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Changing Your Front Control Arms and Bushings
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Changing out your control arms and bushings isn't that hard, but after a lot of miles they can be pretty siezed on. Therefore, it takes some effort and technique to seperate the ball joints. Other than that it's not that difficult and I would definitly say it's a do-it-yourself project.
Choosing the Control Arms and Bushings
If you've done your research, you'll find a ton of people out there that will tell you about all the aftermarket choices for control arms and bushings. I am a big fan of the OEM feel and I do not want too harsh of a ride for my daily driver. Therefore, I decided to go with the OEM ZHP control arms (with upgraded ball joints as we'll see later) and OEM bushings. I know there may be better long lasting bushings out there, but OEM are good enough for me. There are a lot of people that have headaches with aftermarket bushings, so I decided to go with OEM and forget about it. Yes, I may need to change them again in 60k, but for me that's not that big of a deal.
So when you're taking a look you may notice that the ZHP control arms cost a lot more than the alternatives like Meyle. I was going to go for Meyle but I found a great deal on the ZHP arms that made the decision for me. If you're looking for the best handling, take your time and shop around.
Here's a quick video showing the difference between brand new OEM ZHP control arms and the orginial ones off my sport package coupe at 100k.
Allen Wrenches (5mm and 6mm)
Various Sockets and Wrenches
Penetrating Oil (This will help do some of the work for you)
Pickle Fork (Can be rented from your local auto parts store for free)
Rubber Mallet and a Sledge Hammer (I used a 10lb to get the job done quickly)
BMW OEM ZHP Control Arm Left (BMW P# 31-12-2-282-121) $200
BMW OEM ZHP Control Arm Right (BMW P# 31-12-2-282-122) $200
BMW OEM Hex Bolts x4 (BMW P# 33-30-6-760-652) $4
BMW OEM Self Locking Hex Nuts x2 (BMW P# 31-10-6-774-714) $4
BMW OEM Self Locking Hex Nuts x2 (BMW P#
Lemfoerder Control Arm Bushings with Carriers (P # 31-12-6-757-623) $93
Anti-Sieze Compound (To make the job easier next time)
Safely lift at least the front of the car
1. Using a lift or a floor jack with ramps lift at least the front of the vehicle. Instructions for jacking up your car can be found here. This can be a very dangerous step, so make sure that the car is properly secured before ever getting under it. Never get under a car that is just supported by a jack!
Remove the front wheel
Remove the front wheel
Remove the front wheels
2. Using a 17mm deep socket with an impact wrench or hand ratchet, remove the lugnuts and set your wheels aside. If your alloys are siezed onto your brake rotors, sit down on your butt and give the sidewalls of the tires a good kick until it becomes loose. If they have siezed on, make yourself a note to add some antisieze lubricant to the brake rotor mating surface before reinstalling the wheels.
Remove the support brace
Disconnect Xenon leveling screw from the control arm
5. Using a 13mm wrench, remove the xenon headlight leveling arm from the control arms. Failure to remove this will involve breaking something that will be a pain to replace. This is a critical step not to miss. Make sure everything is well out of the way.
Attach the inner ball joint and bushing
Attach the outer ball joint
Hand tighten the control arm on
15. Take the new 16mm hex bolts and attach the new bracket to the frame.
16. Bend the inner ball joint and start the nut onto the ball joint until it's hand tight. Note that it will rotate freely once it hits the locking portion of the nut, so we'll need to use the allen key to actually torque it on. I put a little bit of anti-sieze around the ball joint so hopefully if I ever have to do this again, it can be a little bit easier.
17. Do the same thing with the outer ball joint.
Reattach xenon leveling sensor
Put everything else back together
21. Reattach the 13mm xenon leveling sensor nut.
22. Reattach the 13mm sway bar bushing brackets and torque them to 16 ft-lbs.
23. Reattach the sway bar end link using a 17mm wrench and a 13mm wrench and tighten to 48 ft-lbs.
24. Reattach the engine support plate and torque all the 16mm nuts to 44 ft-lbs. Reinstall the splash cover and tighten the screws.
25. Put the wheels back on (put some anti-sieze on the rotor hat if you had some trouble getting your wheels off before) and torque down your lug nuts to 88 ft-lbs after safely lowering your car.
26. Make sure you go and get a 4 wheel alignment as soon as possible. If you've got some other projects you're working on like tie rods, RTABS, etc. then wait till you've finished them all.
After getting my alignment done, I can definitly tell that the steering is much more responsive and bumps don't affect the steering neerly as much. It feels like a brand new car again and if you're nearing 100k, I'd highly recommend changing things out. Furthermore, you're control arm bushings probably are shot around 60-80k, so it should be about time too. This DIY covers replacing everything and it will probably be several years before I actually get around to replacing the bushings. If your car feels like it isn't driving as nicely as it should, it may be time. This DIY has brought me a lot of joy!