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Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
05-11-2019, 01:40 PM (This post was last modified: 05-11-2019 01:45 PM by KPM_330.)
Post: #1
lightbulb Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
Hey Gents,

The time has come for me to look at sorting out my 330i suspension. Having done 265k on the original components, I think they have more than earned a replacement.. The reason for the thread is to understand which route I should pursue, coilovers vs. shocks.

I had initially looked at replacing the below items:

Control Arms
Control Arm Bushes
Stabilizer/Sway Bar Links
Rack Ends
Tie-rod Ends
Shocks
Springs (I was considering keeping my old springs, as I don't want the car any lower than it already is).

One of my mates then suggested I look at coilovers, since I am doing a whole suspension refresh.. Which has prompted this thread, as I am no expert on the subject at hand. As I understood, coilovers were more for adjusting ride heights and associated settings, which I am not too concerned with.

My budget was around R15k for the suspension refresh, but this could go up or down, based on the inputs. Essentially looking for the best bang for my buck, as all maintenance is now a black-hole given market values on the car.

The car is not a daily driver and is usually driven once a week, on a long-ish hoon, so ride quality isn't the most important attribute.. More focused on handling and chuckability..

Any and all insight, comments and expertise is welcomed. If you have approximate costings, that would help immensely.

Hoping to hear from those that have wisdom on the subject matter.. Thumbs

@AdiS, @Tinuva, @Peter@AEW, @Riaad, @that_guy_Ettiene

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05-11-2019, 01:42 PM
Post: #2
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
IMO, coilovers are great if you're after lots of lows, or you require adjustability if you intend on tracking the car... In most cases, they are adjusted once and left in that configuration indefinitely.

Personally, I feel like an H&R spring / Koni shock combo is much more appropriate for a daily driver.

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KPM_330
05-11-2019, 01:48 PM
Post: #3
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
(05-11-2019 01:42 PM)Kyle Wrote:  IMO, coilovers are great if you're after lots of lows, or you require adjustability if you intend on tracking the car... In most cases, they are adjusted once and left in that configuration indefinitely.

Personally, I feel like an H&R spring / Koni shock combo is much more appropriate for a daily driver.

Thanks Kyle.

I feel like I would also just adjust them once and that will be it, which is why I wanted to see if I was missing anything else.. That said, it isn't a daily driver, its now my weekend hooning-mobile.. I just updated my opening post.

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05-11-2019, 02:00 PM
Post: #4
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
Soooo I haven't updated my thread with this yet, but...

I did the Koni shocks on both my car and the wife's car. Both pretty much equal cars, except for the condition of components.

On the first car, there was a massive improvement, but mostly the shocks were shot and the rest of the parts mostly good except for FCABs and endlinks.

Then on my car, I put the exact same shocks in, and I was disappointed that I didn't get the same improvement. So last week I did a whole bushing refresh both front and back. Suspension (front shocks) haven't set yet, but only now I can say I really feel the same, even better, improvement. I suspect the shocks weren't really able to do their job while the bushings were a real weak point.

So in my opinion, whichever route you go, do not skip the bushings.

One thing I do think is better on the adjustable coilovers, is that you can make the ride look much better visually. Even with the shocks set on my wife's car, the front arches have more space at the top between the tyre and the arch that I would like.

That said, read up about something called "Flat ride". The oem springs in our cars are flat ride set, but the same can't be said for any coilover. You will need to do a lot of research to find out if the coilovers you buying is going to give you flat ride, and is one of the things that I think makes our cars such a good ride.

You can read this over zhpmafia and watch the videos: http://www.zhpmafia.com/forums/showthrea...heck-is-it

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KPM_330
05-11-2019, 02:53 PM
Post: #5
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
Only input i can give you here is that a good quality shocks and springs are worth twice what an affordable brand coilover kit is going to do for your car and the second thing is that at 265k kms the springs are definitely tired, please replace them as apart of the refresh process.

Goodluck!

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05-11-2019, 03:31 PM
Post: #6
Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
I would suggest Bilstein Coilovers. But I'm biased so go have a ride in my 330 (@Riaad 330i ) and feel how it feels.

Keep in mind that I had some Powerflex bushes installed as well as front and rear strut braces

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KPM_330
05-11-2019, 11:34 PM (This post was last modified: 05-11-2019 11:47 PM by Riaad.)
Post: #7
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
(05-11-2019 01:40 PM)KPM_330 Wrote:  Control Arms
Control Arm Bushes
Stabilizer/Sway Bar Links
Rack Ends
Tie-rod Ends
Shocks
Springs (I was considering keeping my old springs, as I don't want the car any lower than it already is).

The car is not a daily driver and is usually driven once a week, on a long-ish hoon, so ride quality isn't the most important attribute.. More focused on handling and chuckability..

Any and all insight, comments and expertise is welcomed. If you have approximate costings, that would help immensely.

Hoping to hear from those that have wisdom on the subject matter.. Thumbs
@Riaad,

Okay, I'm here...

Firstly, 265k kms is a long way for the stock 15 year components come, so its definitely time for these bits to be sorted out...I am sure when you done she will feel better than the first day you got herGrin

...on to the question at hand...conventional shocks vs coiloversHammerhead

Obviously, we looking at OEM quality or greater...I imagine that just replacing those tired components with OEM or aftermarket replacement parts will have a significant effect on how she drives.

I'd say, since this is no longer your daily driver...and you already replacing the rest of the suspension bits..why not get some quality Coilovers?

The Koni shock setup is perfect for those who daily their 330s ...I have been dd my coilover setup for almost a year now ...tbh, over bumpy roads, its not going to be a smooth affair ...I can only compare the ride to my e90 which has the stock msport setup with RFT tyres...it terms of comfort, the coilovers are slightly harsher over bumpy roads...but on the highway...the e46 rides just as smooth, if not smoother (at cruising speeds) ...at non cruising speeds, the coilover setup is superior to the conventional setup, shes composed and flat through corners ...in fact, I can describe the whole experience as rather calm... well...depends how far you pushing itFencelook

Couple bads though:
1. the car is low ...with less than 90mm clearance underneath, definitely have to take it slow over the bumps (insert: be patient, I'm lowered sticker)
2. its a mission to jack the car.
3. the 90mm clearance is compromised with passengers in the back.

anyway, atleast I can always raise the suspension Fencelook

I do think that the koni setup with H&R springs is going to be hassle with the mtech bumpers...so something to keep in mind.

let me list my setup for convenience:

*Bilstein B14 adjustable dampers
*Ultra Racing strut bar front and rear
*Powerflex Adjustable rear camber arms
*Powerflex bushes throughout
*OEM M3 BMW front reinforcement upper strut plates.
*Rear reinforcement shock mounts
*MeyleHD Shock mounts front and rear
*Swaybar end links front and rear
*Lemforder Tie-rods

Alot of the bits coincide with your suspension refresh...Id think coils will set you back an additional 7k (if you replacing shocks and springs). Worth it IMO...especially if the 330i is something you plan on holding on too for the foreseeable future...and based on your current investment in the car...it makes sense that you get to enjoy everything that she has to offerThumbs

thats my 2 cents...you going to need many of those to fund this mission Fencelook

(05-11-2019 01:42 PM)Kyle Wrote:  In most cases, they are adjusted once and left in that configuration indefinitely.

AccurateHammerhead

(05-11-2019 02:00 PM)Tinuva Wrote:  That said, read up about something called "Flat ride". The oem springs in our cars are flat ride set, but the same can't be said for any coilover. You will need to do a lot of research to find out if the coilovers you buying is going to give you flat ride, and is one of the things that I think makes our cars such a good ride.

You can read this over zhpmafia and watch the videos: http://www.zhpmafia.com/forums/showthrea...heck-is-it

Interesting ...havent driven my car with a stock setup...so cant comment in that regard...that said, i have had a complaint (by one person) that rear is bumpier than the frontSkit... others didnt notice any "discomfort" to my knowledge.

(05-11-2019 03:31 PM)that_guy_Ettiene Wrote:  I would suggest Bilstein Coilovers. But I'm biased so go have a ride in Riaad's 330 (@Riaad 330i ) and feel how it feels.

Keep in mind that I had some Powerflex bushes installed as well as front and rear strut braces

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KPM has actually driven the car...the best way to feel how direct the steering feels Cartel

@KPM_330 - maybe your review on this will help/sway your decisionIdea

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KPM_330
06-11-2019, 06:05 AM
Post: #8
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
Interesting contributions. If this is just a car or daily use then coilovers and other expensive gadgets would be a waste of money. If you engage in a lot of spirited driving, and track racing then of course go for it.

If we're honest the Sachs suspension that came from the factory is very robust, comfortable and thrilling, as I'm sure you'll have experienced already. So you can simply replace stock for stock and you can't go wrong. You can source the parts anywhere but the agents to save on cost.

Be careful of powerflex bushes allround - they'll make your suspension more rigid and harsher...they can produce vibrations too. I used them only on ARB and diff bushes. Everywhere else I prefer stock, Meyle or Lemforder. Those are comfortable and do the job...and cheaper too.

On coil springs- I heard you say you won't change them. After that mileage, you should. Springs soften over time, and can also be prone to breaking with age. You'll feel the difference when you change them.
You can stick with the Sachs from BMW or go lower. I lowered my 330ci with H&R springs and they gave my car a sporty "raked" stance. But the 35mm front end drop is very low and can also cause rubbing. I used Koni shocks but tbh I don't like them. I'll change them next month to Bilstein shortened B8 which are best suited for this low ride.

In 2015 I refreshed my 325ci suspension with eveything- using stock OE parts and fitted Gabriel shocks allround as a trial. I was amazed that it performed as it did from factory- even with Gabriel so i kept them.
Next month I'll lower the suspension with Eibach Pro Kit springs and Bilstein B4 shocks. Pro kit gives the car a better stance than the Eibach sports springs. Will fit 19" rims 8.5j front and 9.5 j rear. I'm expecting a firmer less supple ride but more agile, precise and taught control. I've driven one with this set up before and it feels just right and not harsh on our roads.

As part of your shake up, don't forget to do the engine mounts too, they make a big difference to the cushy feel on bumps
Also make sure you fit strut tower support plates under the shocks. They will protect you strut towers from mushrooming which is very common on the E46. They're not expensive from BMW but cannot stress their importance enough.

At the end of the day, if you're replacing all bushes, shocks, springs, control arms, ARBs, droplinks and you're fitting OE spec branded parts not necessarily BMW, and you fit good quality performance tyres, your car will feel new and a thrill to drive. All these other frills are great for racers and such like. They can ruin a daily driver and make it feel uncomfortable and harsh.
I sourced all my springs and Bilstein shocks from europe, so not sure what they cost in SA, but prepare for a bullet thru your pocket. Other parts like bushes and arms etc are ok price wise there. But the R15k you say you budgeted should be enough

Bets wishesThumbs
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06-11-2019, 06:18 AM (This post was last modified: 06-11-2019 06:21 AM by Dewald Basson.)
Post: #9
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
My 2c

My e46 has h&r sport and Koni orange, a scattering of poly bushes and Axis trailing arm limiters. If I recall correctly my the lowest point on the e46 is 55mm of the ground, front jack blocks. I have broken off 2 Hammerhead

The front bumper is not really a problem, if you go slow and sideways all is good.

Don't forget to look at shock mounts and reinforcing plates, front you can get from bmw rear I got from Axis, but it is a easy laser cut job so anyone can do it. I replaced my bump stops as well, not you would notice them but something which made to take knocks should be replaced imo. Trailing arm bushes is something I did as well. They are a pain in the arse to press in and out.

The rear also has a fair amount of bushes which you can replace, I can't think of the part names now but know I have box full bushes which bought but never got round to replace.Fencelook

I also installed a z4m swaybar at the from with poly bushes, best mod imo. Turn in so sharp and direct, I love it.

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KPM_330
06-11-2019, 08:28 AM
Post: #10
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
I recently also looked at a couple of these things so I will add an opinion of two.

(05-11-2019 01:40 PM)KPM_330 Wrote:  ..... coilovers vs. shocks.

.... as I don't want the car any lower than it already is....

I weighed up the same options and can say from the coilovers that I looked at (well known brands available in SA) it would not be possible to maintain stock ride height of the car. All of them would lower the car in varying levels of substantially. This was the reason I opted against coilovers as to me personally the stock height is perfect.

(05-11-2019 01:40 PM)KPM_330 Wrote:  My budget was around R15k for the suspension refresh....

Personally I would revise this budget upwards, as just shocks on the philosophy of OEM or better, will probably set you back in the region of R10k+
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06-11-2019, 08:50 AM
Post: #11
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
what springs do the coiler guys go with...like 30 -60mm drop or lower springs? i would imagine thats crucial to the quality of the ride

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06-11-2019, 11:41 AM
Post: #12
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
Coilovers at +30k are versatile enough to give you the sporty ride as well as stance with good ride quality.(The cheap ones will give you the noise and stance.)

They do though need complimentary upgrades to the suspension which will make the car a bit "nervous"

Either do normal shocks and springs of a good quality and a suspension refresh with standard parts or go the whole hog.

A mish mash of parts invariably makes for a vague ill mannered ride.

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06-11-2019, 03:00 PM (This post was last modified: 06-11-2019 03:03 PM by KPM_330.)
Post: #13
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
Thanks for all the feedback gents.

Going to go Koni Shocks and HnR springs.. Contemplating poly bushes for the control arms.

Which brings me to my next question, what drop on the springs? I really don't want a low-rider Fencelook

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06-11-2019, 03:03 PM
Post: #14
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
Slam it to the tarmac

Min 60 front and 80 rear
Bluebiggrin

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06-11-2019, 03:09 PM
Post: #15
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
(06-11-2019 03:03 PM)Peter@AEW Wrote:  Slam it to the tarmac

Min 60 front and 80 rear
Bluebiggrin

Hahaha, no thanks, Sir Greek.

As it stands, I find the standard sport suspension low.. Tiptoe

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06-11-2019, 03:13 PM
Post: #16
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
OE or sport ...OE is like Eibach Drop

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06-11-2019, 04:04 PM (This post was last modified: 06-11-2019 04:05 PM by Captain_Stealth.)
Post: #17
Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
I would also consider the following bushes

Subframe poly bushes
Rear trailing arm from portion poly bush
Dual ball joints on rear trailing arm behind the the break disk area
Poly Diff bushes
Poly sway bar bushes and end links

Then replace the rest with oem rubber quality that are soft especially on the front and rear control arms

I would go with a h&r springs and Koni shocks

As well as the other parts you mentioned in the beginning of the thread



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06-11-2019, 04:24 PM (This post was last modified: 06-11-2019 04:29 PM by KPM_330.)
Post: #18
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
So basically I must drop essentially what is 40% of the car's retail value on the suspension.. Fencelook

This is why I say its a black-hole.. If owning an E46 or older, isn't a labour of love, I don't know what is Rofl

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06-11-2019, 04:26 PM
Post: #19
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
H&R Sport is a 35/20 drop AFAIK

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07-11-2019, 09:25 AM
Post: #20
RE: Coilovers Vs. Shocks - E46 330i Sport Pack
I feel like the decision has been made already, but for what its worth I will add my experience ( even though it is quite limited and against what most of the guys have said above)

I was in the same situation not long ago, my shocks were on their way out and I was looking for replacements. I went through the normal the routes, I looked at OEM ( sachs), Koni, Bilstein shocks and the cost was shocking. I cant remember the prices offhand, but none were below 10k forjust shocks excl fitting. Thats when i turned to coilovers, considered the cost of Bilstein and ST and the pricing was over R20k.

In my case the issue was i wanted to go lower, but still wanted the car to be driveable daily. The added handling also made sense and while I had no intention of using the new found grip and handling to its full potential, I still prefer to either replace with OEM equivalent or better. My concern was that seeing some cars with just lowering springs were lower than what i would like and i didn't want to be in a position where i spend the money on going lower, only to find its too low, then have to take a massive knock on getting rid of the lowering spings. This is why is preferred coilovers over just lowered springs.

I eventually went with ISC coilovers and my intial setup saw the car at OEM height ( possibly a bit higher), the drive was great as it felt slightly softer than OEM on some roads, but reminded you when going into a corner that it is not OEM. The shift of weight from left to right changed dramatically and changed the feel of the car in the corners which i was impressed with. I also added a better strut brace, which then tightened up the front some more.

The car was allowed to settle has since been adjusted and tweaked, I have dropped by about 20mm in front and 15mm at the rear from the inital setup, but from the worn OEM setup, it is probably about 10mm front and 5mm rear difference. The dampers were also adjusted by the person who fitted the coilovers and he has the ISC Setup in his track car, so he spent decent time driving my car and adjusting setup based on my requirements. The current might not be final, but it rides quite well in my opinion.

I mentioned that my experience is limited as I have only been in a few cars that are lowered and even less with coilovers. I dont like the sharp jarring feeling of a vehicle that is too low and the ISC does not have that effect. I do feel more of the roads bumps and inconsistencies, but it does not bounce.

If it adds any value my car has the following changed so the feel is not limited to just the Coilovers
-ISC street coilovers
-E60 M5 ultra racing strut brace
-Powerflex stabilser bar bushes in the front and rear
-Powerflex bush pressed into OEM leading control arms
-Meyle trailing control arms
-SWAG engine mounts
-OEM Gearbox mount(replaced)
-Lemforder tie rods and rack ends(replaced)

I do have a knock at the moment and with the help of Nikhil we have isolated it to the control arms, either the Meyle one has failed or the one with the powerflex bush has failed on the ball joint end. Note that this noise was there from before the coilovers.

@Nikhil has been in the car and can probably give a more experienced and honest opinion on the coilovers than i can.

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