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Thread: Steering wheel shimmy

  1. #1

    Post Steering wheel shimmy

    Here is the initial post about it from roadfly.........

    I informed them that the steering seemed just a tiny bit loose at about 1/2 turn, more so to the left. It is very subtle - feels like the pinion is not quite fully seated in the rack, and the steering wheel transmits just the slightest amount of high frequency "slop" vibrations during parking lot manuvers. They confirmed the problem, verified that everything is properly mounted and tightened, and ordered a new rack & pinion.

    In response a lot of messages appeared reporting the same issue at that time, and it has contined to be an isue on some cars, but now it seems the issue is more related to the original rather loose bushing used in the front and rear suspension, and sometimes tires flat spotting with infrequent use. (see more below)
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  2. #2
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    Sounds like what I was feeling, but dealer tech was unable to feel! It has been greatly reduced after switching to S03s (much softer?) plus, the added (neg) camber may keep more stess on the part for less "rattle" ?

  3. #3

    The same problem continues....

    This post was taken from Roadfly several months after the initial posting on the subject by Russell.


    Some of you may remember my many problems with the front suspension looseness and rumble through steering columb.

    My car has now had 2 new wheel bearings and the rumblings has been majorly reduced, however, there is still a quite rumble felt through the steering columb, which feels very wrong.

    So far my car has had in relation to the "rumbling problem"

    2 Front wheel bearings
    2 Lower front control arms
    Discs and pads
    Steering columb, rack & pinion
    2 Font ball joints !

    And aparently BMW have checked rear axle and bearings and alloy wheels.

    What else could be causing the fault ?

    In addition, when braking ocasionally the steering shakes a little, when I originally reported this problem BMW changed the pads/discs and lower front control arms.

    I really do not know what to do next, BMW have had the car 5 times for repairs and 5 times for diagnosis. Im at the point of taking it to an independant spcialist if their is a such a thing.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  4. #4

    Post More steering wheel shimmy

    Several cars have had this same problem. Some have had rotors replaced, and other parts replaced, with varying results. Below is a pair of posts from an owner over on Roadfly who changed many parts before finally getting rid of it.

    It took BMW 7 attempts to fix it in over 16,000 miles.
    These are the parts they replaced -

    Steering Column
    Pads & Discs
    Ball joints
    Wheel Bearings
    Roll Bars
    Engine Mounts

    After all this it was still not cured, yet BMW denied anything was wrong. I replaced wheels myself, which removed the last gremlin in the car. After all these things the car now works fine.


    I asked Russell, who suffered this particular set of problems, what the eventual fix was, and this is his response.

    Basically BWM service would fix something, return it to me and the same problem would still be occuring, so I dont think they test drove it after trying to fix it.

    I believe there were several different problem, the pads and discs fixed the shaking left to right when braking, the steering rack fixed the looseness in the wheeel and the wheel bearings fixed the rumbling. It also turned out to have a warped wheel which seemed to be part of one or more or the problems.

    And get this, BMW did not check the wheels for damage or balance, nor did they do a wheel alignment! When I took it to have the alignment done locally one wheel was 2 degress out!



    Thus I would suggest if you have the 'shimmy' go through this list one step at a time...
    1.) Get a full alignment and wheel balance.
    2.) Check the wheel bearings.
    3.) Check the brake discs aren't warped, and the pads are good.
    4.) Replace the bushings (see below)
    4.) If all this hasn't cured the issue then change the steering rack and pinion.

    It is worth noting that the wheel bearings changed about half way thru production, though the part number remained the same. Visually the new bearings are significantly beefier, especially the rears, but it is around a $1k job to swap them out as they live deep inside the hub/drive shaft assembly.

    Here is a well thought out vehicle vibration chart from Tire Rack.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  5. #5
    Z8 Novice
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    Shimmy on Braking solved

    I had a shimmy while braking. I thought it was warped rotors (lots of heat here in the Santa Monica Mountains) but instead the dealer replaced the left and right lower control arm bushing under warranty. 2,500 miles later (and a trip up CA 1) and still no problems.

  6. #6
    This morning I took my car for an oil change, and discovered that I had suddenly developed a serious steering wheel shimmy. I had recently put a new set of Pirelli P-Zero tires onto my 20" rims, and a phone call to Ken turned up some useful info.

    Pirelli and Bridgestone SO3 tires are very prone to flat spottong, and the flatspots will translate to steering wheel shimmy for around 25 or so miles until the tires build up enough heat to stretch and reshape themselves round. Here is a product called the Tire Cradle that you can park on, and thus avoid these annoying flatspots.

    Should you have a continued issue, or are getting the shimmy with Michelins then get this Powerflex Urethane bushing kit from Bimmerworld - 877-639-9648
    The kit has 2 inner control arm bushings, 2 outer control arm bushings, and 2 front strut rod bushings. Ken installed these last August, and told me that it has been a vast improvement.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  7. #7
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Another Alternative

    Most recent BMW bushings are fluid filed, and while this helps isolate NVH, it is the root source of the common shimmy experienced in the Z8 after a few years of use or as little as 10k miles. You can pretty much expect to replace these things regularly. Andrew's Powerflex bushings are a good alternative, but they are much harder than rubber. Generally poly bushings are focused more toward track use.

    I had my car in at Peter Pan to perform an annual before heading down to LA (which I never made - ha!) and I asked Matt Carver to check out the front bushings as I had started to develop the shimmy several months prior. Sure enough - one was leaking (read failed). I mentioned the Powerflex bushings to Matt, and he recommended sticking with the OE fluid filled ones based on some bad support he'd received from Powerflex when he was working for an independent. Rather than replacing with the OE ones that will fail again in a few years, I did some calling around, and on the recommendation of Trent Cole at Lonestar Bavarian in Fort Worth, I found another alternative for our cars - Meyle Bushings. Meyle makes replacement bushings for many BMWs including the 6cyl E39 (4th row from bottom on right) from which our front end is borrowed. Rather than fluid filled, they are solid rubber.

    I got mine from EAC Tuning in OH. I had them shipped directly to Peter Pan, and Matt had everything swapped over in a few hours.

    For most of us, I really believe these will be the replacement bushings going forward as they provide performance and feel slightly better than stock, but they should last perhaps the lifetime of the car.

    Thanks Trent, Matt, Dana, and the guys at Meyle and EAC!
    thegunguy

  8. #8
    DSC Off 1mean3's Avatar
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    I have experienced a rapid "chatter" or shimmy through my steering wheel when braking. It has only happened when a front wheel encounters a small pothole or other irregularity on the road surface when braking.

    I'm not sure if this is the problem others have experienced and referred to as "steering shimmy" but I will say "somethings not right". I've experienced it 3 times and the last time seemed to be a violent reaction given that I was coming to a stop from only about 25mph. I've never experienced anything like this and want to get it resolved as I can't imagine this happening in a high speed or emergency braking situation.

    Any thoughts on this?

  9. #9
    Not sure if you are doing the work, or have a shop you trust, but I'd look at these in this order...

    First, check the disc rotors for warping, several early Z8's suffered from this.
    Second, check the wheel bearings.
    Third, check steering hydraulics, and rack and pinion unit
    Fourth, check (and replace) all the bushing in the steering and front suspension. I used uretene bushings from Powerflex.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  10. #10
    DSC Off 1mean3's Avatar
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    Mac, so you think what I experienced is what you guys are talking about? I do have a shop that I have confidence in but they don't have the Z8 experience the Cali shops enjoy.

    We will get it up on the rack and take a look. Thanks

  11. #11
    Z8 Novice
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    I encountered this one today. Quite unnerving....

    Happened as practically coming to a stop after going over a shallow indentation in the road (wouldn't even qualify as a pothole) and pulling into a parking spot, definately under 15mph. Steering wheel felt as if it was dancing!

    Also noticed recently that the steering wheel started to vibrate at idle. Perhaps these are related?



    Quote Originally Posted by 1mean3 View Post
    I have experienced a rapid "chatter" or shimmy through my steering wheel when braking. It has only happened when a front wheel encounters a small pothole or other irregularity on the road surface when braking.

    I'm not sure if this is the problem others have experienced and referred to as "steering shimmy" but I will say "somethings not right". I've experienced it 3 times and the last time seemed to be a violent reaction given that I was coming to a stop from only about 25mph. I've never experienced anything like this and want to get it resolved as I can't imagine this happening in a high speed or emergency braking situation.

    Any thoughts on this?