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Thread: e46 Worn Struts -Suspension Upgrade Help & Suggestions Please

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2019
    My Cars
    3 series e46

    Lightbulb e46 Worn Struts -Suspension Upgrade Help & Suggestions Please

    Hello everyone,

    I've a 2002 325ci (150k) and the front struts are done (need to be replaced asap). Currently have H&R springs from previous owner and not sure what else tbh (I assume just springs and from my experience, these are not good: knocking etc...)

    With that being the case, I feel like I should overhaul the entire suspension (unless you guys think there is a better alternative)

    -I want to be able to adjust my ride height (lower it) *It's low in the front but not sure if that is due to worn struts or H&R springs (perhaps a combo of both)
    -Would like the ride to be "tight" in turns/cornering
    -I don't want any "knocking"

    The most pressing issue are the struts obviously and I've been looking at the following kits for replacement/upgrade. However, as I'm new to this, I don't know if these kits come with or replace struts:
    2. BC Racing BR Series Coilover Suspension Kit
    3. Bilstein PSS10 Coil Over Suspension

    What do you guys think about the aforementioned kits? (are they decent, overkill etc...) Can you offer suggestions, insights or alternatives? ....I've also seen kits for just strut replacement (OEM kits but I don't know if that's a good idea with these H&R springs).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    SÝborg, Denmark
    My Cars
    2001 E46 325ti Compact

    e46 Worn Struts -Suspension Upgrade Help & Suggestions Please


    Just to start things off on the right foot, in a non-coilover setup only the springs determine the ride height. The shocks do nothing in that regard (although some experience a stiffer shock can raise the car slightly this is very negligible). The knocking you are experiencing I would not suspect is coming from the springs either unless they are broken or so short that they come fully loose at full droop but then again this would rarely be experienced on the road in normal conditions. Knocking would more likely be in any of the bushings or top mounts. Usual suspect would be front control arm bushings and with 150k miles bushings will definitely be worth looking at. Here you can again go done another rabbit hole but for a road car Iíd just go with OEM bushings.

    Coilovers are meant for track applications as they enable you to dial in the suspension to the conditions you are in on a specific track. But yes they have become the go to solution for ďslammingĒ your car or simply lowering beyond what a ďnormalĒ shock and spring can offer.

    Your three options are spring and shock combos.

    I am a big fan of Bilstein and would love to have the PSS10ís on any track driven car short of a race car, but they are expensive and offer features that are track-use specific. They are the cream of the crop for track use if not racing. The same goes for KW however V1ís only adjust in ride height. Iím not a fan of KW but their higher end stuff is used widely for track and race use. BC makes a decent product as far as the internet has told me but is more targeted toward getting the right looks and ďfeatures-to-tell-your-buddies-aboutĒ than they are track and performance minded.

    So ask yourself if you are using a coilover to dial in for track use or if it is merely to dial in the looks of your car.

    If looks, as it seems, I would choose BCís out of the three. Otherwise there are even cheaper coilover options....ask eBay.....there are MANY. But then again you might then be needing to replace more often as you get what you pay for. With the higher end brands you get amazing quality but also pay for a bunch of features you likely will never use.

    For a non-track-going car I would always choose a non-coilover. Always. Then choose a spring that hits the ride height you want and be done with it. This enable you to get a quality product that lasts a long time, gives you what you need and you donít pay for a bunch of stuff youíll never use on the road.

    I installed a Bilstein B12 Sportline set and Iím very happy with the performance. I donít care about the looks as I primarily track my car. Why not coilovers then? Well for one, money, and secondly I donít have the skills, neither in the garage nor behind the wheel to determine what to change and why to dial it in for the specific track conditions Iím in. These provide me with a pretty good and versatile setup that works well for me. They are stiff, especially on the road and I think do what you want when saying you want the ride to be tight when cornering. And on that note it is the shocks that determine the stiffness of the ride not the springs.

    Iíd be looking at a Bilstein setup with H&R or Eibach springs but since you already have H&R springs Iíd just do shocks. And yes donít pair up a standard shock with lowering springs.

    There are however a plethora of other options here too. H&R make a full set incl shocks, Spax, ST (KW low end brand), Stay clear of Koniís....not worth the money as far as Iím concerned.

    H&R and Eibach also make their own height adjustable coilovers that should be ok.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by KlausH79; 05-25-2019 at 10:50 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2019
    My Cars
    3 series e46
    @KlausH79: Thank you very much for taking the time to write such an in depth and thorough reply, I greatly appreciate it friend! This has really helped clarify my options and I've learned a few new things too.

    Will the Bilstein B12 Sportline shocks be able to give a nice drop in the front? (I should take some photos of my ride now, so you can see how low it is).

    Moreover, as a followup question: the dealer gave me a list of parts that need/should be replace regarding suspension, as well as a quote for each (I feel like this dealership is really pushing prices as it's literally the only one in the area... I don't trust them)

    ...Anyways the parts & labor are:
    1. front sway bar links - $233
    2. rear s-arm bushings - $455 (I did not find anything relating to "s-arm" only "a-arm"bushings... did they make a mistake writing this?
    3. struts & springs - $1678 (they told me they can only return me to oem suspension, no aftermarket installation ... sigh...) I'm not doing oem suspension.

    With that said, I'm considering going with the BC Racing BR Series Coilover Suspension Kit but for sure this kit doesn't come with the aforementioned parts, correct? (less the struts & springs obviously)

    I was able to find the front sway bar links at the site "pelicanparts" (BMW Sway Bar End Link - Lemfoerder 1798102) but I'm having difficulty knowing which bushings or bushing kit, I should get for the rear arm bushings. Could you possibly point me in the right direction?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    SÝborg, Denmark
    My Cars
    2001 E46 325ti Compact

    e46 Worn Struts -Suspension Upgrade Help & Suggestions Please

    Hey. No problem.

    The B12 kit I believe gives you a 50mm drop in the front and 35mm in the rear (compared to standard of course). I think itís a nice drop as it makes the wheel arch follow evenly around the tire, but thatís just me. You can see pics in my build thread in the track car section if you want.

    As for the prices those seem very steep! Are you in the US?

    If you are just mildly handy and up for the challenge you can easily do this job yourself. I never worked on cars before and I do all of it myself without a lift or anything. A few YouTube videos and youíre flying. An alignment needs to be done in a shop though.

    As for the other parts the place to find the right parts and part numbers is realoem.com.

    I think the s-arm bushings refer to the rear trailing arm bushings (RTABís). The BMW part number for these is 33326770786.

    As for other parts that I would say you need then hereís what comes to mind (not sure whatís included with the BC coilovers, but ask the vendor):

    Front top mounts (31352241445 some coil overs come with adjustable top mounts)
    Rear top mounts (7 in below diagram)
    Rear bump stops (4)
    Rear dust shields (3)
    Rear bump stop washer (6) (this was totally rusted away on mine)

    Diagram from realoem

    Find it here: http://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/show...diagId=33_0841

    With youíre mileage you could also look into front control arms (31122343353/31122343352) and front control arm bushings (31126783376). You can also buy the bushings on their own but then you need a press to get them out of the brackets.

    If youíre in the US then FCP euro and ECS Tuning are good places for parts. Amazon and eBay can also have some stuff.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by KlausH79; 05-29-2019 at 02:40 AM.

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