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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 12-10-2019, 06:06 PM   #1
darkfires102
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Control arms, shop cost

Looks like my lower control arms on both sides are pretty cooked, my drivers side ball joint has at least a half an inch of play at 9 and 3, the passengers side aint doing so hot either... I usually DIY but considering ill need to use a press and it'll be a somewhat PITA on the XIs, I decided to bring the car to a shop...My BMW indy wanted almost 2 grand for parts and labor, I got the whole refresh kit for 300 shipped on ECS...I been shopping around and it seems the best price I can get is 480 labor for both sides and an alignment...3.5 hour job. Can anyone else report what it cost them for the control arms to be replaced?
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Old 12-10-2019, 08:30 PM   #2
jmo69
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I DIY and do outer ball joints and bushings for less than $67. Haven't done inner joints yet but that's pretty simple with the HF ball joint tool. My home built press takes care of the outer joints and bushings but they are e36 parts and could probably be done with a rented ball joint tool and a good vise. https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...-31126758510my. https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...3-31129069035l see the links in my signature. Actual $480 isn't bad with an alignment, I should add the $50 alignment to mine cost too. The e36 ball joints supposedly change the caster which affects toe.
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Alternative to expensive xi control arm bushings
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Bad outer xi ball joint?
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Old 12-11-2019, 12:57 AM   #3
darkfires102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmo69 View Post
I DIY and do outer ball joints and bushings for less than $67. Haven't done inner joints yet but that's pretty simple with the HF ball joint tool. My home built press takes care of the outer joints and bushings but they are e36 parts and could probably be done with a rented ball joint tool and a good vise. https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...-31126758510my. https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...3-31129069035l see the links in my signature. Actual $480 isn't bad with an alignment, I should add the $50 alignment to mine cost too. The e36 ball joints supposedly change the caster which affects toe.
Im kinda iffy on the experimentation on the ball joints since the control arms were obviously not designed for these parts to be serviceable (bs). I figured, the car survived new New York and Colorado for 16 yeats of its life on stock suspension, and finally I got hit by CA wear, its not too bad. I got lifetime warranty on these new parts aswell so, hopefully not too bad. Most likely will last the rest of the car's life...Im gonna call back that shop tomorrow and probably get it done. If I had more tools at my disposal and time I would probably try the e36 ball joints, but I cant since my car is basically undrivable and is my DD
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Old 12-11-2019, 10:29 AM   #4
jmo69
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Originally Posted by darkfires102 View Post
Im kinda iffy on the experimentation on the ball joints since the control arms were obviously not designed for these parts to be serviceable (bs). I figured, the car survived new New York and Colorado for 16 yeats of its life on stock suspension, and finally I got hit by CA wear, its not too bad. I got lifetime warranty on these new parts aswell so, hopefully not too bad. Most likely will last the rest of the car's life...Im gonna call back that shop tomorrow and probably get it done. If I had more tools at my disposal and time I would probably try the e36 ball joints, but I cant since my car is basically undrivable and is my DD
You have to do whatever is necessary being a DD. When I did the ball joints I had a friend help me and we used his ball joint tool to install them and an air chisel to remove them. I took the arm off the car and left the bushings and carriers attached. I did the bushings later when I read about the e36 bushings and I was getting the "brake shake" symptom. My car has spent it's life in the rust belt and wouldn't have done the ball joints when I did, but after an accident they installed a used control arm that had considerably more wear on the ball joint. It would clunk when I drove into my driveway due to excess movement, not as much as yours.
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Old 12-11-2019, 12:11 PM   #5
77'911
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I did the control arms, ball joints(upper/lower), lollipop brackets with new bushings on our xi myself. Having said that, the previous owner was charged 5.4 hours to have the job screwed up(after market parts that went bad in 2k, pressed in bushing at wrong offset, etc..) by a local shop just before we got the car. The whole set of front end parts from BMW was about 1k, but brought the car back to new(tight as can be, especially on the hwy).
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Old 12-11-2019, 05:34 PM   #6
darkfires102
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Originally Posted by 77'911 View Post
I did the control arms, ball joints(upper/lower), lollipop brackets with new bushings on our xi myself. Having said that, the previous owner was charged 5.4 hours to have the job screwed up(after market parts that went bad in 2k, pressed in bushing at wrong offset, etc..) by a local shop just before we got the car. The whole set of front end parts from BMW was about 1k, but brought the car back to new(tight as can be, especially on the hwy).
regards
I feel the job is easier when it was already done and the ball joints havent been in there for 16+ years...Did you use a press?
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Old 12-11-2019, 05:57 PM   #7
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I recently removed some control arms that were seized into the subframe. Had to use heat and a hammer to beat them out.

There is a taper design on the inner balljoint that goes into the subframe and majority of the time it is frozen there


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Old 12-11-2019, 06:52 PM   #8
77'911
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Originally Posted by darkfires102 View Post
I feel the job is easier when it was already done and the ball joints havent been in there for 16+ years...Did you use a press?
I used an Arcan 20 ton shop press in the garage. It was tight, my press was making some noises. Having said that, just give the spec out of the Bentley Manual(page in manual 310-26) to a machinist. Helps to have a print out of the page to show the proper orientation of the bracket to the bushing offset. They will press in new bushings properly and for a relatively low cost. The lower ball joint on ours came apart with a pickle for k and sledge.
regards
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Old 12-12-2019, 11:36 AM   #9
the fly
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In case it helps, I pre-press the control arm bushings for the forum folks. That greatly reduces the hassle of pressing bushings yourself or trying to find a shop to do it while your car is on stands. Check my links below.

.
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Old 12-12-2019, 10:52 PM   #10
darkfires102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 77'911 View Post
I used an Arcan 20 ton shop press in the garage. It was tight, my press was making some noises. Having said that, just give the spec out of the Bentley Manual(page in manual 310-26) to a machinist. Helps to have a print out of the page to show the proper orientation of the bracket to the bushing offset. They will press in new bushings properly and for a relatively low cost. The lower ball joint on ours came apart with a pickle for k and sledge.
regards
Would you be able to provide the page for me to print out..? I don't have the bentley manual
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Old 12-14-2019, 12:24 PM   #11
77'911
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Would you be able to provide the page for me to print out..? I don't have the bentley manual
You might "google" it, as there are some sites in the EU that have the manual up. Sorry, I don't have a decent scanner here. If you have a BMW, worth spending the $$ for a copy. They are not the best, but worth it for the specs(press dimensions, torque spec, etc..).
regards
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Old 12-16-2019, 08:03 PM   #12
jmo69
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Quote:
There is a taper design on the inner balljoint that goes into the subframe and majority of the time it is frozen there
On a RWD that can happen but the inner ball joint on an xi the inner ball joint is bolted to the subframe with the tapered part in the control arm. If it gets stuck you can take the whole arm and bushing carrier off as one piece and work on a bench if necessary.
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