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BMW E39 Rear Strut Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E39 Rear Strut Replacement

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

6 hours6 hrs

Tab:

$200

Talent:

***

Tools:

Plastic pry tool, door panel removal tool, 6mm open end wrench, 13mm, 16mm, 21mm socket or ratchet, possible vise grip pliers and spring compressors.

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:

Rear Strut mount, rear spring

Hot Tip:

Unbolt the top first then remove the bottom mounting bolt

Performance Gain:

Reduce rear bounce over bumps. Improve handling through bumpy corners

Complementary Modification:

Replace rear strut mount

As you drive your car your suspension system isolates road irregularities from the chassis of the vehicle. This may offer a comfortable ride but if you own a BMW or other sports car you want taught suspension and precise handling which you cannot get from a soft suspension. BMW offers an optimal balance between comfort and road feel. Picture your suspension hitting a bump. The spring, which supports the weight of the car, is compressed. The strut also gets compressed and helps slow down the compression of the spring. As you pass the bump the spring wants to slam the suspension back to the normal position right away. This is not good because it will cause your suspension to bounce between expansion and compression. Another job of the strut is to slow down the expansion of the spring as it rebounds from a bump. This is known as rebound dampening. As your struts wear out the ride becomes more harsh. The spring is allowed to compress without much help from the strut and expand without much rebound dampening. Replacing struts with new or performance ones will improve your ride and allow you to handle bumpy corners while driving.

The procedure for removing the rear struts is the same for both the left and right side. While we will be showing instructions from either side the same steps have to be followed on both sides of the car.

In order to remove your rear struts you need to lift and support your vehicle. See our tech article on lifting and supporting your vehicle.

In order to remove the rear struts you need to remove the rear seats for access to fasteners. See our tech article on removing rear seats before following these steps.

Replacing Rear Struts:

This photo illustrates the back seat with the seats moved out of the way.
Figure 1

This photo illustrates the back seat with the seats moved out of the way. Remove the panel mounting clips (green arrows) from the rear panel.

Here is a close upPicture of a mounting clip.
Figure 2

Here is a close up picture of a mounting clip. This is done by pulling out the middle of the mounting clip (green arrow) and they levering off the entire clip (yellow arrow) with a plastic prying tool.

Working at the rear parcel shelf remove the rear head rests by pulling straight up on them in the direction of the blue arrow and removing them from their mounts.
Figure 3

Working at the rear parcel shelf remove the rear head rests by pulling straight up on them in the direction of the blue arrow and removing them from their mounts.

Use a plastic prying tool to lever off the plastic covers (green arrows) at their lower edge on the right side of the car.
Figure 4

Use a plastic prying tool to lever off the plastic covers (green arrows) at their lower edge on the right side of the car. There are two more on the left side of the car that need to be removed as well. At this point you need to remove the C-pillar cover. See our tech article on removing the A, B and C-pillar covers and follow the instructions for removing the C-pillar covers.

First lift up on the entire rear parcel shelf in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 5

First lift up on the entire rear parcel shelf in the direction of the blue arrow. Then while holding the rear parcel shelf up pull the cover towards the front of the car. You will need to put a little bit of force to do this and it is okay if the parcel shelf flexes a little while pulling it out.

Working at the left side speaker enclosure remove the two Phillips head screws that mount it to the body of the car.
Figure 6

Working at the left side speaker enclosure remove the two Phillips head screws that mount it to the body of the car.

Unplug the speaker connection by squeezing the connector and pulling it out in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 7

Unplug the speaker connection by squeezing the connector and pulling it out in the direction of the blue arrow.

Lift the front of the speaker enclosure upwards in the direction of the blue arrow and unhook the back to remove the unit and move it out of the way.
Figure 8

Lift the front of the speaker enclosure upwards in the direction of the blue arrow and unhook the back to remove the unit and move it out of the way.

Working on the right side of the rear parcel shelf area remove the 16mm fastener that secures the seat belt buckle to the body of the car.
Figure 9

Working on the right side of the rear parcel shelf area remove the 16mm fastener that secures the seat belt buckle to the body of the car. You only have to do this for the two outer right side seats. You can leave the center seat belt in place.

With the belt buckle out of the way peel back the sound insulating foam from the corners of the parcel shelf.
Figure 10

With the belt buckle out of the way peel back the sound insulating foam from the corners of the parcel shelf. You will see a rubber cap (green Arrow) that covers the strut mount.

Remove the three 13mm mounting nuts (green arrows) that mount the upper strut to the body of the car.
Figure 11

Remove the three 13mm mounting nuts (green arrows) that mount the upper strut to the body of the car.

This photo illustrates the bottom of the right side strut (green arrow).
Figure 12

This photo illustrates the bottom of the right side strut (green arrow). Remove the 21mm fastener that mounts the bottom of the strut to the rear spindle. When getting ready to remove the bolt support the strut from falling down by holding it. A helper is a good idea.

With all the mounting bolts loose remove the strut assembly from the wheel well.
Figure 13

With all the mounting bolts loose remove the strut assembly from the wheel well. If you are replacing the entire strut assembly you can install the components in the reverse of the removal steps. Mount the bottom of the strut to the spindle, Position the upper strut mount in the body of the car (you may need a jack or a helper to hold it in position) and tighten the three upper mounting bolts. If you are replacing only the strut cartridge then continue with the following steps

Use a spring compressor (green arrow) to compress the strut spring on one side of the strut.
Figure 14

Use a spring compressor (green arrow) to compress the strut spring on one side of the strut. You will probably only be able to get on side on at a time.

Now that you have compressed one side of the spring you should be able to fit the second spring compressor on the other side of the spring (green arrow) This will make it safer to separate the strut assembly.
Figure 15

Now that you have compressed one side of the spring you should be able to fit the second spring compressor on the other side of the spring (green arrow) This will make it safer to separate the strut assembly. Do NOT attempt to disassemble the strut and spring using only one spring compressor.

Note the position of the top and bottom of the coil spring in the upper and lower perches this way you can put them in the correct position during installation.
Figure 16

Note the position of the top and bottom of the coil spring in the upper and lower perches this way you can put them in the correct position during installation. If a spring is not seated properly it will not work as effectively and may make noise over bumps. In this case we show signs of damage to the spring (red arrow) where a piece may have cracked off.

At the top of the strut assembly secure the strut rod with an open ended 6mm wrench.
Figure 17

At the top of the strut assembly secure the strut rod with an open ended 6mm wrench. If the bolt is very tight you may have to secure the strut rod with vise grip. Loosen the 16mm nut with a suitable wrench. If you must you can slip the vise grip in between the coils of the spring and grab the lower portion of the strut with the vise grips and use a socket and ratchet to remove the mounting nut but it would be slightly more difficult.

Remove the washer (green arrow) from the top of the strut mount.
Figure 18

Remove the washer (green arrow) from the top of the strut mount.

Remove the upper strut tower mount (green arrow) from the strut assembly.
Figure 19

Remove the upper strut tower mount (green arrow) from the strut assembly. You should replace this piece when you replace the struts.

Remove the bump stop spacer (green arrow) from the strut rod.
Figure 20

Remove the bump stop spacer (green arrow) from the strut rod.

We could not get the bump stop and strut cover (green arrow) off because the spring compressor was in the way.
Figure 21

We could not get the bump stop and strut cover (green arrow) off because the spring compressor was in the way. Remove the whole spring with the bump stop and cover from the strut cartridge.

Remove the strut seal cover (green arrow) and depending on the struts youÂ've purchased remove and reuse the strut perch rubber insulator (yellow arrow) if your new struts have not come with them.
Figure 22

Remove the strut seal cover (green arrow) and depending on the struts youÂ've purchased remove and reuse the strut perch rubber insulator (yellow arrow) if your new struts have not come with them.

This photo illustrates the left side strut.
Figure 23

This photo illustrates the left side strut. Notice the broken spring (red arrow) here at the lower end of the spring. This is why you need to be prepared when you take something apart in case you find more broken components. This spring will need to be replaced and it is always better to replace both sides at the same time. Assembly is the reverse of the removal steps. Install lower rubber spring insulator, seal cover, dust cover/bump stop, spring upper strut mount, washer and tightening nut and torque to specifications. Finish by installing the strut assembly as explained earlier in this tech article.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Thom_29 Comments: Hi Nick, sorry for the repeated question, but is it necessary to remove the fuel filler hose or the evaporation tank for this procedure? On a 16 year old car, removing some parts might have a tragic end.
October 3, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The tank usually doesn't come out, but the hoses have to be detached to make room for the strut to come out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
GroundPilot43 Comments: 1996-2000 Bmw 528I -E39 Body;2001-2003 Bmw 530i-E39 Body;2001-2003 Bmw 525i-E39 Body - ALL Exclude Bmw 540i & M5 Models

For rear strut/shocks is this application correct. Thanks for your time.
July 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
SF540 Comments: Your DIY doesn't mention removal of the fuel filler hose or the evaporation tank on the other side. Do you find that the strut can be removed with those pieces left in place?
March 3, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's been a while. I don't recall the evap items requiring removal for the right strut. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:06:05 AM