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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 07-08-2014, 06:22 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 248
My Ride: 330 Ci convertible
DIY: RTAB (Rear Trailing Arm bushings)

This DIY contains some additions to help people replace their rear trailing arm bushings. I recently changed over my RTABs to power flex polyurethane bushings. The link below is a great reference, and I used it for the job.


Whilst it was a great help there was one thing I didn't agree with, which is how to reposition the trailing arm on the installation to ensure you don't need to realign the rear wheels.

In addition, I used my own home made tool to do the job. I've used this tool to remove more bushings than I care to think of on my car and others. It cost peanuts to make, and you will use it for numerous jobs for years.

Here's the basic tool.

It's just a high tensile threaded bar with a couple of nuts on each end. Also you will need to get a couple of pieces of thick steel. I used 8mm, which is well thick enough for even the hardest to remove bushings. You will need to drill a hole in each that will allow the threaded bar to go through.

I have two threaded bar sizes, 10mm and 12mm, which are used for different bushings depending on the size of the bolt that goes through the middle. I've put two nuts on each end, and welded these at one end to the rod. This was my attempt to make it as strong as possible. As it turns out, this was complete overkill, and for some bushing removal makes it more difficult. Knowing what I do now, the best way would be to have a single high tensile nut at each end, and not bother with any welding. The amount of torque required to remove a bushing isn't that much, so holding one nut with a wrench on one end and turning the other would work very well. Also, this allows you use different lengths of bar, depending on the job. I found this to be an issue with the diff bushing, where space was limited.

Most important though are the dimensions of the pipe pieces on each end. The larger pipe, can be a good few mm larger than the bushing, but the smaller pipe that will pull out the bushing needs to be large enough to contact the metal casing of the bush, but small enough so that it fits through the bushing hole in the trailing arm. The piece I've used was perfect. It was only 0.2mm smaller than the hole in the trailing arm. It doesn't need to be this close if you can't find it. It depends on how thick the metal casing on the bushing is, but generally up to 2mm less than the hole it needs to go through is fine.

The best way I've found to get the correct sized pipe pieces is to take some digital callipers to your local metal retailer. Go out the back and start measuring pipes. It won't take long to find one that fits. You can also see that the smaller pipe here is aluminium. This is fine. I used this piece to pull out the larger diff bushings without problem. This is about as tough a bushing as you will find to remove.

Here's a photo of the original bushing in place. You can see the rubber bits that stick out that might get in the way. On the first one I removed, I cut the rubber piece off with a sharp chisel. On the second I didn't bother, and it came out without any issue.

Here's how everything is connect for removal of the bushing and after bushing removal. Don't be bothered about me using an impact wrench. I'm just lazy, and it's a new toy that I like using given half a chance. It definitely isn't required. Initially you probably need about 60Nm torque to get it moving. Once you've got it initially moving, it will take about this torque to get it all the way out.

The post with the link above talks about scribing a mark around the RTAB bracket. Have a look at the bushing in the top photo. You can see when it was mounted in the arm, it definitely wasn't centered, and this came out of the factory. Putting the bracket back into the same position on installation will only work if you have the bushing installed in exactly the same position. For me, installing the powerflex bushings that will sit perfectly central, the bracket method clearly wasn't going to work.

What is most important is that the arm is mounted in the same position as before. This was how I did it.

Scribe an X on the arm, and also on the fuel tank that is close to it (it's difficult to see in these pictures). Measure it as accurately as you can, and then install with the same distance. I scribed around the bracket before, and the difference on installation was about 2mm. Using this method the alignment is not changed.

I hope this helps some people

Feedback on the bushings: Great. Not as much as the difference it made with the powerflex FCABs I did ages ago, but the original RTABs were in pretty good condition, whereas the FCABs I replaced were completely shot. The car drives like a go cart in comparison to what it did on the original bushings.
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Last edited by jjrichar; 07-16-2014 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:08 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Northeast
Posts: 3,007
My Ride: 2001 330cic & 530i
Great Job!

I had a more aggressive alignment done after my write up you referred to and that made the car handle like it was on rails, even bettr than post install.

Last edited by fmzip; 07-08-2014 at 08:15 AM.
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Old 07-11-2014, 11:20 AM   #3
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My Ride: 99 323i
I've got the poly FCAB & RTAB bushing, along with heavy duty rear shock mounts going in hopefully this weekend. Next week most likely the poly f&r sway bar bushings. I'm pretty excited, as I expect it to drastically increase my handling.
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Old 07-16-2014, 04:46 PM   #4
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Awesome, thanks!
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