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Rear Ball Joint Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Rear Ball Joint Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$200

Talent:

****

Tools:

18mm, 21mm, 24mm, flat-jaw snap-ring pliers, flathead screwdriver, chisel, hammer, prybar, large vise grips, ball joint tool, floor jack, two jack stands, two wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 528i xDrive Sedan (2009-10)
BMW 528i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 530i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 530xi Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535i xDrive Sedan/Wagon (2009-10)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)
BMW 545i Sedan (2004-05)
BMW 550i Sedan (2006-10)

Parts Required:

Rear wheel bearing carrier ball joint

Hot Tip:

Read article before beginning

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty ball joint and prepare vehicle for alignment

Complementary Modification:

Replace rear control arms

BMW E60 rear suspension components are primarily made of aluminum alloy, thus reducing weight and helping improve fuel-efficiency. Rear wheel bearing carriers are suspended to the rear subframe using three control arms (or links): 2 uppers and one lower. The lower arm, called the swing arm, is a broad, sturdy component, which is attached to the wheel bearing carrier via an integral link at front and a ball joint at rear.

The springs and shock absorbers on sedan and sports wagon differ. Sedan models are equipped with conventional coil springs and shock absorbers combined in strut assemblies. The sports wagon is designed with a flat floor in the cargo compartment. To achieve this, the sports wagon rear suspension is equipped with compact air springs and shock absorbers. In addition to space-saving, air springs, height is electronically controlled, allowing the rear of the wagon to stay at a relatively stable height regardless of the load. This maintains constant suspension geometry and adds stability. This self-leveling suspension is referred to as electronic height control or EHC.

The rear swing arm ball joint wears out over time and creates free play in the rear suspension. This free play results in poor handling and tire wear. You can check the ball joint free play by wiggling the rear wheel. Grab at the bottom of the tire and push the tire in and out. If free play is felt, have someone place a hand on the ball joint and repeat. Replace the ball joint if movement is present. I am going to show you the way I replace these ball joints. It is quick and saves some disassembly. However, if you want to remove the lower control arm, to make room for yourself to work, I will show what is needed to do that as well.

Always replace these ball joints in pairs, driver and passenger side.

In this tech article, I will go over how to replace the rear wheel bearing carrier ball joint on BMW E60 vehicles.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been 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.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Lift and support the rear of your vehicle. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

The rear ball joint is located in the wheel-bearing carrier, held in by a snap ring (red arrow).
Figure 1

The rear ball joint is located in the wheel-bearing carrier, held in by a snap ring (red arrow).

Start by removing the main bolt for the lower control arm.
Figure 2

Start by removing the main bolt for the lower control arm. Loosen the 18mm nut (green arrow) while counter holding the 24mm bolt (red arrow).

Loosen the nut so there is about a 20mm gap between it and the control arm.
Figure 3

Loosen the nut so there is about a 20mm gap between it and the control arm.

Then lightly tap it using a soft-faced hammer to begin to move the bolt out of the control arm.
Figure 4

Then lightly tap it using a soft-faced hammer to begin to move the bolt out of the control arm.

remove the lower control arm bolt.
Figure 5

remove the lower control arm bolt. If stuck, use a pry bar to lever the wheel-bearing carrier, releasing the tension on the bolt. Then slide the bolt out.

Now move to the front of the control arm.
Figure 6

Now move to the front of the control arm. Loosen the 18mm integral link bolt (red arrow).

Support the integral link from below.
Figure 7

Support the integral link from below. Then remove the integral link bolt.

Now it's time for the short cut.
Figure 8

Now it's time for the short cut. I will show you what to remove later, if you want to get the lower control arm out of your way. Use a large pry bar and lever the lower control arm down. Have an assistant hold the control arm in place.

While holding the control arm down, align the rear ear of the control arm with the ball joint bore (green arrow).
Figure 9

While holding the control arm down, align the rear ear of the control arm with the ball joint bore (green arrow). Slowly release the control arm until it rests on the wheel-bearing carrier, just below the ball joint (red arrow).

This photo shows the alignment of the control arm and wheel-bearing carrier from below.
Figure 10

This photo shows the alignment of the control arm and wheel-bearing carrier from below. Note how the control arm rests on the carrier.

Using a large pair of vise grips, clamp the lower control arm right below the wheel-bearing carrier.
Figure 11

Using a large pair of vise grips, clamp the lower control arm right below the wheel-bearing carrier. This gives a little support to the control arm, helping to prevent it from coming undone. Now keep in mind, this is not the factory method. It is a time saving method passed onto me by an old timer BMW mechanic. The control arm is under tension when in this position. If you work roughly with the ball joint, it could come loose. Be careful when using this method, if it doesn't seem like it is for you, see the following steps to get the control arm out of the vehicle. If you want to use the short cut method, skip the steps noted with removing the control arm.

Control arm removing: Starting at the sway bar end link, remove the 18mm nut (red arrow).
Figure 12

Control arm removing: Starting at the sway bar end link, remove the 18mm nut (red arrow).

Control arm removing: Next, move to the rear most control arm mounting bolt.
Figure 13

Control arm removing: Next, move to the rear most control arm mounting bolt. Mark the eccentric washer. Marking the washer (red arrow) allows you to get the rear wheel alignment as close as it was before removing. You will need an alignment when done, but this helps when transporting the vehicle.

Control arm removing: Now you can remove the rear most control arm bolt.
Figure 14

Control arm removing: Now you can remove the rear most control arm bolt. Counterhold the 18mm bolt while removing the 21mm nut. Then remove the bolt with the eccentric washers.

Control arm removing: Now you can remove the forward most control arm fastener.
Figure 15

Control arm removing: Now you can remove the forward most control arm fastener. Counterhold the 18mm bolt while removing the 18mm nut. Then remove the bolt from the control arm. While removing the bolt, support the control arm. Then remove the control arm from the vehicle.

With the control arm supported, remove the integral link from the lower control arm.
Figure 16

With the control arm supported, remove the integral link from the lower control arm.

Using a chisel and a hammer, lightly tap the ball joint snap ring to break it free.
Figure 17

Using a chisel and a hammer, lightly tap the ball joint snap ring to break it free.

Using flat-jawed snap ring pliers, remove the snap ring from the ball joint.
Figure 18

Using flat-jawed snap ring pliers, remove the snap ring from the ball joint.

This photo shows the snap ring being removed.
Figure 19

This photo shows the snap ring being removed.

This photo shows the BMW factory ball joint tool.
Figure 20

This photo shows the BMW factory ball joint tool. There are many aftermarket options available. I will show you how to remove the ball joint using this tool. Other tools will be similar. Follow the instructions that came along with your tool.

Install the ball joint tool onto the wheel-bearing carrier in the removal configuration.
Figure 21

Install the ball joint tool onto the wheel-bearing carrier in the removal configuration.

Using the ball joint tool, remove the ball joint from the wheel bearing carrier.
Figure 22

Using the ball joint tool, remove the ball joint from the wheel bearing carrier.

Once the ball joint clears the mounting bore, remove the ball joint with the tool.
Figure 23

Once the ball joint clears the mounting bore, remove the ball joint with the tool.

Thoroughly clean the ball joint mounting bore (red arrow).
Figure 24

Thoroughly clean the ball joint mounting bore (red arrow).

Remove the old ball joint from the tool.
Figure 25

Remove the old ball joint from the tool.

Install the new ball joint into the mounting bore so the retaining lip (red arrow) faces the front of the vehicle.
Figure 26

Install the new ball joint into the mounting bore so the retaining lip (red arrow) faces the front of the vehicle.

Then press the new ball joint into the wheel bearing carrier until it stops.
Figure 27

Then press the new ball joint into the wheel bearing carrier until it stops.

Install the new snap ring.
Figure 28

Install the new snap ring. Be sure it is properly seated in the groove in the ball joint.

Install the integral link and install the mounting bolt finger tight.
Figure 29

Install the integral link and install the mounting bolt finger tight. Raise the rear swing arm into place. Install the rear swing arm and tighten the fasteners. Then repeat the steps for the opposite side of the vehicle. Have the vehicle professionally aligned. The integral link to the wheel-bearing carrier needs to be torqued to 100 Nm. Torque the lower control arm bolt to 240 Nm.


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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:43:14 AM