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Thread: DIY: Front Strut Replacement

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    DIY: Front Strut Replacement



    Things you might want:
    -Jack
    -Jack stands
    -Lug wrench
    -Blocks of wood or some other material to hold up the conrtol arms.
    -Break parts cleaner, in case the rotors get goo on them.
    -Hammer
    -Strut spring compressor
    -16mm wrench and socket for removing sway bar links
    -Large socket, I think 18-19mm for bottom pinch bolt
    -13mm Sock for strut hat, (the three nuts under the hood at each top)
    -Impact or air gun to use on compressor, saves lots of time and effort. Socket size varies.
    -Socket to use to remove top strut bearing nut, size varies to different manufacturers. My car never had OEM I do not know what size, probably around 17-19mm.
    -And a pair of new struts, Thinking about lowering? Do it now.



    Both sides are the same; as one side is done the other is done the same way.


    -Begin by getting the front of the car off the ground and onto jackstands.
    Remove front wheels, TIP: crack lugs loose before raising car completely.


    -With the wheels off and jackstands securely in place, remove the swaybar link on the strut casing using both the 16mm wrench and socket if required, thereafter loosen the pinch bolt. Using your hammer tap the pinch joint break any corrosion up.

    -Work carefully to get the strut out of the pinch, once you have done this place the blocks under the control arm so you don't tug on the brake and ABS lines.


    -Then remove the three strut hat nuts on top (under the hood) and remove the strut/spring unit from the car and place it on a sturdy flat surface, a piece of carpet or carboard on the floor will do nicely, so you can work without things slipping around.



    -Install strut spring compressor on coils opposite of eachother, be careful that they are totally opposite so they don't slip around on the coils. This next part is trial and error, no perfect way to do it but it can be done.


    -Compress spring until tension is released on bottom or to perches, then ONLY until then, remove the strut piston nut on top of the bearing. When doing so OEM bearing will be exposed NOTATE what goes where, there's a cover for the bearing and a washer.


    -DO NOT release spring yet. Transfer bottom spring pad to new strut. Place spring on new strut. In reverse order assemble the strut hat and pad atop the spring and onto the new strut. If you ordered Bilsteins you'll be pleased, the piston length makes the reinstall of the spring very easy, no need to compress spring alot more. The re-assembly of the strut can be difficult to get all the pads lined up when releasing spring tension, also note bottom of springs are specific to where they line up. So take your time.

    -Then reinstall the strut assembly in the car in reverse order of before. Torque to required specs, also to note if you factory camber pin has be knocked out be sure to return your camber to it's original position.

    -Put wheels back on car lower car till the wheels chock from weight to tighten lugs, tighten in star pattern and lower car fully, re-torque lugs when the car has been rolled for at least ten feet, to allow the wheels to settle to the proper ride height, do to the nature of a single pivot MacPherson strut design the car won't be at it's final ride height until the car has rolled. Same with the Multilink rear suspension also BTW.


    -A compare photo of a monroe POS strut and a BILSTEIN HD, notice the piston length and dia. Germans FTW. A note about the BILSTEIN HDs, new boot is supplied, no bump stop required.



    Finally, enjoy the ride!
    Last edited by the andrew; 10-08-2008 at 11:01 PM.
    My beloved, 2000 323i, Loaded, h/k, sport/premium, Z3 Short shifter, edead all over, NHT1259 Free air, bilsteins HDs, two tone cardinal red leather on doors. Sold

    My German bricks: 1988 300TE Estate E-Class, 1993 S Class 500SEL, in a class of it's own, The "Beast", and a 2002 BMW 540iA, My daily, lots of fun .
    -BMW Service Technician

  2. #2
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    Great Job!!!

    Great job and should be a big help as I plan on doing this soon. How much did you pay for the struts?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by danewilson77 View Post
    Great job and should be a big help as I plan on doing this soon. How much did you pay for the struts?
    I paid 572.00 free shipping from :

    http://eshocks.com/bil_veh4.asp?Mode...ubChar=Q&Spec=

    Anything over 200 is free shipping the stuff arrived fast.
    My beloved, 2000 323i, Loaded, h/k, sport/premium, Z3 Short shifter, edead all over, NHT1259 Free air, bilsteins HDs, two tone cardinal red leather on doors. Sold

    My German bricks: 1988 300TE Estate E-Class, 1993 S Class 500SEL, in a class of it's own, The "Beast", and a 2002 BMW 540iA, My daily, lots of fun .
    -BMW Service Technician

  4. #4
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    I paid 483.71 for the same shocks plus the front and rear mounts.

    http://www.rmeuropean.com/Default.aspx

    use the spring09 coupon code for 5% off

    I am in the middle of doing the same job on my car and you mention the protector boot comes with the struts and the bump stop is not needed. Why is it not needed? Will it not fit or does the Billies come with their own version?

    Do you have photos of it?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chomot View Post
    I paid 483.71 for the same shocks plus the front and rear mounts.

    http://www.rmeuropean.com/Default.aspx

    use the spring09 coupon code for 5% off

    I am in the middle of doing the same job on my car and you mention the protector boot comes with the struts and the bump stop is not needed. Why is it not needed? Will it not fit or does the Billies come with their own version?

    Do you have photos of it?
    The billies have internal bump stomps, when compressed you feel the strut bottom out but not a metal to metal stop, there's something in there, plus no way in heck that the e46 OEM bump stop would fit around the girth of the billie piston. Plus with the retarded amount of dampening from the HDs I couldn't imagine the suspension going anywhere near the bump stop anyhow. It's very stiff IMHO, but look what I drive now that I'm estatic about...

    Who knows your struts may be different for your XI (shorter strut). Rear bump stops will be re-used.
    Last edited by the andrew; 05-12-2009 at 02:18 AM.
    My beloved, 2000 323i, Loaded, h/k, sport/premium, Z3 Short shifter, edead all over, NHT1259 Free air, bilsteins HDs, two tone cardinal red leather on doors. Sold

    My German bricks: 1988 300TE Estate E-Class, 1993 S Class 500SEL, in a class of it's own, The "Beast", and a 2002 BMW 540iA, My daily, lots of fun .
    -BMW Service Technician

  6. #6
    nathancarter is offline Stretch Haters Club #1 BMW CCA Member
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    Any comment/advice on what tools & techniques you used to properly torque the nut at the top of the strut rod? Looks like it's very difficult to get to it while it's on the car... any easier while it's off?

  7. #7
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    What are your recommendations for a DD for struts, on at 03 325i sedan for front as well as rear? The Bilstiens are nice but I am not sure they are practical for this vehicle.
    Last edited by mstaytru247; 07-23-2009 at 10:39 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstaytru247 View Post
    What are your recommendations for a DD for struts, on at 03 325i sedan for front as well as rear? The Bilstiens are nice but I am not sure they are practical for this vehicle.
    I would recommend Koni yellows. They are adjustable and less expensive. With a turn of a knob you can dial in the dampening you want in a matter of seconds on the fronts. The rears have to be removed to be adjusted but the point is that if you find them too stiff you can adjust them out instead of being stuck with a shock you don't like.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstaytru247 View Post
    What are your recommendations for a DD for struts, on at 03 325i sedan for front as well as rear? The Bilstiens are nice but I am not sure they are practical for this vehicle.
    I think the real question to be answered here is what are you wanting to accomplish? More aggressive stance with lowering springs and shocks or stock ride height? Soft ride as in OE or sport shocks with a little bit more of a damper resulting in a LITTLE bit harsher ride, but not really..? I myself recommend Bilsteins too, they're a fantastic shock; I have Bilsteins and Eibach's Pro Kit, which lowers my car about an inch and a half on all four corners. But it's all really up to you and what you're looking for in your ride.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phillips0417 View Post
    I think the real question to be answered here is what are you wanting to accomplish? More aggressive stance with lowering springs and shocks or stock ride height? Soft ride as in OE or sport shocks with a little bit more of a damper resulting in a LITTLE bit harsher ride, but not really..? I myself recommend Bilsteins too, they're a fantastic shock; I have Bilsteins and Eibach's Pro Kit, which lowers my car about an inch and a half on all four corners. But it's all really up to you and what you're looking for in your ride.
    The car is almost at 90k just want to get the suspension back to how it was when it was new...no need to lower it just want that good original ride quality.

    what are everyone opinions about the new Koni STR.T? non adjustable but hey better than factory!!!???

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    billy sports FTW

    Quote Originally Posted by robspeed20 View Post
    having a fast honda is like coming out of the closet, you suprise EVERYONE at first, but at the end of the day, your still gay....

  12. #12
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    you forgot to mention since the camber plate is under the strut bar cap the slots move around and will need an alignment IF your car has been aligned before, if not then the slot has not been punched out and is still in factory slots. i have almost the same setup, bilstein sport shocks and struts with h&r springs on 19's. the car was stiff before but this tightened up everything and drives alot better. it is stiffer but id rather have a stiff ride than a mushy one
    Last edited by bishop1977; 08-15-2009 at 10:40 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bishop1977 View Post
    you forgot to mention since the camber plate is under the strut bar cap the slots move around and will need an alignment IF your car has been aligned before, if not then the slot has not been punched out and is still in factory slots. i have almost the same setup, bilstein sport shocks and struts with h&r springs on 19's. the car was stiff before but this tightened up everything and drives alot better. it is stiffer but id rather have a stiff ride than a mushy one
    I mentioned that.
    I however took note and marked it before disassembly. Honesty never had an alignment, no tire wear issues, squirley steering, planted and firm, it was nice!
    My beloved, 2000 323i, Loaded, h/k, sport/premium, Z3 Short shifter, edead all over, NHT1259 Free air, bilsteins HDs, two tone cardinal red leather on doors. Sold

    My German bricks: 1988 300TE Estate E-Class, 1993 S Class 500SEL, in a class of it's own, The "Beast", and a 2002 BMW 540iA, My daily, lots of fun .
    -BMW Service Technician

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by the andrew View Post
    -Work carefully to get the strut out of the pinch, once you have done this place the blocks under the control arm so you don't tug on the brake and ABS lines.
    When I did mine I could not get the strut out of the pinch bolt without disconnecting the control arm. How did you do it?
    1999 328i 5spd Stock
    220K!

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    I replaced my front shocks with Bilstein (sports) from BV auto back in Sept this year. I begin to notice the ride is a bit stiffer (my moonroof is making creeping sound as i go over small bumps) compared to my oem sports shocks and it's a bit higher (fender gap) too. I didn't measure the height before the replacement job, but does anyone notice the difference in height and ride. I have a 2000 323ci.

  16. #16
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    Nice post. I'm waiting for my rear shock absorbers from RMEuropean...once I do those...I'll gauge whether I'll need the fronts done. But definitely bookmarking this DIY.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by my03e46325xi View Post
    Nice post. I'm waiting for my rear shock absorbers from RMEuropean...once I do those...I'll gauge whether I'll need the fronts done. But definitely bookmarking this DIY.
    Keep the front struts in mind, at 98k one strut was completely blow, it was as useful as a hand operated butter churner, and had the same dampening qualities.
    My beloved, 2000 323i, Loaded, h/k, sport/premium, Z3 Short shifter, edead all over, NHT1259 Free air, bilsteins HDs, two tone cardinal red leather on doors. Sold

    My German bricks: 1988 300TE Estate E-Class, 1993 S Class 500SEL, in a class of it's own, The "Beast", and a 2002 BMW 540iA, My daily, lots of fun .
    -BMW Service Technician

  18. #18
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    Is the bump stop ("additional shock absorber") needed for the new bilstein?

  19. #19
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    Does anybody know the torque setting for the pinch bolt, please?

    Jack

  20. #20
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    oops, 5 years to late

    anyway, a word of caution -- I've installed Bilstein's before and it severely increased ride height due to their pressurized nature. Even from the pictures you can see how much more extended they are than stock struts (ok monroe in this case but they look similar to the stock Sachs).
    Immediately replaced Bilstein's with Sachs and the car dropped by almost 2" back to the original ride height.

  21. #21
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    And I found out the hard way that undertightening the strut top nut leads to horrible noises. I used a spark plug socket with a pair of vice grips to turn the nut, and a long Allen key with another pair of vice grips to hold the strut shaft to keep it from turning.

  22. #22
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    Top 3 nuts: 34nm
    Piston rod nut: 64nm
    Stabilizer link: 65nm
    Pinch bolt: 81nm

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