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Discussion Starter #1
Apparently the 100k mile mark consensus for strut replacement is spot on. I took the opportunity to take a short clip of the front struts after I had them replaced with a set of Bilstein sport struts.

The left strut seems that has still some life left on it due to the fact that the piston still returns to its original position although easily compressible. The right strut is, obviously, blown

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCrrPChR2G4



Both rear shocks are blown too:

 

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I gotta ask, did you not notice this when you drove it? Because your post makes it sound like you just noticed it when you were replacing them. Of course, I may just be getting that impression, since you were not specific. But I would think it would drive like crap, in that condition.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The driving symptoms were not very intense, just the front end felt loose, harsh ride, car used to tramline. That's it, plus the suspicion that at 100k miles they had to be blown :).

Needless to say, with the bilsteins installed now I actually know how the car should drive and compared to the factory/old setup, the drive was plain horrible
 

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My front struts have 151,000 miles on them (AFAIK they are originals). They don't leak and both still spring back slowly after being compressed, so they both still have some gas charge. One was easier to compress than the other, so at least one of them is somewhat blown, maybe both (one worse than the other). As far as I can tell, the car rides fine. It doesn't bounce up and down after a speed bump, and does okay in AutoX and track, except my driving skill is mediocre. Several instructors have driven it and nobody complained about the handling. They all have better-handling cars than mine (E9x M3, E46 M3, 335i, Miata, Corvette Z06, etc.) but none of them suggested my car had a suspension problem. Or maybe they were just being polite and only comment if they think the student's car is unsafe!

My front end does not feel loose (except when I go into a turn too fast in AutoX) or harsh, but it does tramline a little. Amount of tramlining depends on which tires are on. Conventional wisdom says my front struts must be blown, and I did replace rear shocks 15,000 miles ago because they were leaking and one was dented. Anyway I figure things can only improve with new shocks and am planning to get some Koni sport single adjustables one of these days.
 

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OP-That looks about right, mine were completely shot at 85k with no signs of leaking. Glad you got them replaced!
 

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ouch! mines at 180,000 i can only imagine how bad all mine are. i know my back left one is out. it sits 2inchs lower than the rest of the car.
 

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I'm at 86k miles and both of my rears takes force to push them in but they extend back just fine so they're still good. Haven't taken the fronts out to test yet...
 

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I'm on originals at 108k and I am dying to have a new set of Koni Sport Yellow's installed. The only thing holding me back from doing it as soon as possible is the price tag. In addition, I feel like having a new set of RTABs and FCABs installed at the same time as the shocks.
 

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So, for others like myself who are idiots about this kind of thing, what are the symptoms of worn out shocks and struts?

My car handles fine, but the ride is a little too rough (not just firm, as I and I'm sure most e46ers prefer a firm ride) and my car sort of "rumbles" down the road, if that makes sense. I don't think it's my tires or alignment as I had that checked not too many miles ago.

Is this something that your average shop can do (i.e. not BMW specialists)?
 

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It's kind of hard to test E46s with sports package as our springs are fairly still to begin with. It won't bounce up and down the road like a 70s Cadillac. But an good easy way to test is to go over a big speed bump at a decent speed. If it doesn't settle after the first rebound then your shocks/struts are on its way out.
But to know for sure, pull out your rears (dont have to take them competely out) and test them by hand. If they push in with ease and dont rebound, then their shot. Don't know if the fronts wear at the same rate.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Question, why didn't you go with OEM Sachs sport shocks again?
I have the eibach pro-kit which according to several reviews is a better match with the Bilstein sports rather than the OEM Sachs.

I'm on 99k and my shocks still feel great. Hopefully I won't need to replace these :(
Mine felt great too :4ngie:

So, for others like myself who are idiots about this kind of thing, what are the symptoms of worn out shocks and struts?

My car handles fine, but the ride is a little too rough (not just firm, as I and I'm sure most e46ers prefer a firm ride) and my car sort of "rumbles" down the road, if that makes sense. I don't think it's my tires or alignment as I had that checked not too many miles ago.

Is this something that your average shop can do (i.e. not BMW specialists)?
I had a harsh ride, felt every road anomaly, tramlining, noticed the right strut to be a little moist a few months ago (didn't pay attention since it could had been something from road) and finally, what I thought was "great handling" was not. Need to try something new to be able to compare with the old.

Any competent shop (or fanatic) can do that. The only non-standard tool used is a pair of spring compressors which afaik can be rented, or you can actually take the struts to a local mechanic with a hydraulic compressor to do it for you. It's a matter of 15 minutes for both when a proper press is used.
 

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I don't know if this old shock testing rule still applies, but here it is anyway.

Push the car down at each corner and let go. If that corner is good, the car will go up to normal position, down, and then back up to normal position.

If it keeps bouncing the shock is shot.
 
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