DIY #7 – E46 Shock and Strut Replacement

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BADEN'S BMW DIY #7 – E46 Shock and Strut Replacement

 

Repair Job Summary

Difficulty

3 (out of 5)

  • Removing the springs from the front struts is really the biggest challenge
  • Make sure that you re-assemble the stack of washers correctly when putting together the new struts

Time to Complete (estimate)

6 hours

 

 


IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Working on and under your car has inherent dangers. If you perform the work described here, be prepared to deal with problems which may arise that are not documented in these steps. Some of these problems may require tools which are not listed here or be beyond your skill level and almost always take longer to resolve than expected. Plan for the possibility that you car may need additional time to restore to working condition. Caution must be taken to properly secure your car when working underneath it to avoid injury (or death).

WORKING ON YOU CAR'S SUSPENSION IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT AS IT CAN ADVERSELY AFFECT THE SAFE OPERATION OF YOUR CAR IF DONE IMPROPERLY.

Before starting, you will need to assemble some tools and supplies:

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A. Bilstein HD struts (with new upper strut lock nuts)
B. Upper strut bearings (optional depending on your car's mileage)
C. Upper and lower rubber spring pads (optional depending on your car's mileage)
D. Bilstein HD rear shocks (with new upper lock nuts and washers for lower bolt)
E. Shock mounts
F. Rear shock mount reinforcement plates
G. Rear shock gaskets

Not shown:

  • New lock nuts for (E) shock mounts. 4 in total – M8 metric size locking nuts available from Home Depot.
  • Floor jack and two jack stands (having a second floor jack is often very helpful)
  • Wheel chocks
  • Socket set (metric, ½”) with at least 13mm, 16mm, 18mm, 21mm and 22mm sockets
  • Wrench set (metric) with at least a 17mm wrench
  • 6mm hex socket
  • Torque wrenches (½” size, small and large size to span 24 to 110 Nm)
  • Vise grip
  • Spring compressors
  • Dead blow or rubber mallet
  • Impact wrench (highly recommended) or long breaker bar (at least 24”)
  • Brake cleaner + clean rags

 

NOTE: While it is technically possible to install both the front struts and rear shocks by yourself, I have found that having a second pair of hands to be really helpful.

Section 1: Rear Shock Installation

The rear shocks in a E46 coupe are installed with one bolt at the bottom underneath the car and with two bolts at the top. The upper shock mounts are located inside the trunk so the carpeting and some of the trim pieces will need to be removed to be able to access the shock mounts. I have found that the lower shock bolts can be easily removed without needing to jack up the car but one the lower bolt is removed and the shock extends it may not be possible to remove it from under the car unless you jack up that side a few inches.

  1. Place wheel chocks on the front tires to prevent it from rolling.
  2. Release the hand brake.
  3. Remove the carpet and trim pieces in the trunk enough to expose the left and right upper shock mounts.

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  1. Using a 13mm socket, remove the two nuts on each side of the shock mount.
  2. Using an 18mm socket, remove the lower shock mounting bolt. Depending on the age of your car, removing this lower mounting bolt may require a breaker bar or (preferably) an impact wrench if you have one. When you remove the lower mounting bolt, the shock will drop to the ground.

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  1. Try and manoeuvrer the shock out from under the car. Due to the length of the shock, this this may not be possible until that side of the car is raised a few inches which may provide the clearance needed to remove the shock.
  2. Ensure that the original paper gasket is intact on the top of the old shock mount. If it's not, part or all of it may be stuck to the bottom of the shock mount opening into your trunk. Ensure that all of the original shock mount gasket has been removed before proceeding.
  3. Repeat on the other side to remove the old shock.
  4. The new Bilstein HD shocks will need to have some parts scavenged from the existing shocks so you will need to remove the 16mm top nut on the old shocks to remove these parts.

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  1. You will need to remove four pieces from the old shocks: the bump stop and 3 metal washers.
  2. Using one of the new upper shock mounts and a new gasket, assemble the parts onto the metal shaft of the new Bilstein shock as follows:

  1. Tighten the nut on the top of the Bilstein shock to 27 Nm.
  2. Place the strut mount reinforcement plate over the shock mounts.
  3. Working from the bottom of the car but looking at the exposed shock mount opening at the top of the rear tire, guide the assembled Bilstein shock into place. Hand tighten the two 13mm nuts. Remember to only use new lock nuts.

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  1. Lower the car to the ground before proceeding.
  2. Add the supplied washer to the lower shock mount bolt.

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  1. As necessary, raise the bottom of the shock by hand or with a jack to align the lower shock mount bolt to the mounting bracket then hand thread the bolt as far as it will go.

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  1. Tighten the lower shock mount bolts to 100 Nm.
  2. Tighten the two 13mm upper strut mount nuts to 27 Nm.
  3. Repeat on the other side of the car.

Section 2: Front Strut Installation

Removing and installing the front struts is considerably more work than working on the rear shocks. Not only is the removal and installation procedure more complicated but the front struts involve springs which must be removed from the original struts to be moved over the the new ones. This requires the use of a spring compressor and adds time and unique risks to the overall job.

  1. Place wheel chocks on the rear tires to prevent it from rolling.
  2. Loosen the bolts on both of the front wheels.
  3. Jack up the front of the car and place both sides of the car securely on jack stands. The car should be high enough so that you should have enough room to crawl under the front of the car easily.
  4. Remove the front wheels from both sides.
  5. Start on the passenger side, remove the 13mm nut from the bottom of the control arm to release the Xenon levelling switch. To fully release it from the control arm, it may need to be gently struck with a small hammer.

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  1. Disconnect the top of the sway bar link from the strut. This requires a 17mm wrench and a 16mm socket to be used at the same time. Rotate the sway bar link out of the way.

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  1. Remove the brake line and ABS sensor line from the clamp on the side of the strut. They are just held in place with a rubber grommet so the can both be released fairly easily by pushing on both sides of the hose at the bracket. On the driver's side, there will also be the brake sensor cable as well.

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  1. Remove two of the three 13mm nuts at the top of the strut tower. Loosen the third nut about half way.

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  1. Place a jack under the bottom of the ball joint. This will support the hub assembly when it is released from the bottom of the strut.

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  1. The bottom of the strut is held in place with a single 18mm bolt at the lower clamp. Remove this bolt. Removing this bolt may take some effort and you may need to employ a breaker bar or an impact wrench if you have one.

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  1. Have a large paint can ready covered with a cloth. This can be placed under the hub to support it on the outer side when the strut is removed.

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  1. Pushing down on the rotor or hub, attempt to disengage the strut from the strut clamp lowing the jack as necessary. I found that using a rubber dead blow hammer was useful in separating the strut from the clamp.
  1. If the strut doesn't want to release, try using some penetrating oil like WD40 and let it sit for a few minutes. Rotating the strut assembly by hand at the springs to ensure that it is loosed properly.

Note: Make sure that you avoid getting any lubricant onto your brake rotor or pads. Also, you may wish to employ the use of a strut clamp spreader tool to assist with the task of removing the strut from the clamp.

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  1. After the strut has been removed from the lower clamp, remove the final 13mm bolt at the top and remove the strut/spring assembly.
  2. Remove any penetrating oil from the bottom of the strut clamp and the surrounding area using a clean rag.
  3. Remove the upper plastic cap from the strut.
  4. Using spring compressors, compress the spring until the spring moves freely from the upper plate.

Note: The springs are held in place with a lot of force and extreme caution must be taken when removing the strut springs.

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  1. The top of the stock strut has a 21mm bolt that holds everything together. Remove this bolt. I have found that having an impact wrench makes this step extremely easy. If you don't have an impact wrench, you will have to use a 21mm socket held in place by a vise grip and a 6mm hex socket or hex key. Using this method, the 21mm socket will remain stationary and the hex socket will rotate in a clockwise manner to loosen the bolt.

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  1. After the top strut bolt has been removed, the entire strut assembly can be taken apart. Recover the the following parts from the original strut: spring, 2 washers, upper and lower spring plate, upper and lower rubber spring pads (if re-using), upper strut bearing plate (if re-using).

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  1. Choose the correct left or right Bilstein strut assembly depending on which side you are working on. Compare the orientation of the sway bar mounting bracket to determine which one is left or right.
  2. Assemble the parts onto your new Bilstein strut assembly as follows:

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  1. The Bilstein strut will come with a new 22mm self-locking top bolt. Attach this to the top of the strut and hand tighten with a socket wrench.
  2. Start releasing the spring compressor and ensure that the spring properly seats into the rubber spring pads and that the rubber spring pads are properly seated into the strut assembly. If the parts do not line up properly, you will need to compress the springs again and adjust.
  3. Tighten the top strut bolt to 63 Nm.
  4. The Bilstein strut will now be reinstalled back into the car. To do this, attach the strut onto the strut tower with one or two bolts tightened by hand. Ensure that the alignment pin from the upper strut bearing plate is correctly aligned with the hole in the strut tower.
  5. Manoeuvrer the bottom of the strut into the lower clamp and if necessary, jack up the bottom of the hub assembly until the strut is fully seated into the clamp.
  6. Add loc-tite (or similar material) to the clamp bolt and hand thread it into the clamp.
  7. Rotate the strut to ensure that the Left/Right indicator on the strut shaft is lined up with the slot on the clamp. Once the strut is aligned properly to the Left or Right marker (depending on which side of the car you're working on), start to tighten the clamp bolt – ensuring that the bracket for the hoses is not touching the strut body.

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  1. Tighten the clamp bolt to 80 Nm.
  2. Hand tighten all three of the upper strut mounting bolts.
  3. Replace the hoses to the hose clamp.
  4. Replace the sway bar link and tighten to 65 Nm.
  5. Replace the bolt to the Xenon sensor at the bottom of the control arm.
  6. If the brake rotor has been touched in any way, clean the rotor with brake cleaner and a clean cloth.
  7. Remove any supports like the jack or paint can out from the hub assembly.
  8. Reinstall the wheel and tighten the wheel bolts to 110 Nm.
  9. Repeat the removal / installation process on the other side of the car.
  10. Remove the jack stands from the car and lower the car. Remove the wheel chocks.
  11. Tighten the three 13mm upper strut tower bolts to 24 Nm on each side of the car. This step should be done when the weight of the car is on the suspension.
  12. Road test the car to ensure that there are not any unusual new noises. Try to drive over some speed bumps or railway tracks as sometimes unusual suspension noises may not be heard on smooth roads.
  13. Clean up your tools.
  14. Your car will be needing a 4 wheel alignment. I have found that I like to drive the car for a week or so before getting an alignment to ensure that everything has “settled in” properly.

Section 3: Commentary

The installation job that I've documented here was done on my friend Al's E46 328 last weekend. About a month ago I also did a similar Bilstein HD strut/shock upgrade on my wife's E36 328 Cabrio. Doing two similar installations fairly close together allowed us to learn a lot about what would make the 2nd installation faster. The E36 front struts were considerably more difficult to remove as there are three bolts that need to be removed on both sides and they are all stuck on with a lock-tite material that took several additional hours to remove. It was after we did this work that I decided to purchase an impact wrench (bought an electric impact wrench from Canadian Tire). Having the impact wrench made removing all of the hardware on Al's E46 much easier. I'm just surprised that it took me so long to get one. Of course you have to also get a bunch of impact sockets as you can't use the chrome sockets on an impact wrench.

When we were planning out the work on Al's 328, we decided to replace the front rubber spring pads and the upper strut bearing. Al had mentioned that there was some weird noises coming from the front suspension when steering so we decided to add these parts. Realistically it may not be practical to disassemble your suspension and then decide if you want to replace these parts unless you can afford to keep your car in the garage for a few days (assuming that your BMW parts supplier isn't accessible on the day that you do the work).

 

Comments from my friend Al:

Background: Al wanted to add some comments to this page based on his perspective. Al's owned his E46 328 coupe for several years but traditionally has relied on a local garage who specialize in BMW (Nixon Automotive) for all of his repairs and upgrades. When Al and I were planning out the purchase of the Bilstein HD struts and shocks for his E46 and my wife's E36, Al expressed a lot of interest in doing both installations together. Since he really hadn't done a lot of work on his car it was the starting point for him to get a sense of how much work he would eventually want to do maintaining his car.

Al's situation is pretty common with most people who are interested in doing more and more advanced work on their car. He has the desire to do more work but is limited by the tools that he owns and his own limited hand-on experience. If he continues down the do-it-yourself road, Al will likely end up owning several hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in tools that most of us own to be able to do more of these types of upgrades.

The main decision that always has to be faced at this point is if the investment in more and more expensive tools makes sense based on the likelihood of them being used to offset future repair costs. As always, the issue of availability of time and more importantly the desire to want to do the work has to be assessed.

 

Al’s comments:

  • The Bentley manual (Baden: which Al bought for his car about two weeks before we did the Bilstein installation on his car) assumes that you have a reasonable level of familiarity with working on cars. Most of the steps leave out a lot of detail that you have to fill in the blanks with your past experience. I don't think a beginner like myself could buy the manual and tools and begin working on the car. If I did not have Baden's assistance the project would have been a disaster.
  • If you want to take on projects like this you have to commit to the long term and many projects for the investment in the tools needed for this kind of upgrade to make financially sense (Baden: I should mention that Al’s an accountant smiley ). The investment in tools is significant and if you only do one job and then take your car to the dealer for everything else you won't really save any money after you factor in tools, manuals, etc….
  • With the new Bilsteins installed, the car feels more comfortable as the stock shocks were not working anywhere near where they should be. I'm not crashing over bumps anymore and I'm no longer getting unwanted steering changes after I hit a bump.
  • I have not had an opportunity to really push the car but I expect it will handle better at the limit. Just driving around town you can't tell any performance benefit other than the comfort is greater. Having said that I expect my autocross times should improve.
  • Many thanks to Nixon Automotive who provided some consultation over the phone for free (I take my car there a fair bit) and who even checked over the work we did to ensure it was done properly. I also took the car to them about 5 days after we did the Bilstein upgrade and they did the four wheel alignment.
  • I'm satisfied enough that I'm willing to try a brake job next, which I think should be easier and I'm looking forward to doing the shocks and struts on Baden’s M Roadster. I think that will be a gratifying job given our experience with the other cars.

 

Note: Duplication of or linking to the information on this web page without permission is not allowed.

To contact me about this or for any other questions, use this form

Comments: 38

38 Responses to “DIY #7 – E46 Shock and Strut Replacement”

  1. Steve says:

    Baden,
       Thanks for a great writeup!  I just installed Bilstein Sports on an E46 and your guide was extrememly helpful.  One suggestion for the front strut removal, using a clamp spreader rather than lubricant worked flawlessly…we managed to free the strut in seconds with the mess.  This is the tool:

  2. Baden says:

    Steve,
     
    Thanks for the comment. Although it wasn't stated in my instructions, I did try to spread the lower strut clamp with a pry bar but it didn't release the strut. Only after I applied lubricant did the strut come loose. It's possible that there was more rust holding the strut in on the car that I worked on than yours. Nonetheless, I'll add a note to my instructions to include your comments.
     
    Baden

  3. James says:

    A little tip to to easily remove the strut from the clamp is to spread the lower strut clamp by screwing the bolt the through the threaded side (reverse) and put a metal plate in between so the bold forces the clamp apart. Makes easy work and doesn't require any additional lubrication/tools.

  4. Baden says:

    Great tip James!
    Baden

  5. Barry says:

    Excellent writeup and pictures! Thank you very much.

  6. Mark says:

    Great writeup!!!
    I am getting ready to do the same project.  I just received Bilstein HD struts for my E46 and was surprised to find that they didn't have the lower spring seats (not the spring pads) already installed.  Did you use the original spring seats or were yours already installed on the new struts?

  7. Baden says:

    Mark,
    Yes, the Bilstein struts that I bought (for all three cars that I've upgraded) came with the spring seats as part of the strut assembly. I didn't know that it was possible to buy the struts without them so I'm not sure what to suggest.
     
    Baden

  8. Ivan says:

    I admire your work! Everything  to the little detail:)
    Question: Is there any way to remove sound deadending material  around rear shock mounts without ripping the material off?
    Thanks

  9. Baden says:

    Ivan,

    None of the cars that I did suspension upgrades onto had the sound deadening attached and it just lifted off easily. What year is the car that you are working on?

    Baden

  10. Ivan says:

    2006 330ci E 46 48000m  . Sound deadening  on my car is not attached either but is easily breakable ( ask me how do I know :)) !!! In order for me to remove sound deadening and put it back intact I would  have to completely remove battery and cables and Harmon Kardon amplifier! Tech from BMW told me that they just peel that off and than put it back on . So I guess I'll do the same thing. Wanted to do without ripping (peeling) the thing off but nobody is gonna see it anyway:) Thanks for the reply!

  11. Mike says:

    Excellent DIY.

    I'm performing all this work this weekend, and I'll be using your DIY as the guide. Your pics are perfect, the right shot, at the right point in the job. Thanks for touching on the convenience of an impact wrench. I would never have thought to use mine. I was anticipating a bit of "alligator wrestling" in the driveway to get that bolt off.
    Also, thanks for the torque specs along the way.

    Cheers!
    Mike
    Portland, Oregon USA

  12. Mike says:

    One question;
    How did your wife's feel before you replace the struts/shocks?
    I've got a one owner (me), 2002 330ci. Well maintained and loved, with 107K. I have the regular suspension, with the factory upgraded staggered 18" wheels. The car feels great, perhaps a bit "floaty."
    I guess – I'm trying to get a feel for what made you decide it was time to for new shocks/struts (other than mileage).

    Thanks again for the DIY.
    Cheers!
    Mike
    Portland, Oregon USA

  13. Baden says:

    Mike,
     
    I'm glad to hear that you liked the write-ups.
     
    The installation of the Bilstein HD's for my wife's care was a much needed change. The suspension was made quite a bit more responsive but nothing too harsh. Barb had no interest in anything resembling a firm sports suspension and when the HDs provided was just right.
    For me, it was the mileage that Barb's 328 was at (around 120,000 Kms at the time) but also that the suspension felt really soft. This was confirmed when I removed the rear shocks I could open and close then with hardly any effort. They were totally shot.
     
    Let me know if there is anything other assistance I can provide.
     
    Baden

  14. eric says:

    Sir
    Can one use sachs in the rear and bilstein in the front? My rears are new sachs. If I go back c sachs will the new one need
    a 21 mm socket and 6 mm hex? Clarify 21 mm as you said 21mm in the prose but 22mm in the picture.

  15. gareth says:

    The diagram between 11 and 12 shows that the small washer sits on top of the large metal washer.  Is this correct?
    When I dismantled my dampers this small washer sat on top of the rubber bumper, within the top part itself, and sits level with the top of the bumper.  The large washer then sits on top of the bumper but this comes into direct contact with the bottom of the rear shock mount.  I had no such smaller washer between these parts.
    Would it be possible to confirm for me whether you had this small washer within the top of the bumper section AND another small one between the large washer and RSM?
    (Realise this was done some time ago but any advice would be much appreciated – thanks!)

  16. Baden says:

    Gareth,
     
    I can only say that when I disassembled the strut on my friend's E46 the layout was as shown in the diagram – we were making meticulous notes as each washer was removed off the "stack". I'm not sure if I can explain why your layout was different .
     
    Baden

  17. gareth says:

    Baden,
    Cheers for getting back to me!
    Had a look at  this also confirms that parts 5 and 6 on the diagram are switched in your setup. And its the same across the E46 range on realoem.  Thoroughly confused! Something isnt right when Ive followed realoem and put it back together with the new mounts, dampers and reinforcement plates.  Think Ill go your way now and hopefully achieve a better result!
    Thanks again for your reply – much appreciated!

  18. KevinH says:

    Baden,
    What a great tutorial you have created.  You gave me the confidence to replace the struts on my 2000 328i and it went well.  The pictures are a big help and put in the right order to understand the whole thing.
    You have some real talent in creating your DIY's and I thank you for sharing you knowledge on the net.  The Bilsteins are a great improvement and the car feels nice and tight on the road.
    The tip from James about reversing the bolt on the strut clamp in a winner.
    Thanks again for a great write up.
    Kevin

  19. Andy N says:

    I'm in the middle of replacing the front struts, springs, upper strut bearings, spring pads, bump stops, and boots on my daughter's 04 325i (105K miles), and one part of the re-assembly has me stumped. I've got the new spring mounted, so I need to tighten the 22 mm retaining nut (to 65 nM), but of course, once I get it much beyond finger tight, the whole strut shaft begins to spin, so I can't tighten the nut. The top of the strut shaft has a 6 mm allen head, but I don't understand how I'm supposed to insert an allen socket into this head, while simultaneously placing a socket over the nut to tighten it. 

    I suppose I could try hitting it with my new impact gun, but I have a couple of concerns with this:

    1. The only 6-point 22 mm socket I can find that will fit inside the opening in the strut tower bearing is a 3/8" drive, and I'm afraid the adapter I'll have to use won't stand up to the force of the impact wrench

    2. The shaft spins pretty easily, and the nut is a lock nut, so I'm not convinced the impact wrench will be able to drive the nut onto the shaft without causing the shaft to turn.

    Another option might be to buy a deep 22 mm socket, and a long allen socket, secure the socket with a pair of vice grips, and turn the shaft using the allen socket. But I don't understand how I will be able to apply 65 nm of torque through a little 6 mm socket.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  20. Baden says:

    Andy, see the picture in step 39 for the answer to your question.  What you have to use is a 22mm socket held in place by a vice grip and a 6mm hex socket to turn the inside hex bolt. As you've said, if you're trying to tighten it by turning the 22mm bolt it's way more difficult. 
     
    Baden

  21. Andy N says:

    Baden,
    Thanks for the reply, and for the great DIY.  So, you're saying to use an allen socket in the 6 mm allen head on top of the strut shaft to tighten everything up?  Can 65 nM be applied through such a small allen head?  How about holding the shaft with either vise grips padded with a towel, or with a strap wrench, while tightening the 22 mm locknut, either using a torque wrench, or an impact wrench?  Just seems more efficient to use the nice, meaty 22 mm nut, as opposed to the little allen head…

  22. Andy N says:

    OK, it's done.  I ended up finding a nice deep 1/2" drive 6-point 22 mm sockets, and I drove it home using my new $50 Harbor Freight impact wrench.  I didn't even have to hold the shaft to keep it from spinning.  I first checked to see how far down the shaft the nut was on the other side, then went carefully, a little bit at a time with the impact wrench, and the moment the nit stopped spinning, I stopped.  I then secured the shaft with a pair of vise grips (I first padded the shaft with a kitchen rubber jar opener), and tightened it the rest of the way with my torque wrench.  Very easy, one you know how to do it.

  23. eroc144 says:

    Great writeup & photos!!  One question about the front shocks – How far into the shock clamp do they go?  I measured the distance from the middle of the upper Sway bar link to the top of the clamp on my OEM setup, but not sure if this is correct.  No one seems to list this info anywhere.  Thanks in advance.
    EG

  24. uncle chuck says:

    BADEN, THANKS A BUNCH FOR THE INFORMATIVE VIDEO…Last strut I did was 1980  so needed the re fresher. Comment by the fellow to use a piece of thin steel and the clinch bolt to spread th clamp was a great time and labor saver.. Two comments, I just finished struts on 2001 325it wagon and noted that to tighten the Koni strut top nut I reached inside and held the strut rod and hit  'er with the impact wrench.Done.. Secondly the pasenger side installed with a minimum of force, but the drivers side steering linkage is way shorter, and therefor didint have as much free play.. used the compressor clamp between the spring and the bottom spring plate of the strut to shorten the strut enough to get it into the clamp.  Thanks again for taking the time to do the video………Uncle Chuck 
     
     

  25. uncle chuck says:

    Answer to eroc144.. STUFF 'EM ALL THE WAY IN.. the struts have a shouler which will stop insertion at the correct point. If you do Konis the locater tab will not allow the bolt to go thru and take up the threads until strut is bedded all the way.. ask me how I know…Regards, Uncle Chuck

  26. starless says:

    There is a mistake in the rear shock assembly diagram. The small washer goes underneath the large black washer. It sits on the little indentation on the shaft of the shock and is positioned between the rubber bump stop and the large black washer. I've just done 2 sides. Ir's confirmed.

    Awesome tutorial, helped me a lot! Thank you.

  27. Baden says:

    When I did the notes for this particular DIY job, I was fairly detailed in the order of the parts on both the front and rears. In both cases I photographed the shocks as they were removed out of the car then took written notes as we disassembled the stack. 
    I'm not saying that there's 0% chance that I made a mistake but is it possible that one of our cars had the washer installed incorrectly?
    Baden

  28. starless says:

    Baden, I'm replacing my factory suspension, so it's very unlikely that they did a mistake on both sides at the factory. Also, comment #15 mentions the same thing. And this is the link to the BMW diagram (I'm not sure if I can post links here, but here it is:

    I'm not trying to argue with you, just mentioning it for the benefit of the future readers of this fantastic DIY of yours. My car is E46, 2002 325i, production date 06/2002

  29. Per-Arne Kristiansen says:

    Hi, I can also confirm that the little washer goes underneath the larger black washer, Just replaced my rear factory shock on my 2001 320i (2.2/170BHP) Touring.

    Baden, your article here is perhaps one of the best online. Please let more of them coming on the E46 :-)

  30. Trey says:

    I've done over 30 suspension swaps but they were all on Hondas.  I found this guide extremely handy.  I ready through it yesterday and references the assembly order pictures when reinstalling the new shocks.  Thanks for the great documentation.

  31. Trey says:

    As a side note my suspension when disassebled in the rear did come out with the small washer under the larger curved down metal washer.  It would be worth at least noting in your diagram with a foot note that others have noticed a reversed order for those washer from what you documents.

  32. Sean says:

    This is a very comprehensive and clearly illustrated guide. I read it before changing the front struts on my 2003 318i and had no problems. The washer arrangement was the same as in the diagram in item 41.

    Thanks

  33. Edward Jerum says:

    Hi Baden Thx for the DIY. Very helpful. I installed the HDs on a 1999 323i with sports suspension. Car seems to be higher in front so I'm wondering if I got the strut down far enough. It is down to the bottom of the clamp, but I could not get it in any further. The pic in your DIY Looks like it should not protrude out the bottom. There is a slight step on the strut below the L and R indicators so I'm wondering if the strut should down that far.

    One other question. Could you confirm that Left is driver's side and Right is passenger?

    thx so much for taking the time to do this.

     

    thx 

  34. Baden says:

    Edward,

    The front struts fit into the slot of the control arm to the point where they it something and cannot go any further. There should be no doubt in your mind that they've gone all the way down as it's a very solid "thunk" when it's all the way in.

    Another possibility for your front being higher is that the springs may not have been seated properly in the rubber spring retainers. There's a slot in the rubber retainers for the end of the spring and if they rotated while tightening the upper bolt they may not be seated properly. Unfortunately any diagnostics of this problem will almost certainly require you to remove the front struts out to figure things out.

     

    Baden

  35. Edward Jerum says:

    Thx Baden. The struts were a tight fit in the clamp so I used a jack to push the control arm and clamp up as far as they would go up onto the strut (I didn't try to spread the clamp) . So no thunk. I'm just asking if the HD STRUT should extend below the clamp like it does with the OEM struts. Thx

  36. Baden says:

    Yes, it should extend down below the clamp.

    Baden

  37. Edward Jerum says:

    Thx

  38. Andrew says:

    Hi, I know this is an old post but I have a question I am hoping you can help me with.

    I replaced the rear shocks on my 2002 325i with some Bilstein shocks. However the metal shaft on the Bilstein were thinner than the stock ones, and so the rubber bump stop simply slid down the shaft, whereas on the stock one it stayed higher. 

    Basically in the picture here

    that rubber piece you see is seated higher on the oem. I had to go with a different brand that had the rubber piece included, but wish I had kept the Bilstein. Was there something wrong with the Bilstein?

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