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Jameswsb

E39 M5 Suspension - Experiences Please

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I need to replace the dampers/springs as, after 118k they are starting to struggle a bit. Now I understand suspension is a very personal thing however, I am after genuine no BS experiences with regards to aftermarket spring/damper combinations.

 

Before anyone suggests it, I am not going to fit coilovers! I know of a few who have and report back immediately that they are the best thing since sliced bread, but If you speak to these guys a few years down the line they seem to be less complimentary.

 

Current options are the Bilstein B8/Intrax or a complete OE refresh. So I am after genuine experiences of guys who have swapped out their original units for these. My car is predominantly road based but I will be head to the Ring and doing the odd track evening here and there. Personally I am edging to the Bilstein/Intrax option given the cost and perceived nod to slightly more sporty nature given that the M5 has refinement to spare, however I dont want a crashy, uncomfortable ride etc. 

 

Cheers

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I was in the same place last year and opted for complete OE suspension refresh instead of other aftermarket modifications. Had it done in December.

 

It transformed the handling, the car feels crisp and tight, like new - cannot be happier... but I guess not all of us like to keep our motors as close to stock as possible... 

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15 minutes ago, ER said:

I was in the same place last year and opted for complete OE suspension refresh instead of other aftermarket modifications. Had it done in December.

 

It transformed the handling, the car feels crisp and tight, like new - cannot be happier... but I guess not all of us like to keep our motors as close to stock as possible... 

Good to know, thanks. Was your car a touch 'floaty' beforehand? the difficulty is that these cars are of such an age now that all will feel about the same unless all components have been swapped out, therefore its difficult to feel how much of an upgrade new OE suspension would be from driving multiple cars.

 

I like the idea of OE, dont get me wrong, although its a pricey exercise! roughly how much did the work cost if you dont mind me asking?

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Another complete front & rear OE refresh here. 

 

I don't track the car so can't comment on that side of things but with the new OE dampers I found the ride to be beautifully compliant for regular & fast road use. 

 

(The old front OE dampers had become a little crashy after about 80k miles and the new ones made a noticeable improvement.)

 

If you're going to be tracking the car  you may want to look at one of the better quality aftermarket set ups since you're likely to experience better body control when really pushing the car on track. The down side will be a somewhat less compliant ride on regular roads at other times of course.

 

I'd recommend replacing top mounts when swapping out the dampers + a proper 4 wheel alignment after all the work has been carried out.

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38 minutes ago, Jameswsb said:

 

57 minutes ago, ER said:

I was in the same place last year and opted for complete OE suspension refresh instead of other aftermarket modifications. Had it done in December.

 

It transformed the handling, the car feels crisp and tight, like new - cannot be happier... but I guess not all of us like to keep our motors as close to stock as possible... 

Good to know, thanks. Was your car a touch 'floaty' beforehand? the difficulty is that these cars are of such an age now that all will feel about the same unless all components have been swapped out, therefore its difficult to feel how much of an upgrade new OE suspension would be from driving multiple cars.

 

I like the idea of OE, dont get me wrong, although its a pricey exercise! roughly how much did the work cost if you dont mind me asking?

 

Yes it was mate and it had a pull to one side, alignment didn’t help.

 

The cost for parts was roughly about £1.4k, all lemforder other than centre drag link...labour about £650 and tracking another £100 or so... not cheap, but she is a keeper so worth the investment...and agree with comments made by DepthHoar 

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I have to agree with the above, I refreshed my suspension including genuine shocks 18 months ago. The car felt a bit sloppy but now feels a whole lot better, very compliant over our rough roads these days. 

 

I also swapped the continentals for pilot sport 4's which I found suited the car grip wise much better

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Having drove a friends M5 with Intrax and Bilstein the handling was night and day compared to my 68k on original components example.

 Within a week I started to accumulate all the bits required and fitted them shortly after.

 

Year and a half now and the only thing that slightly irritates is driving slowly over the shit London patchwork roads,  at slow speed. 

 

Just to say, of all the add ons, headers, back boxes, 40% diff, steering poly bush, the most significant and noticeable improvement  I've made were the suspension and then the brakes. 

Edited by Hakon

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I’ve got the B8/intrax set up and I’m very happy with it. The ride quality is very good, only those stupid plastic speed bumps and deep pot holes make it crash a little. It does lower the car a little but not too low, looks about perfect to my eye. New OE stuff was an option I seriously considered and if I hadn’t wanted the car to sit a little lower I probably would have fitted it. 

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20 hours ago, DepthHoar said:

Another complete front & rear OE refresh here. 

 

I don't track the car so can't comment on that side of things but with the new OE dampers I found the ride to be beautifully compliant for regular & fast road use. 

 

(The old front OE dampers had become a little crashy after about 80k miles and the new ones made a noticeable improvement.)

 

If you're going to be tracking the car  you may want to look at one of the better quality aftermarket set ups since you're likely to experience better body control when really pushing the car on track. The down side will be a somewhat less compliant ride on regular roads at other times of course.

 

I'd recommend replacing top mounts when swapping out the dampers + a proper 4 wheel alignment after all the work has been carried out.

Good feedback, thanks. Its more the 'floatyness' that I want to eradicate which I would imagine is a lack of control on the rebound stroke. If new OE dampers resolve this then it could be the way forward. Do you find the car very planted now with the new shocks?

 

19 hours ago, ER said:

Yes it was mate and it had a pull to one side, alignment didn’t help.

 

The cost for parts was roughly about £1.4k, all lemforder other than centre drag link...labour about £650 and tracking another £100 or so... not cheap, but she is a keeper so worth the investment...and agree with comments made by DepthHoar 

Ah right, mine tracks straight and true, its just the slackness in the damping really. All suspension arms and TRE's/drag links have been replaced. Just out of interest, how many miles did your car have prior to the swap?

 

Just had a quote of £1090 for all four bare struts with some discount. Of course all spring pads, top mounts etc would be replaced also.

 

17 hours ago, paulie031 said:

I have to agree with the above, I refreshed my suspension including genuine shocks 18 months ago. The car felt a bit sloppy but now feels a whole lot better, very compliant over our rough roads these days. 

 

I also swapped the continentals for pilot sport 4's which I found suited the car grip wise much better

Again, do you find that the car is now a lot more planted and a little less roll in corners?

 

16 hours ago, Hakon said:

Having drove a friends M5 with Intrax and Bilstein the handling was night and day compared to my 68k on original components example.

 Within a week I started to accumulate all the bits required and fitted them shortly after.

 

Year and a half now and the only thing that slightly irritates is driving slowly over the shit London patchwork roads,  at slow speed. 

 

I must say I like the idea of a slightly sportier set up but after doing my research I found that the B8's are quite significantly heavier than the OE Sachs. Not sure if this increase in unsprung weight is noticeable at all.

 

16 hours ago, kobayashi said:

I’ve got the B8/intrax set up and I’m very happy with it. The ride quality is very good, only those stupid plastic speed bumps and deep pot holes make it crash a little. It does lower the car a little but not too low, looks about perfect to my eye. New OE stuff was an option I seriously considered and if I hadn’t wanted the car to sit a little lower I probably would have fitted it. 

I have seen pictures of your car and others with this set up and I think it looks perfect. Another reason why this set up appeals. I have found that CA Automotive do some of their own design springs (made by Eibach) that sit well on OE struts so I may inquire on these, looks very similar to B8/Intrax ride height.

 

http://ca-automotive.co.uk/single_prod-cHJvZF9pZD0yODk3JmNhcl9tYWtlPWJtdyZjYXJfdHlwZT1lMzltJmNhdF9pZD0xMyZjb21wX2lkPTI2.html

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Jameswsb said:

Good feedback, thanks. Its more the 'floatyness' that I want to eradicate which I would imagine is a lack of control on the rebound stroke. If new OE dampers resolve this then it could be the way forward. Do you find the car very planted now with the new shocks?

 

 

 

Floatiness is normally a product of poor/worn out suspension (springs and/or dampers) at the rear of the car. On most cars it's the rear dampers that usually require replacement ahead of the springs and ahead of anything on the front suspension. I was a bit surprised to find that the rear dampers on my car weren't as worn as the front at replacement time, and they'd never been changed prior to my ownership. Never found my car to be at all floaty before or after replacement. A bit crashy at the front (both sides) but not floaty. After the dampers were replaced at both ends (I kept the original springs on) everything just seemed more 'connected' and responsive. Planted, definitely.

 

Keep coming back to your desire to track the car. The more sensible and long-standing forum members on the M5board (there are a few....) seem to favour your Bilstein and Intrax combo for occasional track work and daily driving. Evolve also offer this set up over here in the UK and I have quite a lot of respect for this outfit and their ideas. Maybe no coincidence that this is your preferred alternative to an OE set-up and it's probably what I'd choose if I wanted to exercise my M5 round the occasional track.

 

Also think about your tyre choice. Marginal gains etc..

 

Might be worth mentioning that if you're at all concerned about residual values then you might just want to go for the OE set up. Original, stock cars do seem to attract more interest and better prices than even lightly 'modified' ones. 

 

2 hours ago, Jameswsb said:

 

 

 

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This really feels like its coming from the front, although as is often the case issues felt at the front are actually problems at the rear. Nevertheless, its academic really as I would always change both ends together.  Its most definitely damper related as the rest of the suspension has been changed. They are no means absolutely knackered but equally they are passed their best. Swapping the damper of my Clio 182 made a huge difference and I am expecting the same here. Its just about settling on a combination.

 

I take your point regarding intended usage, however just to be clear the car will not spend much time on track at all, just the odd ring trip and very occasional track evening perhaps. The car is my pride and joy and I have a Clio 182 for track work.  The B8/Intrax set up appeals but I note that that arrangement adds a significant amount of unsprung weight over OE, although I doubt that would be really noticeable.  I think I may try and get a passenger ride from those with alternative set ups and go from there, its very interesting hearing others views/experiences though. Nice to see that new OE equipment makes a big difference.

 

I couldn't care less about residual values really, the car is a keeper!

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6 hours ago, Jameswsb said:

Ah right, mine tracks straight and true, its just the slackness in the damping really. All suspension arms and TRE's/drag links have been replaced. Just out of interest, how many miles did your car have prior to the swap?

 

The car was on about 85k miles in December mate.. 

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8 hours ago, Hakon said:

More than happy to give you a run intrax/ B8/ Eibach (rear) ARB any time you're in the London smoke.

 

 

Cheers Hakon, i may take you up on that. I may be down around London for work soon so I'll give you a shout. Much appreciated.

 

Also, I fitted the Eibach RARB, and have to say its an excellent mod for our cars.

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Just to update the thread and help anyone who maybe in a similar position I ended up fitting Bilstein B8 dampers and Intrax Springs. I've done a good thousand miles or so since fitment and now have a good appreciation as to how they feel under a variety of circumstances/road types.  My thoughts are highlighted below;

 

  • The car looks brilliant. The springs drop the car around 15-20mm at the front and around 10mm at the rear which looks superb whilst avoiding the slammed look. It looks like a factory 'competition' style ride height to my eyes and gets rid of the front arch gap of standard M5's. I have had no real issues with speed bumps although I am more a little more careful now.
  • The ride is tougher at low (below 30 ish) speeds but its not unbearable by any means. Ride at higher speed is great and the car feels much more tied down. This set up avoids the god awful rock hard feel you get with so many coilover set ups over ruts/expansion joints etc.
  • Body roll is really kept in check and the car feels more agile and handles superbly. I know find myself really testing the tyres more which I think is a good indicator of how chuckable the car now feels.
  • Strangely the steering really does feel so much better. I wasnt expecting this, but more detail is communicated through the steering wheel and it feels brilliant.
  • The damping at medium/higher speeds is superb and the car remains compliant and exceptionally well controlled across quick, undulating A & B roads.

Now I realise this is a comparison with aged standard equipment and I would have loved the opportunity to try new standard with perhaps some intrax springs but the opportunity to do so just wasnt there. Plus I managed to get a set of B8's/Intrax that had done just 3k miles so I saved a fortune.

 

All in all a great mod that I'm really happy with.  

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8 hours ago, Jameswsb said:

Just to update the thread and help anyone who maybe in a similar position I ended up fitting Bilstein B8 dampers and Intrax Springs. I've done a good thousand miles or so since fitment and now have a good appreciation as to how they feel under a variety of circumstances/road types.  My thoughts are highlighted below;

 

  • The car looks brilliant. The springs drop the car around 15-20mm at the front and around 10mm at the rear which looks superb whilst avoiding the slammed look. It looks like a factory 'competition' style ride height to my eyes and gets rid of the front arch gap of standard M5's. I have had no real issues with speed bumps although I am more a little more careful now.
  • The ride is tougher at low (below 30 ish) speeds but its not unbearable by any means. Ride at higher speed is great and the car feels much more tied down. This set up avoids the god awful rock hard feel you get with so many coilover set ups over ruts/expansion joints etc.
  • Body roll is really kept in check and the car feels more agile and handles superbly. I know find myself really testing the tyres more which I think is a good indicator of how chuckable the car now feels.
  • Strangely the steering really does feel so much better. I wasnt expecting this, but more detail is communicated through the steering wheel and it feels brilliant.
  • The damping at medium/higher speeds is superb and the car remains compliant and exceptionally well controlled across quick, undulating A & B roads.

Now I realise this is a comparison with aged standard equipment and I would have loved the opportunity to try new standard with perhaps some intrax springs but the opportunity to do so just wasnt there. Plus I managed to get a set of B8's/Intrax that had done just 3k miles so I saved a fortune.

 

All in all a great mod that I'm really happy with.  

 

Any chance of a picture of how the car sits?  I have just replaced my suspension with B8s and new OEM springs. It sits an inch or so higher than before (front and rear) and feels quite bouncy although this might be because the old suspension had become saggy and had certainly dropped the car height.  It  needed replacing but I am wondering if I took the correct advice on the replacement set up.  Only done a few 100 miles or so and I may get used to it or it will settle down. 

 

 

 

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Ill get a photo taken tonight and post it up. Unfortunately OEM springs are known not to work well with B8's. The spring perch is higher on the Bilstein's which is why you are getting an increase in ride height. If it was me I would get hold of some Intrax springs asap and sell the BMW ones to recoup a significant proportion of the cost.

 

This forum thread is worth a read

 

 

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Thanks for that.  I guess I may have to choose whether to revert to all OEM and change the Bilsteins or try the Intrax springs.  I assume the latter would be the cheaper option? 

 

This is how it currently sits. I am not overly fussy about the ride height and it is a considerable improvement on the old suspension but not as good as I remember when I bought the car nearly 13 years ago!

IMG_0540.JPG

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Yes the Bilstein and Intrax set up will cost around £900 where as the OEM equivalent is £1400 plus from memory. Definitely invest in the Intrax springs if you are retaining the B8's. I'll get a picture taken tonight :-D

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