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chicaneuk

Snapped spring...

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Car hasn't moved for a week due to a lapsed MOT (just totally forgot about it) - but fired it up today to take it for one, and as I reversed off the driveway was suddenly aware of a very loud scrubbing noise coming from the front of the car. Immediately pulled over and had a feel around and could feel the inside of the tyre on the driver side was warm. Something rubbing?! Crawled the car back to the driveway and jacked it up and was rather surprised to see that the spring had cracked and slipped down over the base of the spring perch on the strut and is what was rubbing on the tyre! (see attached photo). I think most surprising is that I drove the car onto the drive last week and it was fine.. and suddenly today the spring is broken and the car undrivable.. how the eff does that even happen?!

 

Anyway... a bit of online ordering of top mount and spring from Euro Car Parts, some tools from Amazon, and a phone call to very helpful chaps at @cotswoldbmwmini for the rubbery bits (genuine BMW parts cheaper than aftermarket ones on eBay.. it always pays to check!) and have ordered all the bits I think I need to remove the damper and install a new spring. I'll update the thread as the parts arrive and I tackle the job just in case it's useful for someone.

 

Naturally I'm hoping the damper is in good order and doesn't need replacing but at 133k and 13 years old, it would probably benefit from being changed.. but realistically trying to do this as cheap as possible within reason.

 

I've only ordered one spring and top mount for the time being but assuming I'll probably want to do the passenger side at some point.. ordered double the rubbery bits from BMW so that I do at least have those ready to go when I want to tackle it.

 

 

IMG-4292.jpg

Edited by chicaneuk

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On other motors I've had less dramatic spring damage, leaving the car still able to drive. Yes I was surprised to see quite a few E60/E61 broken spring threads on here. Not had a failure yet but can do without such a show stopper and time waste. Good luck.

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Yeah have had cracked springs on other cars in the past and never ended up with the car essentially stuck! Just hope everything comes apart and plays nice when I set about trying to fix it. 

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I had the same thing happen in January. I put it down to cold weather being the final thing that broke the spring that was fine when I parked up, but for you in August probably not the cold. I couldn't even drive mine off the drive the suspension was so low and scraping. Unlike all the other cars I have had spring breakages on, the spring at the bottom where it sits on the strut is a much smaller diameter so when the bottom 1/2 coil breaks off the spring falls down the strut and gives no support.

I didn't change my dampers, but I did change the springs on both sides. Your other spring is probably not far behind in terms of life. 

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Same issue for me... car is undrivable now as the spring is basically rubbing REALLY hard on the tyre.

 

Hoping to tackle it this weekend.. as I say I ordered the rubber bits (top mount, upper and lower gaskets for the strut) to do both sides, but will need to order another spring then soon and do the passenger side another day.

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Well damn. Set about making a start on this today and seemed to be going ok until I went a bit too hard on the long bolt that secures the hub to strut (the clamp bit) and basically sheared the thing at the head end.

 

The nut at the other end undid just fine and I have all the thread from there protruding out so I guess I will have to try my luck with the hammer and just try drive out what’s left of it. If that doesn’t work I guess I will have to try get the hub off and drill the remain of the bolt out and failing THAT it’s a second hand one off ebay I suppose.. as least there’s a shed load on there! 

 

Also struggling a bit to get the hub to release from the damper.. I used a spreader tool to spread the clamp which worked and with a bit of effort with a hammer and a socket extension have managed to drive the hub down about .. 3/4 of an inch down the damper but it’s slow progress. 

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Most of these jobs it's just 1 or 2 fasteners that take up 80% of the job time in my experience. Plenty of penetrating fluid should help. I considered my shock absorbers to be OK so I didn't have to undo those bolts. Good luck.

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Turning into a bit of a nightmare now. Can’t get the strut out of the hub and have now resolved to basically getting the hub out of the car entirely which is also proving problematic as the track rod allen head at the hub end was rounded out, and the middle control arm just spins when attempting to undo the nut at the hub end. I need to obtain a 38mm spanner for undoing the track rod at the steering rack end (it was only a 32mm on the E39 so imagine my surprise!) and somehow get these other two control arms off. 
 

Thoroughly pissed off with it. Hoped it would be a routine-ish job but I am now going to have to replace half the components on this side .. and presumably will need to do the same on the other. And it will probably still fail and MOT after all that anyway. I don’t really have the time or the money for all of this. 

Edited by chicaneuk

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Also... what were the BMW engineers smoking with regards to how many nuts need removing to take out the wheel arch liner. 20+ ?! Completely needlessly over engineered :(

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Hub finally off… damper disassembled and rebuilt up with new spring and new BMW rubber bits and a Corteco top mount. Had to park it again for the day due to my family commitments. 
 

Lost count of how much time I have into this now and barely even at the half way point. Almost just want to get it rolling again and let a breaker take it away as I know something won’t be right when I get it back together again. Hateful hateful experience. 

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3 hours ago, chicaneuk said:

I do know about the requirement to not torque up the control arm until there is weight on that corner and the bush is under pressure. 

I’m just trying to work out why it was such a struggle. 

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I could not get the strut to separate from the hub so figured the next best thing was to remove the lot and work on it off the car. The bolt that secures the strut into the hub had shearer anyway and the remains are firmly stuck in the hub so ultimately I needed a replacement / second hand hub anyway :( 

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Some more progress today. Had to swap the wheel bearing from the old to new hub as the one on my new / used hub felt really stiff in comparison. 
 

Got that transferred over OK and retorqued. Then cleaned up and lightly greased the strut base and the hub and reunited the two again and tightened back up with a new bolt and installed it into the car. Feels like I am finally headed in the right direction again. 
 

Need to order a track rod (had to cut the other one off)  and another couple of hours work and she should be back together again?!? 

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And finally, a month and a half after this whole debacle started, the car is back together and on it's own wheels. I wasn't able to actually drive it anywhere as the MOT and subsequently the tax both lapsed BUT backing it up and down the drive and (very briefly) driving it onto the quiet road where I live and taking a few corners, all seems OK with no clonks or untoward noises. Even feels like I got the tracking right for taking it for alignment too (i.e. it's not undrivable).

 

It really fought me until the very last bolt.. trying to get the old track rod out at the rack end was a complete nightmare and took me the best part of an hour and a half even with a suitable tool, before it finally let go. I think superman must have fitted the last track rod to the car (wasn't the OE BMW one) .. but I was so pleased to finally reassemble it all, compressed the strut and torqued up the two control arms / wishbones so that the bushes were under load, and got the wheels back on. Even with a new spring on this side, the ride height looks almost identical to the (currently) untouched side so that's another win too.

 

It's been a really interesting lesson on how the suspension is put together on these cars and even though it's caused me a lot of stress, I'm really pleased to have done it as I've learned so much about how it all works.

 

Now to get an MOT booked...

Edited by chicaneuk

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The stupid thing is, having now learned a bit more about how it's put together, I could have probably done the job in two hours by simply compressing the spring in situ (well, no need on a broken spring, but for the reinstallation), undoing the top bolts in the engine bay, dropping the strut a bit, removing the broken spring and replacing the top mount and rubber bits and reinstalling.. no need to touch anything on the hub except potentially the anti roll bar drop link.

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Amazingly it would have passed the MOT except for needing a pair of ARB drop links (could see the one on the driver side had a split boot but didn’t realise it would be an MOT fail!) so asked them to take care of it and will pick it up later next week! 

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The way to do these is to disconnect the steering track rod end, then unbolt the lower track control arm from the subframe. Once the three 13 mm top mount nuts are off and the brake caliper + drop link is unbolted, the strut can be pushed down and pulled out past the wheelarch. I generally put a bit of masking tape around the arch if it's a nice car. You don't touch the hub clamp bolt. Compressing the new spring enough to get the top mount on can be a right bastard though. The shorter M Sport springs aren't quite as grim. 

 

Broken springs is an old E38/E39 party trick, they all do it. 

Edited by Sir Anthony Regents-Park

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Indeed.. I understand this now a bit better for if I need to do the other side :-) I got some Draper spring compressors and they seemed more than up to the job for the M Sport springs but it has to be said they needed compressing to a level that really tested my nerve (in so much as if they let go, the force would be astronomical!) 

Edited by chicaneuk

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