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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
who has had the dealer install new struts (all 4) on their E46 xi? What was the cost of the parts vs. labor? I'm guessing about about a grand. Do they only offer OEM or will they install Bilsteins I supply? Any opinions on OEM vs. Bilsteins? I DO NOT want anything stiffer than stock as I spend most of my miles on the interstate.

Thanks in advance xifanatics
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My problem is that, while I am moderately mechanically capable, I don't have the time to commit to the project should anything go wrong. Others on this forum have suggested the front strut work is a 6-7 of 10 on the difficulty scale. If I had time and another car to drive in case the project took too long I'd probably do it myself. I travel each week for work and if the work isn't finished by Mon at 5am I'm screwed.

I was looking at this set as an option and may ask my dealer if they'll install it. Alternatively I may ask a local indy shop with a good reputation. If they charged me 5 hours labor the total price would be reasonable for what I'd get. http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E46-330xi-M54_3.0L/Suspension/Coil_Overs/ES248323/

Additionally, I think too many people have taken their car to a dealer who found something else wrong besides the problem they took the car in for and blame the dealer. Do you think they broke something just to fix it? I'm lucky enough to have a great dealer (Rasmussen BMW) in Portland, OR with an outstanding service guy who has treated me very well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
all good questions. Thanks for the food for thought. I'm just getting started in the process and will inquire further for sure. The kit I listed above shows it is specifically meant for the xi but I'll have to see about other components to make it work. It appears by the adjustable feature that I could adjust the rebound and/or damping. If this allows me to adjust those and possibly ride height that would be grand. Higher when traveling in snow and lower when not. Possibly best of both worlds. I plan to own this rig for 100k more miles so putting some dough into the suspension makes sense...especially since I don't believe it has been done prior and I'm about to hit the first 100k.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
yes but found most of the input useless. "I have the "abc123" setup and love it" doesn't tell me squat. Too many people post useless info on forums. I need something similar to a stock set up or adjustable so I can select the best ride for me. Funny...after a bunch of threads and a few people commenting on a particular set up some will say "Well, it looks like the best set up would be the "xyz456"" just because a few people have made claims about "loving it". Interestingly, even the online vendors don't offer info comparing their suspension components or kits to stock or describe the best use for a particular set up.

Have I missed something? What is the best value (quality & price) that will offer me a similar ride to stock. I don't track the car and don't want a stiff ride. Sure, I appreciate the handling of the E46 in the curves but don't want to make the suspension stiffer than stock...nor do I want to pay a premium for OEM equip if aftermarket is available that better suites my needs.

Thanks for any input. Hope to do the same for you soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Surf2Salsa - thanks for the quality input. I appreciate it very much!

Kubica - Do you feel better now? I remember when I was your age and thought I knew everything. Trust me, even when you are your father's age (like me) you will still have much to learn. I learn something every time I'm on this forum. BTW I never claimed to know much about this car and always willing to learn more. My xi is simply a commuter for me. I looked at newer xi models but didn't think it would be smart to dump a bunch of money into a car that I would put 2500 or more miles on it each month. Besides, I'm putting two sons through college. So give an older guy a break and offer something useful like Surf2Salsa. Save your 20 something attitude for your friends on facebook.

I promise to avoid all of your posts as I'm sure they won't offer me any useful info.

The trouble with many posts on this forum is that the input typically lacks enough detail for the reader to get any value from it. "I love it" doesn't tell anybody much.

May I suggest a good book:
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
TiAgXi - great input. thanks

mvrk10256 - thanks. I appreciate it. I'll do the rear shock mounts as well.

I inquired with a couple of manufacturers and got additional input to my decision making. Since I need to keep the orig ride height due to traveling in snow and the liklihood I'll have to chain up on Siskiyou Pass. It appears the Bilstein HD may be my best choice and a good value too.

Thanks to those who took the time to give quality input. Hope to do the same for you one day soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
If you care about ride quality Bilsteins are a mistake. Please post your results once you get it installed. :thumbup:
Based on the info I posted above what would you recommend? You'll be competing with two very reputable manufacturer's reps who steered me away from their product to Bilsteins based on my needs. This should be interesting...
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Bilsteins HD are about $450-$500 depending on the vendor. I'll post what I go with. Also, for what it's worth, the BMW dealer will install the whole kit for $425 and recommends a 4 wheel alignment for another $199. Since I don't have the luxury of time this seems reasonable but I'm going to check with my most trusted indy shop for comparison. The dealer also offered to put the car up on the rack and have me accompany their mechanic to do an inspection of the shocks, springs, etc. so I only order shocks & struts if the springs are fine. No charge for the inspection :)

Before you dealer haters reply...I'm sure there is an indy shop that would only charge me $300 + $150 for the job but I'm more comfortable with the dealer because if anything goes wrong I believe they will make it right sooner than 'most' indy shops. Just my $.02
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Thanks gents for the input.

Orientblau - I hear you regarding crappy roads. Fortunately in OR we have really good roads (somewhere OR was rated as best roads in the country). I'm not concerned about borough roads. I think I'd have the good highway experience you have but in town too. According to the two manufacturer reps they said the only reason to replace the springs is if broken or you want a different spring (progressive, shorter, etc.) I will use new mounts on the rears and for a few bucks extra new nuts & bolts. The inspection will reveal if I need new boots or stops.

LittleChrist12 - As you probably know, and I learned from this homework process, the sport shocks are shorter but have the same rebound & damping characteristics as the HD shocks. Sounds like you have an enjoyable ride with the new set up. I already replaced my control arm bushings and the remainder of my front end is good. I would easily decide to go with the Bilstein sport set up with Eibach springs but can't risk not being able to chain up on the passes. Could you easily install cable style chains with the clearance you have now?
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Sorry Dreamliner330...I guess I got wrapped up with all the rhetoric. Good input and appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
OK, here's what I learned...coil overs offer many good things but daily driver ride and keeping the ability to install chains if necessary isn't on the list. Bilsteins are the likely best alternative to stock and offer a little stiffer ride but nothing near performance oriented (read: track days) shocks & struts.

My original symptoms were confirmed today by one of the two dealers I trust. My shocks & struts are just fine, no leaks, proper compression & rebound, springs are all good too. OBTW, dealer said that the 99 & 00 springs were either a different part number or changed possibly due to design issues. My 01 springs have not been an issue and rarely break...just his opinion and based on 25 yrs BMW service. He inspected the entire underside of the car and only found the following two issues...

First, my trailing arm bushings are shot and need replacing. This requires a four wheel alignment. Interestingly, he noticed that the rear adjustments for (I believe) toe in was set to max in one direction. He suggested that I'd likely prematurely wear out the inside tread of my new Conti tires if left alone. I could see exactly what he was talking about because he allowed me to accompany him throughout the inspection.

So instead of replacing my shocks & struts I only need the trailing arm bushings and an alignment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
Dreamliner - I had a really sarcastic response but decided not to bore the others with our banter. I'll take your advice to a degree and ask the mechanic to go for a test drive with me on several different road surfaces and speeds. However, his up close and personal inspection did not reveal the need for new shocks and/or struts. But let's see what his 25+ years of BMW service can offer after a test ride.

For God sake man, the guy could have easily recommended new shocks/struts and made a bunch of money on installation (I plan to supply parts) but did not. So many Fanatics point their finger at the dealer and here is one who is doing a good job and gets blasted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #62 ·
If you're still on the original shocks at 100K, they are blown. I dont care what your mechanic says. The stock SACHS do not last this long. Period. I bet if you took out your rears, the shaft would not pull back out. Mine were blown inside of 50K.[/QUOTE

Told the 25+ year veteran BMW dealer mechanic what you said and his comment was "Hmmm, and he has personally inspected your car?" He said many BMWs go well beyond 100k miles on original, well working, shocks & struts. Test drove the car with me prior to doing any work over a couple different types of speed bumps, 20-40 mph banked curves, and on the interstate at 60-70 around 50mph curves. Said I would be wasting my money to replace shocks & struts. Since BMW recommends 4 wheel alignment annually he suggested waiting a year and checking the shocks & struts again before thowing money away.

We returned to the shop and they replaced the shot trailing arm bushings and performed a four wheel alignment. Drove 260 miles on the interstate through mountain passes, over hills, around curves pushing it to 70mph in a recommended 50mph curve and, guess what, it performed perfectly.

Tell you what OrientBlau - my money is (literally) on the mechanic who has 25+ years experience and personally inspected and test drove my car and declined to replace equipment that would make more money for his shop.

Stating absolutes is risky. Believing them is costly. Thanks for everyone's input...even the sarcastic...situation solved.
 
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