this continuing series of tech articles for the E36 3 Series, I will focus
on replacing the rear sway bar drop links. This is a relatively easy
procedure and should take no more than a few hours with a decent set of
tools. Keep in mind that this article is not specific to any car, however
the procedures and practices within are for all models from 1992-99. Keep in
mind that this article does not apply to the M3 or the 318ti, as they have a
different rear suspension design than other models.
time, heat, flex and dirt cause the sway bar drop links to wear out, causing
unpredictable handling and possibly a dangerous situation while driving.
With most of the E36 models reaching over 100K on the clock, itís probably
a good bet that the bushings in the drop links have seen better days. Have
you noticed a perpetual squeak coming from the wheels as you go over bumps?
Have you also noticed a weird ďkick-backĒ feeling when you turn left or
right? Chances are, the drop links are worn and need replacement.
drop links are designed to be replaced as a whole unit, rather than the
individual bushings. While the bushings are available separately, I highly
recommend just replacing the whole link. To replace merely the bushings, you
will need access to a hydraulic press, which most of us donít own.
letís jack the car up. First, chock the front wheels to keep them from
rolling while you have the rear wheels jacked up. Next, loosen (but do not
remove) the rear lug bolts. Now, use a floor jack and jack up the rear of
the car. Be sure to jack the car up on a re-inforced part of the body, such
as a crossmember or chassis beam. Be sure not to jack the car up on any
other part, as you could put a hole right through the bottom of the car. I
have seen Porsches in the past where jacks have punctured the floorboards. A
handy reference is Wayneís article on jacking up your BMW.
the car is firmly secured on jack stands, the next step is to remove the lug
bolts on the rear wheels and take the wheels off. Once the wheels have been
removed, look at the inside of the wheel hub. Follow the control arms until
you have located the suspension drop links. They will be connected to the
upper control arms near the spring perches.
located, place the jack under the control arm and jack the wheel hub
assembly until it is as close to ride height as possible. We need to do this
in order to take the torsional load off the sway bar. Once you are near
level road height, Loosen and remove the nut the secures the drop link to
the sway bar. Do not pull the link off the bar just yet. Next, loosen the
nut on the top of the control arm that secures the drop link in place. Once
removed, you should be able to simply pull the old drop link out through the
bottom of the control arm and off the end of the sway bar. If you feel any
resistance or dragging while taking off the drop link, STOP, go back and
check to see where the link is hanging up. Keep in mind that the link is
under some pressure and you donít want it flying anywhere in your general
direction if the link is under tension.
this procedure for the other side. Once you have both drop links free of the
car, remove the mounting brackets off the top of each old link. Use an
open-end wrench to hold the bolt while you remove the nut on the other side.
Once removed, transfer the brackets to the new drop links, slide the bolt
through and thread the nut on (but do not tighten yet)
sure that the ride height is level on each side of the car and first install
the new links onto the sway bar. Thread on the nut securing it in place but
do not tighten it yet. We just need to secure the link and keep it from
falling off the sway bar. Next, work the drop link into place at the top of
the control arm. Once it is through the control arms, thread the nut on at
the top and torque it to 30 ft./lbs. next, tighten the mounting bracket to
the drop link. Use an open Ėend wrench to hold the bolt as you torque the
nut to 30 ft./lbs. Now torque
the nut securing the link to the sway bar to 30 ft./lbs. Remove the jack
holding each axle level.
re-mount the wheels and snug up the lug bolts, (but do not tighten just yet)
now jack the car up on each side and remove the jack stands underneath.
Next, lower the car and tighten the lug bolts while the car is on the
Well, there you have it - it's
really not too difficult at all. If you would like
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