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      08-24-2010, 05:07 PM   #1
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E92 M3 ZCP Lowering Springs. WRITE UP INSIDE

Hello everyone,

I think it's about time to help the community out with the BMW M3. Current vendors, installers, DIY'ers have all done a great job this far, and I feel that sharing 9 years of car building and engineering expertise into this mix will only be of help to everyone.

The car we are going to be talking about today, is the 2011 M3 Coupe, COMPETITION PACKAGE. Many have so far wondered what is different about the ZCP's suspension and have been skeptical about installing lowering springs. In general, many have opted that lowering springs are a poor choice for the BMW M3, especially the ZCP.

I will try to keep things as simple as possible, as I don't want the non-technical people to feel confused in any sort of way. The techy people, feel free to pose questions either in this post, or through PM, I will be glad to answer questions on findings, experience and anything else for that matter the best I can.

Common concerns to date with lowering the M3 (EDC and non EDC and ZCP cars):
1) Reduced suspension travel and articulation within.
2) Handling characteristics become worse than stock.
3) More uncomfortable, and unbearable to some.

Now, first lets discuss WHY most lowering springs, make the car handle potentially worse, and how we address this. From the factory, our beloved M's have very minimal front to rear "rake". Meaning, if you wanted to judge by wheel gap, the front has more gap than the rear. This is party due to the shape of the fender arch and of course how the suspension sits. ALL lowering springs kits lower the front more than the rear!!! This is not ideal, as creating an unwanted rake will create a bucket full of handling characteristics that we do not want. Most people install lowering springs for looks, and most manufacturers believe that keeping the same gap front to rear is ideal. Personally, I am not a fan of that look cosmetically, but that's subjective. Lowering the front will increase nose dive upon turn in, it will make the rear feel less planted, and it will also increase understeer under certain situations, and in turn, as a reciprocal effect, it can induce oversteer on a car has that tendency already.

Why are ZCP car's lower? Based on my findings yesterday and night, ZCP car's use a smaller/thinner spring pad than NON ZCP cars to lower the rear. Based on findings, the springs measure out to the same length in the rear. The front, unfortunately I did not measure as I was running out of time, but I will do that to see what they did for the front on ZCP cars. But on sheer observation, it looks that the spring perch sits a small bit lower than non ZCP cars.

What did we do yesterday to achieve a proper performing M3 that eliminates the gripes people have with lowering springs, including H&R's. On my car, we used the H&R sport springs for the BMW M3 and this write up will apply to all lowering springs.

What else did we buy and need and do:
1) 1996 BMW M3 coupe front bump stops
2) Reinforced rubber tubing (used as bottom coil springs pad in rear)
---REAR SPRING PADS WERE REMOVED TO MAINTAIN FACTORY RAKE
3) Strut guides were trimmed 8.5MM (0.35"). Once compressed with the 1996 M3 stops, we were able to achieve 0.66" more suspension travel. This is more than Dinan has been able to achieve as well.

***Pictures at the end of the first post to see everything done***

Now for the most important part.. Driving feel, performance and etc.

The car is even better than before. The ZCP suspension was already pretty brilliant and great, but it's now even better. It is extremely planted and controlled, EDC maintains it's dampening control and it isn't any less effective. All 3 modes are absolutely apparent with the car shining most in sport plus mode which should be pretty obvious.

Comfort? It's practically the same. If anyone can come take a ride in the car and complains, a beer and dinner is on me. The only noticeable difference is how much more controlled the vehicle feels through transitions and braking. There isn't much to be said in regards to comfort, because there isn't much change. Up to 130 MPH on an empty desolate road, the car is 100% happy and doesn't feel squirmy at all.

Overall, I am happy with how it all turned out, and I hope this helps a lot of you guys and gals out. It looks great, it feels great (as it should).

-Malek

P.S. Car is currently equipped with MS wheel spacers from EAS. 15MM front, 12MM rear.

REAR SPRING VS. H&R SPRING


TRIMMED FRONT GUIDE SUPPORTS


1996 BMW M3 COUPE FRONT BUMP STOPS


REINFORCED RUBBER TUBING ON BOTTOM REAR SPRINGS TO AID IN INSULATION. REAR FACTORY SPRING PADS WERE REMOVED ALL TOGETHER.


ZCP FRONT STRUT MEASUREMENT.


HOW SHE SITS
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      08-24-2010, 10:46 PM   #2
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Wow.. Looks great. How flush are the zcp wheels with the 15/12 combo? It almost looks like you can get away with 18 by the way the picture looks.
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      08-24-2010, 11:31 PM   #3
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my car handles like shit with rd springs, well atleast i think so...

its either suspension (w no alignment yet)
tires (toyo t1rs)
wheels ( hre c20s, doubt it big time)

Im trying to figure it out,

i have oversteer problems where i feel like rear is giving out

My stock wheels/suspension handled way better...

care to help bud?
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      08-24-2010, 11:33 PM   #4
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You are absolutely right. With the stock sized tires on the ZCP wheels, you can fit 18/20mm up front and up to an 18mm in the rear. I kept my spacer choice, because I will be moving up to a 265f and 285r tire size.
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Last edited by Malek@MRF; 08-24-2010 at 11:53 PM.
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      08-24-2010, 11:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1cleanm3 View Post
my car handles like shit with rd springs, well atleast i think so...

its either suspension (w no alignment yet)
tires (toyo t1rs)
wheels ( hre c20s, doubt it big time)

Im trying to figure it out,

i have oversteer problems where i feel like rear is giving out

My stock wheels/suspension handled way better...

care to help bud?
Well first and foremost. The Toyo tires must go. Those tires were primarily designed for sport compacts and have very soft sidewalls with mediocre levels of grip.

HRE is a great wheel, but also heavy. What are your current tire sizes and wheel specs, including the offsets.

If all the things I discussed in the original thread were not addressed, then your car could be performing worse. RD springs offer a very nice drop, but they are far from the best/ideal springs for the car as they rake the car even more than other springs out there.

Lastly, the installation. May I ask who did it for you? This is a huge factor.
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      08-25-2010, 12:20 AM   #6
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Thx for helping out!

I am guessing the tires suck ass!

My hre wheels are c20s which weight 20 pounds inch. Offset is 13 in front and 22 in rear. Wheels are 19 inches and 9 inches up front and 10.5 in rear. Tires are toyo t1rs, in 245 35 19 front and 285 30 19 rear.

Installation was done by longtran(very reputible guy here)

p.s. what you think of 255 35 19 up front and 295 30 19 inch michelin ps2's?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malekreza11 View Post
Well first and foremost. The Toyo tires must go. Those tires were primarily designed for sport compacts and have very soft sidewalls with mediocre levels of grip.

HRE is a great wheel, but also heavy. What are your current tire sizes and wheel specs, including the offsets.

If all the things I discussed in the original thread were not addressed, then your car could be performing worse. RD springs offer a very nice drop, but they are far from the best/ideal springs for the car as they rake the car even more than other springs out there.

Lastly, the installation. May I ask who did it for you? This is a huge factor.
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      08-25-2010, 12:57 AM   #7
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^ It's the T1R's and no alignment.

255/295 I think would be a great combo, slightly less oversteer than stock with way more rear grip.

With 10.5" +22 rear wheel and 295 width tire you may have some trouble with rubbing, but I believe PS2's have a rounded sidewall so I think you'll be okay. If you're running like 295 AD08's I believe you will rub too hard.
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      08-25-2010, 03:09 AM   #8
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nice write up

whats the name of your shop?
I assume you are in Irvine?
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      08-25-2010, 12:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1cleanm3 View Post
Thx for helping out!

I am guessing the tires suck ass!

My hre wheels are c20s which weight 20 pounds inch. Offset is 13 in front and 22 in rear. Wheels are 19 inches and 9 inches up front and 10.5 in rear. Tires are toyo t1rs, in 245 35 19 front and 285 30 19 rear.

Installation was done by longtran(very reputible guy here)

p.s. what you think of 255 35 19 up front and 295 30 19 inch michelin ps2's?
Your wheel specifications are fine, they wouldnt be inducing oversteer or understeer too badly as they are balanced well enough from front to rear. The C20's may be light, but one thing about measuring the weight of the wheel, is where the weight is actually placed. Wheels that are multi-piece and dished, will have majority of their weight on the outer part of the wheel, rather than concentrated toward the inner part of the wheel. This weight shift will increase its moment of inertia and will make the car feel a bit more sluggish.

You need to get rid of the Toyo T1R's. For the lack of better words, they are garbage performance tires.

I am completely aware of who longtran is. We have dealt with his installs before. (2 cars had the lower rear control arm pop out of place because the bolts were not torqued correctly and was towed here.) But I am not a fan of bashing other installers around here, so that could be a separate private conversation.

Maybe you could bring your car in, and we can see what is going on, and if you have the time, we can do the E36 bump stops, guide supports and the rear pads for you the way we think it should be done.
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      08-25-2010, 12:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mastek View Post
nice write up

whats the name of your shop?
I assume you are in Irvine?
I am currently in Irvine, in the process of relocating. Will be remaining in the OC area. I can't solicit here, because I am not a paying vendor, but I will be doing that soon. The name is MRF Engineering. But I am making this post as just a M3 enthusiast like the rest of you guys.
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      08-25-2010, 07:03 PM   #11
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My car with the Eibachs and the E36 M3 bump stops rode pretty well most of the time, but was pretty upset by mid corner bumps. My Dinan Stage 1 does not do that.

Some AutoXers have noted that with the Dinan suspension, the increased travel can cause rubs between the tire and the top of the fender well. In speaking with Steve D, he indicated that shaving the guide support anymore would exacerbate that and felt like they had achieved as much shaving as they wanted. You still won't have as much travel as the Dinan suspension since your car is so much more. (my dinan stage 2 is 2 fingers of wheel gap in the front, barely lower than the stock ZCP)

Also, you didn't increase the travel in the rear at all (which is actually really easy, Dinan sells an EDC kit for $100 that does it, but I bet it's just again, shaved stock bits)

The ZCP uses a different rear spring than the normal cars to attain the lowering in the rear. Interesting about the spring pad, can you post the part number? I'd like to cross reference it. (although my car is low enough in the rear, visually I'd like a touch more in the front)
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      08-25-2010, 08:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitw View Post
My car with the Eibachs and the E36 M3 bump stops rode pretty well most of the time, but was pretty upset by mid corner bumps. My Dinan Stage 1 does not do that.

Some AutoXers have noted that with the Dinan suspension, the increased travel can cause rubs between the tire and the top of the fender well. In speaking with Steve D, he indicated that shaving the guide support anymore would exacerbate that and felt like they had achieved as much shaving as they wanted. You still won't have as much travel as the Dinan suspension since your car is so much more. (my dinan stage 2 is 2 fingers of wheel gap in the front, barely lower than the stock ZCP)

Also, you didn't increase the travel in the rear at all (which is actually really easy, Dinan sells an EDC kit for $100 that does it, but I bet it's just again, shaved stock bits)

The ZCP uses a different rear spring than the normal cars to attain the lowering in the rear. Interesting about the spring pad, can you post the part number? I'd like to cross reference it. (although my car is low enough in the rear, visually I'd like a touch more in the front)
There is no use in doing anything to the rear to increase travel, as there is plenty of travel in the rear, even if you lower it 1.2 inches. And yes, it can be done by trimming the outer stop. If you would like pictures of how this is done, let me know, as it's a simple procedure that will cost you no money and can do it at home.

The ZCP rear spring measured out to being the same length as a normal M3 spring. The pad is what was much thinner. If there is a difference between the two springs, I was not able to observe it, because I am sure it was minute.

Front end suspension travel. There is a 0.66" increase compared to a non-modified lowered suspension with the same springs. There has been no rubbing on any liner or part of the car what so ever. I actually find this pretty darn impossible to do. Even some of the hardest dips and bumps have not been able to create this condition.

Anyways, I am not trying to cause some sort of argument with anyone here, I am just here to share my findings for the sake of the community. If one feels comfortable spending the money on a Dinan kit, which is something anyone can virtually do, by all means do so. However, not everyone wants eibach or dinan springs and want more out of the car and suspension. The Eibach springs are too soft for the ZCP suspension.
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      08-25-2010, 08:45 PM   #13
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could you post more pics? Specifically, I want to see how the wheels look with those spacers. I just purchased 12fr/5rr and I think I may have gone a bit too conservative! I am also installing a 255/285 tire set-up, so I didn't want any chance of rubbing... What are your thoughts?
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      08-25-2010, 09:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 11' AW M3 View Post
could you post more pics? Specifically, I want to see how the wheels look with those spacers. I just purchased 12fr/5rr and I think I may have gone a bit too conservative! I am also installing a 255/285 tire set-up, so I didn't want any chance of rubbing... What are your thoughts?
Hey there,

Yes, 12f, and 5r is very conservative.

Now, if you are going with 255 front, and 275 rear, I reccomend a 15mm front, and a maximum of 12mm rear, you could get away with a 15mm in the rear depending on the tire brand.

For the stock ZCP tires and wheels, I reccomend an 18mm front, and depending on your taste, a 15mm rear or 18mm rear. Yes that sounds crazy, but the tires are pretty stretched, and it will fit just fine, even on a lowered car with no rubbing. If you want to have it look great and still play it safe my ultimate recommendation would be to do the 18mm front and 15mm rear.

You could of course always downsize the spacers at a later time to the 15mm front and 12mm rear when you do the 255/275 sizes.

I am in SoCal as well. Shoot me a PM and maybe we can meet up some afternoon and you can check out how my car sits.

I will wash the car tomorrow as well and take more pictures at different angles to show how flush/not flush the wheels and tires are.

-Malek
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      08-25-2010, 09:53 PM   #15
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Any pictures comparing ZCP and non-ZCP rear spring pads? Are you talking about the upper or lower pad?
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      08-25-2010, 10:14 PM   #16
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excellent write up, thank you!
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      08-25-2010, 11:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rldzhao View Post
Any pictures comparing ZCP and non-ZCP rear spring pads? Are you talking about the upper or lower pad?

Upper pads between this car, non zcp cars and the non-M was the same. We are talking about the lower pad in this case. The one that sits in the control arm.
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      08-26-2010, 12:07 AM   #18
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That's interesting, as the bottom tip of my rear spring already (almost) touches the lower camber arm through the lower spring pad... meaning there isn't much thickness left between the tip of the coil spring and the camber arm.

You can see the hole on my spring pad where the tip of the coil sits.

Again, would love to see side-by-side comparisons.
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      08-26-2010, 09:27 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malekreza11 View Post

I am completely aware of who longtran is. We have dealt with his installs before. (2 cars had the lower rear control arm pop out of place because the bolts were not torqued correctly and was towed here.) But I am not a fan of bashing other installers around here, so that could be a separate private conversation.
Do you mind posting what are the correct torque specs (front/rear) ?
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      08-26-2010, 09:28 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rldzhao View Post
That's interesting, as the bottom tip of my rear spring already (almost) touches the lower camber arm through the lower spring pad... meaning there isn't much thickness left between the tip of the coil spring and the camber arm.

You can see the hole on my spring pad where the tip of the coil sits.

Again, would love to see side-by-side comparisons.
I agree ... the lower pads are very thin.
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      08-26-2010, 11:32 AM   #21
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Yes, I can get you the torque specs if you need them for your shop. Not a problem at all.
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      08-26-2010, 11:56 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malekreza11 View Post

Anyways, I am not trying to cause some sort of argument with anyone here, I am just here to share my findings for the sake of the community. If one feels comfortable spending the money on a Dinan kit, which is something anyone can virtually do, by all means do so. However, not everyone wants eibach or dinan springs and want more out of the car and suspension. The Eibach springs are too soft for the ZCP suspension.
I'm the first the admit that the Dinan suspension is really expensive for what you get.

With the Eibachs, I was running out of travel in the rear. Do the zip tie test and find out for yourself. (wrap a zip tie tightly around the shock below the bump stop, push it down to the shock and see if it ends up in the stop. if it does, you're hitting the stop)

And, the ride height on your car looks nice, if you were local, I'd definitely take you up on a comparison drive.
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