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2001 BMW E46 325xi Wagon, 1997 E36 M3
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Discussion Starter #1
After a year of browsing and utilizing the info from these forums, I figured it was time to jump in and ask a question.
A little over a year ago, I bought my 01 325xi wagon and it’s had a bad shake at highway speeds since I bought it.
In the time I’ve owned it, I’ve put on brand new wheels and tires, installed a new driveshaft with CSB and flex disk, as well as a new front drive shaft, engine mounts, and a new front drivers axle. Rebuilt calipers up front with new rotors and pads.
I cannot figure out this shake, it’s almost like a rumble and a shake at the same time that starts up right at 65, and going into 90 calms down significantly. It’s only speed dependent, not RPM’s. I can feel it throughout the car, in my seat, the door, and the wheel has a bit of shake but nothing awful. It’s very loud and makes highway driving a pain. Anybody have any ideas/experience with what could be the cause of this?
 

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A couple of possibilities come to mind. One is a bad wheel bearing. They can definitely make a rumbling noise and it is something that would be 100% road speed dependent. Second is to check the rear driveshaft for play in any of the u-joints. Probably less likely to make a rumbling sound, but also 100% road speed related. Third is to go over the front suspension really well and check the control arm bushings and ball joints. This is probably the least likely to make a rumbling, but is still worth checking out.

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If you haven't done so already, I recommend taking to the dealer for an alignment. If they say that they can't align it then you'll know what the problem is. I had a similar issue with an E30 after an accident.
 

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Ill echo what yjsaabman said, specifically about the driveshaft u joints. Also double check wheels for balance. You said "new wheels and tires" but the wheels weren't new from the factory they could cause a vibration if not correctly balanced. I had a set of wheels that had been refinished and one of them was apparently impossible to balance and would cause a vibration.
 

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2002 325xi, standard options
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I had a similar issue (shakes around 50mph but goes away above 80mph). I went out and got 4 used BMW wheels (different style). Then I had those wheels refinished and straightened at a reputable wheel shop (it was not cheap) and had them mount new tires (Michelin Pilot Sport 4). No more shakes. Take your wheels to a wheel shop, they can easily check to see if they are balanced and if they are bent.
 

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Just reread the original post, again. And missed the rear driveshaft replacement the first time. It may be worth checking the installation of the driveshaft. It should be loosely installed on both ends and at the center support, then the ends should be tightened to spec, and then the CSB should be tightened last.

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2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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90% of the time this is caused by wheels and or tires. You could have gotten a bad balancing, you could have a bad tire. Do you know anyone with an e46 where you could swap wheels and try to isolate?

The second most likely is control arms in front or rear or forward control arm bushings.
 

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2001 BMW E46 325xi Wagon, 1997 E36 M3
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Discussion Starter #8
I guess I should have clarified, so I had a stock set of 16’s that came on the car, one wheel was bent bad and I switched them out to a brand new set of 18’s with brand new tires that I had on my 330ci and they drove like butter. Still had the issue. Recently got another set of 16’s for winter wheels and got them balanced at Discount tire. I guess I could try to put the other wheels back on but I don’t think that the wheels are the problem..

Once it warms up again I’ll put the 18’s back on and then trouble shoot a little more from there. Could rear trailing arm bushings cause a problem like this?
 

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2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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Bad rtabs tend to cause tracking issues. It really is almost always the wheels with your symptoms, though it your control arms are over 125-150k or the FCABs are over 80k they should be replaced.
 

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2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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Sure. But you would experience it more turning left or right than at speed.

Get the wheels in the air and turn them by hand. Try to wiggle them. See if there is any play at the axle
 

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2001 BMW E46 325xi Wagon, 1997 E36 M3
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Discussion Starter #13
What kind of front axles are on the car?
Not sure, I replaced the drivers side front axle with a cheaper replacement, but the vibration has remained the same since before the change. But that did fix the clicking and grinding noises :)
 

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When I bought my car it had a driveline vibration that was partially solved by replacing both front axles with GKN, after at least one had been replaced with a Chinese equivalent. It was finally solved by replacing the driveshaft. When you replaced the driveshaft was it new or used? I only ask because I remember the new part was like $1,200
 

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2001 BMW E46 325xi Wagon, 1997 E36 M3
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Discussion Starter #15
When I bought my car it had a driveline vibration that was partially solved by replacing both front axles with GKN, after at least one had been replaced with a Chinese equivalent. It was finally solved by replacing the driveshaft. When you replaced the driveshaft was it new or used? I only ask because I remember the new part was like $1,200
The driveshaft was new, but not OEM. Can’t remember the brand but it was about $550. I’m starting to suspect rear axles honestly
 

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As far as I know, it is quite rare for rear axles on these cars to fail unless you are doing something like drifting etc.
 
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