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Replacing Your Rear Trailing Arm Bushing
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing Your Rear Trailing Arm Bushing

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$100

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Set of sockets (18mm), Wrench set (18mm), soft-faced hammer, bushing press tool or shop press. (Sealey tool # VSE5613)

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:

Rear trailing arm bushing

Hot Tip:

Inspect regularly, as this is a troublesome area on these cars.

Performance Gain:

Stiffer, more stable suspension

Complementary Modification:

Replace rear ball joint 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 bushing and 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 trailing arm bushing connects the rear trailing arm to the body. It is a trouble area for higher mileage E46 models, as it wears out over time. Replace the bushing if it shows any signs of failure.

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.

ThisPicture shows the rear trailing arm bushing (green arrow) connecting the rear trailing arm to the body.
Figure 1

This picture shows the rear trailing arm bushing (green arrow) connecting the rear trailing arm to the body.

Unclip and remove the wiring harness from the trailing arm (green arrows).
Figure 2

Unclip and remove the wiring harness from the trailing arm (green arrows).

Open the plastic door for the brake pad wear and the wheel speed sensor electrical connector.
Figure 3

Open the plastic door for the brake pad wear and the wheel speed sensor electrical connector. Then disconnect both connectors by them pulling apart.

Next, remove the 10mm brake hose fastener and pull the brake hose away from the wheel carrier.
Figure 4

Next, remove the 10mm brake hose fastener and pull the brake hose away from the wheel carrier. This will avoid putting unwanted stress on the brake hose (green arrow).

Mark the orientation on the trailing arm to body to help when reinstalling.
Figure 5

Mark the orientation on the trailing arm to body to help when reinstalling. Then remove the three trailing arm 18mm fasteners.

Pull the trailing arm down away from the body and place a block of wood (green arrow) between the trailing arm and body.
Figure 6

Pull the trailing arm down away from the body and place a block of wood (green arrow) between the trailing arm and body.

Remove the trailing arm mounting bracket fastener (green arrow).
Figure 7

Remove the trailing arm mounting bracket fastener (green arrow).

Then remove the bracket from the trailing arm.
Figure 8

Then remove the bracket from the trailing arm.

Assemble the press tool to extract the bushing from the trailing arm.
Figure 9

Assemble the press tool to extract the bushing from the trailing arm. Then extract the bushing from the trailing arm following the directions supplied with the tool. This can be done using a number of different press options. The old bushing can be knocked or cut out in most cases. Then using a universal bushing press, (be sure the cups are the correct size by measuring bushing before hand) to install the new bushing.

Once bushing has been removed, clean the mounting area of rust and debris (green arrow).
Figure 10

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

Assemble press tool and new bushing to install bushing into trailing arm.
Figure 11

Assemble press tool and new bushing to install bushing into trailing arm. Then install bushing into trailing arm following directions supplied with tool. Check that the bushing is at same installation depth as the one you removed, as per your earlier measurement.

Then reinstall trailing arm bracket and tighten fastener.
Figure 12

Then reinstall trailing arm bracket and tighten fastener.

Remove block of wood from trialing arm, then install trailing arm to body fasteners and tighten. Do your best to get the trailing arm in the same place it was in before, using the reference marks you made. Reinstall wiring harness and brake hose mount. Then install coil spring and remaining items in reverse order of removal. Once complete, have vehicle professionally aligned.

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Comments and Suggestions:
love2fahren Comments: Would any standard bushing tool work or do I need special tools?
September 11, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You need a bushing tool compatible with this model. Some universal tools may work, check with the tool manufacturer. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
tim Comments: Is it recommended to replace the mounting bracket also?
June 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If it is worn, I would replace it. Otherwise they are reused. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
tim Comments: Does it matter which side you press the bushing in? On some other vehicle that uses ball joint instead of rubber bushings, the ball joint often says which side is inside.Thanks!
June 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't believe so. I usually press from the outside in. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dcook Comments: Do you have to drop the exhaust or is that not an issue?
June 15, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, you do not. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
edo Comments: if this bushing goes bad would there be any noise when accelerating?
May 24, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There could be a clunk, if it were blown out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
RDJ Comments: I have a 2001 325i sedan, E46 chassis.
After replacing the main bushings in the rear trailing arm console/carrier, I've read where it's required to align the RTA carrier with the center of the wheel hub with a special tool, it's suppose to make sure the carrier is at the right angle so the bushing doesn't wear out prematurely. Is it neccesary to do this procedure or just get it aligned?
October 24, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not is using a factory style bushings. A standard 4-wheel alignment will do it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Sun 12/11/2016 02:19:57 AM