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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 02-21-2013, 08:19 PM   #1
tomjohnson
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2002 325xi control arm questions/advice

I need some help and hope that someone has been where I am now and direct me to some joy. Part of the issue is that I don't have a whole bunch of tools.

What I have is a kit containing control arms, ball joints and bushings for both sides. I found a DIY video on youtube made by Bently Productions and followed it to the letter but have run into a couple issues.

Problem #1 Left side: The bolt that connects the control arm to the wheel is turning with the nut. In the video, the guy loosened the nut 3/4 of the way and then separated the ball joint then removed the nut the rest of the way. It didn't work out like that for me. How can I get the bolt to stay put while I remove the nut?

Problem #2 Right side: I see absolutely no way to remove the bushing retainer bolts from the frame. There is like a silver cloth fire shield in the way and the bolts for this retainer seem to be inserted from the top going downward into the frame. This is contrary to all of the videos and write ups I've found as they show these bolts, easily accessible from the bottom of the frame.

I was unable to get the wheels off the car because I've just realized that I'm missing the jack and lug nut wrench. (I just bought the car) so I left them on for this repair. I did try and remove the lug nuts with a ratchet and socket but the ratchet busted. I remember reading somewhere that leaving the wheels on while changing the arms is ok.

Anything would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by tomjohnson; 02-21-2013 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:14 PM   #2
SamDoe1
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Oh my where to start...

First of all, I hope you are using jack stands to hold the car up and not just a jack. You should take the wheels off, it makes this much easier. Did you already separate the ball joint from the arm and now the nut isn't coming off? To get at the passenger side bushing you can either bend the heat shield back, making sure to put it back when you're done, or loosen the two screws holding it in place and then slide it back, again making sure to put it back. Whichever is easier for you.

Finally, please don't use the jack that came with the car for anything other than emergencies since its a giant piece of crap. Get some good tools, if you diy work they will easily pay for themselves over and over. Get a set of craftsman tools from sears for about $100 and get to work.

Good luck!

Ps, sorry for the bad writing I'm typing this from my phone.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:04 PM   #3
tomjohnson
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Hi Sam.

Thank you for responding. The car is currently up on stands and I have the wheels turned all the way to the right so that I can access the control arms better. The problem I'm having with the wheels is that I don't have a lug nut tool. I can try and find one though. I can see that this may have been easier if the wheels were off.

Do you have any knowledge about the bushing retainer screws location on the left hand side of the car? Can I access these screws from the bottom of the car? I can't even see them, that's how covered up the bushing is.

Thank you for taking the time to type this on your phone, I really appreciate it!

Last edited by tomjohnson; 02-21-2013 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:11 PM   #4
e46alfonso
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The wheels have to be removed, you have no choice.

It's impossible to remove the passanger side CAB bolts with a normal wrench. You will need a ratcheting wrench to remove them (can't remember the size). Bend the heat shield up as much as you can then get to those bolts from the wheel well.

Getting the bushing off the arm wont be easy but a heavy hammer might do the trick if you don't have a puller.

Take the bushings to a shop to press them out the lollypop and press the PF in. This isn't something you can do youself (and god knows i've tried). My neighbor shop did it for free.

It won't be easy but nothing is impossible.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:07 AM   #5
tomjohnson
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Alfonso, thanks for the reply and the advice. Somehow, I'll have to find a way to remove the wheels. I just had the tires replaced (Hence the control arm job) and the guys at the tire shop must have welded the lugs back on. I've never seen lugs that tight before; I can't even budge them!

Anyhow, I think you're right about taking the wheels off. I'll find something to remove the lugs and then will bend the heat shield up and see how that goes. I'll post back and let you know.

As far as pressing out the old bushings and installing the new ones, I already have a machine shop that is going to do that for me. They're charging me $40.00 for both sides which I think is pretty good.

I wanted to ask you... Is there some sort of a silver metal pan under the car that needs to be removed as well to get to the bushing bracket screws or can I just manipulate the heat shield and access those bolts?

Thank you very much for the advice!

Last edited by tomjohnson; 02-22-2013 at 12:09 AM.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:16 AM   #6
e46alfonso
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Do not bother removing the heat shield because it's a pita. Just bend it up.

To remove the bolts you will need a ratcheting wrench such as this...

I cant remember what size.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:18 AM   #7
e46alfonso
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do not pay a shop more than $15 to remove the bushings from the bracket. $40 is too much. It only takes them 5 min to do it.
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Old 02-22-2013, 01:37 AM   #8
tomjohnson
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Alfonso, thank you.

I believe the size wrench I need for the bushing bolts is 17mm. At least that's what it was for the left side anyway. There is another shop that isn't quite as expensive as the one I told you about but they're further away. That shop wants $7.50 to remove and $7.50 to install the new one x 2 (left and right) = $30.00. Still too much you think? I wasn't able to find anyone else in this one horse town that even had a press. I guess I counted myself lucky that there was even one.

I'll bend the heat shield up and see what that gets me. It seems this whole job was a pita! It doesn't help that I only have a couple of wrenches either. Having the right tools for the job is paramount.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:33 AM   #9
jeepo23
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If your having trouble removing the bolts from the bushing as their too tight, use the 2 wrench trick to get more leverage. Basically like this.
****Now this is not the bolt you want to remove this is just an example.***


Last edited by jeepo23; 02-22-2013 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:10 AM   #10
oafmanwpr
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Your tools in the trunk lid will have a lug wrench for the wheel lugs.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:13 AM   #11
SamDoe1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomjohnson View Post
Hi Sam.

Thank you for responding. The car is currently up on stands and I have the wheels turned all the way to the right so that I can access the control arms better. The problem I'm having with the wheels is that I don't have a lug nut tool. I can try and find one though. I can see that this may have been easier if the wheels were off.

Do you have any knowledge about the bushing retainer screws location on the left hand side of the car? Can I access these screws from the bottom of the car? I can't even see them, that's how covered up the bushing is.

Thank you for taking the time to type this on your phone, I really appreciate it!
The driver side bushings are a piece of cake to get to.

You really need to invest in a good set of tools before tackling something like this...it's well worth it.

I believe an 18mm deep socket and a breaker bar will substitute for your lug nut wrench. You should probably try to find one and keep it in your car just in case...along with a jack. They are included for a reason.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:58 AM   #12
jonnie325xi
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The lug nuts on mine are 17mm.
I bent up the heat shield and used a open end / box wrench to do those back bolts you dont have much swing room so it takes a little time to get them out, and clean them up put a small ammount of never sieze on them and they will go in almost all the way by hand.
If you have loosened the bolt holding on the control arm at the wheel and it is spinning, the top of the bolt should have a allen wrench hole to hold it while you loosen up the nylock nut the rest of the way. or put a jack under the arm and press it back up into the taper it should keep it from spinning to get the nut off.
A good set of wrenches and a socket set will be a great investment for future projects.
Also a pickle fork works good to get the ball joints off, 12-15 bucks at the auot parts store.

Last edited by jonnie325xi; 02-22-2013 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:02 PM   #13
ixtoxi
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No one seems to have addressed his Problem #1. To prevent the balljoint from spinning when you try to remove the nut from the steering knuckle, use a small jack to apply pressure upward at the bottom of the balljoint. This will force the balljoint bolt upward, and provide resistance to allow you to remove the nut.

For Problem #2, remove the two small screws (8-mm wrench found in the tool box under the trunk lid) and slide the heat shield out of the way. You will have to wrestle the heat shield a bit to get it removed rearward. Don't worry about bending it - you can get it back in place and bend it back to shape after you re-install the bolts from above.

Last edited by ixtoxi; 02-22-2013 at 03:57 PM. Reason: mis-spelling
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:03 PM   #14
ixtoxi
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jonnie235xi: sorry, I just saw your post.
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Old 02-22-2013, 02:07 PM   #15
jonnie325xi
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ixtoix: No problem nice to see I must be doing it right if someone else does it that way too.
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Old 02-22-2013, 03:53 PM   #16
mcopenha
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Maybe the first link in my sig will help you. Those bushing carriers have 16mm bolts btw.

I recommended removing the heat shield. Definitely makes things easier.

Last edited by mcopenha; 02-22-2013 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:32 AM   #17
tomjohnson
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You guys are great, thanks to all that have attempted to help me. I took the advice and removed the wheels which made things a bit easier. Both arms are completely off the car now.

I have another dilemma though. The bushings that I took off the car had their hole (where the arm sits) that was perfectly in the center of the bushing. The new bushings that were sent to me have their holes offset. Apparently, this has to do with the caster and camber? I would hate to put this back together only to find out that I have the wrong bushings installed and have to undo everything.

Another possible issue is that the old bushings had an alignment mark that matched an alignment mark on the retainer that holds the bushing. The new bushing did not have any alignment marks what so ever. Because these new bushings have their control arm holes offset, the alignment is probably crucial.

This is what the newly pressed bushing looks like:

I'm not even sure that this bushing is aligned up properly because of the offset. Again, there is absolutely no alignment mark on the bushing what so ever.

What should I do???

Last edited by tomjohnson; 02-24-2013 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:33 AM   #18
tomjohnson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ixtoxi View Post
No one seems to have addressed his Problem #1. To prevent the balljoint from spinning when you try to remove the nut from the steering knuckle, use a small jack to apply pressure upward at the bottom of the balljoint. This will force the balljoint bolt upward, and provide resistance to allow you to remove the nut.

For Problem #2, remove the two small screws (8-mm wrench found in the tool box under the trunk lid) and slide the heat shield out of the way. You will have to wrestle the heat shield a bit to get it removed rearward. Don't worry about bending it - you can get it back in place and bend it back to shape after you re-install the bolts from above.
Thank you so much for this invaluable information!
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Old 02-25-2013, 12:11 PM   #19
mcopenha
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomjohnson View Post
I have another dilemma though. The bushings that I took off the car had their hole (where the arm sits) that was perfectly in the center of the bushing. The new bushings that were sent to me have their holes offset. Apparently, this has to do with the caster and camber? I would hate to put this back together only to find out that I have the wrong bushings installed and have to undo everything.
strange there were no markings. did you purchase lemforder bushings? The lemforder ones I used had markings. But yours look correct -- the hole in the bushing should be closer to the "stick" of the lollypop carrier.

again, refer to the first link in my sig.
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Old 02-25-2013, 12:24 PM   #20
tomjohnson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcopenha View Post
strange there were no markings. did you purchase lemforder bushings? The lemforder ones I used had markings. But yours look correct -- the hole in the bushing should be closer to the "stick" of the lollypop carrier.

again, refer to the first link in my sig.
I purchased my parts from Deutsche Parts.

I would NEVER, EVER recommend this company for anything! I just hung up with them and they said they'd do a refund but that I have to pay for shipping back to them. In the mean time, I spent 80.00 to have the old bushings pressed out and the wrong ones pressed in. Now I need to spend another 40.00 to have them pressed back out so I can ship them back. What a PITA!

So you think I have the right bushings? I called BMW and they said that I need the bushings that have the hole in the center of the bushing and not offset. How do I get a definite answer??

By the way, mcopenha, thank you for a wonderful DIY! It was well written!

Last edited by tomjohnson; 02-25-2013 at 02:47 PM.
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