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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 01-12-2013, 07:04 PM   #1
littlegti
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Request For Comments on Suspension Overhaul

I'm planning a complete suspension overhaul once the weather turns in the spring. My summer tires are completely worn so the plan is to overhaul the suspension prior to swapping the winter. I believe the suspension is original (2001/10) except for the Meyle HD control arms and bushings, which I replaced <20K km ago. Everything else is suspect and subject to replacement.

This is an (enthusiastic) daily driver and not a track car, so I'm only looking to refresh the suspension with something equivalent or slightly better than Sport Suspension II. I'm not interested in lowering it as I have enough scuffs on the bottom of the front bumper, and I think the car looks fine as is.

I'm thinking that it's better to do this as one large project and get everything done in one go rather than do this piecemeal and break it up into a set of smaller projects. That said I do view it as a set of smaller projects that I will complete back-to-back-to-back. Here's my plan for tackling the project.

1. repair curb scuffs on summer wheels
2. front sway bar bushings
3. front sway bar end links
4. front structs (and the various strut components)
5. strut bar (if budget allows)
6. front outer tie rods
7. steering coupler
8. replace power steering fluid
9. rear trailing arm bushings (with spacers)
10. rear sway bar bushings
11. rear sway bar end links
12. rear shocks (and various mounting components)
13. replace differential fluid
14. replace summer tires
15. alignment at shop

Here's some initial questions I have:
- am I missing anything that should be addressed at the same time?
- am I including anything above that really is not required (is this overkill)?
- any thoughts/comments/recommendations on the order of the steps above?
- my budget for the project is <$3000. Is this realistic?
- Iíd like to complete this within a long weekend (except for alignment) is three days realistic considering this is my first time for each step.
- how long can I reasonably wait for an alignment after step 13?

Iím thinking of doing the work one weekend and getting the alignment then next, but I would need to drive the car for a week before getting the alignment
- another possibility is splitting this over three weekends.

Weekend 1 - rear suspension
Weekend 2 - front suspension and steering
Weekend 3 - new tires and alignment

All comments welcome.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:05 PM   #2
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Suspension Parts

I'm looking for any recommendations on parts selection. Here's what I have planned for:

Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tires
- improved wet weather traction vs PS2 (good for Vancouver)
- I like my current PS2 so something equivalent or better is what I want.
Koni FSD Struts and Shocks
- considered Bilstein Sport but Iím concerned the ride might be too harsh
- considered Bilstein Touring but might be downgrade from existing
- considered Koni Sport but it seems FSD on-the-fly adjustments is better
Febi RTAB
- I am concerned about pre-tensioning these without the correct tool
- should I use poly to avoid this problem?
Lemfoerder Sway Bar End Links
- not sure any particular brand matters here.
OEM Sway Bar Bushings
- Some comments that Powerflex polyurethane squeak. That would drive me nuts.
ECS Carbon Fiber Strut Bar Kit
- undecided on this but it sounds like it will make a difference
- if this is just bling, Iíd rather not add this
Eibach Anit-Roll-Kit
- currently not in the plan. Price may force this out.
- is this upgrade really worth the $400 price tag?
- will this add any harshness to the ride? I like firm but not harsh.
Springs
- currently not in the plan. This seems to be an ďif it ainít broke donít fix itĒ part.
- no plans on lowering the vehicle, Iím fine with it as is.
- That said, the measured ride height with 225/45R17 winter tires is 582 mm front and rear which seems low in the front and high in the rear compared with the specs in Bentley manual of 589 mm front and 554 mm rear for sport suspension.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:07 PM   #3
littlegti
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Special Tools for Suspension Overhaul

Iíve got a good set of tools but there are some special ones for this job.

Hereís what I have so far:
Torque Wrench
- recently calibrated so itís good for 60-600 in lb and 50-500 ft lb.
Air Impact Wrench
- havenít used it yet but seems like a good tool for this job
Ball Joint Puller
- previously used for replacing control arms
Jack Stands
- I don't have access to a lift so this will be done in my driveway on jackstands

Hereís what I think Iíll need for the job:
Coil Spring Compressor
- Iíd rather not purchase this one use tool so I might check if a local mechanic will help me swap the springs.
- better yet would be borrowing this tool so I keep the time require for the swap to a minimum.
Rear Trailing Arm Bushing Tool
- again Iíd rather not purchase a one use tool but not sure where to borrow/rent in Vancouver. Some people have just drilled/cut the old one out and then built a tool with threaded rod and pipe fittings.
Trailing Arm Pre-load Tool
- Yet another one off tool, Iím just planning on using a long metal straight edge

Are there any other special tools needed. I donít want to get part way through and then have to track down a hard to get specialty item.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:08 PM   #4
littlegti
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Vendors for Suspension Overhaul

I live in Vancouver and AFAIK there is nowhere I can go and just purchase all the parts at reasonable prices. Parts are much cheaper in the US but shipping to Canada horrible. Free Trade was created for businesses and does nothing to help the average citizen. I can get parts shipped to the US side of the border and then drive across and bring back ~$350 without getting charged duty and taxes by the border guards.

Canadian Tire
They carry Michelin Pilot Super Sport for $251/$296 (front/rear).
Tire rake is cheaper but there is no road hazard warranty for Canada, with shipping, brokerage fees and duty the difference is less than $150.

Tire Rack
Koni FSD price is $765 + $58 shipping direct to Canada.

ECS Tuning
ECS Carbon Fiber Strut Bar Kit for $170

Pelican Parts
They have been my go to vendor for good parts at reasonable prices. Iím planning on ordering most of the bits and pieces in one or two orders each less than the ~$350 border guard limit.

Strut Parts for $218
31-30-6-779-487 Strut Bolt with washer
31-33-6-752-735-M69 Front Strut Mount, Left Or Right, Each
31-33-1-091-867-M269 Upper Front Spring Pad
31-33-1-096-664-M269 Lower Front Spring Pad
31-31-6-769-731-BOE Front Strut Mount Nut
51-71-703-6781 Upper Front Strut Reinforcing Plate
07-11-9-904-295-M58 Collar Nut, 8 mm (Locking)
07-11-9-900-402-M9 Rear Shock Mounting Bolt
33-53-1-138-109-M58 Foam Bump Stop for Rear Shocks
33-52-1-092-362-M810 Upper Rear Shock Mount
33-52-6-772-864-M30 Gasket, for Rear Upper Shock Mount
07-11-9-904-295-M58 Collar Nut, 8 mm (Locking)
33-53-1-094-518-M9 Spring Pad, Rear Lower
33-53-1-136-385-M9 Spring Pad (5 mm)
31-10-6-772-199-M9 Hex Nut with Flange for axle support
33-32-6-770-786-M36 Mounting Bushing for Rear Trailing Arm
09-3031-010-M230 Reinforcement Spacer Set for RTAB

Swaybar Parts for $135
33-30-6-760-587-BOE
Hex Nut with Flange
07-11-9-904-295-M58 Locking Nut with Collar
07-12-9-904-002-BOE Self Locking Hex Nut
07-11-9-902-900-BOE Hex Bolt
07-11-9-912-501-BOE Bolt for rear swaybar link
31-35-6-780-847-M36 Front Sway Bar End Link
33-55-1-094-619-M69 Rear Sway Bar Link
31-35-1-097-179-BOE Front Swaybar Bushing 24mm
33-55-1-096-669-BOE
Rear Swaybar Bushing 20mm

Steering Parts for $289
32-30-6-752-957-M9 Steering coupler
PEL-TRSKE46-1 Tie Rod Kit
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:11 PM   #5
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Procedures for Suspension Overhaul

Here are the resources Iím relying on to guide me through this.
- Bentley Manual, great source for torque settings but I find the procedures more difficult to follow than DIY threads:
My330i.com Sway Bar
- http://www.my330i.com/mod13.php
astonmartini03 Suspension Overhaul
- http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=914514
missamo80 Tie Rod Ends
- http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=779009
snowborder142190 Steering Coupler
- http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=838900
parad0x RTAB Meta DIY Thread
- http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=697862
fmzip Powerflex RTAB
- http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=678004
Dan330Ci~ Rear Shock Mounts
- http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=848575

Looking for a good thread on fixing wheel scuff marks...I know there is one somewhere.

Thanks to everyone for all the excellent work!!!
Note: not many of these are listed in the official DIY collection thread.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:12 PM   #6
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Local resources

For any Fanatics in the Vancouver, I have a few questions on where I might get things locally. Iím in North Vancouver so North Shore, Vancouver or Burnaby would be better than Richmond, Surrey or Langley.
- Where to get an alignment?
- Where to get a better price for tires?
- Where to borrow spring compressor?
- Where to borrow RTAB tool?
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:03 PM   #7
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Parts list legends!
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:27 AM   #8
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Thanks trive2, the weather is getting spring like here in Vancouver and I'm going to start ordering everything very soon.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:35 AM   #9
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Can't wait to see this project, subscribed!
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:44 AM   #10
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By the looks of it, you sir know exactly what your doing
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:36 AM   #11
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WRT the RTAB, word has it that poly can cause binding of rear suspension. I replaced my stock RTABs for E46 M3 BMW parts and coupled with the Vorshlag limiters. Perhaps a minor point, but one worth considering.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:41 AM   #12
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In on this!

pics of your bottom when you're all said n done eh
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:02 AM   #13
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+1 on replacing all major suspension hardware like strut mounting bolts, torque-to-yield bolts, self-locking nuts, etc. I looked at your list and you forgot new dust boots.

If you want to apply correct torque on the strut mounting nuts when re-assembling the struts, you need to buy (or custom make) a tool like this:

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Last edited by LeMansteve; 02-21-2013 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:54 AM   #14
littlegti
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hakjai View Post
Can't wait to see this project, subscribed!
Thanks, I can't wait either. I'm really noticing it's not quite right these days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ANREC330 View Post
By the looks of it, you sir know exactly what your doing
Thanks for the support...this is my biggest project and I'm certainly nervous.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yetieater View Post
WRT the RTAB, word has it that poly can cause binding of rear suspension. I replaced my stock RTABs for E46 M3 BMW parts and coupled with the Vorshlag limiters. Perhaps a minor point, but one worth considering.
Yeah, I'm not liking the reviews (longer term) for poly so I was thinking stock. I'll consider the M3 parts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ruskisky View Post
In on this!

pics of your bottom when you're all said n done eh
Definitely. I like taking pictures at each step...makes a good reference for putting it back together. Especially the first time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMansteve View Post
+1 on replacing all major suspension hardware like strut mounting bolts, torque-to-yield bolts, self-locking nuts, etc. I looked at your list and you forgot new dust boots.

If you want to apply correct torque on the strut mounting nuts when re-assembling the struts, you need to buy (or custom make) a tool like this:

Thanks, I think I dropped the dust boots because the shocks came with them but that might not be the FSDs I'm looking at now. I'll need to check this one. Very much appreciated, missing a part like this would make the project, well, frustrating.

I'll check into the tool...haven't seen that one mentioned anywhere but buying tools for projects is one of my favorite things. I like to think of them all as free if the total cost of the project and tools is still less than going to the dealer.
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:31 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlegti View Post
I'll check into the tool...haven't seen that one mentioned anywhere but buying tools for projects is one of my favorite things. I like to think of them all as free if the total cost of the project and tools is still less than going to the dealer.
Given the design requirement of having to hold the shaft stationary while simultaneously loosening/tightening the nut, this is the best tool for the job in my opinion. It is the only way to simultaneously get a an allen key onto the strut shaft and a torque wrench directly onto the self-locking strut nut. This is the reason it is called out in the Bentley manual.

The only other approach I've seen that uses a torque wrench involves a deep spark plug socket, allen key through the middle and crow's foot attached to the hex-end of the socket (for the torque wrench). Of course you would have to do some re-calculation to make sure you are applying the correct torque. Some people prefer to put vise grips onto a socket and just "wrench til it's tight", others use an impact wrench .

Although - if you have a torque wrench that measures in both directions, you could use it with a really long 6mm allen socket to measure torque from the strut shaft instead of from the nut. Then you could use vise grips and a regular socket to tighten the nut and still get an accurate tightening torque.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:04 PM   #16
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I had a look in my tool chest and I think this setup will do the trick.



This is a 13/16" spark plug socket with an O2 sensor offset socket and a 6mm allen wrench. I'll have to check the effect on torque but IIRC it's not a problem.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:20 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlegti View Post
I had a look in my tool chest and I think this setup will do the trick.



This is a 13/16" spark plug socket with an O2 sensor offset socket and a 6mm allen wrench. I'll have to check the effect on torque but IIRC it's not a problem.
Not bad. This sounds weird, but make sure the socket fits down inside the strut mount. My new Sachs struts came with a 22mm self-locking nut, and a 22mm socket was actually too big to fit down inside my new Lemfoerder strut mounts . Had to buy a BMW Original 21mm nut to make it work.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:23 PM   #18
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Ok. The trick with using a crowsfoot and a torque wrench is to apply the torque at a 90 deg angle to the crowsfoot. This keeps the length of the torque wrench lever effectively the same as if the crowsfoot is not used. Like this...



Its only when you have the torque wrench directly head on the crowsfoot that you extend the length of the lever and alter the applied torque. Like this...

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Old 02-22-2013, 12:47 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMansteve View Post
Not bad. This sounds weird, but make sure the socket fits down inside the strut mount. My new Sachs struts came with a 22mm self-locking nut, and a 22mm socket was actually too big to fit down inside my new Lemfoerder strut mounts . Had to buy a BMW Original 21mm nut to make it work.
Thanks, I'll need a 21mm nut to fit the 13/16" socket, so I'll add this to the list.
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:45 PM   #20
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Nice post OP. Subcribed for later.
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