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      07-02-2009, 02:26 PM   #1
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Alignment Issue

I have taken my car to a reputable shop to take off the front strut cap alignment pinS in order to give me maximum camber from the stock suspension. I got about -1.1 deg on each side which I am happy with.

After the alignment though, I felt that the car was pulling to the right a bit. Particularly noticeable at high speeds.

I took it back today and had the tech re-verify and re-do the alignment. Which they did. However, after rechecking every thing, I still feel that the car pulls slightly to the right and the tech confirmed that.

The tech tells me that my car has AFS (Active Front Steering) and that the sensor needs to be re-adjusted by the dealer after an alignment and that this should address the issue. At the time, I told to myself "bummer, these new cars have sensors everywhere and even the alignment is not longer fully a mechanical procedure. I guess I have to go to the dealership"

But now that I think about it, isn't AFS for the Active Steering option that is available on regular 3 Series, but not on the M3? My car should not have any steering sensor that needs readjusting after an alignment. Is that right?

Any thoughts on this?
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      07-02-2009, 02:51 PM   #2
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Mine has a slight pull as well after a total of 3 alignments
In for anyone that can fix it. The Toe and Cmaber settings are perfect and everything is level.
Even checked tire pressures to make sure one wasn't obscure, but M3 shouldn't have Active steering like the regular 3 series only assist in weight.
I sort of jsut gave up on it. I'm wondering if its my drop or wheels so maybe I could get Rougues new rear Toe Arms
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      07-02-2009, 03:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panda///Monic View Post
Mine has a slight pull as well after a total of 3 alignments
In for anyone that can fix it. The Toe and Cmaber settings are perfect and everything is level.
Even checked tire pressures to make sure one wasn't obscure, but M3 shouldn't have Active steering like the regular 3 series only assist in weight.
I sort of jsut gave up on it. I'm wondering if its my drop or wheels so maybe I could get Rougues new rear Toe Arms
Thanks for the reply. Does the tech who did your alignment explain why it is pulling to one side and why he could not fix it?
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      07-02-2009, 10:48 PM   #4
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No one besides Panda///Monic and myself has had difficulty getting the alignment just right?

Maybe I should just go to the dealership. That pained me just to write that...
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      07-03-2009, 07:51 AM   #5
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I had active steering on my 335 and was worried when I put on coilovers I might have to have it reset at the dealership as my friend Joe did. But I did not. I don't think I have any pull one way or the other but haven't exceeded 80-90 mph since alignment done. I guess I'll find out on the 10th at Pacific Raceways. Good luck in getting this resolved.
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      07-03-2009, 09:08 AM   #6
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I had my alignment done at the dealer after I installed my Dinan springs and they said that the M3 had active front steering (charged me more $$$ because of it too). That is one of few things I didn't know about the M3 and have no idea what is really does. But I can tell you that my car does not pull.
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      07-03-2009, 12:39 PM   #7
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since your alignment is more aggressive now you will feel the car pulling different ways because of the road itself.. alot of roads are tapered to the outside so the car will pull right..

Also alignment machines get out of wrack and need to be calibrated sometime...

just 2 things to consider...
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      07-03-2009, 01:16 PM   #8
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The E9X M3 does not have active steering, stock or as an option.

What are these shops referring to exactly? It has power assisted steering like just about any other car has these days, and the level of assistance might be variable according to speed, but that's not active steering. Active steering means the steering ratio is being manipulated.

I had alignment done after the Dinan spring and camber plate install, and I don't have any issues.

FrenchBoy, have you gotten the computer printout of your alignment specs? Are the L/R differences within tolerances?
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      07-03-2009, 03:12 PM   #9
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Lucid, except for the front camber (-1.14 Left, -1.02 Right) all other alignment measurements are in spec.

The one thing that I am wondering is if the target alignment spec used is the right one. Since the E9X M3 is not listed in their system, the tech used the alignment spec for the regular E90/E92/E93 with sport suspension and 18" wheels. He also selected "with AFS".
So I wonder if 1) the M3 calls for the same alignment specs as the non-M E9X, and 2) are the specs with and without AFS the same.

I am confused by AMPowerJ's comment about the dealer charging for AFS re-adjustment. I wonder if whether there is indeed some kind of "on-center" sensor that needs re-adjusting after an alignment. Never heard about this but who knows.

This is a bit frustrating. The car was perfect before I went there and it seems like they are having a hard time getting it right. They are good people and I know they'll work to get it right. Still annoying to have to figure out all this and keep going back.
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      07-03-2009, 04:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucid View Post
The E9X M3 does not have active steering, stock or as an option.

What are these shops referring to exactly? It has power assisted steering like just about any other car has these days, and the level of assistance might be variable according to speed, but that's not active steering. Active steering means the steering ratio is being manipulated.
I am pretty sure that BMW refers to the way the effort increases as the speed rises as Active Steering. Doesn't sound like active steering to me but that seems to be what they call it. As to why it would affect alignment the only thing I can think of is it seems to measure speed as well as wheel angle.

http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Conte...h8vUBAzc1RNA==
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      07-03-2009, 05:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMPowerJ View Post
I am pretty sure that BMW refers to the way the effort increases as the speed rises as Active Steering. Doesn't sound like active steering to me but that seems to be what they call it. As to why it would affect alignment the only thing I can think of is it seems to measure speed as well as wheel angle.

http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Conte...h8vUBAzc1RNA==
What you are referencing above is active steering (as in varying steering ratio based on vehicle speed among other things; documented in the link you posted) and is an option for 3 series cars other than the M3. Again, the M3 does NOT have this feature. It does not have active steering. What it has is officially referred to as, "Vehicle-speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering (M Servotronic)". It might also have variable gear spacing on the rack and pinion assembly, but that's not active steering either. I suggest you ask for a refund for the extra fee they charged you because just about any car made these days has power steering, and many of them have some kind of variable power steering.

http://www.m3post.com/goodiesforyou/...ring-Guide.pdf (variable-assist power steering on the M3, page 12)
http://www.bmw.com/generic/com/en/fa...garticleUrlEnd (BMW active steering)
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      07-03-2009, 05:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrenchBoy View Post
Lucid, except for the front camber (-1.14 Left, -1.02 Right) all other alignment measurements are in spec.

The one thing that I am wondering is if the target alignment spec used is the right one. Since the E9X M3 is not listed in their system, the tech used the alignment spec for the regular E90/E92/E93 with sport suspension and 18" wheels. He also selected "with AFS".
So I wonder if 1) the M3 calls for the same alignment specs as the non-M E9X, and 2) are the specs with and without AFS the same.

I am confused by AMPowerJ's comment about the dealer charging for AFS re-adjustment. I wonder if whether there is indeed some kind of "on-center" sensor that needs re-adjusting after an alignment. Never heard about this but who knows.

This is a bit frustrating. The car was perfect before I went there and it seems like they are having a hard time getting it right. They are good people and I know they'll work to get it right. Still annoying to have to figure out all this and keep going back.
I don't know what the alignment specs for regular 3-series cars are, but can you even get more than -1 camber up front on a regular 3 series car even if you tried? Anyway, the M3 specs are stickied in this this section, so I assume you compared what you got to those? There might be some several sensors that regulate power steering assist, but I don't know the specifics.
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      07-03-2009, 09:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucid View Post
What you are referencing above is active steering (as in varying steering ratio based on vehicle speed among other things; documented in the link you posted) and is an option for 3 series cars other than the M3. Again, the M3 does NOT have this feature. It does not have active steering. What it has is officially referred to as, "Vehicle-speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering (M Servotronic)". It might also have variable gear spacing on the rack and pinion assembly, but that's not active steering either. I suggest you ask for a refund for the extra fee they charged you because just about any car made these days has power steering, and many of them have some kind of variable power steering.

http://www.m3post.com/goodiesforyou/...ring-Guide.pdf (variable-assist power steering on the M3, page 12)
http://www.bmw.com/generic/com/en/fa...garticleUrlEnd (BMW active steering)
Thanks for the clarification. That makes sense but when the dealer told me that the M3 had Active Steering I was inclined to believe them. I mean don't they pull the VIN to determine what type of alignment is required and how much to charge? I am getting sick and tired of having to teach the dealer how to do everything everytime I go. This happened on the 1200 mile service where I had to prove to them they were supposed to change the tranny fluid.
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      07-03-2009, 11:28 PM   #14
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Our M3s have FIXED variable-ratio steering (ratio less aggressive on-center for high-speed stability but more aggressive as you turn the wheel, in order to achieve 2 turns from lock to lock). It also has a 2-stage (servotronic on/off) vehicle-speed-dependent variable assist. As Lucid said, none of the above should have any effect on alignment, especially if steering wheel is properly centered. The shop screwed something up. Take it back. Car should NOT pull to one side, period... unless you added spacers, coilovers, or some other incompatible (or defective) suspension mod. At any rate, get it checked/resolved, and put car back to stock if necessary (in case you changed anything). Good luck.

Last edited by elp_jc; 07-05-2009 at 02:31 AM.
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      07-04-2009, 06:26 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elp_jc View Post
Our M3s have FIXED variable-ratio steering (ratio less aggressive on-center for high-speed stability but more aggressive as you turn the wheel, in order to achieve 2 turns from lock to lock). It also has a 2-stage (servotronic on/off) vehicle-speed-dependent variable assist. As Lucid said, none of the above should have any effect on alignment, especially if steering wheel is properly centered. The shop screwed something up. Take it back. Car should NOT pull to one side, period... unless you added spacers, coilovers, or some other incompatible suspension mod. At any rate, get it checked/resolved, and put car back to stock if necessary (in case you changed anything). Good luck.
Even with added mods like springs, spacers or coilovers, with a proper alignment it should not pull at all.
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      07-04-2009, 07:42 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elp_jc View Post
Our M3s have FIXED variable-ratio steering (ratio less aggressive on-center for high-speed stability but more aggressive as you turn the wheel, in order to achieve 2 turns from lock to lock).
Yes, the "fixed variable-ratio steering" seems to be achieved through the uneven gear spacing on the rack and pinion. Vehicle speed and other driving parameters with the exception of steering wheel position do not have any influence of that system since the steering input/output is mechanically fixed (in a non-linear manner). Just to clarify further for everyone, active steering is fundamentally different in the sense that the system can change the steering ratio at ANY given time and any steering wheel position based on its programming. So, one can have a drastically different steering ratio at the same steering wheel position under different driving conditions. I am glad the M3 does not have that feature!
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      07-05-2009, 01:04 AM   #17
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Thank guys for all the replies. Really seems like the alignment needs to be rechecked and/or corrected for the slight pull. No fancy electronics involved. I will talk to the shop again on Monday. I'll update when I have more info.
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      07-05-2009, 07:57 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrenchBoy View Post
Thank guys for all the replies. Really seems like the alignment needs to be rechecked and/or corrected for the slight pull. No fancy electronics involved. I will talk to the shop again on Monday. I'll update when I have more info.
See you next Friday. I also signed up for the Alfa day the 22nd. Considering PCA the 29th.
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      07-06-2009, 12:16 PM   #19
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Toe is more likely to cause a pull than camber. Since your camber settings aren't equal, I'm wondering how the toe looks. Also, what are the camber and caster settings? You said, "In Spec" but did they give you an actual readout? They should. I always get the before and after from my dealer to keep an eye on things.

The front tire stagger can also cause the car to pull. This is unlikely the cause because your car didn't pull before the change. It DID happen to me once, long ago.

If they set the toe near zero or toed out, you'll feel a pull on an uneven road. As you go to the right of the crown it'll pull right and to the left of the crown it'll pull left. This is a "high performance" setting that is usually avoided for street use. If the shop thought that you were seeking the best turn-in possible, then they might possibly have done this.

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      07-06-2009, 05:27 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucid View Post
What you are referencing above is active steering (as in varying steering ratio based on vehicle speed among other things; documented in the link you posted) and is an option for 3 series cars other than the M3. Again, the M3 does NOT have this feature. It does not have active steering. What it has is officially referred to as, "Vehicle-speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering (M Servotronic)". It might also have variable gear spacing on the rack and pinion assembly, but that's not active steering either. I suggest you ask for a refund for the extra fee they charged you because just about any car made these days has power steering, and many of them have some kind of variable power steering.

http://www.m3post.com/goodiesforyou/...ring-Guide.pdf (variable-assist power steering on the M3, page 12)
http://www.bmw.com/generic/com/en/fa...garticleUrlEnd (BMW active steering)
Great Info!!! Thanks lucid!

FrenchBoy -

In addition to all the other helpful comments, I would ask your alignment shop when they last had their alignment machine calibrated. I had a serious alignment issue on my Acura Legend for years with premature tire wear and in the end, the dealership's alignment machine was way off on all 4 wheels when I had the car aligned at an independent shop recommended to me by Discount Tire. I was able to get the Acura Dealership reimburse me for the cost of a set of Michelin tires since I went through about 2 sets after getting faulty alignments by them. After going to this independent shop where the guy really knew what he was doing, I almost have 60K miles on the current set of Michelin tires with even wear. I will continue to take my cars to this guy for alignments in the future. Good luck!
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      07-07-2009, 12:29 AM   #21
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These are the readout from the last alignment. I am hoping to go back this week to have it redone. These numbers really look fine so I am kinda wondering what is going on here.

Front (L / R)
Camber: -1.14 / -1.02 deg
Caster: 6.84 / 6.93 deg
Toe: 0.03 in / 0.03 in

Rear (L / R)
Camber: -1.73 / -1.74 deg
Toe: 0.07 in / 0.08 in

Quote:
Originally Posted by dcstep View Post
Toe is more likely to cause a pull than camber. Since your camber settings aren't equal, I'm wondering how the toe looks. Also, what are the camber and caster settings? You said, "In Spec" but did they give you an actual readout? They should. I always get the before and after from my dealer to keep an eye on things.

The front tire stagger can also cause the car to pull. This is unlikely the cause because your car didn't pull before the change. It DID happen to me once, long ago.

If they set the toe near zero or toed out, you'll feel a pull on an uneven road. As you go to the right of the crown it'll pull right and to the left of the crown it'll pull left. This is a "high performance" setting that is usually avoided for street use. If the shop thought that you were seeking the best turn-in possible, then they might possibly have done this.

Dave
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      07-07-2009, 07:57 AM   #22
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Yeah, looks decent to me.

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