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Tail Happy E46


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My wife's had the 318 Touring for about 6 months now and is about ready to get shot of it - it ain't as nippy as her old A4 we traded in but , mainly, 'cos on greasy roundabouts and sharp bends in this wet weather we're getting a lot of recently, the tail snaps out without warning and develops into a full 4 wheel skid, DESPITE the traction control and ESC systems which the main dealer says are working fine.

Now we're not talking about silly driving here. Slow speeds and slow to moderate accelararion.

It happend to me on Sunday with the wife as passenger and the 2 kids in the back - stopped at the give way line, pulled away smoothly changing gears before 2,500 rpm (so nothing brisk) 3rd gear, mid roundabout (big one thank God), no warning, rear breaks away, full opposite lock, going sideways, front offside mounts roundabout, tail snaps back and also mounts roundabout which damps the pendulum effect and I regain control. Check trousers.

Now I'm well used to hanging the tail out. In my yoof I used to do it for fun and then company cars came along and made it even better - someone else pays for the tyres!

But the problemn is there's no 'feel' that the car's about to go, I'd have thought the feckin electronics would prevent it, and it happens too often - at slow speeds!

I drive an E34 5 Series Touring which stick to the road like glue (no modifications). You've really got provoke it to break away and it doesn't even have traction control!! So I'm confused, and worried that someone's going to get injured - it just ain't safe.

So the question is, what's the story with the E46? Is the Perfect Driving Machine supposedly with perfect 50:50 weight distribution a tail-happy tearaway or have we got a problem with our 3 year old?

Tyres are 225/50/16 and the rears are almost new - on it when we bought from main dealer - but are of a make I'd never heard of before. Just about to put 4 new tyres on (Michelin Primacy) to see if that makes a difference.

Cheers guys.

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Well, the Touring's been in today to the main dealer for it's oil service and check out the traction control and ESC or DSC whichever it is called, and guess what, yet again - "We can't find anything wrong sir!" The inference being, "It's how you drive it!" Red rag to a bull as we've had more "tank slappers" with this car in the last 6 months than my wife and I have had, put together, in the last 20 years!

But what do you make of this - we bought this car 6 months ago from the same main dealer, who wouldn't budge on the Sticker Price (Top Book!), because it was such a lovely car in showroom condition (we're talking £14k here!), needing nothing done to it save for the oil service which would come up in 6 months or so "The car will tell you." (Which I knew 'cos I've got a 5 Series!)

It's done 6k miles since we got it and the Service Receptionist today took delight in telling me when I went to pick it up that "You need new rear brake disks and pads, front brake pads, the brake fluid changed and the coolant changed because the little clock symbol has come up on the dash." And that'll be £223.60, £124.66, £44.65 and £65.80 respectively, making a grand total of £458.71!!!!

Do you ever get the feeling you've been shafted?

Sharp practices by a main dealer is what it is (I'm off on a rant now!). They knew when they sold the car that it would need major work (I'm sorry, almost 460 quid is major work to me) but when I asked what would be needing done to the car in the foreseeable I was told it would simply be oil changes! Had they told us the true story, guess what would have happend to the price to be paid.... or we'd have walked away (And nobody is going to tell me that qualified technicians (that is what BMW employ isn't it - I thought the monkeys I saw were just to there amuse the techies) can't tell that a car about to be sold will need disks and pads within 6k miles and by the way it'll flash up telling you it wants its water and brake fluid changed!)

Needless to say the £125 for the oil change (yes, that much!!) is the last money the dealer gets from us, and as the car is still tail happy and so does not have our confidence it's being p/x'd for an A4 ASAP.

So sorry E46 fans but as far as we're concerned E46 Tourings SUCK!..... and so do BMW dealers on the west coast of Central Scotland. (I still say E34 Tourings ROCK though!! Shame they don't make them anymore.)

Thanks for your input.


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Mine definetly does not do that...the tail will come round progressively if I do it deliberately on a roundabout, but its so controlable I generally know when and where it will happen - especially as I have turned the DSC off! Only time I got it wrong was too fast on a twisty bend and I had to catch it sharpish - but thats what 330 + RWD + wet road + DSC off will get me. I turned it on again after that


Sory you are not happy with yours frown.gif

By the way, it seems to be common practice for BMW dealers ALWAYS to say the brakes need doing; they did it to my sisters Mini, twice, when over 70% / 60% remaining in the pads respectively. Scaring female drivers into paying for new brakes is not my idea of ethical practice! SAUER0421.GIF

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Thanks for advice Mike.

Calmed down a bit since my rant of last night and thrown the soapbox back in the corner for a few more months!

On reflection, I was maybe a bit harsh to the E46 - it should be a good, if not great, car. But since we got ours, tail wagging tendencies aside, we've just not been happy with the driving experience.

The steering is very light with not a lot of feel - the car responds to the slightest movement of the wheel, but it's almost like a computer game. Conversely, the steering wheel responds to every ripple in the road so on a motorway (where this is most annoying) you're constantly adjusting the wheel, and it's knackering - we took the E34 to France during the summer as there was no way I was going to try an overnight 500 mile dash from Scotland to Plymouth in the E46!! And yet the E46, the 318 anyway, seems geared for loping along motorways.

I've tried varying the tyre pressures, indeed when we test drove it we commented on how ridiculously light the steering was, so the dealer put into the workshop and the techies took some air out of the tyres, and we then took it out again!! Currently got 3mm tread on the fronts.

Do you think the quality of the rear tyres could be an issue? They are almost new (on it when we bought it as said previously) by the name of CHAMPIRO (never heard of them before) and have 7mm tread. I'm afraid I usually stick with the big boys Pirelli, Dunlop, Michelin, etc with a soft spot for Michelin Pilots, so I was wondering if 4 new Michelins would cure the probs?

Point noted on dealer scam with brakes - don't these cars have pad wear warning lights anyway?

The E46 may be about to get a second chance, but the dealer doesn't. My E34, which I have owned for about half its life, is coming up on 11 years old, never misses a beat, goes like a train and is fairly economical, gets an oil service every 5k miles and a major once a year, all no matter what the dash lights say. It's also coming up on 200k miles! I think its secret is that it hasn't been near a main dealer in all the time I've owned it! A specialist does all the work.

Any views/advice appreciated.


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Do you think the quality of the rear tyres could be an issue? They are almost new (on it when we bought it as said previously) by the name of CHAMPIRO (never heard of them before) and have 7mm tread.

[/ QUOTE ]

I would say this must be at least aggrevating the problem...tyres make such a huge difference; I'm a real sceptic on such matters, but going from Michellin HXs to Eagle F1s on my old Bora V6 transformed it beyond all recognition. My BMW has Bridegstone Potenzas and they seem pretty good, though I would like to try this car with the F1s.

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Champiro are really nasty budget tyres... - Try swapping fronts and rears for a week or two and see how the car behaves.

For it to let go so suddenly and violently (especially if you have good experience of arse-out RWD life) sounds like there's something sorely wrong. - Ask your independant specialist to give the back end a look over.

Anything heavy in the back at the time? Makes a big difference on my old E30 if I've got a toolbox in the boot!

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Thanks guys.

In light of the comments you've made I've ordered up 4 Goodyear Eagle F1's, so hopefully we'll see a significant difference in the manners of the car in the wet!

For anyone that's interested, Kwik fit, Black Circles, etc want £472 or thereabouts for 4 fitted (about £118/corner). But I didn't want to pay that, as Chris Tarrant might say.

I trawled around on the net and found these guys (who only do mail-order to Scotland, but may have fitters south of the Border) http://www.pneus-online.co.uk , who seem to be based in France/Switzerland. They quoted £332 for 4 delivered and inclusive of all taxes (incl VAT, which I checked with them by E-mail), way cheaper than any of the other websites I visited. So if you know a local tyre fitter who can put them on the motor for £30 or so, there's £100 saving over the usual outlets!

Unfortunately I won't be able to tell you if pneus-online are any good as I'm getting the boots through a family contact.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Did you get it sorted. I have to say you it sounds like you have something seriously wrong with your DSC if that still happens, regardless of what tyres youve got fitted. Ths DSC should instantly detect the loss of traction and the onset of a Skid and retard the engine power immediately. It should be almost impossible to lose the back end without serious thuggery, certainly not at 2500 rpm, and certainly not in a 318i. My suggestion is you take the service Manager from your local dealer out for a "spin" and then see if he says there is still nothing wrong.

DSC makes rear wheel drive cars fairly fool proof. Your car sounds dangerous.

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A set of 4 F1 s has changed the car's manners significantly! The wife's a good deal happier with it and has put it on probation for a while (3 weeks ago it was to be traded in for an A4!) to see how it goes.

Today, though, it's back in at the dealer getting a new rear screen 'cos the rear demist doesn't work (a bugger on the frosty mornings we've had recently!), under warranty thankfully! It's less than 4 years old and the demist wires have corroded ends as reported in another post.

We were just totting up it's visits to the dealer the other day and reckon he has washed the car more times in the 6 months we've owned it than we have (and I aim for once a week!).

It's had a Deza valve (or something like that), a new membrane inside the rear o/s door (water piddling thru' into footwell) and now the whole rear screen replaced (all under warranty thank ...k!) Plus, of course, a service).

Isn't it funny how the part is never in stock, so the car goes in to be diagnosed, and then has to go back once the part is in. Washed each time, of course.

Rather than dropping the car off at the dealer and using mine, the wife by now is so cheesed off with the whole thing she has taken to using the dealer's collect/return service, where they pick it up from her office 20 miles away and drop it off when finished! One of the most expensive car wash services in the country!

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