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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E36 3 Series Rear Bumper Removal
Jared Fenton
Wayne R. Dempsey

Difficulty Level: 3
Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one
Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten

     Are you looking to install custom bodywork on the rear of your BMW? Need to replace the bumper mounts? Well In either case you will need to remove the rear bumper. In this follow-up article to removing the front bumper, I will go over the steps involved with removing the rear bumper. Removal is relatively easy and should take no more than an hour with the right tools.  Keep in mind that this article applies to all E36 models with the exception of the 318ti. That said, letís begin.

     The first step is to raise and secure the rear of the vehicle. Before you raise the rear end, be sure to chock the front wheels to keep them from rolling and causing a potential accident. Take it from me, you donít want a car falling on you, I know how much it hurts. Be sure to use common sense and quality jack stands. For those of you not familiar with jacking up the rear of the E36, I highly recommend checking out Wayneís article on jacking up the BMW E36. Hereís a link to the article.


     Once you have the car properly secured on jack stands, Crawl under the car and look up at the lower panel in the center of the bumper. Along the edges of this panel, you see screws holding it to both the chassis and bumper Remove these screws along the corners and middle and pull the panel towards the front of the car to remove it. Store the panel in a safe place to avoid scratches or damage.

     Now look inside the right and left rear wheel wells. We will need to remove the expansion rivets and screws that hold the bumper to the chassis. Take out these screws and store them in a safe place.

     Look behind the bumper. You will see that the bumper assembly is held on to the car by two impact absorbers. Essentially they are shocks that compress horizontally in the event that something hits the bumper. Follow the ends of the shocks to where they connect with the bumper. You will see a small hole through the bumper assembly. Inside these holes are the bolts that secure the bumper to the shocks. Use a ratchet with an extension and remove these bolts.

     Call a helper, friend, wife, or basically anything that has use of arms to help you remove the bumper.  This will prevent you from accidentally dropping the bumper and scratching or damaging it. Have the helper grab one side while you grab the other. Now simply pull back.  The bumper will now come off the shock absorbers.

     To re-install the bumper, first line up the mounting brackets on the back of the bumper with the shock absorbers on the car. Next, using your helper, push the bumper back onto the shock absorbers. This may take a few tries to get it absolutely right, as the shock absorber sit somewhat tight in the mounts.  Put a small dab of anti-seize compound on the mounting bolts and re-install them. BMW recommends that you torque them to 31ft/lbs.

     Re-install the bumper cover expansion rivets and screws holding the bumper cover to the chassis on the right and left rear wheel wells. Now take the lower bumper panel, and re-install it by pushing it in towards the rear of the car. Once you have positioned the panel in place, Re-install the screws and expansion rivets that hold it place.  

     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:
jtru Comments: I just bought a new rear bumper and was wondering if all the parts from the old bumper can be swapped onto the new one
April 11, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If in good condition, yes. You may need to replace rivets or fasteners. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Suren Comments: Hi, is the rear bumper assembly interchangeable between sedan and coupe on e36. Appreciate your input.
March 26, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't think so. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
316icompact-e36 Comments: Hi there all im new here. just a quick question someone rolled into my rear bumper and the left and right side of the bumper where it lines up with the wheel arch has a gap now on both side any ideas on how to pull them back up into place the gaps are about half an inch. by the way the dent in the photo has been repaired. Any help would be apreciated
September 12, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The plastic mounts could be damaged, the bumper cover is going to have to come off and the damaged parts repaired or replaced.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Jay Comments: Bumper**
July 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, bumper - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jay Comments: What are the part numbers for the wheel well rivets ? My Humber is hanging on one side.
July 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Contact one of our parts specialists at 888-280-7799 and they'll get you the correct part you need - Nick at Pelican Parts  
simonefatcat Comments: Hello, It is much, much, much easier to drop the bumper by removing the 4 nuts in the truck [that hold impact absorbers] rather than huffing and puffing on the outside bolts that are at best knuckle busters and are probably rusted. Once the bumper is off the car with the impact absorbers attached, then you can have direct access to the outside bolts as needed.
Cheers, SFC
May 17, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ben Comments: Is the bumper automatically level or can you make adjustments
April 7, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you are removing and installing the same bumper, it should go back on without need for adjustment. However, the bumper is adjustable enough to obtain an even fit to the fenders and hood. This repair manual should have what you need: /cgi-bin/smart/more_info.cgi?pn=BK-B398&catalog_description=BMW%203-Series%20Service%20Manual%201992-1998 - Nick at Pelican Parts  
tenthumbs Comments: trying to remove the bumper the bolt stopped turning and stripped the bolt with the 45 torx socket bolt wont come out or go back in. Any thoughts?
March 16, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try sawing off the bolt head with a hack saw. You may have to drill and retap the threads after that. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
DIYourselfer Comments: Nicely explained. I looked all over the web for this info, and this was the simplist to understand and follow.
Thank you for taking the time to explain this great info.
July 18, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: - Nick at Pelican Parts

Thanks for the feedback, we are happy to help.

Got more questions?  Join us in our BMW Technical Forum Message Board, and ask a question to one of our many automotive experts.
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