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mjeone

Upper and lower track control arm replacement a guide.

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Firstly if you follow my (GUIDE) you do so at your own risk!

The following is relevant for E28,E32,E34

Job time 2hrs per side.

So you've got the shimmy nine times out of ten it is down to BMW's complex but very effective track control system. Over time the bushes wear and become too flexible or just plain torn, the net effect is under braking or just cruising around 50-60 mph you can end up with the steering wheel shimmying in your hands sometimes quite violently. The bushes themselves are fairly cheap around £14, however most of the time the tca's with the integral ball joint have also been fitted for coming on 100k by the time the bushes require replacement. So in the interest of saving time and money it's best to replace the whole arm assembly, the lower arms come fitted with thier bushes, however the upper arms will come seperate as BMW specify different bushes for different models. Top tip here is with the exception of the E28 (requires milling to fit) you can fit the uprated 750i bush as a direct replacement, it's much tougher and will give a longer service life.

New arms cost between £25 for "replacement" to £50 for O.E.M Lemforder items.

I have my own view on the "replacement" quality items. I fitted some once from Euro car parts and they lasted 25k before requiring replacement again, so if you're intending on keeping the car get the Lemforder items as they should see 100k before any further hassle, apparently febi bilstein are a good middle ground although I have no experince of these.

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In the picture we have lowe track control arm with bush item No.2

Upper track control arm item No. 7

Upper track control bush item No.8

Once you have bought your new parts before you start dismantling your car you are going to need to get the upper track control arm bush pressed into your new arm. This takes something in the region of 3 tons of force to do so unless you've got a press it's time to pop to your local friendly garage. Shouldn't cost you more than £10 to get the pressed in mine were done for free!

When you look at the arm and the bush you will notice an arrow on the arm and one the bush they need to be pointing at each other. This ensures that when you brake the force is transmitted to the bush in the correct manner.

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New arm with new bush pressed in notice the arrows.

Now you are ready to start tools required for this job are:

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From right to left: Mallet, flat blade screw driver, ball joint seperator*, spring compressors with spanner to adjust, breaker bar, 22mm spanner, 22mm socket, 20mm spanner, 19mm socket & rachet, 19 mm spanner, nut splitter, mole grips. Jack & axel stand.

* This type of seperator is only to be used if you are replacing the entire arm. Use a scissor type seperator if you intend to reuse the arm , this will preserve the ball joint boot.

Ok so first of all park your pride and joy on LEVEL ground and apply the hand brake, crack of the wheel bolts, then jack up the vehicle and place on an axel stand. Safety first :wink:

I use the chassis rail to stop the stand getting in the way.

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Once the wheel is out of the way you can get on with removing the upper control arm. The nut's and bolts on this arm are 22mm you will see in the picture there is not much room to get to the nut (left side) there is more room to get to the bolt but you cant get much force on it because of the rest of the suspension getting in the way. You can get a spanner on the nut and thread the breaker bar with a 22mm socket through onto the bolt.

However they are very tight so will need to interlink you spanner with another to get enough leverage on it.

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Once undone withdraw the bolt collect the 2 washers and refit the nut put to one side for the refit.

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Now get to work on the upper track control arm ball joint nut, jam a spanner in above the ball joint to keep the force on it, this will help stop the joint from tuning while you undo the nut.

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Looking from underneath the nut is in the upper part of the picture, 22mm nylock nut. It's been there for some time so give the showing threads a clean it will make it easier to undo and reduce the rick of the bll joint begining to spin instead of the nut coming off (nightmare...... if this happens first try to grip the exposed shaft with mole grips to stop it turning if no joy employ the nut spitter).

Now using the spring compressors take up some of the strain:

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This makes it easier to move stuff about without chopping off your digits when the spring decideds to release it's stored energy.

Now its time to loosen the three 19mm bolts that hold the hub carrier plate to the strut assembly pictured here

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Once loosened remove the top bolt in the picture and the bolt to the left in the picture. DO NOT REMOVE all three!

Now loosen the abs wire from it's carrier this stops you straining it in the next step:

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Then holding the brake disc and caliper twist the strut assembly round to reveal the lower tca nut. It's now pivoting on the remaining loosend 19mm nut.

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Now put your jack under the lower tca ball joint and apply some pressure this helps the ball joint remain staitionary while you undo the nut, once again clean the threads first then undo with a 22mm spanner, for every 1/2 a turn you undo try doing it up 1/4 of a turn this helps to clean out the threads. If you just keep undoing you may find the nut will jam up to the point of no return i.e nut splitter/grinder/any other time consuming pain in the arse way of getting the little bugger off.

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Once the nut is off give the joint the good news with the ball joint splitter.

Then set about removing the nut and bolt at the subframe end of the lower arm. First you will need to remove a couple of 10mm plastic nuts from the engine underbelly tray to get access to the bolt.

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Then remove with a 19mm spanner and 19 mm socket set doubling up with the spanner to get the leverage.

Once you have removed the now disconected arms fitting of the new arms is the reverse of the removal.

Have fun!

Mark

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Nice, good write up!

Alternatively give a local BMW indie some wedge, get him to fit powerflex stuff!

Will get the M5 back later this week, all done :D

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Once I've finished the post those who want to fit powerflex bushes I'm sure will see where to exchange the parts........ or of course Robbo...... you could just dole out the dosh.

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TBH, if i had the time before my trackday on the 7th this would be a job i'd have done myself, but very short on time at the moment.

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Spelling mistakes?? guys let me know i will edit, you know what it's like cant see the wood for the trees when it's your own work.

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Nice guide!

When installing the new control arms, I was under the impression that the bushing through bolts should be tightened whilst the car is in a normal loaded position.

Is this possible without getting the car up on a proper ramp, or using a pit?

I'm going to have a go once the weather gets a bit nicer.

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Guest Ady530i

had mine done aswell with steel tops and alloy bottoms cost me £167 from gsf parts bmw wanted bout £300 plus...

and it made a real differance driving it after.

ady :D

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excellent write up just finished my e34 540 touring no way can you get a spaner in to the top arm so i droped the anti roll bar not the mount for the rubber the whole thing this gives you more than enough room to work and crack the joint thanks again couldnt of done this with out your write up :D

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Just had to do upper and lower track control arms on mine. Have changed every bush on the car in the last year including the rear subframe ones.

It is hardwork, the nuts are just so tight and everything very heavy. Certainly soild components.

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Hey, great write up and really good photos.

You asked for spelling mistakes to be pointed out? About a third of the way down there is "reduce the rick of the bll joint begining to spin"

Had I found this writeup I would have done it myself instead of chickening out and paying someone else to do it.

My experience of the shimmy is that it hasn't been focused completely on the bushes.

My E34 had it when the tyres were getting past their best before date when I first got it at 97,000 miles. On new tyres it would go away when they were balanced by someone who was good at it. Gradually the shimmy came back earlier and earlier in the tyre life until it was more or less present the whole time.

E34 shimmy is driven by a large offset at the hub level making the car really sensitive to out of balance forces, the damping in the system comes from the tyre, the suspension damper and the bushes.

Even when I had the bushes replaced it help a bit but didn't really get rid of it on my particular car.

Finally I replaced the front struts and apart from all the other benefits I was really surprised to notice the shimmy was entirely tamed. My struts were at 210,000 miles and had been noticeably disappointing for the previous 30,000 or so. Changing the dampers took ten years off the car!

YMMV

Damian

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Thanks for the heads up, unfortunately I think a mod will need to amend it now as I think since I wrote this the forum settings have been changed. When I now hit submit for my edit my photos are rejected as being to large.

Re your issue with tyres having an effect, I agree they can but as you kind of explain yourself........more than anything they expose the other failing components.......otherwise the shimmy wouldn't come back sooner and sooner, and tyres are somewhat expensive to change when they are only part worn.,

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I agree with you about the tyres. They are never perfect and get more imperfect as they wear and as you say, expose the worn-out components earlier and earlier. Actually "the dampers have a surprising influence" was my main thrust, as it were.

No worries about the typos. My posts are riddled with them...

Damian

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I have just replaced the bushes on my car with polybushes. The ball joints were in good condition after 13 years and 150,000 miles. The most difficult part was removing the old bushes. The front polybushes had to be modified to fit. The difference to the ride particularly when braking made the work well worthwhile. It took me about 6 hours. trust that this information helps someone else.

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Thanks for the write up, I look forward to doing this as part of my reshell project! (Well, apart from the springs- can't say I've ever liked the idea of risking losing fingers... lol). I'm looking at powerflex from the UK, all I have to do is persuade my mum and sis to bring them with them when they come to NZ...!

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exellent write up. i have this shimmy on my baby at 60-65 and also at 90-95 (not me officer)! so will be tackling that one soon me thinks

cheers

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