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BMW E39 Front Strut Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E39 Front Strut Replacement

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

6 hours6 hrs

Tab:

$200

Talent:

***

Tools:

18mm, 17mm, 16mm, 13mm wrenches and sockets with ratchets, pry bar, strut spring compressor

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i Sedan/Wagon (2001-03)
BMW 528i Sedan/Wagon (1997-00)
BMW 530i Sedan (2001-03)
BMW 540i Sedan/Wagon (1997-03)

Parts Required:

Strut spring, strut assembly, sway bar links, bump stop, dust boot

Hot Tip:

You can do the job either on the car or off the car

Performance Gain:

Get better handling over bumps particularly during cornering

Complementary Modification:

Change upper strut mounts

BMW's reputation is built on performance, power, handling and reliability. After many miles of harsh roads and spirited driving strut assemblies start to wear. Over time this can lead to poor road feel, harshness over bumps and uneven tire wear. Replacing your front struts can restore the handling, eliminate harshness over bumps and extend tire life. You will need a strut spring compressor. Buying a special tool does increase the cost of the job but we will show you how to do it if you make the investment.

These fasteners are going to be tight and there may not be a lot of room to swing the wrench. You are going to have to be patient and use some force to remove fasteners and components to rebuild your front end. Corrosion may hold a component in even after you have loosened a fastener. Keep in mind the joint may pop out when you use a removal tool so keep your hands clear and wear protective gloves.

Lift and support front axle of the vehicle. See our tech article on jacking and supporting your vehicle. You have to remove the front tires to perform this job.

The procedure to replace the front struts is the same for both the left and right side. In these pictures we will be alternating between the left and right side. It is recommended you replace both sides at the same time to keep your handling neutral.

There are many ways to replace the struts in your car. One example is you can remove the strut assembly from the vehicle with the lower control arm and radius rod or you can do the job with the lower control arms till attached.

Remember your car may have been serviced before and parts 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

Front Strut Removal:

In order to change either of the front strut assemblies you will need to remove the brake calipers at some point . You do not have to open the brake line you just need to remove the caliper. Follow the procedure outlined in tech article replacing brake calipers to remove caliper from the spindle.

In order to change either of the front strut assemblies you need to remove the tie-rod end links. Follow the procedure outlined in tech article replacing tie-rod end links. You do not need to remove the sway bar bushings, just the links.

This photo illustrates the right side wheel well with the wheel removed.
Figure 1

This photo illustrates the right side wheel well with the wheel removed. Remove the mounting nut (yellow arrow) that secures the tie-rod end (green arrow) to the spindle. I feel this makes dropping the strut into position a lot easier with the tie-rod end removed.

Use a fork to split the tie-rod end from the spindle.
Figure 2

Use a fork to split the tie-rod end from the spindle. Be mindful of how the spacer comes out and install it as you found it.

This photo illustrates the left side wheel well and we are looking at the back of the strut.
Figure 3

This photo illustrates the left side wheel well and we are looking at the back of the strut. While the strut is still mounted remove the 16mm bolt (green arrow) and 18mm nut (yellow arrow) that pinches the spindle around the strut tube. This is easier with the strut still mounted. Pull the bolt all the way out

This photo illustrates the nut and bolt removed.
Figure 4

This photo illustrates the nut and bolt removed. Notice the brake caliper is still on the car. You donÂ't need to remove the caliper until you are ready to drop the strut assembly downward.

Loosen but do not remove the 16mm bolt and 18mm nut that secures the lower control arm inner bushing to the sub-frame.
Figure 5

Loosen but do not remove the 16mm bolt and 18mm nut that secures the lower control arm inner bushing to the sub-frame. This will allow the strut assembly to drop so it can be pulled out from the wheel well.

Working in the engine compartment out by the fender you can now remove the three 13mm nuts that secure the upper strut mount to the strut tower of the car.
Figure 6

Working in the engine compartment out by the fender you can now remove the three 13mm nuts that secure the upper strut mount to the strut tower of the car. Have a helper or use a jack/jack stand to prevent the strut from falling all the way down and possibly hurting you. Lower the strut assembly gradually and pull the upper strut assembly out from under the fender. In this case we are on the right side.

Using coil spring compressors compress the strut spring.
Figure 7

Using coil spring compressors compress the strut spring. There are a few different types you can use so follow the manufacturerÂ's instructions on the one you purchased. Here we have placed two individual spring compressors on each side of the spring and compressed it.

With a 6mm Allen head socket hold the strut rod inner shaft and with a 21mm socket remove the strut-securing bolt.
Figure 8

With a 6mm Allen head socket hold the strut rod inner shaft and with a 21mm socket remove the strut-securing bolt. WARNING: Without the spring compressors the assembly would fly apart under the tension of the coil spring. The spring compressors keep the spring under tension so you can safely remove the upper strut mount and spring . Note; we have removed the strut assembly from the car from this point forward but if you are careful you do not need to.

This bolt is tight so you may need some help.
Figure 9

This bolt is tight so you may need some help. If you are not reusing the struts you can grab the strut shaft with a vise grip. If you are going to reuse the strut use rubber hoses on the vise grip jaws to protect the shaft from scratches.

Before removing the upper mount and spring mark the positions of the upper coil spring, rubber gasket and upper strut tower so you can return it to the same position during installation.
Figure 10

Before removing the upper mount and spring mark the positions of the upper coil spring, rubber gasket and upper strut tower so you can return it to the same position during installation.

Mark the position of the lower end of the spring and make sure you put the strut and the gasket in the same position during installation.
Figure 11

Mark the position of the lower end of the spring and make sure you put the strut and the gasket in the same position during installation. If the spring is not positioned properly it will squeak or click as the car goes over bumps.

Remove the upper strut mount off of the assembly and pull the coil spring with the tools still attached off of the strut.
Figure 12

Remove the upper strut mount off of the assembly and pull the coil spring with the tools still attached off of the strut.

Remove the strut dust cover.
Figure 13

Remove the strut dust cover. There is a large washer that may come off with it so donÂ't lose it.

Remove the bump stop on the strut shaft.
Figure 14

Remove the bump stop on the strut shaft. Here the washer stayed with the bump stop and it is sitting on top of it.

This photo illustrates the left side spindle looking at the lower strut mount.
Figure 15

This photo illustrates the left side spindle looking at the lower strut mount. You do not have to remove the spindle, we just did it to show you a clearer photo. Spread the pinch gap with a pry bar or wedge to loosen its grip of the strut body. This makes it easier to remove the strut body from the spindle. Slide the strut body upwards in the direction of the blue arrow to remove it. Installation is the reverse of the removal steps. Either assemble the strut with it in or out of the spindle. Install the bump stop, washer dust boot, spring and upper strut mount and tighten nut. Use a jack or a helper to lift the strut assembly into the strut tower. Install the tie-rod end and sway bar links.

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:06:03 AM