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UltimateWarrior

Upper wishbone / control arm replacement

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Hi all,

 

Had 2015 520d (F11) for a couple of years now, and ever since I bought it it has had a slightly odd feeling when pressing the brakes hard while moving slowly. Think sudden brake pressure when you're parking and realise you're about to hit the car in front. The feeling is almost like a little play. Nothing is detectable when braking more normally / gently.

 

I'm sure it is getting worse, but over my ownership I have already replaced all the lower arms at the front, plus the wheel bearings and the tie rod inner and outer ends. There's not a lot else it can be, except perhaps the upper control arms / wishbone!

 

Annoyingly I can't really detect any noticeable play when the car is jacked up off the ground, hence my uncertainty as to what exactly is causing it.

 

My questions to the group, therefore, are:

 

(1) What are the typical symptoms of a warn upper wishbone, and are there any good ways of confirming this ?

 

(2) Assuming the upper wishbones are the culprit, how easy is it to replace this part ? I have replaced all the lower arms, so know a bit about spannering, plus TIS doesn't mention anything too alarming. However, I have heard online that removing the central  ball joint from the swivel bearing is an effort, and I have no experience with pickle forks / bearing separators - none of this was needed on the lower arms. Also I'm a little worried about access to the nuts / bolts at the inner bushes (see items 14/15, below) - do I need to remove a whole host of engine bay to get at these?! Is there a good DIY on this?

 

Image of the critter below:

 

image.png.b92f5f5ff738394c6a53b6683e721c83.png

 

Thanks in advance!

Edited by UltimateWarrior

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Jack the car up and grab the wheel and wiggle it to feel for play.

 

Take the wheel off and wiggle the hub carrier to see if there is any movement in the joints.

 

Next take a pry bar and see if you can move any of the joints excessively.

 

To access the upper wishbone nuts and bolts take the front section of the wheel arch liner so you can see the bolt head on the front bush. The rear bolt is accessed once you’ve dropped the strut out the way. It’s nut is slid into a groove in the backside of the strut tower and is just visible if you look hard enough.

 

The balljoint can be popped out using a two legged bearing puller and what might help is using a suitable sized Allen key to pry apart the clamp as you rotate the Allen key.

 

I’ve not done it myself but have had a good look to how I would do it and there is some good discussion on it further down this thread linked below. As the arm needs splitting from the hub carrier to access VDC struts. 

 

Have to say I don’t think anyone on here has ever swapped one of them out.

 

Is your car an auto? Sounds like it might be surging. 

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And here is the front bolt head viewed from the offside wheel arch with the front section of the wheel arch liner removed.

 

81-E8-B7-A4-3971-4-BF0-AD48-2-BF760-A8-B

 

The bolt is obvious on the forward facing side of the suspension turrets (when you open the bonnet) but unless you have arms like Mr Tickle you’ll struggle to get on to the nut (behind the strut) and bolt.

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Thanks very much for the response, really useful!

So replacement doesn’t look too difficult. Sounds like all the bits can be accessed from the wheel arch, with removal of plastic liner? I wasn’t aware the strut had to be removed. This is to allow space for the bolts to be removed ?

 

Ill jack it up and try to assess what’s going on / whether the wear is noticeable. Certainly I’ve not noticed Abby thing in previous attempts, but I’m sure it’s getting a little worse. 
 

The car is on 90k, so I’d be surprised if it does turn out to be the wishbones. As you say, it’s not the usual spot for wear, lower arms seem to wear much more readily.

 

Thanks again!

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yeah take the front section of the front wheel arch liner off to make access to the front bolt. 
 

I don’t believe you need to completely remove the strut from the car, you might just get away with removing the lower strut bolt and pull the strut forwards at the base which should give you room to access the rearmost bolt on the upper wishbone.  You might need to loosen the three strut top mount bolts to let the strut move enough. 
 

As I’ve removed a strut before, I would remove it again if I were doing that job as it’s only three more bolts and the drop link. 

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It could also be that the main thrust arms (ball joint and huge bush) could have started to fail already

 

It's not uncommon, more so if they haven't been torqued down properly. 

 

Issue is that you can't really tell until you remove them. 

 

I've recently replaced both of mine on my F01 and both ball joints had failed, but there was no play to see in them, until they were removed... 

 

Worth a check IMO before you start forking out for parts 

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9 hours ago, d_a_n1979 said:

It could also be that the main thrust arms (ball joint and huge bush) could have started to fail already

 

It's not uncommon, more so if they haven't been torqued down properly. 

 

Issue is that you can't really tell until you remove them. 

 

I've recently replaced both of mine on my F01 and both ball joints had failed, but there was no play to see in them, until they were removed... 

 

Worth a check IMO before you start forking out for parts 

  I’ve already replaced these parts. There was noticeable play so they were clearly also on their way out, but replacing these parts hasn’t resolved the issue. Like I say, there are only so many candidates now…

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7 hours ago, UltimateWarrior said:

  I’ve already replaced these parts. There was noticeable play so they were clearly also on their way out, but replacing these parts hasn’t resolved the issue. Like I say, there are only so many candidates now…

 

You've not read what I typed...

 

As stated; the arms on my F01 were new, 5 months ago; I've already had to replace the main two thrust arms as there was no play in them whilst attached & torqued down; but upon removing, both ball joints had failed. Same with the drop links. Fitted before I bought the car FYI

 

I replaced the inner tie rods & track rod ends for peace of mind as wanted my pal to do a full tracking & alignment to the car once those bits were fitted

 

It's not unheard of, of new parts failing because they've been fitted incorrectly, or simply sods law; so it's always worth double checking beforehand... 

 

However agree that the top wishbone and top mounts could be at fault. But do you think it could be related to a sticky caliper or slider pins etc?

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I personally would not replace anything until I'm 100% sure of the failed component. I learnt a few lessons on my E60, changing almost all the front suspension that still did not fix my issue (£800+ wasted and a week of my time). I suggest getting an endoscope/camera. Place it where you think the play might be and take it for a drive to record any excessive movement.

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I thought I had pictures I took at the time.... couldn't find them till now.

 

I reckon its possible to get into the upper wishbone nuts and bolts using a 3/8" socket on a swivel with an extension bar without touching the strut.

 

IMG-5766.jpg

 

IMG-5763.jpg

 

IMG-5765.jpg

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