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Strut Brace and Bilstein Shocks?

Discussion in 'E36 (1992-1999)' started by jersey325i, Nov 30, 2008.

    jersey325i guest

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    I have a 95 325i and I am looking to upgrade my suspension. I don't want my car to have stiff handling and I'm not looking to race or anything. I just want comfortable everyday driving suspension but I want my car to handle well if I choose to accelerate in corners. Should I buy Bilstein shocks? Should I buy a front stress bar? Thanks
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    az3579

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    Are you looking to lower your car as well? A popular combination is Bilstein Sport shocks/struts and H&R Springs. I've been told this reduces ride comfort a bit, but never have I had a tiring ride in a BMW, not even after driving one with a similar lowering combo.


    I'm definitely going this route. I hear Bilstein HD's aren't as sporty but provide better performance than stock while still retaining some comfort. It's all about what you want.

    BMWtoyz guest

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    Any time you lower the car the ride is going to become harsher, but that said a mild lowering with some good shocks works well. I had H&R's and considered them harsh. Now my M roadster has Dinan springs and Koni adjustable shocks, that way you can adjust the shock to your comfort level. I had Dinan suspension under my 91 318is as well and loved it, however it seemed a little harsh.

    jersey325i guest

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    I just want to keep the same height and keep a lot of comfort in the suspension. I was told to stick with the OEM replacement shocks and struts but I was thinking of upgrading to the Bilstein hoping to retain the same height and same comfort but a little more durability and added comfort

    BMWtoyz guest

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    Ok well maintaining "stock" is not upgrading. This is what Pelican Parts has to say about the Bilsteins, "Bilstein struts are the recommended choice by Pelican Parts, and are what owners Tom and Wayne use personally in their cars. The Bilsteins are a great performance shock absorber, and will give you a tighter feel over the stock units. An all-around durable shock, the Bilstein shock absorbers should last the life of your BMW. The sport Bilsteins give a bit of a stiffer ride, and are best matched with stiffer torsion bars and a lowered suspension." Good luck with your choices.
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    MGarrison

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    added comfort.......? There's a number of ways to interpret what you mean by that, but if you mean allowing the vehicle to more readily soak up bumps and smooth/soften highway/straight line running, then that would imply softening the suspension/ride.

    Which would be the opposite of what you were saying for improving cornering and handling -

    A relatively nominal compromise would be going to Bilstein HD's, & retaining stock springs.

    If Koni makes its FSD shocks for your car, you might consider that as a worthwhile option. If Koni has a non-sport shock available for your car, that might be a good option as well (sport shocks would be fairly stiff).

    You might consider larger swaybars as well, for a handling improvement with little, if any, ride degradation. I don't think a stressbar affects ride quality, per se; it would improve turn-in response a bit, by reducing chassis flex.
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    Brian A

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    I drove my 1987 325i convertible for the first couple of years in totally stock configuration.

    The shocks were wearing so I replaced the stock shocks with Bilstein HD ("Heavy Duty") shocks. Bilstein HDs are for cars with stock springs; Bilstein "Sport" don't have as much travel and are shocks are for cars with shorter aftermarket springs that lower the car.

    I really liked the way the car rode with stock shocks and LOVED it with the Bilsteins. I think you'll be pretty safe (and very happy) changing to Bilstein HDs. I would recommend this as a first step.

    Later, I also changed to Eibach adjustable swaybars. With them, the car does not lean-over nearly as much around corners. The swaybars do not affect the ride of the car very much when just going straight, such as on the freeway. I really like the swaybars, they substantially change cornering performance.

    I have not changed springs. The long stock springs really swallow up the freeway bumps extremely well. People lower their cars because the like the look of a lowered car and because it is necessary to get to the next cornering performance level. If you're not going to be racing the car in autocross or on race tracks, changing springs is probably unnecessary.

    EDIT:
    I'm having second thoughts on my comment regarding the Bilsteins.
    If you mean "softness" by "added comfort", I'm not sure that can be acheived. Its more what the Seven Series is all about. The wheelbase and low weight of your 325i means that not much can be done to "soften" it. Probably just replacing with BMW stock (Sach) shocks are best for soft ride.

    Ride quality is very subjective topic with no universally agreed "answer".

    jersey325i guest

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    Thank you. This really helped. I did not realize how vague my descriptions were lol. I think I will stick with stock replacement parts for now. I do not want to change the height of my car at all and I was looking into upgrading to Bilstein in hopes of achieving a "softer" ride. I was thinking about upgrading sway bars to help keep a more stable ride around corners. What about a stress brace? Are these mainly for looks? Will it change my cars handling at all? Thanks again
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    MGarrison

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    stressbars, aka stress braces, aka shocktower braces, (etc, etc,) are functional, although some might find an aesthetic reason to opt for them.

    If you notice a difference, I think the difference you'd notice would be that the car feels like it responds more immediately to your steering inputs.
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    CRKrieger

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    'Sway bars' (more correctly called 'anti-roll bars') don't make the car any more or less 'stable' in corners. They can influence whether your car understeers or oversteers. They have a secondary effect on body roll (primary being stiffer springs, which it appears you don't really want). Your statement that you wanted to 'accelerate in corners' leads me to believe you would do best by taking a few driver schools to find out how this is done (as well as when you can do it). Then, you can make an informed decision about whether your car can do it or whether you really need it to have that capability.

    If your shocks are shot, then you might consider the slightly less aggressive (and slightly less costly) Bilstein Touring shocks or the Boge Turbo Gas (very close to OEM, but gas-charged). I think either will be a good choice for you at this time.

    Improve the driver first. Then we can talk about your car. ;)

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