Pelican Parts
BMW Parts Catalog Accessories Catalog BMW How To Articles BMW Tech Forums
Call Pelican Parts at 888-280-7799
View Recent Cars  |Shopping Cart Cart | Project List | Order Status | Help
 >  >
BMW E30 3 Series Front Suspension Bushing Overhaul

Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E30 3 Series Front Suspension Bushing Overhaul

Jared Fenton


3-4 hours






Lug wrench, floor jack, two jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, set of metric wrenches, set of metric sockets, ratchets and extensions, torque wrench, heavy hammer, dish soap, 19mm adjustable box ratchet wrench, 15mm adjustable box ratchet wrench, WD-40, three-jaw puller, bench vise or press (press preferable), anti-seize, 22mm wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW E30 3-Series (1984-93)

Parts Required:

Front control arm kit

Performance Gain:

Renewed front suspension that enables your BMW to handle the way it was designed to handle

Complementary Modification:

Take your BMW to an alignment shop and have it aligned

BMW E30 3 Series Front Suspension Bushing Overhaul

Have you noticed a squeaking or knocking noise from your car when going over bumps? Does the front end seem loose or wobbly? Chances are, you need to replace the suspension bushings.

In this continuing suspension article, we will go over the steps involved with replacing the front suspension bushings on the BMW E30 3 Series models. Keep in mind that this article is specific to my 325is; however, this article applies to all E30 models form 1984 to 1991.

The first step is to loosen the lug bolts on the front wheels, but do not remove them. Now, jack the front of the car up and secure it on quality jack stands. Never rely on a jack to support the vehicle when you are underneath the car. Now, remove the lug bolts and pull the tires off. Locate the rubber mount at the rear of the control arm. It is held in place by an outer retaining bracket and is held to the body by two bolts. Remove these two bolts. Now, the rear of the control arm will be free of the car.

Next, disconnect the sway bar end links from the sway bar assembly. You will need to hold one end of the bolt while you remove the nut on the opposite side. Remove the nuts and bolts that hold them to both the sway bar and the control arm. You can now throw them away as you cannot replace the bushings inside, the whole link must be replaced. Now locate the control arm ball joint that attaches the control arm to the sub frame. Look up on the inside of the sub frame and remove the self-locking nut at the top. Now, use a hammer to lightly tap the joint out of the sub frame. Once free, now look behind the strut and locate the remaining ball joint. Remove the self-locking nut at the top, and lightly tap the joint out of the strut housing with the hammer. The strut assembly will stay in place due to the upper mount.

Now the control arms will be free of the car. You will now need to take them to a quality machine shop to have the old ball joints pushed out of the arm. Some people recommend replacing the whole arm, however, I have found that it is possible to have only the joints replaced. You will find it nearly impossible to get these joints out without use of a hydraulic press. IN certain circumstances, the ball joints are spot-welded in and can be simply drilled out. Have the machine shop press the new ball joints in for you as well.

To remove the rear control arm rubber bushing, we will need to use a puller to get the old one off. Remove the bushing from the bracket, and transfer the bracket onto the new bushing. Make sure to line up the arrow on the new bushing with the mark on the bracket. This will insure that the bushing is correctly installed into the bracket.

Once you have the new ball joints installed in the control arm, Begin reinstalling it by pressing the outer ball joint up through the strut housing, then install a new self-locking nut to hold it in place. Torque this nut to 47 ft/lbs. next, position the inner ball joint so it goes up through it's mounting hole in the sub frame. Install a new self-locking nut and torque it to 61 ft/lbs.

Next, clean the end of the control arm and coat the end of the control arm with suspension grease. Press the new bushing/bracket onto the control arm till it stops. Now, position the bracket in place and bolt it back onto the body. Torque the two bolts to 30 ft/lbs each.

Now we have to install the new sway bar links. You may need to jack up the control arm assembly in order to line up the links with the sway bar. Once in place, press the bolt first through the lower mount, and then thread a new self-locking nut on the end. Now, position the link so you can press the bolt through the end of the link and through the sway bar. Now thread a new self-locking nut onto the bolt and torque both nuts to 30 ft/lbs.

Now put the wheels back on, install the lug bolts, and lower the car. Once on the ground, tighten the lug bolts in a criss-cross pattern.

Lastly, take the car to a decent alignment shop and have the front end re-aligned. Remember, anytime you change suspension components, you will change the front end geometry, and this must be re-set. Once re-aligned, take the car out for a spin and enjoy your now razor-sharp handling!

Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all. If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs. If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one. Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one. As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

Comments and Suggestions:
sunnydude Comments: Any idea on why the rings on both sides of the bushings would be falling out? I have replaced mine twice on the front control arms and the ring keeps working its way loose and out of the bushing. When it works its way out the back it falls off.
October 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The bushing bracket is likely worn out. Replace it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Turtle Comments: Can anyone tell me the dimentions of the bushings? Like in terms of the outside diameter of the control arm bushings, offset and inside diameter of the inner hole, typical diff mount sizes etc?
April 20, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don’t have that info.
your best bet is to take the measurements yourself. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
e30_han Comments: Is it possible to install the bushing onto the lower control arms without a press? do you recommend using a lube?
April 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, it can be done. If using a lube, use something like a tire lube or dish soap. This way it evaporates once installed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Cody G Comments: What are the control arm bolt specs? One of mine snapped when I was removing them and need a new one.
October 11, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Likely grade 8.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
dwayne Comments: Need step by step instructions on removing e30 1985 front subframe on 325e sedan.
June 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We don't currently have a tech article for that procedure. I would grab a repair manual.
Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
johnk781 Comments: I have an E39, E53 and E85. Is there a tool set that would provide the proper sizes to install and replace the control arm bushings?
March 3, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: My gut tells me there is a kit, however you may have to buy a base kit, then add the bushing parts as needed. That is how the factory tool set works. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Afredo Comments: What is the best way to remove the subframe control arm balljoint self locking nut? Its on top instead of underneath where it'd be easy to get to and I can't figure out how to get to it.
June 18, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Remove it using an open end wrench. The nut should be able to be removed before you separate the ball joint. It may help to rotate the wheel to one side for increased room. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jimbob29 Comments: hi have knocking in front supensoin anti roll bar bush drop links???help
May 4, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the front end for play and replace any worn parts, the sway bar links are common for making a knocking noise.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Bman V12 Comments: We have a 2000 325iT with 76k miles. Last two malfunctions the dealer observed the strut bushings were worn and yes the dread wobble was getting worse. I needed to do front discs/pads so, read your tech article, ordered the bushing/bracket from you and went about replacing them. I removed the underbody dust shield, the 'x' brace, supported the lower arm slightly under the lower ball joint, pulled the old bushing/bracket off with a small puller. Hardest part was pushing the new bushing on, but with a liberal amount of silicon spray and grunting it pushed on. I inspected the old bushing and noticed that the factory one has two small 'pillows' of rubber on either side of the bushing, restricting side to side movement, except one of the pillows had broken off, also your new bushings have considerably more rubber within the bracket and are 'much' stiffer. thanks for the advice, shimmy gone away. WOW!
July 9, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No sweat, thanks for the feedback. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Josh Comments: I'm having trouble removing the self-locking nut on top of the control arm. Is there a specific tool that you used? Did you remove it from the bottom of the car or coming through the engine bay? thanks
January 14, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I use a long extension and a swivel and remove it from the top.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
oldbikerider Comments: Thanks for the write-ups, I just ordered your 101 book. But in the mean time I am changing the lower control arms 1990 325ic and after doing shock, wheel hub and control arm/bushing on the driver side yesterday i got up to tackle the right side today. Bad as I cannot get the nut off the inner ball joint. Just what combination of tools do you use to get that think out? I have tried 22mm socket turned shorter on a lathe to be able to get a u-joint on the extension, a wobbly extension, a crows-foot almost worked but i can get enough torque to budge the nut and I put the strut back in tonight with new hub and shock. The thought of taking the exhaust free entered my mind - but them my mind returned to reality. Tool description please!
November 15, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I use a 22mm swivel socket 3/8 drive and a long extension.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
dom Comments: How long does it take to do this repair?
October 6, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It can probably be done over a weekend. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
tai Comments: hey im also trying to install a frount a arm bushing is it possable for me to do it with 2 ppl and do i realy need a machin prest ???
September 10, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You are going to need a press to install the bushings.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
papolosa Comments: M204EVR - I am doing the replacement myself and thought of the possibility of what happened to you, so although not the most humane way of doing this, I hammered the outer metal of the bushing a little so it acts a as a stop in case it slides.
September 1, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
lbreevesii Comments: leak- it is probably/possibly your thrust arms/thrust arm bushings.
August 18, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
M204EVR Comments: I installed urethane bushing on my 1990 e30 last weekend. Now it is tuesday and the center of the driver's side bushing is missing. The only thing I can think of that I may have done wrong is that I pushed them in from the rear. Does this matter?
July 21, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmm, it's difficult to think of what you are referring to exactly, can you post a picture? - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
leak Comments: mt problem

I JUST HAD A NEW DRIVE SHAFT, AND NEW TIRES pUT oN MY 740Il. I've had it back three times for a shaking in the steering wheel. I am told it is the tires not the drive shaft. it's still shakinf after three aligfm=nments. moving tires around,!!!!!!!!!!!
July 14, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could also be the ball joints or the tie rods attached to the steering rack. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Lou Comments: Anything on changing out the rear subframe bushings on a 1987 535is?
April 27, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would grab a repair manual. It will list the special tools and each step of the procedure. Give our parts specialists a call: 1-888-280-7799 They will help you find what you need.

- Nick at Pelican Parts

About Us
Pelican Parts, LLC
1600 240th Street
Harbor City, CA 90710
Order Online or Call:
Sign Up for Pelican Pit Stop News & Special Offers
Page last updated: Wed 2/21/2018 02:04:10 AM