Parts Catalog Accessories Catalog Tech Info Tech Forums
 
Follow Pelican Parts on Facebook Follow Pelican Parts on Twitter Follow Pelican Parts on Instagram Follow Pelican Parts on YouTube Follow Pelican Parts on Pinterest Follow Pelican Parts on Tumblr
  Search our site:    
View Recent Cars  |   Cart  | Project List | Order Status | Help    
 >  >
Rear Upper Ball Joint Replacement
 
Bookmark and Share

Pelican Technical Article:

Rear Upper Ball Joint Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$100

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Set of sockets, soft-faced hammer, ball joint press tool (Sealey tool # VSE5575)

Applicable Models:

BMW 323Ci Coupe/Conv (1999-00)
BMW 323i Sedan/Wagon (1999-00)
BMW 325Ci Coupe/Conv (2001-06)
BMW 325i/xi Sedan/Wagon (2001-06)
BMW 328Ci Coupe (1999-00)
BMW 328i Sedan (1999-00)
BMW 330Ci Coupe/Conv (2001-06)
BMW 330i/xi Sedan (2001-06)

Parts Required:

Ball joint

Hot Tip:

Using the right tool in this job makes it go much easier

Performance Gain:

Smoother, stiffer suspension

Complementary Modification:

Replace rear bushing for wheel bearing carrier

The BMW E46 rear suspension consists of the following components:

  • Rear subframe - The differential is bolted to the subframe and the upper and lower control arms are anchored to it.
  • Trailing arm on each side - The front of the arm is bolted to the body using a bracket. The rear wheel bearing is pressed into the rear of the trailing arm.
  • Upper control arm on each side - The inner end of the upper control arm is bolted to the rear subframe. The outer end is attached to the trailing arm above the wheel bearing opening. A modified bushing (referred to as the rear ball joint) is used at the control arm-to trailing arm attachment point.
  • Lower control arm on each side - The inner end of the lower control arm is bolted to the rear subframe. The outer end is attached to the trailing arm below the wheel bearing opening using an eccentric bolt through a rubber bushing. The eccentric bolt is used to set rear wheel camber.
  • The stabilizer bar is anchored at the rear subframe and attached via stabilizer links to the rear upper control arms.
  • Coil springs and gas-filled shock-absorbers are mounted separately.

Inspect the rubber bushings attaching the trailing arms to the body, the control arms to the rear subframe and the trailing arms, and the subframe to the body and to the differential. These bushings should be solid and lack dry rot. Replace a bushing if it shows signs of failure. You can use a large screwdriver or pry bar to try to move components against the rubber bushing and watch closely for signs of rubber deterioration and looseness.

The rear ball joint connecting the rear upper control arm to the trailing arm is a particular trouble area for higher mileage E46 models, as it wears out over time. Inspect the rear ball joint for excessive play. You can do this by jacking up the rear of your vehicle and wiggling the wheel while monitoring the movement of the ball joint. The ball joint should be tight and lack free play.

In this tech article I will describe how to replace the ball joint of the upper rear control arm. 

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you are working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Vehicle models change and evolve as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

This photo shows the rear ball joint (green arrow) connecting the rear upper control arm to the rear wheel bearing carrier.
Figure 1

This photo shows the rear ball joint (green arrow) connecting the rear upper control arm to the rear wheel bearing carrier.

Unclip and remove the wiring harness from the wheel bearing carrier.
Figure 2

Raise and support the rear of the vehicle on jack stands. For more information please refer to our Pelican Parts Technical Article on Jacking Up Your BMW. Remove the rear wheel from the side of the vehicle you are replacing the ball joint on. Remove the rear coil spring. For more information please refer to our Pelican Parts Technical Article on Replacing Your Rear Springs.

Remove the rear brake rotor. For more information, please refer to our articles on: Replacing your Brake Pads and Replacing your Brake Rotors. 

Unclip and remove the wiring harness from the wheel bearing carrier. Lay it aside so it does not get damaged during repair.

Remove the rear ball joint 18mm fastener.
Figure 3

Remove the rear ball joint 18mm fastener. Counter-hold the bolt while loosening the nut, and then remove the bolt from the ball joint.

Next, lever the upper control arm away from the wheel bearing carrier using a pry bar.
Figure 4

Next, lever the upper control arm away from the wheel bearing carrier using a pry bar.

Then insert a block of wood between the upper control arm and the rear drive axle (green arrow).
Figure 5

Then insert a block of wood between the upper control arm and the rear drive axle (green arrow). This will hold the upper control arm up and away from ball joint while you work. Otherwise, you would have to remove the entire wheel bearing carrier to replace the rear ball joint.

Next, clean the area surrounding the rear ball joint.
Figure 6

Next, clean the area surrounding the rear ball joint. Then measure the length on the ball joint that protrudes (green arrow) out of rear wheel bearing carrier.

Assemble the ball joint tool to extract the ball joint from the wheel bearing carrier.
Figure 7

Assemble the ball joint tool to extract the ball joint from the wheel bearing carrier. Then extract the ball joint from the wheel bearing carrier following the directions supplied with the tool.

Once the ball joint has been removed, clean the mounting area of rust and debris (green arrow).
Figure 8

Once the ball joint has been removed, clean the mounting area of rust and debris (green arrow).

Assemble the ball joint tool and the new ball joint to install the ball joint into the wheel bearing carrier.
Figure 9

Assemble the ball joint tool and the new ball joint to install the ball joint into the wheel bearing carrier. Then install the ball joint into the wheel bearing carrier following the directions supplied with the tool.

Next, remove the block of wood from beneath the upper control arm.
Figure 10

Next, remove the block of wood from beneath the upper control arm. Then install the bolt and tighten. If ball joint does not line up with the control arm, use a flathead screwdriver or punch to line up bolt holes. Install the ball joint mounting fastener and tighten. Then install the wiring harness back into retaining clip on the wheel bearing carrier. Reinstall the rear brake rotor and coil spring.


Once complete, it is a good idea to have your vehicle professionally aligned - especially if your tires have uneven wear.
Bookmark and Share
Comments and Suggestions:
Evan Comments: I purchased the sealey tool VSE5575 as stated in the tools required section but this tool is to be used for the main larger trailing arm bushing only according to someone from Sealey that I spoke with. Is this a typo or is this tool used also for the upper and lower ball joints somehow?
March 22, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The web team may have got the number mixed up I have someone looking into it. I would imagine Sealey would know.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out the right tool. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 

  Search our site:    

View Cart & CheckOut | Project List | Order Status |  Help    

 

[Home] [Customer Service] [Shopping Cart] [Privacy Statement]
 [Contact Us] [About Us] [Shipping] [Map to our Location] [Careers]

Copyright © Pelican Parts Inc.

Page last updated: Fri 12/2/2016 02:19:21 AM