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Front Control Arm Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Control Arm Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

***

Tools:

Sockets and wrenches (10mm, 16mm, 18mm, 22mm)

Applicable Models:

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

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

As you drive your car your suspension systems absorb the shock from the bumps in the road. The strut absorbs the up and down motion of the suspension system. The front suspension has a front tension strut and a control arm. Each helping to maintain a straight track down the road as the suspension moves up and down due to road surface changes.

The control arm has two areas of trouble; the ball joint that connects to the steering knuckle and the control arm bushing. Inspect your control arm or ball joints for looseness by jacking the front your vehicle and moving the wheel side to side. If you feel looseness in 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 can dry rot and wear out, if you see or feel signs of wear in the bushing, replace it. A bad bushing may also give you a vibration in the front end.

The procedure to replace the front control arm is the same for both the left and right side. Keep in mind all the steps apply to both sides. It is recommended you replace both sides at the same time to keep your handling neutral.

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 the front of vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking your vehicle. You're going to want both wheels off the ground.

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

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

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

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

If your vehicle is equipped with Xenon headlights, remove Xenon headlight height sensor from control arm. Usually located on the right side, held on by a 10mm fastener and a clamp. Counter-hold the sensor arm (red arrow) while removing the 10mm nut (blue arrow).

Working at steering knuckle, remove 22mm ball joint nut (red arrow).
Figure 3

Working at steering knuckle, remove 22mm ball joint nut (red arrow).

Next, working at subframe, remove control arm fastener.
Figure 4

Next, working at subframe, remove control arm fastener. Counter-hold the 16mm bolt (red arrow) while loosening the 18mm nut (blue arrow).

Remove the sensor (red arrow) from the control arm bolt.
Figure 5

Remove the sensor (red arrow) from the control arm bolt. Lay it aside.

The ball joints on E53 models are interference fit.
Figure 6

The ball joints on E53 models are interference fit. You need a pickle fork or a swift blow from a hammer to remove them. I like to use a hammer (red arrow) and strike the spindle, this usually break the connection free. At times the nut on the ball joint may become stuck or spin the ball joint shaft. 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 nut.

Lever bushing out of subframe using a prybar.
Figure 7

Lever bushing out of subframe using a prybar. Then remove control arm from vehicle. Remove ball joint from steering knuckle by pulling it down (red arrow). Once out, you can replace the bushing. Measure the insertion depth of each side of the bushing (blue arrows), then press old bushing out and new bushing in using a shop press. When installing new control arm; first, install bushing into subframe, then ball joint nut finger tight. Replace both self-locking nuts. When tightening ball joint, it may be necessary to place a jack under ball joint to stop stud from rotating; like earlier when removing. Next, tighten steering knuckle ball joint nut. Tighten bushing fasteners, you will want your suspension in the loaded position when you tighten it. Loaded position is angle of control arm when wheels are on the ground. You can do this by lowering your vehicle onto ramps or blocks. If you have uneven tire wear, have your vehicle professionally aligned.


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Page last updated: Tue 11/21/2017 03:14:57 AM