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09-02-2011 04:47 AM #1
10-07-2011 06:51 PM #2
Struts versus Shocks
The X5 has a strut suspension, so it is not a simple matter to replace the shock absorber units. The entire front suspension has to be disassembled. Replacing the struts would be staggeringly expensive to do - about $1000 to $2000 just for parts. Usually, this is only done once in the life of the car - and the ball joints and tie rod ends replaced at the same time. I would suggest holding off.
What tires are you running? The M Roadster suffered from the same problem with its ultra-low-profile Contintentials that came stock.
At the suggestion of someone on the Z3 board, I went up a tire size when replacement time came (using the same rims, but tires with a higher aspect ratio, which made them taller).
The tradeoff is the handling is not quite as tight, but the car has a softer ride and is more forgiving of bumps and potholes. It also rides a little higher, which in that car is a blessing (the air dam no longer smacks things). From a practical daily driving standpoint, it really helped, taking some of the monster out of the car.
The "stock" rims on a standard X5 back in the day were 17" and the tires rather tall - which gives a softer ride. Even the 18" tires on my 2002 Sport package (255/55 R18) are pretty meaty tires. 19" and larger rims usually have lower profile tires that look almost painted on the rims.
Lower profile tires handle better, but ride harder. There is a tradeoff.
Of course, some folks like the LOOKS of lower profile tires. And on an X5, it is mostly a style thing. These are not race cars by a long shot.
That being said, the X5 has a pretty short wheelbase and a pretty hard ride. That is the nature of the beast. Even with softer tires and softer suspension, it will handle pretty rough. A 5-series wagon would give a far better ride.
But one other thing you can check that is FREE, is your tire pressures. If the guy at the dealer pumped them up to full pressure (50 psi or more, depending on tire) it can ride like a steamroller. Check the recommended pressure on the sticker on the door jamb. Lower pressures can ride better, but handle less load.
We've had the rears at 50 psi for the last two months, towing the trailer, and it rode hard when not towing. You could feel when the car ran over a penny, it was so hard.
10-08-2011 02:31 AM #3
Appreciate the advice. I've been quoted around $2,100 to replace all 4 shocks with a set of Bilsteins, including labour, which I thought wasn't too bad. One alternative would be to try replacing the rear shocks only, and as they're less expensive than the front McPherson's this option would only cost around $800 including labour. If that works, I could replace the other two. I've heard that having softer rear shocks doesn't necessarily compromise the handling, with firmer ones up front. What are your thoughts on this?
The tyres are fairly low in profile, with 50's on the front and 45's on the rear. (Dunlop Turanza's, 255 50 19's and 285 45 19's) I don't think I'd like to increase the profile and mess with the speedo reading, and going for 17" rims with higher profile tyres is something I've considered. They pop up on ebay from time to time, but the current 19x9 and 19x10 rims sure do look the part! Mind you, the tyres cost an absolute fortune, and with close on 500nm of torque, the rears wear alarmingly fast. So I could consider going for the 17's.
The tyres are only inflated to around 38psi, maybe a little more, and they are wearing quite evenly at that pressure, so I wouldn't want to go much lower. But I could drop them to maybe 35 and see how that goes.
Aside from the expense, my major concern about replacing the factory shocks with the Bilsteins is that they may not be any softer. The suspension workshop guy has assured me that they are, but no doubt he's profit driven!
Maybe I should just enjoy the reasonably crisp handling (for a vehicle of this size and mass), and stop my complaining! If ever I get false teeth, I may need to reconsider though!
10-10-2011 03:47 PM #4
If it works, don't fix it....
You will have plenty of opportunities to throw money at this car. Unless the struts/shocks are WORN OUT and bouncing you down the road, I would hold off until they are.
I think the nature of the car is that it is going to ride hard and rock back and forth, due to its short wheelbase, height, suspension, etc.
My friend sold his M-class Mercedes for that reason - it was like riding in a rocking chair.
He bought a used S-class and boy does that ride like a hearse!
10-11-2011 08:13 AM #5
Thanks Robert. You're right, there will no doubt be plenty of other things to spend money on, such as the rear tyres in the near future. There goes at least $1,300 for a pair of Continentals! Besides, the X5 is an absolute delight on the open road as it is. It's only when the going gets rough that I wish for something softer.
10-11-2011 01:15 PM #6
And I was worried about spending $250 apiece for Michelin MXV P255/55 R18 tires. $1300 for a pair? That would be about 12% of the resale value of my car - perhaps more.
My goal is to get another 50,000 to 70,000 miles out of this car, without having to do any major repairs (struts, clutch, etc.).
As the car depreciates in value (worth less than $10,000 at this point), spending thousands on repairs seems less and less cost-effective.
10-12-2011 08:49 AM #7
Yes, not cheap. But here in Australia we seem to pay more for....just about everything, including cars. Here, an entry level X5 xDrive 30d retails for about $100k on the road. And that's without any options. With the exchange rate now at parity with the USD, it doesn't add up.
I've ordered the Continentals today. Moan.
10-22-2011 12:40 PM #8
10-24-2011 07:47 AM #9
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