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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, floor jack, two jack stands, two wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

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. The shock absorber does help with compression dampening as well but the main job is rebound dampening. When your shock absorber fails to no longer provides either compression or rebound dampening, you can feel the car continue to bounce up and down after you hit a bump. This is not a safe way to drive because over 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. 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 you 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. A performance set of struts can greatly increase the handling of your X5. You can also replace all four springs on your X5 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 the front of the vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

Remove the front wheels.

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

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

Working at the front strut, remove the brake hose mounting clip (red arrow).
Figure 2

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

Lift the outside of the clip up to detach it from the strut and remove it.
Figure 3

Lift the outside of the clip up to detach it from the strut and remove it.

Pull the brake hose out of the holder.
Figure 4

Pull the brake hose out of the holder. It is held in by a rubber bushing (red arrow) and will pull straight out of the holder.

Working at the front strut, remove the stabilizer link nut (red arrow).
Figure 5

Working at the front strut, remove the stabilizer link nut (red arrow). You will have to counterhold the 18mm hex boss while removing the 18mm nut. See our tech article on sway bar end link replacing for more information.

Next, remove the stabilizer link from the front strut and lay it aside.
Figure 6

Next, remove the stabilizer link from the front strut and lay it aside.

The brake hose (red arrow) has enough slack now for when you have to move the wheel-bearing carrier away from the vehicle.
Figure 7

The brake hose (red arrow) has enough slack now for when you have to move the wheel-bearing carrier away from the vehicle. If you need more slack, remove the brake caliper. Unbolt and remove the brake caliper. Suspend it from the vehicle using stiff wire. Do not allow it to hang from the brake hose. See our tech article on brake caliper replacing. Once we remove a few more wires, we will remove the two 22mm strut fasteners (green arrows).

Remove the ABS and brake sensor wiring from the mounts at the strut (red arrows).
Figure 8

Remove the ABS and brake sensor wiring from the mounts at the strut (red arrows). Pull them straight out to remove them.

Next up, loosen the the two 22mm strut fasteners.
Figure 9

Next up, loosen the the two 22mm strut fasteners. The top fastener is shown. Use a 22m wrench (green arrow) to counterhold the nut while loosening the 22m bolt (red arrow).

Support the front rotor or control arm.
Figure 10

Support the front rotor or control arm. Then remove the strut fasteners.

Use a small pry bar to lever the wheel-bearing carrier away from the strut.
Figure 11

Use a small pry bar to lever the wheel-bearing carrier away from the strut.

Working at the strut tower, remove the three 13mm strut mounting nuts (red arrows).
Figure 12

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

Then remove the strut from the vehicle (red arrow).
Figure 13

Then remove the strut from the vehicle (red arrow).

This photo shows the strut removed from the vehicle.
Figure 14

This photo shows the strut removed from the vehicle.

Once the strut has been removed from the vehicle, place it in the spring compressor.
Figure 15

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

Remove the nut (red arrow) and then the mount washer (green arrow).
Figure 16

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

Once the nut has been removed, transfer the spring and parts over to the new strut.
Figure 17

Once the nut has been removed, transfer the spring and parts over to the new strut. Make sure to install the 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) and ending with the nut (red arrow).
Figure 18

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

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:43:22 AM