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Front Strut Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Strut Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Set of sockets 18mm, 22mm, 4mm Allen, wrench set21mm 22mm, spring compressor

Applicable Models:

X3 E83 (2004-06)
X3 E83 facelift (2007-10)

Parts Required:

Front strut, front spring, stabilizer link locking nuts

Hot Tip:

Replace stabilizer links also.

Performance Gain:

Great vehicle ride performance

Complementary Modification:

Install performance springs and struts

As you drive your car the suspension system goes over road irregularities such as potholes and bumps from pavement repair patches. Now the springs on your car support the weight of it and also absorb the shock of hitting bumps, but the coil spring wants to expand back to its normal size immediately after absorbing the shock. This causes the wheel to slam back into the ground. This bouncing around does not help keep the wheel in contact with the road or help with driver control. The job of the shock absorber or front strut is to slow down the spring expansion as it recoils. This is known as rebound dampening. Now the shock absorber does help with compression dampening as well but the main job is rebound dampening. When you shock absorber fails and no longer provides either compression or rebound dampening, you can feel the car continue to bounce up and down after hitting a bump. This is not a safe way to drive because after a series of bumps, the tire will not be in contact with the road surface. The whole idea of owning a BMW is the performance, reliability and handling. Now BMW uses what is called a coil-over shock absorber design. This means the spring and the shock absorber are integrated into one part, so if you want to replace the shock you will need to remove the springs. In this tech article we will go over all the steps to replace your shock absorbers also known as the front struts.

When they begin to wear, ride quality and vehicle handling suffers. You may notice your vehicle is not smooth over bumps or feels soft when cornering. This could be an indicator of worn struts. To check your struts, push down on the front corner of your vehicle, (the side you want to inspect the strut on). When you give the front corner one good push down, it should bounce up, then slightly down and stop. If it continues to bounce, the struts are worn out. You have the choice to replace your struts with a factory spec set or performance option. A performance set of struts can greatly increase the handling of your X3. You can also replace all four springs on your X3 with performance springs, giving it a slightly lower stance and stiffer handling. If you are nervous or do not have access to a high quality spring compressor, once you remove the front struts; take the strut to a professional to have the coil springs swapped over. You'll want to have your vehicle professionally aligned when the struts are replaced.

These fasteners are going to be tight and there may not be a lot of room to swing the wrench. You are going to have to be patient and use some force to remove fasteners and components to rebuild your front end. Corrosion may hold a component in even after you have loosened a fastener.

Remember your car may have been serviced before and parts 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. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Raise and support front of vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking your vehicle.

Remove front wheels.

The red arrow points to the right side front strut.
Figure 1

The red arrow points to the right side front strut. The procedure will highlight the right side of the vehicle, the left side is similar.

If the strut is covered in debris, start by brushing it off and cleaning the strut fastener threads (red arrow).
Figure 2

If the strut is covered in debris, start by brushing it off and cleaning the strut fastener threads (red arrow). Working at front strut, remove stabilizer link nut. You will have to counter-hold the 16mm hex boss while removing the 18mm nut. See our tech article on sway bar end link replacing for more information. Next, remove stabilizer link from front strut and lay aside.

Working at front strut, remove the wheel speed sensor and brake pad wear sensor wiring harnesses from the strut mount (red arrow).
Figure 3

Working at front strut, remove the wheel speed sensor and brake pad wear sensor wiring harnesses from the strut mount (red arrow).

Working at front strut, remove the brake hose mounting clip (red arrow).
Figure 4

Working at front strut, remove the brake hose mounting clip (red arrow). Unclip and pull the outside of the clip down to detach it from the strut and remove. Pull the brake hose out of the holder. It is held in by a rubber bushing and will pull straight out of holder.

Working at the front brake caliper, remove the two 18mm caliper bracket bolts (red arrows).
Figure 5

Working at the front brake caliper, remove the two 18mm caliper bracket bolts (red arrows). Remove the caliper and support it using a jack stand (inset). Do not let it hang by the brake hose

Next up, loosen the 18mm (blue arrow) and 16mm fastener shown (red arrow).
Figure 6

Next up, loosen the 18mm (blue arrow) and 16mm fastener shown (red arrow). Use a 16mm wrench to counter-hold the bolt while loosening the 18mm nut. Support the front rotor or control arm.

Use a small chisel to slightly open the mounting bore for the strut (red arrow).
Figure 7

Use a small chisel to slightly open the mounting bore for the strut (red arrow). Tap the chisel in until snug.

Pull the wheel bearing carrier (red arrow) away from the strut (blue arrow).
Figure 8

Pull the wheel bearing carrier (red arrow) away from the strut (blue arrow). Pull the strut out of the wheel bearing carrier.

Working at the strut tower, remove the three 13mm strut mounting nuts (blue arrows).
Figure 9

Working at the strut tower, remove the three 13mm strut mounting nuts (blue arrows). Note position of the locating pin (red arrow).

Then remove strut from vehicle.
Figure 10

Then remove strut from vehicle.

Once strut has been removed from vehicle, place in spring compressor.
Figure 11

Once strut has been removed from vehicle, place in spring compressor. The one shown is a wall mounted model. There are many versions available, follow directions that came with your spring compressor to compress spring and hold in compressed position. Remove 21mm nut from spring top by counter holding center shaft with a 4mm Allen bit and loosening the nut.

Remove the nut (red arrow) then the mount washer (green arrow).
Figure 12

Remove the nut (red arrow) then the mount washer (green arrow).

Once nut has been removed, transfer spring and parts over to new strut.
Figure 13

Once nut has been removed, transfer spring and parts over to new strut. Dust boot with bump stop (red arrow) and the dust boot.

This photo shows the strut parts in the order they are installed, starting with the rubber insulator (green arrow) ending with the nut (red arrow).
Figure 14

This photo shows the strut parts in the order they are installed, starting with the rubber insulator (green arrow) ending with the nut (red arrow). Once parts have been transferred over to new strut, install spring top nut and tighten. Then install strut in vehicle. Start by installing upper nuts and finger tighten. Then install strut into steering knuckle and install bolts finger tight. Align strut top as before and tighten upper fasteners. Then tighten strut bolts. Reassemble remaining items and have vehicle professionally aligned.

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Page last updated: Thu 6/29/2017 03:18:41 AM