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  1. #1
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    Member No: 191720 a1parrothead is an unknown quantity at this point a1parrothead's Avatar
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    Need Suspension Advice

    I need advice on wifeís 1998 Z3. I drove it yesterday and it seems the rear end is very soft and much lower than it should be. Rides like crap. It has 98K on it and I have never done anything to the suspension. I am guessing its rear shocks are trashed and probably the front struts.
    Help me with my thought process: It has springs and shocks on the rear correct? On the front, struts.
    If I replace the rear shocks, I should not need to replace the rear springs, correct? Unless one is broken or something.

    I want to keep it stock, thatís fine for us. I was thinking of putting on the rear shocks, but having our local tire shop (Les Schwab) replace to front struts. Any alignment issues to worry about? Any concerns with Les Schwab doing the front struts?

    Any tips for me changing the rear shocks? It seems pretty easy to do. Any help would be great. Remember, we are not aggressive drivers, we do not want it lowered (its low enough for 2 old people) and we want it to ride as comfortable as possible!
    Thanks, Jeff
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  2. #2
    Robert Platt Bell
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    Test the supension before throwing money.

    If your shocks are worn, you may see cupping on the tires. It is an unusual form of tire wear and usually caused ONLY by worn shocks. Search online for photos of cupping tire wear, if not sure.

    Usually, to test shocks/struts, get out of the car, and push down on each corner of the car, one at a time (don't bend the sheetmetal!).

    Let go. The car should bounce back and stay there. Maybe rebound very slightly. But if it goes "boing, boing" up and down, you have worn shocks/struts.

    If it is just the rears, I would just replace the thr ear shocks (by the way, you did check your tire pressures, right? Just checking). This should be a simple DIY job.

    Springs do wear, but this is unusual, particularly at 98K, unless you are hauling bags of dirt in the trunk or something.

    Replacing front struts is more difficult, as you will need a spring compressor. And most mechanics would want to replace the strut bearings at the top of the strut at the same time. And what the heck, ball joints are only like $30 each, right? And the tire rod ends, too. And the bushings. Might as well DO IT ALL, while you have it apart.

    It adds up. I would not replace them if they are not worn - but rather just do the rears.

    As for going to a tire store, I would shy away. Chances are, they are not as familiar with BMWs and might make a botch of it. A good independent BMW mechanic would be a better bet.

    And yes, you will need a front-end alignment after replacing the struts.

    I recently did everything BUT the struts on an E36 (same front end as the Z3). See:


    Here are some pix of a strut replacement on my old SHO, which gives you an idea of the work involved:


    A BMW is a joy to work on, compared to a Ford, I must say.

    Good luck and stay away from those tire stores! My advice, anyway.

    Find a shop where the mechanic is the guy who owns the place - and knows BMWs.

    Good Luck!
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  3. #3
    Robert Platt Bell
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    Rear Shock mounts

    I don't think this is a Z3 issue, but in the E36, the rear shock mounts wear out and rattle. Good idea to replace them with the shocks.

    The Z3 uses the E30 rear suspension. Not sure if it is an issue on this car.
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  4. #4
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    Member No: 137549 Marty505 is on a distinguished road Marty505's Avatar
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    Those rear shock mounts have the same problem as other E36's. I went with the JT Design mounts instead of stock since they're supposed to last longer. Definitely a Good Idea to replace them if you're in there dong shocks & springs.
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