In the second installment of the E30 suspension upgrade story I continued with the front axle. Besides the Bilstein Sport shock absorbers and the H&R OE Sport springs whose counterparts I had already installed in the rear, I also decided to replace the control arms and the control arm rubber bushings. Only that being lazy and not wanting to deal with removing the tightly fit old bushing and squeezing in the new one (stories go that this is pretty tough) I decided to buy new “lollipops” with the bushings already installed. On bavauto.com a new bushing costs $12.95 while the whole bracket goes for $49.95. A waste of money, I know, but what the hell - it was Christmas. The next time I surely won’t be spending so lavishly; I’ll probably just upgrade to urethane or M3 bushings which are more expensive anyway. I also replaced all the self-locking nuts during this procedure, as the manual recommends.
Click on pictures to see the exact location of the parts and components referred in this article. Click here to see the full set of pictures.
http://zoso.no-ip.org, will make the removal of the nut easier when the time comes (otherwise the rod would turn on its axis). Do not remove the top nut at this time – as long as the spring is not compressed and pressure is still exerted on the shock mount, this would be very dangerous. I sprinkled the gland nut with PB Blaster penetrating catalyst, just in case the threads had seized, and let it soak overnight.
bimmerforums.com had suggested in an older thread that the strut be put back in the wheel during this procedure. That’s what I did, and I loosely attached it with two lug bolts. I stood on the wheel holding the strut housing under my foot while I clamped a large pipe wrench around the gland nut and turned – the nut came loose at the first tug. I lifted the bottom of the strut up a bit and hoisted it on some blocks of wood to let the oil drain out, and moved on to the control arms.
- Friday night – get a head start – jacked up car, removed wheels, detached sensors, removed brake calipers
- Saturday – removed struts, compressed springs, removed old shocks and springs, removed control arms and sway bar, installed new shocks in strut housings, went drinking
- Due to the last item on Saturday’s list, I woke up on Sunday with a hangover and no will to get dirty and do physical work, so I dragged it and made plans for the next day
- Monday I took the bus to work. That evening I bought parts for the makeshift strut tool, installed the shock mounts, and removed the spring compressors
- Tuesday evening – installed the struts, attached the tie rods
- Wednesday evening – control arms, done .
I certainly learned a few things – I didn’t really have to change the control arms; the old ones looked good enough. But what the hell! ... In retrospect I bit more than an amateur like me could chew in one weekend. I’d recommend doing this in stages – one weekend the shocks and springs, the next the control arms, then the tie rods. Drinking on Saturday night may delay results. Even a professional mechanic, doing this on his own time, having to deal with wife and kids and grocery shopping, might find this job too much for one straight shot.