View Full Version : E36 suspension questions

02-02-2007, 10:00 PM
Hello all,

I have a 98 328 convertible with 117K miles. I want to try to bring the suspension back up to par, and I was wondering what I need to do. Do I need to get new springs, or can I just get away with shocks and struts all around? Is there anything else I should be replacing while I am at it like the strut mounts.

My car does not have the sport suspension, so I am thinking I should upgrade the shocks while I am at it. I like the way the car rides until I try to do any hard cornering, which is where I would really like to see an improvement. I have driven an E36 M3 and I like the way they drive. They seem ok for everyday driving - not too rough. I don't think I want to lower the car because I am running a set of staggered countours and I am worried that the tires would rub if I used shorter springs. The tires are close enough to the fenders as it is.

Finally, is this something that I could tackle at a DIY session, or should I leave it to the professionals? I am a novice, but I would love to be able to do some of the work myself.



02-03-2007, 08:32 AM

Rather than replacing the entire suspension, consider remedies to the specific concern. In reference to 'everything is great until hard cornering' what specifically is experienced; understeer, oversteer, twitchyness, steering effort, vibrations, tire wear, power/braking yaw/attitude change? What has been changed on the car; different wheels/tires? What tire pressures? With specific solutions you will likely save a lot of money and be a lot happier.

Convertibles are inherently weak, they are missing an effective structural member; the top. So shouldn't change suspension firmness at the corners without stiffening the chassis too. With M3 Convertible OEM suspension and chassis parts or similar aftermarkets, should be able to get the car to handle similar to an E36 M3 Convertible but wont achieve the level of the E36 M coupe/sedan. However, be prepared to have added pounds in the process and effectively reduced horsepower. So, something needs to be done with the drivetrain to compensate, otherwise overall driveability will be impaired.

Viewing other posts, seems like you have not been real happy with this car. So spending money on significant upgrades may not be wise. Provided the car has not been driven exceptionally hard/abused or does not have gross undiagnosed suspension problem, your car likely handles today as it did back in '98. Since you been looking into Ms, it's more likely that your expectations have evolved passed the car's characteristics.

PS: Its 25 degrees outside right now, should know what the cold pressures are without checking and more importantly, a run down to Starbucks and back what the pressures would be then.

02-03-2007, 11:03 AM
at that mileage you should start by replacing all the wear parts in the suspension. control arm bushings, trailing arm bushings, subframe bushings, sway bar end links. then replace the shocks, if original, they were toast 60k miles ago. replace with koni s/a's. bilsteins will be too stiff for your taste. when done, try it out. if it still doesn't feel "right" for you, try a sway bar upgrade to cut down on the body roll a little. i am assuming you aren't into the track thing and don't care about handling at the extremes...so understeer/oversteer discussion is irrelevant. the above set up will definitely make the car feel tighter without sacrificing daily drivability.


02-05-2007, 01:12 PM
How do you like the GroundControl coilover kit? I'm getting one for my 2001 E39 M5 with 48K miles. Doug

02-05-2007, 08:33 PM
How do you like the GroundControl coilover kit? I'm getting one for my 2001 E39 M5 with 48K miles. Doug

tough comparison...you are probably getting the koni sa's on a street car...i had the full tilt gc race setup with advance design da's and spherical bearings everywhere....800lb springs on a non-street legal race car.

that said, i loved the suspension and the adjustibility. this was the second race car i had the full gc/ad setup on. gc makes great suspension bits. my street cars ride on stock suspensions...:)