In this tech
article, we will discuss replacement of the rear shocks and springs on the
BMW E36 3 Series. This article applies to the rear suspension on all 318, 325,
328, and M3 models from 1992-99, except for the 318ti which uses the rear
suspension setup off the earlier E30 models. Please check out my tech
article on replacing the rear suspension on the E30 if you have a 318ti.
first step in overhauling the rear suspension is to loosen the lugs on the
rear wheels while the vehicle is on the ground, but do not remove them. Just
get them loose and then snug them back up. Next jack up the rear of the car.
the vehicle is firmly supported by jack stands, remove the lugs and take the
wheels off. You will now see the shock/spring assembly. First, we will
remove the shock absorbers, and then remove the coil springs. To remove the
shock absorbers, first place a jack or jack stand under the rear trailing
arms. This will prevent the trailing arm from crashing down to the floor
when you remove the shock absorbers. Be careful not to place the jack stand
on any brake, or electrical connections. Also be sure to place it in a way
that it wonít slip off.
get inside the car and remove the rear speakers. This will give you the
clearance needed to access the upper shock mounts. Once the speakers are
out, remove the inner trunk liners. They are held in by a series of small
plastic clips. Simply pry them out and remove the liners.
look at the upper shock mounts. They are held in place by two 13mm nuts.
Remove these nuts and place them in a safe place. Now, get back under the
car and while holding the shock, remove the lower shock mounting bolt. The
shock absorber will now be free of the car, just slide it down to clear the
shock perch. Just repeat on the other side.
the shocks removed, we now can remove the coil springs. To do this, keep the
jack or jack stand under the trailing arm to keep it from crashing down.
Next, we will need to remove the driveshafts from the differential. We have
to do this in order to provide enough clearance for the trailing arms to
rotate downward and allow the coil spring to come out.
a good idea to spray the bolts securing the driveshafts to the differential
with a good penetrant spray about a day before removing them. Iíve found
that 3 in 1 oil works best on driveshaft bolts. Let it soak in for about a
day, then use a Torx socket to remove the 6 bolts on either side. Use a
zip-tie or rope to secure the driveshafts and keep them from hitting the
slowly lower the jack stands on either side of the car. This will case the
trailing arm to rotate downward. When they are lowered far enough you should
be able to reach in and pull the spring out of the car. You may find it
necessary to have a helper stand on the trailing arm to get it to rotate
fully down. Place the new springs in place of the old ones, making sure to
rotate the spring so it lines up with the grooves in both the top and bottom
of the retaining pads.
the trailing arms back up on either side and re-attach the driveshafts to
the differential. Itís a good idea to put a little bit of Loctite on the
threads to keep them from working out. To apply Loctite, you must clean all
the grease and grime off the bolts, and then wipe a small dab on one side of
Believe me, you
donít want a driveshaft coming loose. I forgot to put Loctite on the bolts
in my old Porsche 914, and they worked loose, eventually causing the bolts
to shear off. The driveshaft was thrown upward, ripped off the starter
motor, and put a 9 inch crack in the side of the transmission. Lots of money
to fix that one.
I should take this time to point out that certain cars had different
size driveshaft bolts. It will be either 8 or 10mm Torx. If you have the 8mm
bolts, torque them to 47 ft/lbs. With the 10mm bolts, torque to 62 ft/lbs.
the new coils installed, we now can install the new shocks. First, take the
new shock mounts and slide them over the shaft on the new shocks. Next place
the shocks in a vise and install the new self-locking nut that secures the
mount to the shock. You will want to transfer the washer on the old mount to
the new mounts. Tighten this nut to 10 ft/lbs. Next, have a helper get under
the car and slide the shock/mount up through the shock perch. Make sure that
the gasket is in place between the body and the mount. With the helper
holding the shock in place, install two new 13mm nuts to hold the mount in
place. Torque these nuts to 17 ft/lbs.
that the upper mount is in place, go back under the car and using a jack,
raise or lower the trailing arm assembly until the lower shock mounting hole
lines up with the threads in the trailing arm. Once lined up, install the
lower shock mount bolt, and torque to 57 ft/lbs.
done, remove the jack or jack stands from under the trailing arms and
re-install the wheels. Be sure to snug up the lug bolts. Now lower the car
and torque the lug bolts in a criss-cross pattern.
Well, there you have it - it's
really not too difficult at all. If you would like
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