Problems with brand new front suspension

Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
  • 1993 BMW 320I
  • 2.0L
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • MANUAL
  • 115,000 MILES
I purchased brand new after-market parts for my entire front end: shocks/struts, lower wishbone, complete tie rods, lower wishbone bushings and sway bar links. The only thing I didn't buy were the springs and the knuckle assembly (knuckles, wheel bearings and brake calipers and pads).

I purchased these struts:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/131429941841?ViewItem=&item=131429941841

It has only been in the last week that I was able to get everything finished including problems with the slave clutch (had to buy a new one).

Taking the car out for a spin at the end of last week there was a whining noise coming from the front. I thought it may be a shot clutch (clutch fluid ruining the clutch). That was ruled out and attention went to the wheel bearings.

Well, when trying to re-align the wheels yesterday and today, thinking that the alignment was way off since the suspension had been changed, I noticed that the left (driver) side strut was wearing away the inner corner of my brand new tire (less than 100 miles).

To back up a little.

My car can take two sizes:

205/60R15
and
225/55R15

The second size is the one that is extremely rare and which is now no longer produced by anyone! These are the tires that I fitted to my car to replace the crappy ones that my car came with when I purchased it (rear 270/35R15!! - yes truck tires - and worn 205/60R15 on the front). But I sourced these from the UK and Germany and snapped up most of the NOS in Europe (apart from 1 set that I couldn't figure out how to get) and got 5 (one for the spare wheel).

The smaller size tires are 8.07 inches wide. The larger ones are 8.85 inches wide. That's just over 0.75 inches wider.

The inner corner of the tire is rubbing up against the area of the strut that the end of the strut spring sits in - the cup for the end. At the moment I am too bummed out to take a picture but will do so in the next day or so.

The weird thing is that the right (passenger) wheel has no problems with the wheel hitting the strut.

The original struts that I changed out for new after-market ones had no issues with clearance. I am not sure how to compare the old and the new as one is inside a wheel well and the other is sitting in a bin waiting for me to take to the local recycling facility.

My question is how do I deal with this without changing out the struts for far more expensive BMW ones (originals). Can I put a 0.75 inch wheel spacer on the hub for both front wheels? That would make the wheels protrude out slightly beyond the fender arches I think, but would solve the problem temporarily. If not protruding, it would make the car look slightly odd.

I have seen customized BMW E36s on you tube but I am not sure if any of them had spacers on the front wheels like I am thinking of doing.

Any thoughts?

One other thing I could do is change the front tires back to brand new smaller sized ones, but am reluctant to do that and I would still be left with the knowledge that the struts will need to be changed at some point. Also, there is no guarantee that narrower tires will actually be okay with these struts.
Do you
have the same problem?
Yes
No
Friday, July 12th, 2019 AT 3:40 PM

14 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Welcome back:

Are you certain the strut assembly is correct for your vehicle? Other than comparing them, I'm not sure how to tell. Also, there is a guide pin on the thrust plate (top of the strut). Are you certain that isn't misplaced and causing the strut to sit off. See pictures 1 and 2.

Also, take a look at picture 3 and let me know where it is hitting. I realize you have a good handle on this. However, and I hate to ask, but did you do anything with adjusting camber? The wheel isn't on a tilt at all, correct?

Let me know.

Joe
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, July 12th, 2019 AT 7:10 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Hi Joe,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. To your first point, yes these struts were meant to be for this car. I double checked the part number they were for. Even though the ebay ad says for 1995 to 1998 the part number given in the ad matched the one I got from BMW (this happens a lot with these ads because the 320i was not for the US market).

I went out into the garage to check the points you just gave.

First of all, I do not have the thick collar 'A' on the car. I just have the inverted top hat at the top of the strut attaching the strut to the body.

On both sides there was no guide pin present and I don't even remember seeing any when I took both original struts off though the holes are there for them.

I took some pictures when in the garage just now and did find something odd as well as showing you where the tire is hitting.

A) The first two on the left are both sides of the strut tops inside the engine compartment. No guide pin but holes are present.

B) The next two shows the strut on the right. You can see that the angle and curvature of the 'saucer' at the bottom follows the curve of the tire. The second picture shows the clearance between the 'cup' where the spring sits and the tire.

C) The next two (5 & 6) show the problem strut on the left. The first of the two shows that the angle of the 'saucer' is now going upwards against the curvature of the tire. And the second one shows the 'cup' digging into the tire.

The conclusion I seem to be coming to is that I have been sold two right hand struts, as I can't see how the strut can be maneuvered to change the angle. You can see that the angle of the vertical plane of the strut is all wrong, as it needs to move further forward (to the left) which will cause the 'cup' to dig in more.
____

I just had a look in the Bentley manual and there is nothing in there about guide pins.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, July 12th, 2019 AT 8:09 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Welcome back:

I think you nailed it. I just looked up the parts and they are different based on side. I think you got two for the right side. I agree with positioning. I can't see how you could even make it work. Interesting about the guide pins. My manual shows them.

Can you contact the seller and confirm?

Joe
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, July 12th, 2019 AT 10:22 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Yes, I have contacted the seller. Am awaiting a response.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, July 12th, 2019 AT 11:27 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Here are some more images and videos. Not sure how many I can post but I will try and put them all up to give a thorough picture of what is happening. I also have the differences between the old struts.

The first two videos prove that the have different SKU numbers on them. The next two show the differences between the old ones - right and left.

On the new left strut, the part that the end of the spring fits in (the 'bump' in the strut base spring receiver) is too far forward as can be seen in the 3rd and 4th videos below when looking at the old ones.

Images show the wear on the affected tire. The right corner of the tire is where the damage is.

- When uploading, the videos seem to have been inverted. -
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Saturday, July 13th, 2019 AT 2:55 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Welcome back:

Absolutely, they sent you the wrong part. Let me know when they contact you. I'm interested in what they have to say. Also, the only other thing I can think of that may have caused an issue is if they sent you struts for an X drive. As you know, my information is somewhat limited on this vehicle. However, I do know that there are differences between the I and the xi suspensions. The xi version may have a different offset on the wheel.

Let me know.

Joe
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Saturday, July 13th, 2019 AT 7:58 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Okay. Will do. Spent a few hours on getting these videos, off-loading them from my iPad, converting them to mp4 video and then uploading them to my site (eBay doesn't allow video files to be uploaded, only images) with a link to the seller. It will be interesting to see what they have to say. I am also thinking of comparing the new ones directly with the old ones. By either taking the new struts off the car and putting them beside the originals or just taking the wheels off, one side at a time, and comparing the struts with the new ones still on the car. But I will wait to see what happens next.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Saturday, July 13th, 2019 AT 8:28 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Welcome back:

I agree. Lets see what they have to say. I feel it is obvious.

I will wait to see your response. Hopefully they will take care of it no problems asked. Honestly, they should.

Take care,
Joe
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Saturday, July 13th, 2019 AT 9:03 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Hi Joe,

I thought I would update you and let you know what is happening. I got a full refund for the struts after going over everything with the seller. It turns out that they have a manufacturing fault as when they offered to send me a new one I insisted that they provide a guarantee that this issue would not happen again. They then wrote back and admitted that ALL their driver's side struts are the same as my one (the defective unit) - which means that whomever designed these took a shortcut somewhere and didn't look at the originals properly. Due to the fact that I am using the wider tires it caused a problem that regular sized tires would not have.

With the refund I purchased this strut from a different vendor:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Front-Driver-Left-Suspension-Strut-Assembly-331710L-FCS-For-BMW-E36-3-Series/153362380784

My question is, is it ok to use a strut from another company so that I have two different struts? I have been told its ok as the right side has very little mileage on it (less than 2 miles).

The new strut is on its way and will be here next week. I will then be able to compare the two.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, July 19th, 2019 AT 3:05 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Welcome back:

Wow! They owed you a lot more than a refund with all the time you have put into this. But as always, we need to be thankful for what we have.

As far as the struts, as long as they are equal there is no problem. What I mean is this. I would want a standard duty and heavy duty mixed. If they are equal, I see no problem.

Let me know if the new one works correctly and if you have any more problems.

Take care,
Joe
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, July 19th, 2019 AT 6:35 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Hi Joe,

I just got back from England on the 29th August. I put the new strut on today and it works perfectly. I did find it a bit odd that I had to remove the bolt for the sway bar link (between the lower wishbone and the sway bar) so that the wishbone dropped down further so that I could get the strut into position. On the right side I did not have to do this. I didn't think to measure the height of the strut from the bottom to the top of the center rod. But there is no strange behavior from the front suspension.

As a side note I saw in one of the schematics that there was a thin 'gasket' between the top hat and the body of the car (a thick 'paper' gasket - similar to the material used between other engine surfaces). I purchased a set and put one on the left side before attaching the strut. Seems a lot of people leave these out as they seem to be superfluous and are expensive - $12.00 a set approximately. But my thinking is that they were designed to be there for a reason. Maybe to do with electrolysis? As there is rust where the metal meets on the top hat and on the body itself. Next job is to put the gasket on the right.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, September 2nd, 2019 AT 6:32 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Welcome back:

I'm glad to hear you got it taken care of. As far as the gasket, it is an insulator. It helps eliminate noise. And it will help prevent metal on metal rubbing which will lead to rust.

Let me know how everything works out when you finish the other side.

Take care,
Joe
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, September 2nd, 2019 AT 8:36 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Hi Joe,

I added the gasket on the right aide and then took it out for a spin yesterday and another problem cropped up. Here is the question on that problem: https://www.2carpros.com/questions/engine-gets-really-hot-and-takes-a-long-time-to-cool-after

Everything with the suspension is great now.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Wednesday, September 4th, 2019 AT 7:23 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Welcome back:

I'm glad the suspension issues are resolved. I just replied to your new post.

Take care,
Joe
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Wednesday, September 4th, 2019 AT 6:36 PM

Please login or register to post a reply.

Sponsored links