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2003 330xi auto
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, lately I've been having some thumping sounds going over even the slightest uneven roads. I lifted the front end recently and gave the wheels a wiggle in all directions and they are stiff as can be. I have less than 15-30k miles on most front end parts. Looked at the control arm bushings, sway bar end links, inner ball joints, tie rods ends. Good shape and no wiggle. All in one piece with no cracks on bushings. I have about 30k on the Koni adjustable shocks and Eibach springs including the strut mounts. I was planning on jacking the whole thing up soon to really get deep under there and do a detailed check up. Is there anything else I can look at that can be causing this? I tried checking the motor mounts to rev the engine while holding the brake to see if I can replicate that sound but it sounded and felt normal. Let me know if you guys have any ideas what I can look for. Is it possible the shocks are done for already? I did the classic shock bounce test they taught us in tech school many years ago lol, but it feels very stiff with little to no bounce. Thanks.
 

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'04 325i, '02 325iT
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Were you just wiggling parts by hand, or did you have a pry bar or anything to try and wiggle loose suspension joints?

I'd double check the sway bar end links as those have been the source of front end clunks on my car a couple of times. They always seemed tight by hand with the car up on jack stands with the suspension at full droop. But as soon as I could relieve some of the tension by jacking up the one corner underneath the wheel, then I I could feel the joint wiggle.

Same would probably be true with steering outer tie rods and ball joints. Usually you have to remove the load and get them into a more neutral position before they'll move. Or you need to try and wiggle them with a really long pry bar. I've had the middle ball joint on a lower control arm fail, and I could only get it to wiggle by putting a jack underneath the control arm and then I could finally see it moving around.

Since you've got Eibach springs I'd also double check that they are clocked correctly and seated fully into the upper and lower mounting points. If the springs are rotated out of position then they won't sit evenly and can be noisy.
 

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04/1999 328i 5MT
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They always seemed tight by hand with the car up on jack stands with the suspension at full droop. But as soon as I could relieve some of the tension by jacking up the one corner underneath the wheel, then I I could feel the joint wiggle.
Correct me if I’m wrong but you should always finish tightening/torquing suspension parts while it’s loaded.
 

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Correct me if I’m wrong but you should always finish tightening/torquing suspension parts while it’s loaded.
Yes, that's right. You want suspension in the normal ride height position when doing the final torque so the bushings don't get preloaded.

I just meant for diagnosing loose joints it's usually easier to tell if something can be wiggled around when you've got car up in the air if the wheel is raised up slightly rather than hanging down. All the weight of the hanging suspension parts can make it more difficult to move things around by hand. If you jack up the suspension a little to support some of that weight, then it becomes easier to move around tie rod ends, ball joints, and sway bar end links.
 

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2003 325i Touring
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Don't forget to look at the swaybar bushings. Try having a helper rock the car side to side, often most easily done by opening a door and using the door to gain more leverage to rock the suspension. This can help simulate the sides of the car moving independently over different bumps.
 

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this was happening to me to. In the end it was the break guard metal heat shield rusted and rattling around. see if it is loose.
I had the same thing happen as well. The metal part of the dust shield underneath the head of each bolt that holds the shield in place had basically sheared itself free, enlarging the hole so the bolt could slip through. I installed some large fender washers (and slightly longer bolts to compensate for the washer thickness) to clamp down on the material that remained on the dust shield.

This was just going to be a temporary fix until I could get new dust shields, but the washer fix has been holding up since.
 

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2002 325xiT 5MT
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I have the same suspension setup, also quite new. The ONLY thing I have not replaced in the front end suspension / steering is the sway bar end links. I had a clunk before I replaced everything, and still have the same clunk. That’s where my money is. Might be a good place to start if / when you get to throwing pets (Edit: or parts haha) at it. Maybe I’ll do mine one day too 😂
 

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E46 F10 W204 W212
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Hey guys, lately I've been having some thumping sounds going over even the slightest uneven roads. I lifted the front end recently and gave the wheels a wiggle in all directions and they are stiff as can be. I have less than 15-30k miles on most front end parts. Looked at the control arm bushings, sway bar end links, inner ball joints, tie rods ends. Good shape and no wiggle. All in one piece with no cracks on bushings. I have about 30k on the Koni adjustable shocks and Eibach springs including the strut mounts. I was planning on jacking the whole thing up soon to really get deep under there and do a detailed check up. Is there anything else I can look at that can be causing this? I tried checking the motor mounts to rev the engine while holding the brake to see if I can replicate that sound but it sounded and felt normal. Let me know if you guys have any ideas what I can look for. Is it possible the shocks are done for already? I did the classic shock bounce test they taught us in tech school many years ago lol, but it feels very stiff with little to no bounce. Thanks.
Sounds like end links to me. And I don't think a wiggle while it's up in the air will generate nearly the same load as a car on the ground.
 

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2003 330xi auto
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sounds like end links to me. And I don't think a wiggle while it's up in the air will generate nearly the same load as a car on the ground.
Well I literally replaced them with BMW ones about 15-20k miles ago when I did my 500 dollar GNK axles(both in bad shape already. Same like the china specials). Plus tie rods. End links meed to be replaced this often? Do you have a recommendation of how to check them? Try moving them by hand? See if loose?
 

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2003 330xi auto
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I had the same thing happen as well. The metal part of the dust shield underneath the head of each bolt that holds the shield in place had basically sheared itself free, enlarging the hole so the bolt could slip through. I installed some large fender washers (and slightly longer bolts to compensate for the washer thickness) to clamp down on the material that remained on the dust shield.

This was just going to be a temporary fix until I could get new dust shields, but the washer fix has been holding up since.
Yeah I have the shield rattle too but it sounds like a thin sheet of metal rattling. My sound is more of a deep thumping. Was going to epoxy the shield back in place lol
 

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2003 330xi auto
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Don't forget to look at the swaybar bushings. Try having a helper rock the car side to side, often most easily done by opening a door and using the door to gain more leverage to rock the suspension. This can help simulate the sides of the car moving independently over different bumps.
Perfect, will do. (y)
 

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2003 330xi auto
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Correct me if I’m wrong but you should always finish tightening/torquing suspension parts while it’s loaded.
Yes, that's right. You want suspension in the normal ride height position when doing the final torque so the bushings don't get preloaded.

I just meant for diagnosing loose joints it's usually easier to tell if something can be wiggled around when you've got car up in the air if the wheel is raised up slightly rather than hanging down. All the weight of the hanging suspension parts can make it more difficult to move things around by hand. If you jack up the suspension a little to support some of that weight, then it becomes easier to move around tie rod ends, ball joints, and sway bar end links.
Interesting, in all the shops I worked at over the years, never seen anyone do this. Wonder why. How does one even tighten it when it's loaded? Drive it up on ramps or use a jack? How do you know you're giving enough pressure underneath with the jack?
 

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Interesting, in all the shops I worked at over the years, never seen anyone do this. Wonder why. How does one even tighten it when it's loaded? Drive it up on ramps or use a jack? How do you know you're giving enough pressure underneath with the jack?
I'm guessing most shops don't take the time to do this, but if you read service manual it usually states "Tighten in Normal Position" or at ride height, etc. If you torque rubber bushings in the hanging position, when you set the car back on the ground the rubber will be twisted (preloaded) and will wear out the bushing faster than if torqued in the ride height position.

When doing DIY repairs it's not that difficult to do. For final torque on the rear shocks for example, with the car up on jack stands (or quick jacks, etc) you can just put a floor jack under the individual wheel and raise it up to ride height position, tighten the shock bolt, and then lower the jack back down.

As an alternative, you can also get the bolts hand tight, then set the car down on it's wheels on ramps or blocks of wood so it's raised up enough to get underneath the car and then apply final torque.

With a 2 post lift there are those screw type stands that are used for holding exhaust, suspension parts, etc. You'd just use one of those to raise up the suspension to ride height and tighten the bolt.

If you ever watch M539 restorations Youtube Channel you'll see Sreten using his 4 post list to to torque suspension parts with the weight of the car on the suspension. Usually he drives the car off and back on the lift to let everything settle to ride height before tightening the suspension bolts.

Font Rectangle Parallel Wood Circle
 

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If you ever watch M539 restorations Youtube Channel you'll see Sreten using his 4 post list to to torque suspension parts with the weight of the car on the suspension. Usually he drives the car off and back on the lift to let everything settle to ride height before tightening the suspension bolts.
This is where I learned about this proposer procedure. He’s such a wealth of knowledge and information. I love his approach to repairing and restoring.

I guess one exception would be the control arms in the fcab’s? No torquing those, just have to install them at the correct orientation the first time.
 

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2003 330xi auto
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'm guessing most shops don't take the time to do this, but if you read service manual it usually states "Tighten in Normal Position" or at ride height, etc. If you torque rubber bushings in the hanging position, when you set the car back on the ground the rubber will be twisted (preloaded) and will wear out the bushing faster than if torqued in the ride height position.

When doing DIY repairs it's not that difficult to do. For final torque on the rear shocks for example, with the car up on jack stands (or quick jacks, etc) you can just put a floor jack under the individual wheel and raise it up to ride height position, tighten the shock bolt, and then lower the jack back down.

As an alternative, you can also get the bolts hand tight, then set the car down on it's wheels on ramps or blocks of wood so it's raised up enough to get underneath the car and then apply final torque.

With a 2 post lift there are those screw type stands that are used for holding exhaust, suspension parts, etc. You'd just use one of those to raise up the suspension to ride height and tighten the bolt.

If you ever watch M539 restorations Youtube Channel you'll see Sreten using his 4 post list to to torque suspension parts with the weight of the car on the suspension. Usually he drives the car off and back on the lift to let everything settle to ride height before tightening the suspension bolts.

View attachment 965735
Wow makes sense. Never thought of it like that. No wonder why my bushings don't last much longer than 30k. Horrible NY streets might play a big factor as well.
 

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2003 330xi auto
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hey guys, so I think I may have found the culprit after getting under there and doing a deep scan. Went over the front end once more and concentrated on the end links. Very tight and fresh looking. No play.. just put them in 15k miles ago. Genuine brand.

So it looks like it's probably the transfer case mount which seems to be worn and torn and drenched in oil. Also the passenger motor mount seems to be on its way out too.. 30k on the motor mounts. The whole drive train moves a good amount when I pry on the transfer case. I included a video. Tell me what you guys think. That transfer case bushing looks like kind of a pain to do from what I've seen. Any good DIY videos would be much appreciated. So nice how we have so much visual content nowadays. Back when I got this car in 2007, all we had was write ups and many times with no pics. That's what I used to do my head gasket job back in 2010. Nightmare! 😄

Here's the video. Sorry for it being a little boring 😴

 

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2005 330xi Auto, 2006 330ci Vert Auto
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Hey guys, so I think I may have found the culprit after getting under there and doing a deep scan. Went over the front end once more and concentrated on the end links. Very tight and fresh looking. No play.. just put them in 15k miles ago. Genuine brand.

So it looks like it's probably the transfer case mount which seems to be worn and torn and drenched in oil. Also the passenger motor mount seems to be on its way out too.. 30k on the motor mounts. The whole drive train moves a good amount when I pry on the transfer case. I included a video. Tell me what you guys think. That transfer case bushing looks like kind of a pain to do from what I've seen. Any good DIY videos would be much appreciated. So nice how we have so much visual content nowadays. Back when I got this car in 2007, all we had was write ups and many times with no pics. That's what I used to do my head gasket job back in 2010. Nightmare! 😄

Here's the video. Sorry for it being a little boring 😴
Did you check where the sway bar end links mount to the front strut body? Check to see if the bolt is torque correctly. If not, every time the front suspension moves up and down you would get a clunk. Ask me how I know :)

Looking at your video, the motor mounts don't look good. At exactly 2:20 into the video, I can see the rubber on the motor mount being deteriorated. As to the transfer case, I can't tell from your prying. I mean they are rubber so I would expect them to have some play. 🤷‍♂️ 🤷‍♂️
 
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