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BMW E30 3 Series Rear Sway Bar Bushing Replacement

Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E30 3 Series Rear Sway Bar Bushing Replacement

Jared Fenton


1-2 hours






Floor jack, two jack stands, two wheel chocks, lug wrench, safety glasses, torque wrench, WD-40, wire cutters, metric socket set, metric wrench set, grease, shop rags, dish soap

Applicable Models:

BMW E30 3-Series (1984-93)

Parts Required:

Rear swaybar bushings

Performance Gain:

Better handling for your BMW

Complementary Modification:

Replace the rear drop links as well
101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

In this continuing series of E30 suspension technical articles, I will focus on replacing the rear sway bar bushings. Over time these bushings swell due to heat and pressure, and eventually will start to erode and crack. If you hear any squeaking or clunking from the rear of the car when you go over dips or holes, chances are the bushings have worn and need replacement. The good news is that replacement is relatively easy and can be performed with hand tools in little more than an hour.

The first step is to loosen the rear wheel lug bolts (but do not remove). Next, jack up the rear of the car on both sides and support the car with some quality jack stands. Keep in mind that you must jack the rear up from a good structural point on the car, such as a frame rail or a suspension carrier. Otherwise, you risk putting the jack right through the floor of the car. (I have seen this happen on a Porsche 914, and it's not pretty). For those of you who are not familiar with jacking the car up, I highly recommend you read Wayne's article on jacking up the E36. It does not apply to the E30, however it is a good reference guide.

Once the car is up in the air and secured on the jack stands, remove the rear wheels. Behind the rotor/hub assembly, you will see the complete sway bar assembly attached to the rear trailing arms. The first step in restoring the bushings is to locate the suspension drop links. These are used to attach the sway bar to the trailing arms. If you look on the top the arms, you will see the mounting nut and bolt for the drop link. Remove the nuts on both drop links. Use an open-end wrench to hold the bolt, while you loosen and remove the nut on the end. Don't try to remove the drop links from out of the bracket just yet. We need to remove the upper connection point. There is a cotter pin on the end of the sway bar that holds the drop link on. Cut the old cotter pin off and slide the drop link off the bar.

Now, take some grease and lubricate the end of the sway bar. Now slide the new drop link into place and put the washer on the end. Once in place, install a new cotter pin and bend it over the sway bar to prevent it from coming out of the hole. Now slide the bottom of the drop link into the mounting bracket and re-install the long bolt and nut on the end. Use an open-end wrench to hold the nut while you torque the bolt to 50 ft./lbs.

Now re-mount the wheels and snug up the lug bolts. Jack the car up again and remove the jack stands from under the car. Lastly, lower the car and tighten the lug bolts.

And that's it, you're done!

As always, if anyone has any questions about this or any other tech article, feel free to email me at The Pelican Parts Message Center


Comments and Suggestions:
Bo Jangles Comments: My bushing was not going to slide on no matter how i pushed or hammered, but putting in a bar of slightly smaller diameter made it slide in in a secondthe swaybar pushes out the small section of rod.
November 11, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
SteveDownUnder Comments: Woops! My comment below relates to replacement of the FRONT sway bar bushings. Haven't gotten round to doing the rear yet - might be similar. Sorry for the confusion.
March 17, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks, no problem. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
SteveDownUnder Comments: Just replaced both sides on my 1988 E30 325i. Here's how I managed it I assume you've taken the old ones off; I also removed my drop links so the sway bar was completely free to move around

- Clean out the bushing bracket and wipe the sway bar to ensure both are free of crud.

- You *must* have a good silicone lube I used Super Lube w/PTFE. Apply a small amount to the inside of the new bushing. Also apply a small smear around the sway bar itself where the bushing will sit. I also used a small amount of silicone spray to coat the inside of the bracket that clamps the bushing to the body.

- Put the bushing on the sway bar, taking care to get the direction right - the top of the bushing has a "dent" on one side, that should be towards the rear of the car.

- Slide the bracket over the bushing. It might take some convincing. I found a set of channel lock pliers helps to squeeze the bushing into the bracket.

- Now, find the slot on the underside of the engine support that the front of the bracket fits into. The secret here is to use a pair of vice grips/locking pliers to lightly hold the bracket in place, while at the same time gently hammering the back of the bracket to drive it just that tiny bit further into the slot. After a few knocks with the hammer loosen off the vice grips just enough to allow you to increase the "bite" maybe half/one turn of the vice grip bolt. Now lock the vice grips again and apply a few more knocks with the hammer. Loosen the vice grips again to allow you to increase the bite, lock and hammer. Keep repeating until you can get the bolt through the hole. Don't bother fully tightening until you do the other side.

Repeat for the other side :-
March 17, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the info. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
noteasy Comments: The U-Shaped Vice Grip does not help...
The article makes it sound like it is easy, which it is NOT.
As of writing this, I only got on one rear sway drop link. MY hands are tired and I have given up for the day.
May 22, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Keep us updated on your progress. Your comments make the articles better. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Erik Comments: i just did mine. slid on with a drop of dish soap.
August 6, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I use dish soap too, works great. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Lord Donnington Comments: My 1990 325i doesn't have the cotter pin and washer to retain the sway bar in the droplink. No hole in the sway bar tip to accomodate a cotter pin. What keeps the sway bar from sliding out of the droplink? which is does on the left side. Do I need a new droplink with new rubber bushing to retain the sway bar?
December 13, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You'd have to send me a photo for me to comment specifically on that? - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Rocket Comments: Apparently whoever wrote this article NEVER did this job, because the new drop link bushings will not just "slide" onto the sway bars. They are incredibly hard to get on. Come on gents, let's give ALL the details of these jobs, and thus the tricks as well. Happy motoring!
November 28, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Use a set of u-shaped vice grips to snap these on if it's difficult. It's all about having the right tool for the job that makes things easier. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
chuck Comments: I'm not sure this is the right item, and I'm not sure just yet what about what's a drop link? I'm looking to replace the bushing that attaches the rear cross bar to the chassis. Is there a separate article on this? It's an 88 325 is model. Do I need special equip?
November 17, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think you are in the eight place. You are looking for the sway bar end links or drop links. Try this link: #item43 - Nick at Pelican Parts
87m491 Comments: Did I miss something? Looking for info on the swaybar bushing not the end links?
July 4, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hi there. Yes, the swaybar bushings are not available separately - you must purchase the entire droplink with the bushings already installed. They are actually pretty cheap, and this is actually better than on other cars (like the Porsche 911 & 914), as the installation of the bushings into the droplinks can be very difficult without a big vice or press. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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