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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 10-19-2013, 10:57 AM   #1
Mannydog
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My Ride: '02 330Xi 5spd
Front axles and Suspension-do at the same time?

I've got 110,000 on my 330xi sedan. I've had it since 64k, so I assume the front components are original.

I've had noticeable clunking noises for a while, most obvious at low speeds like speed bumps and rough pavements in parking lots.
I figure its time to do the control arms and CABs, possibly the sway bar links and strut bearings.

I had the car jacked recently and tried to see what was worn/loose, but couldn't tell much.

I did notice that the drivers outboard CV boot was ripped. No noises yet, but I figure on swapping axles, not messing with repacking/new boots.

I've started looking at the various DIYs, but my main question is whether to do the suspension and the axle(s) at the same time, or if it's better as a two weekend deal.

This car is my daily driver, don't have a 2nd car (except for my e28, which is 2500 miles away).

FYI, I'm a veteran DIYer, but currently have a tiny garage, and live in a small town without many resources.
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Old 10-19-2013, 11:01 AM   #2
Mflara20
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Front axles and Suspension-do at the same time?

I would do everything that need to be done at once so you don't have to go through that pain twice.


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Old 10-19-2013, 11:07 AM   #3
Mannydog
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I guess the heart of my question is how much of the two jobs is redundant, (aside from getting the car up in the air).
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Old 10-19-2013, 04:53 PM   #4
djbradle
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Originally Posted by Mannydog View Post
I guess the heart of my question is how much of the two jobs is redundant, (aside from getting the car up in the air).
Don't go crazy with it. It might be something cheap and very simple like the stabilizer end links (which are very prone to early failure). Get down there and shake things around by hand and order what you need. Jack up one side and use a large crowbar to torque areas where there are bushings and check for major play.
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:26 AM   #5
MiniXP
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Originally Posted by Mannydog View Post
I guess the heart of my question is how much of the two jobs is redundant, (aside from getting the car up in the air).
a good amount is redundant. You will already have everything disconnected from the bottom of the strut to do the axles. It's been awhile, but I believe that just leaves unbolting the strut from the top and the whole thing will come out.
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:52 AM   #6
longtallsally
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I took the whole passenger side out when doing front boots since I couldn't get the axle out of the hub. I'd do it all at once as MiniXP there is quite a bit that is redundant.
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Old 10-21-2013, 11:54 AM   #7
bikesandcars
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Originally Posted by djbradle View Post
Don't go crazy with it. It might be something cheap and very simple like the stabilizer end links (which are very prone to early failure). Get down there and shake things around by hand and order what you need. Jack up one side and use a large crowbar to torque areas where there are bushings and check for major play.
+1, most likely the clunking is the sway bar connecting links.

I replaced the entire suspension becasue I need to drive the car another 50,000 miles without down time.

I did both axles because both outer boots were torn and it looked like for a little while.

To do the axles and the suspension bushings at the same time makes sense if they are worn, the swaybar bushings and struts can be changed without going that deep.
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Old 10-21-2013, 07:48 PM   #8
Mannydog
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I replaced the entire suspension becasue I need to drive the car another 50,000 miles without down time.
I'm in the same boat philosophically, two years ago at 90k, I did the entire cooling system, including a Stewart WP, to feel like I would have everything covered for a while.
I live in the boonies, and need to go long distances (2 hours to Seattle, 4 hours to Portland) on a regular basis, and don't want to be stranded in a blizzard.

All that being said, $$ is very tight right now (with promise of things getting better soon). if I could get by with just sway bar links, then go back in and do it right in a couple months or even better, this spring, that would be great.

I'm gonna try and check out the SB links tonight...
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Old 10-22-2013, 11:37 AM   #9
SamDoe1
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If money is tight don't bother replacing anything unless it's broken or unsafe or is going to cause you to be stranded somewhere. Your front suspension, while it might be worn, is probably fine to drive on for a while without issue unless springs are cracked or shocks are leaking. If you can't see any movement or obvious wear in the CAB bushings or ball joints, they are probably worn but fine and same for the strut bearings.

Your clunking issue is textbook sway bar end links. Replace them to get rid of your clunk and call it good.
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Old 10-22-2013, 06:15 PM   #10
Mannydog
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Originally Posted by SamDoe1 View Post
If money is tight don't bother replacing anything unless it's broken or unsafe or is going to cause you to be stranded somewhere. Your front suspension, while it might be worn, is probably fine to drive on for a while without issue unless springs are cracked or shocks are leaking. If you can't see any movement or obvious wear in the CAB bushings or ball joints, they are probably worn but fine and same for the strut bearings.

Your clunking issue is textbook sway bar end links. Replace them to get rid of your clunk and call it good.
Yeah, that's what I am coming around to figuring.
I took off the drivers side SW link last night, and it seemed a little loose. Interestingly, it was only when I popped off one of the boots that I could feel slop.

I decided to try the Moog links. I've seen both good and bad reviews, but I have a credit on Amazon, so I am getting the pair of them for $15, so I figured it's worth a shot (since Amazon doesn't have Lemforders).
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Old 10-30-2013, 12:22 AM   #11
Mannydog
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So I ended up doing the sway bar links and that cleared up the low speed clunking.
I figure myself a fair to middling shade tree mechanic, but I've never been good at diagnosing suspension parts.
Thanks for the nudges to try the cheap option first!

FYI, I did have to take the links off to feel the slop. On the driver's side, as I said above, it still didn't feel loose until I popped the boot off, though on the passenger's side, it was worse, and I could feel it pretty easily without de-booting. A hugely satisfying fix, the clunking was really getting to me.

Will do the drive axle soon.
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