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Thread: E36 M3 Control Arm Ball Joint Replacement with E30

  1. #1
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    E36 M3 Control Arm Ball Joint Replacement with E30

    I am looking for some info as to the best place to get E30 ball joints to put in E36 LCA. I want good ones that will hold up to the extra force from the E36 larger tires.
    I know, M3 ball joints are not replacable. I know, I should buy new control arms. Lets just put that behind us for now.
    But if you must know, I was already replacing the tie rod end and strut, and I noticed the outer ball joint on the LCA was bad. The inner is good. So why spend all the time taking it out and putting in a new arm. So I pressed out the outer ball joint and am now looking for the correct ball joint to put back in. Which is hard to find info since everyone is told that they need to replace the entire control arm.

    So things I am curious about:
    The non M3 E36 has a 49mm hole in the LCA?
    The '96+ M3 has a 41mm hole in the LCA?
    The 95 M3 has a ??mm hole in the LCA?
    The E30 M3 has a ??mm hole in the LCA?

    I saw one post on the web about someone who used the E30 M3 ball joint no problem in a E36 M3. I would like to hear that others did this without any problem.
    If this is so, why don't more people do it. You can borrow a ball joint press from autozone for free if you don't have one.
    TIA

  2. #2
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    I haven't done the job you're asking about but I have looked into it. At least two board members have done this: Stück and JETninja

    The part numbers for the E30 joints are: 31 12 1 126 254 for the outer joint and 31 12 1 126 253 for the inner.

    I wouldn't even consider using anything other than Lemforder. You can order them from Bimmerparts or AutohausAZ for $28.02 each for the outer and $33.78 each for the inner. You can even order them from Carquest for what was quoted to me as being a bit more.

  3. #3
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    I have some uroparts e30 ball joints sitting on my workbench ready to go into my 96+ M arms. Of the few threads i've read they seem to be a match. I'll know tonight when I pull the arms off to press everything out.

    hard to say no to doing it this method when you already have a press - I got all 4 ball joints and rear control arm bushings for ~$120 - a far cry from $212 a side for the complete arms and the control arm bushings on top of that. I'll see how they hold up long term.

  4. #4
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    I return from the garage with real information

    let's start off - first pic is the arm as removed from my car - 97 m3 sedan. genuine BMW stamps all over the various parts of the arm.



    e30 ball joints - I asked specifically for an 89 325 though i'm guessing they are all pretty similar. the control arm bushings are e36 m3 - though I believe the aftermarket marks them as the same as most/all non-offset e36


    old ball joints pressed out and sitting next to the new ones for comparison - I took the caliper to them and measured them in all the ways I could think of and they were right dead on.


    note the destroyed BMW ball joint - i've heard talk that these aren't supposed to have plastic in the e36 ones - well I beg to differ...

    4 ball joints from the local euro parts place were total ~100 bucks.

    so there you have it - first hand with pictures showing e30 ball joints work without issue in e36 m3 arms. I saved ~300+ bucks doing this instead of buying new arms. The press work probably takes me 20 minutes a side, i'll take that 40 minutes of time for the savings.

  5. #5
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    i like ... will this work for 95 M3 control arms? what part # ball joints did you order?

  6. #6
    RRSperry's Avatar
    RRSperry is offline Mostly Senior Member BMW E36 M3 Expert
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    And when they fail you can look forward to doing it again... You really aren't the first person to think of this...
    Last edited by RRSperry; 10-20-2010 at 07:09 AM.
    No matter where you go, there you are...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lawrence1 View Post
    i like ... will this work for 95 M3 control arms? what part # ball joints did you order?
    I believe the offset control arm bushing is the difference on the 95's? I'm not enough of an e36 guy to know that

    should be able to make out the part numbers on the second pic

    31 12 1 126 254 x2 small one
    31 12 1 126 253 x2 tall one


    Quote Originally Posted by RRSperry View Post
    And when they fail you can look forward to doing it again... You really aren't the first person to think of this...
    of course - just like any wear item. I would never suggest I was - I got the idea from a guy on this board who got it from another guy, I just hadn't seen anyone show actual proof or the correct part numbers so I figured i'd share. Having seen the destroyed stock ball joint I don't have a lot of fear that i'm replacing them with an inferior part. I spend WAY more time getting my arms off and back on with my swap subframe getting in the way than I do pressing the joints back in - so buying new arms is false time economy to me.

  8. #8
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    When I replaced the control arms in my 95 M3 I just bought ones for an e30 M3 (I think). According to Turner they are interchangable, but the e30 arms are $90 vs. $189.

    EDIT: Savage217 has done the e30 arms as well.
    Last edited by 3two8eye; 10-20-2010 at 03:19 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

    Avus/M-Tech

  9. #9
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    '95 M3 control arms and E30 M3 control arms are the same geometry, but E30M3 arms are aluminum and very expensive. However, the e30m3 arms are designed to replace the ball joints.

    I don't see why rebuilding these would be bad, however I figure doing the arms once every couple years is worth it in the long run.
    Last edited by 284Shooter; 10-20-2010 at 05:36 PM.

  10. #10
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    the control arms on my 97 were supposed to be non press-able. they look just like tong's 95 LCA. I am taking them to the shop and trying to press them out on the 20 ton. if they come out, I am getting ball joints and putting them in. having another set can not be a bad thing.

  11. #11
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    I replaced mine last Jan, popped out the old ones, pressed in new E30M3 inner and outter (Lemforder parts) and its good as new.....

    Same for all E36 M3's...just use the Ball joints from the E30. Either Lemforder or Meyle HD. Some threads on it in the Track forum....

    My Pics
    Last edited by JETninja; 10-28-2010 at 12:25 AM.

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    ***Got a '95 M3? (actually pretty common on all years! Even happened to Racer Seth Thomas! ) Check Your LSD! http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...d.php?t=390209

  12. #12
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    Gee, I spent a long time searching until I found a thread about the E30 ball joints. I just finished installing them and they fit fine. I have no idea why they say you can't replace the ball joints anyway. They were pressed in, they can be pressed out and replaced. I'd like to thank who ever it was that figured this out.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albertan View Post
    I have no idea why they say you can't replace the ball joints anyway.
    You have to understand this is a forum on the internet. People form opinions based on zero experience and present them as fact every day...

  14. #14
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    how easy is it to remove control arms? I watched this video: [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_t_DKaZ64MY[/ame]

    and it looks very straightforward!! I'm fairly mechanically savy, but how long does it usually take to do?

    thanks

  15. #15
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    I did it in 1 and a half hours. This is not including the pressing in of the bushings. but does include time to clean up and put the tools away

  16. #16
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    Can't press them out?!?!

    I have 97 M3 control arms on my E30. I did a front M3 suspension swap on my E30 and a 318ti rear end. I also dropped in an S52 with OBDI conversion.

    Anyway, I am trying to press out the outer ball joint on the passenger control arm and am having a b!tch of a time trying to press it out. The ball joint shaft itself broke out the bottom of the joint, similar to the pic earlier in the post. Now I am trying to press out the rest of the ball joint and am having difficulties. I have a ball joint press and am putting a 2 foot breaker bar with extension on it and it isn't moving much. I think the ball joint press is breaking as I don't see any movement in the ball joint casing and I am using a TON of force. I guess if I break something I get a new a-arm anyway.

    Any suggestions?

  17. #17
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    I used a 3/4 socket as an arbor to press it out - if it's not moving you're probably hanging up on the side of hte bearing and pressing against hte arm - you can press against that all day long and not move it

  18. #18
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    How do you guys press out the old balljoints? It seems the stud moves around especially with torn boots. Do you just have to make sure that it's pointing straight up?
    Last edited by shogun; 02-05-2016 at 08:20 AM.

  19. #19
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    Pushing the stud out was part of my problem. The stud itself and the backing pressed out quite easily and it actually looked like the back of the joint is meant to press out easily without the casing itself. Hence, making the joint non-replaceable. The backing of the ball joint on the M3 arms do not have the reinforcement metal that the regular e36 and '95 M3s have so pushing on the stud itself just pops it through the bottom leaving the casing of the joint still pressed into the arm. Now I am trying to press on the metal top of the casing keeping it free of the arm itself, but it doesn't seem to budge.

    For example, this is a pic of a standard e36 ball joint with metal backing that won't allow the stud to push through...(mine popped right through the backing in a perfect circle)


    I will try again tomorrow morning.

    As an FYI, they say the ball joints are 'solid' but it is still surrounded by plastic.
    Last edited by spikemd; 11-07-2010 at 02:33 AM.

  20. #20
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    I have 95 m3 CA's waiting to be installed. Im not sure if there is a metal backing plate on one of the balljoints. I'll check it out tomorrow.

  21. #21
    RRSperry's Avatar
    RRSperry is offline Mostly Senior Member BMW E36 M3 Expert
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    1.) you need to learn how to use a press. Apply force to the outer part of the ball joint, not the center. For this you need a correctly fitting socket, or arbor. Just trying to push the spindle just leads to frustration.

    2.) you need more tons. A 20 ton shop press is a really good thing.
    No matter where you go, there you are...

  22. #22
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    Listen to RRSperry, he knows of what he speaks. I have a 12 ton press and they came out very easily. Just bought another M3 so I'll have to do it
    again for that one.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by RRSperry View Post
    1.) you need to learn how to use a press. Apply force to the outer part of the ball joint, not the center. For this you need a correctly fitting socket, or arbor. Just trying to push the spindle just leads to frustration.

    2.) you need more tons. A 20 ton shop press is a really good thing.
    duhh! yes of course! I wasn't thinking straight last night when I asked how to press it out via the shaft. I was only imagining the press coming down on the arm and didnt think about using the correct size socket.

    I got to get me one of those shop press (I'll just stick with a 12-ton, much cheaper). I was able to press out 2 of the rear trailing arm balljoints using the socket+threaded rod method but it will make pressing anything so much easier with it.

  24. #24
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    Finally done

    Wow, that was a frustrating and exhausting task. I finally got the job done using one of the hand presses you can rent from an autoparts store or buy at Harbor Freight. A hand press is the only way to do it while still on the car, but if you need to change both ball joints taking off the arm and using a press will be much easier. A press is definitely one of my next tools, just a pain to store it.

    A few lessons learned in my frustrations...
    It takes a TON on force to press out these ball joints on the arm by hand. Be sure line things up as straight as possible and when you have cranked on it and it isn't budging, bang the side of the a-arm with a hammer. That was the trick for me to get it moving and pressed out. You also need a large breaker bar and/or additional pipe for more leverage.

    You also need a large prybar or other tool to keep the c-arm of the hand press from turning.

    When pressing it back on, try and line things up, but if they aren't perfect, it should still press in. I kept taking it on/off trying to get it aligned perfectly but as soon as you shift the hand press, the whole thing falls out of whack and you start over.

    Eat your wheaties because it is quite exhausting even using long breaker bars.

    pics:
    Here is a pic of the hand press with breaker bar to press it out. As you build of force and it isn't moving, whack the a-arm and then mine started to move.


    A pic of everything off. Note the jacked up remains of the old balljoint. You can also a few required tools and the hand press.


    A pic of using the hand press to press the new joint in. I had to jack the car way high to get clearance for the bottom of the press. You can see my setup here as I had to hold the prybar with my hands and then used my feet to push on the breaker bar. At only 1/4 to 1/2 turn each time, it took some time and muscle.


    FINALLY, ITS IN!!


    I hope this helps anyone else looking to do it.

    As I said, it can be done with the a-arm on the car, just takes some time and a lot of muscle. It would be exhausting to replace all four and I would recommend just buying new a-arms. I only had one balljoint that was bad. I know some suggest replacing both arms at the same time, but putting together my suspension, I got hold of used a-arms to be sure everything would align properly. I will be replacing them when the car is track ready.

    I used Meyle balljoint for an E30 that I found on ebay. I would not get the cheapos found on ebay and don't get the E36 balljoints.

    Right now, cash is tight, so paying $40 for the HF hand press and $30 for balljoint as opposed to $180 for the control arm was worth it. Plus now I have the press for u-joints/rear bushings/etc.

    Good luck.

    (I have E36 M3 front suspension with custom strut housings from Ground Control along with externally adjustable Konis and GC solid camber/caster plates and E36 steering rack on my E30 chassis. Rear is 318ti.)
    Last edited by spikemd; 11-08-2010 at 01:16 AM.

  25. #25
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    Yeah, we pressed mine out with the BMW tool just to show it works...its my pics. We also used a Press on the other side just cause. We did inners, outers and the pivot point ones also. Great fun...
    Last edited by JETninja; 11-07-2010 at 05:49 PM.

    John
    '95 Hellrot M3 w/Dove
    AA Euro HFM Stage II (w/21# Injectors & Software) W/Gen III Exhaust - URI Crank Pully - FDM w/3 Row M Coupe Rad - 3.23 LSD - Vogtland Club Spec/Koni SA - UUC Red w/Enforcers - TMS Shims/Rear Camber Bars w/QA1 inners/Sways - VMC F/TMS R End Links - X-Brace - Perf Ultimate/SS Brake Lines - GC Tower Mounts/RTAB Shims - ZKW's w/5000K Hid - Fog Delete - Alpine 9847/Pioneer TS-C130R Kevlar Components/Pioneer PRS-X340/Stealth Box's/Wired Zune 120GB - OE LTW CF Sills/Glove Box Plate - Staggered Black M-Spoke II's w/235/40 (front), 255/40 (Rear) Nitto NT05's - Rolled Fenders!

    ***Got a '95 M3? (actually pretty common on all years! Even happened to Racer Seth Thomas! ) Check Your LSD! http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...d.php?t=390209

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