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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Thought I would start a thread for emotional support while I try to track down this issue. Vibration comes on about 55 and stops at 65. It also appears again at 75-85. I feel it in my seat the most, steering wheel 2nd and shift knob 3rd. The steering wheel is not vibrating back and fourth but the normal feedback you get from the road through the steering wheel is drowned out by this vibration. It gets more pronounced when accelerating vs decelerating. The vibration is unaffected while turning right or left.

I recently had the tires road force balanced at a retail tire shop. This shop balanced the tires twice because I took it back a second time claiming the wheels were still not balanced. Shop said if I felt anything I could rule out balancing. They also did an alignment but my camber was out of spec a little and they said they could not adjust it. I have replaced the front control arm bushings and the steering flex joint. I was originally chasing down a swimming effect while steering and that has improved but I still don't feel like it tracks as good as it should.

At this point I am going to take it to an indie BMW shop and simply ask the mechanic to give me his three best ideas as to what it could be in order from most likely to least likely. If his suggestions are something I can do myself I will otherwise I might just have to pay up.

I plan to spin the tires and really examine them well for any flat spots and look at my suspension components real good to see if I can identify anything abnormal. Also retourque my wheel to make sure something is not loose.

Any input is welcome. :excited:
 

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Driveline vibration must be the most frustrating problem with BMW. My first guess would be the guibo disk, second - you drive shaft, possibly center support bearing.
Once you start replacing worn components on the car you have to be prepared to keep replacing ALL of the worn components. Replacing FCAB's will bring out worn ball joints, replacing flex joint will let you know if your steering rack is wobbly, and so on and on. Be prepared to spend all your money, and then borrow some.

Somebody said that "you can't finish the repairs, you can only stop them".
 

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Definitely the guibo (flexdisk). Replace both the guibo and center suport bearing at the same time. Also, go with Lemförder/ZF for the flexdisk because you'll regret it if you don't. DO NOT cheap out on the flexdisk.
 

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Bent wheel(s), you cannot balance a bend out of a wheel even with a Road Force balancer. Also a Road Force balancer will not flag bad/bent wheels. I have personally witnessed this fact.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=999695

The fact that you have been back to have the wheels/tires balances twice tells me there is more to this story.

Could also be a hub centric issue with the wrong or aftermarket wheels.

Either put the rear wheels on the front and the fronts on the back and see what happens, but bent wheels can EASILY be found by looking with the eyes, not fancy tools needed.

Also a bad alignment will not cause vibrations. A bad alignment can cause accelerated and uneven tire wear that could lead to a vibration after many miles of uneven tire wear, but the alignment will not correct a vibration.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks for the replies. And yes I am starting to feel the OMG what have I gotten myself into feeling. I don't mind spending money on my ride but I like to get it to a finishing point but I think this vehicle will be a non stop project. I bought the car for $7500 w/ 130k and I have spent about 2k at this point on mostly parts. I did alot of engine work to improve reliability and now I have moved onto suspension which is one of my weaker skills. I was leaning towards the guibo but I thought I would feel the vibration through the shifter knob alot more if that was the case. Since their are several issues that could cause this I feel I should hand it over to a pro and let them point me in the right direction. Otherwise I'm just replacing parts until I find the problem. For me I really hate to spend too much money past what the vehicle is worth and I feel like I crossed that line about $1k ago. However my wrenching skills are getting better and I am fascinated at the engineering I encounter on these vehicles. I am just trying to keep the hope that the tight accurate German ride i want is just one or two repairs around the corner.

FYI: Wheels are not original but within OE spec. I have the style 68 rims which have the same offset as the OE but they are 17" instead of 18". I picked up a set of OE rims for $200 and had them straightened so about $400 invested in the original rims but I am not forking out $800 on tires unless I can get the damn car to drive correctly.
 

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Look at a style 68 wheel wrong at they will bend and/or even crack on the bead.

Ask me how I know!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Update:

I lifted the car and checked the rims because so many people suggested this as the culprit. I am the proud owner of the following:

Right front: Inside lip two minor bumps, Outside fine
Left front: All true
Right rear: Inside lip one good size bump, outside lip true
Left Rear: Minor inner bump, outside lip true

So I checked the rims by taping a screw driver to a jackstand and used the tip as a reference point. I put the tip near the outer edge of the rim and spun the rim by hand and visually inspected the rim to see if it moved closer or farther away from the screwdriver tip. the worst bump in the rear had about a 1/8th of an inch of play when it moved away from the tip. the other bumps were more like 1/16th of movement.

So I have had alot of trouble finding an answer on how bent a rim would need to be before you feel it while driving. Meaning how far away from the true path of the rim would the bump have to travel away from your reference point in order to determine if its a bad bend or cosmetic. Or it may be as simple as it is perfectly true or it is bent and I'm toast.

Now I guess I am in need of a kind individual who just happens to have a pair of perfectly straight rims I can use to test my vehicle to see if it will reproduce the vibration with a different set of rims before i can rule out bent rims as the culprit.
 

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Look at a style 68 wheel wrong at they will bend and/or even crack on the bead.

Ask me how I know!!!
Can confirm; bent two style 68s myself. :facepalm:
 

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Update:

I lifted the car and checked the rims because so many people suggested this as the culprit. I am the proud owner of the following:

Right front: Inside lip two minor bumps, Outside fine
Left front: All true
Right rear: Inside lip one good size bump, outside lip true
Left Rear: Minor inner bump, outside lip true

So I checked the rims by taping a screw driver to a jackstand and used the tip as a reference point. I put the tip near the outer edge of the rim and spun the rim by hand and visually inspected the rim to see if it moved closer or farther away from the screwdriver tip. the worst bump in the rear had about a 1/8th of an inch of play when it moved away from the tip. the other bumps were more like 1/16th of movement.

So I have had alot of trouble finding an answer on how bent a rim would need to be before you feel it while driving. Meaning how far away from the true path of the rim would the bump have to travel away from your reference point in order to determine if its a bad bend or cosmetic. Or it may be as simple as it is perfectly true or it is bent and I'm toast.

Now I guess I am in need of a kind individual who just happens to have a pair of perfectly straight rims I can use to test my vehicle to see if it will reproduce the vibration with a different set of rims before i can rule out bent rims as the culprit.
Inner rim barrel is usually the first place the bends show up, they can be on the outer barrel, but the inner is usually more of an issue.

So the thing you need to check for is lateral or side to side tread movement, roll off of the tread surface near the edge of the tire and low spots in the tread, often in the center or across the entire face of the tread surface.

Use some sort of reference located close to the tread surface as you spin the wheels and see if you find a low spot where the bend in the wheel is located. If needed you can put blue tape or something on the side of the tire to help you reference where the bend is located. Usually the bend will cause a low area or dip in the tread area which will cause the tire to hop at speed which will then become a vibration.

The silly part is EVERYONE thinks Road Force balancing is the answer to all vibrations when in fact you cannot use wheel weight to make a out of round wheel roll round on the pavement. While Road Force balancing has its purposes, I have personally seen a Road Force balancing machine indicate a wheel/tire is fully balanced and requires ZERO additional weight, but the wheel is bent, the bent wheel will actually cause a vibration up though the Road Force balancer while the wheel is under load on the roller.

It is not really a problem with the machine, it is a problem with the tire techs. The machine says the wheel/tire is balanced, so there is not a problem, right!

The job of a decent tire/wheel tech is to inspect the wheel for damage, bends, cracks and also inspect the tires for bulges, bumps, out of round and damage. But most tire techs are under 30 years old, the generation that grew up where whatever the display indicates is "right".

Unfortunately the world does not work this way. I actually worked with a very thorough tire tech on my Style 68 wheels, he found one that had a hairline bead crack, very common on BMW and Mercedes wheels according to him. It was a hairline crack that most would have NEVER seen. These hairline rim cracks cause slow leaks at the bead area of the tire. Usually these cracks are caused by potholes and impacts that can deform the wheel.

Then the same tech pointed out a slight bend in another one of my Style 68 rims. He clearly showed my how the machine actually indicated "Zero" weight required on the display, but then showed my how the vertical arm on the left side of the balancer was shaking when the tire was under load on the roller. He even had me put my hand on the arm so I could actually feel the vibration in the machine. He then showed me how the inner edge of the tread was starting to slightly roll under where the bend was in the inner barrel of the wheel. This could be seen by slowly spinning the wheel on the machine by hand.

Every issue here is obvious by eye and using your head. I was told the wheel was "slightly" bent and I may or may not notice the problem depending on where on the car the wheel was located. Overall this bent wheel is not much of an issue on the car at this point, so I am still running it, but I had to have 3 of the other Style 68's straightened before I had the last set of tires installed.

The good news is the Hunter Road Force balancers is a very good tool to find and identify bent wheels that will cause vibrations, BUT not in a way a "normal" disengaged tire tech would be made aware of the problem. It still takes good old "attention to detail" to find and point out a bent wheel as well as someone who thinks outside of the box and can understand how the bent wheel will show it is fully balanced on the machine when it can still send vibrations into the balancer.

Would be interesting if you could go back and educate the tire tech on the proper things that need to be checked when balancing wheels as well as show him what he has been missing in all the years he has been using his Hunter Road Force balancing machine!

Good luck, your issue may or may not be due to the bends in your wheels, but until you have straight rims, all bets are off. Swapping a "known" good set of wheels/tires is usually the easiest way to isolate vibrations and tire noise but it is not often convenient. You may be able to put the worse wheels on the rear of the car for a quick test to see if this can isolate the issue. Often bad wheels on the rear of the car are not as noticeable when the same wheels are on the front of the car.
 

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I had 3 bent style 68 rims. Two in the rear and one up front. Man the difference after i fixed them was night and day followed by a road force balance. No vibrations, and its like I'm driving on a cloud. Whenever you feel it in your seat chances are one of the rears are bent.
 

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I got new tires a couple weeks ago, and been back a couple of times with vibration problems. Some previous owner put aftermarket rims on which tire person said was centered by the lug bolts, not the wheel center. A little bit better after the last go around.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Thanks for the info JFOJ. Greatly appreciated. I gave the tires a spin and I definitely have a bad flat spot on one of my rear tires. I would describe it as 3/32"/ - 1/8" from true to its most inward bent point. So at this point I am going to try and locate a clean set of rims to test the car with. I also examined my Guibo / flex disk and it has some surface cracks but it is not shredded or looking particularly bad.

In the meantime I just happen to be dealing w/ a related issue. I picked up a set of style 135 rims for $200. I checked them out and all four were not true. I took them to a local wheel repair guy and thaere was talk of them being returned to me as possibly nicer than when they leave the factory (100ths of an inch from true is what was promised) I paid the man $175 for three wheels to be repaired. He said the fourth was fine. Well I went over them thoroughly and I would say the best wheel is 1/32nd" off of true and the worst is about 1/8th" off of true. True being the original perfect undamaged path the rim should follow when you spin it.

So... Again, I ask how out of true is acceptable. Can anyone who has had bent rims repaired provide some insight into how close to a perfect rim the repaired rim ended up. What is an acceptable tolerance one could assume a good wheel guy would be ok with when repairing alloy wheels. Is a deviation of 1/32" acceptable or could you get away with an 1/8" and the customer might never notice. I would assume the tolerances get smaller as the height of your tire decreases. I am not happy with what this guy churned out. I am very aware of perfect and close to perfect and this guys work is far from perfect. I'm a big boy and I don't mind being told its going to cost more or I can only get these within 1/8" of true. But being told perfect and then handed a very less than perfect rim back is just insulting. Am I the only person who checks the work these guys do and he figured I would just throw tires on them and ride off into the sunset. WTF?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
My brother has a 2009 328i. Anyone know if his stock rims will fit my vehicle w/o using spacers or any additional parts so I can do a quick road test?
 

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Thanks for the info JFOJ. Greatly appreciated. I gave the tires a spin and I definitely have a bad flat spot on one of my rear tires. I would describe it as 3/32"/ - 1/8" from true to its most inward bent point. So at this point I am going to try and locate a clean set of rims to test the car with.

In the meantime I just happen to be dealing w/ a related issue. I picked up a set of style 135 rims for $200. I checked them out and all four were not true. I took them to a local wheel repair guy and thaere was talk of them being returned to me as possibly nicer than when they leave the factory (100ths of an inch from true is what was promised) I paid the man $175 for three wheels to be repaired. He said the fourth was fine. Well I went over them thoroughly and I would say the best wheel is 1/32nd" off of true and the worst is about 1/8th" off of true. True being the original perfect undamaged path the rim should follow when you spin it.

So... Again, I ask how out of true is acceptable. Can anyone who has had bent rims repaired provide some insight into how close to a perfect rim the repaired rim ended up. What is an acceptable tolerance one could assume a good wheel guy would be ok with when repairing alloy wheels. Is a deviation of 1/32" acceptable or could you get away with an 1/8" and the customer might never notice. I would assume the tolerances get smaller as the height of your tire decreases. I am not happy with what this guy churned out. I am very aware of perfect and close to perfect and this guys work is far from perfect. I'm a big boy and I don't mind being told its going to cost more or I can only get these within 1/8" of true. But being told perfect and then handed a very less than perfect rim back is just insulting. Am I the only person who checks the work these guys do and he figured I would just throw tires on them and ride off into the sunset. WTF?
Wish I could tell you what is considered that value is acceptable, 1/32" may be ok, but I am sure a "true" wheel is closed than 1/32".

VERY few shops have the proper equipment and knowledge to properly straighten wheels IMHO. Most use a hydraulic X frame, check the back of the wheel for what look like a few center punch type marks on the inner barrel.

Some wheels will need to be heated depending on how large the bend is, but the true shops with the correct wheel straighteners have a crazy machine that looks like a cross between a lathe, tire machine and a wheel balancer that has large rollers that can actually track and true the wheel while it turns, it take quite a bit of force and often the wheel may be spot heated with a torch which usually ruins the wheels finish.

These guys do the job right.

http://www.princewheelservices.com/

They are outside of Charlotte, NC. I have met the owner, actually met me at the shop on a Sunday afternoon for me to drop off a set of 4 wheels to be fully reconditioned.

I have toured their shops, met the small staff and these guys are the real deal. The owner is a very humble and quite guy, I suggested that he put pictures of some of his equipment on the web site and he is reluctant to do it

But I can tell you they have full welding, lathes, powder coat and ovens, media blasting, phosphate rinse, tire machines, Road Force machine and the crazy wheel straighten machine that few shops have. Their work is top notch and they can even do a proper BMW Shadow Chrome.

They fully media blast the wheels, check for true and straighten as needed, then they may powder coat the entire wheel black before painting the main portion with color followed by a clear powder coat. Not sure they paint the back of all wheels, I know my M5 wheels are black on the rear which I an totally fine with, why have a silver on the rear of a wheel that will just get dirty over time anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Took rims back to rim repair guy and the he said he shoots for a tolerance of 50/1000ths" (.05"). So I said I'm going to leave these rims with you again and you check them and after I pick them up again and test them we will have no issues if the rims are within a tolerance of 50/1000th".

It blows my mind people shoot these numbers out that sound great and then make no real effort to ensure they deliver what they promised. So basically he is saying that the rims should not travel more than 1/20" outside of the true path. I told him some of the rears are 1/8th" out max and 1/16" min from my tests. I'm very curious to see what he delivers now that he knows I am going to check his work. I'm probly the first custy to actually check his work in a while. I even told him I was picky when I dropped them off. Not like I didn't warn him. :facepalm:
 

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Took rims back to rim repair guy and the he said he shoots for a tolerance of 50/1000ths" (.05"). So I said I'm going to leave these rims with you again and you check them and after I pick them up again and test them we will have no issues if the rims are within a tolerance of 50/1000th".

It blows my mind people shoot these numbers out that sound great and then make no real effort to ensure they deliver what they promised. So basically he is saying that the rims should not travel more than 1/20" outside of the true path. I told him some of the rears are 1/8th" out max and 1/16" min from my tests. I'm very curious to see what he delivers now that he knows I am going to check his work. I'm probly the first custy to actually check his work in a while. I even told him I was picky when I dropped them off. Not like I didn't warn him. :facepalm:
Too funny. Have you seen the equipment this guy uses? Is he a mobile repair guy?

Based on my experience with Prince Wheel Service and seeing what they have in their shop, even though they offer mobile wheel refinishing, I would NEVER have a mobile repair shop work on my wheels.

Here is the deal, Alloy Wheel Service that does a lot of mobile work in my area for dealers wanted $175 each to repair my Style 68 wheels. I wanted to have them fully sorted out and refinished the proper way. Alloy Wheel Service mobile service rarely removes the tires, does pretty much a "parking lot" paint job and the cross brace style off wheel straightening.

In contrast Prince Wheel Service performed a complete wheel refurbishment to include full media blasting of the wheels, straightening, powder coating and so forth for no more than Allow Wheel Service would have charged per wheel for a "parking lot" paint job. Prince will charge extra for straighten, but will only charge to straighten when they do the work. Prince Wheel Service states they can straighten the wheel to +/- 0.005 of an inch (5 thousandths of an inch).

They have some special and unusual rim lathe type of machine with rollers that I recall can actually put pressure on both the inside and the edge of the wheel at the same time. It is not something I have seen at other shops and Prince has a small crew that does quality work.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Not sure what type of equipment the rim repair guy is using to fix my rims but I can guarantee it is not as nice as what the Prince wheel shop is using.

I put my brothers rims on today and took my car for a spin. I could not reproduce the vibration with his wheels installed. I think my issue is two fold. My tires are summer tires and they are hard as rocks in this cold weather. That combined with the bend in my rims has to be the cause of my vibration. I think the vibration may subside some once the weather warms up but most likely will not go away. I am waiting for wheel repair man to get back to me. Once I inspect his work I may put tires on those rims if they look ok. If not I may sell both sets of rims and buy a nice set of used rims.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Update:
Bought a used set of 18" style 135s w/ tires in good condition. Put them on the car and it now drives the way I thought it should. It is an amazing difference. Night and day in the handling. I can now feel the road in the steering wheel, where as before the road noise was drowned out by the vibration of the **** wheels I had on there.

I got my bent wheels back from the wheel guy. He sucks. Complete joke. He gave me back my money so I guess I am only out of time and frustration with that joker.
 

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Bought a car with 18 x 6 aftermarket wheels (after doing a car fax several months after buying the car, revealed the original wheels on the right side were bent, nothing on car fax about any other damage (my opinion it got wacked on the right side as both jack pads were missing and broken retainers on plastic trim inside door sill). Anyhow the wheels (with new tires) can only be balanced statickly and after two tries on rebalancing, still have a jitter to them. Tire place says balance machine relies on wheel center where as the wheels are centered with the lug bolts. Will try to rotate tires in relation to the hubs tomorrow if I have enough ambition.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Sorry to hear Wayne. I think JFOJ nailed it when he said you can balance a bent wheel. I had no clue. And when I was shopping for used wheels alot of people would say "wheel has minor bend but balances just fine" which is highly misleading if your trying to buy a good set of wheels. Now I know a balanced wheel don't mean squat. When I bought my new set I told the seller that I would need at least a half hour to mount all four wheels in place of my left front wheel so i could put a screwdriver on a jack stand and closely examine them all inside outside and middle for trueness. He agreed and I have a nice set now. I found a couple good deals on craigslist and had two people tell me I could not mount the wheels. If they won't let you mount and spin, walk. They are probably bent. I hate to say it but alot of people want money more than they want to be honest. I have no idea how people buy rims sight unseen and have them shipped. Peoples attention to detail is greatly lowered when they are selling vs when buying.

I did speak with a shop that said you can orient the tire on the wheel in a way that can lead to better results but I think it is simple science. If it aint round it aint gonna roll smooth. I will try to post up a video of my bend in my rear wheel so everyone can see just how little travel out of true it takes to make a smooth ride a crap ride.

For anyone buying rims. Don't be stupid like me. If it's true its freakin perfect! There is no middle ground. It is either right or wrong. Don't go cheap and accept a "slightly bent" wheel cause you will spend just as much money trying to figure out how to make your crap wheel run right.
 
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