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Just Got a 318is - What to do with suspension?

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    Just Got a 318is - What to do with suspension?

    Hey all, I just got my first E30, a 318is. I'm loving it so far, but she needs a refresh. I think I'm going to do Bilsteins shocks and H&R springs, which sounds like the consensus for a good DD setup. I also wanted to refresh all the bushings and the control arms. Thing is, I'm pretty new to wrenching. I've helped friends here and there, but I don't really know how to plan a build so I'm looking for some help just to make sure I'm kinda doing the right thing.

    So here's what I'm looking at (I haven't looked for cheaper prices yet, just made a list):


    ***For the refresh kit, I have some questions.

    1. Does this kit contain everything I need to refresh all of the suspension parts? I think it's just for the front. Is there a kit available for the rear as well?
    2. Is rubber the way to go, or should I do polyurethane bushings? I'm building a car for handling, so I think poly might be the way to go. However, will that make highway driving annoying? I don't mind a bit of NVH if it gives good feedback, but if it's just harsh, I'd rather pass. I will be using this car on the highway for longer drives semi-regularly.

    Am I missing anything? Could the strut/shock mounts be replaced now as well (if I'm planning a full refresh eventually)?

    I want to swap the steering rack eventually to something faster - would it make sense to do it now since I'm already going to take apart the suspension, or will I be able to bolt it in later?

    Finally, are other things like sway bar/strut bar/subframe reinforcements worth for weekend canyons and the occasional autocross?

    Apologies for the long post, I'd really appreciate some advice.

    #2
    Congrats on the car!

    To answer your questions:

    1. No, the kit is intended for the front end. Other things that would be handy to replace during the front end rebuild would be the steering rack boots, the power steering hoses (if in poor shape), and the front strut mounts. The kit you listed uses the stock webbed control arm bushings, you can upgrade to the solid rubber centered 96-99 M3 ones, or offset e30 M3 & 95 M3 bushings if you want some more caster.

    If you want to get into rebuilding the rear suspension, new rear subframe and trailing arm bushings, new rear sway bar links & bushings (if in poor shape), and new rear shock mounts (either the OEM style with the reinforcement plates or an aftermarket style like Rogue or Ground Control).

    2. Poly bushings are usually easier to install, but for a street car, fresh rubber bushings will feel great without any added harshness (maybe soft poly rear subframe bushings, but that's about it).


    Other things to consider:

    If you're going to swap the rack, it's a good time to do it while you're refreshing the front suspension. You will have to notch the firewall on an airbag e30 due to the steering shaft angle, but even a standard e36 rack will make a noticeable difference (rackdoctor.net is a good spot to shop for a refurbished steering rack).

    The m42 engine has a low oil pan, so a skid plate is strongly encouraged (red46 or race skids are popular brands).

    If the differential has to come out, get a stud kit (Condor Speed Shop is the one that comes to mind), as it'll make install back into the subframe a lot easier.

    If you want larger sway bars than stock, you'll want reinforcements for the front and rear mounting points (depending on the brand, some are bolt-in, while others may require welding). A front strut bar can help a little, but not entirely required.

    Seems like you're pointed in the right direction. As long as the engine & drivetrain are in good working order, sounds like a fun car!

    Comment


      #3
      I ran the bilstien B4's on my 318is with the same springs. I dont think you need to buy the most expensive ones unless your racing.

      My favortie mod for suspension was a bigger sway bar front and rear. I did it after I rebuilt the suspension like what your doing.

      Also check out new control arms from a good brand (lemforders are 80$ or so) that made a big improvement on my car as they where blown out when i got it.
      91' 318is 90' 325is

      Originally posted by Sonny
      Buy the E30s, they ain't gonna last long
      E30 can make you, E30 can break you
      "He who controls the Nova's, controls the Boomers"

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by mtech325 View Post
        Congrats on the car!

        To answer your questions:

        1. No, the kit is intended for the front end. Other things that would be handy to replace during the front end rebuild would be the steering rack boots, the power steering hoses (if in poor shape), and the front strut mounts. The kit you listed uses the stock webbed control arm bushings, you can upgrade to the solid rubber centered 96-99 M3 ones, or offset e30 M3 & 95 M3 bushings if you want some more caster.

        If you want to get into rebuilding the rear suspension, new rear subframe and trailing arm bushings, new rear sway bar links & bushings (if in poor shape), and new rear shock mounts (either the OEM style with the reinforcement plates or an aftermarket style like Rogue or Ground Control).

        2. Poly bushings are usually easier to install, but for a street car, fresh rubber bushings will feel great without any added harshness (maybe soft poly rear subframe bushings, but that's about it).


        Other things to consider:

        If you're going to swap the rack, it's a good time to do it while you're refreshing the front suspension. You will have to notch the firewall on an airbag e30 due to the steering shaft angle, but even a standard e36 rack will make a noticeable difference (rackdoctor.net is a good spot to shop for a refurbished steering rack).

        The m42 engine has a low oil pan, so a skid plate is strongly encouraged (red46 or race skids are popular brands).

        If the differential has to come out, get a stud kit (Condor Speed Shop is the one that comes to mind), as it'll make install back into the subframe a lot easier.

        If you want larger sway bars than stock, you'll want reinforcements for the front and rear mounting points (depending on the brand, some are bolt-in, while others may require welding). A front strut bar can help a little, but not entirely required.

        Seems like you're pointed in the right direction. As long as the engine & drivetrain are in good working order, sounds like a fun car!
        Thanks for answering my questions! Based on this, I think I'm going to focus on the front end for now since the rear feels alright. Good call on the skid plate, I hadn't thought of that.

        Originally posted by Motheye99 View Post
        I ran the bilstien B4's on my 318is with the same springs. I dont think you need to buy the most expensive ones unless your racing.

        My favortie mod for suspension was a bigger sway bar front and rear. I did it after I rebuilt the suspension like what your doing.

        Also check out new control arms from a good brand (lemforders are 80$ or so) that made a big improvement on my car as they where blown out when i got it.
        Interesting, I thought that the B8's were needed if you were going to lower the car.

        Comment


          #5
          I just did a revision on my earlier refresh and itís made a huge difference. I basically did everything in the front end kit, except used E36 M3 solid CABs. Ran Bilstein B6 HDs on stock springs and sways, which cleaned up the ride but didnít help height or body roll.

          I just finished installing H&R OE Sports and a 14.5mm rear sway with new end links, and itís a very different car now, much more neutral handling and actually a smoother ride, exactly what I was looking for. I got about 1Ē drop from stock on the front and rear, which is noticeable but not crazy low and still within the tolerances of my HDs. If I did it again, I think Iíd get E30 M3 CABs for the added caster. Maybe sometime in the future when Iím bored :)

          H&R Sports will give you about 0.25Ē more drop but the same spring rate as the OE Sports. At that amount of drop you should really get B8s to take advantage of the shorter rod length and appropriate damper travel. For me, I would go to Race before Sport to get some serious stiffness out of the springs...and a skid plate for the oil pan!


          Ezekiel 25:17
          Current flame: E30 318iS Alpinweiss II slicktop / LSD - Joanne
          The ex: E92 335i 6MT M-Sport - Betty
          The heavy: 2001 4Runner SR5 Sport (3rd Gen) - Fred

          Comment


            #6
            2nd the H&R OE Sport springs + Bilsteins (B4s in my case). I installed this setup last year (see here). If you choose to run the H&R OE Sport springs, you'll likely want to get a set of 14.5mm rear spring pads from an E46 to level out the suspension (see here).

            Here's the part list, which does not include the control arms, CABs, steering rack, tie rods, or a number of other things I'd replaced a couple years earlier.

            Part - Part # - Quantity
            Washer - 07119901766 - 2
            B4 Shocks & Struts Kit - 21030505KT - 1
            Threaded Ring M48X1.5 - 31321117376 - 2
            Dust Sealing Gasket - 31331110196 - 2
            Upper Spring Plate -31331128524 - 2
            Front Flat Washer - 31336776760 - 2
            Shock Plate - 33521091427 - 2
            Complete Rear Upper Shock Mounting Kit - 33521092362 - 1
            Joint Plate - 33521117677 - 2
            Shock Skirt - 33521129263 - 2
            Rear Upper Spring Pad - 33531128610 - 2
            BMW Coil Spring Shim Front Upper - 31331128523
            BMW Strut Mount - Sachs 31331139452 - 2
            BMW Coil Spring Shim Rear - Genuine BMW 33531136386 - 2
            BMW Coil Spring Shim Front Lower - Lemforder 31331124322 - 2
            BMW Shock Bump Stop (E30 E36) - Genuine BMW 33521125078 - 2
            Strut Bellow - KYB SB105 - 1
            H&R Springs 50404.55 - 1

            This makes for a very nice DD setup. I take the car to the track a few times a year and this will do quite nicely.

            Here's how she sits:





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