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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 11-14-2009, 04:04 PM   #1
XscoreX
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Strut Replacement Tips

So I just finished replacing my front struts and springs. I dont remember it being this annoying. Tomorrow I'm putting the back back to stock. Here are a few tips. maybe a newb will use this search function and this can help someone out.

1. make sure you have the right tools. I have a AC Delco " Mechanics Tool set" It did not have the right sockets I needed. reda the DIY and make sure you have all the sockets first. I went to harbor Freight and got a set of large metric 1/2 drive sockets up to 24" for $9. they also sell spring compressors for $9 a set. I had a little trouble getting the first spring compressed so I bought 2 sets. You can get away with 1 if you plan ahead and put it on the right parts of the spring

2. Taking the top hat off the strut is a major PITA. I spent over 4 hours wrestling with it. I took a 22mm socket, then ground down flat edges on the outside with a grinding wheel. then put them in vise grips so it wouldnt slip. Then i used another pair of vise grips and put a #6 alan wrench in it to hold the shaft in place. that way the allen wrench will go through the hole in the socket and into the hole on the top of the strut shaft and hold it while you spin the nut off. You would think this would work, but even with the spring totally compressed it wouldnt budge. i sprayed wd40 on it and everything. Oh yeah you should put the whole strut in a big vice, that way you can use both hands tryin to get this nut off. Eventually I had a $10 heat gun I bought from harbor freight and held it on high heat on the nut till I started to see smoke. Then I pulled on it like a MF, It finally broke free. Ive heard other people say to use an impact wrench but if you dont have one a heat gun, wd40 and brute strength will knock it off.

3.jacking up the car was a PITA. My floor jack ate ****. but a small bottle jack on the front point under the engine works great. My bottle jack wouldnt get it all the way up so I put a 2x4 down first then put the small bottle jack on top of that. then put your floor jacks under the jack points on both sides.


If anything comes up after doing my rears Ill post about it here. any questions about doing the fronts ask me, I might be able to tell you.
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Old 11-16-2009, 01:36 PM   #2
Bustedwheel
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I just did mine yesterday as well. I agree it was a pain in the as$. I used a large spark plug socket on the shock hat. they usually have a hexed section that you can put a wrench on, and then the 6MM allen will slide through the hole where the ratchet would go. Worked great.
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Old 11-16-2009, 01:43 PM   #3
Bustedwheel
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Oh yeah, I found that the steering knuckle would not drop far enough to get the struts out or back in. After reading every forum they kept saying the knuckle will "fall down" when the pinch bolt is removed. Did not happen and it seems to be a common problem. I was able to get mine to drop further with a little "persuasion" from a rubber mallet.

One more thing I had to do: I took sandpaper and sanded the bottom of the strut where it seats in the steering knuckle. On the first side I did spread the pinch bolt with a screwdriver like Bentleys told me to, and it ended up being a PITA to get the bolt back through. By taking a little of the paint off, it seated a lot better.
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Old 11-16-2009, 08:03 PM   #4
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I didnt have a problem getting the struts off after dropping the control arm, but I did have a problem getting them back on. I ended up taking the bolt on the pinch point all the way off so I could move the wheel sensor & brake sensor out of the waythen I put the strut in at the top & finger tightened 3 bolts, then I had to push the control arm all the way down and kind of jimmy it in from the side. at first it looked like it wouldnt fit but I just man handled it until it slid in finally
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Old 11-17-2009, 10:15 AM   #5
Bustedwheel
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That's about the same that I did. I was replacing my brakes at the same time so they were out of the way for me. I hung the strut from the top loosely and then did the same manhandling. It made me nervous at first that I was pushing the a-arms down farther then I was supposed to, but it all worked out in the end. I think my bushings were just a little stiff from age and needed some help.
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Old 11-17-2009, 10:16 AM   #6
Bustedwheel
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I think the front struts took me about 4 hours to do. Then I did the back, and it took me 20 minutes to do both. awesome.
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