need '96 E36 suspension advice

Hi All, I have a '96 328i sedan with 124,000+ miles. The car is a daily driver and I liked the factory ride, but could live with something a little
stiffer. On a recent trip to the dealer I asked them to check my suspension. They said the rear shocks are shot, which I agree with. I asked about the condition of the rear springs and was told they don't need to be replaced unless they're actually broken. Is this true? I was thinking why not change the springs at the same time? Also, they told me that my front suspension is "worn", but still has some life left. I would consider upgrading all 4 corners at the same time to improve the ride and get it done all at once. What would you recommend? BAV auto has their own brand coilover kit that is very reasonably priced. Any word on the quality of their own brand? How are coilovers different from the regular BMW set-up? I would do the work myself, with the Bently manual close at hand! Any tips on doing the job would be greatly appreciated! TIA for the help and advice.
JP
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JP wrote:

If you put aftermarket uprated suspension on you'll be going around corners like they're not there. Putting a set of eibach springs on my 3 was the best decision I ever made.
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If you want to change the handling, changing the springs makes sense. If you just want to restore the factory handling, it doesn't.
The springs don't wear out...they're either fine or they're broken. By design, the metal in the springs never gets out of the elastic range so an unbroken spring should respond pretty much the same as the day it was made.
Tom.
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Tom Sanderson wrote:

That's pretty much true, but springs do sag over time. Look at any old car and most will sag to the driver's side.
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Only if the wife is skinny or seldom in the car. Some sag to the passengers side.
But yes they always seem to list to one side.
On a 126 chassis Mercedes, the clever gmones of Zurich put a lot of effort into aerodynamics and every odd bit is so that there's less wind resistance hence the stupid looking mirrors. But it works and it's quite slick. Now, when it does get wet there's only one place water ends up - dripping off the tailights onto the bumper. After 20 years this leaves a spot on the bumper that looks like, well, it's had 20 years of water drippig on it.
This is a metric as to how much rain the car has seen. It's usually on the drivers side. If it's on the passengers side, well, you can draw your own conclusions.
--
Need Mercedes parts? http://parts.mbz.org
Richard Sexton | Mercedes stuff: http://mbz.org
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Rex B wrote:

Leaves do; coils don't. As for the driver's side, this may be lower BY DESIGN because most roads in civilized countries are 'crowned' (higher in the middle, for water runoff). This way, the car rides level. -- C.R. Krieger (Been there; changed that)
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Yes, they do, just not as much. There's a complience test for Mercedes springs in the factory manuals. They recognize they do lose complience over the years and as the owner of several of these old flivvers I can tell you it's quite a real phenomenon.
--
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E28 Guy wrote:

Manufacturer's stopped compensating for road crown decades ago, if they ever did. Radial tires and interstate highways made it unnecessary. And it was done with front caster and camber, never springs.
Here's 1994 Miata specs (note the symmetry): Rear     Toe:     1/32 inch (04.5' or 0.075) IN per side     Camber:     -1.75 degrees Front     Camber:     -1.2 degrees     Caster:     5.0 degrees     Toe:     1/32 inch IN per side
In fact, I'm going back as far as 1955 on Chevrolet, and there is no mention of different specs to compensate for road crown. That jives with my recollection that this was done by some shops, primarily in rural areas. It was one of those "tricks of the trade" that kept their less attentive customers out of the ditch. It's a non-issue today in the US, but could be true in a more civilized country :)
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Thanks to everyone who posted! It sounds like I can keep the springs and just replace the dampers. Any opinions on how Bilstein Touring shocks compare to Sachs dampers? The Bilsteins are about 1/2 the price of the Sachs at Bavauto, and they're guaranteed for the life of the car. I don't want to cheap-out on the car, but I just put $3300 into it (ouch!). So I don't want to buy something that's junk and then have to re-do the job.
Thanks again, JP

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