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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Sun, Nov-11-2018, 02:44:31 PM   #1
BigRussia
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Default Dead play in steering, bad steering rack?

Ive been feeling a dead play from my steering from center while at highway speeds and while stopped I can wiggle the steering wheel without the front wheels moving. I've replaced my steering coupler about 5k miles ago, so thats ruled out. With the front wheels in the air i had someone move the steering wheel and can clearly see the steering column moving (with the good steering coupler in unison) but the steering rack tie rod arms not moving at all, neither are the front wheels and hubs. I also tried to moving the hubs with my hands to see if it was a bushing and they didnt budge. So is it a bad steering rack or is this a normal amount of play? I may be nitpicking but this does make the steering feel light at highway speeds and less precise and makes me less confident when driving at speed with a track day coming up. The car is coming up on 176k miles.

Heres two vids demonstrating the amount of play and movement in the steering wheel and how the rack and wheels dont move. Notice in the 2nd vid theres also a knocking clicking sound coming from the steering column.

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Last edited by BigRussia; Sun, Nov-11-2018 at 02:53:37 PM.
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Old Sun, Nov-11-2018, 07:39:30 PM   #2
M3 dude
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Default Re: Dead play in steering, bad steering rack?

i'd say its the excessive play in your rack.
luckily it's adjustable to a point.
theres a large nut on the rack, that when tightened, closes the clearance between the rack and pinion gears.
tighten in small increments (1/8th of a turn) to remove the slop.
too much and you'll struggle to turn the wheel.
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Old Sun, Nov-11-2018, 08:20:22 PM   #3
icecream
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Default Re: Dead play in steering, bad steering rack?

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Originally Posted by M3 dude View Post
i'd say its the excessive play in your rack.
luckily it's adjustable to a point.
theres a large nut on the rack, that when tightened, closes the clearance between the rack and pinion gears.
tighten in small increments (1/8th of a turn) to remove the slop.
too much and you'll struggle to turn the wheel.
ive read that may be a terrible idea but tempted to do it on mine (gonna put in a yellow tag anyway since the slop is killing me).
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Old Mon, Nov-12-2018, 05:05:56 PM   #4
BigRussia
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Default Re: Dead play in steering, bad steering rack?

Interesting, never heard of this nut that could adjust the play in the rack. Yeah I would say there's a definite play there. Is the nut easily accessible from under the car or does the rack need to be dropped?
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Old Wed, Nov-14-2018, 03:04:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: Dead play in steering, bad steering rack?

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Originally Posted by BigRussia View Post
Interesting, never heard of this nut that could adjust the play in the rack. Yeah I would say there's a definite play there. Is the nut easily accessible from under the car or does the rack need to be dropped?
you can do it while on the car if you rig up a tool to get in there
(a 17mm (i think) socket held with vice grips).
easiest of course is to drop the rack
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Old Wed, Nov-21-2018, 08:40:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: Dead play in steering, bad steering rack?

What are my other options? Dropping the rack is alot of work in the hopes of trying something that may not help. I want to get this addressed, steering at highway speeds feels really light and car feels sketchy/not planted due to this dead play in the steering
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Old Fri, Nov-23-2018, 05:59:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: Dead play in steering, bad steering rack?

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Originally Posted by BigRussia View Post
What are my other options? Dropping the rack is alot of work in the hopes of trying something that may not help. I want to get this addressed, steering at highway speeds feels really light and car feels sketchy/not planted due to this dead play in the steering
bump, really trying to pin this down before hitting the track. Could it possibly be just the u joint in the steering column is worn? But in my videos it looks like its moving fine without play?
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Old Fri, Nov-23-2018, 09:22:06 PM   #8
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Default Re: Dead play in steering, bad steering rack?

Looking at video 2 and input being the steering wheel (which is moving) and output being the inner tierods from the rack (which are not moving), leads to the play being in the rack. Good time to upgrade the rack? Rackdoctor has rebuilt units. I'm running the zhp unit and loving it.

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'85 528e 164k miles (sold)
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All DIY: VANOS, WPC rod bearings, full SS (SS stepped V1 headers, catted S1, stock S2, SS sport), AFD E85 Proflex kit, Ohlins R&T/Hyperco 375f Swift 672r/GC street tops and camber plates, ST40 355 pfc08, 330 ZHP steering rack, diffsonline 4.1 diff with rem polish, E60 short shifter lever, AKG black diff bushings/subframe bushings, Rogue rtab, Sachs clutch/flywheel, rear main, Beyer driveshaft, valve adjustment, cooling refresh.

Happy to help with VANOS or any other DIY job around NorCal. Have various specialty tools (VANOS, RTAB, engine bar, valve adjustment, tranny jack, ball joint separator, pilot bearing puller, tap&die kit, etc).
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Old Sat, Dec-22-2018, 01:55:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: Dead play in steering, bad steering rack?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrgizmo04 View Post
Looking at video 2 and input being the steering wheel (which is moving) and output being the inner tierods from the rack (which are not moving), leads to the play being in the rack. Good time to upgrade the rack? Rackdoctor has rebuilt units. I'm running the zhp unit and loving it.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
Yeah after a successful track day this weekend I'm looking to upgrade, there was alot of sections of my local track that i had to start crossing my arms to turn more. I think a ZCP would be the best compromise between track and highway driving. Is the RackDoctor the move? I wont be able to get a core for my standard rack though from what Ive read.
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2004 E46 M3 6MT CB/Cinn - Current
2004 Acura TL 6MT - Daily
- Previous
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Old Sat, Dec-22-2018, 04:02:29 PM   #10
TboneM3
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Default Re: Dead play in steering, bad steering rack?

I found a lowish mileage one on ebay for a song. I would look there and the forums, and not rack doctor unless you want to pay $100-150 more (but get it soon).
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Discussing Dead play in steering, bad steering rack? in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)