This is not a travel post, it's a car post.
In my crusade to fix, upgrade and polish the old piece of junk (1988 BMW 325) I finally decided to tackle the rear axle suspension, which had felt horribly loose for a while. Moreover I kept hearing squeaking and screeching noises coming from the left side of the back of the car while driving. Since my car is primarily a daily driver and will never see the track in its remaining days on earth I chose to upgrade the suspension with Bilstein Sport shock absorbers and H&R OE Sport springs. This combination is supposed to lower the car but not too much - about one inch - and the ride won’t become too harsh as it would be the case with stiffer lowering springs.
Parts and tools:
- Bilstein Sport shocks (rear)
- H&R OE Sport springs (rear)
- Shock mounts for the convertible model (sturdier design)
- Self-locking nuts for the shock mounts
- Shock mount gasket
- Reinforcement plates – didn’t fit
- Bunch of metric wrenches and sockets
- Floor jack and jack stands
- Blocks of wood tp put between the jack and body
- Working light
Click on images for better-resolution photos.
Bavarian Autosport. The springs came from a guy who runs a high-volume automotive store on eBay. He had the best price, including the shipping charges, but in retrospect he was a deceitful jerk since he had advertised his product as “in stock” but instead had to order it from H&R. Because of this delay the package arrived in Seattle right as the snow storm was settling in, and then got stuck in the local UPS service center for 12 days before it was finally delivered. But I digress.
Partially remove the trim in the trunk to expose the shock mounts. Bending the trim is not an easy affair; it’s relatively rigid and hard to peel off and snap out of the grooves where it’s tucked in. That’s when I noticed that the right side shock mount had to be broken – there was a 2-3 millimeter gap between the upper cupped washer and the rubber piece. What do you know!
The Bentley says to disconnect and lower the rear part of the exhaust system from the brackets that support it, to allow for more room when the trailing arm is lowered. I did just that, but in retrospect I think this step didn’t help much. I supported the exhaust by hanging it with zip-ties from the upper brackets.
I had also ordered the reinforcement plates that were recommended by other people and by Bavauto. These metal plates are supposed to go inside the trunk between the body metal and the shock mount nuts, but they didn’t fit on my model. On one side of the body plate hole for the shock mount, the body plate has some sort of reinforcement bar which is about a quarter of an inch high. The shock reinforcement plate is too wide and goes over that bar; as a result, it doesn’t sit flat on the body and the lock nuts can’t be tightened against it. Useless!
After working on the rear suspension all Saturday I was planning to tackle the front the next day. But when I woke up I was in so much pain after the previous day-long workout that I had to schedule the front axle adventure for the next weekend.
Working Time - about 8 hours, with breaks. With more experience and better organization (the right tools always at hand, more space in the garage, etc) this could take significantly shorther, even for an amateur.
Difficulty - technically not too challenging, but it involves a lot of physical work.