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BMW E39 Rear Lower Control Arm Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E39 Rear Lower Control Arm Replacement

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

***

Tools:

24mm, 18mm, 16mm wrench and socket with ratchets, external slip rig pliers, press tool

Applicable Models:

BMW E39 5-Series (1997-03)

Parts Required:

Lower control arm, lower ball joint

Hot Tip:

You do not need to remove the upper links to perform this job

Performance Gain:

Correct alignment issues and uneven tire wear

Complementary Modification:

Replace sway bar links

BMW suspension systems give the car the handling of a performance sport car lefts have come to enjoy over the years. As the cars are driven suspension components will wear. On the spindle between the outer mounting points of the lower control arm is a ball joint that allows the suspension to deviate during suspension travel. This keeps the wheel in the correct position during cornering and improves the driving experience. This ball-joint can wear out and can be serviced separately. Also the lower control arm can be removed and replaced if and off-road excursion has bent the aluminum component. In this tech article we will go over steps by step instructions to replace both the ball-joint and lower control arm.

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

The procedure for removing the rear lower control arm 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.

To remove the lower control arms you are also going to have to remove the lower swaybar links. Follow the steps in our tech article on removing the lower swaybar links from the lower control arm.

Replacing Rear Lower Control Arm:
Working at the back of the right side spindle use an 18mm wrench or socket to secure the lower control arm outer mounting bolt.
Figure 1

Working at the back of the right side spindle use an 18mm wrench or socket to secure the lower control arm outer mounting bolt.

Working at the front of the lower control arm remove the 24mm nut with a socket and ratchet or wrench.
Figure 2

Working at the front of the lower control arm remove the 24mm nut with a socket and ratchet or wrench.

Back at the rear of the control arm remove the outer mounting bolt (green arrow) by moving it in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 3

Back at the rear of the control arm remove the outer mounting bolt (green arrow) by moving it in the direction of the blue arrow.

Working at the front of the lower control arm remove the 16mm mounting bolt that secures the lower control arm link to the spindle.
Figure 4

Working at the front of the lower control arm remove the 16mm mounting bolt that secures the lower control arm link to the spindle.

This photo illustrates underneath the car looking at the right side spindle where the lower control arm was mounted.
Figure 5

This photo illustrates underneath the car looking at the right side spindle where the lower control arm was mounted. Drop the lower control arm out of the way to access the lower spindle area. Move the lower ball joint spacer (green arrow) in the direction of the blue arrow.

This is the lower ball-joint mounted in the spindle on the right side.
Figure 6

This is the lower ball-joint mounted in the spindle on the right side. This part can be replaced separately.

On the backside of the ball-joint remove the snap-ring clip (green arrow) with external snap ring pliers.
Figure 7

On the backside of the ball-joint remove the snap-ring clip (green arrow) with external snap ring pliers.

You should use a small flat head screwdriver to help lever off the snap-ring if necessary.
Figure 8

You should use a small flat head screwdriver to help lever off the snap-ring if necessary. This clip may be difficult to remove but unless you have a new one try not to break it.

Use a ball-joint press to press out the lower ball-joint in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 9

Use a ball-joint press to press out the lower ball-joint in the direction of the blue arrow. This is why you need to remove the snap-ring first. If you are only servicing the lower ball joint You can use a ball-joint press to press in the new lower ball joint, install the spacer and fit the lower control arm to the lower part of the spindle and tighten the mounting bolt and nut. If you are going to remove the control arm continue with the following steps.

This photo illustrates the rear mounting point of the lower control arm to the rear sub-frame, Use two 18mm wrenches or sockets (one on each side) hold both the nut and bolt of the mount to loosen and remove the fasteners.
Figure 10

This photo illustrates the rear mounting point of the lower control arm to the rear sub-frame, Use two 18mm wrenches or sockets (one on each side) hold both the nut and bolt of the mount to loosen and remove the fasteners.

Mark the washer (green arrow) of this mounting fasteners to the sub-frame.
Figure 11

Mark the washer (green arrow) of this mounting fasteners to the sub-frame. This is an eccentric washer. Notice the offset of the mounting bolt. It is not in the center of the washer. As you rotate the eccentric washer the lower control arm moves in and out a few millimeter. This changes the wheel alignment so you want to make a mark to line it up in the same position during installation. You could also just take your car in for a four wheel alignment.

Here we are at the front lower control arm mount to the sub-frame.
Figure 12

Here we are at the front lower control arm mount to the sub-frame. Use a single 16mm wrench to remove the mounting bolt.

Behind this part of the control arm and sub-frame is a threaded mounting with a tang on it.
Figure 13

Behind this part of the control arm and sub-frame is a threaded mounting with a tang on it. Since there is little to no space to put a wrench the can be held in place with your fingers while you thread in the mounting bolt during assembly.

With all of the mounting bolts removed pull the entire lower control arm away from the car.
Figure 14

With all of the mounting bolts removed pull the entire lower control arm away from the car. The installation procedure is the reverse of the removal procedures. Fit the lower control arm mounting points in the sub-frame and install the mounting bolts and tighten. Fit the lower control arm to the spindle, install the mounting bolts then tighten them to specifications. You will probably have to take the vehicle for a four wheel alignment.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Heygar Comments: I recently purchased front and rear suspension parts for my 2002 BMW 530i. When I removed the rear guide or thrust arm link from the wheel carrier to the sub-frame, I discovered the end of the bolts and the nuts and eccentric washers were gone! I am installing the new guide arms with the eccentric bolt and washer. As these parts where missing, I have no visual. I assume the bolt goes through the guide arm bushing in place in the sub-frame toward the front of the vehicle and the eccentric washer and flange nut mount to the bolt on the outside of the sub-frame mount. Am I correct and should the washer be in a certain position before torquing to spec under normal suspension load? Thanks.
October 25, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Suspension should be loaded. The bolt head is toward the front and the threads toward the rear. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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