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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 Fri, Dec-17-2010, 11:33:59 PM   #1
kuksul08
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Default Dinan Stage 1 Suspension Full Review

Let me start off by saying I was a Dinan hater for a long time. Most people online are the same way I've found - that it's overpriced for something you can build yourself for cheaper. I actually agree for a lot of their parts, but I think the suspension is one of their better products.

I weighed my options and did a ton of research, eventually deciding on the Dinan stage 1 suspension - it includes 'custom' valved Koni sport dampers, and Dinan springs. They were having a 25% off sale, which was also some incentive, so it ended up costing me about the same as Eibach's/H&R's and off-the-shelf Koni's (Less than $1k).

Initial Impressions
The whole kit is pretty straightforward, so I won't go into a ton of detail. I would expect Dinan to package the springs a littler better than plastic bags, but I guess it doesn't really matter. The fronts rubbed together and some of the paint came off in one or two spots. The dampers came in Koni packaging so all was good there.

They include a setup sheet with all of the recommended shock, swaybar, and alignment settings. The recommended Koni settings are:
Front: 1/4 turn from full soft
Rear: 1-3/8 turns from full soft

Dinan has put stickers on each damper saying something like "this shock has been adjusted to the recommended settings from the factory". The front struts were at 3/8 turns from full soft. The rears were FULL SOFT. Don't trust the sticker - I called them and they basically said "oops".


Rear Springs


Front Springs


Packaging


Installation
Install went perfectly with no issues. I did not need any special tools for any of this. The rear springs came out almost by hand, with a screwdriver to help them along. The struts require a little twisting but they came right out as well.

The Dinan front springs are 'keyed', so they sit in a little different position than the OEM springs. The rear springs have ground ends, so orientation does not matter. Check out the DIYs here on the forum before trying anything - they help with special things like disconnecting the DSC sensor, or making sure the wheels are both dropped to avoid swaybar pressure.

At the same time I also replaced my original RTABs with new OEM ones from Vorshlag. The car no longer twists when accelerating and feels much more planted. A+!


Dinan vs OEM rear springs


Rear spring in place


OEM vs Koni shocks. Not as drastic difference as Koni vs non-M dampers


Strut in position


I'm also happy to say my JTD RSM's with 10-12k miles are in perfect condition still. Good quality product.


OEM RTABs. New design compared to what was in there (05 M3)


Ride Height
I couldn't find much precise info regarding ride height when researching. Here is what I have (measured center of the wheel to fender edge).

BEFORE:
Front Left: 14.375"
Front Right: 14.375"
Rear Left: 14.125"
Rear Right: 13.875"

AFTER:
Front Left: 13.75" (-.625")
Front Right: 13.5" (-.875")
Rear Left: 13.75" (-.375")
Rear Right: 13.5" (-.375")

I drive primarily on the street on bad roads, so I couldn't be slamming the car down. The 'drop' is barely noticeable even to me, but I am happy with it.


Driving Impressions
My major complaints with the OEM suspension were harshness over bumps and bouncing during hard cornering. For 60k miles, it actually worked quite well... you have to give it to Sachs.

Now the car is just great. It is very stable through bumpy turns - no bouncing at all. Body roll is decreased - the car doesn't roll as much, but yaws as it should. Also, during hard acceleration the car used to squat and feel like it was going to wheelie . Now it's completely flat and solid as it should be.

Ride quality is improved, but definitely still firm. Larger bumps are not as harsh, but you still feel them. Honestly, I loved the Koni FSD shocks I put on my 330Ci. I could fly down a crappy road and not feel a thing, yet it still handled with amazing control. The Koni sports are much more performance oriented.

Overall, I am totally satisfied with it and can't wait for this weather to clear up to do some real driving.


Before


After. Not the best comparison due to different lighting and wheels, but there isn't much to see anyway. I need to take some better pictures.

Feel free to ask any questions. I'd be glad to help out.
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S54 Valve Adjustment DIY, Excel, Print out: https://www.dropbox.com/s/z1jdt6kbu7...0info.zip?dl=0
S54 VANOS DIY video (cam bolts, oil pump disk, etc.): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SkT2j3jsU0

Last edited by kuksul08; Sat, Dec-18-2010 at 12:11:39 AM.
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Old Fri, Dec-17-2010, 11:39:56 PM   #2
EricM06IR
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good Write up Pat. Im very Glad You like it and It looks good! Keep on modding!
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Old Fri, Dec-17-2010, 11:54:27 PM   #3
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Nice review, will definitely look at these in about 15k miles. Was that last pciture taken after they settled?
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Old Sat, Dec-18-2010, 12:10:30 AM   #4
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Thanks Eric

Quote:
Originally Posted by DuncanS View Post
Nice review, will definitely look at these in about 15k miles. Was that last pciture taken after they settled?
I'm not sure how long it takes to settle, but the pic was taken after about 3 days and 50-100 miles.
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S54 Valve Adjustment DIY, Excel, Print out: https://www.dropbox.com/s/z1jdt6kbu7...0info.zip?dl=0
S54 VANOS DIY video (cam bolts, oil pump disk, etc.): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SkT2j3jsU0
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Old Sat, Dec-18-2010, 12:25:25 AM   #5
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Excellent! Those springs are ideal for the street... nice subtle drop.... any more and the car would be ruined. And Konis are a no-brainer awesome upgrade
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Old Sat, Dec-18-2010, 12:29:27 AM   #6
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You'll have to measure again once you've done a couple thousand miles. The upgraded RTABs make a world of difference, doesn't it! I love my monoball RTABs.
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Old Sat, Dec-18-2010, 12:53:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricSMG View Post
Excellent! Those springs are ideal for the street... nice subtle drop.... any more and the car would be ruined. And Konis are a no-brainer awesome upgrade
Indeed

Quote:
Originally Posted by 802Hoop View Post
You'll have to measure again once you've done a couple thousand miles. The upgraded RTABs make a world of difference, doesn't it! I love my monoball RTABs.
I will definitely measure it again down the road to see if it changes. The new RTABs are awesome! Do you have the Dinan monoballs? Do they transmit a lot of vibration/noise? They seem pretty aggressive for the street, but I haven't heard much about them.
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~*Mods*~: High Flow Carbon Fiber Strut Pipe Trim, Custom Aero DME Shift Linkage, Forged Titanium Race-Euro-Spec Illuminated Diff Sleeves, Catless Dog CSL Retrofit, Mod Bug Delete & More
S54 Valve Adjustment DIY, Excel, Print out: https://www.dropbox.com/s/z1jdt6kbu7...0info.zip?dl=0
S54 VANOS DIY video (cam bolts, oil pump disk, etc.): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SkT2j3jsU0
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Old Sat, Dec-18-2010, 01:51:44 AM   #8
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Great review!
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Old Sat, Dec-18-2010, 02:14:46 AM   #9
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Great review. Any reason why you didn't go with stage 2? Also is stage 2's price in addition to stage 1?
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Old Sat, Dec-18-2010, 02:18:02 AM   #10
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Congratz and thanks for sharing your review!
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Discussing Dinan Stage 1 Suspension Full Review 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)