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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, Feb-11-2018, 04:50:18 AM   #11
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Default Re: What’s the best way to reduce NVH?

I was having crazy sounds, wobbly steering, and steering drift when I first purchased my car. It was driving me insane I almost wanted to sell the car. I ended up replacing every suspension component and got an alignment. My car feels amazing now. So the culprit was somewhere in there haha. Hope you get it all sorted out, these cars are absolute dreams when running in tip-top shape!
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Old Sun, Feb-11-2018, 06:31:56 AM   #12
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Default Re: What’s the best way to reduce NVH?

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Originally Posted by Toasty View Post
I'm surprised no one has suggested yet the ultimate mod to make your M3 more compliant... changing out your E46 chassis for an E92 one!



My car's steering currently has a dead spot/sloppiness that I find unacceptable, and I assumed the problem was just the steering coupler was worn out, but reading around a little bit in threads like these has put the idea into my head that other suspension components could contribute to this as well. Is there an easy way to pinpoint which items are the culprits behind my sub-optimal steering? Or should I just change everything out at once to be safe?
The E9X is only marginally better, actually. Not really enough to mention.

For steering, the number one culprit is guibo. Always start there - it's cheap and easy and will make a difference. Next would be fcabs, also cheap and easy. Third would be triees and alignment. Last would be tie rods and control arms.


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Just bilstein pss9 coilovers that have about 40k miles on them. I think my front tires are getting old and dry too at this point. Good list, thanks,
PSS9 isn't a comfortable setup, but, that isn't new for you so it's something else. I'd start with fresh PS4S tires all around - that will make a huge difference, garaunteed. Everything else I mentioned, together, will also make a huge difference.
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Old Sun, Feb-11-2018, 07:24:46 AM   #13
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Default Re: What’s the best way to reduce NVH?

I just picked up my car too and its 100% stock. With 58k miles, I too have wandering steering and a general feeling of "looseness" in the suspension. First things I bought were a new steering coupler and fcab/rtabs!
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Old Sun, Feb-11-2018, 07:16:03 PM   #14
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Default Re: What’s the best way to reduce NVH?

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The E9X is only marginally better, actually. Not really enough to mention.
Hmmm... I always seem to see people on this forum complaining the E9X is "too refined", and my experience with E9X chassis cars is always made me made me think that, while perhaps not too refined, it certainly was more refined than the E46 cars. But, I am ashamed to admit this, I've never actually driven or rode in an E9X M car, simply sat in a few, so my experience is with the regular E9X's. Knowing your garage, you obviously are in one of the best possible positions to compare these cars though, so I'll default to your opinion.

Thinking more on this topic, I'd love to see BMW internal documents on the NVH of each generation of M cars, assuming those exist. I'm sure BMW's engineers kept tabs on those things, at least for the more modern cars, no?

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For steering, the number one culprit is guibo. Always start there - it's cheap and easy and will make a difference. Next would be fcabs, also cheap and easy. Third would be triees and alignment. Last would be tie rods and control arms.
Thank you, I'll approach it as you listed. My tires are Michelin PSS on 18 inch wheels, and my alignment was done by a good shop a couple thousand miles back, so it looks like I'm going to have to get under the car to start addressing these issues. The guibo seems to be a simple DIY, so I'll begin there as I originally had planned, then progress down the list as needed.
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Old Sun, Feb-11-2018, 11:21:35 PM   #15
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Default Re: What’s the best way to reduce NVH?

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Hmmm... I always seem to see people on this forum complaining the E9X is "too refined", and my experience with E9X chassis cars is always made me made me think that, while perhaps not too refined, it certainly was more refined than the E46 cars. But, I am ashamed to admit this, I've never actually driven or rode in an E9X M car, simply sat in a few, so my experience is with the regular E9X's. Knowing your garage, you obviously are in one of the best possible positions to compare these cars though, so I'll default to your opinion.

Thinking more on this topic, I'd love to see BMW internal documents on the NVH of each generation of M cars, assuming those exist. I'm sure BMW's engineers kept tabs on those things, at least for the more modern cars, no?
It is more refined at first blush, yes, but once you get to really know it and drive it back to back on the same roads, it's only marginally more refined. It is not, in a million years, too refined - that's pure nonsense (and like you, I too read that occasionally). I am telling you right now that it is not soft or comfortable or luxurious at all. What it is is more rigid, more stable (less busy) and slightly quieter inside BUT with a lower quality interior (rattles) it's pretty much a zero sum equation, if that makes sense. In fact, I'm disappointed, currently, with its lack of refinement.

Even the F80 M3, while extremely (like next level stuff) rigid and solid, is not soft or quiet or luxurious - if anything it's slightly harder edged whilst being extremely stable and planted.

Quote:
Thank you, I'll approach it as you listed. My tires are Michelin PSS on 18 inch wheels, and my alignment was done by a good shop a couple thousand miles back, so it looks like I'm going to have to get under the car to start addressing these issues. The guibo seems to be a simple DIY, so I'll begin there as I originally had planned, then progress down the list as needed.
Yeah, start with guibo/fcabs but don't overlook alignment. I've found that if your front toe is even slightly out (like approaching zero, at zero, or toe'd out) the steering will get a very loose on-center feeling while going straight over bumps - I can't stand that feeling.

Point is - you had the car aligned, sure, but what are the actual toe specs? Camber? How wide are the front tires/wheels?
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Old Mon, Feb-12-2018, 12:15:12 AM   #16
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Default Re: What’s the best way to reduce NVH?

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It is more refined at first blush, yes, but once you get to really know it and drive it back to back on the same roads, it's only marginally more refined. It is not, in a million years, too refined - that's pure nonsense (and like you, I too read that occasionally). I am telling you right now that it is not soft or comfortable or luxurious at all. What it is is more rigid, more stable (less busy) and slightly quieter inside BUT with a lower quality interior (rattles) it's pretty much a zero sum equation, if that makes sense. In fact, I'm disappointed, currently, with its lack of refinement.
Those are very interesting observations, I appreciate you sharing them. I'm surprised the interior is that much worse than the E46, which, while by no means bad, still isn't my idea of a benchmark for interior quality.

Also, if the car isn't that much more refined than the E46... where did all the weight come from? Is it just the sheer size of the thing?

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Originally Posted by EricSMG View Post
Even the F80 M3, while extremely (like next level stuff) rigid and solid, is not soft or quiet or luxurious - if anything it's slightly harder edged whilst being extremely stable and planted.
That's also interesting as well. It's a shame the F80 didn't get a stroked S65 like some people speculate it was originally planned to have - I love the way it looks, and I love that they brought the weight down to be more in line with the size of the car, and I especially love the fact it comes with four doors, but something about it doesn't excite me the way the other M3 generations have, and I think its my entirely irrational and incorrect inability to overcome the belief it basically has the same engine as a tuned 335i. Which again, is certainly underselling the engine, but still, these cars aren't about entirely about being rational.

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Originally Posted by EricSMG View Post
Yeah, start with guibo/fcabs but don't overlook alignment. I've found that if your front toe is even slightly out (like approaching zero, at zero, or toe'd out) the steering will get a very loose on-center feeling while going straight over bumps - I can't stand that feeling.

Point is - you had the car aligned, sure, but what are the actual toe specs? Camber? How wide are the front tires/wheels?
I got curious, so I dug up my service records on my car. To begin, I bought the car about 13K miles ago from a specialist dealer in San Diego, who had the next door indy BMW shop replace the following relevant items (plus many others I didn't list): FCABs, four different power steering hoses, and the RTAB's.

On top of this, about 6K miles ago, I took the car into Strictly BMW (you'll never guess what they specialize in) for an alignment. Final adjustments where:

Front camber (L,R): -.9, -.9
Front toe (L,R): .11, .11
Total front toe: .23
Steer ahead: 0

Rear camber (L,R): -1.5, -1.3 (the shop couldn't get the right rear camber perfect on my car, they suspect suspension wear/damage)
Rear toe (L,R): .17, .16
Total rear toe: .33
Trust angle: .01

When this alignment was done, I was running the stock 18 inch wheels with the stock sized Michelin PSS, and I am still running that exact setup today.
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Old Mon, Feb-12-2018, 01:11:48 AM   #17
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Default Re: What’s the best way to reduce NVH?

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Originally Posted by Toasty View Post
Those are very interesting observations, I appreciate you sharing them. I'm surprised the interior is that much worse than the E46, which, while by no means bad, still isn't my idea of a benchmark for interior quality.

Also, if the car isn't that much more refined than the E46... where did all the weight come from? Is it just the sheer size of the thing?
I've always held the E46 interior in pretty high regard - it looks good, feels good, has a very over-engineered feeling to it (buttons, controls, surfaces, etc.) and, is bolted together very well. It's aging very well in both quality and looks, in my opinion. There are almost no issues with it other than failing felt glue (expected at this age) and the bubbling titan trim (non-issue with alum) - otherwise it's damn near perfect in my eyes.

The E9X is heavy partly because it has a much beefier frame. Look up pics of the front frame - look for a car with the motor out and front clip removed - massive frame rails compared to the 46. It's also slightly bigger, but not much. Bigger brakes, running gear, DCT, etc. But yeah - it could be lighter for sure.

Quote:
That's also interesting as well. It's a shame the F80 didn't get a stroked S65 like some people speculate it was originally planned to have - I love the way it looks, and I love that they brought the weight down to be more in line with the size of the car, and I especially love the fact it comes with four doors, but something about it doesn't excite me the way the other M3 generations have, and I think its my entirely irrational and incorrect inability to overcome the belief it basically has the same engine as a tuned 335i. Which again, is certainly underselling the engine, but still, these cars aren't about entirely about being rational.
The F80 M3 ZCP is probably the best looking M3 to date - it is legitimately handsome, mean and sexy all at the same time.

But yeah, the motor feels exactly like a pumped up 335i and so not quite there for me, either.

Quote:
I got curious, so I dug up my service records on my car. To begin, I bought the car about 13K miles ago from a specialist dealer in San Diego, who had the next door indy BMW shop replace the following relevant items (plus many others I didn't list): FCABs, four different power steering hoses, and the RTAB's.

On top of this, about 6K miles ago, I took the car into Strictly BMW (you'll never guess what they specialize in) for an alignment. Final adjustments where:

Front camber (L,R): -.9, -.9
Front toe (L,R): .11, .11
Total front toe: .23
Steer ahead: 0

Rear camber (L,R): -1.5, -1.3 (the shop couldn't get the right rear camber perfect on my car, they suspect suspension wear/damage)
Rear toe (L,R): .17, .16
Total rear toe: .33
Trust angle: .01

When this alignment was done, I was running the stock 18 inch wheels with the stock sized Michelin PSS, and I am still running that exact setup today.
Your alignment is dead-on perfect for a street car. If it felt good before and nothing has changed then something has gotten worn/loose. Your alignment could've been knocked out, though. What about tire pressure? What about swaybar end links? What about tie rods?
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Old Mon, Feb-12-2018, 02:42:49 AM   #18
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Default Re: What’s the best way to reduce NVH?

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I've always held the E46 interior in pretty high regard - it looks good, feels good, has a very over-engineered feeling to it (buttons, controls, surfaces, etc.) and, is bolted together very well. It's aging very well in both quality and looks, in my opinion. There are almost no issues with it other than failing felt glue (expected at this age) and the bubbling titan trim (non-issue with alum) - otherwise it's damn near perfect in my eyes.
I think the flack the E46 M3 initially got on release about having a "simple", non-exciting interior, has, long term, perhaps proven unjustified by how well it's aged. Nothing about the inside dates the car immediately (unless, of course, you have one of the rare cars with a tape deck), and in fact, I still think the E46 M3's steering wheel may be one of the best looking ones ever made. Still... the leather could be a bit better, and some of the plastics are still questionable in my eyes, even if they are functionally fine.

Also, I still lol that my car came with a "Business Radio". I cannot think of anything more German than that. What does it do, only play NPR and financial advice podcast?

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Originally Posted by EricSMG View Post
The E9X is heavy partly because it has a much beefier frame. Look up pics of the front frame - look for a car with the motor out and front clip removed - massive frame rails compared to the 46. It's also slightly bigger, but not much. Bigger brakes, running gear, DCT, etc. But yeah - it could be lighter for sure.
I've always found it interesting how the E60 M5 gained so little weight vs. its predecessor, while the E90 M3 gained so much. It's a shame the E9X GTS and CRT never came to America, those cars had the two things (stroker S65 + lower weight) I think most enthusiast wanted from the E9X cars.

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Originally Posted by EricSMG View Post
The F80 M3 ZCP is probably the best looking M3 to date - it is legitimately handsome, mean and sexy all at the same time.

But yeah, the motor feels exactly like a pumped up 335i and so not quite there for me, either.
I love the way it looks now, but I've decided we're going to need a decade or so to go by before I can be sure of the styling the way I am with the E46. At the moment though... yeah, from a styling perspective, give me a M3 CS (I don't like the ZCP's satan wheels) in blue.

Beyond looks though, I feel like BMW keeps changing up the M3 formula every generation, but I feel they still haven't hit the sweet spot for me personally yet, and with the death of the NA motor upon us, I think they might never be there. It might be up to someone like Singer to build the "greatest hits" M3, because I don't think BMW ever will. I hope BMW is listening to people like me... I'm young enough and still enthused about the brand enough that I could be part of their future target M car customer base.

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Your alignment is dead-on perfect for a street car. If it felt good before and nothing has changed then something has gotten worn/loose. Your alignment could've been knocked out, though. What about tire pressure? What about swaybar end links? What about tie rods?
To be honest, I'm not sure if it felt good before, I think I may have just noticed it as of recently since I've gotten more accustomed to the car and started looking for things that could be improved with it. I think, coming from a "regular" car like I did, even a worn out E46 M3 feels worlds better. Knowing what I know + judging on what I've heard, I think my car's steering/suspension has two major issues at the moment:

1. The steering coupler is old (my car has 111K miles now, and I don't know if the coupler was replaced, but I'm assuming no)

2. I believe my car has the factory suspension, in the more literal sense of "these are the shocks the car came with out of the factory". Unfortunately, in time I've owned the car I haven't gotten as many chances as I would have liked to push it, but last weekend I was in LA, up on Angeles Crest, and either the stock suspension isn't as good as I'd hoped or my shocks are old. I'm nearly positive it's not that first one.

Again, I think what kept me from realizing this was a problem was how good even a tired M3 feels compared to normal cars, combined with the fact I'm only averaging about 6K miles a year, half of which where freeway miles. Tire pressure is what is recommended on the door card, but I don't know the status of my end links or tie rods.

But, having read some of the extensive threads (a few of them even started by you!) on suspension options for this car, I'm sure you'll agree that the best bet is new steering coupler + new suspension and/or shocks + realignment, correct? That's been my current plan for some time, but I just wanted to make sure I'd covered all my bases.

Last edited by Toasty; Mon, Feb-12-2018 at 05:36:33 PM. Reason: Clearer wording
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Old Mon, Feb-12-2018, 04:18:47 PM   #19
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Default Re: What’s the best way to reduce NVH?

OP:
stock drivetrain bushings. Stock springs. 18" wheels. Back seat installed. Going off those are the items that'll most quickly degrade NHV.

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Originally Posted by Toasty View Post
I've always found it interesting how the E60 M5 gained so little weight vs. its predecessor, while the E90 M3 gained so much.
Funny thing I noticed at some point:
If you compare e90s and e60s with the same engine/trans/drivetrain (e.g. an awd automatic 528 vs a awd automatic 328i), the e60 is only 72 lbs heavier than the e90 (per BMW's published curb weights). The fact that the e90 M3/e60 M5 weight is as different as it is speaks to how hard M worked to bring the weight of the e90 M3 down. The e60 M5's minimal weight gain was because of the underlying e60 chassis lightness.
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Old Mon, Feb-12-2018, 06:51:08 PM   #20
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Default Re: What’s the best way to reduce NVH?

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To be honest, I'm not sure if it felt good before, I think I may have just noticed it as of recently since I've gotten more accustomed to the car and started looking for things that could be improved with it. I think, coming from a "regular" car like I did, even a worn out E46 M3 feels worlds better. Knowing what I know + judging on what I've heard, I think my car's steering/suspension has two major issues at the moment:

1. The steering coupler is old (my car has 111K miles now, and I don't know if the coupler was replaced, but I'm assuming no)

2. I believe my car has the factory suspension, in the more literal sense of "these are the shocks the car came with out of the factory". Unfortunately, in time I've owned the car I haven't gotten as many chances as I would have liked to push it, but last weekend I was in LA, up on Angeles Crest, and either the stock suspension isn't as good as I'd hoped or my shocks are old. I'm nearly positive it's not that first one.

Again, I think what kept me from realizing this was a problem was how good even a tired M3 feels compared to normal cars, combined with the fact I'm only averaging about 6K miles a year, half of which where freeway miles. Tire pressure is what is recommended on the door card, but I don't know the status of my end links or tie rods.

But, having read some of the extensive threads (a few of them even started by you!) on suspension options for this car, I'm sure you'll agree that the best bet is new steering coupler + new suspension and/or shocks + realignment, correct? That's been my current plan for some time, but I just wanted to make sure I'd covered all my bases.
Oh yeah, 111k on all original suspension is going to feel pretty harsh and not ultra precise. Not saying you need to do a full rebuild BUT there things that flat don't last that long and those are the things I mentioned prior.

For sure I can tell you that the original shocks get very harsh at high mileage. The guibo also gets soft (not loose, per se, but soft) leading to a squishy/imprecise steering feel. Spring pads are toast as well. So for you I'd do a mini-refresh and the car would feel quite good after that.

All that said, an all original, never touched suspension is my favorite platform to start with. I'd love to drive your car as-is and assess from there. Let's get together since we're local.
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Discussing What’s the best way to reduce NVH? in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
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