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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:

Set of sockets, soft faced hammer

Applicable Models:

BMW Z4 Convertible (2003-06)
BMW Z4 Coupe (2006)

Parts Required:

Front control arm, control arm bushing

Hot Tip:

Wiggle the control arm side-to-side to test the bushings

Performance Gain:

Smoother, stiffer suspension

Complementary Modification:

Replace faulty control arm, ball joint and control arm bushing

BMW Z4 front suspension main components are as follows:

The front subframe provides a rigid platform for mounting the drive train (engine and transmission), steering rack and most front suspension components. The subframe design on rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models differs substantially.

Lower control arms on left and right, each with three attachment points:

  • Bushing at rear anchors control arm to car frame (rear-wheel drive) or subframe (all-wheel drive).
  • Ball joint at front attaches to subframe.
  • Ball joint at outer end attaches to steering knuckle.

Coil springs and shock absorbers in MacPherson strut configuration.

Stabilizer bar anchored at front subframe and attached via stabilizer links to struts.

The front control arm on the Z4 chassis has three common areas of trouble: The ball joint that connects to the steering knuckle, the ball joint that attaches to the subframe and the control arm bushing. Bushing failure can cause a number of ride quality problems. You may have a shudder when braking or a clunk when you hit a bump. When replacing your front control arm, I suggest replacing the bushing and both ball joints. Inspect your control arm bushing and ball joints for looseness by jacking up the front your vehicle and moving each 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.

In this tech article, we will go over the steps required in replacing the front control arm on your Z4M. Other Z4 models are similar.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been 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. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

The control arm has three areas of trouble: The ball joint that connects to steering knuckle, the ball joint that attaches to subframe (red arrows) and the control arm bushing (purple arrow).
Figure 1

The control arm has three areas of trouble: The ball joint that connects to steering knuckle, the ball joint that attaches to subframe (red arrows) and the control arm bushing (purple arrow). To begin, raise and support the front of the vehicle on jack stands. If you need help with this step, please refer to our Pelican Parts Technical Article on Jacking Up Your BMW Z4. Now remove the front wheel from the side of the vehicle you are replacing control arm on. Next, remove the lower splash shield and reinforcement plate. If you need help with this step, please refer to our Pelican Parts Technical Article on Removing the Splash Shield and Reinforcement Plate. If your vehicle is equipped with Xenon headlights, remove the Xenon headlight height sensor from the right control arm. See our tech article on headlight height sensor replacing.

Working at the rear of front control arm, remove the two 16mm control arm bushing fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 2

Working at the rear of front control arm, remove the two 16mm control arm bushing fasteners (red arrows). When installing, be sure to properly align the bushing to the body using the alignment tabs (purple arrow).

Next, working at the subframe, remove the inner ball joint 21mm nut (yellow arrow).
Figure 3

Next, working at the subframe, remove the inner ball joint 21mm nut (yellow arrow). Use a wrench (red arrow) and work over the tie rod boot (purple arrows). The nut should be fairly easy to break free.

Working at the steering knuckle, remove the 18mm ball joint nut (red arrow).
Figure 4

Working at the steering knuckle, remove the 18mm ball joint nut (red arrow).

Then separate the ball joint from the steering knuckle using a pickle fork or a swift blow from a hammer.
Figure 5

Then separate the ball joint from the steering knuckle using a pickle fork or a swift blow from a hammer.

Knock the ball joint out of the subframe using a hammer.
Figure 6

Knock the ball joint out of the subframe using a hammer. To do this, hit the control arm in the area of the ball joint (red arrow). Since you are replacing the control arm, it does not matter if you mar it.

Then remove the control arm from the vehicle (red arrow).
Figure 7

Then remove the control arm from the vehicle (red arrow).

When installing the new control arm; first, install the subframe ball joint nut finger tight.
Figure 8

When installing the new control arm; first, install the subframe ball joint nut finger tight. Then install the ball joint at the steering knuckle. When tightening the subframe ball joint, it may be necessary to place a jack under the ball joint to stop the stud from rotating. Next tighten the steering knuckle ball joint nut. Apply a liberal amount of tire lube or dish soap to the inside of the bushing. Then tap the bushing onto the control arm using a soft-faced hammer. Install the bushing fasteners and tighten. Install the Xenon light height sensor. Install the splash shield and reinforcement place and double check your work. If you have uneven tire wear, have your vehicle professionally aligned.

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 03:01:56 AM