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Adrian1662

22 year old RESPONSIVE steering possible??

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Thought I’d put this one here. Wife driven my car and said she’s never doing it again after squeezing and manoeuvring through the crazy streets of London. 
 

I thought the steering is not bad but hey I admit much worse than her Mini. 
 

I bet nothing was done in that department and no history of fluid transplant.

 

Do you think there’s a way to improve it?

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Standard E39 has 3.6 turns lock to lock, the only E39 with less is the M5 with 2.9 turns, doesn’t sound much but makes a big difference apparently. Pre-facelift also had a bus sized wheel whereas the sport wheel is smaller and does make a slight difference. This always bugs me when driving in a multi story car park!

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I remember my old pug 306...had the turning circle of a limo...utter nightmare to turn around in small spaces...even with being such a small car.

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Being a 540i it has a steering box so won;t be as sharp as a rack @ 200k it might be getting a bit loose too, what are all the links like?

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24 minutes ago, duncan-uk said:

Being a 540i it has a steering box so won;t be as sharp as a rack @ 200k it might be getting a bit loose too, what are all the links like?

could be, tie rods etc underneath have been changed, which 'links' do you particularly mean?

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I don't know the e39 'box set up specifically but i assume you have track rods, a centre tie rod and a pitman arm - a bit of play in each would build up to lack steering responsiveness and after 200k the box itself may be worn (i'd guess) not sure some fresh fluid would cure?

 

Has it been aligned recently too? i changed the track rods on my 530d and the 500m to the alignment was horrid because i'd just eyed it up.

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Has the steering box ever been adjusted? I had this done on my E32 and it made a huge difference, it completely removed the slop in the center. Even a hint of play in the center link rod will also hurt steering feel (try moving it up and down to check for play in the idler arm)

 

Also consider that the Mini probably has run flat tyres on relatively larger rims, both of which will give a more direct feeling to the steering (at the cost of comfort and noise, there are no choices without compromises in engineering)

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The V8 generally have worse steering than the straight 6 models. When I jumped in my mate's V8, I was surprised at the difference. On the V8, I had to give it more turn on the steering wheel.

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4 hours ago, duncan-uk said:

I don't know the e39 'box set up specifically but i assume you have track rods, a centre tie rod and a pitman arm - a bit of play in each would build up to lack steering responsiveness and after 200k the box itself may be worn (i'd guess) not sure some fresh fluid would cure?

 

Has it been aligned recently too? i changed the track rods on my 530d and the 500m to the alignment was horrid because i'd just eyed it up.

 

Haha.. similar experience for me after I changed the track rods. I initially pulled off the drive and couldn't believe how undriveable it was with the alignment out.. like I felt like something was seriously broken. Spent some time eyeballing it but the two mile drive to the alignment place was horrifying.. how can a few degrees of incorrect alignment make it feel like the car has been involved in a severe front end collision? Pot holes made the whole car vibrate and violently pull to one direction. Turn the wheels too far and they would LOCK into place at the end of the rack. I thought I'd done some damage in the replacement process but after alignment, it was back to normal again. Crazy.

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Good pointers above on places to look. Also look at the UJ joints on the shaft to the steering box for play. The point about the post-facelift steering wheel is a good one too.

 

NB it might not be 'responsive' is actually the word sought - most cars are (to my taste!) completely over-assisted; whereas the e39 in any guise has a bit of weight/heft about the steering. I like that very much; a female used to a modern mini, probably not...

 

 

EDIT for afterthought. - tyre pressures.

on e39s I've always run well up toward the max recommendation, esp on te hV8s; 2.9bar front/2.9-3 on rear. You lose nothing in grip, but steering precision and feedback is better. (esp vis the low minimum recommendation of what, 2.2bar or something - where the fronts on a v8 are definitely squidgy and imprecise)

 

- and I've had more even &consistent tyre wear run like this over, erm, prob about 150K miles in 5-series.. tl;dr; no downside IME.

Edited by Huff
update

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37 minutes ago, Huff said:

Good pointers above on places to look. Also look at the UJ joints on the shaft to the steering box for play. The point about the post-facelift steering wheel is a good one too.

 

NB it might not be 'responsive' is actually the word sought - most cars are (to my taste!) completely over-assisted; whereas the e39 in any guise has a bit of weight/heft about the steering. I like that very much; a female used to a modern mini, probably not...

 

 

EDIT for afterthought. - tyre pressures.

on e39s I've always run well up toward the max recommendation, esp on te hV8s; 2.9bar front/2.9-3 on rear. You lose nothing in grip, but steering precision and feedback is better. (esp vis the low minimum recommendation of what, 2.2bar or something - where the fronts on a v8 are definitely squidgy and imprecise)

 

- and I've had more even &consistent tyre wear run like this over, erm, prob about 150K miles in 5-series.. tl;dr; no downside IME.

Tyre pressure is good point, I'm running my 235/45R17 tyres at 2.9bar all round. Car feels a lot more exact on turns than with 2.4 bar or what ever is manufacturers suggested pressure.

About heavy steering feel I agree as well, but I believe it's only for steering rack, so 6 cylinder engine thing. On first moment it feels heavy, but after first two days I was absolutely used to it, the same about wife. None of us complain about it being heavy, it just feels right. Last person who said about e39 steering wheel feels a bit heavy was MOT tester, who is driving 650i. But it wasn't a complain, just a fact compared to 6 series. 

I know someone who replaced fluid, replaced pump and even replaced steering rack with reconditioned one to realise there's absolutely no difference made in steering wheel lightness. I believe it's a good proof that it's just the way these cars where built and there's nothing wrong with steering system.

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2 hours ago, Ray112 said:

Tyre pressure is good point, I'm running my 235/45R17 tyres at 2.9bar all round. Car feels a lot more exact on turns than with 2.4 bar or what ever is manufacturers suggested pressure.

About heavy steering feel I agree as well, but I believe it's only for steering rack, so 6 cylinder engine thing. On first moment it feels heavy, but after first two days I was absolutely used to it, the same about wife. None of us complain about it being heavy, it just feels right. Last person who said about e39 steering wheel feels a bit heavy was MOT tester, who is driving 650i. But it wasn't a complain, just a fact compared to 6 series. 

I know someone who replaced fluid, replaced pump and even replaced steering rack with reconditioned one to realise there's absolutely no difference made in steering wheel lightness. I believe it's a good proof that it's just the way these cars where built and there's nothing wrong with steering system.

Makes sense. I’ve bought a good compressor I attach to the car battery and may add more than recommend for 2 passengers next time and see the difference. I don’t complain as the car and it’s weight just feels right. In comparison to her mini 2011 feels like a small tank but I have driven worse like 1990 mini with no power steering. The only question mark was the change of power steering fluid, if that would make any difference, I would bet it won’t.

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5 minutes ago, Adrian1662 said:

Makes sense. I’ve bought a good compressor I attach to the car battery and may add more than recommend for 2 passengers next time and see the difference. I don’t complain as the car and it’s weight just feels right. In comparison to her mini 2011 feels like a small tank but I have driven worse like 1990 mini with no power steering. The only question mark was the change of power steering fluid, if that would make any difference, I would bet it won’t.

Most likely it won't. At least I don't know anyone, who after fluid change would say, that it made any difference. As preventive maintenance you can do that,  but most likely your steering feel won't benefit of that. 

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On 9/16/2020 at 9:06 AM, Marc_86 said:

I remember my old pug 306...had the turning circle of a limo...utter nightmare to turn around in small spaces...even with being such a small car.

Was it the gti6 by any chance? My take was the same, the 6th gear reduced the lock but only one way lol

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