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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 12-03-2016, 10:10 PM   #1
Tippey764
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DIY: Replacing front control arm balljoints

I've seen a bunch of people buying new control arms to simply replace the only balljoint on the arm. I didn't want to spend $100+ on an arm when you can buy e36 all metal balljoints for much cheaper and press them in.

These are the balljoints used in my DIY

https://www.ecstuning.com/b-meyle-hd...1126758510~my/

Step 1: remove the control arm from the car, I won't be covering this part

Step 2: make relief cuts into the bottom of the balljoint cover and pop it off







Step 3: Remove the balljoint from the rubber isolating insert. First remove the rubber boot at the top to keep it out of the way as it pressed through out the bottom. One of my control arms was worn out and it came out easy, the other one I had to press the joint out, they both were fused to the rubber and tore it up on the way out You might be able to pry it out with a screw driver if you're lucky. Get creative.







Step 4: now you're left with this open hole. You're going to want to make relief cuts into the side of it ( you might make some marks into the control arm but thats fine, one or two won't hurt it. ) After you make the relief cuts start to hammer it from the side to collapse it inside the hole. After you make some progress you can hammer this metal sleeve out the bottom







Step 5: Take your new balljoint and press it into the arm



Step 6: You're all done, reinstall the arm to the car.

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Old 12-03-2016, 10:47 PM   #2
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What size socket are using there to press the new balljoint in?
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Old 12-04-2016, 12:06 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason325xi View Post
What size socket are using there to press the new balljoint in?
None. Thats just acting as the receiving cup. I believe its a 46mm though normally used for the front axle nuts on a RWD model.
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Old 12-04-2016, 12:34 AM   #4
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Very, very nice DIY. Thank you.
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Old 12-04-2016, 12:37 AM   #5
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Oh i see, so it just had to be big enough for the balljoint to poke through. Thanks tippey!
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Old 12-04-2016, 04:40 AM   #6
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Is that the original OEM control arm? I'd forget how much thicker they look, are they any stronger then the more skeletal design? Fun reading, nice photos, great information!
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Old 12-07-2016, 07:04 PM   #7
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I'm assuming you have an xi, seeing as you posted in the xi forum. I just did this same job a few months ago and I took the arms to a friends house to use his press. We used an air chisel to remove the old joints, the flange on the original ones were physically larger than the end of the arm. We installed the new joints (the same ones you used, non m e36 outer joints) with a ball joint tool like the ones you can rent from AutoZone and an impact wrench. Make sure you get an alignment, because the new joints aren't offset like the original and you will gain castor. This will affect toe in. Either way $50+ for the joints and about the same for a front end alignment is way less than the cost of a new Lemforder control arm and new bushings.
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Old 12-07-2016, 09:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BKMrSteel View Post
Is that the original OEM control arm? I'd forget how much thicker they look, are they any stronger then the more skeletal design? Fun reading, nice photos, great information!
I believe the arm in the guide is the original arm. The right arm was an unknown brand bought from parts authority. I honestly believe its just an OEM rebuilt arm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmo69 View Post
I'm assuming you have an xi, seeing as you posted in the xi forum. I just did this same job a few months ago and I took the arms to a friends house to use his press. We used an air chisel to remove the old joints, the flange on the original ones were physically larger than the end of the arm. We installed the new joints (the same ones you used, non m e36 outer joints) with a ball joint tool like the ones you can rent from AutoZone and an impact wrench. Make sure you get an alignment, because the new joints aren't offset like the original and you will gain castor. This will affect toe in. Either way $50+ for the joints and about the same for a front end alignment is way less than the cost of a new Lemforder control arm and new bushings.
Yes I have an xi, non xi arms are aluminum.

Yeah I had to get an alignment afterwards, my steering wheel was noticeably off, that being said I already needed an alignment before hand so I went ahead and just replaced a bunch of stuff before doing the alignment.

I replaced my front control arm bushings, ball joints, inner/outer tie rods, and rear trailing arm bushings. Its a night and day difference on the road now.
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Old 12-08-2016, 03:30 AM   #9
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How secure is that ball joint? What if it falls out of the arm?
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Old 12-12-2016, 08:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46alfonso View Post
How secure is that ball joint? What if it falls out of the arm?
It's as secure as the originals, it won't fall out.
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Old 07-23-2019, 08:09 AM   #11
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outer ball joints

My sons 04 325xi needed some love however money was a major factor. Unfortunately for him so was the fact that he could not pass a NYS inspection due to worn rear brakes and worn front outer ball joints. I have been turning wrenches for quite some time and he is learning although does not have quite the willingness to devote the time it takes to keep up with these cars.
I priced out what it would take to replace LCA bushings, outer ball joints, inner ball joints, torn outer l/h cv boot and rear brakes. It came to around $400 from FCP. I have had a 20 ton press for quite some time so we were not intimidated by performing the job you guys have laid out for us.
I must say it went as smooth as could be. The so called unremovable outer ball joints put up little resistance after using a cutting wheel to remove the lower cap. The one tool I did miss having was an air chisel or small electric chipping gun to remove the ball joint. I used an large hand chisel and my trusty lump hammer and the ball joint put up little resistance in being removed. The new e36 out ball joint went in smooth as silk.
My son performed 85% of the labor as I am suffering some knee issues and all in all he did very well. I cannot say we raced through the repair as we had a few days to perform this and in addition we did it during those extremely hot days last week in our driveway but for the most part it was a good experience for both him and I.
Thank you fellow fanatics for your input on this DIY as you guys were instrumental in helping him save a few bucks and PASS HIS NYS INSPECTION.
Tom
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Old 07-23-2019, 10:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tttomttt View Post
My sons 04 325xi needed some love however money was a major factor. Unfortunately for him so was the fact that he could not pass a NYS inspection due to worn rear brakes and worn front outer ball joints. I have been turning wrenches for quite some time and he is learning although does not have quite the willingness to devote the time it takes to keep up with these cars.
I priced out what it would take to replace LCA bushings, outer ball joints, inner ball joints, torn outer l/h cv boot and rear brakes. It came to around $400 from FCP. I have had a 20 ton press for quite some time so we were not intimidated by performing the job you guys have laid out for us.
I must say it went as smooth as could be. The so called unremovable outer ball joints put up little resistance after using a cutting wheel to remove the lower cap. The one tool I did miss having was an air chisel or small electric chipping gun to remove the ball joint. I used an large hand chisel and my trusty lump hammer and the ball joint put up little resistance in being removed. The new e36 out ball joint went in smooth as silk.
My son performed 85% of the labor as I am suffering some knee issues and all in all he did very well. I cannot say we raced through the repair as we had a few days to perform this and in addition we did it during those extremely hot days last week in our driveway but for the most part it was a good experience for both him and I.
Thank you fellow fanatics for your input on this DIY as you guys were instrumental in helping him save a few bucks and PASS HIS NYS INSPECTION.
Tom
An air chisel is my tool of choice when I do this job, my little home made press with the 8 ton bottle jack presses the joints in easily, does a nice job on the e36 bushings I use too. They are easier to press than the big xi bushings.
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Old 08-12-2019, 11:17 AM   #13
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Being in Canada, I'm putting in a order with RockAuto for a few other parts and they have several metal ball joints i noticed.. would this one from Lemforder work ($22.66)? https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo...0471&jsn=10471

Is the physical shape of the exposed bottom part an issue as they Meyle joint is flat on the bottom.

This ULTRA-POWER ball joint is the same shape, looks identical to the Meyle HD and almost a quarter the price $6.99 from Rock Auto:https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo...0312&jsn=10466

And a Uro ball joint ($15.37) that is same shape but black: https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo...9073&jsn=10469
thanks


Some pics:
Lemforder:


Uro:


ULTRA-POWER K500080
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:43 PM   #14
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@jmo69 @Tippey764

Will the Lemforder ball joint work? thoughts?

thanks.. need to place the order asap.. have a cracked radiator to replace in the same order.
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Old 08-15-2019, 03:10 PM   #15
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bump..
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Old 08-16-2019, 07:57 AM   #16
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I used Meyle HD 31126758510. $20 each.
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Old 08-16-2019, 10:21 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMannyW View Post
bump..
The Meyle is my ball joint of choice because of the all metal construction, Lemforder would be my second choice. I don't think the shape of the bottom is an issue.
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Old 08-16-2019, 08:29 AM   #18
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How do I know if my ball joints need to be replaced?
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Old 08-16-2019, 10:26 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by EvaJuli View Post
How do I know if my ball joints need to be replaced?
I heard a clunk on my car when driving into my driveway approach and with the wheel off the ground the control arm can be moved up and down separate from the knuckle. Or if you can get the ball joint out of the knuckle without ripping the boot the stud will move back and forth easily.
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Last edited by jmo69; 08-16-2019 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 12-02-2019, 04:09 PM   #20
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Just ordered these, new FCAB, & inner joints....weekend project coming up.

Question is, can you get a ball joint separator in there or you need a pickle fork for the knuckle side (not the inners).
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