wheels, tires and suspension suggestions

Hi All, I have a '96 328i, 102,000 miles, with stock suspension and 15" wheels. This is my daily driver, 70 miles/day mostly highway in the NY-NJ area. I
have dedicated snow tires for winter use. Any advice on changing to 16" or 17" wheels? I'm considering 17x7 1/2". Would 17"x 7" be a better choice? Would there be that much difference between 16 and 17" wheels? I believe the offset should be 41mm. Is there room to vary this number? Does a lower offset produce a wider track? Has anyone bought wheels from Tirerack that don't require spacers and such? How about "refurbished" and OER wheels? Also, at 100K plus miles are springs and shocks due for replacement? Would the stock suspension be too spongy when mated with 17" wheels? Would lower/firmer be better? TIA to all.
JP
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JP wrote:

Keep your current wheels and leave your snow tires on 'em. Buying 17" snow tires and swapping them on/off your new wheels would be a major waste of money (and convenience).

Never get spacers. Not unless you don't mind losing traction and control and steering precision. And looking like a gang banger.
Good wheels that are appropriate to your car are not all that expensive. I would get larger wheels only if you think they look a lot prettier than the stock wheels and if you're prepared to live with a lot less tolerance for pot holes. You'll have to drop from 60 series tires to 50 (for 16") or even 40 (for 17"). Lower series tires are a lot more responsive to steering input, but also a lot more likely to be destroyed by pot holes. If you don't care a lot about 1) appearance or 2) steering response, I suggest you keep what you've got now.

Replace the springs if you think the ride is too soft or if the car doesn't sit level or if you want it to sit lower. Personally, I like stiffer springs, so I'd recommend a spring kit. but since you haven't indicated WHY you want to change springs, I suggest you stick with what you have until you have a good reason to switch.

Randy
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Thanks for the input Randy. I added a few comments/questions below.

This year when I took off the alloys w/ the non-snow tires I found one of the wheels damaged plus all of that rubber needs to be replaced. So, I figure if I'm going to replace the wheels, now is a good time to do it. Besides that I've always felt the original 15 hole wheels to be plug-ugly!

the car is sagging. I was really asking for two reasons; Do any of the very knowledgable posters here advocate replacing suspension parts at mileage similar to mine regardless of other factors? And, if I were to switch to lower profile tires to increase steering response, am I giving up some of that increased response by leaving the softer springs in the car? You mention you prefer stiffer springs, what size tires do you use? Also, I find this car gets tossed around in cross winds more than most other cars I've owned. I'm thinking any little drop in ride height would help. Would you agree? BTW, I didn't buy the car new, it had about 50K on it, so I can't compare the car now to when it was new.

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If it is, then it's probably likely that the rubber spring and strut mounts of the suspension have "sagged".
I was really asking for two reasons; Do any of the very

Generally speaking, sorting the springs & damping makes more of a difference than just changing the wheels. Whatever you do makes a difference but none of what you've said would make the car undriveable. I drove a stock sedan once and hated the bouncy uncontrolled ride. Then I drove a coupe (which have the sport suspension) and it was much much better. I eventually put eibach prokit springs on it to lower a little, with new dampers and it gave absolutely rediculous cornering ability but also improved the ride. Oh, I had 16" wheels with 225 tyres on it.
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I have a '94 325i, and I recently found a set of M3 rims from a '95 that look really nice on my car.
Take a look here for the various rim styles that are available,
http://www.kalach.easynet.be/bmw_wheels.htm
then search eBay for BMW E36 OEM 17 WHEELS. Replace or remove OEM and 17 to adjust the Hit List. If you remove OEM, then you will see the aftermarket offerings as well as the factory stuff. Replace 17 with 16 or 18 to see these sizes.

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