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View Full Version : Question about steering "feel" on 2001 330i



AGadre
07-29-2004, 02:49 PM
Hi,
I recently purchased a 2001 330i. It was built in 10/00 and put in service in 12/00. I had heard that BMW had changed the "steering feel" of these vehicles to make them easier to maneuver at low speeds but that this negatively impacted the "driving experience". I also heard that BMW changed the steering back to what it used to be in response to these complaints.

I asked the VOB service writer about this and he said it applied to 98 and 99 vehicles not 01. I would appreciate it if I could get answers to the following questions:

1. Was the steering changed for the 01 330i's?
2. If so, is there a significant dfference in the feel such that a 1st time BMW owner is likely to notice?
3. Did BMW offer a retrofit to the old steering feel for people who complained?

Thanks for your help.

Jed
08-04-2004, 05:46 PM
Hi,
I recently purchased a 2001 330i. It was built in 10/00 and put in service in 12/00. I had heard that BMW had changed the "steering feel" of these vehicles to make them easier to maneuver at low speeds but that this negatively impacted the "driving experience". I also heard that BMW changed the steering back to what it used to be in response to these complaints.

I asked the VOB service writer about this and he said it applied to 98 and 99 vehicles not 01. I would appreciate it if I could get answers to the following questions:

1. Was the steering changed for the 01 330i's?
2. If so, is there a significant dfference in the feel such that a 1st time BMW owner is likely to notice?
3. Did BMW offer a retrofit to the old steering feel for people who complained?

Thanks for your help.

That's odd because the 1998 MY is the E36 chassis. I do believe that it was the 2001s with the "new steering" (many automotive publications had complained about it). My friend who has an '01 325Ci did some research on it and found that BMW NA would retrofit his car.

The feel of the '01 E46 is very light compared to the earlier E46s and 2002+. Not as direct a feel.

It just sounds like VOB doesn't want to do it. Sorry, but I have a very low opinion of that place. Contact another dealership for a second opinion.

I can ask my friend which dealership he contacted.

Maverick
08-06-2004, 12:45 PM
I have the same car and to me the steering is fine. Others may disagree as my only other BMW driven was a 88 e30. I've owned mine since February and even autocrossed it several times and am perfectly happy with the feel. Can't answer your other 2 questions as I do not know

AGadre
10-18-2004, 12:21 PM
Thank you very much for your advice and information.

I contacted BMW and they told me that the retrofit offer expired some time back. However, as you would expect, it can be done if I pay for it. According to the parts guy at the dealership, in 2001, BMW used steering racks made by TRW and this gave a "mushy", "Japanese car" feel. For the owners who complained, the company retrofitted them with racks made by ZF (part # 32 136 753 438). Cost of the rack is around $1,100 less some sort of rebate of $170 for turning in the old rack.

I'm considering having this done by my independent shop rather than the dealer. Do you know how I can confirm that the switching out of the racks is the only thing that had to be accomplished? Contact BMW, NA again? Apparently, there's no bulletin that tells what to do.

Thanks!

NoSoup4U
10-18-2004, 02:33 PM
Before you start with steering feel and spending $1K+ labor .. think about changing your alignment first. Then, get different tires, possibly even wider ones. You can definitely change steering feel/input without getting a new steering rack.

It's not worth spending the $$$ for the steering/labor upgrade. You'll never get that back from a private sale and if anything, will actually lower your resale value.

I would probably add more negative camber for turn-in ... (feels better) and then add a little bit more rubber - better steering feel.

Jed
10-25-2004, 12:55 PM
It's not really that as much as the actual steering effort of the '01s. They are Honda-light. I mean you can turn the wheel with a finger.

Anonymous
10-26-2004, 08:21 PM
BMW was replacing the rack FOC for original owners
it was only a small window of production time that had this issue
about an 8 month run i think

one person noticed it and the rest of the geeks jumped on the bandwagon
he got one so I want one. but it was a difference none the less

the other guy is right though ..it's not a 1500 dollar difference
tires and a bigger ps pulley will have the same effect

clyde
10-27-2004, 10:13 AM
There are several steering racks that could be in any particular '01 E46. There was the original, wihch had much lighter effort and offered less feedback than the '00 models. There was an outcry on a number of message boards and many people complained to BMWNA. In response, a retrofit was offered for no charge for a while that was supposed to be more like the '00 versions. A lot of people that had the retrofit done said that it didn't feel like there was much, if any, difference. A lot of other people said it was like night and day.

Late in the '01 production run, the factory installed rack changed, but apparently, it was not changed to the retrofit rack but an entirely new rack.

Based on the reported mixed experiences of others, I'd be very reluctant to pay for the retrofit rack and just live with what I had...especially if I was satisfied enough with it to buy the car.