Ghost Haunting Front End: Shimmy Spector - BMW Forum -

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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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 08-26-2004, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, guys... I got this car at a good price, and I really don't regret it at all--at this point. However, this auto seems to be haunted with a few ghost, and I'm having a fairly difficult time putting my finger on them. Y'all helped me correctly diagnose a secondary air pump failure, of which I'm very grateful. I'm gonna ignore that for now, considering the expense it will cost to fix (approx. 300 bones); to all you tree huggers, I do apologize. I guess the environment will have to take a back seat to other issues at the moment. Now, for the most frustrating visitor I have been riding around...

My car had a really bad front end shimmy when I got'im at almost exactly 75mph. I could very easily cause the car to shake (wobbling vibration) by getting up to exactly 75mph and turning the wheel to the right--even changing lanes. Change to the right lane (in US), get a wobble; change to the left lane, get a wobble when you correct to straight, but not during the movement to the left. So, I looked at the tires, which were gonna need replacing soon anyway, and opted to get a new set--225/50/16. I drove out of the tire place, hit the interstate, and made S's all the way up the road like an idiot for about 10 miles at 70-80mph. Guess what, NO SHAKE. I celebrated, but in the back of my mind, I could still feel the presence of my visitor, watching, waiting, calculating...

No less than 20 days and 1500 miles later (lotta highway driving), it returned in all its glory. Now, I'm not exactly what you'd call mechanically inclined, nor am I an exorcist, but I'm a stubborn sort that deeply analyzes just about everything--except the women I date (one way ticket to a padded cell), but that's another story. I have a tendency to believe that this car has a deeper issue that is throwing the balance of the right tire off. When I got the car, the immediate symptom was "tire out of balance". I got new tires, fresh balance, problem goes away. Now, I think that maybe the symptom of a balancing issue has returned because a deeper problem exists. OR, my reasoning is maligned due to a coincidental "bad balance" at the tire place that didn't last long enough. OR, coincidentally, the front right tire is bad. YEAH, RIGHT. I don't buy that, but I'm willing to take any advice. The simplest answer is usually right.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, this ghost is really starting to tick me off. Now, ole'dude that I bought the car from wasn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. Lately, I've been going through all the 'receipts' he gave me with the car, and it looks as if he purchased two sets of tires since 98k (120k now). He kept mentioning that he wanted the car to have a 'better ride', which is why he kept dropping money on tires. However, he also mentioned a little accident he had in which he ran over a deer in the road that was hid by a vehicle he was trailing on the interstate (96k or so). He said the only thing it did was damage his right fog light. After my inspection, I noticed the inner fender is missing a screw where the vanity shield for the bumper hooks on. AND, the plastic under carriage is buckled and busted at one of its clip joints. I cannot help but lament over this evidence in the history of my vehicle as a likely cause for the ghost I'm currently trying to catch. And still, the haunting continues.

Also, may it be of further interest to mention that at very low speeds, I can watch my steering wheel ever so slightly move back and forth with an amplitude of approximately 1cm. In fact, if I wasn't so anal, I don't think it would be noticeable. It goes away with speeds over 25mph. Like I said, though, it is ever so slight and extremely subtle.

My ideas:
Ball Joint (Can this cause a tire to lose balance?)
Control Arm (ditto)
Tie Rod (ditto)
Alignment (ditto)
Bushings (ditto)
Damaged Rack (ditto)

The dude that replaced my tires owes me a free alignment check as he didn't have time for it the day I was there getting the rubber replaced. SO, even though I'm leary of one stop shop mechanics, I'll assist him on checking my front end alignment, but I have a tendency to think he's gonna give me a grocery list of crap that could use replacing--all of which he will be able to install, of course.

Please assist me, my jedi companions. I believe the force is still strong within you.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 08-26-2004, 08:40 PM
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I would seriously look at the control arms (they contain the ball joints) and the control arm bushings at each end. These items, if worn can create a shimmy and shke and loose handling.
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