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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 04-20-2012, 12:17 AM   #21
SLO Town
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m5ccie View Post
This is great Scott,

When you remove the rack and pinion, do you actually disconnect the hydraulic hoses, remove the tie rod ends, etc, and completely remove the rack? Or do you just remove the rack mounts and there's enough room to move the rack and pinion out of the way without the need to disconnect everything else?

Also, when you remove the crossbar with the old control arms on it, how do you remove the old inner ball joints, especially if there are rusted and stuck?

Thanks,
Jim
Jim, no, you do not have to disconnect hoses, tie rods ends, etc. All you have to do is unbolt the steering rack from the subframe and let it hang there! Two bolts! Easy!

As far as removing the inner ball joint studs from the subframe ("crossbar" in your message)....with the subframe completely out of the car and out in the open, remove the inner ball joint nuts and smack the threaded end of the ball joint studs with a hammer. They will come out, rusty or not. DO NOT USE A PICKLE FORK!

Of course, you have to hold the subframe off the floor/ground/bench so the studs have room to travel out through the holes in the subframe. Understand?

Scott
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Last edited by SLO Town; 04-20-2012 at 12:22 AM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:07 PM   #22
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Yep, thank you.
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:28 PM   #23
shata
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLO Town View Post
OP, Kroh, and all others:

First, OP, glad you were able to complete the job.

But, THERE IS A MUCH EASIER WAY TO REMOVE/INSTALL THE INNER BALL JOINTS OF THE FRONT CONTROL ARMS.

I have done this myself! No pickle forks. No mauling of your front cross brace. No prying against parts that aren't designed to be pryed against! No cussing. No cut up or bruised hands. No meltdown!

The pictures are worth 1,000 words. Done this way, let me just say, the job is really easy. Really, really easy.

Questions?

Scott
I myself am more impressed of how clean the underside of that car is... Amazing either you clean it alot or you never drive it in bad weather ever lol.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:40 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by shata View Post
I myself am more impressed of how clean the underside of that car is... Amazing either you clean it alot or you never drive it in bad weather ever lol.
You have no idea! There is a whole thread on this gentleman's car where he details how he cleans the underside on a regular schedule. Check out his past posts and you'll see things you never thought possible.
Maybe in my next life!
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:49 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by SLO Town View Post

But, THERE IS A MUCH EASIER WAY TO REMOVE/INSTALL THE INNER BALL JOINTS OF THE FRONT CONTROL ARMS.

I have done this myself! No pickle forks.

Scott
Ingenious. But I'm not getting what is so difficult about just doing the ball joints with the pickle. Mine popped out on both sides. So worth a try first.
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Old 04-21-2012, 02:34 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLO Town View Post
OP, Kroh, and all others:

First, OP, glad you were able to complete the job.

But, THERE IS A MUCH EASIER WAY TO REMOVE/INSTALL THE INNER BALL JOINTS OF THE FRONT CONTROL ARMS.

I have done this myself! No pickle forks. No mauling of your front cross brace. No prying against parts that aren't designed to be pryed against! No cussing. No cut up or bruised hands. No meltdown!

The pictures are worth 1,000 words. Done this way, let me just say, the job is really easy. Really, really easy.

Questions?

Scott
Scott,
What brand of engine jack is that? That is similar to ones I have seen, only a better made version. Were you able to do your engine mounts with this as well? Any info about where it came from would be appreciated. And thanks for the advice, since I will be tackling this job at some point in the near future!

@OP do whatever this man says, even if it involves chicken blood, a full moon, and a virgin sacrifice.
He has one of the most well preserved and thoughtfully modified e46's I have ever seen. Not to mention that his work would pass an FAA inspection. His car looks like it just rolled off the boat from Germany, even after all these years. If I could get my car to 50% of the condition of his, I could double the asking price. He operates at a higher level than the rest of us.
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Old 04-21-2012, 02:36 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by shata View Post
Amazing either you clean it alot or you never drive it in bad weather ever lol.
Both. It is awesome.
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Old 04-21-2012, 02:50 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Stinger9 View Post
Ingenious. But I'm not getting what is so difficult about just doing the ball joints with the pickle. Mine popped out on both sides. So worth a try first.
Because you are not just beating on the control arms that you are replacing, you are also wailing away at the mating parts that you are not replacing. What he is telling you is not that this is the only way, but that it is a better way, that reduces the chance of damaging parts you will not be replacing. Maybe it is a small distinction, but that is why our cars look and age they way they do, and his does not. His methods may look like a bit more work, but they are less destructive in the end.
In the end, you know the condition of your car. If it has already beaten, battered, and a little rusty, then a cleaner, simpler, less destructive method may not be the biggest priority. It is not necessarily better or worse, it just depends on what you want as an end result. My car is pretty much unmolested. It may not be as clean as Scott's, but it has not had any major components removed, so a method that preserves its condition is something I want to do.
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:50 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MJLavelle View Post
Because you are not just beating on the control arms that you are replacing, you are also wailing away at the mating parts that you are not replacing. What he is telling you is not that this is the only way, but that it is a better way, that reduces the chance of damaging parts you will not be replacing. Maybe it is a small distinction, but that is why our cars look and age they way they do, and his does not. His methods may look like a bit more work, but they are less destructive in the end.
In the end, you know the condition of your car. If it has already beaten, battered, and a little rusty, then a cleaner, simpler, less destructive method may not be the biggest priority. It is not necessarily better or worse, it just depends on what you want as an end result. My car is pretty much unmolested. It may not be as clean as Scott's, but it has not had any major components removed, so a method that preserves its condition is something I want to do.
Let's not anthropomorphize our subframes. Normally there's 3400 lb. moving at 80mph jouncing on our balljoints. They can easily take the pickle fork.

Did you check out the full complement of pics for Scott's showpiece car?
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:55 AM   #30
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MJ, Stinger, Jules, Mango, and others:

First, thanks for the kind comments. FYI, my special ordered and bought new by me 330 has never been driven in rain nor has it spent a single night parked outside. I was fortunate to retire at 52 (with no pension) and I have alot more time than you folks who still work. The only thing is that, now at 59, the concrete floor seems to be getting more and more uncomfortable than it was in years past! Don't laugh, it'll happen to you too one day!

Related comment, P21S Total Body Wash is one of my most essential detailing products. Many cleaners dull bare aluminum and/or painted surfaces. P21S TBW does not but still cleans better than any other product I've used previously.

Now, control arms:

1) I checked my maintenance log for the receipt for the engine support and must have tossed it. I don't remember where I bought it, but it is a super heavy duty one. It must weigh 50 or 60 pounds. However, I do remember that it wasn't that expensive. Understand too, it is a universal one and not BMW specific.

2) With all due respect, it is my opinion that pickle forks are less than ideal, primitive tools. Pickle forks are more suitable for use on primitive vehicles, not on finely engineered BMWs.

3) The subframe on your E46 is formed sheet metal and welded together in sections, with tapered sleeves inside the structure. Even with a small capenter's hammer you could beat the subframe into an unrecognizable piece. As a consequence, a pickle fork will deform the subframe, especially around the tapered sleeves. This is not a good thing.

4) There are more suitable uses for pickle forks, like removing ball joints from a FORGED piece such as your outer front suspension carrier. Personally, I still wouldn't use a pickle fork on this either, and prefer the pivot style ball joint removers (the one you tighten a bolt to release the ball joint).

5) In my 9 years on this forum, and in my 46 years of turning wrenches on cars, there are many variables in what can make a job difficult. I have seen countless threads on this forum where people describe problems removing the inner ball joints. But then, some people seem to have only minor hassles. There is a reason for this.

6) How difficult your ball joints are to remove is dependent on three key factors; 1) the age of the car and whether or not corrosion is present, 2) whether or not the ball joints where over torqued and/or had their tapers lubes (NEVER lube the taper!), 3) one's mechanical skills and/or simple luck.

7) Removing the subframe provides an IDEAL opportunity to perform other maintenance items. Want to replace your engine mounts? With the subframe out of the car the most difficult part of this is removing the air cleaner box so you can get to the left side, upper engine mount bolt. Piece of cake! Want to pull you oil pan to inspect things, safety wire your oil pump nut, and/or install the an oil pan windage tray? Easy! How about installing the Turner engine mount/subframe reinforcement kit? All you need is someone to weld it up and you're done. Awesome! Or, you can make a thorough inspection of this area - a really thorough inspection - and while you're at it clean things up with some P21S and hot water and you'll make things look like they're brand new. Well, maybe only for you OCD folks like me....

8) Perhaps most importantly, after 46 years of turning wrenches on my cars there is NOTHING MORE DISTURBING than having a meltdown due to difficulties with the job. In years past, I sometimes cussed words that weren't even words and at times thought I was going to keel over and die. That is a MISERABLE feeling and, as we all know, you don't do your best work when you're in this state of mind! So, just be prepared, get the proper tools, have a plan, and most importantly, make sure you have ENOUGH TIME to do the job.

I think this covers everything. Any other questions? I am here in a sincere attempt to help.

Scott

PS MJ, hope you're feeling better.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:56 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLO Town View Post
Stinger, The only thing is that, now at 59, the concrete floor seems to be getting more and more uncomfortable than it was in years past! Don't laugh, it'll happen to you too one day!
I was just browsing at Sears last night as they invent new things that I never heard of before. Just discovered a 'wobbly' socket tip on a bavauto youtube, and I picked one up. Amazing what I never had before that I need now!

Anyway, your knees on the concrete; I saw two varieties of cushioning pads at Sears. They sell like 2' X 2' interlocking squares that you fit together on the floor to give some cushion instead of pushing your bones into concrete. You can get 24 sq ft total of the stuff for $20. I'll try it next job. On sale at Harbor Freight now for only $9.99

As for undercar clean, it is interesting the diff levels of purity. I never drive in snow so I get no salt ever. I do drive cross country so I naturally see lots of rain and park outside in motel parking lots.
I was just under my car and for an eight year old car, the salt really makes the difference. So much is so clean compared to every other car I've ever had that I drove thru snow. Even without your meticulous care, I have faith that rust or corrosion will not be what eventually takes my car out.

Last edited by Stinger9; 04-21-2012 at 06:20 PM.
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Old 04-21-2012, 02:06 PM   #32
Gus330vrum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLO Town View Post
MJ, Stinger, Jules, Mango, and others:

First, thanks for the kind comments. FYI, my special ordered and bought new by me 330 has never been driven in rain nor has it spent a single night parked outside. I was fortunate to retire at 52 (with no pension) and I have alot more time than you folks who still work. The only thing is that, now at 59, the concrete floor seems to be getting more and more uncomfortable than it was in years past! Don't laugh, it'll happen to you too one day!

Related comment, P21S Total Body Wash is one of my most essential detailing products. Many cleaners dull bare aluminum and/or painted surfaces. P21S TBW does not but still cleans better than any other product I've used previously.

Now, control arms:

1) I checked my maintenance log for the receipt for the engine support and must have tossed it. I don't remember where I bought it, but it is a super heavy duty one. It must weigh 50 or 60 pounds. However, I do remember that it wasn't that expensive. Understand too, it is a universal one and not BMW specific.

2) With all due respect, it is my opinion that pickle forks are less than ideal, primitive tools. Pickle forks are more suitable for use on primitive vehicles, not on finely engineered BMWs.

3) The subframe on your E46 is formed sheet metal and welded together in sections, with tapered sleeves inside the structure. Even with a small capenter's hammer you could beat the subframe into an unrecognizable piece. As a consequence, a pickle fork will deform the subframe, especially around the tapered sleeves. This is not a good thing.

4) There are more suitable uses for pickle forks, like removing ball joints from a FORGED piece such as your outer front suspension carrier. Personally, I still wouldn't use a pickle fork on this either, and prefer the pivot style ball joint removers (the one you tighten a bolt to release the ball joint).

5) In my 9 years on this forum, and in my 46 years of turning wrenches on cars, there are many variables in what can make a job difficult. I have seen countless threads on this forum where people describe problems removing the inner ball joints. But then, some people seem to have only minor hassles. There is a reason for this.

6) How difficult your ball joints are to remove is dependent on three key factors; 1) the age of the car and whether or not corrosion is present, 2) whether or not the ball joints where over torqued and/or had their tapers lubes (NEVER lube the taper!), 3) one's mechanical skills and/or simple luck.

7) Removing the subframe provides an IDEAL opportunity to perform other maintenance items. Want to replace your engine mounts? With the subframe out of the car the most difficult part of this is removing the air cleaner box so you can get to the left side, upper engine mount bolt. Piece of cake! Want to pull you oil pan to inspect things, safety wire your oil pump nut, and/or install the an oil pan windage tray? Easy! How about installing the Turner engine mount/subframe reinforcement kit? All you need is someone to weld it up and you're done. Awesome! Or, you can make a thorough inspection of this area - a really thorough inspection - and while you're at it clean things up with some P21S and hot water and you'll make things look like they're brand new. Well, maybe only for you OCD folks like me....

8) Perhaps most importantly, after 46 years of turning wrenches on my cars there is NOTHING MORE DISTURBING than having a meltdown due to difficulties with the job. In years past, I sometimes cussed words that weren't even words and at times thought I was going to keel over and die. That is a MISERABLE feeling and, as we all know, you don't do your best work when you're in this state of mind! So, just be prepared, get the proper tools, have a plan, and most importantly, make sure you have ENOUGH TIME to do the job.

I think this covers everything. Any other questions? I am here in a sincere attempt to help.

Scott

PS MJ, hope you're feeling better.
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Old 04-22-2012, 07:23 AM   #33
jules vernon
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Hey guys, just wanted to report that all parts are back on the car, I went out for a test drive yesterday and she feels amazing!! Super glad I did this job, despite all the hurdles (which I view as learning experiences more than anything else)... If I had to do this job again, I'd make sure I use SLO Town's method just because of that passenger side inner ball joint nut.

I also wanted to thank everyone who came in here and took time to encourage/share ideas/methods, etc. because it really did help alot. This is why I love this site! Now off to do a little driving!

Cheers!
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Old 04-22-2012, 09:43 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by jules vernon View Post
Hey guys, just wanted to report that all parts are back on the car, I went out for a test drive yesterday and she feels amazing!! Super glad I did this job, despite all the hurdles (which I view as learning experiences more than anything else)... If I had to do this job again, I'd make sure I use SLO Town's method just because of that passenger side inner ball joint nut.

I also wanted to thank everyone who came in here and took time to encourage/share ideas/methods, etc. because it really did help alot. This is why I love this site! Now off to do a little driving!

Cheers!
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Old 04-26-2012, 03:38 AM   #35
escabar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLO Town View Post
OP, Kroh, and all others:

First, OP, glad you were able to complete the job.

But, THERE IS A MUCH EASIER WAY TO REMOVE/INSTALL THE INNER BALL JOINTS OF THE FRONT CONTROL ARMS.

I have done this myself! No pickle forks. No mauling of your front cross brace. No prying against parts that aren't designed to be pryed against! No cussing. No cut up or bruised hands. No meltdown!

The pictures are worth 1,000 words. Done this way, let me just say, the job is really easy. Really, really easy.

Questions?

Scott
I am nearing this point. Nuts are off of the inner control arm joints. Passenger side came of with a few whacks of a pickle force and 3lb hammer. But the driver side is wedged. Have tried a 10 lb sledge, heating with a torch to break any corrosion. PB Blaster soaked for a few days. Nothing has worked. Now trying an air hammer.

Your last pic is exactly what I need done to whack the inner joint from above with the cross member off. Can this be done without the engine brace (prob not)? Do you have links to the engine support beam and detailed instructions for noobs like me who haven't done this before? Sounds like to mount the engine bar brace (how is it mount on the side of the engine? and hook to the hook support. Four bolts + 2 engine mount bolts from below?
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:17 AM   #36
Stinger9
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Originally Posted by escabar View Post
I am nearing this point. Nuts are off of the inner control arm joints. Passenger side came of with a few whacks of a pickle force and 3lb hammer. But the driver side is wedged. Have tried a 10 lb sledge, heating with a torch to break any corrosion. PB Blaster soaked for a few days. Nothing has worked. Now trying an air hammer.

Your last pic is exactly what I need done to whack the inner joint from above with the cross member off. Can this be done without the engine brace (prob not)? Do you have links to the engine support beam and detailed instructions for noobs like me who haven't done this before? Sounds like to mount the engine bar brace (how is it mount on the side of the engine? and hook to the hook support. Four bolts + 2 engine mount bolts from below?
need the engine brace for sure!
Harbor Freight sells for reasonable; instructions prob come with the unit.
unit rests on the inner fender lips.
maybe search for motor mount replacement DIY which would require this tool?

have you tried a different pickle fork? that was the trick for me.
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:36 PM   #37
SLO Town
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Quote:
Originally Posted by escabar View Post
I am nearing this point. Nuts are off of the inner control arm joints. Passenger side came of with a few whacks of a pickle force and 3lb hammer. But the driver side is wedged. Have tried a 10 lb sledge, heating with a torch to break any corrosion. PB Blaster soaked for a few days. Nothing has worked. Now trying an air hammer.

Your last pic is exactly what I need done to whack the inner joint from above with the cross member off. Can this be done without the engine brace (prob not)? Do you have links to the engine support beam and detailed instructions for noobs like me who haven't done this before? Sounds like to mount the engine bar brace (how is it mount on the side of the engine? and hook to the hook support. Four bolts + 2 engine mount bolts from below?
escabar:

The "engine support beam" attaches to the hook on the front of the engine. Also, it rests on the inner fender edges that are covered by the edges of the hood. Take a close look at the pictures that I posted earlier in this thread.

The idea is not to lift the engine, per se, but to support it. All you'll want to do is raise it up ever so slightly after you remove the lower engine mount nuts. The bottom of the engine mounts relative to your subframe is your "gauge" as to how far to lift.

Also have a bottle jack handy to "trim" the engine. The purpose of the bottle jack is not to support the engine, rather, just to level it so everything slips apart and goes back together without having to pry on things.

Once you have the engine properly supported (and the lower engine mount nuts removed), all you have to do is remove the two bolts that hold the rack and pinion to the subframe (do not disconnect tie rods ends or power steering lines), and then remove the four bolts that hold the subframe to the chassis.

Once you having things safely support and trimmed, you will be surprised how easy this job is! R&R your engine mounts while you're at it.

Questions?

Scott
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Old 10-01-2012, 02:14 PM   #38
szinski
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Inner ball joints look easy to remove in this video.

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Old 10-02-2012, 08:02 AM   #39
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Use a bigger hammer.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:12 AM   #40
szinski
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I'm hearing a "click" from the right-front wheel when I hit the brakes. I'm also picking up a shimmy/vibration at highway speeds. I thought it might be a tire out of balance, so I rotated the tires and the location of the vibration (front end) hasn't changed. Also, I drove the car over one of those steel-deck drawbridges and the car wouldn't track straight... it weaved erratically from side to side in the lane, steering wheel was useless. So, I'm 99% sure that I have either a bad/worn control arm bushing or a bad inner ball joint (or both). So, this weekend I plan to replace all of the lower control arm components.... new bushing, new inner ball joint, and new control arm (and outer ball joint). The car has 124,000 miles on it so it's probably long overdue for this. Going to do both sides then have it aligned. I own the XI, so that video that I posted earlier is what I'll be following. Wish me luck!
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