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2001 330xi
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So,
I just checked my suspension and steering components on my 330xi, since my alignment (since I got an alignment ) isn't good and I have various sounds that I'd like to get rid off (rotational grinding as well as creaking, both occasional and I cant reproduce them; slow, fast corner, straight....). I'd appreciate some feedback so I can still order with Cyber Monday discount

The only things I found are:
1) if I push the wheel back and forth on the 9 and 3 pm position the tie rod moves as well as the other steering components, even the big/long component going up to the steering wheel (i.e. there is some play). No idea if that is normal.

At the same time the control arm bushings move a little bit. They look visually quite good, but I can see some play when I move the wheel. Are they supposed to not move at all when doing the 9 and 3 thing?

Doing the 12 and 6 push and pull doesn't do anything/is tight.

2) The passenger side outer tie rod is easy to twist. I think that's a bad sign. I replaced that tie rod boot a while ago, but it had a rip for a while. I guess it's just bad.

The driver side tie rod on the other hand is very hard to twist by hand.

What should I replace here?

3) Now on top of that I recently found out, when I changed to the m3 steering wheel, that the steering wheel wasn't seated properly (the marker was off by 2 notches). I put it back right on the marker, and now my steeringwheel is always a bit to the left, even when going straight.

Not sure if anything is related to the steering wheel misalignment. I mean, BMW had it for the airbag recall and either put it back that way, or they did it in the first place.

Anyways, with the components that might be bad;

Control arm bushings, tie rod for sure.

What should I get? Do I have to do both tie rods? The complete assembly?

Thanks guys!

Cheers,
Fana

Sent from my MI 5 using Tapatalk
 

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Outer tie rods will move when you twist them since they really are a mini ball joint. They should have no movement in the up/down direction, same as the ball joints on the control arm. The control arm bushings are rubber so they will have some movement, they are designed that way, but the rubber should be in good condition no breaks/cracks etc. The inner tie rod should have no movement at all, if it moves in/out it needs replacing, you will get some in/out movement of the entire arm due to the steering rack clearance but the joint should not be moving, it should move as an assembly, not separately. The control arm bushings have a rubber ring that sits in front of the actual bushing, the ring is removable. Use a screwdriver to pry it out and onto the arm, you can then get a good look at the inner rubber part of the bushing. If you see any cracks or breaks, replace it.
 

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2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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4,690 Posts
Install the wheel with the correct alignment on the mark on the spindle
Turn all the way left then count the revolutions as you turn right.
Turn left exactly 1/2 the number of revolutions.
Lock the steering.
Jack the car onto stands and measure the distance from the end of the rack on each side to where the tie rod attaches to the knuckle
Then measure from the same ball joint to the nut.

1. Are the left and right measurements the same for the overall arms (likely not if steering not centered)
2. Is the difference in length of the entire arm (left and right) the same as the outer arm (left and right)

Either your rack is centered and the alignment is bad (if the differences match) or your rack is out of center.

PM me if that is confusing. I have done this a few times
 

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2001 330xi
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743 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys. I will do what you suggest.
Re tie rod end twisting. I read that if it twists easily it's a sign they are bad. If not, why does one side twist easily and one is still very rigid?

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If you are that worried, and the tie rods are original, just replace the ends. $150 for Lemforder and $25 for a tie rod end puller. Not hard at all. Better than wearing out tires.
More like $180 for Lemforder tie rods, xi's are a little more costly. $58/ea for Meyle HD if you deal with FCP.

OP, the wheel doesn't come off to change an airbag and the grinding could be a wheel bearing. My e36 howled with a bad rear bearing but I couldn't reproduce the sound on stands.
 

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Not all front end guys know how to center the steering wheel. When they don' they will remove the steering wheel and replace it so its centered instead of doing it the proper way. This was very common years ago, not so easy to do today since many SW will only go on way way.
 

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2001 330xi
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Discussion Starter #9
Yes, I ordered a passenger side tie rod assembly last night from fcp, as well as two *** front bearings and new (e36) control arm bushings. After I replaced that stuff I will do the test archbid suggested, and then next step will be an alignment.

Do you guys do your own toe alignment? I saw some guides on the net.

fana
 

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2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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Yes, I ordered a passenger side tie rod assembly last night from fcp, as well as two *** front bearings and new (e36) control arm bushings. After I replaced that stuff I will do the test archbid suggested, and then next step will be an alignment.

Do you guys do your own toe alignment? I saw some guides on the net.

fana
Always replace in pairs. BTW, it is $70 for the pair: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw-tie-rod-end-left-e46-32211095957l

Just get the ends, you don't need the whole thing unless the inner tie rod is pitted.

But regardless always both sides. Same with every suspension piece.
 

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2001 330xi
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743 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
So, a while back when the tie rod boot had a rip I cleaned that inner tie rod ball joint with brake cleaner and then re-greased it, and then put the new boot on. When I put things back together the inner ball joint did not rotate smoothly, but was tough to move. I guess because I took off the grease with the cleaner; was hoping the new grease I added would creep back into the balljoint; didn't check it since then. Does that info change the assessment? I think that was also the passenger side, same that now has much axial play.
 

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2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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Just replace both assemblies. It really is not that expensive. And pick up new boots. Just one fewer thing to worry about once you get it together.

Another piece of info - your rack has an alignment mark that matches a bump out on the shaft boot. It will be aligned unless someone has screwed with the rack or messed up installing a giubo.
 
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