that was! I remember it being difficult on the 320d but this time it was twice as bad given the fact that the M Sport struts are shorter than standard meaning the springs need to be compressed even more than normal.

I managed to finish one side that afternoon and stripped the passenger side out ready to go again with the spring compressors on Sunday morning. As is always the way, when I did the other side it was done and dusted in about 30 minutes...I think I got the knack with the spring compressors and more importantly worked out the best places to locate them on the spring without hampering the spring fitment.

In all of this there was a ray of hope in that the old front top mounts were clearly knackered with loads of play present. Sure enough, when I took the car for a drive there was an instant handling improvement and a lot of the play and vibration disappeared.

I'd say it now drives and handles on par with my 320d which has an identical suspension setup minus the shorter M Tech shocks. And given that the Touring has big old heavy 18 inch MV1's I'd say thats probably as good as it is going to get.

Regardless, I probably will fit the spare upper steering union joint I have, and I'll also get the Lemforder tie rod ends fitted, followed up finally with another visit to the Wheel Alignment Specialists in Southampton.

Beyond that, I might get some yellow stuff pads in readiness for a trip to the Ring in 4 weeks time.

Now I just need to find some time to prep the 320d in order to put it up for sale....


Up to speed...

I bought the Touring in readiness for baby number two.

I checked a couple out before going for this one and I'm glad I held out. It came up for reasonable money to start with but I highlighted a couple of issues during the test drive and managed to get another £300 off the price so a good buy. Issues being a knocking from the front end suspension and a problem getting into 5th gear.

First job was to replace the front lower arms as one of them was causing a massive rattle and play in the steering. I did both at the same time along with the lollipop bushes and ARB stabilisers, all using Meyle HD parts.

Secondly I bought all the usual parts to sort the play in the gear selection but limited access dictated I could only replace half the parts. As such the play hasn't been fully rectified. Annoyingly, the issue with 5th gear selection (when cold) also remained, I've since learnt that the fix for this is simple but you need the box off to sort for another day then.

Unfortunately, replacing the front lower arms didn't resolve the wondering front end so I opted to replace the worn budget front tyres with PS3's along with booking the car in for a session at The Wheel Alignment Specialists in Southampton. This made further improvement but the car still suffers from tram lining / bump steer...

Next on the list was to replace the steering union joint between the rack and column, I did the more common lower joint, new from BMW around £60. Again a slight improvement but it still hasn't sorted the steering. I checked the old UJ part and it did have some play there so not a completely wasted effort I guess.

The rear tyres were also budget and one was worn heavier so I bit the bullet and put another two PS3's on the back. Still the handling issues remain!!

Finally, today, I have gone all out and put an order in for Sachs shocks all round, Eibach Pro Kit lowering springs, Lemforder top mounts all round and Lemforder tie rod ends. Lets see what different that lot makes! I'm hoping a big difference as I can't see any history of the suspension components being refreshed at any point during the cars 150k life to date.

If this lot doesn't sort it then I guess I need to look at the upper steering union joint assembly and possibly even look at swapping out one of the front MV1's as it looks a bit suspect with damage and possible buckling.

Other than that I guess it could only be the rack or column itself although I can't say I've felt any play in the rack when I've gone looking for it under the car.

Along the way I have also fitted a nice shortened weighted club sport gear knob, resprayed the centre sections with plastidip and also fitted some new ARB bushes on the front.

Apart from the wayward handling, I really like this car. The straight six diesel lump is so much nicer than my 320d daily. I'm really hopeful I can get it handling the way BMW intended and will persevere with that in the meantime. I have read that people say the 18 inch rims bring on tram lining but i struggle to believe it should be this bad....

Time will tell....

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