Steering Problems (the continuing saga)
Please, help me out here: As I posted a while ago, I had a steering issue very similar to what a couple of others are now describing. BMW replaced my entire steering column (including the EPS system) and it seemed to do the trick on the hot day I picked up the car. However, it now appears that the problem continues. There is a definite difference between the boost of the steering when the ambient temp is below about 75 degrees or above. When hot, the steering is noticeably heavier, gives less feedback, and has a ďlocked on centerĒ feel. Since the whole system was replaced, I really donít know what else it could be other than rack. I suppose it could be a mechanical binding within the rack but I donít see how that could be temperature dependent and feels only as if the boost is reduced. I really think it has to be a design flaw in the EPS system.
I was trying o figure out how I could measure the steering boost rather than just relying on my brain determining how it felt. I initially/briefly thought about rigging up a fish weigh scale contraption, but figured that would be pretty impossible to use at speed without killing myself. And the system is designed to vary boost with speed, so Iíd have to do the experiment at one particular speed in one particular curve. I see no practical/safe way of doing that. So I discovered something else:
I noticed that while on the highway, while driving through a very slight curve, if I turn the wheel (only a couple of degrees since the curve is gently) and release it, the car just tracks around the curve. In other words, the steering wheel does NOT return to the straight-ahead position when I release it mid-turn. I have done this during high temperatures and low temperatures (same road, same speed, different temperatures), and sure enough it DOES return to center (just like a ďnormalĒ car) at low temperatures.
I took the car to my dealer on a hot day and asked the service manager to drive my car (with me as the passenger). He noticed that the steering does indeed NOT return to center when the wheel is turned into a curve and released (again, Iím talking about a gentle curve). He said, ďYeah, thatís strange. On a normal car, Iíd say that the rack was bad, but on this car with the EPS, I think itís normalĒ. I told him that the problem is that it only does it at high temperatures. He did not believe me (And I'm sure he thought I was nuts, as I initially wondered myself). We then got into a new 2004 3.0 Sport Z4 to compare it to mine. Amazingly, it felt and behaved very similar to mine. So, perhaps they all indeed to that when itís hot. However, I simply cannot believe that behavior is an intentional design characteristic. There is no reason for the steering boost to decrease as the ambient temperature increases. (The difference in boost/feel between hot and cold days is similar to the difference between normal and sport mode.)
This also makes me wonder about the ongoing ďlove it or hate itĒ debate on the steering. When itís cold, I love the way my steering feels; when itís hot, I hate it. Perhaps this is why so may people disagree.
So please conduct an experiment for me with your car. Find a section of highway that has smooth pavement and a gentle (wheel turned only a couple of degrees), constant radius curve. When the temp is low, release the steering wheel mid-turn, and see if it wants to return to center (as any ďnormalĒ car would). Then do the same on a hot day and see if the tendency to return is the same. Post your results.
Take a demo unit on a test drive.
Then you can show them that there is something wrong if the demo does auto center like it should.
Never mind, posted too quick
My steering column is getting replaced as we
speak. I noticed in the past few days... when it got above 90-95F here in the Texas when driving home after my car has been parked outside, the steering wheel would almost "stick"... where you had to almost use excessive force to get it to go in the opposite direction again.
I know this didn't happen last summer when I took delivery of the vehicle... I mean the effect is REALLY noticable. From what my service advisor said, a few other steering columns that went bad... or even completely locked out... exhibited this behavior at first. The day it happened, I stopped by the service shop and my service advisor took it for a drive... and could feel it himself. So, even though they couldn't reproduce it these past few days since it's been raining and cooler, they are going to replace the steering column anyway because they're afraid it's going to lock up on me.
Some on here have suggested it could be because I have the A/C going so fast with it on "Max"... sucking away electrical current/power from the electrical assisted steering. I tried reproducing that on the day I drove the car to the service shop... but could not do it. It really seems to be triggered by extremely hot weather.
It worries me that you have such similar symptoms as my car but yet the replacement did not fix the issue. It's about to get real hot here in Texas so I'll post feedback as to whether or not the replacement fixed my problems.
Re: Steering Problems (the continuing saga)
Crap....something else that needs to be recalled....
I really think this is a BIG problem... yet no one
bothered commenting on this in the other thread. Hopefully, now that everyone can see that the exact same thing is happening on two cars now, that we'll get more feedback.
I experienced this when temp >90 degrees ????
I notice this earlier this week when we had temps in the 90's has now returned to normal but definitely a problem !!!!!
why this car has alot of problems?
It\'s apparently an isolated issue...
...as the lack of response would indicate. If only two people have reported this problem you're just not going to get a lot of feedback. We're all curious to see how this plays out, but it would seem that very few Z4 owners...or BMW for that matter... have ever experienced this steering issue.
2003 3.0, Sterling Gray, Gray power top, Dream Red leather interior, 6 speed manual, Sport Package, Xenons, manual seats.
I\'m encouraged that I\'m not alone in this.
Misery does love company! And our changes of getting it solved increase as the reported incidences do. Your description fits EXACTLY what my car does; it acts up only after sitting in the hot sun all day. I think it's a design flaw in the system. However, the chances of me getting two bad EPS systems, when there only appears to be a few on the planet, are pretty slim. If your new column does not do the trick, I think we can rule out the chances of that being the cause, and I'd then focus on the rack. (I also experimented with the A/C and found no correlation.)
Kevin-Ct. Please speak up. Give us the details of what your car does.
I think this is a lot more common than is indicated here (I agree with cmd515, that this will eventually be a widespread problem). I think a lot of people have just not noticed it yet because maybe the degree of boost reduction is a bit less dramatic in their cars. And my car behaved perfectly the first summer of its existence, just as Cmd512's did. It obviously can take a while to show up.
Based on what I've seen with BMW service so far, I'm optimistic. (Fingers crossed!)
You really think this is an isolated issue when
3 people now are getting the EXACT same symptoms under the EXACT same conditions?
I'd say your car just hasn't had a chance to exhibit it yet.
I just contacted my BMW service advisor... they
are rushing to replace the steering column because they're really afraid of it locking up on me... but I'm starting to feel that's probably not it. I'm going to tell them to go ahead with it... if that fixes it, maybe you just got two bad steering columns, heh.
If not, my service advisor is pretty good about getting the shop foreman on my car to hunt down these bugs. That's how they pinpointed the bad map sensor in my Z4, which caused rough idles in the morning and occassional gurgling at stoplights.
Re: why this car has alot of problems?
At least the body components and differential mounts don't crack like some Z3's.
Re: I just contacted my BMW service advisor... they
I live in Tokyo area. My Z4 is coming soon. I hope this problem is soon to be fixed but we have never heard this type of problem.
Our local discussion group has just noticed from the board.
Dave M., where do you live? I want to know the climate of your area.
cmd512, I respect your approach on this matter and you seem to connect with excellent dealer support.
My service advisor at BMW of Austin is just
awesome. Unlike other service advisors that cringe at informed BMW owners, my service advisor Kevin, is always interested in and even now even visits roadfly to check out the various boards concerning the current BMW models. That kind of enthusiasm you rarely see... and I'm pretty lucky that he's in tune with his customers that.
Symptoms - wheel was hard to turn off center
this happened last wednesday when we had temps in the low 90's
the steering wheel felt like it was binding
and the steering lost the smooth gradual rotation as I turned the wheel
Thursday was only in the 70's and the symptoms did not recurr
I have to take the car in for the fuel pump recall on Monday I will mention the steering issue to the service people
Re: My service advisor at BMW of Austin is just
Oh yeah, you are very lucky with that. I find really frustrating going to dealer, talking to my service adviser, and although a nice guy, I see I know far more about the Z (mainly cos of this board), than he does.
Hell, I have to tell him about possible solutions of problems, common bugs, S/N of replacement parts and so onÖ.Itís nice to have a friendly service adviser, but the reason why I go to the dealer is to get the car fixed, not to make new friendsÖ If I were you, I would definitely talk to the manager every now and then, to let him know what a good professional he has. For my experience, thatís totally unusual, and rotation is a big deal among these guys. You want a have him around for a long time!!!
Anyway, I havenít experience that bug so far. I have the car for one year now, and has gone through a hot summer here in Valencia, in Spainís east coast. Temperature goes as high as mid 30ís or even low 40ís (ļC), and never noticed something like that. I have also done some long trips to Switzerland, Monaco and Germany, and everything went fine regarding such issue. Anyway, Iíll be alert on the oncoming weeks as weather is getting really hot again. Hope it doesnít show up. I could live without that one!!!
Does not make a difference... when you feel it,
you can actually turn off/on sport and feel it under both modes. It's pretty noticable.