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      05-06-2015, 04:54 PM   #1
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Unhappy HELP ME! help to figure out this front suspension noise

Long read, but if you want to help I'd appreciate it.

I've been dealing with this issue since last summer now and I need some help. I can't freakin' figure it out and neither can the shops I take it to. I got the best parts installed by the best people, and for some reason, I still get problems.

Here is my setup up front which is where the noise is coming from:

JRZ RS dampers
Ground Control adj. sway bar end links
Eibach 6" length 2.25" ID main spring
Eibach helper springs on top of the main springs
Ground Control Race plates.

All parts purchased brand new and professionally installed by VAC Motorsports and the second install was done by Bavarian Specialties (I went through 2 sets of dampers, switched shops for convenience only)
Everything else is stock up there. Car has 45k miles on the stock parts

All the aftermarket parts are 1 year old EXCEPT for the JRZs which are about 2 months old now and the Ground Control end links which are 1 month old.

The Noise:

It's so hard to describe first off so bear with me. It sounds like it's coming from the front 2 strut areas. It's not metallic in sound. No squeaks, clanking, etc. It's like a muffled loose sound and when I hear the noise, something actually feels loose, like something is not seated properly, or something isn't tightened, but it's not metallic sounding so I can't imagine it's the camber plates or a spring. It's like a soft "ba-boom" type noise. I wouldn't describe it as a clunk, it's more of a thud.

I have a local friend with an E90 who has the GC Race camber plates with JRZ dampers and his camber plates are bad, and they do nothing but squeak, rattle, clank together, etc. My noise is nothing remotely close to that! It doesn't sound like 2 pieces of metal are clanging together. It's almost like an abundance of tire noise, a shit load of it that shouldn't be there. I almost want to say it's a problem with the wheel/tire but whether I'm on an 18" pilot super sport, or my 17" blizzak winter wheels/tires, it makes no difference.

So the guy with the E90 has the same camber plates and the JRZ RS1 damper, and he does not have the noise I have. Another guy I know locally has a 335i also with JRZs, JRZ race camber plates, and the same Eibach main/helper spring setup and his car is totally silent with no noise at all.

When it happens:

It happens when I hit a decent size bump or a series of small bumps, mostly at low speeds. It doesn't need to be super big, just a bump where the car moves a small bit upwards vs. soaking up the entire bump. When it does this, that's when I hear it coming from the front right or left side. It's independent on both sides, so just because I hit a bump on the right, doesn't mean I'll hear it on the left. It's like a "ba-boom" type noise lol. The worst is when I go over a series of small bumps, like where a really shitty road patch job was done, then it just goes CRAZY and almost turns into a rattle, but once again, NOT metallic in sound. Nothing is felt through the steering wheel either and everything is tight, steering is great, still handles the same, etc. I've been to 2 track events with this noise and there are no symptoms that anything is wrong with the car no matter how hard I'm in a turn, braking, etc.

The noise also doesn't happen in any other situation other than a bump. Turning hard won't do it, dips in the road, braking hard, nothing.

I notice it is worse in cold weather.

Took it to the shops:

Both VAC Motorsports and Bavarian Specialties have looked at this and can't find anything problematic. Before the install of my second set of JRZs, I asked the tech if the parts were still in good shape like springs, camber plates, etc. and it was confirmed that everything was fine. I saw them myself, and they looked good to me.

When Bavarian Specialties looked my car, they checked everything (don't know exactly what they checked) and said all was good and tight. They could not find anything that could be causing this noise. They are really thorough and I can't believe they came up with nothing.

It doesn't happen all the time

This is the tricky part: sometimes the noise goes away. That's right, it goes away on it's own. I'll drive for 10 miles down the highway with this sound, then all of a sudden I'll be headed back the same way and I don't hear it. But then the next time I drive the car it's there.

Other symptoms when I hear this noise:

It seems like when I'm hearing this noise, the car is riding really bad, and something feels loose and not right at all. Bumps that feel soft when the noise isn't there now feel harsh.

Other things to take note of:

I thought it was the sway bar end links going bad so I replaced them with the GC ones, and they made no difference.

When everything was first installed it was fine, and got worse over time.
Right after the install of my second set of dampers, the noise was minimal, but after a few weeks got just as bad. Something must have loosened up!?

Noise is there regardless of damper settings, but when they're softer the car makes less noise, probably because they are able to soak up more of the bumps.

If I go 120 on a race track or 70 on a highway, my steering is tight. I haven't noticed any degradation in responsiveness.

In conclusion:
I could easily spend $1000s replacing parts and paying $100/hr labor rates to figure this out but I can't do that so replacing parts "to see if it helps" isn't the route I want to go. If you have a reason why I should replace said part, then by all means share!

PLEASE, don't tell me it's the camber plates because this noise is not a normal sound for them. If it were bad camber plates, they'd be rattling, clanking together, squeaking, which is not what I'm hearing.

Anyways, help is appreciated.

Thanks for reading

Pic of when it was first installed
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Last edited by chris82; 05-27-2015 at 08:58 PM.
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      05-06-2015, 05:31 PM   #2
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Hey, I'm sorry to hear that you’re going through this. I hate when something is wrong with my car and I can't figure it out. I can't personally help you but they are two people on here that are gurus when it comes to suspensions. You might want to PM them and let them know what you’re experiencing. The names of the guy's I'm talking about are Fe1rx and mightymousetech. Good luck and I hope that you get that squared away!
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      05-06-2015, 05:46 PM   #3
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Uh, thanks.

This is really hard to diag over the internet. But the first thing I would check is the sway bar bushings. Unlike every other bushing in the suspension, they are not bonded both inside and out to the item. The sway bar actually turns inside the bushing and they do wear. Even the SLIGHTEST amount of wear can make a hell of a racket, will not be a metallic noise, more like a thud, and will be worse in the cold.

Easy way to know is disconnect one of the sway bar end links and see if the noise goes away. If you pry on the bar at the bushing, and there is even the slightest amount of movement, they need replacing. Luckily, these are really cheap to do.
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      05-06-2015, 09:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MightyMouseTech View Post
Uh, thanks.

This is really hard to diag over the internet. But the first thing I would check is the sway bar bushings. Unlike every other bushing in the suspension, they are not bonded both inside and out to the item. The sway bar actually turns inside the bushing and they do wear. Even the SLIGHTEST amount of wear can make a hell of a racket, will not be a metallic noise, more like a thud, and will be worse in the cold.

Easy way to know is disconnect one of the sway bar end links and see if the noise goes away. If you pry on the bar at the bushing, and there is even the slightest amount of movement, they need replacing. Luckily, these are really cheap to do.
Thank you, this sounds probable, and thank goodness it's a cheap part to replace!
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      05-06-2015, 09:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris82 View Post
Thank you, this sounds probable, and thank goodness it's a cheap part to replace!
Chris I feel your pain, I truly do. I'm crossing my fingers for you that it's the swaybar bushings. I disconnected both my links and the sound was still there.

You commented in my post regarding the noise I was experiencing and it seems we are chasing the same animal. I was able to reduce the noise but it's still there. I noted it was about 90% gone but it's more like 70%. I realize we have different GC plates but our issues sound (no pun intended) similar.

Like you I still have the OE control arms and it's my next step of replacement parts. I'm also replacing the swaybar bushings as a piece of mind.

I'll be replacing these parts in the next two weeks so I'll let you know if it helped. If that doesn't solve it I'm ordering Vorshlag plates.
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      05-06-2015, 10:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E82MSport View Post
Chris I feel your pain, I truly do. I'm crossing my fingers for you that it's the swaybar bushings. I disconnected both my links and the sound was still there.

You commented in my post regarding the noise I was experiencing and it seems we are chasing the same animal. I was able to reduce the noise but it's still there. I noted it was about 90% gone but it's more like 70%. I realize we have different GC plates but our issues sound (no pun intended) similar.

Like you I still have the OE control arms and it's my next step of replacement parts. I'm also replacing the swaybar bushings as a piece of mind.

I'll be replacing these parts in the next two weeks so I'll let you know if it helped. If that doesn't solve it I'm ordering Vorshlag plates.
Thanks man! your issue definitely sounds similar. I just ordered some new swaybar bushings to get this possibility out of the way. They're cheap enough. Good luck to you on your issue!
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      05-06-2015, 10:21 PM   #7
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Could possibly be control arms too if the endlinks and/or swaybar bushings
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      05-07-2015, 08:44 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Kgolf31 View Post
Could possibly be control arms too if the endlinks and/or swaybar bushings
Replacing the control arms with the M3 parts is next on the list if I can't find anything else, perhaps a bushing is worn out, but it's strange that nothing feels like it's worn out
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      05-13-2015, 09:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MightyMouseTech View Post
Uh, thanks.

This is really hard to diag over the internet. But the first thing I would check is the sway bar bushings. Unlike every other bushing in the suspension, they are not bonded both inside and out to the item. The sway bar actually turns inside the bushing and they do wear. Even the SLIGHTEST amount of wear can make a hell of a racket, will not be a metallic noise, more like a thud, and will be worse in the cold.

Easy way to know is disconnect one of the sway bar end links and see if the noise goes away. If you pry on the bar at the bushing, and there is even the slightest amount of movement, they need replacing. Luckily, these are really cheap to do.
Two new genuine BMW sway bar bushings, coming right up!

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      05-14-2015, 01:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MightyMouseTech
Uh, thanks.

This is really hard to diag over the internet. But the first thing I would check is the sway bar bushings. Unlike every other bushing in the suspension, they are not bonded both inside and out to the item. The sway bar actually turns inside the bushing and they do wear. Even the SLIGHTEST amount of wear can make a hell of a racket, will not be a metallic noise, more like a thud, and will be worse in the cold.

Easy way to know is disconnect one of the sway bar end links and see if the noise goes away. If you pry on the bar at the bushing, and there is even the slightest amount of movement, they need replacing. Luckily, these are really cheap to do.
I think you just solved my noise that I get in the winter. Sounds horrible. Now that it's spring, there are no noises at all. Looks like I need new sway bar bushings!
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      05-14-2015, 08:38 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pj.rodriguez View Post
I think you just solved my noise that I get in the winter. Sounds horrible. Now that it's spring, there are no noises at all. Looks like I need new sway bar bushings!
Yea, give it a try. haven't had the chance to install mine, but for $20 a piece there's no point in not replacing them to try to solve it
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      05-14-2015, 08:58 AM   #12
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Fingers crossed for everyone!
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      05-18-2015, 02:55 PM   #13
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Fingers crossed for everyone!
I haven't installed them yet, but can you think of anything else to check while I'm under there?
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      06-04-2015, 08:39 AM   #14
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Fingers crossed for everyone!
Sway bar bushings are a no go, didn't help at all. I'm lost . . . . any other ideas? Can't be the sway bar end links, because when I had those replaced, they made no difference as well
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      06-04-2015, 08:40 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris82 View Post
Sway bar bushings are a no go, didn't help at all. I'm lost . . . . any other ideas? Can't be the sway bar end links, because when I had those replaced, they made no difference as well
Shit.
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      06-04-2015, 08:48 AM   #16
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Camber plate bearing can be an unusual suspect. Put a GoPro or something in the engine bay and watch the bearing when you drive. If you see it moving about and making noise, bam, you found it. The camera helps you to see and hear while driving. It's a bit tricky to mount it safely.
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      06-04-2015, 09:04 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Chris S. View Post
Camber plate bearing can be an unusual suspect. Put a GoPro or something in the engine bay and watch the bearing when you drive. If you see it moving about and making noise, bam, you found it. The camera helps you to see and hear while driving. It's a bit tricky to mount it safely.
I'm starting to think it's the camber plates too, but those will have to wait unfortunately. I'm going to check the engine compartment for anything that could be moving around. The noise appears to be only on the right side now, it's nearly gone away on the left side.

this is a tricky one . . .
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      06-08-2015, 03:41 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris82 View Post
I'm starting to think it's the camber plates too, but those will have to wait unfortunately. I'm going to check the engine compartment for anything that could be moving around. The noise appears to be only on the right side now, it's nearly gone away on the left side.

this is a tricky one . . .
The car is riding bad and feels loose when you hear the noise, worse in cold weather and the problem comes and the noise comes and goes tell me it may have to do with the internal valving of the strut. Does turning up or down the valving adjustment make any difference(shim stack or a loose belleville washer/spring disc can cause a noise)? Try to run the strut at various settings and report back your findings.

How are the rest of the rubber bushings on the front-end of the vehicle?

I can't be 100% certain as I am diagnosing this over the internet with supplied information.

Good luck.
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      06-08-2015, 04:30 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HP Autosport View Post
The car is riding bad and feels loose when you hear the noise, worse in cold weather and the problem comes and the noise comes and goes tell me it may have to do with the internal valving of the strut. Does turning up or down the valving adjustment make any difference(shim stack or a loose belleville washer/spring disc can cause a noise)? Try to run the strut at various settings and report back your findings.

How are the rest of the rubber bushings on the front-end of the vehicle?

I can't be 100% certain as I am diagnosing this over the internet with supplied information.

Good luck.
+1 on internal shock noise.

Koni are known for a good ole rattle/clunk with compression and rebound turned down. Turn the knobs a bit, drive around and it will disappear.
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      06-08-2015, 04:49 PM   #20
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I have been mulling this over in my head, it must be either the upper mounts or something inside the shocks.

On a related note, I believe I am starting to get noise from inside my own original front struts dammit. Replaced front strut upper bearings, noise still there.

Again, this is very hard to diag over the internet and not hands on.
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      06-08-2015, 08:21 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HP Autosport View Post
The car is riding bad and feels loose when you hear the noise, worse in cold weather and the problem comes and the noise comes and goes tell me it may have to do with the internal valving of the strut. Does turning up or down the valving adjustment make any difference(shim stack or a loose belleville washer/spring disc can cause a noise)? Try to run the strut at various settings and report back your findings.

How are the rest of the rubber bushings on the front-end of the vehicle?

I can't be 100% certain as I am diagnosing this over the internet with supplied information.

Good luck.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kgolf31 View Post
+1 on internal shock noise.

Koni are known for a good ole rattle/clunk with compression and rebound turned down. Turn the knobs a bit, drive around and it will disappear.
Thank you both

I turned the rebound up another 5 clicks so that's a little over halfway. Seems to have improved things a lot. Still some noise, but it was very quiet on my commute home. I can live with it as long as it stays this way. Ride has also improved

Quote:
Originally Posted by MightyMouseTech View Post
I have been mulling this over in my head, it must be either the upper mounts or something inside the shocks.

On a related note, I believe I am starting to get noise from inside my own original front struts dammit. Replaced front strut upper bearings, noise still there.

Again, this is very hard to diag over the internet and not hands on.
I appreciate your help! You're probably listening to things too much now!
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      06-08-2015, 10:57 PM   #22
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Turn the radio volume up a bit will help too!
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