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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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Old 11-30-2005, 06:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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A little wiggle room...

Oh snap.
Anyway, today (it was questionable yesterday, confirmed today) I discovered that my vehicle has a nasty wobble in the steering wheel from 50-70mph.
Normally I'd say "oh, it's a slight alignment problem" except that it virtually disappears at ~70mph, and between 55-65 mph is at it's worst. What's weirder is that it seems intermittent. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it is so bad I REALLY got to grip the wheel to prevent myself from tossing the ///m around, and sometimes it is non-existent.
It also seems to come and go as it pleases during hard or soft braking. Again, only when braking from about 60-70 mph to 0 mph.
Any ideas?
I didn't think alignment was ... well, intermittent. Could it be ball joints? Control arms?
I live right off a REALLY bumpy road (considering contacting the local township; it's REALLY bad - there are up to 2 inch sudden drops and bumps all over the place; it pains me to take my ///m through there, but I have no other choice; they're ALL like that) - thank you Evanston - so I am expecting some form of early normal wear and tear, but I've never experienced an intermittent problem before.
Also, this morning, I went over some railroad tracks at ~55 mph. But I usually go over those tracks pretty fast. And this is the first time there seems to be a tangible issue.

Any takers?
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Old 11-30-2005, 06:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I know your exact problem... or atleast... my car does the same thing... and the same fix... fixes it every time...

Get your wheels balanced.

If your car pulls to one side... or extreme uneven tire wear... then you need a alinement...

If your car shakes... balance the tires.

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Old 11-30-2005, 06:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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They say 40's in the wheel 50's in the steel...

I'd get a check up.
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Old 11-30-2005, 06:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if it's balance. I know at least one of my rims has a small crack due to the nasty roads I was talking about. I'm going to go get my oil changed this monday, check balance and suspension. Ah well. I've got nearly a quarter of my rim covered in wheel weights... I'm tired of waiting for a matching set of 225/245 17" wheels to come my way eh.
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Old 11-30-2005, 09:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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hmmm, always the hardest to diagnose because so many things can cause it, however im assuming a bad alignment you would notice other problems as well and usually a real bad wobble caused by an alignment would be a pretty consistant thing.
wheel balance could be the culprit, if a wheel weight or you have drastically bent your rim enough to cause these problems , again it would be pretty consistant.
my favorite choice for this problem is always aimed at brakes, i dunno how old your calipers are but you may be suffering for caliper seizing, i had this personally happen to me, where the car would shake pretty violently very irratically, sometimes for a while sometimes not at all, no pattern, braking habbits didnt effect it.this is a not a common thing but does happen often enough not to seriously look at it... check for early signs, look through the rims and see if any of the brakes seem to have excessively more wear than the rest.
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Old 11-30-2005, 11:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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ive had that problem.. and i had to fix it by trial an error...
but its most likely the ball joints...
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Old 12-01-2005, 06:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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could be:

balljoints
CA bushings
tie rods
bent or unbalanced rims

Take this as an opertunity to get the car handling perfect.. you could go with solid balljoints and upgrade the bushings, then just throw some tirerod ends on as they are not expensive at all.

Get the rims rebalanced first though, or straigntened if they need it.
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Old 12-01-2005, 08:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Ball Joints?

I believe it is the ball joints.

My car is doing the same thing right now.... it only wobbles when I turn it slightly (going around a slight curve and only at about 40-60). It sucks I know.

Best way to check for ball joints is jack your car up and shake the wheel, if it feels lose and not study then it is most likely your ball joints.

Then again I could be wrong.
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Old 12-01-2005, 05:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Furious
hmmm, always the hardest to diagnose because so many things can cause it, however im assuming a bad alignment you would notice other problems as well and usually a real bad wobble caused by an alignment would be a pretty consistant thing.
wheel balance could be the culprit, if a wheel weight or you have drastically bent your rim enough to cause these problems , again it would be pretty consistant.
my favorite choice for this problem is always aimed at brakes, i dunno how old your calipers are but you may be suffering for caliper seizing, i had this personally happen to me, where the car would shake pretty violently very irratically, sometimes for a while sometimes not at all, no pattern, braking habbits didnt effect it.this is a not a common thing but does happen often enough not to seriously look at it... check for early signs, look through the rims and see if any of the brakes seem to have excessively more wear than the rest.
I think this is it guys. It's been too dark to actually see anything regarding brake wear, but both last night and tonight I noticed the faint smell of burning metal. Last night when I noticed it, I could feel the warmth emanating from the rotor. However, I was in some pretty intensive and brake happy traffic yesterday, and I was driving aggressively, and thought nothing of it.
Today though, I noticed it again, on the driver's side, and checked the passenger side as well - I could only feel the warmth from the driver's side. This could be the culprit as well as only recently (Yesterday was when the problem started) - a few days ago, my ABS has been seeing some pretty mean use (they have only started to salt roads today). ABS, I'm guessing, could aggravate a seizing caliper. I'm getting this checked definitely on Monday. Hopefully by then the brake won't have been reduced to nothing but dust. If so... time for cross-drilled rotors, ceramic pads, and some new calipers, yah?


EDIT: The burning smell was without a doubt rotors/pads. Again, only the driver's side stunk of melting brake.
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Old 12-01-2005, 10:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Furious: Should it be my calipers, what is the fix? I know that my mechanic will take care of it, but is it just the simple application of the applicable lubricant, or is there a necessary replacement of parts (not including possibly worn rotors/pads)?
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Old 12-01-2005, 11:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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no unfortunately you have to replace the caliper all together, or at least i would if i were you, a temp fix wont do as far as i know, when you buy a new caliper you have to send your old one back as a core. as for the pads and rotors, your more than likely gonna have to change them if this has been happening for a while, and fyi you might have to do a full front brake job if the other pads and rotors are pretty worn (normal wear and tear)
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Old 12-02-2005, 08:18 AM   #12 (permalink)
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i had similar issues..i would go 80mph and it would feel like i was doing 110.. wrestling with the wheel, car following tracks in the road, it was bad.. I went to ICS performance and they hooked me up. M3 control arms and bushings, tie rods, ball joints, sway bar links, custom alignment, and finally high speed rebalancing of tires. My car rides like it is on rails now. I can easily go 100+ and the car is just glued.. IMO this is the only way to really get your bimmer back.. doesnt come cheap but WELL worth the cost..
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Old 12-02-2005, 11:11 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Yeah, it's only been happening for the past two days... unfortunately I drive >80 miles a day...
And I still got a couple more days before I make the 50 mile trip to my mechanic...
...

Eh.

Well. Looks like I'm in for some nice brembo rotora and pads (what pads do you suggest for least amount of brake dust + high performance? HKS? Pagid?? What kind?). I'll let him have the you-know-whats-its and see what he can do for the car.

Before this, yes, my car actually felt MORE stable at 80+ miles per hour (at 100, like a ROCK) than at 40! Huh. Must be that active steering. Or maybe the spoiler DOES work.
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Old 12-02-2005, 12:48 PM   #14 (permalink)
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lol the spoiler does have function on these cars
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Old 12-02-2005, 03:24 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Do what les said (alpinem3) and then do what catalyst. (fix what he listed in reverse order).
If that dosn't fix the shimmy, Get new (GOOD) tires, replace the rims with hgih quality ones, and if THAT dosn't fix it, replace your steering rack.

just a quick tip :Take time to let your rotors cool down BEFORE YOU STOP.
Otherwise, they WILL cool uneavenly because the pads act as a very effective heat blanket: the rotor will warp and it wont be the same again until you resurface the $*#$* out of it.

Don't forget to investigate your rear-end or your driveline, out of balence drive axle or engine fan with missing blades will cause vibrations as well.
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