BMW E30 steering rack upgrade

BMW E30 is an ‘80s Icon and becomes more popular. That is why at LPSR we are especially focused on your needs - CONVERSION STEERING PARTS.

Many of our customers wants to upgrade the ‘steering feel’ on their BMW E30 which is terribly slow
(4 turns lock to lock).
Drivers become aware of the potential steering rack conversion when their old stock rack starts leaking and they want to find a replacement or when they simply have enough of this ‘BUS like driving feeling’.

There is a lot of myths going around on the internet about all E30 E36 E46 Z3 racks swaps, their number of turns, compatibility etc.
At LPSR we remanufactured 1000s of BMW 3 series steering racks and surely, we can add something to the pot.

What are your options  for BMW E30 steering upgrade?
 

BMW E30 ORIGINAL STEERING RACK

If you want to stay 100% stock with your E30, you can get another E30 (4 turns) power steering rack.
Please note that there are two types of them:

Older type” - 3 piece housing - half of the housing is aluminium and half is a steel tube.
Newer type” 1 piece housing - the whole housing is made of 1 piece of aluminium.

These racks have different design but they both are 4 turns lock to lock and the same tie rods will be fitted to them. 
Another difference is with steering rack ports orientation (pressure and return ports) which can become a crucial problem if you are not swapping with the same unit.

 

 All types of E30 power steering racks (that means LHD, RHD, old types, new types) have 17mm diameter pinion with 54 spline count.
 

Tips for chasing a second hand E30 stock rack and fitting it into your E30

You need to make sure what type of E30 rack you have and replace it with same one.
Otherwise you will face a problem with steering lines ports facing different direction ( you would need to bend them or custom make new ones )


We do not recommend installing a used, second hand BMW E30 steering rack!
WHY? Those units are mostly over 30 years old and all seals, bushes, O-rings, teflons etc. are falling apart.
They often have steering control valve housing problems, play between rack and pinion etc.
Sooner or later these racks will all leak as after 30 years those poor rubber seals and O-rings had simply enough.
That’s why at LPSR we sell fully remanufactured units without core exchange or we can remanufacture your power steering rack. 

 

BMW E36 STEERING RACK

BMW E36 steering rack - Has 3.5 turns lock to lock and it is not an extremely popular swap as you gain only 0.5 turns less than your original E30 rack.
The advantage of this unit is price and availability.
Usually BMW E36 steering racks are easy to get and reasonably cheap.
The problem is again, that all components are quite old.
E36 steering rack tend to have a problem with center position play between rack and pinion. This is due to spline design and age of the rack.

 

BMW E36 M3 STEERING RACK

BMW E36 M3- Has 3.3 turns lock to lock, but there is one catch and confusion.
BMW E36 M3 internals are very similar to standard E36 steering rack. Then you will ask why they have different amount of turns? Originally installed M3 steering rack has ‘limiters’ between inner tie rods and the steering rack rod.
These spacers limits your turns lock to lock and makes your rod travel shorter distance.
To recognize E36 M3 steering rack you will need to simply look on the housing colour. Standard E36 rack is grey, silver aluminium and E36 M3 is dark grey colour.
Conclusion BMW E36 M3 rack is not quicker, it is just shorter (while spacers are installed). Once you remove the spacers it will become same as a standard E36 steering rack.

 

All types of E36 power steering racks (that means LHD, RHD, M3s and not M3s) have 17mm diameter pinion with 54 spline count.


To fit an E36/E36 M3 steering rack into your E30 you would need:
 
1 Uni Joint - Slimmer, adjustable uni joint as the angle of the E36 rack pinion is slightly different to your previous E30 rack.
Old uni joint length will simply be not right and most probably your firewall will be on the way too.


2 Tie rods - In theory you don’t need to change your tie rods to use it with your new E36 rack BUT we would always recommend using new rods for best steering feel and accuracy.
 

3 Rubber boots - They are mandatory and must be replaced. Even if your boots “looks good”!
They are underestimated product which protects your rack from humid, dirt, corrosion etc.
You can have a brand new genuine power steering rack installed with old boots and if they have even a small hole or tear they can cause corrosion and damage to your rack in no time.

4 14mm subframe spacers - E36 steering rack is 14mm narrower in mounting spot. To fill this gap, you would need to use 14mm spacers.

5 Power Steering lines - Pressure and return port in your E36 steering rack are in different position than your standard E30 steering rack. That means you would need to bend your old lines to fit or custom make new ones or purchase them from our shop.

BMW E46 STEERING RACK SILVER TAG

BMW E46 SILVER TAG - Has 3.2 turns lock to lock. It is a great but not extremely popular upgrade.
Price is cheaper than purple tag rack and between a standard E30 and E46 silver tag is a massive 0.8 turns difference.
It handles a little bit worse than our most popular (3 turns lock to lock) BMW E46 club sport purple tag steering rack, but still does reasonably good job.


 

BMW E46 M3 STEERING RACK GREEN TAG

BMW E46 GREEN TAG- Has also 3.2 turns lock to lock.
There is a lot of confusion going on about this unit. The most popular one says that E46 M3 rack is progressive which means the splines are different in the center of the rod and different on the edges of the rod. This kind of setup supposed to help to turn your steering wheel quicker when you are doing an U-turn and be more precise when you are driving straight.
It happens a lot with German cars like other BMW, Mercedes etc., but not E46 M3. We have stripped and rebuild plenty of those racks and have never ever seen that the splines on the rod are progressive.  
BMW E46 M3 Green tag steering rack is LINEAR like all other racks mentioned on this page.

 

Common upgrade: Customers often swap their BMW E46 M3 green tag rack with E46 Purple tag steering rack

 

BMW E46 CLUB SPORT STEERING RACK PURPLE TAG

BMW E46 PURPLE TAG - Has 3.0 turns lock to lock and it is absolutely our customers favourite rack. Price is affordable and the steering handling is fantastic.
It is the most popular steering upgrade these days.

Because of the popularity of those units we have two options you can choose from:

1 Tested units - They cost roughly half the price of remanufactured ones, have no play and are ready to go!
They are cleaned from outside, regressed, we test them for any play and also comprehensively on our hydraulic test rig to make sure there is no leaks, the steering control valve works properly and racks have perfect, strong and equal steering assist both ways.

They come with 60 days warranty as all the seals, O-rings, bushes and others internals are old and not replaced.


2 Remanufactured units - Stripped, cleaned, carefully assessed. All O-rings, bushes, teflons, seals, guides etc. are replaced with new ones! Rack and pinion is polished with attention to details. Tube honed when necessary. If any of the other components are faulty or not 100% perfect, we would replace them with new (if available) or another perfect condition second hand parts.
After assembly the rack is tested on our hydraulic test rig to make sure there is no leaks, the steering control valve works properly, it has perfect, strong and equal steering assist both ways. We also apply some unnatural back pressure to make sure that pinion seals are handling additional pressure as they should when the rack works in extreme conditions like drifting, racing etc. 


Those units come with 12 months warranty.

We highly encourage to consider remanufactured racks option as you will be sure they will work for you for many many years.

 

BMW E46 ZHP STEERING RACK YELLOW TAG

BMW E46 YELLOW TAG - Has 3.0 turns lock to lock and different torsion bar than purple tag steering rack.
It handles a little bit different way but the number of turns are exactly same as purple tag option.
They are hard to get and to be sure you have a real true ZHP rack your Tag label has to end with 712 number.



 

BMW E46 STEERING RACK BLUE TAG

BMW E46 BLUE TAG - Has usually 3.0 turns lock to lock but some models have 3.2 turns lock to lock.

Please note all BMW E46 steering racks have the same mounting, fittings orientation etc. The only difference is with the number of turns and the torsion bar mentioned above. They also have 17mm diameter pinion with 54 spline count.
 
 
To fit BMW E46 steering rack into your BMW E30 you would need:

1 Uni Joint - Slimmer, adjustable uni joint as the angle of the e46 rack pinion is slightly different to your previous E30 rack.
Old uni joint length will simply be not right and most probably your firewall will be on the way too.


2 Tie rods - You would need tie rods conversion set especially to fit E46 rack into BMW E30. You cannot reuse your old E30 tie rods as they do not have special air canals. 

3 Rubber boots - They are mandatory and have to be replaced. Even if your boots “looks good”!
They are underestimated product which protects your rack from humid, dirt, corrosion etc.
You can have a brand new genuine power steering rack installed with old boots and if they have even a small hole or tear they can cause corrosion and damage to your rack in no time.

4 14mm subframe spacers - E46 steering rack is 14mm narrower in mounting spot. To fill this gap you would need to use 14mm spacers.
 
5 Power Steering lines - Pressure and return port in your E46 steering rack are in different position than your standard E30 steering rack. That means you would need to bent your old lines to fit or custom make new ones or purchase them from our shop.

BMW Z3 STEERING RACKS

Has 2.7 turns lock to lock ONLY and it is the best what you can get.
They are becoming very rare and extremely expensive as the demand exceeds availability.
Between Z3 and E46 purple tag rack is only 0.3 turns difference so our customers often ask if it's worth to pay double price to gain this slight difference.

In our opinion if the car is used for track competition, drifting etc it would be probably better to go with Z3 steering rack. If the conversion is just to improve the steering feel on the wheel - E46 purple tag does the job perfectly but Z3 DOES STILL FEEL BETTER. At the end of the day it is your personal choice.

Fitting BMW Z3 steering rack into your BMW E30 beauty will involve exactly same things as fitting E36 steering rack which we mentioned before.



 

Our Services

- Repair

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- Testing

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Contact Us

21 Darlot Road

6065 Landsdale

Australia

0 416 461 056

steeringlpsr@gmail.com

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