DIY: 1998 BMW 528i Complete REAR Suspension Overhaul
I did my FRONT Suspension Overhaul @ 105K miles, here is the DIY:
About 10K miles later @ 115K miles, the REAR end makes a lot of squeaky noise, especially when getting in and out of the car. The upper control arm balljoint starts to get loose (from torn rubber boot). The car wanders a bit on highway.
- So it is time to do the REAR Suspension Overhaul.
- I decided to leave the Rear Bearing alone for now. If I need to replace the Rear bearing, I'd do that at the same time as the half-shaft boots etc.
- You need to do an alignment after this is done.
Needless to say, after the REAR suspension is completed and aligned, the car rides on rail, wow!!!
At 115K miles, here is my observation:
- Rear Ball Joint: long gone
- Upper Rear Control Arm: ball joint long gone
- Upper Front Control Arm: ball joint loose but no play yet
- Endlinks: some play
- OEM Sachs Shock Absorber: long gone!
- Shock Mounts: seemed OK, the rubber portion looked fine.
- Integral Links: seemed OK, the rubber portion looked fine
Some good references:
Beisan Rear Shocks:
Rear Wheel Bearing DIY by "mmm635":
Bentley's Youtube Video on Rear Ball Joint Replacement:
The Debate on how to lift Rear End:
I got 100% of my parts from:
Excellent services/prices. They also know the E39 well, so if you get stuck with any technical stuff, call Jared or Mark at EACeuroparts.com.
* The issue of re-using nuts/bolts: All Lemforder parts come with new nuts.
I re-used the bolts as all BMW gurus I spoke to say they re-use the bolts. However, if you are worried then use new bolts.
- Bilstein HD Rear Shocks..........F4-BE5-2828-H2........$95.............x2............$190
- Sach-Boge Shock Mounts..........3352109171............$26......... ....x2.............$52
(including Upper Spring Pad)
- OEM Bump Stops....................33531091031.............. $13...........x2..............$26
- BMW Protection Boots.............31331137932.............$2...... .......x2................$4
- BMW Lower Spring Pads..........33531133671.............$8.......... ...x2..............$16
- Febi SwayBar Bushings (13-mm)...33551093663.........$3...........x2......... .......$6
- Lemforder Swaybar Endlink.........33551095532.........$25..........x 2...............$50
- Lemforder REAR balljoint..........33326767748............$41..... ......x2...............$82
- Lemforder Integral Links..........33326770749............$37......... ..x2...............$74
- Lemforder (L) Rear Upper Control Arm...33326767831...$114.....x1..............$114
- Lemforder (R) Rear Upper Control Arm...33326767832...$114....x1..............$114
- Lemforder Guide Links............33326768791.............$94...... ......x2...............$188
- TOTAL............................................. .............................................$916
- J.S. Bach four orchestral suites Music CD ------------------> Priceless!
Notes & Special Tools:
1. A 16-mm thin bicycle wrench is very useful to hold the Sway Bar Endlink bolt while you remove the 16-mm nut.
2. Spray with WD-40 etc. before removing nuts/bolts.
The Rear Ball Joint, Spray with a few days beforehand! Just make sure WD-40 does not get into brake pads.
- Place the New Rear Ball Joint in freezer to make installation much easier.
- Undo all nuts and bolts of the parts involved but do NOT remove them yet.
3. Metric Wrenches and Sockets. In particular, you need a pair of 16-mm and a pair of 18-mm wrenches.
4. Rear Ball Joint Nut: 24-mm socket with 1/2" breaker bar.
5. Spring Compressors (see picture for type; I bought this from Autozone a long time ago).
6. I rented the Ball Joint Tool Kit from Advance Autoparts for free.
Just deposit $150 + tax. They will refund full amount when you return the Tool Kit.
NOTE: You need to use the Spring Compressor Bolt with the Ball Joint Adapter Tool Kit (read on).
7. Whenever you get anywhere near any rubber, whether it is CV boot, ball joint rubber, etc., pay attention not to damage them.
Once you damage any rubber boot, your beer money is gone LOL.
So please pay extra attention to rubber boots!!!
8. FULL gasoline tank so the Rear has the weight needed for preloading the bushing.
9. WASH your hand before you touch any trim work!
10. All bolts sizes and torque figures are in the pictures.
11. Work on one side at a time. Leave the other side alone as reference so you can look up the arrangement of the nuts, bolts, washers etc.!
12. Any time I tighten any bolt to spec, I use white-out (liquid paper) to mark the bolt. This way at a glance I know which bolt has been tightened. Alternatively, you can use Sharpie too.
At car factory, they use paint for Quality Control of nuts/bolts as well.
13. Celebrate with red wine & grilled chicken once you are done (see pic of my homemade Hibachi grill later LOL).
PS: This is my homemade Bearing Adaptor Kit used for other jobs but it is no match for the Rear Ball Joint stubbornness LOL!
1. With Gas Tank FULL and no significant junk in the trunk, measure fender to wheel hub axis, it was 14 inches for me.
2. Gather your tools etc. Get a box to store trim work fasteners: plastic clips, screws etc. are small and easy to lose them.
3. Open BOTH Rear doors, then hit the center switch to turn lights off.
- Before you get too excited, go wash your hand before touching the trim work!
- Pry the TOP of the light off, disconnect wiring (flat screw driver).
- Pull the Trim piece at the TOP and ease it out. Note the locations of the tabs for re-installation.
(Note the reading light faces forward!).
4. Remove Seat BOTTOM by lifting the Front edge of it then ease it out.
- Note the locations of seatbelt buckles for re-installation!
- Also note the locations of the Seat BOTTOM 2 tabs for re-installation.
Set the Seat BOTTOM in a safe place in your garage.
5. Remove Headrest Cushions by lifting them straight up & set them on the front seats.
- Remove Seat BACK by removing two (2) 10-mm screws at the bottom, then move the seatbelts sideway and lift the Seat BACK straight up. Note the 4 anchor points for re-installation.
- Set the Seat BACK in a safe place in your garage.
- To remove parcel shelf, gently lift the plastic rivet center pin and set it aside.
- Remove Center Headrest mounting bracket (Phillips screw driver).
6. Remove speaker covers, then slide parcel shelf forward (no need to remove seatbelt).
- Note the rear tabs for re-installation.
- Remove speakers (Phillips screws x 2, and disconnect wiring)
- Use small pieces of wood to lift the insulation to get to shock mounts.
- Loosen the 13-mm nuts but do NOT remove them yet.
- Before closing rear doors, check the seatbelts: you do not want the seatbelt buckle to be outside the car when you close the door!
7. Now Raise and Support Rear End.
- Loosen Rear Wheel Lugs.
- Chock FRONT wheels.
- Read the debate on Rear End jacking mentioned above.
If you don't want to lift via the Rear Differential, then floor jack under FRONT jackpad (Yes Front jackpad), this is enough to lift the REAR jackpads for the lowest setting of my 3-ton jackstands. Good enough for the job.
8. Next, loosen:
- Swaybar bushings: 13-mm.
- Endlinks 16-mm and thin bicycle wrench.
9. Now study this area well!
- Note how the Wheel Speed sensor is routed!
- Note all the bolts and torque values.
- Loosen all of these nuts/bolts but do NOT remove them yet.
- NOTE the FRONT control arm eccentric washer, mark the existing location before removing it.
This eccentric bolt controls toe values.
10. To get the Rear Shock Assembly out of the car:
- Install 3 wheel lugs temporarily so you can step on the rotor to push the wheel carrier down.
- Remove both Front and Rear Control Arms.
- Place a rag to protect the CV boot.
- Place a piece of cardboard as cushion between the half-shaft axle and the LOWER control arm.
- Remove the 21-mm bolt holding the lower end of the Rear Shock Assembly.
- Now you have two (2) options: either slide the Rear Shock Assembly down in the tight space between the CV boot + control arm (upper part of pic)....or....slide the Rear Shock Assembly outside of the wheel carrier.
- I was lazy and did not unbolt the wheel speed sensor: I simply moved the wiring out of the way. If you are meticulous, then unbolt the speed sensor to make life easier.
11. Once the Rear Shock Assembly is out of the car:
- Observe the setup, compress the Spring as shown.
- Make sure the Spring Compressors do not interfere with the metal cap.
- During install, make sure the ends of the Spring lines up properly with the rubber pads.
- My springs had a small area of surface rust at the LOWER end (near the lower perch), so I cleaned it and flip it upside down (reversed it) so the rusted area is near the TOP at the Shock Mount. Plus, I greased the rusted part for protection. Not sure if this small surface rust has anything significant but what the heck.
- Install the Bilstein HD slide it in the car and attach the shock mount 13-mm nuts loosely.
Do NOT attach the bottom 21-mm bolt yet!
The lower end of the Shock Assembly will slide in the space between the CV boot and lower control arm. So again, protect the CV Rubber Boot with a rag, or wrap the lower end of the Shock Assembly with a rag and rubber band etc.
12. If you think compressing the Spring and replace the Shock was fun, then wait until you do the Rear Ball Joint: it is even more fun LOL.
- Remove Integral Link.
- Jack the Wheel Carrier up to expose the Rear Ball Joint (recall that you sprayed this way ahead of time with WD-40). If you jack via the rotor, then temporarily install 3 wheel lugs to hold the rotor.
- Review Bentley youtube video above.
- For the snap ring: gently chisel it out with flat screw driver. It is not as easy as in the youtube video! Mine was bonded to the wheel carrier (itself aluminum, the snap ring is steel!) because they are dissimilar metals.
- To install new snap ring, ease it in with a flat screw driver, taking care not to damage the rubber boot!
- To remove the balljoint, it requires A LOT of muscle power because the balljoint is steel and the wheel carrier is aluminum! So you may need to loosely re-install the control arms to prevent the wheel carrier from moving around while you tighten the tool.
- Study the ball joint: the larger diameter faces the FRONT of the car, so the ball joint is pressed out toward the FRONT. Remove the balljoint rubber boot to make it easier.
- I used my homemade tool (plumbing cap, exhaust reducers, standard ½" bolt): all bent and broken and the ball joint did not budge. Oh so much fun, if it was not for the J. S Bach Four Orchestral Suites music, I would have spoken French 4-letter word LOL.
- It was late at night, so I gave up. Sprayed more WD-40, went to bed and prayed like crazy.
- Next day I went to church and prayed again, then dropped by Advance Autoparts to rent the Ball Joint Adapter Tool Kit.
- You must use the Spring Compressor BOLT with the Ball Joint Adapter Tool Kit, as only this bolt is strong enough (hardened steel) to remove the ball joint.
- Now install the new balljoint from the freezer. I used some antifreeze (grease) to prevent bonding if I ever need to remove it again!
- Again, watch the balljoint rubber boot and avoid damaging it at all cost. Remember your beer money sits on your being careful LOL.
- If you follow my advices and rent the tool (free), your life will be much nicer.
13. Always support the wheel carrier with floor jack. Now install all new parts, again be careful with any rubber boots. Do not tighten any nuts/bolts until you "preload" the wheel carrier.
EXCEPTION: The only 2 nuts that you can tighten right way are the Front and Rear Control Arm's OUTER ball joints at the wheel carrier because they are ball joints and not polyurethane bushings.
Anyway, you can wait until you "preload" then tighten them all, it is your choice.
- Shock Absorber's lower 21-mm bolt.
- Front and Rear Control arms. NOTE the FRONT control arm eccentric washer, see step #9 above!
- Integral links
15. "Preload" the wheel carrier to weighted position.
- I jack it up right below the balljoint area as shown.
- In my case it is 14 inches to the hub axis.
- Constantly check because as you tighten the nuts/bolts, this "14-inch" value may change!
- Once the wheel carrier is raised to 14 inches, tighten all nuts and bolts:
* Control Arms' INNER sides.
* Shock Absorber 21-mm Bolt.
* Integral Link: 18-mm bolt and 24-mm nut.
16. Get ready to lower the car yaaah!
17. Trim work re-installation is basically reverse of removal, however:
- As soon as speakers are installed, turn on radio to check sound. Do NOT forget to re-attach the wiring.
- The Parcel Shelf has rear tabs, make sure it slides in properly.
- When installing Seat BACK, check to be sure it slides in the proper tabs. Do NOT forget the middle seatbelt! Make sure all seatbelts are properly positioned. Do NOT forget the two (2) 10-mm screws!
- Wash your hand before touching the trim work!
- The courtesy light: reading light faces forward. Again, do NOT forget the wiring connector.
Check the light operation once done.
18. Alignment issues:
- The book says the LOWER Control Arm Eccentric bolt is used to adjust the "Camber" and the Upper FRONT Control Arm is used to adjust the "Toe". But geometrically it is a bit more complicated than that. Anyway picture for your info:
OK, you have read this far LOL…............... In return, I will show you how to make a Cast Iron Hibachi Grill for $25. All it takes is no special tool and 2 minutes for assembly. Time to impress your wife hehe…..............
This Hibachi Grill is to be used with charcoal and great for a quick meal, making Spanish tapas etc. and it will last a loooong time.
Local Father-and-Son hardware store:
* 1x4 cast iron toilet flange
* 3x4 cast iron toilet flange, to be used with:
* 4-5/8" grate as shown
* long bolts and nuts, use antiseize LOL.
* 6-inch floor drain (SKU 565234…................$5.00)
That is it boys and girls, enjoy the Hibachi grill!
Last edited by cnn; 05-31-2011 at 04:51 PM.
Just FWIW many may find it easier to remove the plastic wheel well liner before attempting to remove the shock and spring, for non sport cars this is required. This adds a few minutes to the job but the time for removal and re-installation is saved in the reduced amount of fighting and effort to get the shock out. with sport suspension it is much easier to get the shock out, but removing the wells eliminates the need to stress any of the joints and bushings.
>'97 528i, 200000 miles, Hella Xenons, 17" Stilauto wheels, Vogtland Drop Springs, Dynomax Race Muffler, Homelink, 540 brake upgrade, 15mm spacers >'65 & '74 MG Midgets BFC OT Lego Club #48 Manual conversion in process!!!
- If one replaced ONLY the shock absorber, then yes remove the wheel liners (see Beisan Link at the top of the page above).
- If one performs a complete overhaul as in this DIY, then once the control arms (x2) are out, there is enough wiggle room to get the shock absorber out (see pic of absorber coming out above).
I forgot to mention that to be complete the REAR Suspension should be followed by Alignment.
Here is the DIY: 1998 528i REAR Wheel Alignment:
The Tools (Carpenter Square, level, plumb bob etc.) were discussed here:
- You won't have problem with install. The problem you have now is the old nut seized into the threads from years in service, corrosion etc.
- Worst-case scenario: heat the nut with a propane torch ($10 at hardware store).
- Use Vice-Grip, see this Bentley Video:
Last edited by cnn; 09-03-2011 at 12:34 PM.
Update - Crisis avoided. With a fresh attitude, plenty of PB40 Blaster and fresh grease on the ball joint tool I was able to get both sides done.
Ah, this is proving to be one challenge after the next. So far I used the trusty Autozone loaner ball joint tool and successfully removed the old ball joint. However, when installing the new ball joint I have it about 2/3 of the way in and it's now stuck. My issue is that I ham fisted the thing and did not begin inserting it evenly all around; meaning it's stuck at a slight angle.
My current plan is to try and extract the thing and try again with a new ball joint. My main concern (other than having my car up on jack stands until 2012) is damaging the wheel carrier. Any other ideas?
Last edited by DanATL; 09-06-2011 at 07:16 AM. Reason: Update
They key thing to REAR balljoint is:
- Place the balljoint in a freezer for a few hours.
- Use the correct adapters! See the first thread for detail.
I used the Ball Joint Tool Kit from Advance Autoparts and had no issues installing the REAR ball joint.
What does the Ball Joint Tool Kit from Autozone look like?
- You can always remove the balljoint and re-insert it.
Post a pic of your current problem!
To cnn - Thanks for this amazing writeup. There is no way I could have done this without your writeup.
I am done and just picked up my car after getting it aligned. It's like a night and day difference. I replaced everything you did except I reused the upper shock mount, bump stop and sleeve. I spent about $700 on parts and $75 on some misc tools I needed. Between the discounted parts from Autohousaz and the labor costs I'm guessing I saved a good $3000 over going to an independent mechanic. I'll include a few of my observations and lessons learned.
1) You need to get the Advance Autoparts ball joint kit(the one pictured above) not the the Autozone kit. The Autozone kit did not have the right combination of adapters to get the job done.
2) A wire wheel mounted in a drill does a good job of cleaning off the inside and outside of the ball joint mounting hole in the wheel carrier. Remember, you are just cleaning off the gunk not removing metal.
3) The ball joint bolts on the upper control arms can be held with 7mm(front) and 10mm(rear) wrench to keep them from turning while you loosen or tighten them. This means you need to use an open end wrench on the nut rather than a deep socket so plan accordingly.
4) Installing the snap ring on the ball joint was very tough. I actually used the $8 piston ring spreader pliers from Pep Boys to help. I also slightly bent the new ring to help it go on. Once installed it stays put. Watch the rubber boot on the ball joint...very easy to gash it with your tools or the new ring.
5) I wrestled with the wheel carrier and integral link for an hour while trying to line up the three mounting holes. Then it dawned on me to release the parking brake to allow the wheel carrier more freedom to move. Then took 3 seconds to line it all up.
6) I bought all of my part from Autohousaz. I bought all Lemforder parts except I got some cheaper ball joints. Turns out that the sleeve on one of the ball joints did not fit into the hole in the end of the integral link. It didn't fit into the old links either. I ended up using a Dremel grinding bit to grind out enough aluminum in the link to make the sleeve fit. Buy the Lemforder or OEM ball joint. Maybe they are the same thing.
7) If you have not done suspension work before make sure you have your car where it can sit while you work through it all.
8) I did play some Mozart while working on this supplemented by Steely Dan, Earth Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder.
Nice write up. I'll be following this myself soon enough.
Out of curiosity, how long did the job take you?
Trying to understand what is the difference between :
14 Guiding suspension link 2 12/2001 33326768791 $236.12
14 Guiding suspension link w rubber mount 2 12/2001 33326777424 $236.12
The second one is for model years after 12/01 what's the rubber boot mean?
My E39 PICS: http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...ad.php?2049329
E39 HID DIY:: http://www.hidplanet.com/forums/showthread.php?52987
E39 Fat Daddio Fan Install: http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...ad.php?2115627
My SOLD E46 Supercharged 330 CIC: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1027684
BMW Interior color matched AMBER LEDS :: http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...ad.php?2025442
E46 Adjustable Lower Control Arm DIY :http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=675565
E46 PowerFlex Rear Trailing Arm Bushing RTAB DIY :http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=678004
I'm half-way through this job at the moment.
Regarding the bottom integral link bolt: the manual says 256NM, but my torque wrench only goes to 210NM.
Anyone got tips on how to reach 256NM without buying another ($150) torque wrench?
Something like: go to 120NM, then another 40 degrees?
This Power Flex diagram calls for number 10 & 11 Power Flex Poly Urethane Bushings.
# 10 : BMW E39 525, 528, 530 (97 - 03) Rear Lower Arm Front Bushing 03) Rear Lower Arm Front Bushing
Part Number: PFR5-710-10Bx2
# 11 : BMW E39 525, 528, 530 (96 - 04) Rear Lower Arm Rear Bushing
Part Number: PFR5-711-12Bx2
Should you just buy a new Control Arm, Doorman with new Ruber Bushings is about 80.00 at Rock Auto for each side?
I've found the rear lower E39 ball joint is a 5 minute piece of cake with the right tool. I've tried the Horrible Freight generic ball joint tools and they don't work well for this. BavAuto has the specific bearing tool, it pops out even the most rusted in ball joints quickly and easily, no need for freezers, microwaves or magic potions and costs around $60.
Last edited by bostonaudi; 01-17-2017 at 01:01 PM.
PCA HPDE Instructor
1995 BMW M3
2003 BMW 540i6 Alpine White M sport
the advanced auto parts balljoint tool is the key!!!!!!! just did my rear lower bolt joints and was a breeze with this tool, followed cnn's steps and everything is set for an alignment :-)
Last edited by shogun; 03-15-2017 at 10:47 AM.
I purchased the CTA 8692 tool and it works GREAT. Looks and Works like the BMW special tool.
Tool source: www.Tooltopia.com
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans Met Blue
2003 525iT TiSi
2002 M5 TiSi
1998 528i Champagne
Former Garage Highlights
2004 325iTs (2x)
1971 Dodge Dart Sport "Light Package"
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A 340 Six Pack Alpine White
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A 340 Six Pack Go Man Go Green
1969 Road Runner 383