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Busted strut mounts!


RoccoGilroy
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So I bought and installed new strut tops about a year and a half ago. I think I got them from bavauto. Who ever had the cheapest set at the time. Any way, now there cracked. The passenger side even has a 1.5'' split. Im running billy sports, IE stage 2's, and urethane bushings everywhere so its stiff as a board. So is my stiff suspension the cause of the cracks or is it crappy strut mounts?

Im thinking its ridiculous to spend more money on new rubber strut tops if its just going to happen again in a year or two. KMAC has an adjustable camber plates with urethane tops. Are the KMAC's the most streetable solution for a daily driver? I do not run my car on the track but I drive the shit out of it on the street... Im aware that for the most part they will be waisted on my ride due to the stock spring diameter. I would like to go coilover in the front eventually and I could definitely use the negative camber. Just thought this would be a nice head start on that project.

I guess my biggest question is which adjustable camber plates hold up the best to daily "spirited" driving. I want something that is gonna last...

Thanks

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With the unavailability of decent aftermarket strut mounts these past few years we have gone to strictly OE Original BMW for 2002 strut mounts. We used to be able to get decent Febi and OEM Lemforder from the usual wholesalers but recently only Meyle, Ruvile and MTC/Ronak have been available. Those brands are all junk. There have been a number of aftermarket companies making shit rubber products in the last 10 years. We recently had a pair of Cortego E30 rear shock mounts go to shit in less than 6 months. Oddly enough, on the same E30 we saw a set of OEM Boge E30 M3 front control arm bushings separate in the same time period... Oh, and an OE BMW right motor mount for an E28 M5 deformed/sagged so bad that the A/C compressor was hitting the rock guard... That's it! ALL rubber products have gone to shit lately... I don't get it.

Please forgive these ramblings of a "professional" BMW wrench........

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With the unavailability of decent aftermarket strut mounts these past few years we have gone to strictly OE Original BMW for 2002 strut mounts. We used to be able to get decent Febi and OEM Lemforder from the usual wholesalers but recently only Meyle, Ruvile and MTC/Ronak have been available. Those brands are all junk. There have been a number of aftermarket companies making shit rubber products in the last 10 years. We recently had a pair of Cortego E30 rear shock mounts go to shit in less than 6 months. Oddly enough, on the same E30 we saw a set of OEM Boge E30 M3 front control arm bushings separate in the same time period... Oh, and an OE BMW right motor mount for an E28 M5 deformed/sagged so bad that the A/C compressor was hitting the rock guard... That's it! ALL rubber products have gone to shit lately... I don't get it.

Please forgive these ramblings of a "professional" BMW wrench........

Thats chinese crap parts for you. I am sticking with either BMW parts or parts made from the guys here on FAQ that actually give a shit about the products they put out. A lot of these parts may say "Made in Germany" etc but in fact the parts are made in China, then ASSEMBLED" in germany.

I will give you an example,wristwatches. See those nice expensive Swiss watches?? and German watches?? etc? In the watch retail world those are actually considered tier 3 watches. They have "Swiss Made" for the movements but there is a catch. The entire movement is actually made in China. The plates, gears etc. The movements are then assembled in Swiss factories using swiss screws, jewels and swiss labor. The screws, jewels and labor are enough "Swiss parts" in it to be called Swiss Made.

Either buy BMW or from FAQ guys is my motto

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Thats chinese crap parts for you. I am sticking with either BMW parts or parts made from the guys here on FAQ that actually give a shit about the products they put out. A lot of these parts may say "Made in Germany" etc but in fact the parts are made in China, then ASSEMBLED" in germany.

I will give you an example,wristwatches. See those nice expensive Swiss watches?? and German watches?? etc? In the watch retail world those are actually considered tier 3 watches. They have "Swiss Made" for the movements but there is a catch. The entire movement is actually made in China. The plates, gears etc. The movements are then assembled in Swiss factories using swiss screws, jewels and swiss labor. The screws, jewels and labor are enough "Swiss parts" in it to be called Swiss Made.

As a big watch guy...... you just made me cry :-(

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Thats chinese crap parts for you. I am sticking with either BMW parts or parts made from the guys here on FAQ that actually give a shit about the products they put out. A lot of these parts may say "Made in Germany" etc but in fact the parts are made in China, then ASSEMBLED" in germany.

I will give you an example,wristwatches. See those nice expensive Swiss watches?? and German watches?? etc? In the watch retail world those are actually considered tier 3 watches. They have "Swiss Made" for the movements but there is a catch. The entire movement is actually made in China. The plates, gears etc. The movements are then assembled in Swiss factories using swiss screws, jewels and swiss labor. The screws, jewels and labor are enough "Swiss parts" in it to be called Swiss Made.

As a big watch guy...... you just made me cry :-(

yes sir..Brietling, TAG, Baum Mercier etc. I was bummed as well since I am a car AND watch guy.

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***************

NOTE:

The post below is not intended to bash any vendor or parts supplier, but rather to address the installation challenges I experienced with the KMAC adjustable front camber plates. I have sent a similar description of my experience to KMAC and to Bavauto so that they can determine whether (1) I'm simply doing it wrong (probability ~ 50%), or (2) the current KMAC adjustable front camber plate offering needs a bit of rethinking for 2002's.

***************

I bought the KMAC adjustable camber front plates. They did NOT install in the same fashion as the OEM strut mounts.

If you install a set of Bilstein Sport strut cartridges using the stock OEM strut mounts, the top of the strut cartridge ends about 2 inches above the fender. The KMAC plates require the top of the cartridge to end about 1/4 inch above the fender. This requires the strut to compress further than normal to return the car to its pre-KMAC ride height, so you'll either lose about 1 3/4 inches of travel in your strut, or your ride height will be about 1 3/4 inches high. I found that my ride height simply stayed 1 3/4 inches higher with the KMAC plate than with the stock strut bearing, since the strut didn't simply compress of its own good will and accord. I screamed at it to no avail.

Addressing the cartridge height issue imposed by the KMAC camber plate is rather involved if you stick with a standard Bilstein cartridge. I understand (perhaps incorrectly) that the HD and Sport cartridges are the same length, so this installation issue should impact folks with either type of Bilstein cartridge. I suspect you might be able to address the issue by using a coilover setup involving a shortened strut and shortened cartridge, but I suspect that most folks that go the coilover route will opt to buy a fully adjustable front camber setup from Ireland Engineering, as it appears to allow for slightly greater camber adjustment.

Standard installation of the KMAC front camber kit:

The KMAC front camber kit comes with a few funky washers and nuts. Depending upon from whom you purchase the kit, and how long the kit has been in their inventory, the kit may or may not come with appropriately sized funky washers and/or nuts. I understand from discussions with Gordon Arnold at Bavauto that he has discussed this issue with KMAC, and that KMAC is now shipping the kits with two pairs of nuts to fit the threads on both the older Bilstein inserts (M12-1.5) and newer Bilstein inserts (M12-1.25.)

If you've looked at a newer Bilstein strut cartridge shaft, it has a threaded portion at the top (M12-1.25 as previously noted) which extends about 3/4 inch, followed by a wider (M14) shaft that extends about 1 1/2 inches, at which point the cartridge body widens again substantially. So there are two shoulders in the top of the cartridge shaft; one at the bottom of the M12 threads, and another at the bottom of the M14 shaft. Anyway, the KMAC installation according to the instructions--and the downloadable instructions from KMAC are so generic and brief that they're of limited value--requires that one funky washer, with an M12 inner diameter, be slid over the threads at the top of the Bilstein cartridge such that the funky washer rests on the first shoulder. The washer will end up covering the first few threads of cartridge shaft. (See the first photo below.) The washer prevents the cartridge from pushing up through the KMAC plate, and in fact allows only a few threads of the cartridge to stick up past the top of the ball joint in the camber plate. Note that the funky washer is shaped like a hat, and the upper portion of the washer has a reduced outer diameter that matches the inner diameter of the ball joint in the camber plate. The top of the hat slides into the ball joint and keeps the strut cartridge from moving laterally in the ball socket.

So the strut cartridge slides up through the funky washer and through the ball joint. The cartridge is then secured to the camber plate by tightening the funky nut onto the threaded portion of the cartridge. The upper portion of the funky nut is hexagonal, and the lower portion is round, with an outer diameter equal to that of the hat on the funky washer such that it can fit into the ball joint. The funky nut sticks down into the ball socket and grabs the topmost 6-7 threads of the Bilstein cartridge, preventing the strut cartridge from moving laterally in the ball socket. (See the second photo below for an image of the top nut. Note that the top of the strut cartridge ends several threads below the top of the funky nut.)

According to the instructions, this is an assembled front setup. Unfortunately, as noted above, and as witnessed by anyone who saw my car's ride height at the BMWCCA DC Chapterfest this past fall, the ride height you achieve with this installation is jacked up by 2 inches or so, which not only looks preposterous, but handles like crap.

My modified installation of the KMAC front camber kit:

The KMAC camber kit might come with a funky washer that has an M14 inner diameter, which happens to be large enough to slide OVER the shoulder at the bottom of the threaded portion of the Bilstein strut cartridge. I ordered a pair of these funky washers from Gordon at Bavauto. I slid the funky washer over the threaded portion of the Bilstein strut cartridge, and it came to rest on the SECOND shoulder of the Bilstein strut cartridge. (See the third photo below, which shows the funky washer sliding over the first shoulder en route to the second shoulder.)

So, with the funky washer resting on the second shoulder of the Bilstein strut cartridge, the cartridge will now slide through the ball socket of the camber plate, and the top of the cartridge will end just about where it would end if you were installing an OEM upper strut bearing. So far so good.

Unfortunately, the threads on the cartridge are now about a 1 inch above the top of the camber plate, and you must secure the cartridge such that it can't move up or down relative to the camber plate. To solve this problem, I took the pair of M12 funky washers and bored them out with a drill press to make another pair of M14 funky washers, matching the set that I installed below the camber plate. I turned these modified funky washers upside down and slid them over the top of the Bilstein strut so that they came to rest on top of the ball joint, with their hat portion sliding into the ball joint, preventing the cartridge from moving laterally.

At this point I still had some unthreaded cartridge sticking up above the second funky washer. I took the stock front strut spacer sleeve (BMW part number 31332450115) and slid it over the cartridge shaft so that it came to rest on top of the upper funky washer. The top of the spacer sleeve covered the first few threads at the top of the cartridge. I then screwed an M12-1.25 lock nut onto the threaded portion of the cartridge, securing the cartridge from moving relative to the camber plate. (See the last photo for the modified assembly.)

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Hey Will Gruff, what stage are those KMAC's? Iv seen the 3 types, (street, street/track, and track). Varieing degrees of stiffness I'd imagine. I wonder if the same problems you had are true of the other types. Those look like track ones to me. Anyone have similar experiences? I would be pissed if I shelled out the dough for adjustables and it raised my front end up!!! That would be the opposite of cool... All the other adjustable camber plates don't use urethane though. That's what appeiled to me about the KMAC's. Like I said I'm not really concerned with ride stiffness, I just want something that I can put some miles on! It seems like the bearings would wear out super fast without some urethane there to cusion the blow. Thoughts? Experiences?

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Hey Will Gruff, what stage are those KMAC's? Iv seen the 3 types, (street, street/track, and track). Varieing degrees of stiffness I'd imagine. I wonder if the same problems you had are true of the other types. Those look like track ones to me. Anyone have similar experiences? I would be pissed if I shelled out the dough for adjustables and it raised my front end up!!! That would be the opposite of cool... All the other adjustable camber plates don't use urethane though. That's what appeiled to me about the KMAC's. Like I said I'm not really concerned with ride stiffness, I just want something that I can put some miles on! It seems like the bearings would wear out super fast without some urethane there to cusion the blow. Thoughts? Experiences?

My front KMAC's are of the street/track variety, with urethane surrounding the ball joint. I haven't noticed any harsh ride characteristics. Then again, I installed KMAC's, ST anti-sways, Billy Sports, H&R springs, TEP front strut brace, and all urethane suspension bushings in the car before I got it running, so I have no idea how this setup compares with stock. Without the urethane in the strut bearings, there would be some additional vibration transferred to the steering wheel and chassis. Mind you, the rubber in the stock strut bearing is the part with which you're having troubles, so eliminating the weak link might solve some problems ;-)

I suspect the racing contingent here on the FAQ can provide some insights into the differences between street/track strut bearings and full race, and their impact on ride quality. The camber, caster and toe settings for a race car differ from those on a street car, so the level of vibration would likely be greater even if no components were changed.

I don't recall reading about other folks having OEM front bearings dying at a significant rate, despite their having installed stiffer springs and strut cartridges. It sounds like you've been sold some poorly made parts. Have you noticed any other indications of suspension and/or steering issues, such as uneven tire wear, vibration, tracking problems, etc? I'm wondering if it's possible there are other issues that are contributing to the deterioration of your front strut bearings.

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