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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Suspension | Brakes | Chassis > Aftermarket Suspension Alignment - Update



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      09-30-2017, 10:33 AM   #1
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Aftermarket Suspension Alignment - Update

Okay, I've searched for a few hours for the last several days and now bordering on a headache Apologize in advance for another suspension thread...

So I need to redo the E90's suspension. At 332K now and some of the parts are original, so I'm going through what I'll change out. The car is a E90 '06 325i with factory sport package suspension. But in short... at 185,000 miles I replaced the shocks (dampers) using OE BMW parts. Years ago BMW was offloading the sport suspension conversion kit (stock parts for my car) at a great deal, $150, so that's what I used.

Now at 332,000 I think the springs have lived a good life and need refreshing. And that's where the headache comes in. So the basic, non coil over, choices to redo the spring and dampers are the Bilstein B12 pro kit (eibach springs), Bilstein w/ H&R sport springs, BMW performance suspension, and (maybe) Bilstein B8's with BMW yellow sport springs. All fine, I guess, but I'm not looking for anymore drop than the factory sport suspension, but am looking to increase the spring rate some. I'd prefer not to drop the car any lower because I want to keep the factory sport suspension alignment specs. I drive the car 30K a year and tire wear is of utmost importance. After the redo at 185K it took over a year and several 3 attempts to get the alignment correct to prevent adverse tire wear; it's hard to find a good BMW alignment shop IMO. My install will be DIY of course.

I have some experience with the Bilstein/H&R setup because I redid my wife's Z3 suspension years ago with that kit (for the Z3) and absolutely love transformation of the Z3's ride and handling, and I would love to go this way on the E90. But the Z3 drop with the Bilstein/H&R kit changes the rear camber drastically and wears the tires. I don't really care though because the Z3 doesn't get driven much and I can rotate tires with no effort anytime I want. But for the E90, Turner Motorsports and an BMW Indy I spoke with have indicated that there is not enough adjust-ability in the E90 suspension to get the camber within factory (sport) specs. The B12 kit maybe a bit softer sprung than I'm looking for, but the drop from the factory E90 sport suspension seems nil and I think I can still get back to the factory alignment settings with it. I can't find much information about the BMW Yellow Performance springs regarding height and spring rate specs if they differ from the E90 OE sport springs. The BMW performance suspension seems a bit pricey and may not be as good as a Bilstein set up, I not totally sure about that statement however.

I've read a lot of posts on these subjects, but no one addressed the alignment question.

Looking for some help, if you please. Can anyone talk to their experience with alignment after the install of any of these suspension kits, and/or does anyone have any data on the BMW Yellow performance springs?

Thanks in advance.
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A manual transmission can be set to "comfort", "sport", and "track" modes simply by the technique and speed at which you shift it; it doesn't need "modes", modes are for manumatics that try to behave like a real 3-pedal manual transmission. If you can money-shift it, it's a manual transmission.

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      10-01-2017, 01:25 PM   #2
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I have BMW yellow performance springs with Koni yellow on my e90. The springs lowered the car. About 1cm front and 2cm rear. Rear was too much for me so I ended up adding e30 cm spring pad. Spring rate/ are said to be 200/500. I don't know how the work with BMW struts/shock but can tell you that the Koni yellow work better with them then they did with the oem BMW sport springs. Regarding the alignment, your main question here, what Turner and BMW Windi told you is absolutely not true. Suspension allows enough adjustment for lowered car to be in BMW spec values. Rear rear without issue. Front might require removal of the strut mount centering pin. I have managed this. So have others.
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      10-01-2017, 11:54 PM   #3
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Ask for SZP5A spec if their database has it.
I will find out the difference versus M sport specifications in a few weeks for you.
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      10-03-2017, 08:23 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efthreeoh View Post
After the redo at 185K it took over a year and several 3 attempts to get the alignment correct to prevent adverse tire wear; it's hard to find a good BMW alignment shop IMO. My install will be DIY of course.

Whaaaa? It's toe up front; camber and toe in the rear. Ain't rocket science!

Naturally we insist on exactly 0 Thrust Angle.

So. If alignment goes out easily, look to your suspension components - any worn/busted bushing or other part will result in an alignment that's out a few minutes into your first drive.

Personally, for the cost conscious, I recommend BMW Yellow Performance Springs and Koni FSD's. Yep, per link can do more....I did....rewarding!
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      10-03-2017, 10:38 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by CALWATERBOY View Post
Whaaaa? It's toe up front; camber and toe in the rear. Ain't rocket science!
Agreed.

As seasoned as OP is at turning wrenches though, I'm shocked to find out that he doesn't do alignments himself though.
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      10-03-2017, 12:17 PM   #6
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Agreed.

As seasoned as OP is at turning wrenches though, I'm shocked to find out that he doesn't do alignments himself though.
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      10-03-2017, 10:23 PM   #7
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like me.
Trust me, I've looked at the DIY systems... They are about $1,200 for the ones I've reviewed.
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      10-03-2017, 10:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CALWATERBOY View Post
Whaaaa? It's toe up front; camber and toe in the rear. Ain't rocket science!

Naturally we insist on exactly 0 Thrust Angle.

So. If alignment goes out easily, look to your suspension components - any worn/busted bushing or other part will result in an alignment that's out a few minutes into your first drive.

Personally, for the cost conscious, I recommend BMW Yellow Performance Springs and Koni FSD's. Yep, per link can do more....I did....rewarding!
Some shops just suck, which is why I build a shop of my own. You'd think it would have been easy. The last alignment on the E90, done by BMW of Sterling (VA) has been spot on. I'm on 44,000 miles on my current set of shoes, that about the best I've been able to achieve on any set of tires. I just let go of the wheel tonight on the way home on a freshly pave section of road and she tracked straight for almost 3/4 of a mile. I'm on the original suspension components except for only the thrust arms (M3's). That's over 332,000 miles on the original control arms and bushings both front and rear.
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      10-03-2017, 11:35 PM   #9
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I actually love the B12 Kit I installed on my 328i. With a minimal drop of about 0.5" Ride quality is good on the highway and in the twisty's. How did you retain OEM specs with M3 Arms? I've read it does increase your toe a bit; no?
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      10-04-2017, 05:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PichaDis11 View Post
I actually love the B12 Kit I installed on my 328i. With a minimal drop of about 0.5" Ride quality is good on the highway and in the twisty's. How did you retain OEM specs with M3 Arms? I've read it does increase your toe a bit; no?
My understanding is M3 thrust arms do not affect toe.
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      10-04-2017, 11:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efthreeoh View Post
Trust me, I've looked at the DIY systems... They are about $1,200 for the ones I've reviewed.
Two pairs of jackstands and some fishing line...it really isn't all that cost intensive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Efthreeoh View Post
My understanding is M3 thrust arms do not affect toe.
Anything that effects camber will effect toe as well...hence the requirement for an alignment immediately following install.
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      10-04-2017, 12:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
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My understanding is M3 thrust arms do not affect toe.
Quote:
Originally Posted by FCobra94 View Post

Anything that effects camber will effect toe as well...hence the requirement for an alignment immediately following install.
Thrust arms (upper control arms) are same length thus no changes to suspension geometry that would mandate re alignment.
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      10-04-2017, 03:28 PM   #13
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I missed the "thrust arm" part
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      10-04-2017, 06:58 PM   #14
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[quote=FCobra94;22267773]I missed the "thrust arm" part [/QUOTE


No problem. Hell, I put the new ones in (my second set of M3 parts - ball joint went bad on one) and never went back in for an alignment. I don't think thrust arms change any alignment settings.
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      10-05-2017, 09:29 PM   #15
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.

With non-zero caster, anytime camber changes, toe changes.
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      11-15-2017, 07:20 AM   #16
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Figured I'd update my thread.

So I finally decided on the Bilstein (B8)/H&R suspension kit. Turner offers it. I called them on Monday to order the kit plus their strut/shock mounting kit (all the ancillary stuff) new control arms (upper wishbones) and new tirerods. The upper control arms and tierods are original and have 335,500 miles on them. The thrust arms (tension struts) are new as of 314,000 miles ago (November 2016). They are M3 units and my second set (lost a ball joint on the right side for some reason).

Anyway, Turner was out of stock of Bilsteins; there is now a 4-month backlog. I called around and luckily found the Bilstein B8 struts (their last set), H&R spring kit, and one (1) rear B8 shock at Tire Rack (their last rear B8). I sourced the other rear shock from Rock Auto. I ordered Turner's mounting kit and the control arms/tirerods. I have a new set of tires (Yoks ADVAN Sport A/S) on the way from the Rack as well. One strut is coming from The Rack's Delaware warehouse, the other strut and the spring kit are coming from The Rack's South Bend warehouse (mothership), and the rear shock is coming from their Nevada warehouse (I cleaned them out of B8's)

Now what worries me is I got home last last night and found only 2 tires and one strut. It was dark out. The tires are coming from Delaware
Hopefully it all comes by the weekend and I can get to some wrenching on Saturday.
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      12-09-2017, 08:37 AM   #17
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Figured I'd give a final update.

I installed Bilstein B8's under H&R sport springs, with new front control arms, and new complete tirerods (inner and outer). The thrust arms are M3 parts and are 20,000 miles fresh. The rear just got new springs, shocks, shock bushings and spring cups. The old suspension other than the trust arms was 336,000 miles old and I have to say surprisingly the ball joints on the control arms and tierods were tight and the bushings were intact on the control arms.

So I got everything installed over the past weekend and the car aligned on Wednesday. I didn't get a readout of the alignment, but the car tracks straight and the wheel is dead on center. Interestingly the front struts are still mounted with the pins located in the mounting holes. I marked the rear eccentric bolts for reassembly when I broke down the rear control arm to remove the rear springs; a quick look underneath showed the bolts still in the same positions. The car tracked pretty well after I installed the new hardware prior to the alignment.

A little venting...
I had some stupid trouble with the shop and got a headache so I didn't go back and ask for a printout. The shop owner races BMWs and I had a good interview with him about a year ago when a friend was having a clutch installed in her kid's E46, so I thought it'd be a good place to get an alignment. I dropped the car off in the morning and got a call a few hours later with the typical "Where's the wheel lock key?" I said to myself, Really? Fcuk, I didn't expect this from a "BMW shop"... So I said to the SA, "It is where it's supposed to be, in the tool box in the trunk. I know it's there, I just checked it before I came over." So he goes away... Calls back 10 minutes later (I'm expecting "we found it, no problem") and says "Again, where is supposed to be?" Now I'm getting frustrated. I said "In the tool kit above the battery in the trunk. It's clipped in the holder. It's in the tool tray underneath the leather case with the manuals in it, in the battery cover in the trunk on the right side." The dumb asses were looking in the trunk well for the key. You'd expect a shop that works on BMWs (not exclusively) and the owner races BMWs to know the E90 chassis pretty well by now and not need to ask where the f'ing wheel lock key is. Just saying. Now, the owner isn't there daily as much as he was a year ago because he opened up a second location that just builds race cars now, but still...

Then when I pick up the car, smartly I check to make sure the wheel lock key is back where it should be. Nope. The tech left it in his shirt pocket... And they charged me $90 a side to install the tierods (I didn't have a large enough wrench for the inner tierod). Like I said, headache.

Anyway, I'm not as impressed as I thought I'd be with the Bilstein B8/H&R spring set up. It's as good as the stock BMW factory sport suspension, but not any better. I was hoping the new parts would stiffen the car up a bit more than the sport suspension. I installed a Bilstein/H&R kit on my wife's Z3 a few years ago and it really transformed the car.

In case anyone searches on this post, the H&R springs are the same height as the BMW sport springs at all 4 corners. The built height of the front struts was the same; I didn't measure the BMW front springs to the H&Rs, just the built height of the old built strut to the new strut. The spring rates feel about the same. The front Bilsteins do not need the BMW bump stops because they have internal bump stops.
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A manual transmission can be set to "comfort", "sport", and "track" modes simply by the technique and speed at which you shift it; it doesn't need "modes", modes are for manumatics that try to behave like a real 3-pedal manual transmission. If you can money-shift it, it's a manual transmission.
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      12-10-2017, 05:57 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PichaDis11 View Post
I actually love the B12 Kit I installed on my 328i. With a minimal drop of about 0.5" Ride quality is good on the highway and in the twisty's. How did you retain OEM specs with M3 Arms? I've read it does increase your toe a bit; no?
M3 arms give a .75 camber because the rear arm is longer than stock, thus tilting the bottom part of the wheel outward from the car.
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      12-10-2017, 06:07 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efthreeoh View Post
Figured I'd give a final update.

I installed Bilstein B8's under H&R sport springs, with new front control arms, and new complete tirerods (inner and outer). The thrust arms are M3 parts and are 20,000 miles fresh. The rear just got new springs, shocks, shock bushings and spring cups. The old suspension other than the trust arms was 336,000 miles old and I have to say surprisingly the ball joints on the control arms and tierods were tight and the bushings were intact on the control arms.

So I got everything installed over the past weekend and the car aligned on Wednesday. I didn't get a readout of the alignment, but the car tracks straight and the wheel is dead on center. Interestingly the front struts are still mounted with the pins located in the mounting holes. I marked the rear eccentric bolts for reassembly when I broke down the rear control arm to remove the rear springs; a quick look underneath showed the bolts still in the same positions. The car tracked pretty well after I installed the new hardware prior to the alignment.

A little venting...
I had some stupid trouble with the shop and got a headache so I didn't go back and ask for a printout. The shop owner races BMWs and I had a good interview with him about a year ago when a friend was having a clutch installed in her kid's E46, so I thought it'd be a good place to get an alignment. I dropped the car off in the morning and got a call a few hours later with the typical "Where's the wheel lock key?" I said to myself, Really? Fcuk, I didn't expect this from a "BMW shop"... So I said to the SA, "It is where it's supposed to be, in the tool box in the trunk. I know it's there, I just checked it before I came over." So he goes away... Calls back 10 minutes later (I'm expecting "we found it, no problem") and says "Again, where is supposed to be?" Now I'm getting frustrated. I said "In the tool kit above the battery in the trunk. It's clipped in the holder. It's in the tool tray underneath the leather case with the manuals in it, in the battery cover in the trunk on the right side." The dumb asses were looking in the trunk well for the key. You'd expect a shop that works on BMWs (not exclusively) and the owner races BMWs to know the E90 chassis pretty well by now and not need to ask where the f'ing wheel lock key is. Just saying. Now, the owner isn't there daily as much as he was a year ago because he opened up a second location that just builds race cars now, but still...

Then when I pick up the car, smartly I check to make sure the wheel lock key is back where it should be. Nope. The tech left it in his shirt pocket... And they charged me $90 a side to install the tierods (I didn't have a large enough wrench for the inner tierod). Like I said, headache.

Anyway, I'm not as impressed as I thought I'd be with the Bilstein B8/H&R spring set up. It's as good as the stock BMW factory sport suspension, but not any better. I was hoping the new parts would stiffen the car up a bit more than the sport suspension. I installed a Bilstein/H&R kit on my wife's Z3 a few years ago and it really transformed the car.

In case anyone searches on this post, the H&R springs are the same height as the BMW sport springs at all 4 corners. The built height of the front struts was the same; I didn't measure the BMW front springs to the H&Rs, just the built height of the old built strut to the new strut. The spring rates feel about the same. The front Bilsteins do not need the BMW bump stops because they have internal bump stops.
As I am sure you know, it might take 3 to 4,000 miles to fully break in the B8's. I will be curious about your impressions once you get to that point.
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      12-10-2017, 09:07 AM   #20
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As I am sure you know, it might take 3 to 4,000 miles to fully break in the B8's. I will be curious about your impressions once you get to that point.
I've seen that written here before, and I have noticed it is firming up a bit, but it just could be my imagination. Mechanically, I'm having difficulty believing the shocks break in and firm up; however, I could see it the other way around. This is not my first installation of Bilsteins in a BMW, my 3rd actually, and I was satisfied from the get-go with the two other installs. That said, both other installs were not starting off with a factory sport suspension underneath. I didn't go with the B12 Pro kit (with Eibachs) because Turner states the Eibachs are softer than other aftermarket springs and I had previous experience with H&R. Back for the past 30 years, Bilstein/H&R was the go-to upgrade for BMW.

Anyway, it's no worse than the sport suspension and it certainly feels fresh.
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      12-11-2017, 12:04 PM   #21
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To go from well worn stock dampers to B8s should be a HUGE difference...not sure what's going on here.
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      12-12-2017, 05:03 PM   #22
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To go from well worn stock dampers to B8s should be a HUGE difference...not sure what's going on here.
That's what I was thinking...

"Stock" as in the stock factory E90 sport suspension.

And my left strut was actually leaking.
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