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    steering rack choices

    I'm a bit frozen in my e30 rebuild due to uncertainty about the steering rack.
    I think my rack is leaking, and already have the subframe and oil pan out, so now is the time to upgrade.

    I know the Z3 rack is the hot ticket but they are more expensive, harder to find, and my mechanic pal says they just don't feel right in an E30 unless you have the suspension fully set up. In a mostly stock car (which mine is), he says they feel wrong in some way.

    I've found rack doctor online and via recommendation here but they don't reply to emails and don't answer the phone. They charge $249 for a stock E30 rack.

    So...for # turns improvement and cost, I'm leaning towards just doing an e36 rack ($199). Is there any reason to consider an e46 rack over that ($239)?
    I know I'll need spacers and maybe other bits - one concern is I already ordered new E30 PS reservoir, hoses, and tie rod ends. So should I just stay stock?
    I'm planning on selling the car when I'm done if that matters.
    1988 325iC SOLD
    1985 524td 49k

    #2
    Stock car that you're trying to sell. Keep the rack stock. You'll probably have the buyer market be larger if its a clean car (unmolested) and you're asking a decent amount for. And I believe the e46 rack needs different tierods.

    But also, is the current rack actually leaking or is this just a could be situation?

    Instagram: Reichart12

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      #3
      It's a very clean car, unmolested with only minor upgrades (things like Bilstein, chip, but otherwise stock). I'm all for stock, but from what I've read the rack is one of those must have upgrades.

      I am not sure if my rack is leaking. It's a ZF reman that was in there, and I know I had a leak, but it could have been the hoses. Is there an easy way to test it off the car besides sending it to a rebuilder?
      1988 325iC SOLD
      1985 524td 49k

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        #4
        Looked inside the boots and no signs of leakage, so I'm going to hope it's just the old hoses which I am replacing. Hoping to have it road ready by Monday!
        1988 325iC SOLD
        1985 524td 49k

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          #5
          Originally posted by danix View Post
          It's a very clean car, unmolested with only minor upgrades (things like Bilstein, chip, but otherwise stock). I'm all for stock, but from what I've read the rack is one of those must have upgrades.
          I'd just stick with stock as suggested.

          By the time you factor in a spacer kit and custom hoses, the stock rack will be cheaper than either of the other 2 options. The e46 rack needs modified e36 tierods to work (more expense) so if it's to sell, then not much point.
          My e30: OEM+ with M30B35

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            #6
            Took a chance and kept the existing rack. Seals looked dry. Replaced the PS reservoir and all the hoses. Just got it back on the road today, so far so good.
            1988 325iC SOLD
            1985 524td 49k

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              #7
              E36 rack?

              Can I glom on here? I have a '90 convertible that I am planning to keep for a long time. So it will be mine and mine only for the foreseeable future.


              Great car, but the steering is truly like a school bus.


              I'd like to replace the rack with something a little quicker. Anyone have experience with this?


              Also - I'd like a slightly smaller steering wheel. Mine is the huuuge one with the airbag.


              Thanks all.


              JFPark

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                #8
                stock e36 was better than my old stock rack

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by lukeADE335i View Post
                  I'd just stick with stock as suggested.

                  By the time you factor in a spacer kit and custom hoses, the stock rack will be cheaper than either of the other 2 options. The e46 rack needs modified e36 tierods to work (more expense) so if it's to sell, then not much point.
                  You don't need custom hoses; the stock e30 rack is definitely not cheaper than, say, an e46 rack; and you can literally just use stock e30 inners and outers with the e46 rack. OP is in the US so it might be different than Aussieland
                  "Time doesn't heal anything... It just teaches us how to live with the pain." - My Cracked Dashboard

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                    #10
                    I've never done an e46 but I've done several e36 conversions on early (non airbag) cars and they make a night and day difference. Check w rackdoctor.net
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                      #11
                      Originally posted by jeffnhiscars View Post
                      I've never done an e46 but I've done several e36 conversions on early (non airbag) cars and they make a night and day difference. Check w rackdoctor.net

                      I have a leaking rack and was just starting to think about repairing it. If I go to the e36 rack what else do I need? Hoses, tie rod ends, adaptors etc?


                      You say night and day difference, just a faster ratio? Increased or decreased assist?


                      Thanks for the help.

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                        #12
                        Same assist, 3.2 VS 4.0 so no longer feels like driving a bus. You can use e30 or e36 tie rods as long as you use both the inners and outer from the same genre (note e36 tierods are left and right whereas e30 are interchangeable).Early cars need a knuckle adaptor and late cars require a larger firewall opening. Hoses adapt.

                        If you buy a refurb from rack dr he includes the inners since enough people have over tightened them and complained to him that he now includes them....and don't believe the hype about the 95 M3 rack. It's more $$ for the exact same ratio but is just progressive which really does nothing for you.
                        Last edited by jeffnhiscars; 06-20-2019, 07:42 PM.
                        Deck Lid and soft top Shocks on hand

                        Seat shocks on hand for immediate shipment
                        https://www.r3vlimited.com/board/sho...86#post4944786
                        Alice the Time Capsule
                        http://www.r3vlimited.com/board/showthread.php?t=360504
                        87 Zinno Cabrio barn find 98k and still smells like a barn. Build thread http://www.r3vlimited.com/board/show...20#post3455220

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                          #13
                          Originally posted by Zambuzan View Post
                          You don't need custom hoses; the stock e30 rack is definitely not cheaper than, say, an e46 rack; and you can literally just use stock e30 inners and outers with the e46 rack. OP is in the US so it might be different than Aussieland
                          I did an E46 ZHP rack and it by far my favorite upgrade on my car. The ZHP rack has a larger/stronger torsion bar. "The stronger the torsion bar the more the sport feel" This is one of the things I love best about the new rack in my car. Steering is much tighter. I snapped my power steering belt a few years ago on my old car and drove around without it for a while. I actually really liked how the steering felt without power steering at speed, but it sucked trying to parallel park and have to in front of my house regularly. The ZHP rack reminded me of the tighter steering at speed with the old rack and no power steering, plus less turns to lock.

                          You will find some people that think the Z3 rack is the best, but it depends on what you use your car for. For the track or autocross this is true, but with the smallest turn to lock at 2.7 I have read a lot of people say that it makes the car too twitchy at speed on the high way. I have seen several people note that you barely have to move the wheel to change lanes and others have joked that if you sneeze you will change lanes so you have to be very careful/alert.

                          FYI-Also I posted this in another thread, E46 330 rack into E30, you should check out for more info. Make sure you get E46 inner tie rods some people have tried to use e30 ones and it can cause problems down the road. "Unless you modified the inner e30 tie rods you could trouble down the road and cause your rack to fail prematurely. The E46 inner tie rods are vented and allow air pressure to equalize pressure in the boots when turning via the inner tie rods via the vent slot."

                          Also if you call Rich at the Rack Doctor he will make sure you have the right inner and outer tie rods and sends it with adaptor cups. I believe he sent mine e46 inners and e36 outers.

                          ZHP rack debate:
                          The Purple Tag is not the ZHP rack, it is the ZF rack. The 330ZHP only came with Yellow Tag #712 rack. Some regular 330i came with Yellow tag 712 ZHP racks, but most came with Purple tag #678 ZF racks or TWR racks.
                          The difference between the Yellow ZHP 712 and Purple ZF 678 racks, is the Yellow 712 rack has a stronger torsion bar giving it the sportier/firmer feel.
                          All 3 of the E46 330 racks (712, 678 and TWR) have 3 turns to lock.
                          See this post I referenced earlier for a lot more details: https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=954523
                          Last edited by Zeemz; 06-21-2019, 07:56 AM.
                          1989 325is Lachssilber - Sold
                          1990 325is Sterlingsilber - Current Project
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                            #14
                            I have a purple tag e46 rack in my vert and zhp yellow tag in my coupe and its the best thing you can do for these cars. Ive driven e30's with the z3 rack and I personally think the e46 racks the way to go
                            Originally posted by blunttech
                            Levent guzzles vanilla hazelnut creamer like its my semen
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