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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Suspension | Brakes | Chassis > FYI: Control arm replacement and alignment



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      01-18-2021, 02:33 PM   #1
freedomfries
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FYI: Control arm replacement and alignment

Found these alignment guides from BMW's technical training for the F30 and figured they would apply to the E90 as well. They are on pages 10 and 14 of the attached PDF but I threw together a quick reference as well.

Nothing surprising but it does confirm that replacing the front tension strut and rear guide rod and trailing arm does not require an alignment.
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      01-18-2021, 03:13 PM   #2
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Just buy a lifetime alignment and get realigned every time you do suspension/subframe work to your car or every year anyways. Not that difficult.
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      01-18-2021, 07:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewicky View Post
Just buy a lifetime alignment and get realigned every time you do suspension/subframe work to your car or every year anyways. Not that difficult.
If only... I wish we had something like that up here. Maybe we do and I just donít know. I took my car to dealership for its last alignmentóalmost $200 USD. I donít see the value in getting an annual alignment, but lifetime coverage would be really nice either way.

OP: I have that same document but specific to E90 if youíre interested. Guessing info is generally the same tho.

BTW, is a two-wheel alignment sufficient if Iíve dropped the front subframe? I ask because at my last four-wheel alignment, the tech noted that the rear camber bolts were seized but that camber was within spec. Not sure if toe was adjusted, but my point is that clearly very little time was spent on the rear end, so if dropping the subframe is unlikely to impact my rear, then Iím going to try to get just the front done and save some $.
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      01-18-2021, 08:35 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by e90yyc View Post
If only... I wish we had something like that up here. Maybe we do and I just donít know.
Firestone offers lifetime alignment in USA. That's the only place I'm aware of.
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      01-19-2021, 03:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fredo View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by e90yyc View Post
If only... I wish we had something like that up here. Maybe we do and I just don’t know.
Firestone offers lifetime alignment in USA. That's the only place I'm aware of.
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$180 with a $20 coupon off their website
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      01-19-2021, 06:41 AM   #6
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Alignment shouldn't cost more than $100.00
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      01-19-2021, 08:13 AM   #7
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In Canada, it does cost a lot more than $100.
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      01-19-2021, 08:17 AM   #8
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FYI, I have previously successfully set toe on my B6 Audi in my garage using this excellent guide, which should apply to any car: https://www.audizine.com/forum/showt...t-toe-settings
I haven't tried this on E90, but I may use it to check the values at home and then take it in for alignment after I refresh my suspension and see how close my calculations are.
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      01-19-2021, 02:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eljay View Post
FYI, I have previously successfully set toe on my B6 Audi in my garage using this excellent guide, which should apply to any car: https://www.audizine.com/forum/showt...t-toe-settings
I haven't tried this on E90, but I may use it to check the values at home and then take it in for alignment after I refresh my suspension and see how close my calculations are.
I would be wary of this.
After my engine swap everything was completely out of alignment.
I did something very similar to that link, a manual alignment. Just good enough to get my car driving for a couple days or so until my appointment at the alignment shop
It was good enough to drive on, but the alignment was a magnitude outside the allowable spec. It drove straight with the manual alignment, but it felt much better after laser aligned.
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      01-19-2021, 06:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewicky View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by eljay View Post
FYI, I have previously successfully set toe on my B6 Audi in my garage using this excellent guide, which should apply to any car: https://www.audizine.com/forum/showt...t-toe-settings
I haven't tried this on E90, but I may use it to check the values at home and then take it in for alignment after I refresh my suspension and see how close my calculations are.
I would be wary of this.
After my engine swap everything was completely out of alignment.
I did something very similar to that link, a manual alignment. Just good enough to get my car driving for a couple days or so until my appointment at the alignment shop
It was good enough to drive on, but the alignment was a magnitude outside the allowable spec. It drove straight with the manual alignment, but it felt much better after laser aligned.
I agree that this is only "to get by". Although some racers do string alignments all the time, but that means constantly tinkering with the setup, which is not something for a daily driver.
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      01-25-2021, 03:53 AM   #11
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lifetime alignments generally will not cover custom specs or out of oem specs. any modifications they tell you to go away as well. I known people that were refused service because their car was technically within oem range but was not matched at all.
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      01-26-2021, 12:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aphael View Post
lifetime alignments generally will not cover custom specs or out of oem specs. any modifications they tell you to go away as well. I known people that were refused service because their car was technically within oem range but was not matched at all.
That may be true in some places but I don't have that problem

I make sure to bring the tech and the write up attendant goodies/gifts whenever I stop by as I know they're not generating any revenue for me

Kept me in service with all the custom stuff I have
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      01-26-2021, 02:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e90yyc View Post
If only... I wish we had something like that up here. Maybe we do and I just don’t know. I took my car to dealership for its last alignment—almost $200 USD. I don’t see the value in getting an annual alignment, but lifetime coverage would be really nice either way.

OP: I have that same document but specific to E90 if you’re interested. Guessing info is generally the same tho.

BTW, is a two-wheel alignment sufficient if I’ve dropped the front subframe? I ask because at my last four-wheel alignment, the tech noted that the rear camber bolts were seized but that camber was within spec. Not sure if toe was adjusted, but my point is that clearly very little time was spent on the rear end, so if dropping the subframe is unlikely to impact my rear, then I’m going to try to get just the front done and save some $.
I can't find if Firestone offers the lifetime alignment in Canada, but it's only $199 USD here. I have mine done after every track day, every time I've mounted tires, when I did my front control arms, and/or frankly any time I was at that shop. I definitely feel like I got way more than my money's worth in the first year, and surprisingly (or not--because it was pushed hard regularly) alignment was out of spec every time even with good/great condition suspension components.

My favorite part is that the service writer LOVES me just because I'm there so often and give them unlimited time to get things done since I try to do it well in advance of HPDEs. She gives me huge discounts like charging $30 for an hour of labor adjusting/torquing my control arms, and I think it's great because 90% of the work is 'free' after I paid 200 bucks once.

Once I developed a relationship with the workers they were open to aligning it to my specs rather than factory, something that Wheels Works said they would refuse. Wheel Works also stated that their lifetime alignment is voided with major suspension changes like coilovers, which Firestone said would have no effect on the validity of the contract.
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      01-29-2021, 11:47 AM   #14
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https://quicktrickalignment.com/shop/

I'll be ordering this and doing my own alignments on all of my vehicles. After realizing I'm going to need a few more done to get my car just right I decided to spend that money on something I could keep and will pay for itself over time.

Firestone around here states with the life time alignment you can only have it done every 6 months. Not very useful for someone who will be messing with coilovers and upgrading suspension parts

Last edited by Yotaismygame; 02-02-2021 at 11:55 AM..
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      02-02-2021, 10:51 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewicky View Post
It was good enough to drive on, but the alignment was a magnitude outside the allowable spec.
Well, maybe try doing a better job next time..??

Just like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. If you're incapable of boxing the car with string and understanding basic concepts such as how to use a ruler properly, I agree, pay someone else to do it. At that point might as well pay a 'professional' to swap the control arms too since a botched job there actually poses a much higher safety risk to you and others.

I'm amazed at how, in 2021, people still think that some how shop alignment racks are the best solution because "they use lasers." When in reality, no one bothers to question the repeatability those 70 second alignments are capable of producing. As many times as those wheel mounted cameras are slammed on and off cars all day, I highly doubt you'd be able to go to any 2 alignment shops in short succession and receive repeatable results, but hey, as long as you get a pretty printout depicting 4 satiating green boxes at the end of the day, I guess that doesn't matter.
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      02-02-2021, 10:56 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eljay View Post
FYI, I have previously successfully set toe on my B6 Audi in my garage using this excellent guide, which should apply to any car: https://www.audizine.com/forum/showt...t-toe-settings
That solution only gives you total toe. String the car front to back in order make sure that each wheel is independently aligned to the proper value.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yotaismygame View Post
Way too much money...put together something like this yourself instead:
https://www.lotustalk.com/threads/a-...ignment.45655/
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