I spent most of this weekend working on our recently acquired 2004 320d. Since owning the car I've noticed an issue with the handling and I think specifically the steering characteristics.
The steering feels light and twitchy at speed and heavy and slow to centre at lower speeds. I've eyeballed the usual suspension and steering components and all appear OK. The tyres are ditchfinders but the wear looks even, regardless of that I have ordered new Uniroyal Rainsport3's and they are being delivered tomorrow for fitting in the week.
In an effort to resolve the weird steering issues I also happen to own a 1988 E30 325 and this has been upgraded to run on an E46 steering rack, so in my infinite wisdom I decided to spend the weekend steeling the rack from the E30 and seeing if the handling issue goes away with this rack fitted to the E46.
Unfortunately whilst the rack from the E30 is identical the tie rods and tie rod ends are not, so whilst I have swapped the rack over, the tie rods and ends will need to be fitted tomorrow evening once I've picked up some parts. I also need some new PAS fluid. The job wasn't too bad, but it was quite time consuming. I inspected the lower UJ connector and it all appears to be OK with no noticeable play. I had fun getting this reconnected, there is hardly any room to work down that side of the bay, it took a few attempts before I got the bracket reconnected to the steering column rod, but it got there in the end.
Whilst I was at it, and as I couldn't finish the job completely today, I decided to fit the swirl flap blanks I picked up last week. Compared to the rack swap this job was a breeze, the EGR valve got cleaned up in the process also. At least one job got finished this weekend! The swirl flaps looks in good order but at least I have peace of mind now.
So the plan for the coming days (or evenings) will be to get the new tie rods fitted, get the PAS fluid topped up and bled, get the new tyres fitted and finally get a 4 wheel tracking session booked in. Hopefully the steering problems will go away!