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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 12-31-2011, 03:27 PM   #1
Jack B
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Plymouth
Posts: 6
My Ride: BMW 320d (e46)
Replace rear suspension coil springs

How I replaced my rear suspensions coil springs

Hello all my car (e46 320d) recently failed its MOT needing new rear suspension coils, the stealer then requested £400 of my money to fix it. Letís just say I was not particularly happy. Anyway I told them Iíd go away and find another garage to do it, but after a bit of goggling the job didnít seem too hard to do so I thought Iíd give it a bash myself.

At this point Iíll say I am pretty much a complete novice when it comes to mechanics, Iíve done a few things to my car (Bluetooth, iPod connection and chrome dials) but nothing like this so I was on new ground. But thanks to details on forums like this I felt reasonably confidant so thought I should share my experience in the hope that someone else out there might also be able to save themselves a small fortune.

Ok so step one was getting the right kit. I had a set of sockets so below is the other stuff I purchased.
The new springs cost me £24 each (you need to replace both) (or 190 per pair from the stealer!) a kit from screwfix containing Jack, 2x axle stands, and 2x wheel chocks (£50) and finally a good solid breaker bar (£20).

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I want to point out that I really took my time and double checked everything I did because I had never done anything like this before so apologies if this is a bit too much detail or patronising for some of you experienced guys and gals out there but this is all the stuff I had to re-search to do the job.

Right then, next I needed a place to do it. I do have a garage buts its rather small so had to have the car sticking out the back of it to ensure I had enough space to move around. Once the car was in position I chocked the front wheels.

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And put the axle stands next to where they were going to be placed (didnít want to have the car on just the jack for too long)

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Next loosen the wheel nuts before its jacked up and then finally weíre ready to get the car off the ground.
Now I had a little problem the first time I did this as I found out that my jack wasnít actually big enough to get the car high enough to get the axle stands underneath so I lowered the car down again and tied on a piece of wood to get the extra height I needed (this is recommended anyway to help spread the load)

The point I used to jack the car up was a U shaped bar in the middle of the car shown in the pic below

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I also had to extend the bar of the jack in order to be able to lift the car on this point luckily I had an old metal mop handle that perfectly fitted over the end of the jack handle.
With the car now at the right height I placed the jack stands under the plastic jacking points.

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Now the scariest part of the whole job, lowering the car. As I said before because the jack wasnít big enough without the wooden chock the first time I lowered the car I released the valve way too fast and the car hit the deck pretty hard (setting the alarm off) so be very careful and do it very slowly double checking that the axle stands are in the right place.

Once the car is safely on the stands you can remove the wheel nuts and get the wheels off. I struggled to get the wheel off at this point probably because of a bit of corrosion between the wheel and hub but a few light kicks top, bottom, left and right and it popped off. Now I could see what I was up against.

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So on inspection we can see the spring at the back sitting on a rubber pad with another rubber pad at the top.

Next in order to get access to the spring you need to disconnect the shock absorber.

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I needed the breaker bar here as it was quite tight (I made a classic mistake at this point when I went to attach my socket to my breaker bar I realised that the drive (size of the connection) on the breaker bar was 1/2ď but my sockets were 3/8Ē, that was followed by a long angry walk to B&Q to get an adaptor Ö check your tools before you start people!

Anyway once this was removed (finally) I could move on.

So to remove the springs I followed these steps. 1. Release hand brake (I was nervous about this but it was fine) 2. Place foot on edge of the hub (above where the wheel nuts screw in) 3. Hold on to edge of old spring and pull (well wiggle and pull) (the old ones popped out quite easily) 4. Remove the rubber pads if they didnít come out with the spring.

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Please note it looks like Iím standing on the break disk here, Iím actually moving my foot away as I take the pic (bad timing)

Anyway now the old one is out you can clean up the area to make it nice and clean for the new ones.

Here are the old offending old ones

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Next to get the new ones in I placed the rubber pads on position on the springs and maneuverered the top pad over and into the little nub it sits on.

Then asking my girlfriend to place her foot on the hub and press down I pushed, squeezed, wiggled and fiddled the spring into position until the bottom rubber pad was also in position over the bottom nub. (Sorry forgot to take a pic of this) but it was easier then i thought and did not need to use spring winders/clamps

Now time to put everything back together. To help lift the hub hack up to re-connect the shock absorber I used a little trick of using the jack that comes with the car under the hub. This made it very easy to align the hub and the shock. Stick the bolt back in and do it up nice and tight.

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Once this is done you can stick the wheels back on. Jack the car up again, remove the axle stands and (very gently) lower the car (again scary)

Finally once the car is back down again tighten up the wheel nuts and take it for a gentle test drive.

I had mine back at Plymouth BMW for a re-test then next day, they wanted to charge me a partial re-test fee but I kicked up a bit of a fuss because they previously told me the re-test was free, what they actually meant was that they would re-test free within 24 hours not the 10 days you usually have, but after a bit of a stern tone of voice they agreed to waive the fee. 30 mins later I have the new MOT certificate in my hand Ö so 1.5 hours of fun + £50 worth of parts = £350 saving in my pocket. Very happy!

As I said I made a few school boy errors along the way but overall this is a quite straightforward job to do that the stealers clearly overcharge for, for anyone else thinking of taking this on I would say go for it, but do your re-search take your time make sure you have the right tools.

Anyway this is my first proper post so i hope its usefull

I welcome any comments or corrections you guys might have, Iím happy to tailor this post to make this a better reference for anyone else.

Thanks for reading.
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:35 PM   #2
Chris3Duke
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Join Date: Dec 1969
Posts: 222
I'm doing my springs and shocks as I write this, and this was very helpful. I can't get a spring compressor on the spring due to the tight space constraints, so we'll see how it goes...
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Old 12-31-2011, 08:31 PM   #3
Jack B
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Plymouth
Posts: 6
My Ride: BMW 320d (e46)
I wouldn't worry about the compressors I definitely didn't need them, if you have someone to push down on the hub for you there's plenty of space.

Best of luck to you bud, let me know how it goes
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Old 01-18-2012, 11:18 PM   #4
alpine325coupe
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Location: Bethpage NY
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My Ride: 2004 M3 SG/IR
Will be using this tomorrow to complete my coilover install
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:27 PM   #5
KrasivataSabine
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Del Puerto Canyon Drive, CA
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My Ride: 323Ci
Jack B, thanks very much for this post. I'm thinking of installing my new lowering springs by myself as well, but am a beginner like you were. Did you have to look up the appropriate torque specs with which to reattach the damper and the wheels? Torquing down the nuts to the proper specs is what worries me the most.
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Old 01-24-2012, 03:19 AM   #6
Jack B
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Plymouth
Posts: 6
My Ride: BMW 320d (e46)
No I didn't know the official torque specs I just used my breaker bar and did them up just short of the max u could turn so I knew it was tight but not over tight. Same for the wheels
Sorry that's probably not too helpful but it got me through the mot and a month later nothing has fallen off.
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Old 01-30-2012, 11:46 PM   #7
vdumitru101
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Canada
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My Ride: 320I
great post! ill tackle this project tomorrow. i got a qoute for $800 Can to have rear coil springs replaced at Victoria BMW . I am not a pro and this post really helps.
Thank you for taking the time to do the write up!
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