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      01-13-2015, 02:36 PM   #1
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335i Suspension Upgrade: Bilstein B12 and M3 Control Arms

I'm hoping I can learn from the collective wisdom here on a plan I've been formulating for a springtime suspension upgrade. Through searching here and vendor websites, I've put together the following plan, but any thoughts are welcome on alternatives or the benefits/merits of any of my choices.

I'm starting with a bone stock '10 E90 335i ZMP/ZSP suspension, stock RE50A RFTs on stock staggered wheels (193), with about 35k miles (summers only on the tires). Only perf. mods are BMW Performance Exhaust, and mild tune. The suspension seems to be mechanically sound, so I'm looking for an upgrade, not just replacement. My goal is to improve handling without compromising day to day driveability. My chief complaints with the handling are that it can feel floaty on uneven surfaces, a bit wallowy going into corners (until it settles), and it definitely crashes and clangs over the slightest road imperfections. If the wheel gap can be lessened that's great, but I do not like the look of a slammed car, and with the roads around here anything too low is a liability. I'm budgeting $3k all in, including labor (I'm pretty sure this kind of install is above my pay grade, so I'll be taking it to a local indy shop).

Let me know what you think, list is in my order of priority:

1. New tires, stock size, non-RFT, deciding between Michelin Pilot Super Sport, and Conti DW (Conti about $200 cheaper). Any thoughts on the cost benefit of this choice? Looks like many feel that the PSS is the unimpeachable tire of choice, but is it worth the extra $ for pure street use?

2. Bilstein B12 suspension kit (Blstn Shocks/struts, Eibach Pro Kit Springs). Alt. would be to get the Blstn B6 shocks/struts and keep the ZMP/ZSP springs

3. M3 Front Control Arms (or aftermarket equiv.): Is it worth the extra $ to get the OEM gear, or are the aftermarket replica packages perfectly good? It looks like ECS has aftermarket brand TRW, and Meyle from Turner. Both also have OEM.

4. M3 rear suspension bits: guide rods and upper links: Big question here is whether the M3 bits (especially the rear) are worth it on a daily driver that will not likely see track any track time.

5. Labor: any thoughts on hours?

I'm thinking that the above puts me a bit over my budget, mostly depending on labor (8 hrs?), so I'll probably have to scale back somewhere (Conti's v. Michelins, aftermarket parts v. OEM? Fronts only on M3 susp. bits?)

Thanks for your time and input!
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      01-13-2015, 03:00 PM   #2
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Looks like you already figured most of things out with 1, 2, 3. Go with TRW arms, they are identical to the OE ones.

For the rear, I would save the money and invest them in stiffer subframe bushings instead. OE M3 ones are overpriced. Look for whitelines PU bushings for cheaper alternative.
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      01-13-2015, 03:03 PM   #3
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Labor shouldn't cost more than $1000 including subframe bushing change. 3-500 if it is just the shock springs and front control arms.
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      01-13-2015, 03:07 PM   #4
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Conti DWs are great street tires. I had them for 3 years before I start tracking. Only complaint is their soft sidewall. So steering feel has always been a touch mushy.
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      01-13-2015, 03:31 PM   #5
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Spend the extra $200. on PSS; you'll regret the DW.
I'd install harder rear subframe bushings or inserts before changing the rear arms.
Everything else looks good
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      01-13-2015, 03:46 PM   #6
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I picked up 4 255/35/18 PSS tires from coscto for $800, their priced pretty well. You can probably get a lower price if you don't go with 255s in the front.
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      01-13-2015, 03:47 PM   #7
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I've heard Koni are preferred to Bilstien for otherwise stock setups?
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      01-13-2015, 03:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 07chupacabra View Post
I picked up 4 255/35/18 PSS tires from coscto for $800, their priced pretty well. You can probably get a lower price if you don't go with 255s in the front.
What width and offset wheels did you put those on in the front? I want to go with 255s up front on a 18x9 et 31 wheel but am concerned about rubbing.
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      01-13-2015, 03:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tc535i View Post
I've heard Koni are preferred to Bilstien for otherwise stock setups?
I sure like Koni Sports with oem sport springs
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      01-13-2015, 04:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloud9blue View Post
Looks like you already figured most of things out with 1, 2, 3. Go with TRW arms, they are identical to the OE ones.

For the rear, I would save the money and invest them in stiffer subframe bushings instead. OE M3 ones are overpriced. Look for whitelines PU bushings for cheaper alternative.
Thanks for the input. You say that TRW are "identical" and ECS refers to TRW as the "OEM supplier," does that mean that they are literally the same product, just with different branding, or do the parts TRWs supplies to BMW differ in some way from what they sell direct?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloud9blue View Post
Labor shouldn't cost more than $1000 including subframe bushing change. 3-500 if it is just the shock springs and front control arms.
Regarding the rear end, looks like a couple people have recommended subframe bushings either before or instead of the M3 rear arms. Is the install on the subframe bushing particularly time consuming? Just from the sound of it I suspect that you have to drop the entire rear subrame?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloud9blue View Post
Conti DWs are great street tires. I had them for 3 years before I start tracking. Only complaint is their soft sidewall. So steering feel has always been a touch mushy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvc 22349a View Post
Spend the extra $200. on PSS; you'll regret the DW.
I'd install harder rear subframe bushings or inserts before changing the rear arms.
Everything else looks good
Thanks, I'll look into the subframe bushings as others have suggested. What's the difference between "bushings" and "inserts?"

Regarding the tires, I suppose there's a level of subjectivity especially when weighing cost benefit, so far it's PSS-2, DW-1. Not exactly a huge sample, I'll keep an open mind for a bit longer.
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      01-13-2015, 04:12 PM   #11
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Check out Offset Motorwerks for the control arms. Coupon code: e90post

I got the Whiteline Inserts that simply fit in to the existing bushings. The M3 bushings completely replace the existing ones.
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      01-13-2015, 04:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLifeCrisis View Post
Check out Offset Motorwerks for the control arms. Coupon code: e90post

I got the Whiteline Inserts that simply fit in to the existing bushings. The M3 bushings completely replace the existing ones.
I'll look into Offset MW, thanks. Is there a non-oem offering that replaces the whole bushing, as opposed to the insert? What are the pros and cons of M3 replacement v. insert?
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      01-13-2015, 04:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustler View Post
I'll look into Offset MW, thanks. Is there a non-oem offering that replaces the whole bushing, as opposed to the insert? What are the pros and cons of M3 replacement v. insert?
It's just cost/labor. Replacing the entire bushing as opposed to the inserts. Yes, the subframe is dropped, but they go in relatively easy.
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      01-13-2015, 04:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLifeCrisis View Post
It's just cost/labor. Replacing the entire bushing as opposed to the inserts. Yes, the subframe is dropped, but they go in relatively easy.

Did you DIY the subrame bushing inserts, or have a shop do it? If it was a shop, do you recall how many hours, or if you don't mind my asking, how much it cost?
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      01-13-2015, 04:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvc 22349a View Post
What width and offset wheels did you put those on in the front? I want to go with 255s up front on a 18x9 et 31 wheel but am concerned about rubbing.
Hopefully I will find out tomorrow, I haven't put them on yet
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      01-13-2015, 04:21 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 07chupacabra View Post
Hopefully I will find out tomorrow, I haven't put them on yet
Pls pm me
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      01-13-2015, 04:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustler View Post
Did you DIY the subrame bushing inserts, or have a shop do it? If it was a shop, do you recall how many hours, or if you don't mind my asking, how much it cost?
My buddy did it at his shop. He has a lift which makes it easier. I was there and helped, it was about an hour labor. So figure $100 + parts.

It really was a great modification for the $. The rear suspension is much stiffer now.
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      01-13-2015, 04:35 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustler View Post
Thanks for the input. You say that TRW are "identical" and ECS refers to TRW as the "OEM supplier," does that mean that they are literally the same product, just with different branding, or do the parts TRWs supplies to BMW differ in some way from what they sell direct?



Regarding the rear end, looks like a couple people have recommended subframe bushings either before or instead of the M3 rear arms. Is the install on the subframe bushing particularly time consuming? Just from the sound of it I suspect that you have to drop the entire rear subrame?





Thanks, I'll look into the subframe bushings as others have suggested. What's the difference between "bushings" and "inserts?"

Regarding the tires, I suppose there's a level of subjectivity especially when weighing cost benefit, so far it's PSS-2, DW-1. Not exactly a huge sample, I'll keep an open mind for a bit longer.
There is far too much movement of the rear subframe relative to the chassis with oem bushings which is more pronounced with more traction/grip and more torque. I'd replace the entire bushing with M3 or firmer, but if your budget doesn't allow then inserts will firm up that connection somewhat.

Going from rft's to DW's will feel really squishy. The firmer sidewall of the PSS will roll less at proper inflation and give better steering response.
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      01-13-2015, 04:58 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvc 22349a View Post
There is far too much movement of the rear subframe relative to the chassis with oem bushings which is more pronounced with more traction/grip and more torque. I'd replace the entire bushing with M3 or firmer, but if your budget doesn't allow then inserts will firm up that connection somewhat.

Going from rft's to DW's will feel really squishy. The firmer sidewall of the PSS will roll less at proper inflation and give better steering response.
Helpful thoughts on the tires, particularly in regards to the contrast from the Flintstone's like Bridgestone RFTs to something that is soft even for a non-RFT.

Is the labor on the replacement of the subframe bushing substantially greater than the labor on the insert?

As an aside, why are OEM tires so bad, so often? The tires that came on my Tacoma (TRD O/R), had terrible tread wear after just a few months of summer use, and then when winter came they were practically undriveable. It wasn't just about feel, I didn't think the were safe for my wife and daughter and replaced them. And, add insult to injury, the OEM replacements are usually substantially more expensive. Can anyone explain this?
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      01-13-2015, 05:49 PM   #20
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^ IDK what's involved with the inserts but if the rear subframe has to come down, you might as well just replace the bushings and get rid of all the soft rubber. Based on your desired setup, M3 should be perfect. If you were to install significantly stiffer springs and add a lot more torque, I'd say go with a firmer bushing.

OEM tires usually suck cuz they're cheaper for the manufacturer to buy. And dealers always mark parts up more than you'd pay elsewhere. RFT's suck! No grip on anything other than a warm table top surface. You'll have way better grip with the PSS and then your control arm and subframe bushings will feel soft. It's a slippery slope when you add grip and torque. And yeah, my Tundra came with crappy BFG's and got switched out for Michelin LTX real quick.
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      01-13-2015, 06:09 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvc 22349a View Post
^ IDK what's involved with the inserts but if the rear subframe has to come down, you might as well just replace the bushings and get rid of all the soft rubber. Based on your desired setup, M3 should be perfect. If you were to install significantly stiffer springs and add a lot more torque, I'd say go with a firmer bushing.

OEM tires usually suck cuz they're cheaper for the manufacturer to buy. And dealers always mark parts up more than you'd pay elsewhere. RFT's suck! No grip on anything other than a warm table top surface. You'll have way better grip with the PSS and then your control arm and subframe bushings will feel soft. It's a slippery slope when you add grip and torque. And yeah, my Tundra came with crappy BFG's and got switched out for Michelin LTX real quick.
Whiteline's install guide on the inserts says: "Utilizing an extra jack stand, unbolt the rear bolts of the sub-frame and only loosen the front bolts. Careful not to stretch brake lines or brake wiring"

http://www.whiteline.com.au/docs/ins...ides/Z5217.pdf

Is what's described by whiteline considered "dropping" the rear subframe, or something less? I saw a post on here suggesting that install for the full bushing replacement would be 5-6 hours? Is pulling the old bushing out, and pushing the new through the mounts a major part of that job?

Do the inserts add to the ride height of the car? It sort of looks like they would based on the pictures in the install guide.
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      01-13-2015, 06:12 PM   #22
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idk. Ask 'mlifxs' on this forum. He installed them and is a good resource.
Replacing the bushings does take 6 hrs and involves taking the exhaust off disconnecting the brake lines and lowering the subframe far enough to pressing bushings from above.
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Last edited by cvc 22349a; 01-13-2015 at 09:15 PM.
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