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International cry for help!!! M3 with BAD handling (archive)

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Posted by David Bates on August 15, 2001 at 07:53:55:

Hello All,

I'm new to this site and I'm in some dire straits with my beloved car. I have an 1988 E30 M3 EVO II that is handling like a sack of shit due to an "incident" that happened about six months ago...........I'll try to explain!!

Brought the car about 18 months ago. Happy as a happy thing. Standard EVO II - NON-ADJUSTABLE suspension - No air-con. 16" BBS wheels, Fulda's on the front, Goodyear Eagle F1's on the back. Unbeknownst to myself, I was running too high tyre pressure on the rears and over a period of months I must have worn the centre of the tyres down to virtually slicks whilst still having about 3-4mm of tread on both outside edges. The car however, was still going a storm and I was loving the drive. ANYWAY - went up north one day and got caught in a snow storm in a village. It was then I realised just how bad my tyres were as I when I attempted to drive up any roads with even the slightest of gradients, I just sat and span the rears on the spot. In trying to get-up this one 50-60 yard stretch of road, the back slid gently sideways and kissed the side wall of the kerb - hey presto - a bit of traction. I basically bounced the Nr side rear tyre off the kerb and every time it touched I moved forward a couple of yards - probably did this for about 50-60 yards before giving up altogether and sitting out the snow storm (I had to gun the engine for about 10 mins at 6500rpm just to get that far!!!) ANYWAY - the following day I tried to drive home and had the most horrific, nerve shatttering journey of my life!! At any speed above 30/35mph the car would wander horrendously and it felt as if the back end was going to break away at any moment, in EITHER direction. On getting home, I set about diagnosing and repairing my car. The first 'specialist' I went to see, said "rear-axle bushes mate" this made sense. He said I would have crushed the bushes as the back end was bumping away and that the back axle was effectively live and able to move a few mm's laterally to the left or right - hence the dodgy ride. Had this done - car relatively 'better' but still crap overall (I had two new rear tyres done as well - Goodyear F1's again). I could get up to about 60/65 mph when the front end started to feel like it was just going to float away from me at any moment. Back to specialist number two. He said my steering rack and track-rod ends were shot - not necessarily as a result of the incident and I explained that to the best of my recollection, the front end had only bumped the kerb once or twice and it was the rear wheel that was making contact all the time. Had rack and the track rod ends done anyway. Marginally better but steering still incredibly light at the front and the car just dives left or right at the slightest lorry-rut or groove when you are on the motorway - very disconcerting at 65mph let alone at the speeds an M3 is capable of!!! Took it too a geometry specialist this morning - the guy spent two hours on it and came back saying that the tracking was marginally out, I had a SLIGHT sagging in the Near Side front coil spring (13 years of having the driver sitting on that side - seems reasonable to me) and that both my front shock absorbers were slightly weak. But overall - he said that geometrically speaking... the car was in tip-top set-up and he didn't think that the things he had noticed would cause the symptoms that I had described.

To summarise - after what on paper was an extremely minor incident, the cars handling has been transformed into a bag of shit. It just doesn't feel safe above 60mph and the front end just feels like it's going to float away from me at any second. The back end seems fairly planted, but even that seems to 'flex' occasionally and have me reaching for the brakes lest I lose the rear end (thats what it feels like anyway - it's never actually broken away from me - I wouldn't consider myself a brilliant driver - but neither am I a pussy - I'm lucky enough to have a Lancia Integrale and 911 Turbo as well and they both get some stick - and the BMW was fine BEFORE the incident). I have changed the rear tyres (fronts were new when I brought it and have only done a few thousand miles), the rear axle bushes, the steering rack and the track rod ends. The car is totally standard apart from a top-mounted strut-brace. I have had several specialists check it over and none have them has spotted anything else (eg. worn bushes elsewhere, bad wishbones, chassis damage etc.etc) and I am getting low on both patience and money!!! If you've bothered to read this far and can offer any suggetions or advice, then I will be forever in your debt.!!!!!!! If it is easier or if you would prefer - then please telephone me or e-mail me with a telephone number and I will call you straight back - WHERE-EVER you are in the world!!!!!!

Your hopefully

Dave Bates in the UK (tel. +44 (0) 1784 477712 (9.00am to 5.30pm GMT OR +44. (0) 1252 549169 (6.30pm onwards GMT)
I WILL CALL YOU STRAIGHT BACK!!!!!!

An M3 lover in search of a saviour!!!!


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