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New Steering Rack, tie rods, rear shocks, mounts, brakes, egad!

Posted by Kelly 
Hi All,

Well, yet again, it has been ages. I hope that you are all super well! (Unlike my car at the present moment.)

Have you seen the new BMW TV ad with a 2002, E30, and then newer models? When I saw the ad out of the corner of my eye, I thought "Beemie, what are you doing on TV?"

You may recall that I was having some steering issues in July. The mech saw Beemie, and we agreed that I would return to the shop after my trip. Yesterday, I returned to the shop and dropped off the car for a full evaluation. Tighten your seat belt and brace for the full impact...

In the front, Beemie needs a new Steering Rack, tie rods ends, and alignment. In the rear, Beemie needs new shocks and shock mounts. And all 4 wheels need brake pads, rotors, and sensors. Egad! I won't tell you how much this costs. You will cry. At least the brakes can wait a month.

Any thoughts or recommendations for me? Especially regarding the shocks? What type is good for a street driving Beemie? I really hope there is a durable version. The mech said that San Francisco city driving implies more rapid component wear. I do believe this; the roads here are a mess.

Is there anything else I should ask the mechs to replace while they are working on these items?

Please let me know quickly if possible.


Thanks, Kelly
They're almost as expensive as children aren't they?

grinning smiley

alan
Hi again,

Any thoughts on the type of shocks recommended? I think the current (worn out) shocks are Koni Sport shocks which I assume the previous owner choose.

Let me know if you have shocks recomendations or addtional items that the mechs should do.

:-) Kelly
Brake pads and rotors are normal wear items, and between the three cars in my driveway I change them frequently, so I wouldn't be too upset about that. (On the one that is my track car I go through about two sets of pads a year; I change rotors less often, but I do change those too.)

Tie rod ends are a once-or-twice in a car's lifetime sort of thing. I've never had a steering rack go bad but I'm not surprised that at the age of our cars, one would need replacing.

Shocks are also wear items, though not as fast a brake pads and rotors. I recently replaced all four shocks in my iX and it was a huge improvement. If you're driving around on blown shocks, having new ones will make it seem like a new car.

For average-price performance shocks, I have had both Konis and Bilsteins on various cars, and I much prefer the Bilsteins. (The Koni/Bilstein debate can get almost religious, and you will find adherents of both.) I have Bilstein HD shocks on my iX, and they are great for street driving. I also have the same shocks in my Miata track car, and they're outstanding there too.

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
Hi Kelly,
Sorry to hear it's all hit at once, but at least your car will be transformed when it's all done. Personally I'm a disciple of the Church of Bilstein, but I'm sure whichever shocks you get you will be pleased with the improvement over the flogged out shocks you're replacing.

Shocks are usually chosen to match the springs, so you could find out what springs you have and just get the matching shocks.
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Kelly
Hi All,

Well, yet again, it has been ages. I hope that you are all super well! (Unlike my car at the present moment.)

Have you seen the new BMW TV ad with a 2002, E30, and then newer models? When I saw the ad out of the corner of my eye, I thought "Beemie, what are you doing on TV?"

I did see that commecial! I proceded to show everyone around with an amount of pride that no one understood grinning smiley

So let's break this down a little. You may have to remind me how dirty you are willing to get and how many miles are on your car.

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In the front, Beemie needs a new Steering Rack

Do you know, or did the mechanic say, what symptoms led him to believe the steering rack was bad? I've seen many a thread on replacing the E30 steering rack, but 100% of those threads are about people upgrading, or putting in something that is less likely to fall apart at the wrong time. All of it is for track use though. Perhaps someone around here has seen a bad steering rack, but I know I'm on my original steering rack, and I have some solid miles on my car!

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tie rods ends, and alignment.

Sadly, the alignment goes hand in hand with the tie rods (a lot of steering/suspension component work requires an alignment). But tie rods pretty much require an immediate alignment. Depending on the history of your car, there could be a few other things slightly out of the way that the mechanic may have missed, but that would cause fun steering issues or tire wobble. You might want to check out your control are bushings. There are a number of things down there that can rot out and degrade (ask me how I know), but the control arm bushings are a bit further back in the steering assembly and it's possible the mechanic could have missed them. It's the kind of thing that becomes a good "While you're replacing everything else..." sort of deal.

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In the rear, Beemie needs new shocks and shock mounts.

Me too! You should come on over, we can have a rear shock party! smiling smiley
Perhaps others can correct me, but my understanding is that rear shocks and mounts are a breeze to replace yourself. Springs in the back, and shocks/springs in the front can be a real PITA, but the back shocks are a good DIY. This is where reminding me of how willing you are to get dirty would be helpful smiling smiley
Actually, reading what you said again it sounds like you are set on having the mechanic do at least this portion of the work?

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And all 4 wheels need brake pads, rotors, and sensors. Egad! I won't tell you how much this costs. You will cry. At least the brakes can wait a month.

Brakes and rotors, something that I will never pay a person to do. I could be dieing, crippled, and blind, and I'd still want to change my own brakes because of how easy it it. And cheaper!
And with a little bit of critical thinking, almost impossible to do wrong.

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Any thoughts or recommendations for me? Especially regarding the shocks? What type is good for a street driving Beemie? I really hope there is a durable version.

I'm assuming you don't want to put racing shocks/springs on this car, but want to stick with "stock" like components. There are many good options for this, and people here have already mentioned my own personal preference for sticking with a stock ride height. However I'll add that it would be good to make sure that the springs are still a stock height. If the previous owner lowered it using Koni's and different springs, sticking a stock shock in there may not work out well. If your mechanic is worth his salt, he should be thinking about that possibility and double checking what is already on there and how compatible it is with what he buys.

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Is there anything else I should ask the mechs to replace while they are working on these items?

If you aren't looking for other major components to spend money on, than the only thing I might ask the mechanic about while he is under the car with a good light source, is to double check all the rubber mounts and bushings, and make sure the muffler isn't about to fall off. At least that's what I check when I'm under my car :-)


Best of luck, Kelly!
Everything I read says that after doing some suspension work like what is being proposed, that the car will ride noticeably different. It's so very nice to spend money "repairing" an older car, and actually get an improvement in drive-ability from it. That doesn't happen real often smiling smiley

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1989 - E30 - M20 - Manual. Approximately 270,000 miles
2000 - E46 - M52TUB28 - Manual. Approximately 110,000 miles

Might as well check the guibo and the transmission mounts too!!!

alan
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alanrw
Might as well check the guibo and the transmission mounts too!!!

alan

Hi All,

You will be amused to learn that I rode my bike to the office today. This required 50 minutes rather than the usual 20 minutes in the car. Happily, it is mostly a downhill from home to office especially considering my cargo. I have heavy a laptop and power supply. I used to think that I needed to run AutoCAD. But now I'm an "old curmudgeon" (translation - my office has young whippersnappers to manage AutoCAD), I concentrate on deep thoughts. I also felt it necessary to haul some cherry tomatoes and cheese for lunch plus and extra shoes. I should post a picture of my bike. I call it The Flash (because it is white), but Beemie calls it The Flea because Beemie is subjected to the indignity of carrying a bike rack and a bike on its trunk.

Well, after 2 days at the mechs, little Beemie has been returned to me with new rear shocks*, mounts, steering rack, tie rods ends, and alignment. My two immediate observations are that it is much more quiet and has a smoother ride. I guess the old shocks were quite noisy. The road paving here is not well maintained - California's eternal budget crisis. (I even saw a seriously rusted mail box yesterday. But that is a Federal issue rather than a State issue.) I must say that I love how quiet the car is now. Last fall I purchased new tires which also greatly reduced the noise as well. Now, the only squeaks remaining are the convertible top's rubber seals and the minor squeaks from the driver's seat. (No, not me. The seat has a little er-er-er sometimes. I may has this addressed in the spring.)

* I originally requested Bilstein HD shocks, but the mechs thought that I should have standard Bilsteins. I really like these mechs. I see the main guy at the gym. So, it's best that I not argue too much. They are really nice and really protective of Beemie and me I think.

My second (subjective) observation is that I must apply about 1.5 times as much pressure to the steering wheel to turn it. I will ask the mechs about this. I don't see this as a problem under normal driving conditions, I hope that it does not impede rapid turning during an emergency maneuver. (Or else I'll just have to develop some wicked strong triceps - a la Jack La Lane.)

Earandil - Thank you so much for your many comments and helpful thoughts. I truly wish that my brother and I could hang out over the weekend and repair The Beemie as required. But life has a way of preventing this. Maybe he an I can tackle the brakes. We'll see. :-)


In summary, I think the ride is smoother and quieter, but the steering is stiffer. Whether this is good or bad, I do not know.

As always, I eagerly await your comments - especially Rick, Peter, and Ferd who have not weighed in on this post.


Peace and Love, Kelly
rkj
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Kelly
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alanrw
Might as well check the guibo and the transmission mounts too!!!

alan

Hi All,

You will be amused to learn that I rode my bike to the office today. This required 50 minutes rather than the usual 20 minutes in the car. Happily, it is mostly a downhill from home to office especially considering my cargo. I have heavy a laptop and power supply. I used to think that I needed to run AutoCAD. But now I'm an "old curmudgeon" (translation - my office has young whippersnappers to manage AutoCAD), I concentrate on deep thoughts. I also felt it necessary to haul some cherry tomatoes and cheese for lunch plus and extra shoes. I should post a picture of my bike. I call it The Flash (because it is white), but Beemie calls it The Flea because Beemie is subjected to the indignity of carrying a bike rack and a bike on its trunk.

Well, after 2 days at the mechs, little Beemie has been returned to me with new rear shocks*, mounts, steering rack, tie rods ends, and alignment. My two immediate observations are that it is much more quiet and has a smoother ride. I guess the old shocks were quite noisy. The road paving here is not well maintained - California's eternal budget crisis. (I even saw a seriously rusted mail box yesterday. But that is a Federal issue rather than a State issue.) I must say that I love how quiet the car is now. Last fall I purchased new tires which also greatly reduced the noise as well. Now, the only squeaks remaining are the convertible top's rubber seals and the minor squeaks from the driver's seat. (No, not me. The seat has a little er-er-er sometimes. I may has this addressed in the spring.)

* I originally requested Bilstein HD shocks, but the mechs thought that I should have standard Bilsteins. I really like these mechs. I see the main guy at the gym. So, it's best that I not argue too much. They are really nice and really protective of Beemie and me I think.

My second (subjective) observation is that I must apply about 1.5 times as much pressure to the steering wheel to turn it. I will ask the mechs about this. I don't see this as a problem under normal driving conditions, I hope that it does not impede rapid turning during an emergency maneuver. (Or else I'll just have to develop some wicked strong triceps - a la Jack La Lane.)

Earandil - Thank you so much for your many comments and helpful thoughts. I truly wish that my brother and I could hang out over the weekend and repair The Beemie as required. But life has a way of preventing this. Maybe he an I can tackle the brakes. We'll see. :-)


In summary, I think the ride is smoother and quieter, but the steering is stiffer. Whether this is good or bad, I do not know.

As always, I eagerly await your comments - especially Rick, Peter, and Ferd who have not weighed in on this post.


Peace and Love, Kelly

You rang?

Hi Kelly, does the steering wheel return to the middle after a turn?

The stiffness could be all those new parts yet to be worked in yet.

Cheers, Rick
Hi Kelly,

Glad to see Beemie is up and running again...and safely grinning smiley

I see you had the wheel alignment done so it's possible that prior to this, the alignment was off. If there is too much toe in or toe out, the steering can range from super easy to armstrong only mode.

As Rick points out, it could just be a little while before the new rack is broken in and/or you have adjusted to it.

I didn't offer any input this time since the other guys were handling it so well. I guess we trained em good, huh? smileys with beer
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Archeo-peteriX
Hi Kelly,

Glad to see Beemie is up and running again...and safely grinning smiley

I see you had the wheel alignment done so it's possible that prior to this, the alignment was off. If there is too much toe in or toe out, the steering can range from super easy to armstrong only mode.

As Rick points out, it could just be a little while before the new rack is broken in and/or you have adjusted to it.

I didn't offer any input this time since the other guys were handling it so well. I guess we trained em good, huh? smileys with beer

Hi Peter and Rick,

Thanks for you notes above. Per Rick's question, yes the steeling wheel now does return to the home position more easily. It is still a bit stiff. Nonetheless, the turning force that I must apply with my hands is now even and regular. Before the new rack, sometimes the pressure would be hard-easy hard-easy. It was strange. Anyway, all is well now.

:-) Kelly
rkj
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Kelly
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Archeo-peteriX
Hi Kelly,

Glad to see Beemie is up and running again...and safely grinning smiley

I see you had the wheel alignment done so it's possible that prior to this, the alignment was off. If there is too much toe in or toe out, the steering can range from super easy to armstrong only mode.

As Rick points out, it could just be a little while before the new rack is broken in and/or you have adjusted to it.

I didn't offer any input this time since the other guys were handling it so well. I guess we trained em good, huh? smileys with beer

Hi Peter and Rick,

Thanks for you notes above. Per Rick's question, yes the steeling wheel now does return to the home position more easily. It is still a bit stiff. Nonetheless, the turning force that I must apply with my hands is now even and regular. Before the new rack, sometimes the pressure would be hard-easy hard-easy. It was strange. Anyway, all is well now.

:-) Kelly

Hey Kelly

All's well that ends well smiling smiley I just did (okay, had it done) a new front end on my car and it's still a little stiff but it's starting to feel great now and having everything tight is really cool. Now I have to tighten up the rear end confused smiley
So what mechanic did you go to? I'm a Bay Area person (when not suffering over here in Germany) and I know a slew of folks and parts suppliers. If you are in the City, I might know someone but am not sure. If you are elsewhere, there is a guy in the East bay in Dublin named Art Funk who is BY FAR the best BMW mechanic I've ever seen. Funk's European. Art is such a good guy that he has even allowed me to borrow tools, but he is also the only person I would allow to touch any car I'd ever own.

For future reference for everyone on brakes: Get them from Turner motorsport. They have a plenty sufficient for street use pad as part of a package deal that is quite impressive:

rotors for all 4 corners, pads for all 4 corners, brake fluid, and brake pad sensors all for $220!!!!!!!!

Glad to hear it all got done, though. The difference in steering wheel input could be a difference in the fluid your mechanic used. Hopefully he drained and bled the system completely as you don't want to have to do it again (unless you are planning on a Z3 rack conversion). smiling smiley
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longtallsally
So what mechanic did you go to? I'm a Bay Area person (when not suffering over here in Germany) and I know a slew of folks and parts suppliers. If you are in the City, I might know someone but am not sure. If you are elsewhere, there is a guy in the East bay in Dublin named Art Funk who is BY FAR the best BMW mechanic I've ever seen. Funk's European. Art is such a good guy that he has even allowed me to borrow tools, but he is also the only person I would allow to touch any car I'd ever own.

For future reference for everyone on brakes: Get them from Turner motorsport. They have a plenty sufficient for street use pad as part of a package deal that is quite impressive:

rotors for all 4 corners, pads for all 4 corners, brake fluid, and brake pad sensors all for $220!!!!!!!!

Glad to hear it all got done, though. The difference in steering wheel input could be a difference in the fluid your mechanic used. Hopefully he drained and bled the system completely as you don't want to have to do it again (unless you are planning on a Z3 rack conversion). smiling smiley

Good point about the PS fluid. All too often mechanics put PS fluid in instead of the ATF that BMW designed the pump and rack for. Regular PS fluid eventually eats through the seals sad smiley
Yeah and it was strange to put ATF in the tranny of my car as well. I guess some of the transmissions used with the 318is use it.
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Archeo-peteriX
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longtallsally
So what mechanic did you go to? I'm a Bay Area person (when not suffering over here in Germany) and I know a slew of folks and parts suppliers. If you are in the City, I might know someone but am not sure. If you are elsewhere, there is a guy in the East bay in Dublin named Art Funk who is BY FAR the best BMW mechanic I've ever seen. Funk's European. Art is such a good guy that he has even allowed me to borrow tools, but he is also the only person I would allow to touch any car I'd ever own.

For future reference for everyone on brakes: Get them from Turner motorsport. They have a plenty sufficient for street use pad as part of a package deal that is quite impressive:

rotors for all 4 corners, pads for all 4 corners, brake fluid, and brake pad sensors all for $220!!!!!!!!

Glad to hear it all got done, though. The difference in steering wheel input could be a difference in the fluid your mechanic used. Hopefully he drained and bled the system completely as you don't want to have to do it again (unless you are planning on a Z3 rack conversion). smiling smiley

Good point about the PS fluid. All too often mechanics put PS fluid in instead of the ATF that BMW designed the pump and rack for. Regular PS fluid eventually eats through the seals sad smiley

Hi LTS!

Good point about the fluid. I'll look at my receipt. I take my car to Richardson Automotive on Lombard St in SF. I do like them a lot. To me, the seam very earnest and hardworking. They also calm me down about the repairs as opposed to the first mechanic who caused great anxiety. They don't specialize in BMWs per say, but there are usually a few in the parking lot. My car is a normal stock street driving E30 - very smooth running, happy-go-lucky car which knows few stresses except the occasional emergency stop or maneuver which urban driving requires.

When to you return to the Bay Area?
Why are you suffering in Stuttgart? Vegetable deprivation?

Cheers, Kelly :-)
I think I've heard of them. The most important thing is that you are happy with them as I know it can be a pain in the City. And the E30 is a wonderful choice for the city. My only wish is that the steering racks were a bit more responsive (I'm planning on resolving that with a Z3 conversion). Otherwise, they have great visibility, maneuverability, and are pretty good on fuel all while being pretty cheap to operate and a good bit of sport and practicality thrown in as well.

I was hoping to come home sooner rather than later, but I didn't get the gig with NetApp I interviewed for recently, but they are shopping my resume around within the organization so there may be a chance yet. Otherwise, we'll probably be here for another year.

Germany is a so-so place to live. Ironically, the veggies and food in general is GREAT. VERY fresh (and the beer is just as good as the rep) and there are farmer's markets everywhere a couple times a week, so that isn't it. The weather, though, isn't so great. As I type this, it is 46F and raining and there is supposed to be snow later this week. I convinced my wife that we needed the LSD in the 318 due to the snow (she had never lived in the snow before) and we were very glad to have it during the first snows I had to drive in (we got here in January). However, she demanded that her 325xi be shipped over and is still a bit scared to drive the little car in it.

Europe is not near as cool as everyone thinks.
rkj
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longtallsally
Europe is not near as cool as everyone thinks.

That might be but I've always wanted to try it! I signed up for an extra year in the army for Germany and a few schools, of course I got shipped straight to Vietnam but hey, ..... sad smiley
It truly is a very cool place to visit; lots of history, and other interesting things to see. I recommend visiting. Living, well, not so much. Without going into a tirade, just trust me when I say that it is not as great as the romantic notion many in the US think. It is HIDEOUSLY expensive (and that is coming from a Bay Area resident), they have more rules and taxes to govern every aspect of your life (there is a tax for your dog, and you are not allowed to wash your car in your own driveway for example), and contrary to popular belief, the roads aren't that great and even the speed free zones on the autobahn are nothing special as for every km of no speed limit, there is a km of stau (traffic jam) and construction. And don't get me started on the speed cameras... Most importantly for me as a mild outdoorsman, you simply cannot escape the hand of man in western Europe. There are no open spaces and absolutely no off road and as such in my minds eye, no adventure. Too many people.

The Germans themselves are very nice and welcoming, but their culture is a bit oppressive for my wild west side.
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longtallsally
Most importantly for me as a mild outdoorsman, you simply cannot escape the hand of man in western Europe. There are no open spaces and absolutely no off road and as such in my minds eye, no adventure. Too many people.
Welcome back Sal.

There are open spaces in Germany, but very few (if any) are untouched wilderness. All the forests are immaculately groomed and managed. There are plenty of hiking trails, but you'd be shot immediatey if you ever tried to ride your dirt bike on them.

I had one of my relatives from Germany come visit me in Canada. He had always dreamed of camping in the Canadian wilderness, so we went for a two week canoe trip in Quetico Provincial Park. The first thing that completely blew him away was the ENORMOUS scale of Canada. The drive from our home in Ottawa to Quetico (west of Thunder Bay) is 1600 km (1000mi)! And that is all still within the same Province of Ontario. He said, from his place in Germany, that same distance would take him nearly to Moscow! Lake Ontario alone is the size of Switzerland.

Quetico Park is roughly 60mi x 40mi of unbelievably beautiful lakes and rivers. It's canoeing heaven. The whole two weeks we spent there, we only ever encountered two other caneoists. When we went to visit him in Germany one summer, we went to the beach and swimming in his local "lake" (pond). There were a bazillion people there.

Europe is certainly worth visiting, many times, but I sure wouldn't want to be trapped there.
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Ferdinand
Europe is certainly worth visiting, many times, but I sure wouldn't want to be trapped there.

My thoughts exactly.

And first or second order or business once we get back is a ride to Prudhoe Bay or back down through Baja.

Oh well. In the mean time I'll finish getting the 318 ready to do the Ring in the spring.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/18/2010 03:12PM by longtallsally.
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