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Suspension & Braking
Have some questions about suspension or brake setups for your E46 BMW? Get all your answers here!

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Old 09-24-2012, 01:59 PM   #1
lsteg
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Control arm / FCAB questions

After recently doing an oil change I had my car in the air and noticed I could grab the front drivers side wheel and was able to wiggle it a little bit. Obviously there shouldn't be this much play in the wheel and started to think that it was because of my FCAB's needing replaced.

In my searching I found myself asking if I needed to replace just the bushing or the actual control arm as well? I'm assuming it would be smart to do both sides at once?

I found these and will probably buy them since the vibration I get in my steering wheel (only when turning to the right at high speeds) is getting bad enough that I need to address it. Any knowledge or help is greatly appreciated. Hopefully I covered everything enough but if not I can fill in the blanks if need be.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:02 PM   #2
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Your ball joints are probably worn out by now, so it would be a good idea to replace your control arms. OEM ZHP or Meyle HD are good choices, Meyle HD FCABs are really great, but I would recommend even going with Powerflex. The tighter steering feel is really great, but it will make you more aware of suspension problems...which is probably a good thing.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:07 PM   #3
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In that case I was thinking about getting their re-fresh kit with the Meyle's pressed in opting not to get the tie rod and swaybar endlinks (due to budget reasons).

Seem like a good option?
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:07 PM   #4
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Sounds like a great option. Go for it. You'll notice a huge difference in steering feel.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:10 PM   #5
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Sounds like a great option. Go for it. You'll notice a huge difference in steering feel.
Thanks for your help. Since I'm getting the bushings pressed I'm guessing that the install won't be that difficult. Unless I've completely missed something
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:11 PM   #6
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When you move the wheel, inspect the control arms where they meet the bushing. Do you see any arm movement within the bushing? Or drive about 5-10 mph (parking lot speed) and give the brake pedal a few quick jabs/taps (not enough to significantly slow the car) see if you feel a click with a slight jerk of the steering wheel (hands off the wheel) if so, it's your CABs. Basically when you grab the wheel itself, look with your eyes to see where the movement is. your control arms might still be fine. they usually are.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:12 PM   #7
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Thanks for your help. Since I'm getting the bushings pressed I'm guessing that the install won't be that difficult. Unless I've completely missed something
getting the bushings pressed in what? you said you're getting Meyles... all you do is install the arms.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:17 PM   #8
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When you move the wheel, inspect the control arms where they meet the bushing. Do you see any arm movement within the bushing? Or drive about 5-10 mph (parking lot speed) and give the brake pedal a few quick jabs/taps (not enough to significantly slow the car) see if you feel a click with a slight jerk of the steering wheel (hands off the wheel) if so, it's your CABs. Basically when you grab the wheel itself, look with your eyes to see where the movement is. your control arms might still be fine. they usually are.
I do have the steering wheel jerk, sorry forgot to mention that.

I don't want to skimp on getting the parts that I need, but with that being said I don't want to buy parts just for the sake of buying them. I am already going to buy the FCAB's but is it just smarter to get the CA's anyway?
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:20 PM   #9
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Thanks for your help. Since I'm getting the bushings pressed I'm guessing that the install won't be that difficult. Unless I've completely missed something
I just did the FCA and FCAB install recently. It is not technically difficult. I would describe it as inconvenient. The old control arms are hard to get off. You need a tierod/ball joint remover tool kit from Advance Auto Parts ($30 w/ full refund on return), or AutoZone. Wedge the right size picklefork in there from the back side and wack it with a 3lb sledge. Mine came right out after that. If you do not have a ball joint puller or a good fitting pickle fork you WILL NOT get them out. Believe me, I tried. Give me a lever big enough and I will move the world, but I still won't be able to move old E46 control arms.

I would recommend the bushings prepressed into housings, either Meyle or Powerflex (I went with PF). The difficulty of installing new ones into old housings just isn't worth it.

Another inconvenient thing is the location of the inner ball joint nut that attaches the control arm to the chassis. It is in a **** location, but you can do it with a combination wrench (open ended side) and patience. Use blue LocTite on all the nuts and torque the ones you can to spec. The ones I just referred to are untorqueable. Just crank em down pretty good (Not too much though). It's easy to feel out the torque once you use a torque wrench on the others. All the other nuts are easy to get to. Took me 4 hours including 1.5 hours wasted not using the right pickle fork. Took 15 minutes to get them out with correct pickle fork.

Oh and if you don't replace the control arms you will need a 3 jaw puller to remove the old bushings. Again, don't even try it without this tool. I didn't have to remove my bushings since I got new FCAs also.

Last edited by WDE46; 09-25-2012 at 09:58 AM. Reason: nuts and bolts
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:21 PM   #10
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I do have the steering wheel jerk, sorry forgot to mention that.

I don't want to skimp on getting the parts that I need, but with that being said I don't want to buy parts just for the sake of buying them. I am already going to buy the FCAB's but is it just smarter to get the CA's anyway?
If you're on a budget, just replace the CABs for now. Or maybe try Poly w/ new brackets (to ease installation) then all you'd need would be a 3-jaw puller (or 2) then yank the old bushing off and tap the new one on. Though that'll probably cost you $150 where new Meyle arms w/ CABs might run you $300-320 or so. Probably makes sense to get the arms.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:23 PM   #11
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I just did the FCA and FCAB install recently. It is not technically difficult. I would describe it was inconvenient. The old control arms are hard to get off. You need a tierod/ball joint remover tool kit from Advance Auto Parts ($30 w/ full refund on return), or AutoZone. Wedge the right size picklefork in there from the back side and wack it with a 3lb sledge. Mine came right out after that. If you do not have a ball joint puller or a good fitting pickle fork you WILL NOT get them out. Believe me, I tried. Give me a lever big enough and I will move the world, but I still won't be able to move old E46 control arms.

I would recommend the bushings prepressed into housings, either Meyle or Powerflex (I went with PF). The difficulty of installing new ones into old housings just isn't worth it.

Another inconvenient thing is the location of the inner ball joint nut that attaches the control arm to the chassis. It is in a **** location, but you can do it with a combination wrench (open ended side) and patience. Use blue LocTite on all the bolts and torque the ones you can to spec. The ones I just referred to are untorqueable. Just crank em down pretty good (Not too much though). It's easy to feel out the torque once you use a torque wrench on the others. All the other bolts are easy to get to. Took me 4 hours including 1.5 hours wasted not using the right pickle fork. Took 15 minutes to get them out with correct pickle fork.
1) you meant nuts, not bolts.

2) you guys should be using brand new genuine bmw nuts regardless of what control arms you install. these nuts come with locking inserts and do not need loctite.

just some tips
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:36 PM   #12
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Ok so...stupid question.

When I first got the car after an accident (not at fault) the front passenger CA was replaced. I know with brakes you're supposed to change them out in pairs (front pair and rear pair). Does that also apply to CA and FCAB's as well?
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:38 PM   #13
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If you're on a budget, just replace the CABs for now. Or maybe try Poly w/ new brackets (to ease installation) then all you'd need would be a 3-jaw puller (or 2) then yank the old bushing off and tap the new one on. Though that'll probably cost you $150 where new Meyle arms w/ CABs might run you $300-320 or so. Probably makes sense to get the arms.

Mango, how can you forget bmaparts. I got my Meyle HDs pre-pressed into the carriers for $78.30 a pair. They come with new nuts too. Unless you are talking about PU FCABs, they are no where $150.


OP, just do the FCABs. If you need to do the FCAs later, you can get the Meyle HD control arms and bushings only and press into the melye carriers.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:39 PM   #14
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Ok so...stupid question.

When I first got the car after an accident (not at fault) the front passenger CA was replaced. I know with brakes you're supposed to change them out in pairs (front pair and rear pair). Does that also apply to CA and FCAB's as well?
If it was 5,000 miles ago, maybe not. Which wheel is the one that has play? Both?

BTW, IIRC, BMW recommends control arms in pairs
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:44 PM   #15
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It was only the front drivers side that I noticed the issue on
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:48 PM   #16
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Mango, how can you forget bmaparts. I got my Meyle HDs pre-pressed into the carriers for $78.30 a pair. They come with new nuts too. Unless you are talking about PU FCABs, they are no where $150.


OP, just do the FCABs. If you need to do the FCAs later, you can get the Meyle HD control arms and bushings only and press into the melye carriers.

After reading your post I went out and found this little gem
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:01 PM   #17
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Mango, how can you forget bmaparts. I got my Meyle HDs pre-pressed into the carriers for $78.30 a pair. They come with new nuts too. Unless you are talking about PU FCABs, they are no where $150.


OP, just do the FCABs. If you need to do the FCAs later, you can get the Meyle HD control arms and bushings only and press into the melye carriers.
BMA didn't always offer Meyle HD arms, certainly not for the price oembimmerparts was offering. i haven't checked in a year. either way, the pricing is competitive, if not the same.

As far as fcabs, I'm talking about w/ brackets. IIRC, poly fcabs themselves are about $80. factor in aluminum brackets.

http://store.bimmerworld.com/powerfl...hing-p281.aspx

Don't try to question me. If i say something, there's a specific reason I'm saying it.
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:01 PM   #18
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After reading your post I went out and found this little gem

bmaparts and rmeuropean always have best prices. Dont forget fcpeuro/fcpgroton too.
I thought you were on budget, thats the reason why I mentioned the FCABs only.
However, I dont see any point in replacing the FCAs if they are not bent and the ball joints are fine. Replace them when they actually go bad.
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:25 PM   #19
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I just changed my recently too, if you want a full set BMA parts is definitely the cheapest. $299 for a full Meyle HD package after discount.
If you are still on the oem control arms I'd recommend changing them out.
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:29 PM   #20
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I just changed my recently too, if you want a full set BMA parts is definitely the cheapest. $299 for a full Meyle HD package after discount.
If you are still on the oem control arms I'd recommend changing them out.
Probably end up just getting the full package for peace of mind. Thanks for all your help. I'll update when I install them.
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