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Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 11:02:13 -0800 (PST)
From: Ron Browne <>
Subject: <E36>Suspension Installs

Greetings all:
Did a fair amount of E36 suspension work this weekend on my car and my brothers, and thought I would pass on my experiences.

Car A(his): 1993 E36 325ia. Appr. 60,000 miles, Stock suspension. 16 inch wheels with 205-55 Bridgestone's.

Car B(mine): 1992 318is. 114,000 miles. OE rear shocks and springs. OE front springs. 1 year old Boge/Sachs Gas Struts. 16 inch wheels with 205-55 Dunlops.

Car A received a like-new Sachs Sporting Suspension kit, (matching springs, struts, shocks) normally sold at Bekkers for around $650 or so. This particular set was purchased slightly used from a digester. Car B received new Bilstein HD shocks at the rear, retained stock springs at the rear(couldn't really find a good used E36 Sport Package set of rear springs for the rear), and a used (less then 20,000 miles) set of 318ti Sport package front springs and struts.

Why didn't I just get a used E36 M3 or used E36 Sport package suspension set from the Roundel classifieds? Well, in my limited suspension research, it appears that BMW makes the coil springs tailored for each vehicle, taking into account (obviously) the weight of each vehicle. Since the weight of the front of a Ti is closer to my cars weight than the front of a 6 cylinder BMW, I opted for the Ti pieces. Who knows...maybe the E36 M3 springs would have worked just fine on my car. Then again, maybe they would not have. Regardless, the pieces I obtained were in fine shape, at a great used price.

Car A's before measurements: (all measurements takes from the center of the wheel up to the fender.)

Front-Appr 14 3/4ths inches
Rear- Appr 13.00 inches

After the install

Front-Appr 13.00 inches
Rear-Appr 12 3/4ths inches

Car B's before measurements
Front-Appr 14.75 inches
Rear-Appr 12 and 7/8ths inches

After the install

Front-Appr 14.5 inches
Rear-Appr 13.0 inches.

Yes, I know..Car B actually went UP slightly in the rear ride height...I attribute that to the dead old shocks in the rear. They were not leaking, just lifeless.

Car A's front end drop was visually
noticeable...significant decrease in the ugly wheelwell gap. Car B's overall drop was slightly noticeable was expected.

Car A's ride was not as bad as expected. Much firmer, handling much more precise, body roll significantly reduced. Braking nose-dive all but eliminated. Total test drive was only about 10 miles, so couldnt draw too many conclusions. A slight pull to the left was noticed, as well as slightly increased steering effort.

Car B's ride was much improved. Much more controlled, less pitch...the annoying excess brake dive was significantly reduced, as was the porposing between high-rpm gear changes. Car B had the rear shocks installed a week before the strut job, as I wanted to experiment with the effects of certain parts. Amazing how just the rear shock change had a noticeable effect on reducing the brake dive. Putting on the new struts/springs helped even more. That annoying dip in the road on my street, that usually resulted in an annoying excess rebound at 40mph, with the old stock setup, now results in the struts feeling like they are grabbing the car and pulling it back down when the car attempts to go upwards. Yet, overall ride quality (which is what I have to live with everyday) is still comfortable.

I'm satisfied and my brother is satisfied. We'll see how things pan out in the long-term. I may opt to purchase some OE BMW Sport Package rear springs in the future. Or maybe I won't.

Borrowed a relatives Craftsman 3hp, 12 gallon compressor and Craftsman Impact gun. Horrible performance. Gun did not have enough torque to remove most of the strut to hub bolts. Sucker kept getting hot when using it on the spring compressors to compress the spring, tripping the circuit breaker fo my garage. And, cheap Chinese spring compressors were a bear to get the spring compressed enough to get the top strut bearing/washer/nut on there.

That's it...I'm beat.

Ron Browne
1992 318is
Bowie, MD

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