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Old 03-09-2008, 05:07 PM
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Kewl X5 Kewl X5 is offline
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Talking Best upgrade for our E46 M3!!

Okay, after 66K miles, the struts and shocks in the E46 M3 were worn out. No, it wasn't a safety hazard, but the dampening ability of the original struts and shocks were wearing out due to the stiffer springs of the M3. It actually made the ride harsher and more jittery.

So, instead of geting the OEM BMW struts/shocks which is made by Sachs/Boge, I decided to go aftermarket. Based on multiple reviews and research and the fact that most aftermarket suspension tuning used KONI struts/shocks for the E46 M3 (e.g. Dinan, Ground Control, etc.) and research on the M3 internet forums, I decided to go with KONIs.

Also, I took the opportunity to change the BMW OEM rear shock mounts to Rouge Engineering's RSM and their design is more robust and plus, it converted it so I can remove the rear KONI shocks from underneath the car (2 bolts underneath the rear shock towers and one bolt at the lower mounting point). So, if I decided to adjust the rear KONI shock's rebound dampening adjustment, I could do so easily. Plus, the BMW OEM rear shock mounts are not as robust and you have to remove the trunk liner just to remove them. Also, if the rubber mounts wear out, the BMW OEM RSM makes you replace the whole darn thing....Rouge Engineering allows you to purchase the rubber mounts for $6 a pair and they are easily replaced. Check out this link:

In fact, they make really great stuff...I even have a set of Rouge Engineering Camber plates for my E53 X5 which improved the front-end grip and decreased the understeering nature of the E53 X5! Remember when Hayaku & I installed these suckers among other things on our X5 two years ago!

At the same time, the BMW rear trailing arm bushing was wearing out and I could tell because with full throttle acceleration and shifting from 1-2, the rear end would squirm....BMW upgraded their RTABs and I replaced them and boy does it make the rear end much more solid!

Anyhow, the M3 now has had the new parts in the car for about 3 weeks or so and the suspension has settled and I am telling you, this car rides and handles better than it was brand new with these KONI struts/shocks! I can't describe as well as this European Car Magazine editor who did the same on the E46 M3 project car....

European Car magazine used an E46 M3 as a project car and remarked the improvement in ride, yet keeping the M3 balanced handling intact with the use of KONI struts/shocks! Read page 2 of this internet article:

Here is the quote:
Impressions and plans

The M3 has served as the "analogy poster child" of sorts. "M3-like steering", "M3-like brakes" and "revs like an M3" have been used to describe lesser cars' performance. In other words, the M3 was the car to emulate, it was the mark tuners wanted to hit. That said, I'm hard-pressed to find any shortcomings with this car. As I exit the freeway, I'm actually going faster than people in the far left lane, knowing those big 14-inch brakes are there to stop me. Same thing on entering the freeway; I'm usually hitting 85 mph before reaching the end of the 180-degree ramp. And there's something about the M3's cruising manners that instills great confidence. Driving a straight line is never boring. How many other cars can do that?

There are, however, a few things that make living with the M3 a little less than perfect, like finding a tiny blemish on Angelina Jolie's foot. One such blemish is the M3 tends to be fairly stiff on less-than-perfect surfaces, and while I love to watch my wife's boobs jiggle, she does not. Ultimately, it becomes a little irritating and I found myself searching the road for smooth spots. I have since replaced the M3's dampers with Koni Special D adjustable units, a move that satisfies both our needs.More than 20 years ago I used Koni dampers on my '75 2002. It was a great move and the resulting handling made me fall in love with BMW. Since then, Koni has continued to develop its line of shocks and struts with a special emphasis on all things European.

"The M3 was one of our important target vehicles," says Lee Grimes, one of Koni's hardcore motorheads. "Everyone here loves the M3 but felt it was a bit harsh for everyday use. The adjustable Koni shocks and struts help smooth the ride without losing the M3's inherent balance."

It was like he was reading my mind. It's exactly how I felt. That Koni spent considerable resources developing these shocks was obvious the moment I left the parking garage. The pavement that caused me to wince was magically gone. Of course it was still there, but it seemed farther away and not as intense. I took the on-ramps and off-ramps at the same maniacal speed and the end result was the same as before--unwavering control and stability. And if there was more chassis lean I neither felt it nor saw it, especially during quick maneuvers where mass shifted from side to side. As I drove home, those slabs of concrete that made the M3 jumpy before were gone as well. Basically, I got to keep the M3's fabulous handling prowess while teaching it more refined ride manners.

What's good (I should say great) about Koni dampers is that they are not a "one size fits all" shock. Each unit Koni makes is engineered specifically for that vehicle. That means Koni engineers have spent hundreds of hours driving your car (and my M3) before they release a shock or strut. Unlike a car's stock shocks, units typically made for economy rather than performance, Koni shocks are built with premium materials and built to last. Ask any race mechanic who has re-valved a Koni, they all say the same thing: damn nice shock.

The adjustable Konis work beautifully with the M3's factory springs. Moreover, they will continue to perform even if I decide to lower the car or change to a different spring rate combination. As per Koni's suggestion, I set the shocks to full soft. I have the option of increasing the dampening forces between 50 and 100 percent should I want more aggressive behavior.
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