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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 (18mm, 22mm), floor jack, two jack stands, two wheel chocks, torque wrench, safety glasses, lug wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

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 you suspension systems absorbs 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 helps 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 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 front of vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle. You're 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.

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 the Xenon headlight height sensor from the control arm. Usually located on the right side, it's held on by a 10mm fastener and a clamp.

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

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

Next, working at the subframe, remove the control arm 18mm fastener.
Figure 3

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

The ball joints on E53 models are an interference fit.
Figure 4

The ball joints on E53 models are an 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 breaks 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 the nut. Remove the ball joint from the steering knuckle by pulling it straight down.

Lever the bushing out of the subframe using a pry bar.
Figure 5

Lever the bushing out of the subframe using a pry bar. Then remove the control arm from the vehicle. When installing a new control arm, first, install the bushing into the subframe. Then tighten 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 removing.
Figure 6

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 removing. Next tighten the steering knuckle ball joint nut. When tightening the bushing fasteners, you will want your suspension in the loaded position. 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. If you have uneven tire wear, have your vehicle professionally aligned.

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Page last updated: Sat 10/21/2017 02:46:43 AM