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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 05-16-2015, 06:33 PM   #1
crackerlee
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Replaced my RTAB (DIY with pics)

I had replaced my front lower control arm bushings about 2000 miles ago, with PowerFlex bushings. I wanted to replace my RTABs too before getting an alignment. I am replacing with Lemfoerder #33322228153.

This is for a 2003 E46 Convertible. Yours may be slightly different.

Tools/materials needed:
18mm socket (with an extension) to remove the three RTAB mounting bolts.
A second 18 mm socket or box wrench to remove the one RTAB center bolt.
10mm socket to remove the one brake line bolt.
17mm socket to remove lug nuts.
Torque wrench.
Floor jack.
Jack stands.
Block of wood, 8" long, 3-5" wide, 3/4" thick. The 3/4" thickness will play a role.
A little anti seize.
Three hours of time.

1. rent yourself this tool. I got mine here: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1071805
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2. Jack up and support your car.
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3. Before unbolting the RTAB bracket, carefully unclip the wiring that runs along the trailing arm, and unbolt the 10mm brake-line bracket.
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4. You'll want an alignment after this job, but try and re-install the bracket as close to aligned as possible.
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5.With the arm extended, you're ready to remove the old bushing.
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6. old and new bushing
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7. install the new bushing
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8. re-installing the bracket and finishing the job.
Update: Be sure to position the bracket (search for "RTAB preload") when reinstalling the bracket to the bushing (single 18mm bolt) so the bushings don't twist when attaching the (three 18mm bolts) bracket to the car (the bracket should be about flat against the car body). If it is not, you might be putting tension on the bushing which will greatly reduce the service life.
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Last edited by crackerlee; 05-17-2015 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:04 PM   #2
325ragtop
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Great write up! I really like how you took time to add all your text to the photos... makes for very easy reading. Speaking from experience, I will reiterate that this is a job that is MUCH easier when you have the right tools. I've done a couple of these cars with a combination of the Harbor Freight Heavy Duty Ball Joint Press kit and a combination of home brew tools... i.e: very large 3/4" drive sockets with 1/2" thread rod and double nuts, etc.... Trust me, you really want that tool shown in photo 1.
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Old 05-16-2015, 08:03 PM   #3
bimmernate
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great DIY! how did you "preload" the bushing when you tightened up the bracket? what was your reference point? different people do it different ways, i've seen some people use 8mm above wheel bearing center line but am just curious. Thanks
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2003 330i ZHP 6MT
Performance: Koni Sport Struts/Shocks, Eibach Pro-Kit, 17x9 Apex ARC-8, TMS F&R Sway bars, M3 RTABs w/ Vorshlag Limiters, M3 Strut Brace

Aesthetics/Functionality: TFX Projector retrofit by lightwerkz, 20% Tint, OEM Aux Input, Clear corners, LED taillights, M3 Steering wheel, Black kidney grills, mobius dash cam

Last edited by bimmernate; 05-16-2015 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:07 PM   #4
325ragtop
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Since OP used Lemfoerder, we'll need OP to chime in... I went with poly.
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Old 05-16-2015, 10:14 PM   #5
crackerlee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmernate View Post
great DIY! how did you "preload" the bushing when you tightened up the bracket? what was your reference point? different people do it different ways, i've seen some people use 8mm above wheel bearing center line but am just curious. Thanks

Not sure I understand what you're asking. Can you clarify? Thanks.
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Old 05-16-2015, 10:32 PM   #6
bimmernate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crackerlee View Post
Not sure I understand what you're asking. Can you clarify? Thanks.
when you tighten the bracket on the bushing, it needs to be done with the bracket at a specific angle so when it's bolted back up to the car the bushing has no torsion on it otherwise the bushing will fail pre-maturely. I'm probably not explaining it very well. See this thread.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=927014

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Performance: Koni Sport Struts/Shocks, Eibach Pro-Kit, 17x9 Apex ARC-8, TMS F&R Sway bars, M3 RTABs w/ Vorshlag Limiters, M3 Strut Brace

Aesthetics/Functionality: TFX Projector retrofit by lightwerkz, 20% Tint, OEM Aux Input, Clear corners, LED taillights, M3 Steering wheel, Black kidney grills, mobius dash cam
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Old 05-16-2015, 10:53 PM   #7
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The "preload" on the bushing is done by positioning the bracket at a specific angle to the arm. If the angle is wrong, the bracket will twist when bolted to the body, thus exerting pressure on the bushing.
Take a look at the Bentley service manual.
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Old 05-16-2015, 11:02 PM   #8
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My home-made preload tool:

Looks ghetto, but is made to position the bracket precisely as specified in the manual.
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Old 05-17-2015, 12:22 AM   #9
DEADF15H
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Megalocnus View Post
My home-made preload tool:

Looks ghetto, but is made to position the bracket precisely as specified in the manual.
I can't get the photo to show on my phone. It might be my phone, if anyone else is having this please chime in, otherwise I'll wait for when I'm on my computer.
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Old 05-17-2015, 12:51 AM   #10
bimmernate
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i can see the photo. Can you describe exactly how the manual describes the positioning to be at? how thick is the green part on the end?
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Performance: Koni Sport Struts/Shocks, Eibach Pro-Kit, 17x9 Apex ARC-8, TMS F&R Sway bars, M3 RTABs w/ Vorshlag Limiters, M3 Strut Brace

Aesthetics/Functionality: TFX Projector retrofit by lightwerkz, 20% Tint, OEM Aux Input, Clear corners, LED taillights, M3 Steering wheel, Black kidney grills, mobius dash cam
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Old 05-17-2015, 02:06 AM   #11
Megalocnus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmernate View Post
i can see the photo. Can you describe exactly how the manual describes the positioning to be at? how thick is the green part on the end?
I'll try, but please take a look at the scheme on page 330-9.

The bottom (flat) surface of the bracket is oriented parallel to a plane 8 mm below, which passes through the center of the wheel.
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Old 05-17-2015, 02:29 AM   #12
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OP probably didn't know about the preload requirement. Glad folks chimed in mentioning that as this DIY thread, though very good, would be incomplete without it.
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Old 05-17-2015, 07:11 AM   #13
crackerlee
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I should read my manual more often
I tightened the bracket to the bushing with the wood wedged (pic in step 8) between the arm and the bracket. This resulted in almost no tension when I mounted the bracket back onto the frame. The result of aligning it 8mm below hub bore is to have no tension on the bushing when reinstalled right? Thanks guys.


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Old 05-17-2015, 08:28 AM   #14
BaliDawg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crackerlee View Post
The result of aligning it 8mm below hub bore is to have no tension on the bushing when reinstalled right?
Correct. The idea here, as with some other BMW bushings, is to have no tension on the bushing when the suspension is normally loaded - the car is sitting with wheels on the ground at normal ride height. This helps the bushing last longer since the majority of its time it is under no strain.

It will work if you don't preload the bushing during installation, but the bushing will prematurely fail.
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:54 AM   #15
hitbyastick
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Regarding the bushing. OP's replacement bushing has a flange on one side. The original bushing did not have this flange. I have bought replacement Lem RTABs and they do not have this flange on one side. They look more like the original bushing. Somebody explain.
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Old 05-17-2015, 09:10 AM   #16
cvx5832
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crackerlee View Post
8. re-installing the bracket and finishing the job.
Update: Be sure to position the bracket when reinstalling the bracket to the bushing (single 18mm bolt) (search for RTAB preload) so the bushings don't twist when attaching the (three 18mm bolts) bracket to the car (the bracket should be about flat against the car body). If it is not, you might be putting tension on the bushing which will greatly reduce the service life.
Great write-up. However the above should be flat against the body under load. Which means while you're installing it, as the pictures shared above show, it won't be flush against the body. The bushing only returns to "neutral" after the car is back on the ground. This is why lowered cars rip through RTABs if they've original.

Of course with poly, none of this applies. That's just a footnote. I'm a Lemfoerder kinda dude.
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Old 05-17-2015, 07:53 PM   #17
scottjoh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crackerlee View Post
I should read my manual more often
I tightened the bracket to the bushing with the wood wedged (pic in step 8) between the arm and the bracket. This resulted in almost no tension when I mounted the bracket back onto the frame. The result of aligning it 8mm below hub bore is to have no tension on the bushing when reinstalled right? Thanks guys.
Those new RTABs will be toast in very little time without the proper preload. Should have just gone with polys which allow the bolt and sleeve to rotate freely in the bushing making preloading completely unnecessary. I believe, but, am not 100% sure, that a lowered suspension will require a slightly different preload setting even though the Bentley makes no mention of any difference for sport, non-sport and M3. For this reason I just said the hell with it and went with polyurethane bushings when I installed the Bilstein coilovers.

Last edited by scottjoh; 05-17-2015 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 05-22-2015, 05:45 PM   #18
crackerlee
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I re-did my RTABS with urethane bushings so I didn't have to deal with preloading. Created a new thread.

Admins - you can delete this one

Last edited by crackerlee; 05-22-2015 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 05-28-2015, 11:45 PM   #19
bimmernate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Megalocnus View Post
I'll try, but please take a look at the scheme on page 330-9.

The bottom (flat) surface of the bracket is oriented parallel to a plane 8 mm below, which passes through the center of the wheel.
How thick is that wood wedge?

Usually, i see people just use a straight edge from just below the carrier housing to a point 8mm ABOVE the center of the hub (which is actually shown in the photo that I posted above). But then i have seen posts by mango and a few others which state 8mm below the hub. I'm inclined to go below the hub since i'm lowered. thoughts?
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2003 330i ZHP 6MT
Performance: Koni Sport Struts/Shocks, Eibach Pro-Kit, 17x9 Apex ARC-8, TMS F&R Sway bars, M3 RTABs w/ Vorshlag Limiters, M3 Strut Brace

Aesthetics/Functionality: TFX Projector retrofit by lightwerkz, 20% Tint, OEM Aux Input, Clear corners, LED taillights, M3 Steering wheel, Black kidney grills, mobius dash cam

Last edited by bimmernate; 05-28-2015 at 11:46 PM.
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Old 06-01-2015, 05:36 AM   #20
crackerlee
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I actually replaced my RTABs again with poly's. So I didnt have to deal with preloading, and renting an rtab tool if I needed to do this again in the future. I wrote up another thread on that.
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