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Rear Upper Control Arm Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Rear Upper Control Arm Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

****

Tools:

Flathead screwdriver, 18mm wrench, 18mm socket, 21mm wrench, 10mm wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

Parts Required:

Rear upper control arm

Hot Tip:

Replace bolts

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty control arm and prepare vehicle for alignment

Complementary Modification:

Replace in pairs

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

The rear control arm on BMW E53 models connects the lower rear subframe to the rear wheel bearing carrier. Both contact points on the control arm are made using rubber bushings. These rubber bushings wear out over time creating free-play in the rear suspension and at times a vibration and uneven tire wear. To inspect it, jack up the rear of your vehicle and push the top of your tire toward the inner control arm contact point. You may need help from a friend to watch the suspension components while you wiggle the wheel. The suspension should have zero free-play. If free-play is found in the control arm, replace it. The control arm is also a point of adjustment for the rear wheel alignment. Be sure to mark the eccentric washers before removing to help to get the suspension in a similar position to before your repair. When working with suspension components, fastener sizes may have changed due to aftermarket or replacement components being installed.

I am located in a salt belt area. This leads to the bolts becoming frozen in the bushings. When replacing any rear suspension component, I always order the nuts and bolts as well. If the bolts are frozen, I cut them out using a hacksaw at the bushing, then remove the control arm and the remaining bolt pieces.

The procedure to replace the rear 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.

In this tech article, I will go over how to replace the rear control arm on BMW E53 vehicles.

Raise and support the rear of vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle. You're going to want both wheels off the ground.

The rear control arm is the rear most upper rear control arm (red arrow) and covered in a plastic bracket.
Figure 1

The rear control arm is the rear most upper rear control arm (red arrow) and covered in a plastic bracket.

You are going to have to remove a few pieces of the trunk interior trim.
Figure 2

You are going to have to remove a few pieces of the trunk interior trim. Start by pulling out the center solid carpet (red arrow).

Working at the side trim panels, remove the plastic rivets (red arrow), lever center tab out using a trim panel tool.
Figure 3

Working at the side trim panels, remove the plastic rivets (red arrow), lever center tab out using a trim panel tool.

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor.
Figure 4

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor. Start by removing the 10mm nut at the panel junction.

Then move toward the front of the trunk are, at the seat back and remove the plastic rivets (red arrows), lever center tab out using a trim panel tool.
Figure 5

Then move toward the front of the trunk are, at the seat back and remove the plastic rivets (red arrows), lever center tab out using a trim panel tool.

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor.
Figure 6

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor. Start by removing the 10mm nuts (red arrows) at the rear corner of the trunk.

Then, open the storage compartment door and remove it (red arrow) from the vehicle.
Figure 7

Then, open the storage compartment door and remove it (red arrow) from the vehicle.

With the storage compartment door out of the way, lift and remove the rear most plastic bracket (red arrow).
Figure 8

With the storage compartment door out of the way, lift and remove the rear most plastic bracket (red arrow). Then remove the spare tire (yellow arrow) from the vehicle.

With the spare tire out of the way, lift and remove the front most plastic bracket (red arrow).
Figure 9

With the spare tire out of the way, lift and remove the front most plastic bracket (red arrow).

Once all brackets have been removed, you have access to the accumulator (yellow arrow).
Figure 10

Once all brackets have been removed, you have access to the accumulator (yellow arrow). Loosen the 10mm air line (red arrow) just enough to bleed the air from the system.

Working at the rear control arm, detach the ABS wheel speed sensor harness bracket (red arrow).
Figure 11

Working at the rear control arm, detach the ABS wheel speed sensor harness bracket (red arrow).

Start by unclipping the two covers (green arrows).
Figure 12

Start by unclipping the two covers (green arrows).

Then pull harness (red arrow) out of plastic mount.
Figure 13

Then pull harness (red arrow) out of plastic mount. Then remove do the same for the rear brake hose mount (green arrow). 

Next, working behind the rear shock (green arrow), remove the ABS wheel speed sensor from the mount (red arrow).
Figure 14

Next, working behind the rear shock (green arrow), remove the ABS wheel speed sensor from the mount (red arrow).

Loosen the 21mm nut (red arrow) while counter-holding the 10mm hex boss (green arrow) on the ball joint.
Figure 15

Loosen the 21mm nut (red arrow) while counter-holding the 10mm hex boss (green arrow) on the ball joint.

Working at the rear of the control arm, counterhold the 18mm nut (red arrow) while removing the 18mm bolt.
Figure 16

Working at the rear of the control arm, counterhold the 18mm nut (red arrow) while removing the 18mm bolt. Remove the mounting bolt from the control arm. You may need to lever it out using a prybar or large flathead screwdriver.

Next, remove the lower shock mount bolt.
Figure 17

Next, remove the lower shock mount bolt. Loosen the 21mm nut (red arrow) while counter-holding the 21mm nut (green arrow) on the shock side.

Then, lever the shock out just enough to make room to get the control arm out.
Figure 18

Then, lever the shock out just enough to make room to get the control arm out. I use a prybar (red arrow) and lever against the lower control arm.

Remove the control arm from the wheel carrier.
Figure 19

Remove the control arm from the wheel carrier. It will pull straight out (red arrow) as it is not interference fit. Install the new control arm into vehicle and install subframe fasteners finger tight. Then install fastener at connection to wheel bearing carrier and tighten. Load suspension to normal ride height using a floor jack and tighten subframe connection fastener. Have vehicle alignment checked if you had a tire wear problem. Control arm to subframe 100 Nm. Control arm to wheel bearing carrier 165 Nm.


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Comments and Suggestions:
Bill T Comments: Aughhh! It helps if you drain the right accumulator when replacing the right control arm. I drained the left side thinking it was for both air coils. The left side went much smoother. My apologies!
January 18, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No problem, I am glad to help. Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Bill T Comments: Thanks to PP for all their super helpful tech articles. Though I feel this one needs some correction. I followed all the procedures listed including bleeding the air from the accumulator. One slight correction - the picture in figure 18 shows the shock bolt still in as the shock is levered out with the pry bar. That's misleading. The shock bolt needs to come completely out to let the bearing carrier drop. Also, like Dan Z I had to use a block of wood on top of the bearing carrier and pry down on the body to get the subframe bushing to line up. This broke thru the undercoating and who knows what damage it may have done to the air spring, but by that time is was 11 o'clock on a Sunday and I needed the car to get to work the next day. Later I studied the air spring replacement procedure and it looks like removing the lower air spring retaining clip on the bearing carrier will let the carrier drop enough to easily line up the control arm bushing. I'll try that on the other side when the time comes.
January 10, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The bolt has been removed from the thread in fig 18, it is just sitting in the shock. Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Dan Z Comments: This was a huge help. I'll mention a few things that may help some others.
1. I have a 3.0i, so there's no air suspension, and no need to remove anything in the trunk. Major time savings!
2. The wiring harness did not fit properly back onto the Lemforder control arm I bought. The plastic guide pin at the back wasn't far enough back to line up, because the cutaway at the bearing side where the metal bolt drops in from the top didn't extend far enough. I have notified Bavarian Auto where I purchased it about the issue.
3. The hardest part of this job, by far, was lining up the subframe end of the arm and getting that bolt back in. In the end, it took 2 tricks. I had to extend the suspension by wedging a piece of lumber in the wheel well, forcing the hub down. Then, I stuck a small socket 8 or 9mm? into the nut end of the subframe/bushing, to get the holes closer the being aligned, and then had press down on the bushing/arm to get the bolt end hole close enough. Took me about 30-45mins to figure all that out. Maybe there's an easier way?
November 13, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: With the air shock or coil spring pressure relieved, it shouldn't be that difficult to line back up. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 02:44:51 AM