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Rear Upper Ball Joint Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Rear Upper Ball Joint Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$100

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Set of sockets, soft-faced hammer, ball joint press tool

Applicable Models:

BMW Z4 Convertible (2003-08)
BMW Z4 Coupe (2006-08)

Parts Required:

Ball joint

Hot Tip:

Replace in pairs

Performance Gain:

Replace faulty rear upper ball joint

Complementary Modification:

Replace rear bushing for wheel bearing carrier

The BMW Z4 rear suspension consists of the following components:

Rear subframe. The differential is bolted to the subframe and the upper and lower control arms are anchored to it.

Trailing arm on each side. The front of the arm is bolted to the body using a bushing and a bracket. The rear wheel bearing is pressed into the rear of the trailing arm.

Upper control arm on each side. The inner end of the upper control arm is bolted to the rear subframe. The outer end is attached to the trailing arm above the wheel bearing opening. A modified bushing (referred to as the rear ball joint) is used at the control arm-to trailing arm attachment point.

Lower control arm on each side. The inner end of the lower control arm is bolted to the rear subframe. The outer end is attached to the trailing below the wheel bearing opening using an eccentric bolt through a rubber bushing or ball joint. The eccentric bolt is used to set rear wheel camber.

Stabilizer bar anchored at the rear subframe and attached via stabilizer links to the rear upper control arms.

Coil springs and gas-filled shock-absorbers mounted separately.

Inspect the rubber bushings and ball joints attaching the trailing arms to the body, the control arms to the rear subframe and the trailing arms, and the subframe to the body and to the differential. These bushing should be solid and lack dry rot. Replace a bushing if it shows signs of failure. Ball joints should be solid and free of excessive movement, rotate but not have play. You can use a large screwdriver or prybar to try to move components against the rubber bushing and watch closely for signs of rubber deterioration and looseness.

The rear ball joint connecting the rear upper control arm to the trailing arm is a particular trouble area for higher mileage Z4 models, as it wears out over time. Inspect the rear ball joint for excessive play. You can do this by jacking up the rear of your vehicle and wiggling the wheel while monitoring the movement of the ball joint. The ball joint should be tight and lack free play. A symptom may be excessive back and forth wheel movement, when jacked and pulling on wheel or a clunk over bumps.

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 include your vehicle information.

The rear ball joint (red arrow) connects the rear upper control arm to the rear wheel bearing carrier.
Figure 1

The rear ball joint (red arrow) connects the rear upper control arm to the rear wheel bearing carrier. It is a trouble area for higher mileage Z4 models, as it wears out over time. There are also two rubber bushings, one connecting the lower control to the wheel bearing carrier and one connecting the trailing arm to body. Inspect the rear ball joint for excessive play. You can do this by jacking the rear of your vehicle and wiggling wheel while monitoring movement of ball joint. Ball joint should be tight and lack free play. Raise and support rear of vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle. Remove rear wheel from side of vehicle you are replacing ball joint on. Remove rear brake rotor. See our tech article on brake rotor removing.

Place a hydraulic jack under trailing arm.
Figure 2

Place a hydraulic jack under trailing arm. Inset shows the placement of the jack pad, directly under the trailing arm (red arrow).

Remove rear shock 18mm mounting fastener (red arrow).
Figure 3

Remove rear shock 18mm mounting fastener (red arrow).

Remove rear coil spring (red arrow).
Figure 4

Remove rear coil spring (red arrow). See our tech article on rear coil spring replacement.

Remove rear ball joint 18mm fastener (red arrows).
Figure 5

Remove rear ball joint 18mm fastener (red arrows). Counterhold bolt while loosening nut, then remove bolt from ball joint.

Next, lever upper control arm away from wheel bearing carrier using a prybar.
Figure 6

Next, lever upper control arm away from wheel bearing carrier using a prybar. Placing a jack under the trailing arm (yellow arrow) and slightly jacking can help to tilt the ball joint out for easier access.

Next, clean the area surrounding the rear ball joint.
Figure 7

Next, clean the area surrounding the rear ball joint. Then measure the length on the ball joint that protrudes (red arrows) out of rear wheel bearing carrier.

Assemble ball joint tool to extract ball joint from wheel bearing carrier.
Figure 8

Assemble ball joint tool to extract ball joint from wheel bearing carrier. Then extract ball joint from wheel bearing carrier following directions supplied with tool.

Once ball joint has been removed, clean mounting area of rust and debris (green arrow).
Figure 9

Once ball joint has been removed, clean mounting area of rust and debris (green arrow).

Assemble ball joint tool and new ball joint to install ball joint into wheel bearing carrier.
Figure 10

Assemble ball joint tool and new ball joint to install ball joint into wheel bearing carrier. Then install ball joint into wheel bearing carrier following directions supplied with tool. Check that the ball joint is at same installation depth as one you have removed, as per your earlier measurement.

Next, remove jack from beneath trailing arm.
Figure 11

Next, remove jack from beneath trailing arm. Then install bolt and tighten. If ball joint does not line up with control arm, use a flat blade screwdriver or punch to line up bolt holes. Install ball joint mounting fastener and tighten. Then install wiring harness back into retaining clip on wheel bearing carrier. Reinstall rear brake rotor and coil spring. Once complete, it is a good idea to have your vehicle professionally aligned. Especially if your tires have uneven wear.

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 03:03:45 AM