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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. This is my first post. I've spent the past two weeks scouring these boards for information on the car I recently purchased (2002 325xi). I've noticed people always want n00bs to use the search button (which I did) but I have some questions because this is my first BMW so I'm not sure how much of my concerns are normal.

Ok. So I managed to find a 1 owner 2002 BMW 325 xi with only 18,000 original miles. So even though it's 8 years old, it has ridiculously low mileage. Carfax confirmed it and I saw the trade-in odometer disclosure.

So some of the symptoms the car is showing seems to happen with higher mileage cars. So I'm curious if things like CABs or Tie Rods could wear out from age even if it was only driven 18k miles. I love the car, but here's what I'm noticing. Again, I'm not sure if this is normal or not.

Car shakes when driving on the highway at about 45 mph. It's just a steady shake that seems to go away when traveling 5 mph slower or faster. But holding steady at that speed is a constant shake. Not terrible, but definitely annoying.

At around 60mph to 70mph the steering wheel shakes greatly traveling at those speeds. It's enough that even with your hand on the wheel it can't stop the shake. I noticed that while driving at 65 mph the steering wheel shake is pronounced. It shakes pretty bad. But it seems to only really do it when I'm pushing the gas (accelerating). When I'm not accelerating it cruises at 65 mph fairly comfortably with only minimal shimmy. But if I take it up towards 75 or 80 it's shaking regardless (acceleration or not).

However, a new problem presents itself from 55mph to 70mph. At those speeds, the steering wheel frequently shakes violently during braking until speed falls below 40mph. The brake pedal also shakes during braking at those speeds.​

So again, sorry if this annoys anyone, any help is appreciated. I'm just looking for definitive answers from anyone as to why is this happening if the car does actually only have 18k miles on it?
 

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Start by getting both front wheels looked at...you can do this in part with a friend...look for flat spots on wheels, especially inside rims...so jack up and just have friend spin tire as fast as possible and look at inside rim for a hop...outside rim too...but your friend can look for that...use jack stands...or do it on a lift.

Then, if nothing there, get wheels balanced...but I'm thinking start with wheel.

After that, the list gets longer of possibilities. Could be a number of things at the same time, but after wheels/tires, check rubber things...they'd be affected with age as well as mileage, so not unlikely that after 10 years, the rubber has dried up...control arm bushings a decent possibility given your symptoms, but I'm thinking mostly only if you also have a bad wheel/tire/balance.

That's a start....stand by for other guesses...like brakes/rotors/all ball joints (tie rod ends/control arms...oh, you have an Xi...so front axle joint...check the boots for damage/holes...grease may have come out. Prolly not bearings or axles I wouldn't think at that mileage...but again, the boots are rubber on axles and ball joints, so maybe that...anyway...all guesses).

Obviously, looking at stuff first is cheapest and required...whether you do it or a mechanic does it...don't rely just on road test though...you'll have to inspect!

HTH

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Wheels are stock. Normal BMW rims. Nothing fancy.

I'm not too mechanically inclined (more so electrically inclined). So jacking the car up and trying to figure stuff out on my own probably isn't going to happen. If I took the car to get the wheels balanced we could locate a bent rim right? I've heard people mentioning Hunter Roadforce. Thoughts?
 

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shaking at specific frequencies. spot on. guarantee you just have a balancing issue. in the worst case a bent rim.

alignment for veering, balancing for vibration as a rule of thumb. (in general of course)


Also check for play in the control arms while you have it up in the air.

the main point pointing toward balance is the shanking only under certain frequencies.


reminds me of the time (my friend owns a high end wheel shop) we put weights on the wheels of our friends car that worked there and his car was shaking like all hell he freaked out lol. it was so funny
 

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Congrats on the purchase, I live in Lowermerion, work in Exton, neither too far from where you are, If you ever need help, shoot me a PM.
But like the above post indicate, may need a wheel balance. I'd also recommend swapping out your steering wheel Vibration Fluid, its recommended ever 20k miles. ;)
 

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Before you doing any money handout for balancing, look at the CV boots on your front shafts. You will get the same indications and it is easy to have happen. The car is old, these boots rips and crack easily. Mine had a ripped boot at 30k miles, just from age. If you have grease all over the inside of your wheel or hear a faint clicking in early speeds it would be an indication of the joint going out.

Has this just started happening or has it been happening a while? If it just started happening and you see a ripped boot replace it ASAP otherwise you will end up replacing the whole shaft. It takes a few hours to do and the shafts can go from $600 OEM to a couple hundred.

If the boots aren't ripped it may be a simple out of balance tire. Check the small and inexpensive stuff first.

If you have to replace it try http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=719385 to give you an idea of what is needed and what needs to happen to gauge whether to do it yourself or pay a shop to do it.

Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Good call on the Steering Wheel Vibration fluid. Being as you should change it at 20k and I'm at almost 19k it seems about time. I'll have to get under the hood and find where it is. On a side note, my turn signal wasn't working when I purchased it, but it turned out my turn signal fluid was low. Added more and voila! Back up and running as it should be! ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So, I went outside to give the wheels a thorough washing and see what I could. I cocked the wheels all the way to the right and sure enough, inside the front right tire the boot is ripped. The boot right where it connects to the wheel (sorry I don't know the exact name of it). I know this needs to be replaced ASAP, but what does a torn boot imply? Did it tear because something is wrong inside? Or does it simply mean that the boot tore, and if unchecked it could cause damage? I can tell grease started leaking out, but it looks like there's still some inside. So the cause of vibration, could it be a torn boot? Or could the leaking grease dripping on the wheel throw the balance off? Or both??? :hmm:
 

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The grease that keeps the joint running smooth get slung out so it is a combination of things. Lack of lubrication and then the exposure to the elements which can cause excessive wear. It will cause your car from 40-60 to shake like a Chihuahua pooping out peach pits. Check the link provided. There is a youtube video on how to change it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Waterbug, Thanks for the feedback, but I don't see a link...

I see you have the same car as me. Nice. How many miles you have on it? And has this happened to you?
 

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So, I went outside to give the wheels a thorough washing and see what I could. I cocked the wheels all the way to the right and sure enough, inside the front right tire the boot is ripped. The boot right where it connects to the wheel (sorry I don't know the exact name of it). I know this needs to be replaced ASAP, but what does a torn boot imply? Did it tear because something is wrong inside? Or does it simply mean that the boot tore, and if unchecked it could cause damage? I can tell grease started leaking out, but it looks like there's still some inside. So the cause of vibration, could it be a torn boot? Or could the leaking grease dripping on the wheel throw the balance off? Or both??? :hmm:
Hey chief,

You need a new axle. The lack of grease, caused by the ripped cv boot, ruined the cv joint.

I would do two things.

1) Replace the axle with a A1 Cardone remanufactured axle ($100) or BMW axle ($600).
2) Change the front diff, tranny, TC, and rear diff fluids with the Redline kit they sell at Turner. Hell, I'd replace all the fluids. I do every year.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well, I suppose the potentially good news is I'm technically still under the dealer's used car warranty. It's good for 60 days or 1500 miles (I've exceeded neither). The warranty states: "DRIVE AXLE: Front or rear drive axle housing and all internal parts. Drive shaft and universal joints. Transfer case on four wheel drive vehicles and all internal parts. Front axle joints are covered only on four wheel drive vehicles. Excludes minor oil seepage."

Does that sound promising that this will be covered?
 

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Well, I suppose the potentially good news is I'm technically still under the dealer's used car warranty. It's good for 60 days or 1500 miles (I've exceeded neither). The warranty states: "DRIVE AXLE: Front or rear drive axle housing and all internal parts. Drive shaft and universal joints. Transfer case on four wheel drive vehicles and all internal parts. Front axle joints are covered only on four wheel drive vehicles. Excludes minor oil seepage."

Does that sound promising that this will be covered?
Yes, definitely covered.

Insist that they do not use a crappy FEQ brand (or any made in china) axle. I would push hard for a new BMW axle, and if they won't pay for it, get a reman axle, not aftermarket.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Not sure if I need to replace just the boot or the whole thing. I was told you'd hear a clicking when you make turns at low speed. Does anyone have a more detailed description. I've tried listening for a click or anything really, but I can't hear anything. Does that mean my joint is still good if I get it taken care of right away?
 

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I would start with tires first. 8 year old tires need to be replaced. If it only had 18K miles, then it spent most of its time sitting. I would also check for dry rot on gaskets by looking for oil leaks. Make sure all the fluids are topped off and just drive. Its a car.
 

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If you don't here a clicking you can just replace the boot and grease it up. Although to be honest it looks like so much work that it is just as well to replace the axle.
 

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See if they will replace both the L and R axels for you. And if the dont, have them do what ever they do to one side, on the other side and pay the difference. Good piece of mine that both axels/CV boots are fixed. Its only a matter of time before the opposite side goes. And get those wheels balanced.
 
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