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Matt, Mechanical Engineer
Category: BMW
Satisfied Customers: 22758
Experience:  BEng hons Mech engineering, in auto industry 22 years
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Handling issues. there, I have been unable to get

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Handling issues.
Hi there,
I have been unable to get a straight answer out of BMW UK. So I hope you might be able to help. I have 2011 320ES touring diesel, which I bought second hand. Not a bad car, but the handling is a bit odd and feels very soft; although it is standard, and I didn't expect to be quite this soft, having owned one previously a BMW with a sports handling kit on it. Anyway, the offshoot is that I thought it should have been fitted, originally, with run flats, and as it has normal tyres, I wondered if this might be contributing to it. So my question is this: it does seem as if it was originally sold with normal tyres on it, not run flats, and if I wanted to put on run flats, I would need to change the wheels (this much they have told me). This obviously begs the question: would all BMWs, from new, have had the suspension set up (for instance, coil and damper settings), for the particular tyre type and wheel combination? Hence, if I wanted to change to run flats on new wheels (in theory), I would have to change the coils and dampers. Because if not, it would suggest that they produced a car with a tyre/wheel combination that was not originally set up for it, which would explain the slightly odd handling. Sadly, the handling badly lets down what is otherwise a nice car. I have been trying to find a BMW customer technical helpline, because presumably, this data must exist, but the current BMW customer system does not seem capable of dealing with a query like this. So any thoughts would be welcomed! Alistair
hello Alastair there are some spring rate changes from the factory if the car comes on run flats as the side wall of these tyres is so much stiffer then trying to run it on the same spring as a normal tyre results is bone -jarring ride to be honest I'd suggest trying to improve what you have as the run flat is generally an inferior tyre in terms of grip , road noise and about twice the price of a regular tyre 1'd 1st suggest checking all the tyre pressures and pump them up to the maximum on the door sticker as the next step
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dear Matt,Thank you for your reply. I understand the differences between normal tyres and run flats, in particular, the effect the stiffer tyre wall will have - and have already been in contact with after market tuning companies, including Birds, about the merits or otherwise of run flats. I have tuned a number of cars in the past, and while not an expert, do have some familiarity with tuning the suspension (having made a bad mistake in my youth on mini!). My point is that despite several conversations with BMW, they have not been able to tell me anything about the original suspension set up, and the original brochures are far from clear. This is the entire point. BMW were early adopters of run flat tech, and I have not found a single forum or after-market tuning company that rates run flats. I have been spun the same story by BMW about the safety features, and the seem to resolutely to refuse, or are unable, to answer my direct questions. It is like ground hog day. All I want to know is if the particular wheel, a 16" light alloy double spoke 268 style, can only be run with normal tyres, then does this mean that the suspension was set up for this, or as a concession to the normal tyre brigade, they have started to fit normal tyres to cars that were meant to have run flats? The reply I got from my local dealer was that the car was fitted from new with normal tyres, but I could not fit run flats to them (implying the wheel is different) and would have to buy a different style of wheel that has been designed to fit run flats. They did not answer my question about the suspension set up. The point here is that the run flat, by having a much stiffer side wall, will induce big changes in the handling that will have to be compensated for by the suspension, and I imagine, by making it a lot softer. This is why I am so confused by the lack of information from BMW. With regards ***** ***** it seems to have a lot more body roll than it should on certain road surfaces (it bounces and wobbles), and does not inspire any confidence at all. The first thing I did was to increase the pressure in the tyres to the high end. The other thing is that I did ask my local BMW garage about this several months ago, and asked whether they could retro-fit a sports handling kit. They were not interested. They have offered to change the wheels to a type suitable for run flats, but made no mention of the suspension, which is extremely telling; because if is right (and just very soft and wobbly), then they would have to change it, and if they don't hae to change it, then clearly the current set up is wrong. I hope you understand my frustration here! I need this information in order to work out the problem: if my car is feeling a bit like a British Leyland Princess, but was correctly set up at the factory, then there is something more seriously wrong with it that needs looking at. If, however, they had biased the suspension from the word go to put on run flats, then clearly it will feel odd if fitted with normal tyres. Can you seem my point?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi there Matt,I have not heard from you; are you going to be able to shed some light on this, if you cannot, could you possibly point me in the right direction of someone who might be able to? Cheers, Alistair
Hello to my knowledge your dealer is correctand the 268 wheel can only be run with a regular design of tyrehowever having dug through the information that I have I can find no different specification of springs with differing tyre specificationso I'd agree with your diagnosis that the car was originally set up with run-flat tyres however there is a sports suspension available part no *********** so I don't understand why your dealer won't sell that to you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok, thanks Matt: BMW central at Farnborough actually got back to me this morning, and basically said, again, that the wheel was fitted with normal tyres, and I would have to change the wheel to put on run flats. This begs two questions: they said fitted, and not designed (although that is implied), and they still do not know about the suspension and have contacted their technical department (so they have contradicted themselves, as they say that the local dealers are the point of contact for technical queries; alas, sounds to me like an internal communications problem). The problem is now of course, if it was originally set up for run flats, but sold with normal tyres and no changes were made to the suspension, are BMW liable for selling a car with an inappropriately matched suspension that could, possibly, cause a problem? The thing is that they are offering to change the wheels, but are making no mention of the suspension. I am beginning to wonder whether they will even give me this information. I hope you can understand why I am a little concerned: I am being forced, potentially, to spend probably a £1000 plus on trying to sort this out, or just give up and sell it on, but of course I would then feel guilty, as I don't think the set up is entirely safe. Sorry to lay this on you, but they have been singularly useless. Given my loyalty to the brand over the years, it is a bit upsetting! It has completely destroyed my enjoyment of what is otherwise a nice car. The only other question I have is, do you know of a technical contact address in BMW I could liaise with? I think the problem is, sadly, like many other companies, the front line customer service only has a limited set of corporate replies in its guidelines, and as soon as you go outside of these, they struggle. I mean, they don't have mechanics, just technicians. To me, a proper mechanic is a master of the car, and knows everything there is to know, and if they don't know it, they will find it out. A technician is simply told what to do and changes the plug. There is a world of difference. Thanks for your help on this. Alistair
Hello Alastair I do agree with your comment about technicians and mechanics sadly the latter are a dying breed as for a contact at BMW then all I have is the customer service line 0370(###) ###-####as they tend to not let the engineers speak to the customers, too much danger of the truth being told... you might be better off speaking to an independent BMW specialist, as these guys are normally factory trained that have set up on their ownif can can let me know your location I'll try and find someone local to you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dear Matt,I doubt I will get any joy from speaking to them; I think you are correct, in my experience in the world of science and the pharmaceutical industry, where the same thing tends to happen (the scientists are locked away while the marketers spout bollox), they are generally covering something up. This kind of information should be instantly available if there was no reason not for it to be so. As they say, it smells very fishy to me. If there is someone in our area, who is independent and knows the inner workings of BMW, that might be very helpful. I live near Basingstoke in Hampshire. I think, sadly, I will probably have to move the car on, as trying to improve it will be expensive and I may as well test drive some other models with the kits already on them, and see if they fit the bill. Having said that, the Bird's suspension kit does look pretty good, but it is difficult to know without test driving something first. Cheers,Alistair
Hello Alastair try these firms
Matt and other BMW Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Just to let you know, I finally got a reply from BMW Farnborough to say that the car was manufactured with wheels designed for normal tyres and suspension. The car has gone if for a service today, I have asked them to check the suspension and confirm that indeed this is the case.