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      09-24-2011, 01:40 AM   #1
seoulmandmd
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E90 Suspension Upgrades - M3 fronts / ST V1 coils / non-RFT

I have an E90 335 non-sport and was OK with the way it drove at first. With a tune, it's a beast in a straight line. But with a more aggressive tune, it would lose traction on slight bumps, feel floaty at high speeds, and the steering had good but not great response. But then I drove my friend's 911 4S and ... wow. The car is flat to the ground no matter what you do - very impressive. I then recently had a 135i sport package loaner while I had a HPFP/Injector/ECU recall update, and even that car handled so much better than mine.

It was time to upgrade my suspension and I went searching the boards. I came away with so much good information, but no real good summary of what to do. So I went ahead and installed some things and am happy to report that I now have a really nice setup for daily driving and occasional spirited runs through the hills. Here is my saga with summary notes of research.

BEFORE:
OEM Type 159 (17x8)
Stock RFT 225/45 R17
Non-sport springs and shock
Non-sport front sway - sport sway is stiffer (E93 even stiffer)
Stock rear sway - same on all non-M cars


STEP 1: replace shocks and springs
KW/ST V1 coilovers

Wanted to drop the car and was told if you have the coin, do coilovers with matched springs and shocks as springs are more for looks and may hurt handling. If you are NOT tracking, the KW/ST V1 are just fine for most people. ST are cheaper, have shorter warranty, made exactly like KW but with different materials - if you live in no snow conditions, should not be a problem. Can adjust the drop - not too much for me but enough to close that HUGE gap on the non-sport cars. This was a great start. It was not uncomfortable for DD at all (I live in NoCal - good roads mostly.). I was surprised how well the RFT's felt as the boards seem to imply ride quality would suffer. This is what the RFT should run on off the lot! Look great and a lot less roll and lift - turns are so much better. But, still the car would lose grip with slight bumps under acceleration and there was a lot of dips and dives.

STEP 2: upgrade wheels and tires
Avant Garde M359 19x9 ET35 / 19x10 ET38
Hankook Ventus V12 evo 235/35ZR19 / 275/30ZR19

I was told that I need more rubber to handle the power. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the info here. Wider tires for better traction. Staggered configuration to replicate M3 type layout (My friends 911 had 325 in the back!). No more RFT for comfort, so they say. 19" are purely for show, I know - real track cars use smaller, lighter wheels. This is my DD and the wheels are for show more than performance. Gotta be honest. Love the ZCP 359 M3 wheels but do not fit on E90 without some work. AG M359 look very close. Get M3 stickers from eBay - ones that come with the wheels look ridiculously fake. I rolled rear fenders just to be safe - shop felt wasn't necessary. I bought and installed new TPMS (get the right ones) was only about $100 more than the cost of removing the old and moving them. Spare tire plan is AAA for now. Thought of throwing old tire in trunk. Mobility kit a possible option, too. Had alignment after the wheels/tires - had 1000 miles on coilovers so they should have settled in. Car looks great. Car definitely sticks better on launches but still slips at times. Surprisingly the ride quality is much worse than on RFT - apparently going 17->19 is far worse than RFT->non-RFT. Still, tolerable. Overall happy with appearance and increased grip, but still dips and rolls in turns and does not feel as stable or planted as I like.

Side Note:
Car made weird creaks at doors when going down curbs after new suspension. It was not door panel movement. The rubber gasket on the door side rubs on the door trim more with the stiffer suspension and dries out. The boards direct you to some rubber moistening compound you can buy on Amazon for 10 bucks. Was doubtful, but one application and all creaks gone - pretty cool.

STEP 3: M3 front suspension parts
M3 front sway bar
M3 front control arms

At this time, I am convinced my suspension needs new front and back sway bars. I had read a lot about this. You read a lot about rear sway only. A few posts on front sways. Even fewer on rear with subframe bushings. Even fewer on front and control arms. And least of all on total M3 front or rear swap out. Tischer sells a kit, but not the advice. Summary: Front M3 sway same diameter but no thinning part in center versus non-M3. Easy to replace. Back is much thicker. Back is a PITA to put in - must drop subframe - 3 hr work? - if you are going to, should do subframe bushing upgrade as well. BUT, rear sway make the car stiffer in the back and without a LSD, then could make wheel slip worse!! A few good threads about NOT doing the rear stuff without an LSD. A few threads talked about doing other M3 front parts such as the control arms. Was not interested until the more I read I noted they introduce more camber and stabilize the front as well as give better steering response. More reading convinced me front control arms/bushings/sway was the next step. M3 front strut brace felt not to add much except cost. Alignment immediately after front control a must - car is totally out of whack after they were replaced.


AFTER:
Stock rear sway - same on all non-M cars
KW/ST V1 coilovers
Avant Garde M359 19x9 ET35 / 19x10 ET38
Hankook Ventus V12 evo 235/35ZR19 / 275/30ZR19
M3 front sway bar
M3 front control arms

OMG! The car drives so nicely now it is great. It turns into corners at speed with confidence and much less dive. The body flex and roll is much improved in turns in general. The rear also stays much more planted. The steering feels more responsive. What a difference just a little added camber makes. Still not an M3, but close enough for a happy DD!


PROPS:
All install was done by Sonic MS in Mountain View by Barrett, Darwin, Cal, Justin, and the gang. They're the only ones who get to touch my car! As usual, friendly, fast, honest, and fun fun fun. The M3 front parts put the car way out of whack. Had to get 2 alignments done and ran over an hour over - no complaints, just good service. Nice Bentley, Lambo, GTR, M3, M5, 911S4, and ISF in the parking lot that day ... all tuned and modded.

Suspension from Justin and Wheels/tires/TPMS from Cal at SonicMS - love the ZCP more than the CSL's - but that is just me. Will keep the 19" - it's all for show anyways.

M3 parts from Evan at Tischer - arrived in under a week! - NO increase in their prices YET unlike what other recent posts have mentioned at other vendors.

Will hold off any rear M3 sway or subframe unless i get an LSD - but this would be a lot of $$$ so probably not going to happen - at that point, I might as well have just bought an M3.

Next mod is a ar design (best fitment and reliable) catted DP (I just can't bring myself to pollute that much!) for COBB Stage 2 - released yesterday!

Happy driving.

Last edited by seoulmandmd; 09-27-2011 at 12:11 AM.
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      09-24-2011, 05:38 AM   #2
tres
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thats great your enjoying your new mods, I did my sways also and the rear took me 6hrs by myself.
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      09-25-2011, 01:12 PM   #3
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There is no replacement for a good LSD. How many sizes can you really go up in your tires with the limited wheel well space.
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      09-25-2011, 07:33 PM   #4
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^^ truth. As usual from HPaw

Harolds posts are really the most useful on suspension mods. Those helped a lot. Especially about control arms. Don't know why people dont do this more.

Most people think the rear sway fixes everything. "put on, its great!" posts abound. It makes some things better and other things worse.

Suspension and camber help the ride more than sways except to make the car feel really stiff. Subframe bushings suck on the non-m's too. and with a Tune you can't hold the car down without an LSD.

LSD r expensive but now I realize that is why I should get an M3 if I'm serious about tracking.
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      09-25-2011, 08:14 PM   #5
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what is the labor like on front control arm install?
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      09-25-2011, 11:33 PM   #6
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is this what you get from tischer?
Front arm, m series, right - 2wd - 2WD
Front arm, m series, left - 2wd - 2WD
Rear arm, m series, right - 2wd - 2WD
Rear arm, m series, left - 2wd - 2WD
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      09-26-2011, 12:56 AM   #7
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Get the following:

OEM BMW E9x M3 Front Sway Bar Kit
Kit includes: front 26.5mm sway bar, 2 bushings, and 2 brackets.

OEM BMW E90/92/93 M3 FRONT Control Arm/Tension Strut Retrofit Set
Kit includes: Left and Right M3 Control Arms(311022283577-8), Left and Right M3 Tension Struts w/ Bushings(31102283575-6), and front regulating rod for headlights (37142283867). 5 pieces - 4 arms with new better bushings, 2 looks squigly, 2 are straight. The headlight rod is a tiny articulated arm you also need.

No Rear Stuff - No sway, No subframe bushings, No Wishbones, No rear guide.

The rear stuff can be added later ...... but if you do ... do it all at once - don't want to drop the subframe again and again for cost reasons.
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      09-26-2011, 01:20 AM   #8
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Some pictures ... 1/2 finger breadth clearance





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      09-26-2011, 09:14 AM   #9
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Reading from the OP, am I correct coilover and spring mods (for body drop) do not require alignment, just plug and play?
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      09-27-2011, 12:02 AM   #10
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Nope - need alignment after the coilovers but had it done after riding it around for 1000 miles to break them in. Alignment results noted I needed a slight adjustment. Was included in the price of the coilovers as well as 1 height adjustment.

After the M3fronts .... def need alignment on the spot.
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      09-29-2011, 10:50 AM   #11
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I did KW Series 1 about 15 months ago. I was looking into a thicker rear sway bar next. Did a lot of research, and came to the conclusion that without a LSD the sway bar was not a good idea.

I waited a year, and did a Quaife LSD about 2 months ago. HP Autowerks did the install, and I am very happy with the mod. I haven't seen the E-diff light once since the LSD went in. Cornering is much more stable, and the ability to put the power down coming out of turns and off the line is a hugh plus.

I don't track my car, but I love to do spirited driving in canyons and on mountain roads. The LSD has made the car very easy to drive at speed. I am not sure if I am going to bother with any more mods at this point.
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      10-23-2013, 06:19 AM   #12
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how has it held up since? How was the wear and tear? How regularly did you have to replace the bushings on the front control arms... Etc... as a daily driver?
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      10-23-2013, 06:56 AM   #13
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I'm about to get my control arms replaced with M3 ones today! I purchased the TRW ones from HPA and recieved them in a couple of days for a great price. As you can tell I'm excited. I might end up doing the front sway bar later.
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      10-23-2013, 12:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamsclubs View Post
Reading from the OP, am I correct coilover and spring mods (for body drop) do not require alignment, just plug and play?
You should always align the vehicle when ride height has been altered.
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      11-01-2013, 06:47 PM   #15
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Can anyone confirm if m3 front swaybar bushings fit on oem 335xi front swaybar since they are the same size. I'm asking because I heard the oem 335xi bars tapers in the middle so I wanted to know if the m3 front swaybars bushings will fit. Thanks for any answers
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      11-02-2013, 12:50 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julian2485 View Post
Can anyone confirm if m3 front swaybar bushings fit on oem 335xi front swaybar since they are the same size. I'm asking because I heard the oem 335xi bars tapers in the middle so I wanted to know if the m3 front swaybars bushings will fit. Thanks for any answers
Yes, I have 'em. You need the bushings and brackets.
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      11-02-2013, 03:08 AM   #17
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Ok thanks I'm not putting on the m3 swaybar just want to use the bushings I don't see a point of getting the m3 bar because it's the same size as the 335 front bar
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      12-19-2013, 09:48 AM   #18
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Turner Motorsport sells the M3 control arm package for a pretty good price. Yiu can get the TRW set (///M logo shaved off) for $216 less than if you want the ///M logo intact. Same control arm setup, and these are a really nice upgrade. Getting the koni yellow setup and swift spec-r with adjustable mounts installed next week! Hello canyon carver!
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      12-20-2013, 08:33 AM   #19
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Awesome write up! I'm planning on this mod in the spring
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      12-20-2013, 09:21 AM   #20
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quote=Julian2485;14912197]Ok thanks I'm not putting on the m3 swaybar just want to use the bushings I don't see a point of getting the m3 bar because it's the same size as the 335 front bar[/quote]


Why not get the e93 M3 bar? It's a bit stiffer, and affordable.
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Last edited by StealYourFace; 12-20-2013 at 10:00 AM.
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      12-20-2013, 09:54 AM   #21
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The E92 (Non-M) sway bar is 26.5mm and the M3 is 28.24mm....not the same size. The difference may be negligible (I don't have an M3 sway so I don't know for sure), but def not the same size.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Julian2485 View Post
Ok thanks I'm not putting on the m3 swaybar just want to use the bushings I don't see a point of getting the m3 bar because it's the same size as the 335 front bar
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      12-21-2013, 02:41 PM   #22
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I did a complete M3 suspension swap including the strut brace kit earlier this year.

No regrets at all.
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