BMW may stand for the ultimate driving machine, but even the ultimate driving machine is subject to the wear and tear that comes in the course of everyday motoring. Depending on how often you drive your bimmer, your attitude behind the wheel and the road conditions your car sees, it will have different maintenance needs.
While most suspension components aren’t typically considered wear parts like your brake pads or clutch, they will need replacing if you keep your BMW for a long time. How do you know when it’s time to swap your worn suspension components out for new ones?
Signs of a Worn Suspension
The easy answer is when it feels sloppy and disgusting. Of course, there are varying degrees of slop that a driver will live with depending on their needs for the car. What one person might interpret as bad, another could view as an extra plush ride.
Your car’s springs control forward and rearward motion, while shock absorbers locate the wheel and help the body roll left and right. A car that rocks fore and aft when performing mundane maneuvers like a simple stop is likely in need of new shocks, springs or both.
Why a Warn Suspension Is Risky
While some authorities will tell you to replace shocks at a particular mile mark, that isn’t entirely accurate. It’s more about how the shock absorber performs, and performance will degrade more quickly in a car that is driven more or carries heavy loads frequently.
If you choose to keep running suspension components that are on their way to the scrap heap, you could end up doing more harm than good. Bottoming out and overloading suspension components can cause damage to your car’s bodywork or sensitive mechanical bits.
If you’re not sure what your car needs to resolve unacceptable suspension behavior, go to a professional mechanic for advice.
OEM or Aftermarket Replacements
It’s safest to replace the equipment on your BMW with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts because they are the same ones BMW used in the original design. However, some owners will want to use different parts to imbue their BMW with a more performance-oriented ride. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to do your homework to make sure the parts you get will deliver what you want.
Often, people choose to install coil-over suspension kits that ride more stiffly and can alter the ride height of the car. These upgrades will give a more aggressive look and increase the vehicle’s grip when cornering, but the tradeoff could be a harsher ride during your daily commute.
The internet is a great place to do your research if you think you want to tweak the way your car handles. While shocks and springs are some of the most critical components, there are also additional suspension components that may wear down, or that you might want to replace. These include anti-roll bars, A-arms, rear trailing arms and even bushings.
If you’ve waited to maintain the suspension on your BMW, get the job done right so you can be safer and more confident on the road.