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Broken rear coil springs

Discussion in 'E83 X3 (2004-2010)' started by mcoconnor14, Jul 15, 2011.

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    mcoconnor14

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    While working on the brakes (2004 X3 non-sport) recently, I noticed that one of the rear coils was broken. I did some brief research on the internet, and found this is rather common. ??? Really?

    Next day I started working on the other side and noticed that spring is broken too. Two broken rear springs? I can't believe it. This X3 has never seen off-road and has lived a tender life. So, I'm looking for experience in replacing the springs. Do I go with stock or look at aftermarket (cheaper. better?). I'm cautious about stock - why won't they break again? Looking at Eibach Pro-Kit. Any experience?

    Is the process of changing the springs easy enough to do in the driveway with above average mechanical skills? I noticed that I can't use a typical spring compressor to remove the coils as there's no room. Internet research shows that most folks have used pry bars to get out and in. That doesn't seem to be the best way to do it. ???

    I've jacked the vehicle up, removed the wheel/tire, dropped the axel, removed the shock and it's much lower, but still not low enough. Suggestions? Sway bar links? What else will get it down lower without too much work but still keep it simple?

    Thanks for your thoughts.
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    MGarrison

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    Couldn't say what you'd find

    Couldn't say what you'd find with lowering springs for an X3 as far as ride quality goes - I would presume that any aftermarket lowering springs from a known quality brand (Eibach for instance) should have an acceptible life. Broken springs seems kinda odd to me. Presumably, with lowering springs, you lose some ride quality. If stock shocks can adequately damp the aftermarket springs, that should help to keep a more stock-like ride. Lowering springs, obviously you'll lose some ground clearance, but that's probably not a big deal on that car; if you can accept the compromise in ride quality, maybe you'd like it.

    I've always tended to shy away from even wanting to mess with spring compressors (I tend to imagine what Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry might say when moving around the compressed spring... "You feelin' lucky today punk? 'Coz, this could take your head clean off...." and, attached as I am to most body parts, particularly the critical ones, I have an aversion to risking their loss, y'see...). Anyway, that doesn't help you get it outta there - no great suggestions, but crowbars don't sound like the best plan to me - put energy into a spring with it being questionable how to control the potential release of same sounds a bit risky.

    Since the forums here are in a state of flux after the changeover, I hope someone kicks in with some experience-based insight, all I can offer is some speculation based on my much older E30.

    Keep diggin out in the internet, you should find somebody someplace that ought to be of help!

    BTW, removing anything that's limiting the travel of.... I'm guessing the rear trailing arms... might get them dropped a little lower - don't know even with that if you get enough clearance, hopefully they can be dropped low enough to get 'em out. If you went with something like Eibach's, presumably they'd go back in a little easier, as you'd think they'd be shorter dimensionally than oem.
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    mcoconnor14

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    follow up

    Thanks for your comments MGarrison.

    I've done more internet research. All have stated using the "crow bars". I won't. As I agree with the Dirty Harry analogy .... But, I did see a post from a guy who replaced stock with Eibach and he stated that they go IN much easier. i.e. no crow bars due to the lower height of spring.

    Re ride quality. Does anyone have Eibach experience vs stock springs? In my hours of research I didn't see much posted, but there was one that stated the "soft bumps are softer and the hard bumps are harder". Or something like that. I would imagine that you wouldn't really notice the soft bumps but you would the hard. Net result = a firmer ride experience. ?? The X3 is already firm with old stock parts. So maybe not a big deal.

    Lastly, with all this work going on, maybe it's time to replace the shocks/struts too. Anyone using anything other than stock OEM replacements? Bilsteins? Comments are appreciated.

    Thanks again.

    Mike
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    MGarrison

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    If I recall correctly, we had

    If I recall correctly, we had a pretty good discussion of the compromises involved with lowering springs and stiffer (as it were) shocks (dampers) on the old forums, but not X3 specific.

    Many lowering springs are progressive rate, (I think including most Eibach street springs), meaning the spring rate increases as it compresses. That means small bumps and road imperfections won't be felt in the seat quite as harshly as if the spring was the stiffest rate throughout. However, that's a means of allowing a stiffer sport spring to have a more acceptable street ride-quality.

    Typically, it wouldn't be the case for lowering progressive-rate springs to have a softer-than-oem ride for small bumps/imperfections. Since, apparently, the first-gen X3's had a pretty stiff ride, maybe some of the progressive aftermarket springs could have a softer spring rate than stock for the first part of the spring travel. If what you've heard is from someone who's tried Eibachs, then it could be plausible.

    In any case, once you have a bump or road imperfection that moves the suspension past the range of the progressive part of the spring, then yes, the bump would feel harsher than oem. Not only do you have less spring travel, the spring rate is stiffer than oem.

    If you add in shocks with more sport-like compression/rebound/etc., your ride quality will be further compromised. If you want to maintain oem ride quality as much as possible, the closer to oem (typically), the better. But, you want shocks that can adequately damp whatever springs you choose. If Bilstein makes a stock-like replacement, I would guess they should work fine without blowing ride quality too badly, but, yes, better to get feedback from someone who's tried it already - (don't make a purchase decision based on one person's comment via the internet, btw).

    Depends on what you're willing to accept - some might be more willing than others to accept the ride quality compromises of a sportier suspension. If you never zip around a turn or drive with aplomb, stiffer springs might not be of much importance. What's odd is the stock springs actually broke in the first place.. is that evidence of a spring design flaw, a bad suspension design by BMW, a poor oem shock & spring pairing by BMW, or what??

    As far as shock replacement being necessitated - consider your mileage. Generally speaking (with lots of room for variation), I'd guess probably ok up to 100k, maybe more, but if you're well on towards 150k, maybe not a bad idea. Without looking, I don't know if the front is strut cartridges with springs or not, but that might be a convenience factor. If you have struts, changing springs necessitates pulling the strut, spring compressors, etc. And, if you go that far, perhaps strut bearings and what not while there. If shocks are more easily changed all around, obviously easier to try something and put it back if you didn't like the change.

    Not very specific I know, but hope that's helpful a bit.

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