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3-Series (E36) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1992-1999. Autodoodad Specific models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318iS/ti, BMW 320, BMW 323, BMW 320, BMW 324, BMW 325, BMW 328.

 
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#1 (permalink) Old 12-22-2004, 11:05 AM
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Question

Hey guys. I'm sorry my first post on this forum has a negative twist to it. I cannot, for the life of me, fix this problem.

I remember back in the day when i'd take a turn at 25 mph and the back end of my car would have to catch up to the front... when the slight turn of the steering wheel sent my car squeeling around a turn. Those were the golden days.

Then i let my girl drive my car. She drove it into a curb at 55 mph.

I had to replace the left lower control arms in the front and back (left side hit) and my radiator and 2 wheel hubs. After that, the car still ran perfectly. No joke. Steering was as responsive. Then about 2,500 miles later, Something happened that has led me to the desperation of today.

I took a sharp turn (as i always do) and my 318 handled it like a champ. As i correct myself out of the turn, the steering wheel feels limp in my hand. It went from tight, to feeling like i had a flat tire as I moved the steering wheel side to side. This happened coming out of a very sharp turn.

Ever since then, my steering has been limp. I need to pull the wheel further to the left or right to make turns that i used to be able to make effortlessly. It feels like i no longer have a hard "grip" on the road through my steering wheel.

I'm not sure it is linked to when the car went over the curb. While i'm sure it may have weakened something, i drove it like crazy for those 2500 miles after the accident and before my steering went limp.

What Have i replaced so far?

-Steering Rack (by bmw dealer)
-Left tie rod
-Front Struts (bilstein)
-Wheel hub assembly
-New tires

I have the same problem. I dont know what to do because every time i bring it into the shop, they tell me its fine, or its old, or i'm crazy, etc. Mechanic tells me everything in the car looks tight, and it drives fine to him. But you know your car the best, and my car doesnt drive like it did 4 months ago.

So guys, what should I do next? I'm thinking about replacing my control arm bushings, but i'm not sure if this will do anything. You can feel the problem if you imagine sitting in my car stationary. If you move the wheel left or right, it feels like it shrugs, limp, left or right. You have to make much more of an extra effort to turn the wheel especially at low speeds. At high speeds, i can shake the wheel left and right, while my car DOES move a little while i do this, it doesnt seem right. The wheel used to be one with the road, gripping it tightly. Now, its like a floppy boat and i feel like i'm LEANING against the road when i take turns- its very imprecise and un sporty. I dont know what to do anymore.

Is there anyone in the Maryland / D.C. area who would like to take my car for a spin and see what they think about it? I will buy you lunch

Thanks for your advice guys, I'm very frustrated with this problem and any ideas are helpful. I'll put about 1,000$ more into this car before i give up. Thats how much i love it
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#2 (permalink) Old 12-22-2004, 12:21 PM
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uhhhhh, tax your girl.....then check your shocks and pwr steering PUMP.
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#3 (permalink) Old 12-22-2004, 02:59 PM
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You could have a broken sway bar endlink in the front or rear. If you experience a lot of understeer and the front is running really wide, it could be the rear sway bar endlink is worn, if you experience lots of oversteer, the front sway bar endlink could be worn. A loud noticeable knocking on the side of the broken endlink is a sure sign. The rear swaybar endlink rarely makes any noise. However, if you experience lots of unwated understeer, get the rear sway bar checked out. The rear endlinks are pathetic, they are made of really cheap aluminum which VERY often do crack. I've broken countless sets of them. Sometimes within a period of a month!

Also check to make sure your dampers are still good, a blown damper would seriously affect handling and unwanted understeer.

How difficult is it to turn the steering wheel when the car is stationary? If you need both hands to do it, you might have a power steering pump problem. First check to make sure the PS belt in still intact.

good luck!

Bry

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#4 (permalink) Old 12-22-2004, 03:33 PM
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Originally posted by Autotechnica@Dec 22 2004, 02:59 PM

How difficult is it to turn the steering wheel when the car is stationary? If you need both hands to do it, you might have a power steering pump problem. First check to make sure the PS belt in still intact.

good luck!

Bry
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Its not very difficult at all. BMW looked at my power steering pump and said it was fine, they cleaned it out for me too... also, there is no noise coming from my car. The suspension feels tight, the problem feels to be specifically in the steering. Is there any way to get someone to test out my suspension and steering mechanism, some sort of diagnostic of the whole system? I may look into the dampers. Whatever went bad, it has to be something thats difficult to find, because so far 3 mechanics have been unalbe to tell me anything, except that my right bushing is worn, and i should change my ball joints ( although the 2nd mechanic told me the ball joints were fine).

Thanks
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#5 (permalink) Old 12-22-2004, 04:36 PM
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may be u need to check the sway bar fixations and endlinks as mentioned earlier. furthermore, have you done a wheel alignment report. sometimes the wheel knuckle (where the dampers gets in) is slightly bent and this may cause troubles like that you have.
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#6 (permalink) Old 12-22-2004, 06:10 PM
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bounce a bit on each corner with your body weight and then let go. if it bounces a few times before stopping, the shocks are prolly ready to die. if it comes up and stops within a few shakes....they r good, look somewhere else.

if she hit a curb, and you didnt change the shocks, my guess it thats gonna be one problem...
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#7 (permalink) Old 12-22-2004, 06:25 PM
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BTW, the bounce test only really works on the rears. The front doesn't bounce even if the dampers are blown.

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