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E46- Tire vibrations

Discussion in 'Wheels & Tires' started by beforr, Feb 11, 2009.

    beforr guest

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    Bought a 2002 330ci on private sale in Nov. '08 w/ only 45k. Fairly new Toyos on the rear and 1/2 worn Continentals on the front. All seemed well until drove to 70 mph after tires were warmed up when vibration ensued. Took car to a dealer who replaced a damaged front rim and re-aligned the wheels- no help. Since this dealer was far from an interstate and could not properly road test car, I took car to STS dealer who could. They said the fronts were probably the culprits with the extra wear and changed them to same type of Toyos as the rear (within proper spec for front tires). Slight improvement, but vibration still exists.

    Next, I took car to another BMW dealer who could road test. They confirmed problem and found feathering on all 4 tires with their state-of-the-art computerized analysis machine- even the brand new front ones! Aye-yi-yi. The rest of the car was mechanically perfect and the rims were true. The drive shaft was also vibration free. The MX rep told me that there are only two tire brands authorized for my year/model by BMW- Continental and one other (can't remember the other name). Anything else could possibly feather prematurely- as early as 7K miles. He recommended replacing all four to the tune of $1050. :eek: Hmmm.

    I went back to STS and showed them what BMW found. They dispute the condition of the front tires but agree the rears are feathered. They say they get BMWs all the time and have no issues with the Toyos. So now I'm stuck- do I replace the rears w/ Toyos to match the fronts and run the risk of premature feathering w/ possibly more vibration later (far cheaper option- $360), or bite the bullet and change to all Continental. Who do I believe here? Is the BMW MX rep giving me good guidance about these tires? I really apreciate anyone's input. Thanks, Bob

    BMWides110377 guest

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    Both are essentially correct. there are many things that can cause vibrations from the tires including, but not limited to, how you drive your car, what the roads are like where you live and the ambient temps. Different tire compounds will react differently to how you drive you car and to temperature. if the roads are bad, or of varying surface type that will cause differing wear patterns which can not generally be predicted. You made the correct first step but having 2 of the tires replaced so that you have 4 of the same brand/model tire on all 4 wheels. However, your best bet in this case would probably be have a full set of matched tires installed. That means to have whoever does the installation check the production date/lot #/production location of the tires and try to keep them as close as possible to ensure the most uniform compound. If you can get 4 tires with from the same lot, that would be ideal as you know that the same compound was used on all 4.
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    espcane

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    If possible I would have a mechanic look at the front control arm bushings. The E46s seem to have some wear issues with them. On my 99 328 E46 I went through 3 sets over the course of 100K miles.
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    granthr

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    +1 IMO if you are still getting a noticeable vibration through the front with brand new tires, then there is something else wrong. I would suggest you take your car to a reputable independent BMW mechanic. Check out this website to hopefully find one in your area. http://www.bimrs.org/ Have them double check your rims too, to make sure they are round.
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    Jeff Gomon

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    +1
    Have to agree that the control arm bushings are suspect, and fairly easy to replace to boot. You will notice immediately the difference whether with matching tires or not. Since I drive my M5 on the track, I go thru some CA bushings and you describe exactly what I feel right before a replacement.
    I do agree that you should have matching tires, compounds and manufacturers on all 4 corners to achieve the best results. I have chased your problem before and learned long ago it is probably the most obvious culprit. That said, tie rod ends, steering rack etc all can acquire some play over time, so have those looked at as well.

    Good luck in your search....

    beforr guest

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    Thanks much for everybody's posts. I've had the suspension checked pretty thoroughly by two BMW dealers. Both of them say the suspension is tight with no play anywhere. I will probably pursue matching the tires. The question here is who to believe. The BMW MX rep says to stick with only Continental or Michelin tires (real expensive). Anything else will cause problems. The STS guy says he has many BMDubs that run on Toyos with no problems. Has anyone had experience with Toyos?

    I will probably take the car to a company called Eurotire in northern NJ. That's where I used to go with my '74 2002 years ago. They specialize in European cars and sell Toyo to boot. I think they might give me a fairly independent evaluation. I'm a little disturbed that BMW is saying that the brand new Toyos on front are already feathering. Don't know if I can believe that after just 500 miles.
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    espcane

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    On my 99 E46 I ran all sorts of tires, Sumitomo, Kumho, Continental,and Bridgestones, on both 17 and 18" wheels, never had any issues that were tire related. It always came back to the bushings. I did 100K miles in 1 year on that car and was able to tell pretty quickly when something didn't feel right. The bushings often caused my tires to start to feather and when they did I changed out the bushings, got the car aligned and was good to go, feathered tires and all it always returned back to riding like new.

    If you are not running a staggered setup try swapping fronts for rears and see if it makes a difference. Even better if you could swap wheels/tires with someone else to see if that resolves the issue that would be great.

    The E46s are kinda known to have premature bushing wear, and it seems to not be diagnosed properly quite often.
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    Jeff Gomon

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    +1
    Eric I think is right. It would have to be bushing(s) or poor alignment, or a combination of the two. Unless your car subframe is bent, that would have to be it. Feathering is usually an alignment issue. Toyo Tires are fine, as are lots of others. I would, once again agree, having 4 matching tires is always good.

    The Conti's, and the other brand your mechanic mentioned, were manufacturers that built a tire for you car to match BMW design specs. That does not mean other tires meeting the same load specs, speed rating and size would not be as "good". Very few cars have designer tires, and those that do are not mass produced and cost well above $40k-$50k.

    You would think this issue has been seen enough that the mechanics would know what they are looking at, and how to fix it. This isn't rocket science...ok...maybe a litte.:D
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    granthr

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    Take it to an independent BMW Mechanic. To me it sounds like these dealers don't want to be bothered.

    beforr guest

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    Thanks again for everyone's input. For the record, I do have a staggered setup so I can't swap the fronts and rears. I will attempt to pursue the independent BMW mechanic. I'll try "granthrs" web reference in the post above.

    Thanks all, Bob

    beforr guest

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    Well, I haven't been able to get to the authorized mechanic yet, but I ran the car around 1300 miles since the last post below 65 mph (the vibration onset speed). It seems as if the vibration is getting slightly better! Is it possible for the tires to "wear" themselves smooth again if you drive below vibration speed and the alignment is correct? Would the feathering eventually wear away?
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    granthr

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    I guess it could be possible, but you also might just be getting use to it. If you still haven't found a mechanic in your area, why don't you ask here who people use where you live. You might find another member who uses an indie mechanic close to you.

    beforr guest

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    Thanks, Grant. I'm checking into it.

    Bob
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    LGilbert

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    Tire Vibration

    BMWs, because of their suspension setups (negative camber) are prone to generating continual lateral stresses on the suspension and both lateral and a rolling, continual rotational stress on the tire at the contact patch point. As the wheel is tilted about 1.5-2º while running down the road, the inner side of the tire and the outer side are rolling with different effective radii. Something has to give. Both sides of the tires have the same amount of material, but the inside, running at a shorter radius will walk ahead causing a slight twisting of the contact patch. Eventually, it snaps back. If the tire snaps back at a frequency that is even and repeating as the tire rotates it will be prone to cupping as the stress built up is relieves in a release of the tension in bursts. This also causes noise in the form of a vibration or buzzing.

    Some tires cup while others don't. For example, on my 2000 E46 (sport package), Michelin Sport A/S were noisy from the start with a high frequency buzzing that came in and out (buzz silence buzz silence) as the vibrating tires came in and of of sync with each other. Eventually, the buzzing became lower in frequency and then became a howl and the tires were severely cupped. On the other hand, the replacement Bridgestones never developed any vibrations and wore evenly until they were replaced even when my suspension bushings had self-destructed. Instead of snapping back to relieve stress they probably just mushed along uniformly. Some OEM Continentals are notorious for cupping. Different tires, different resonant structures, some prone to vibration when subjected to lateral forces from negative camber, some not so sensitive. BTW- The dealer said the noise was normal for the car even when I pointed out that my loaner with a different brand of tire did not exhibit the problem.

    It is possible that tread resonance can occur with only a grovelling noise if both tires are resonating at the same frequency. At that point, you would only hear the usual cupping howl when the cups get large enough to create their own noise (as different from the tread resonance).

    This is something that is problematic with BMWs. Of course, the dealer said I wasn't driving the Michelins hard enough or else I would have worn them out before the cupping became bad enough to cause a problem.... Regardless, it has made me become very choosy about which tire I purchase for the car. Bridgestones seem happy. My Goodyear Asymmetric summer tires are very quiet so far (superior ride, sticky and great in the rain, too). I'm shying away from tires with 'V' tread patterns on an unsubstantiated hunch that the pattern presents a radical difference between the inside and outside of the time in contact squirm when cocked over a couple of degrees. More experimentation is required to prove/disprove this hypothesis.

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