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BMW Front Strut Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW Front Strut Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Set of sockets, wrench set, spring compressor

Applicable Models:

BMW 325i Sedan (2006)
BMW 325xi Sedan/Wagon (2006)
BMW 328i xDrive Coupe (2009-13)
BMW 328i xDrive Sedan (2009-11)
BMW 328i xDrive Wagon (2009-12)
BMW 328i/xi Coupe (2007-13)
BMW 328i/xi Sedan (2007-11)
BMW 328i/xi Wagon (2007-12)
BMW 330i/xi Sedan (2006)
BMW 335d/i/xi Sedan (2007-11)
BMW 335i xDrive Coupe (2009-13)
BMW 335i xDrive Sedan (2009-11)
BMW 335i/is/xi Coupe (2007-13)

Parts Required:

Front strut, front spring, stabilizer link locking nuts

Hot Tip:

Replace stabilizer links also.

Performance Gain:

Great vehicle ride performance

Complementary Modification:

Install performance springs and struts

The front struts, sometimes called front shocks, dampen the ride of your E90 and keeps it rolling smoothly down the road. When they begin to wear, ride quality and vehicle handling suffers. You may notice your vehicle is not smooth over bumps or feels soft when cornering. This could be an indicator of worn struts. To check your struts, push down on the front corner of your vehicle, (the side you want to inspect the strut on). When you give the front corner one good push down, it should bounce up, then slightly down and stop. If it continues to bounce, the struts are worn out. You have the choice to replace your struts with a factory spec set or performance. A performance set of struts can greatly increase the handling of your E90. You can also replace all four springs on your E90 with performance springs, giving it a slightly lower stance and stiffer handling. If you are nervous or do not have access to a high quality spring compressor, once you remove the front struts, take the strut to a professional to have the coil springs swapped over. You'll want to have your vehicle professionally aligned when the struts are replaced.

Raise and support front of vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

Remove front wheels.

Remove engine covers. See our tech article on engine covers removing.

Working at center of windshield wiper cowl, remove plastic cap using a flathead screwdriver.
Figure 1

Working at center of windshield wiper cowl, remove plastic cap using a flathead screwdriver. (green arrow)

Next you have to remove the strut brace from the engine compartment.
Figure 2

Next you have to remove the strut brace from the engine compartment. This improves access to the strut fasteners. Remove two inverted Torx fasteners, yellow arrow points to E fourteen, green arrow points to E eighteen. Once fasteners are removed, remove strut brace from engine compartment. Driver side brace shown in photo, remove passenger side also.

Working at front strut, pull brake hose and sensor wiring harnesses out of holder.
Figure 3

Working at front strut, pull brake hose and sensor wiring harnesses out of holder. They are held in by a rubber bushing and will pull straight out of holder. (green arrows)

Working at front strut, remove stabilizer link nut by counter holding link with a seventeen MM wrench and loosening sixteen MM nut.
Figure 4

Working at front strut, remove stabilizer link nut by counter holding link with a seventeen MM wrench and loosening sixteen MM nut. The stabilizer link has a flat spot for holding while tightening. Next, remove stabilizer link from front strut and lay aside. If your vehicle is equipped with Xenon headlights, remove Xenon headlight height sensor from control arm. Remove nuts and lay sensor arm aside.

Remove strut pinch bolt from strut.
Figure 5

Remove strut pinch bolt from strut. (green arrow)

Next you have to spread the steering knuckle clamping area at strut.
Figure 6

Next you have to spread the steering knuckle clamping area at strut. BMW makes a special tool for this, however I find a chisel works fine. Drive chisel (green arrow) into steering knuckle clamp to spread just enough to relieve pressure on strut.

Next, remove upper strut mounting nuts and remove strut from vehicle.
Figure 7

Next, remove upper strut mounting nuts and remove strut from vehicle. (green arrows)

If alignment pin is missing (yellow arrow), remove each strut mounting nut individually (green arrows) and mark location.
Figure 8

If alignment pin is missing (yellow arrow), remove each strut mounting nut individually (green arrows) and mark location. This is will help with getting strut in same position as before.

Slide steering knuckle down to remove strut from steering knuckle.
Figure 9

Slide steering knuckle down to remove strut from steering knuckle. Then remove strut from vehicle.

Once strut has been removed from vehicle, place in spring compressor.
Figure 10

Once strut has been removed from vehicle, place in spring compressor. The one shown is a wall mounted model. There are many versions available, follow directions that came with your spring compressor to compress spring and hold in compressed position.

Remove dust cap from top of strut.
Figure 11

Remove dust cap from top of strut. (green arrow)

Remove nut from spring top by counter holding center shaft with an Allen bit and loosening the nut.
Figure 12

Remove nut from spring top by counter holding center shaft with an Allen bit and loosening the nut. Once nut has been removed, transfer spring and parts over to new strut. Dust boot with bump stop and the rubber insulator. Once parts have been transferred over to new strut, install spring top nut and tighten. Then install strut in vehicle. Start by installing upper nuts and finger tighten. Then install strut into steering knuckle and install pinch bolt finger tight. Align strut top as before and tighten upper fasteners. Then tighten clamping collar bolt. Reassemble remaining items and have vehicle professionally aligned.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Joe Comments: Nick, Does any hardware need to be replaced once removed? standard process for aluminium bolts I'm reading the Bentley manual and it calls for the stabilizer bar link to strut bolt to be replaced as well as the pinch bolt. Is this absolutely necessary?
August 7, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: BMW recommends it so I have to say yes. BUT Lots of folks do not replace it and don't have issues. So I hear. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
chris Comments: I'm having problems getting enough compression on the spring. It is a MY08 335i with sport suspension. I have the macpherson two-bolt compressors two single bolts with the spring blocks and just cannot get enough compression with them to unseat the spring. I tried with the blocks on the spring and on the top spring seat. Am i using the wrong tool? Just cannot figure this out. thanks
May 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You may need the BMW style compressor. Nothing you can do if your tool doesn't work, except take it to a shop to have them swap the springs. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Yangorang Comments: Are there any additional complications with replacing the front struts on an E90 xi model? Does anything special need to be done since there is an output shaft there?
May 15, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will have to remove the front drive axle for the best range of motion. I have seen guys detach the strut, then the lower ball joint to make space, but that puts the cv joint at risk for damage. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Yangorang Comments: Does the upper shock mount and bump stop typically need to be replaced when replacing the front shocks?
April 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not unless they are dry rotted. You can inspect them from the top, usually viewing the rubber insulator for wear. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
coop Comments: Thanks a million for the tip regarding installing the top of the new strut and then pivoting the hub assembly into place to mate up with the bottom of the strut. Just replaced OEM struts with Bilstein HDs and there was no way they were ever going back in the way the old ones came out. You saved us. Car is a 2006 325XI wagon. X drive front end is very different from 2WD BTW.
June 13, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Rafaelo Comments: Hello Nick: I'M CHANGING THE STRUTS ON MY 2006 325ITHANKS FOR THE TECHNICAL ARTICLE ON THAT. Do i need to raise the front of the car or can i raise one side at a time. Is it better, safer having the whole front raised rather than one side at a time. Many thanks.
May 6, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can do one side at a time. However, it will be easier to work with the sway bar unloaded when removing the end links. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:22:42 AM