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Front Control Arm Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Control Arm Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets (10mm, 21mm), floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, lug wrench, 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)
BMW M5 Sedan (2006-10)

Parts Required:

Front control arm, self-locking nuts for ball joints

Hot Tip:

Always tighten control arm bushing end with suspension at loaded position

Performance Gain:

Replace faulty control arm

Complementary Modification:

Inspect with each oil change

BMW E60 front suspension components are primarily made of aluminum alloy, thus reducing weight and helping improve fuel-efficiency. The suspension features a double-pivot design with dual lower control arms and a MacPherson strut. The front lower control arm is often called the tension strut. The steering knuckle is attached to the control arms using a pair of ball joints. The inboard end of each control arm attaches to the front subframe using a bushing. The rear control arm bushing is a conventional bushing. The front control arm (tension strut) inner bushing is hydraulic. 

With age and use, each end of each control arm may become worn and loose. Check ball joints and bushings for looseness by jacking the front of your vehicle and moving the wheel side to side. If you feel looseness at any of the attachment points, this indicates a problem. You may need help from a friend to watch the control arm components while you wiggle the wheel. The bushing(s) can dry rot and wear out. If you see or feel signs of wear in a bushing, replace it. A bad bushing may also give you a vibration in the front end.

BMW recommends that the inner tension strut bushing may be replaced only once. If it wears out again, replace the complete control arm. In this article I will show you how to remove the rear control arm. The front control arm (tension strut) is covered in another tech article.

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. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.


Raise and support the front of the vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle. You are going to want both wheels off the ground.

Remove the front wheel from the side of the vehicle you are replacing the control arm on.

Remove the engine splash shields and reinforcement plate. See our tech article on engine splash shield removing. 


The front control arm is the rear-most lower front suspension link (yellow arrow).
Figure 1

The front control arm is the rear-most lower front suspension link (yellow arrow).

If your vehicle is equipped with Xenon headlights, remove the Xenon headlight height sensor from the control arm.
Figure 2

If your vehicle is equipped with Xenon headlights, remove the Xenon headlight height sensor from the control arm.

To remove the height sensor, remove the 10mm boss (green arrow) while loosening the 10mm nut (yellow arrow).
Figure 3

To remove the height sensor, remove the 10mm boss (green arrow) while loosening the 10mm nut (yellow arrow).

Working at the steering knuckle, remove the 24mm ball joint nut.
Figure 4

Working at the steering knuckle, remove the 24mm ball joint nut. While loosening, the pressure is relieved from the connection. The ball joint may spin when you try to remove the nut. If this happens, place a jack under the ball joint and apply only enough pressure to remove the nut. Use a ball joint separating tool or a pickle fork to separate the ball joint from the steering knuckle. Remove the ball joint from the steering knuckle by pulling it straight down. 

Next, working at the subframe, remove the control arm 18mm fastener.
Figure 5

Next, working at the subframe, remove the control arm 18mm fastener. Counterhold the bolt (green arrow) while loosening the nut (yellow arrow).

Remove the control arm bolt with bracket for the height sensor and lay it aside (inset).
Figure 6

 Remove the control arm bolt with bracket for the height sensor and lay it aside (inset). Lever the bushing out of the subframe using a prybar. Then remove the control arm from the vehicle. When installing the new control arm, first, install the bushing into the subframe. Then install the ball joint nut finger tight. Replace both of the self-locking nuts. When tightening the ball joint, it may be necessary to place a jack under the ball joint to stop the stud from rotating, like earlier when you removed it. Next, tighten the steering knuckle ball joint nut. Tighten the bushing fasteners. You will want your suspension in the loaded position when you tighten it. The loaded position is the angle of the control arm when the wheels are on the ground. You can do this by lowering your vehicle onto ramps or blocks. Install the Xenon light height sensor. Install the splash shield and double check your work. If you have uneven tire wear, have your vehicle professionally aligned.



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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:40:47 AM