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3-Series (E46, E90) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1999 to Current. Models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318Ci, BMW 320i, BMW 323i, BMW 325i, BMW 330i, BMW 328 Ci, BMW 328i, BMW 325i/xi, BMW 330Ci, BMW 320d, BMW 330d, BMW 335d.

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Old 04-11-2004, 10:01 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I have a 1999 323i with 65K. I bought 4 new Continental 205 55 r16 ch95 89h and an alignment about 20K miles ago. I neglected to rotate the tires and noticed a pronounced "wa wa wa" sound eminating from under the car when driving moderate to high speeds. The intervals between "wa" increases as the speed increases. When I checked my rear tires they were worn down evenly to the wear bars. The fronts were fine. I quickly replaced the rears with 2 BF Goodrich tires but the sound is still there. The dealer mentioned at 55K that my front lower control arm is starting to wear so I'm not sure if that is contributing to the noise. The second tire installer was suprised to see the 65,000 mile Continental's worn down even without rotating. Can anyone help here?
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Old 04-11-2004, 10:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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i'd expect at 55k tires to be GONE. it is occasionally difficult to see uneven wear without chalk on the tire. i'd junk the front, but matching goodrich and see what happens.
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Old 04-12-2004, 08:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Could be a wheel bearing. If you swerve side to side, shift the weight of the car, does it get louder, and then quieter?
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Old 04-12-2004, 08:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the reply. The fronts are only 20K old and as I looked again appear to have a slight uneven wear on the outer side but I'm not sure it's enough to cause this sound. It seems extreme that this could be caused at 20K even without ever rotating them... but maybe I'm paying the price for poor tire maintenance?
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Old 04-12-2004, 08:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'll do the swerve check tomorrow TECH. Thanks. The sound does go away at speeds in excess of 50 mph as I was on a highway tonight and noticed it relax. As soon as I got on the off ramp it was back.
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Old 04-13-2004, 07:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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i think this sounds like tires. feathered edge (which is what i think you are describing) can sound like this, and be road surface dependent. bearing usually produces a deep bass rumble, gets louder with speed.

on top of swerve test, you may try inflating the front to max psi, noise should be minimized. if it is a bearing there will be no change.
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Old 04-15-2004, 05:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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No change with taking tight turns or swerves. Also inflated all 4 tires to max and no change. It does seem to be more pronounced on certain surface conditions but this could be my imagination.
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Old 04-28-2004, 10:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I have a 2000 323ci with the same problem (wa wa noise), it seems to be coming from the rear driver side. when i first heard the noise it was very faint i thought it was tires at first too. I had my tires replaced (because of wear not the noise) and the sound is still there... ive been putting off looking into the problem for 30k miles and it has gotten louder... so I'm thinking its the bearings, i went to the dealer and they quoted me $500 to fix a bearing. i looked online at bavauto.com and found the rear bearing going for 40 to 80 dollars. what i'd like to know is is it worth doing this repair myself? how hard is it to change? and is there any special tools i would need?
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Old 05-15-2004, 07:11 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Update: Finally had the car looked at yesterday and it is indeed the right rear bearing. The dealer is replacing for $375 (I was expecting it to be more) as my local mechanic comes in at $325. I argued about it being covered under my certified pre-owned warranty but it is deemed a wear item. I guess I understand but at 65,000 miles it seems premature...
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Old 05-18-2004, 06:43 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Awh man... I had the same problem on my recently purchase BMW. I have a Certified warranty from BMW and they covered the cost, had to pay the $50 deductiable. The left front ball bearings where out, I would go back and complain. Then again I only had mine for 2 months.
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