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Thread: The first Frame thread - Jan 13th 2006.

  1. #1

    Post The first Frame thread - Jan 13th 2006.

    Oct 14th 2006. Only ten months after the initial concern about this issue surfaced BMW have released a Performance Package that eliminates the possibility of our cars sustaining damage to the shock tower domes or arms due to a bad pothole impact.


    The Z8 Club in Europe has identified a possible weakness in the aluminum chassis of our cars. They brought this to the attention of BMW AG, who have been working with the Club to better understand the problem, and find a solution.

    The area of concern is the shock tower crowns and their forward mounting arms which run from the main lower frame to the upper frame rails, and the aluminum shock tower crowns in the rear. In the most exterme cases it is possible that a very bad pothole hit could possibly lead to a diostortion the upper frame rails, pinching the upper frame rails together in the front.

    Personally I will not risk driving my own car until BMW AG instigate the situation, as any drive could result in the car sustaining this damage, and once damaged the only fix is a new frame. BMW have already replaced far more frames in Germany than they ever estimated because of this, eating deep into the spare part inventory, so the supply of new frames is now very limited. It is a very long (12-18 months) and costly ($65K+) to change out a damaged frame on a Z8, which is why I will not risk damaging my car.

    A quick look at a handful of CPO cars in the dealerships in southern California in early Jan '06 reveals that 50% of these cars have the damage, with mileages as low as 8,000 up to just over 25,000. In Europe it appears that around 1 in 4 cars has sustained some form of the damage, and again it is unrelated to miles covered, a 200,000 km car is perfect, but one with just 12,000 km had doming of the crowns.

    Below are some images that will help explain both how to identify the damage, and also a schematic to show how and where it occurs.
         
    Andrew Macpherson

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  2. #2
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    Whaaaat!? say it ain't so!

    This is quite a shock, how could this be just coming out now after 5 years of cars being in service?

  3. #3

    I know, that was my first question on hearing about this....

    but that is all in the past, the real question is where do we stand now.
    Andrew Macpherson

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    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Okay, now I'm worried.

    Is there any indication as to how soon BMW is going to respond?
    thegunguy

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    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Posted notice on Roadfly to check in here for info and survey.

    Andrew,

    Knowing your boycott of the "other" forum, I took it upon myself to post a note on the Z8 section of Roadfly directing owners here for info on this issue.
    thegunguy

  6. #6

    BMW AG is working on it.....

    and I believe that they will indeed be making an announcemment soon. I sent both BMW AG and BMW NA the lead post in this thread some days before breaking the news tonight, so they were aware that there would be a need ro address this.

    Thanks for letting the others know too.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  7. #7
    Team Z8 tomfakes's Avatar
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    This is disturbing

    I'm not clear what the pictures with the red lines are showing, and what are the differences between good and bad.

    I did have issues with the front drivers side suspension over the summer that was never adequately explained - they tightened things up!

  8. #8
    Team Z8 tomfakes's Avatar
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    Unhappy I have the damage

    Its not as bad as the images here, but I think I have some damage on both sides.



    You need more grumpy looking icons, they'll be getting a workout over the next few months.

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    Z8 Madness
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    Some Pics Could Help

    Perhaps we should start to compile some pics of the L/R 1/4 panels of forum member cars in a "as-signtific-as-possible" way. This could help all of us compare and comment on this issue and make a better determination of what is clearly damaged, clearly ok, or somewhere in the middle cases.
    2016 Porsche GTS/MT

  10. #10

    I'm so sorry Tom.

    The red lines show the splaying out of the shock mounting bolts, those three bolts should be pointing in exactly the same direction, in paralell so to speak.

    Compiling a visual database would be very good, but sadly there is no in the middle with Aluminum frames. It is good, or it is bad, because once it moves it is also weakened, so needs less force for the next impact to move it again, and so on in an ever decreasing arc of strength.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  11. #11
    Z8Mania
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    This is disturbing to say the least. Please keep us updated.

    I will attempt to duplicate the pictures taken here on my car and forward them to Andrew. I think everyone should do the same.

    Could your hood look perfect and the front shock mounts be shifting anyway?

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    Me To

    There is no question that the gap narrows over the length of the hood...so count me in as one of the unfortunates....thanks for bringing it up and thanks for the pictures...Andrew, did BMW ever respond to you after your initial warning of the impending post?

  13. #13
    DSC Off REG Z8 01's Avatar
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    What a Shock

    I can't check my Z8 for damage until next week. It's in winter storage. But it seems that even if there is no damage...we are all at risk and it can happen at any time.

    Since BMW dealerships will probably try and downplay any issues...could a step-by-step process for evaluation be suggested (Grease Monkey or other knowledgable Z8 owners?) so an independent engineering firm can analyze?

    Are of you going to join the suggested class action? Are we united on going with this law firm? Should we give BMW an opportunity to respond first? Any idea on when BMW will respond?

    REG Z8 01

    PS: I was really looking forward to Santa Fe in June!

  14. #14
    Z8Mania
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    No matter your outlook: litigious or not, I suggest that we wait and see what BMW comes up with. They have always stood behind me and I am going to give them the benefit of that.

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    DSC Off Orcatek's Avatar
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    Macfly, if your second car is fine, can you post comparison pics?

    Also I would think you would see some tire wear too.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Z8Mania
    No matter your outlook: litigious or not, I suggest that we wait and see what BMW comes up with. They have always stood behind me and I am going to give them the benefit of that.
    I agree, my preference would be to have BMW take care of this without any lawyers. I hope that litigation is not necessary.

    I think that we need to let them know that we want a fix, but should give them time to address the problem. My only concern is that the longer they take, the more time my Z8 just sits there.

    Andrew, I can't thank you enough for this site. If were still on Roadfly, the BMW apoligists would be out in full force telling us how it is our fault for driving our cars in less than baby-butt smooth roads.

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    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Spreading the word

    I posted a notice in the E52 section of the M5board.com to come here for info and poll.
    thegunguy

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    Team Z8 zilver8's Avatar
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    Are the Alpina's at risk?

    Amazing discovery... does anyone know if this has also occurred on an Alpina?

    Thanks in advance!

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    Z8 Novice gordini's Avatar
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    Arrow This is a nightmare

    Where ever you decide I will go with you.

  20. #20
    Team Z8 dwz8's Avatar
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    I have the damage (not too dramatic at this point), and I will wait for BMW to provide a suitable fix.

    I recommend that we give BMW the chance to respond, they are aware of the situation.

    Distortions like this need some kind of impact, they don't simply happen if you're driving. So I am not afraid to drive my car right now.

    BMW needs to provide some kind of reinforcement to protect the "healthy" cars, and a way to repair the "unhealthy" cars out there. Fortunately, the distortions are mostly small, and it should be possible to repair them without replacing the entire frame.
    I personally would prefer a repair over a frame exchange.
    Best regards, Dieter

    ....

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    Sport Button On - DSC Off Dogsbreath's Avatar
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    Frame

    I am no engineer - but does it look like a tower strut (ie a bar that crosses the engine comp't fom tower to tower) might provide the necessary reinforcement ??

    As for any cars that are already 'bent' I do agree with Andrew's point - aluminum is never as strong once it has been bent once.

    Dave

  22. #22
    Z8 Novice gordini's Avatar
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    Holly Macarroni "Friday 13"

    do not move today and specially in z8 cars

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    I just had a close look at mine and can't perceive any damage, and maybe I'm looking too closely, but it is hard to tell if the shock bolts are perfectly parallel or not. There is only a tiny amount of bolt protruding, their ends may not be perfectly flat and the threads being at an angle on them makes it difficult to perceive exactly what line the bolts take. So, I'm assuming if I have to look that hard then there probably isn't a problem. In addition, the nut bottom and top surfaces do appear to be in the same plane for any two that I can observe at once. (and after checking with a straight edge). The other thing I'm looking closely at is the flatness of the sheet metal surface those bolts pass through. It seems that this surface is easily inspected for flatness by observing reflections of my garage lights in the glossy finish. They look perfectly flat to me at least where they are supposed to be flat. If there is any distortion in that metal, I can't see it.

    Hood and fender seams look perfect also, which reinforces my conclusions.

    There will be cases where there is very very minor distortion, so it will be necessary to figure out where to draw the line between "OK" and "not OK". I've found that it is trickier than I thought.

    harvey2

  24. #24

    Here is as near a direct comparison as I can get quickly....

    This gives a pretty clear indication of how the tower and bolts buldge and splay, it isn't an engineering illustration, but it should help.
     
    Andrew Macpherson

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    I spent a bit more time looking even more carefully. Its funny how the brain starts filtering things, so you really do need something measurable to check. Even those nut flats on the shock bolts appear to taper a bit to me. Thanks for posting your good vs bad photos. Mine looks just like the "good" ones, but even in your photos the flats on the bottom of the nuts aren't EXACTLY in the same plane either and one could argue that the bolts are not exactly parallel, but one would be getting kind of out of control if one did. We don't won't to go off half cocked and declare even the most minor manufacturing distortions as a problem at this point.

    On re-checking my front fender gaps, they appear perfect, but if measured using a gauge there is a variation, with a slightly narrower gap at the front compared to near the windscreen. However, the variation is small (like maybe 0.03" or smaller over the entire length), and linear. I prefer to judge the seem by eyeball and from that point of view, it appears to be perfect from all angles, even when sighting down their length.

    Your photos of "bad" examples show the distortion pretty clearly and make it obvious. One needs to make a judgement call for in-between cases.

    I'm wondering if those in the Z8 club have considered that there are manufacturing differences between cars' frames that make one more vulnerable than another. I guess you could call this sort of a thing a design flaw too, since good design practice should account for manufacturing variability with sufficient margin.

    harvey2

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    DSC Off Gammaman's Avatar
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    [quote=Dogsbreath]I am no engineer - but does it look like a tower strut (ie a bar that crosses the engine comp't fom tower to tower) might provide the necessary reinforcement ??

    I think the fix will require more than that- apparently the rear frame has been a problem as well, a strut wouldn't be possible in back (a la the Nissan 350Z).

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    Shocked

    Thank you Andrew for all the info.

    I've communicated with BMW in Canada and they were not aware of this issue. They will investigate and get back to me. In the mean time I rushed to my storage location to try to verify first hand. The hood from the passenger side maintains the same distance from the front quarter fender. The driver side narows as you go down towards the headlights. I've enclosed some pictures to demonstrate.

    As far as the struts are concerned, I honestly was not able to detect anything and I hope that my dealer would be able to provide me with the right answers on the tower crown and the rear axle to rear quarter panel, difficulty is that my car is in winter storage and I can not take it out in the snow. I will try to get my dealer to come with me to be able to resond to the survey.

    Thank you once again and look forward to hear further updates to the problem at hand.
    KG
     

  28. #28
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Front shock tower brace

    Who knows what the fix will be in the end, but I like the idea of getting a strut tower brace in the front. It would have the added benefit of better handling!
    thegunguy

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    Z8 Madness
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    Here are my pictures

    Pics removed due to web hosting problems.
    2016 Porsche GTS/MT

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    looks good to me

    these pics look like no damage to me. The different survey response totals between the "gap" condition and the "bolts/bulging" is quite interesting and perhaps telling. It would seem the bolts/bulging condition is much more diagnostic of damage, and the gap condition is less so, due to more subjective factors---as mentioned in an earlier post, it appears to me that a certain amount of linear gap narrowing from the windshield to the headlight is a normal condition of how the cars were put together, and may not be exactly the same between cars or even on the left and right side of a single car, as it came from the factory. So I wouldn't panic (yet!) if you don't have any bolts/bulging but notice a little gap narrowing, as long as that narrowing is evenly distributed along the gap, with no uneveness in the taper around the shock mounts, and as long as the gap will at least fit a dime towards the headlights.

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    Thanks Andrew. Mine looks ok to me. I have hit a couple big potholes. I have a 2002 Z8 with 9200 miles. I agree to wait for BMW's response.
    Hopefully it will not be a major repair. If so, that means shipping our cars in the U.S.A. to Oxnard,CA or Spartansburg,SC
    With that in mind, a repair will most likely take us past our June date for the Meet in the Middle

  32. #32
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    Friday the Freaking 13th - for Sure

    Ruined my day. Gaps by the hood narrow on both sides as you move towards the front. Worse on the driver's side
    Routineer

  33. #33
    Z8Mania
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    I have to look again- but I am not so sure the axis of the nuts not all being in perfect alignment is such a telling sign. I checked the following cars after my Z8:

    2003 X5: nuts seem to be off, flat shock tower.

    2005 745: nuts seem to be off, flat shock tower.

    2005 SL55: nuts seem to be off, flat shock tower.

    I will look again.

  34. #34

    I also checked my car today after we spoke....

    and did some shots from as close to the same angles as the pictures of the damaged car, so we could see the comparison. As you can see from the shots, a few posts above this, on my car the crown is almost completely flat, but I also thought that there was a very slight splaying of the nuts visible. I couldn't be sure if it was a trick of the eye on the screw threads etc.
    Andrew Macpherson

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    check your bolts and the mounting area for bulging before assumming the worst.

    Quote Originally Posted by Routineer
    Ruined my day. Gaps by the hood narrow on both sides as you move towards the front. Worse on the driver's side

    read earlier posts on slight linear gap narrowing from the windshield to the headlight possibly being a normal condition of how the cars were built, as long as the narrowing is not severe or abrupt along the gap line (as it was in macfly's posted pix of damaged cars). Bulging and obviously non parallel bolts could be the more reliable sign of damage.

  36. #36
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    Slight narrowing noted on mine, it's worse on right



    There is slight narrowing from windshield to headlight which I've noticed for a long time, but never really noticed that it was asymmetric till now. I also have slight mushrooming of the shock tower bolts on the right but not on the left. I recall hitting a severe pothole in Tulsa when I first got the car and had it checked by the dealer for any damage but none was reported. I have had the alignment checked regularly and no abnormal tire wear was noted with my OEM run flat tires (24K miles) and none with my S03's (now I have 34K miles).

    I suspect that I do have some mild damage and maybe to the rear as well as now that I have thoroughly inspected the fit and finish of all the body panels, the right rear trunk, tail lamp, rear bumper junction is nearly closed on the right, but normal on the left. Maybe this is a sign of the rear shock towers mushrooming up too as that would displace the trunk lid downward and may give the appearance I have?

    At present, I am sooooo disappointed and outraged. I foresee that we should wait for an official response from BMW now that it is out in the open. BUT, if they have not said anything within the next week or two, then class action is where we should be as this is a structural issue and can make the car unsafe. If the chassis has a fatigue failure, the shock tower could come loose, what if that happened at any sort of speed? I suspect that a single wrongful death suit would or could cost BMW more. Being a trauma orthopedic surgeon, I suggest no one drive their car for now. Too bad to, I really love this car but can not keep it if it is going to be unsafe. Hope to hear from BMW soon.
     

  37. #37
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    I too have re-evaluated.... It is hard to say for sure

    if mine is actually damaged. The shock tower crowns on mine as the photos show are still pretty flat. Only the outside bolt on the right front is leaning outward ever so slightly and a straight edge lays flat on the top of the shock tower except for the front side on the right. Certainly, mine is no where close to the pictures posted by Macfly so if I have damage, it is slight. I am concerned about not being able to tell if there is rear damage, the tolerances on the rear of mine are off but... I had the rear bumper taken off recently because a rock got caught an caused the fascia to bulge outward and maybe the tolerances are off due to that.

    Hard to say for sure so I am anxious to see what BMW says and IF they are going to have an official diagnostic done to determine the extent of the problem and what the proposed fix will be? Hopefully, litigation will not be necessary.

  38. #38
    Sport Button On - DSC Off Robert Linton's Avatar
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    Not to throw cold water or burning oil (as the case might be) on the situation, given that we are not sure if the flex of the aluminum is lateral, vertical or longitudinal or any combination of the foregoing, assuming an engineering defect (design and/or overall materials), it would appear that, to a greater or lesser extent. All cars that have been driven will have some degree of damage which is almost certainly sure to be exacerbated by further movement and, assuming this, will be particularly exacerbated by specific types of movement.

    In short, if the problem is caused by anything other than a materials problem in a few cars, the situation is genuinely complicated and difficult, and a permanent solution appertaining thereto entailing not only fixing/removing existing, but also preventing future damage might be more complex than at first one might recognize or imagine.

    The good news, however, is that engineering solutions are possible, but one might not like the cost in time, money or aggravation, and the modification required might affect the value of the vehicles.

  39. #39
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Silver lining?

    I guess the "good" news is that this issue has taken my mind off of my quarterly tax payment.
    thegunguy

  40. #40
    Team Z8 dwz8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Linton
    Not to throw cold water or burning oil (as the case might be) on the situation, given that we are not sure if the flex of the aluminum is lateral, vertical or longitudinal or any combination of the foregoing, assuming an engineering defect (design and/or overall materials), it would appear that, to a greater or lesser extent. All cars that have been driven will have some degree of damage which is almost certainly sure to be exacerbated by further movement and, assuming this, will be particularly exacerbated by specific types of movement.

    In short, if the problem is caused by anything other than a materials problem in a few cars, the situation is genuinely complicated and difficult, and a permanent solution appertaining thereto entailing not only fixing/removing existing, but also preventing future damage might be more complex than at first one might recognize or imagine.

    The good news, however, is that engineering solutions are possible, but one might not like the cost in time, money or aggravation, and the modification required might affect the value of the vehicles.
    As far as I know, all kind of distortions may occur. The problem will most likely not be cured by a tower strut brace (I have no problem adding one, but the towers are not collapsing, hence no strut needed now).
    The top of the towers is too "soft" in my opinion, it needs to be reinforced by a plate or such from underneath and/or above.
    My right side dome shows a longitudinal distortion, i.e. apparently I bumped into something that pushed the wheel slightly back. The camber on the right side is about 5?, the left side about 7?.
    You can imagine that if you start pushing the wheel backwards with force, the top of the dome will flex. Once the force stops, some distortion will remain.
    The "bulge" may happen if a heavy upward movement occurs, i.e. the spring locks up, and the force is led into the tower itself. A pothole or similar may be the cause for this.

    Both situations may happen anytime during driving, it is not difficult to find a pothole on the roads of this world. Hit it at 50 or 60 mph, and you're done...

    Some kind of "sandwich" with plates above and below the dome could solve this problem completely as well as cure slight existing distortions.
    Best regards, Dieter

    ....

  41. #41
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    Your solution of reinforcing the top of the shock...

    towers from the top and underneath may help to reduce the likely hood of deformation of the shock tower itself but this does not address the other problem of the bent chassis or the metal fatigue that may already have taken place. The shock towers are welded to the frame and as such, move and flex with the chassis in response to whatever stresses are put upon it, with or without reinforcement plates or strut bracing.

    Basic physics teaches that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction so any "fix" (action) needs to be tested thoroughly to be sure what effect (reaction) there may be to other components or other areas of the chassis. Without addressing the weakened and/or distorted chassis, we would all be still at risk for fatigue failure at which point the whole strut shock tower can come loose from the rest of the chassis, regardless of whether a reinforcement plate or even a strut brace were added. This also does not address the rear chassis issue either.

    Suffice it to say, it sounds to me that ALL of the Z8s are probably affected, at least ot some degree, and the fix is not going to be an easy one for anyone involved, consumer or manufacturer. I just want to hear what BMW officially says regarding the issue and what type of diagnostics they will implement to determine the extent of the damage and how they intend to fix or remedy the situation. Until then, I think it is wise that no one drive their car as it only will produce more fatigue failure and make the problem worse and risk catastrophic failure and an accident.

  42. #42
    Team Z8 dwz8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z8doc
    towers from the top and underneath may help to reduce the likely hood of deformation of the shock tower itself but this does not address the other problem of the bent chassis or the metal fatigue that may already have taken place. The shock towers are welded to the frame and as such, move and flex with the chassis in response to whatever stresses are put upon it, with or without reinforcement plates or strut bracing.

    Basic physics teaches that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction so any "fix" (action) needs to be tested thoroughly to be sure what effect (reaction) there may be to other components or other areas of the chassis. Without addressing the weakened and/or distorted chassis, we would all be still at risk for fatigue failure at which point the whole strut shock tower can come loose from the rest of the chassis, regardless of whether a reinforcement plate or even a strut brace were added. This also does not address the rear chassis issue either.

    Suffice it to say, it sounds to me that ALL of the Z8s are probably affected, at least ot some degree, and the fix is not going to be an easy one for anyone involved, consumer or manufacturer. I just want to hear what BMW officially says regarding the issue and what type of diagnostics they will implement to determine the extent of the damage and how they intend to fix or remedy the situation. Until then, I think it is wise that no one drive their car as it only will produce more fatigue failure and make the problem worse and risk catastrophic failure and an accident.
    With all respect, but I think that this speculation is going a bit too far based on the current known facts. None of the cars showed metal fatigue or a bent chassis other than through a heavy impact. No manufacturer can prevent cars from being damaged in case of accidents or such.
    The spotted "weakness" is the top of the tower itself, not the mounting or its connection to the rest of the frame.
    If in case of an accident a brute force is inducted into the frame at any point, some kind of major distortion may occur, as is the case with any other car on this planet.

    Again, my point is that a strut brace can stop towers from collapsing, which is not exactly the problem that we see happening here. It can not hurt to have a brace either.
    Best regards, Dieter

    ....

  43. #43
    Team Z8 KenZ8's Avatar
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    How is it so symmetrical?

    When I measured my hood gaps, both sides measured exactly 5mm at the windshield side and 3mm at the headlight side. Both sides are exactly the same, leading me to:

    1.) worry that I have damage since the gap is not even, and at the same time
    2.) feel that this is the original manufacturing result and no change has taken place since it is so completely symmetrical.

    I would imagine that if I hit something hard enough to distort a frame, the results would be more dramatic on the side that had the impact.

    I have recently been on the board complaining of front end shimmy, which is mentioned as a possible side effect of this distortion. However, my problem was rectified 100% by replacing rotors and control arms/bushings.

    As I ran out to the garage in horror, my son reminded me that the early M Coupes were plagued by frame tears and separations, and problems with frame integrity have been mentioned in many other models over the years as well. What, if any, were the responses by BMW regarding previous failures?
    Did any of us ever expect to see this happen in the BMW flagship??

    I adore this vehicle, and one does not throw out a loved one who develops a medical problem (other than a mother-in-law perhaps). I sincerely hope that BMW presents an engineeringly sound fix for our vehicles quickly before some of us panic and abandon the Z8. A quick resolution will preserve our faith, the vehicle's value, and BMW's reputation. If they don't support us, the owners of the most expensive BMW ever sold in the showroom, how could anyone ever purchase a vehicle from them again?

  44. #44
    Sport Button On - DSC Off Robert Linton's Avatar
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    Dieter, do you work for BMW? My impression is that BMW was first contacted by the Z8 Club of Germany approximately two+ months ago, is this correct?

  45. #45
    Team Z8 dwz8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Linton
    Dieter, do you work for BMW? My impression is that BMW was first contacted by the Z8 Club of Germany approximately two+ months ago, is this correct?
    No, I don't. However, mine was among the first cars where the damage was detected. Hence both the search for a repair method as well as an investigation what could cause these kind of damages needed to be started.
    I have been in close touch with the Z8 Club during this time, however, I can't give you a precise date when they contacted BMW.

    As everybody, I would be much happier now without these damages, especially with my own car being affected. However, I don't consider this to be as dramatic as it is discussed right now. Once a fix is provided, it will be a question only whether a specific Z8 has the fix or not when it comes to car values. Things like these happen all the time, even with flagships...
    Best regards, Dieter

    ....

  46. #46
    Sport Button On - DSC Off Robert Linton's Avatar
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    As I very much like my Z8, I hope that what has been portrayed as a fundamental structural weakness is not as serious as it sounds and that, particularly for those whose vehicles are already showing an advanced stage of this in the form of bent components, this is also not as serious as it sounds. Finally, if, in fact, as I have been given to believe, the Z8 Club of Germany has been discussing these issues with BMW AG for more than two months, I very much hope that the latter will respond with a bulletin soon as, particularly for the majority of Z8 owners who I suspect do not regularly read this or other web boards, every day without such correspondence might mean additional damage or worse.

    P.S. Does the BMW Z8 Club of Germany have the technical expertise such that it may be regarded as an expert in this area, i.e., when they say "this problem does not pose a safety risk", can I rely upon this statement?

  47. #47
    Registered User Rich's Avatar
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    Frame Damage

    I'm neither an engineer or a BMW expert. There has been discussion about similar problems in other cars like the M series that apparently were repaired satisfactorily. I believe the Z8/Alpina is different in that the frame is aluminum. Repairing aluminum is considerable more difficult. Years ago I owned an Audi A8 that was aluminum and know that in order to repair almost any type of serious damage the car had to be shipped to a special repair shop.

    Might there be a value to bringing this problem to the attention of the BMW dealer network? Perhaps they too can encourage BMW to do "the right thing." I sent this information to the BMW dealer that I've bought numerous cars from. I was rather firm that if he ever expected to get any more business from me he would need to do something other than sit on the sidelines. I'm not certain exactly what the dealers can do, but they should at least feel some of our pain.

    Rich

  48. #48
    Here are my pictures. The space on both sides of the hood looks great with no problems visible to my eye and the "quarter test" worked out well as well except I lost the quarter somewhere under the hood...

    Under the hood the drivers side looks great to me, however, there may be a slight problem on the passenger side. What do you all think?









    The car has 36,000 miles on it, and at least the last 7,500 miles (since I have owned it) have been driven enthusiastically (NOT abusively).
    Skip Hammerman

    2002 BMW Z8 - Meisterschaft GT, PP installed, CDV delete
    2013 BMW X3
    2015 Porsche 911 Targa 4S

  49. #49
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    Back to the future

    Looks like all the past emotions I had are resurfacing - you see I was one of the Dinan S2 Z8 guys that had his Z8 frame damaged and had to get BMW approve a fix since the "structural integrity" was "compromised". It all worked out pretty snoothly but the biggest issue for me was strident, freaked out posts here and at other places that predicted the cars would be salvaged value, impossible to resale, and so on and so forth.

    First, I measured the hood of my car and I am fine after 44K miles. The measurements were made with a caliper and are:

    Engine hood side spacing near window: (L) 23 mils, (R) 22 mils
    Engine hood side spacing near headlight: (L and R) 11 mils
    Engine hood front spacing (between front of hood and body): (L) 14 mils (R) 15 mils

    These are very very close. The car runs great.

    I appreciate the information and I will await word about any fixes that BMW may impose on it.

    This may not be popular but I need to say it. In the meantime, let's all take a chill pill here. Don't people know that posting end-of-world scenarios are hurting you, me and all other owners? Of course the car has not become a "paperweight". Get a grip.

    It's a car - and it will be fixed. Let's not inflame the situation and actually start working against our best interests. There is another thread on this site about the falling values of this car - any wonder with the luminaries that preach doom and gloom about purported fundamental issues of the car?

    What would I do? Anybody planning to drive - drive. Anybody planning to go on the June New Mexico trip - go. Garaging your car because of this is pandering to the issue.

    Finally, to all the jerks out there that had proposed and seriously wanted to post the 12+ Dinan car VINs on the internet to "protect" unknown would-be buyers from the likes of me and the others affected by the Dinan problem - justice is sweet indeed. Look at you now. How does it feel? Should we post your VIN?

  50. #50

    In resonse.....

    Skip, it looks as you say, good but a hint of splay on the p/side, but whether this is in or out of tolerance I don't know.

    Francois, I'm thrilled to hear that your car is ok, and that you're still on the board too. I appreciate your cavalier bravado, but personally I'm not to prepared to risk my one remaining Z8, since 2 out of the three I've owned have had aluminum chassis distortion problems, and I have no interest in living through the consequence of the "once it's bent you'll need a new frame" solution that BMW have always given us up until now. In this instance my mantra will remain "If it's not broke, don't risk breaking it!"
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  51. #51
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    Pragmatic, not cavalier

    It's all a matter of perspective I guess - cavalier bravado vs asphyxiating conservationism. I will continue to drive and I am sure the issue will be resolved for all concerned. Not cavalier - I call it pragmatic instead. This sounds much like the Dinan debacle. Before the fix, the stuff I heard was "total loss", "no recourse", and basically "you're screwed".

    I also wonder what constitutes a damaged frame in this case? Is there a threshold value? Surely this is a grey area where damage may be from slight to severe. Are these all necessitating a new frame?

  52. #52

    Good question to which I don't have an absolute answer....

    I have heard points of views from all corners, but bottom line is I just don't know.

    What I can tell you is that my first Z8 had a very slight frame distortion that was discovered after a fender bender. In retrospect I am almost sure now that that damage was caused by one, or both of two really bad 'road hits' I took while driving. Both times the whole car bottomed hard on it's suspension, and both were bad bridge joints that caught me by surprise, one on La Cienega Blvd in LA at around 45mph, the other on Highway 1 at around 75ish.

    Anyhow the distortion was on the upper left frame rail, in front of the shock tower. It was a slight squeeze and twist in, about 3mm as I remember, and BMW's ARC said it required a complete new front half of the frame, it would be a 12-18 month job and the insurance claim was well over $50K. I took the insurance money, sold that Z8 for scrap and bought my GT3 with the proceeds all because of a 3mm distortion to the top front frame rail.

    Now, just how bad does a really bad case of this distortion affect the car? Well, if you look in the gallery you'll see a badly distorted (unbeknown to us at the time) Z8 that was able to turn laps at Buttonwillow just seconds slower than the GT3's with total ease, stability and enjoyability. That car is the one that all the images of the issue are taken from, it was so badly bent out of shape that it didn't make sense, but it still handled like a dream!

    So would I drive my undamaged car? No way Jose! Sticks, stones, and bad road joins may jar, but words will never hurt my car!

    However if I had the damage then I wouldn't care, in for a penny, in for a pound. Maybe BMW will be a little more flexible with what they'll allow as an acceptable tolerance now, cutting the cloth to suit the moment, but all in all it's all speculation till those that gave us our cars give us their plan of action.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  53. #53
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    Grease Monkey has it right I think

    Saw the posts on Roadfly and talked to Grease Monkey as well regarding this issue. I think he has it right: drive but drive cautiously and except for a truly bad bottoming out hit, you should be fine. Garaging the car for an unspecified amount of time just seems too much for me. I'll take my chances out there but I will nevertheless stick to known roads and be more vigilant.

    From GM, this kind of failure is really not an unheard of issue and there are well developed fixes to this such as braces and struts to strenghten the affected areas. It's important to engineer it right, so there will be a need to wait until the fix is proven.

    I hope that BMW will get these fixes to us ASAP and allow the cars to be driven as hard as they are meant to be driven. I also hope Dinan can do the work for my car.

    I appreciate the information on this site as always and I feel this has contributed to my greater understanding of this issue. It sure looks like this will turn into a recall with some work needed by BMW.

  54. #54

    That's the great thing about freedom of choice...

    We can all do what we feel is right. I felt it right to let fellow owners know about this as soon as I found out about it myself. I wanted them to have the information so they could make their own choice, and my choice is not to risk the consequence of damage.

    GM is a knowledgeable enthusiast, and I always respect what he has to say, but I don't always agree with him either, and in this case I don't.

    I can tell you that both the times I hit those bridge joins in my fist Z8 the light and shadows concealed them perfectly, and I thought the road ahead was perfect. Had I seen the ridges I would have slowed right down and crossed them cautiously. I like to drive briskly, but I'm not one to do kamikaze Don Quixote maneuvers in my Z8!
    Andrew Macpherson

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  55. #55
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    It's now up to BMW.....

    I just drove it and I think I can integrate this new risk within reason. I agree that some hazard may take me out but then again, life is a terminal affair. To each his threshold.

    My biggest disappointment with BMW is that I never got my "Z8 book" as a new owner despite my frequent calls to my local dealer. Let's hope this is not another area of disappointment. If nothing is heard within 2 months, you'll hear me be right with you in their face demanding some action.

  56. #56
    Sport Button On Z8Mark's Avatar
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    Well, I took a look over the week-end and followed the steps outlined in these posts. I have a very slight tapering from windsheild to headlamp appearing identical on both sides. However I could easily slide a quarter ( I noticed MacFly you were using a dime-yikes!) at both ends. The top ot the tower looked level, but, as has been posted here before, it's a tough call, as one begins to imagine slight angles depending on the viewpoint. I fully expected to see obvious damage as I remember hitting a few potholes over the years (one very severe hit on Coldwater Canyon:"bone-jarring "would be my description). Mine is a 2001 with just under 17,000 miles. I await BMW's action on this matter.

  57. #57
    DSC Off Gammaman's Avatar
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    DE cars

    It would be interesting to know how the driving experience cars have fared regarding frame damage, considering they had the #&*! beat out of them.

  58. #58

    I doubt they ever went fast enough...

    or went anywhere near any potholes, they rarely left the pool table smooth areas of the Performance Center. I know of one heavily tracked Z8 that has no sign of the damage at all, it won't happen from driving, not even driving hard at the track, it takes a significant road bump, bridge join or pothole to make this happen.
    Andrew Macpherson

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

  59. #59
    DSC Off Orcatek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by siliconvalleyman
    My biggest disappointment with BMW is that I never got my "Z8 book" as a new owner despite my frequent calls to my local dealer.
    Here is how one person got their's. (had in my notes, but not the original poster).
    Contact BWM NA corporate offices in N.J. A very nice and responsive individual named Jerry Gasparini, who may be reached at 201-307-4000 x7858, contacted the "Z8 Advocate".

  60. #60
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    This is what I did to help identify any malformation.

    My car is a 2001 with 17,000 miles and no hard driving and can't recall ever hitting a pothole but this is my present situation. I stood over my open engine bay last night in the garage and wondered whether or not I was seeing things. Then I attached a nut and all thread to the shock tower bolts and it's plain to see the difference between the driver and passenger side. I drove her to work this morning and it was still a thrill but I did find myself paying more attention to any imperfections in the road and less on upcoming traffic. This could be dangerous I suppose.

    Pictures are in the following post - admin
    Jonny

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    Smaller pics......

    Sorry! Posting between patients and I'm not real techno to start with. Jonny
     
    Jonny

  62. #62
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    Creative diagnostic tool!

    Who cares about your claim of not being technical - that's a pretty darn clever way to check for misalignment on the bolts.

    What are the sizes of the various hardware pieces used. I'm sure there will be a run at the hardware store tonight!
    thegunguy

  63. #63
    Team Z8 dwz8's Avatar
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    Not sure about this. Unless the top of the bolt and the end of the threaded bar are really flat and aligned, this won't give you precise results.

    As you can see in his second pic from the top, the right bar goes off at an angle. Any minimal deviation or clearance in the thread will show as a major deviation at the end of the threaded bar. For a test like this you would need a larger portion of threaded bolt plus some kind of threaded tube to connect the bolt and the bar in a (relatively) straight way.

    Also, there are always minor differences in angles, even in unused state. Slight differences in torque, manufacturing tolerances, uneven washers etc. will all contribute to the picture. For me, the best test is to use a flat iron or similar to see whether the top of the tower is flat.

    The first pic shows my left "flat" tower:


    The second pic shows my right "rounded" tower:


    Unless you see a rounded or bulged tower, you are not in trouble IMHO. Just think about it. If the tower is flat and the bolts show minor differences in direction, the solution would simply be to replace the strut, that would be it.
    So the real test should be for rounded towers.
    Best regards, Dieter

    ....

  64. #64
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    I agree.......But.....

    I stared at my engine bay wondering how to check this. I don't know a lot about suspension parts but I have a background in facial reconstruction and build houses as a hobby so I understand the principles of parallelism. I would not have posted these pics unless I was sure they truley represented the axis line of these bolts. I could not find metric size nuts and all thread at Home Depot this morning but a 5/16's nut and all thread fits snuggly without any slop. I thought about this prior to posting and believe me these nuts are square against the top of the strut nuts and the all thread engages the 5/16's nut very tight against the bolt and inner wall of the nuts. I looked for a 2-3 inch long threaded sleeve instead of the nut but could not find one at 7:15 this morning. If there was slop or variations in the strut bolts then it probably would have shown up on the driver's side as well. However, there is doming of the passenger side as well which I'll post a pic of shortly. Like I said, I don't know if this is proof or not but it is a good indication that these bolts are not parallel. I think this is a better way of showing divergence than drawing a line. This experiment accentuates the angle of distortion by carrying the lines further away from it's imaginary vertex. I hope this helps someone cause to tell you the truth I thought I was just seeing it because I was looking for it. Thanks Jonny
    Jonny

  65. #65
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    It is not black or white ...

    Unfortunately, it appears to me that the damage to left or right is random. Moreover, the deformation is from slight (undetectable by the eye) to severe (as in the first pictures on this thread).

    Basically, as I see it, if you've driven your Z8, your frame probably has sustained some deformation.

    The facts are that about 1/4 of cars on this forum report some visible damage (6/25). Since only the front towers can be inspected, and the damage seems to be random on each corner, we can assume that about 1/4 of cars also have rear damage. Combining the stats, Andrew's estimate of 1/3+ damaged cars on this forum is probably right on.
    2016 Porsche GTS/MT

  66. #66
    Z8 Guru 2112's Avatar
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    add me to the list

    I too have slight deformation. More so on the passenger side than the driver's side.

  67. #67
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    Yes--Very tricky to determine slight damage

    On first inspection i breathed a big sigh of relief since the gaps and shock towers looked fine, but after taking out measuring devices and looking very closely, I detect some slight deformation on the driver's side. The hood gaps narrow more than on the pass side, and with a straight edge I can see that the top of the shock tower on that same side is not as flat as the passenger side tower. The difference is slight enough that I cannot see any unparallel bolts. I cannot remember hitting any significant bumps or pot holes (and since I am so attentive to the car, I would remember), and my car has only 6,000 miles. So in conclusion, looking closely at my car and reading all the posts from other owners, I think that something is definetly amiss in the structural design and integrity of the car that can result in deformation from normal everyday driving, which is not good. Safety is not the issue at this point and our European friends should understand that we are not in hysteria over "structural failure" and our cars falling apart underneath us. It is the basic structural integrity, body panel fit, alignment, handling, and long term future of being able to drive our cars enjoyably and at the same time retain a normal "non-cancerous" market value that we are concerned about.

  68. #68
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    Probably need to add me as well

    Hadn?t checked the site for a while and so just saw all this dialogue for the first time today. Needless to say, it got my attention big-time and I spent an hour very focused on the new news. I have a 2001 w/22K miles that I use as a daily driver. Never any issues with the car at all and no hard driving?but still, it?s a daily driver. With the naked eye, passenger side bolts appear to be just a slight bit off as compared to driver?s side but honestly, I would probably need a precision measuring device to say 100% for sure. If they are off, it isn't by much.

  69. #69
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    Need longer shock travel?

    Macfly, love what you've done with the site!

    I read Grease Monkey's posts on roadfly about reinforcing the strut attachment points, and it occurs to me that maybe what is required is a longer shock travel. I seem to remember reading that the production shock travel was a scant 8 cm. Would this mean that the "available" travel is even less when the car is at rest - perhaps 5 cm of upward travel, and 3 of downward travel? As I see it, any bump that exceeds this 5 cm, plus the compressability of the tire, will cause the shock tower to absorb the full force of the bump lifting up the car.

    A quick bit of (rough) physics:
    If we assume that the car is traveling at 60 mph (= ~2,800 cm / sec), and that the bump in the road (and associated lift of the car's body) must be absorbed within, say, 14 cm of horizontal travel, then the body of the car must lift up by whatever amount of the bump is not absorbed by the tire and the shock, within ~5 milliseconds (= 14 cm / 2800 (cm/sec)). If we assume linear upward acceleration of the front of the car, then an additional lift as small as 5 millimeters requires an average upward velocity of 1 (m/s), or a velocity change of 2 m/s within 5 ms. The acceleration is then 2 / 0.005 = 400 m/s/s, or roughly 40 g's. Actual speeds, accelerations and forces will of course differ, as these are all very rough back-of-the-envelope numbers. The frame will flex, the car will rotate (pitch), the engine mount springs will compress, and many other things will happen before the full 40 g's are actually applied to the strut mounts. On the other hand, the upward acceleration will not necessarily be linear, and the car may not have 14 cm of horizontal travel in which to react.

    That said, 40 g's sounds like an awful lot of acceleration and force to be absorbed by that part of the car. That's 35,000 lbs of force! (40 g's * 3500 (lbs/g) / 4 wheels). Now I know that steel can handle that kind of abuse with small amounts of metal, but aluminum is simply not nearly as strong on a per-square-cm basis.

    Strengthening the strut mounting points will help, but increasing strut travel will also reduce tremendously the likelihood of this strength being necessary.

  70. #70
    Team Z8 dwz8's Avatar
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    Steve, the situation will be even worse if a different setup is in use, e.g. ACS or a coilover, which will lower the car by 20-25 mm.
    Best regards, Dieter

    ....

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    great post Steve.....

    I think BMW needs your help! So you think it's bottoming out. Jonny
    Jonny

  72. #72
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    That is precisely what I think is happening...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonny
    I think BMW needs your help! So you think it's bottoming out. Jonny
    as I very recently upgraded my suspension to the Dinan Stage 3 springs and IMMEDIATELY noticed a significant drop in ride quality. Even minor bumps "feel" like I am getting knocked out of my seat and feel as if I am shaking the whole car loose.
    The stock set up I never had this issue except under the most extreme roadhazard (which I only have hit once with out noticible damage thank goodness!)

    Dinan thought I was hitting the "bump stops" of the front strut and "maybe" they had sent me a set of replacement springs, which are being installed right now. Hopefully, it will be better. However, the overall design of the front strut may be the ultimate culprit if the amount of travel is inadequate. I would expect a variable rate spring to lessen the amount of travel and avoid the bottoming out phenomena but make the whole strut, spring complex more rigid in the process and increase stress transmission to the mounting points of the strut / tower, making deforation more likely. If this were true, it would seem logical that the Z8 with modified suspensions would have a higher incidence of this but the incidence seems to be random and not related to modification.... so who knows. I am going bug eyed trying to determine this.

    PS: Jonny, what Orthopedic surgeon let you have his Steinmann pins for that demonstration? I am just jealous I did not think of it, given that is what I do but I guess you reconstructive plastic surgeons are the smart ones !

  73. #73
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    StruCtural Dilemna?

    I took my Z8 to BMW Cleveland yesterday for inspection and to document any possible future claim with BMW after first sending them info posted here. They knew nothing about this matter and said that perhaps it is similar to what they have seen on new 5's and 6's in that hard pothole impact sends the strut tower "north" deforming all sorts of things (sheetmetal, supports, frame members). I then sent them the link to the Business Week Online article late yesterday. Now they aren't sure what to do. I'll report back when I get my car returned.

  74. #74
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    StruCtural Dilemna?

    I did the same in Montreal in Canada, and my dealer had no idea of the problem at hand. I forwarded the article as well and hv not heard back from him yet.
    KG

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    No Damage

    Consider me one of the lucky ones. I have 9900 miles on my '01 with no visible damage. However, I'm grounding her under cover in the garage until we hear from BMW NA.

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