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Old 02-01-2006, 06:00 AM   #1
tim330i
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Front Control Arm Maintenance and Upgrades

As the general population of E46 chassis start to age, maintenance becomes a growing issue for owners. While E46Fanatics generally focuses on modification, everyone wants their ride to be in tip-top condition and in this case we need to dive into the front suspension.

The factory E46 suspension does a good job stock and gives the driver plenty of smiles. However, the twists and turns to get those smiles end up requiring some front end maintenance, namely control arm bushings and control arm ball joints. I replaced the wimpy stock rubber bushings with bimmerworld’s powerflex bushing over 20 thousand miles and ago and am very please to say that in that time the bushings have given me no issues what so ever. Read my review of the bimmerworld powerflex control arm bushings here - Control Arm Bushing Upgrade

With my 330i recently ticking over the 60,000 mile mark I noticed that the front end wasn’t a solid as it use to be. As the bushings were Powerflex I knew that couldn’t be the problem, leaving only the control arm ball joints as the most like culprit. A bit of research and I found that the stock ball joints use a nylon insert that fails with 60,000 miles or less causing shimmying, suspension noise and poor handling, all symptoms my car was displaying.

While there are a few press-in ball joint replacements for the OEM control arms, the availability of high quality inexpensive aftermarket arms make the time and labor of pressing in new ball joints less than appealing and not cost effective at shop labor rates. As I had good luck with bimmerworld parts and service for my control arm bushing upgrade I visited their online store at bimmerworld.com to see what they could offer me. bimmerworld suggests the Febi-Bilstein control arms, which are the latest M Sport package arms and boast a very strong, fully webbed design. bimmerworld uses the same arms as a platform for their custom race car control arms used on their world challenge cars!

I ordered up a set in typical bimmerworld style I had a brand new set of control arms in my hands in no time. The arm quality is top notch and the ball joints looked to be of high quality. The only concern I had was a set of mismatched ball joints but a quick call to bimmerworld's support line and my concerns were put to rest.

Unlike some of my past modifications I was actually a little worried about installing these. Having seen several long threads in the forum about installation difficulty, but knowing that E46Fanatics were depending on me for information on control arms I braved the cold and installed them.

Surprisingly, the installation went much easier than I expected. Separating the control arms ball joints from the chassis using a tie rod separator I rented from AutoZone was actually one of the easiest parts. The only major problem I had was rust! The inner ball joint nuts were rusted to the shaft an cause a good deal of headache on the drivers side. Beyond the rusty nuts and not having a couple tool causing me to make a Home Depot run, the installation was quick and easy. Look for a full Do-It-Yourself write up coming soon!

With the new arms installed, everything tightened up and the car off the jack stands it was now time for a test drive! Lucky for me all of the roads around Boston seem to be pitted and bumpy from the winter weather. Normally not what I would call ideal driving conditions but for this review it was perfect.

The new control arms restored my ride and handling to the way it should be with no more bang, clunking or other unwanted suspension noise! If you E46 is aging and you wonder what happened to your "Ultimate Driving Machine" then I suggest you consider a new set of control arm bushings and control arms from bimmerworld!
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Old 09-05-2008, 12:41 PM   #2
Rocket22
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stock control arms

OK, I know it is bad to dig up old posts, but I am wondering where is the best place to buy OEM control arms. This is stictly a road car and at 81k I was only going to do the bushings, but this post convinced me to do the control arms also. Plus I would be wasting some control arm bushings when I do this repair over.
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Old 09-06-2008, 08:13 AM   #3
Whammy
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Either Tischer BMW or Desert Motor Works (both site sponsors). Ruben @ Desert Motor Works has both powerflex bushings and the OEM control arms.
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Old 09-07-2008, 04:10 AM   #4
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My new POWERFLEX control arms failed twice on me! just after 50km of use! I installed them nd supervised them with the BMW mech and they were installed as per the instructions. I hope this last set doesnt fail. If it doesnt im going back to OEM.
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Old 09-07-2008, 09:47 AM   #5
Kert
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Originally Posted by 0-60motorsports View Post
My new POWERFLEX control arms failed twice on me! just after 50km of use! I installed them nd supervised them with the BMW mech and they were installed as per the instructions. I hope this last set doesnt fail. If it doesnt im going back to OEM.
What exactly did they do to "fail"?
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Old 09-07-2008, 10:24 AM   #6
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The outer black part of the bush tore twice pushing the control out along with the purple bit of the bush....im on my third one now, so lets see if this works.
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