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ixguy 10-13-2013 09:38 AM

Suspension problem has stumped me
Hi guys. I've got a bad issue going on with my suspension that I can't figure out. Biggest symptom is that when I hit bumps the back seems to shift around laterally before it settles. It feels random in it's movements. At highway speed it's very disconcerting.

I took it to a shop for diagnosis and they said trailing arm bushings - which were indeed shot on both sides. We replaced those (leading bushing) as well as one of the lower bushings that looked like it was deteriorating but was intact. Everything else down there looked really good and the replacement process was smooth.

Buttoning it back up, camber was off, so I took it in for an alignment. Best they could do fully adjusted is 1.5 degrees positive when it calls for 1.4-1.8 degrees negative. The unsettled behavior is still there but the terrible knocking (trailing arm against it's mount where the bushing had let go) is gone. The rear wheels spin/hop any time I put power down in a corner and generally handles poorly.

All bushings I can see (trailing arm, upper control arm, lower control arm, sway bar) all look great. It feels a little bouncy at the rear especially loaded so I suspect my shocks are worn but I can't conceive of that causing all this.

Anybody with more experience than me got some thoughts to share? I'm really stumped as to what to do next.

BTW this is a bone-stock 1999 E46 323i non-sport.

Thanks in advance

doogee 10-13-2013 11:08 AM

Quite possible blown shocks will cause this.

jabela 10-14-2013 01:29 AM

You probably do have blown shocks with a car that old.

However, not being able to get the camber on your rear wheels is bad. Maybe something is bent?

TFK 10-15-2013 04:35 AM

Have you checked the rear subframe mount points? 99-02 have issues with frame tearing.

ixguy 10-27-2013 07:47 AM

Ok first off, new shocks/mounts/bumpers/gaskets in and the wierd unsettled suspension behavior is gone! Wuhoo, thanks guys.

Second, camber issue is still there. I looked at the subframe mounts as best i could and saw nothing out of the ordinary but I understand it is hard to tell. Maybe I should let Raven have a look, to bad they are so far away from here. :-( Any special tips on diagnosing that?

jabela 10-27-2013 05:55 PM

Where are you located? Altech Alignment is a good shop in south Etobicoke.

ixguy 10-28-2013 10:58 AM

Etobicoke is a long haul for me.

I had it aligned, the adjustment screws are all the way out and we're still at 1.5degrees positive. What else can I do to induce camber? Everything else is OEM. I'm looking maybe at adjustable rear swing arms?

jabela 10-28-2013 12:06 PM

You're subframe or suspension arms must have been bent from a big hit.
You'll need something like this to get more camber.

However, maybe you just need a new stock camber arm. Or maybe a crash camber bolt with more adjustability.

T.Dot_E30 10-28-2013 12:30 PM

As others have mentioned something is bent if that is all the adjustment you can get out of it. The rear wheels hopping/skipping is most likely blown shocks. So you probably have atleast two issues. Bent control arm or trailing arm, which caused damage to your shocks.

Take it to someone who knows what to look for, not some generic Joe Blow. Check out our sponsors if you are in the GTA. Your profile just says Ontario....

ixguy 10-31-2013 08:57 PM

I'm about an hour from each of London, Cambridge and Burlington. Suggestion as to where I can go?

Is there anywhere good in Brantford for example?

Dinanstu 11-03-2013 08:16 PM

You can check the shocks yourself, but I'm guessing RTAB's are shot. That gives the sideways shift, after a bump, that leaves you nervous!

Not sure who's out there for service....

ixguy 11-04-2013 01:04 AM

We did the rtabs to try to fix the sideways problem, didn't help. Shocks did fix though.

What is left is my camber is too positive even at full adjustment. Not sure what to look at for that, nothing seems bent.

AutoWerkez 11-05-2013 06:25 PM

Seen this problem before and it was replacing the rear trailing arm completely because, it was bent from a heavy hit to the curb. A bent rear trailing arm can throw off camber alignment. Hope this helps.

iroczu 12-02-2013 01:12 AM

look closely at your camber arms, from factory in all honesty are CRAPPY built pressed steel.... i took a 90' corner at like 70km and bent mine actually all i could do was cut it and measure to the passenger side to get proper length and rebuild it boxing it all with 1/8th inch steel, it should be flat top and bottom, they buckle in the middle if they bent usually. and if you have a chance or access to a welder i recommend at least tack welding the bottom gap or fish plate it, in the spring i'm doing aftermarket adjustables just for a piece of mind oh and there is a piece of plastic acts as a cover you will have to take off if it's still in place

Axxe 12-04-2013 06:27 PM

^ The reason they are made of thin stamped steel is because there isn't significant torsional loading on them, only tension and compression during cornering. They are sacrificial and protect the trailing arm and subframe from significant damage during impacts.

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