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Front Tension Strut and Bushing Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Tension Strut and Bushing Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

****

Tools:

Set of sockets (18mm, 21mm)

Applicable Models:

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

Parts Required:

Front tension strut, tension strut bushing, front tension strut, self-locking nuts

Hot Tip:

Always tighten bushing with suspension at loaded position

Performance Gain:

Replace faulty tension strut, ball joint and control arm bushing

Complementary Modification:

Replace front ball joint

As you drive your car your suspension systems absorb the shock from 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 tension strut has two areas of trouble; the ball joint that connects to the steering knuckle (it is bolted to the steering knuckle, not part of the tension strut) and the tension strut bushing. When replacing your front tension strut, I suggest replacing the bushing every time. Keep in mind, the bushings have to be replaced in pairs. Inspect your control arm or ball joints for looseness by jacking the front of 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 leak hydraulic fluid, if you see signs of fluid leak from a bushing, replace, (always replace bushings in pairs). A bad bushing may also give you a brake shake when you first apply the brakes at cruising speed, or a knocking sound.

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.

In this tech article, I will show you how to remove the tension strut and replace it as a unit. I will also show you what is involved in pressing the bushing in and out.

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 tension strut on.

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

The front tension strut (blue arrow) connects to the steering knuckle via a ball joint and to the sub-frame vie a bushing (red arrow).
Figure 1

The front tension strut (blue arrow) connects to the steering knuckle via a ball joint and to the sub-frame vie a bushing (red arrow). The ball joint stay attached to the wheel bearing carrier when the tension strut is removed. If you need to replace the ball joint, see our tech article on front ball joint replacing.

Working at steering knuckle, remove 22mm ball joint nut (blue arrow).
Figure 2

Working at steering knuckle, remove 22mm ball joint nut (blue arrow). You can also remove the E12 ball joint fasteners (red arrows) to get the tension strut down. In my area these are usually rusty, so we leave them be unless you have to remove them.

Once the nut is broken free, remove the nut still (red arrow) while counter-holding the ball joint using a T40 Torx bit (blue arrow).
Figure 3

Once the nut is broken free, remove the nut still (red arrow) while counter-holding the ball joint using a T40 Torx bit (blue arrow). Remove the nut and discard it, it is self-locking and has to be replaced. Remove ball joint from steering knuckle by pulling it straight down.

Next, working at subframe, remove control arm 21mm fasteners.
Figure 4

Next, working at subframe, remove control arm 21mm fasteners. Loosen the bolt (red arrow) while counter-holding the nut (blue arrow).

Pull the tension strut down and away from the subframe to remove.
Figure 5

Pull the tension strut down and away from the subframe to remove. Then remove tension strut from vehicle. To replace bushing (red arrow), use a press tool or shop press to remove and install bushing. You can also replace the bushing with the tension strut still installed. However, this takes a special hydraulic bushing replacing tool. To do it that way, remove the bushing fasteners, then pull the tension strut down far enough to access the bushing. Follow the instructions that came with your tool to replace the bushing. The shop press is more readily available, I will show you that technique.

Mark the old bushing and the tension strut to help with installing the new bushing.
Figure 6

Mark the old bushing and the tension strut to help with installing the new bushing. Transfer your mark over to the new bushing. Be sure to align mark on bushing to mark on tension strut when installing. Use a shop press (red arrow) with the correct adapters (yellow arrows) to press the bushing out and into the tension strut (green arrow). When installing new tension strut; first, install bushing into sub-frame, then ball joint nut finger tight. Replace both self-locking nuts. 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: Thu 11/23/2017 03:14:03 AM