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Old 01-27-2012, 11:38 AM   #1
Deo
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Seeking suspension advice

Hey guys, the time has come for me to replace my suspension in my E36 m3. As far as I know, i'm running original parts with 150k on them The coating on the springs at the front is almost completely flaked off. The car almost feels like it has no suspension.

Now I see this as an opportunity for me to make an upgrade as well as perform some necessary maintenance! From what I've read, the OEM setup has a very short life span (about 50k) and for Genuine parts, is pretty expensive. Currently after reading the forums and searching for about 3 weeks now, I've settled on a few solutions.

I know i'll be asked this so I'll save you the trouble. The car is mostly a dd, I may Autox it or do a track day or two in the summer, but primarily a street car that I drive spirited a lot. (there is a fantastic little curvy road that I have to go down every day to get home).

Money would be a factor for me, but so is ease of installation. I'm a novice when it comes to working on cars, and if I could do the install myself that would be great as I can imagine labor to have it done would make the price skyrocket! So if say the more expensive of these is something I could install myself vs. a cheaper option i'd have to take to a shop, it may end up costing me more in the long run to go with the higher initial cost option.

Also note that when this work is done, I'll most likely be replacing all the bushings as well, from what I've read that will also make a huge difference and is something that should not be ignored.

In order of what i'm leaning towards the most to the least:
  • Koni Yellows with H&R sport springs.
    I like how they are adjustable, and from everything i've read, they are right in the sweet spot of being not too stiff, but not to soft. I've heard nothing but good things about either the Koni's or the H&R sports. Any opinion on them being used together? So far this seems like what i'll be going with, and from what I've read on installing the parts it doesn't seem incredible difficult, correct me if i'm wrong on that please.
  • Bilstein sports with H&R sports.
    Turner sells a kit with these two, they look like they'd be good, hell I can even get a kit that has everything pre assembled and ready to bolt in! (albeit that kit is around $1400!). The things I've read about the billy's is that they are far to stiff for a street car and to avoid them.
  • KW V1's
    I know they are most likely completely unnecessary and a waste of money. But out of curiosity how would these compare to the above two for the street and occasional track/autox day?
  • TC Kline
    I've heard nothing but good things about these, the price is a little steep, and I don't know if I should even been thinking of this type of set up.
  • TRM
    Same as the TC Kline's, but i've been recommended these by a few people on bf.c and they do look like one hell of a setup for the money.

As of right now i'm leaning towards the TRM setup, they seem to be what i'm looking for, that kind of 60/40 70/30 split between performance/ride quality.

Sorry for the long read! Thanks guys!
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:02 PM   #2
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While I cannot recommend anything since I don't have experience riding in cars with different setups, I did replace my OEM shocks with Bilstein HD's.

The HD is the same as the sport ( bump stops is the only difference) so I can say that they are fine for DD. I suppose they are a little stiffer than an OEM setup, but not so much that it is uncomfortable. Unfortunately I'm a student, so I'm still running the OEM sport springs.

I would recommend not going with OEM shocks due to their short lifespan and price premium.
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:07 PM   #3
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for your application i'd go with koni yellows and the H&R's. You can obviously spend more money if so inclined.
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:31 PM   #4
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Check out BC Racing coilovers.
Probably best bang for your buck.

For me I have an FK coilover kit with Koni dampers and the ride is very stock like just slightly firmer as long as you don't slam the car and turn things up.

I was going to do stock springs on Koni dampers, but they were back ordered everywhere at the time and the install is a bit of a pain having to re-use the stock housing. Just the look of the Stainless steel housings on my coilovers was worth the extra few hundred. I didn't originally want coil-overs, it just made more sense to me.
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Old 01-27-2012, 03:37 PM   #5
Deo
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Originally Posted by propr'one View Post
for your application i'd go with koni yellows and the H&R's. You can obviously spend more money if so inclined.
I have no problem with putting out the money for the TRM/TC Kline, Ground Control kits, just as long as for my purposes i'll be able to use and notice the advantages that they have to offer. If for me it wont make a difference between these CO's or the Koni's/H&R's. then I wont bother spending the money.
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Old 01-27-2012, 03:49 PM   #6
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It just comes down to adjust-ability. Having said that, whenever you raise/lower coilovers, you technically should get at least a front end alignment since you've just changed the geometry. No one does this. Which means that after spending 2K on coils most people still aren't really getting the full benefit of their suspension.

Have you done the brakes in your car? That's probably a better place to spend the extra $.
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Old 01-27-2012, 03:57 PM   #7
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I've got bc coils. I wouldn't have gone a different route.
Worth the buy!
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:40 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by propr'one View Post
It just comes down to adjust-ability. Having said that, whenever you raise/lower coilovers, you technically should get at least a front end alignment since you've just changed the geometry. No one does this. Which means that after spending 2K on coils most people still aren't really getting the full benefit of their suspension.

Have you done the brakes in your car? That's probably a better place to spend the extra $.
Did my brakes last summer, all that's left on the inspection list is some suspension bushings as well as the shocks and springs (was going to do this all at once), a gearshift rod joint (depending on what the shop thinks the excessive play is), new headlights, and a new thermostat. Also going to get UUC to send me a new shift arm since my height adjustment doesn't work.
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:22 AM   #9
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What are you looking for exactly? If "low" isn't a priority, it's really, really hard to beat the OEM setup for great handling on "real" (read - somewhat rough) roads. I don't recommend the bilstein sports with lowering springs - there simply isn't enough travel.
Konis with stock springs are fantastic, or coilovers.
New Sachs OEM stuff can be had around $500 shipped from the US.
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:18 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by njansenv View Post
What are you looking for exactly? If "low" isn't a priority, it's really, really hard to beat the OEM setup for great handling on "real" (read - somewhat rough) roads. I don't recommend the bilstein sports with lowering springs - there simply isn't enough travel.
Konis with stock springs are fantastic, or coilovers.
New Sachs OEM stuff can be had around $500 shipped from the US.
The problem with OEM for me is the lifespan. I'm not really looking to lower the car, but an index finger width between the top of the tire and end o the fender is ideal for me.
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:54 AM   #11
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Are you driving this car in the winter ? If so coilovers are not recommended. Even lowering may be a challenge.
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Old 01-28-2012, 12:43 PM   #12
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Are you driving this car in the winter ? If so coilovers are not recommended. Even lowering may be a challenge.
Nope, its my summer car.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:03 PM   #13
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Too hard, too soft, good, not good.. ect.

Itís all subjective. Itís almost impossible for anyone to give you a really good answer on a discussion forum. Whatís harsh for you may be soft for someone else, or the other way around. So you really should at least try to sample a few setups on other peopleís cars if you have a chance.

Bilstein HD's w/ H&R's are actually almost perfect for me, maybe even a little on the soft side. Others may not think so. Plus they are rock solid reliability wise.

I currently have Koni STR's on my car (from previous owner) and I would never buy Koni again. They are 2 years old and have 2 track days on them, plus 1 winter and prolly around 60k total. They are already starting to go.

Some people have had them leak shortly after install or somewhere within the first year of use. Not everyone experiences that problem though. I'm not sure what the deal is, but there is obviously some sort of quality control/consistency issue there.

In my mind, that eliminates TC Kline (overpriced anyway), the Koni setup, or TRM if they use Koni as well.

KW is a great option from what I hear, and if youíre willing to pay for TC Klineís then KW's can be had for the same price. However I have never used them myself so maybe someone can chime in who has.

You may also what to check out the PSS9's from Bilstein as well as your HD/H&R option. If youíre looking for a 70/30 balance between performance and ride (assuming you consider stock 50/50), I canít see either of those options being a problem.

For someone who drives their car almost exclusively as a summer DD with one or two track days, I would stick to stock M3 bushings with limiters for the RTAB's. But how extensive is this bushing overhaul going to be? There are some bushings you wouldnít want to replace with stock stuff.
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Old 01-28-2012, 04:40 PM   #14
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Too hard, too soft, good, not good.. ect.

Itís all subjective. Itís almost impossible for anyone to give you a really good answer on a discussion forum. Whatís harsh for you may be soft for someone else, or the other way around. So you really should at least try to sample a few setups on other peopleís cars if you have a chance.

Bilstein HD's w/ H&R's are actually almost perfect for me, maybe even a little on the soft side. Others may not think so. Plus they are rock solid reliability wise.

I currently have Koni STR's on my car (from previous owner) and I would never buy Koni again. They are 2 years old and have 2 track days on them, plus 1 winter and prolly around 60k total. They are already starting to go.

Some people have had them leak shortly after install or somewhere within the first year of use. Not everyone experiences that problem though. I'm not sure what the deal is, but there is obviously some sort of quality control/consistency issue there.

In my mind, that eliminates TC Kline (overpriced anyway), the Koni setup, or TRM if they use Koni as well.

KW is a great option from what I hear, and if youíre willing to pay for TC Klineís then KW's can be had for the same price. However I have never used them myself so maybe someone can chime in who has.

You may also what to check out the PSS9's from Bilstein as well as your HD/H&R option. If youíre looking for a 70/30 balance between performance and ride (assuming you consider stock 50/50), I canít see either of those options being a problem.

For someone who drives their car almost exclusively as a summer DD with one or two track days, I would stick to stock M3 bushings with limiters for the RTAB's. But how extensive is this bushing overhaul going to be? There are some bushings you wouldnít want to replace with stock stuff.
If I had the option to go for a ride in any cars equipped with any of these setups that would be ideal, but so far no one has offered, so i'm trying to decide based on all the feedback I can gather.

The advantages for me that I can see with coilovers is that I know i'll have the performance there, and have the ability to adjust it to my liking depending on what i'll be doing. If I want to track/autox I can stiffen it up fairly easily, but for the average day I can make it soft for a nice ride. The other advantage (with TRM and GC) is that they come in a complete kit, so I wont need to buy anything extra to set them up. Correct me if i'm wrong here, but they appear to be easier for me to install myself as the companies supply set up info as well as them being pre-assembled. If I can install them myself, wouldn't it potentially be cheaper then getting a normal strut/spring combo and having them installed?

The overhaul I was planning would be (depending on cost and how easy certain bushing are to do) everything, or at least all that actually need changing.

Sorry for my ignorance, I'm still learning and don't know a whole lot.
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Old 02-04-2012, 02:39 PM   #15
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I had the Bilstein sport with H&R Sport springs. I switched to the TCKline SA Coilovers. Best move ever. The car has good street manners and handles very well on the track. I would buy them again and never blink at the price for the results I got. I regret not having gone this route earlier.

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