I have a 1999 323 with under 60,000 miles, and I seem to have developed
a vibration problem. It started to develop vibration during braking at
about 55,000 mi, and I decided I must have a warped rotor. I had a new
set of brakes on the shelf, and was planning a 2000 mile drive on
mostly (95%+ interstate), so I changed them out although the pads were
still probably 80+%. The vibration seemed to be reduced, but not
eliminated. By the time I completed the trip, the vibration had become
excessive when I brake, but the vibration seems limited to the
steering. Should I be looking for a bad bushing, a ball joint, or
what? How do I check? I really don't feel very comfortable with
taking it to a dealer. Any input will be greatly appreciated.
I meant that I DID replace the rotors. I did not replace the sensors
since the pads were 80+%. I just had a full set of everything, and
expected that to correct my problem. My vehicles usually run 200 to
300K miles, and I've never had one act like this.
Jeff Strickland wrote:
Okay. The sensors don't have to ever be replaced, unless you get the Replace
Brakes warning. If you could manage to always replace brake pads before the
sensor alerted you that you had reaced end-life, then you could (in theory)
use the same sensor for as long as you owned the car. Whether or not this
works in practice depends on factors that have nothing to do with the
brakes, unless you count heat as being related to brakes.
I had a '94 E36 that had 215,000 miles and didn't behave that way. I had
rotors that simply wore to be too thin, so I replaced them. In the 120k
miles that I owned the car, I replaced the front rotors once, the front
brake pads twice, and the rear brake pads once. I don't recall if I had the
new rotors machined before I installed them, or if I took them out of the
box and stood back while they jumped onto the car. I have had rotors
machined since I owned my BMWs (I'm on the second one now), but I don't
recall that they were BMW rotors.
I don't recall that you gave us any indication of what part of the country
you live in, but stuff like road salt can play a role in you having a
completely different experience than I am having. I NEVER bounce my car off
the curb, and our roads are not filled with pot holes, so my suspension
parts tend to last a very long time. But, if your car visits the curbing on
occasion, or you have to navigate through fields of pot holes, then you
could have issues with the bushings that manifest themselves as suspension
shaking under braking.
My current car probably needs the bushings, I get some shaking on certain
kinds of roads that I never noticed shaking on in my old car. My new car is
a convertable -- same year as the other car -- and I am willing to chalk
some of the shakes up to the chassis. I'll be checking closer when I get
around to replacing the brakes -- pads and rotors are worn.
I had a similar problem a few months ago. I had a slight vibration
that was intermittent during normal driving, and more pronounced
vibration during braking. I took it to the dealer (since the car
was still under warranty). They replaced the front pads and rotors
and recommended a wheel balance and an alignment. I declined the
latter two because the car tracked straight and I had bought the
tires elsewhere. The problem seemed much better after replacing the
rotors/pads, but I was still getting intermittent vibration during
normal driving. I took the car in for a wheel balancing and the tire
shop told me they balanced out just fine. So, after a few weeks more
of still having the problem I took it back to the dealer. They again
replaced the pads and rotors and recommended an alignment and balance.
The tech at the dealer also showed me there was some cupping in the
tires. I went ahead and had the balance and alignment done. It cost
$280 but by then I figured I had to do what they recommended if only
to get them to resolve whatever the problem was. The weights on
the wheels changed after they did the rebalance and, at least according
to them, the alignment was off. Anyway, since then the problem
seems to have gone away. Why the tire shop (America's Tire Co.)
couldn't balance the tires properly is beyond me.
My car is a 2003 325i with, at the time, a little less than 50K miles.
The dealer did check the bushings and said they were OK. The tech
also told me that rotors are especially susceptible to warpage
if there's not enough grease and the grease tends to get removed
by high-pressure washing of the wheels.
I don't know the exact specs, but BMW's are very particular about having the
alignment right on. I seem to recall something about having weight in the
driver seat while its being done. Your average tech at a national chain
probably read a pamphlet or training book in his orientation class on how to
run the machine. That barely qualifies him to do the alignment and
certainly does not teach him the skills to be as precise as BMW's require.
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