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Thread: Bilstein B8 shocks too short for front strut !

  1. #1
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    Bilstein B8 shocks too short for front strut !

    Hi everyone, hope someone can shed some lights on this problem I'm facing with this Bilstein shocks.
    I own an 87 (first year of production) E34 535i which is currently lowered with Vogtland springs and some cheap Ta-technix shocks, the springs are sagging and the shocks are obviously terrible (and so it's the ride on the multiple potholes in the road of Rome), so I decided to swap the whole suspension for some Eibach sportline springs and Bilstein B8 shocks.
    Got the correct shocks for my application or so I tought, installing the front shocks I realized that the body of the shocks (the insert) is 1.5" inch (4 cm) too short to fit snugly in the strut, imagine my surprise. The part number match with what I bought and every other dimension seems to match with an E34 shocks, the only difference is the lenght of the insert.
    It's not my first round with an E34 (I own this one since 2013 and pretty much rebuilt it, had a 520i before, worked on some other E34 for some friends, and in my spare time I do E30 repair/restoration so I have some mechanical experience) and for my understanding every E34 strut has the same lenght, every other E34 shocks I have as a spare as the same lenght, so I'm thinking that the error isn't on my side but somehow Bilstein sent out the wrong shocks (for which application I don't know).
    To give some reference, the shocks are Bilstein 34-030196 which are B8 for E34 with the M14 (22mm) strut mount (yes, that's the mount on my car, swapped from the original M12 one), in the pictures you can see the B8 side by side with some other shocks for E34 which are Ta-technicx and Sachs pro touring.
    Maybe I'm missing something and someone here can point it out, I'm trying to get some information from Bilstein but they didn't reply to my request (yet).
    Thanks.

    20200712_190407.jpg20200712_190403.jpg20200713_174937.jpg20200713_175035.jpg

  2. #2
    moroza's Avatar
    moroza is offline MORΩN ΛABIA BMW CCA Member
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  3. #3
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    The shocks itself is stamped as "0420P36" which doesn't return any usefull information on google or in the bilstein catalog, the shocks dimension, other than the lenght, seems to be right for an E34 application, the OD of the body fit well in the strut housing, the pin at the top it's the correct lenght and diameter for an E34 strut mount, I tought that maybe they where E31 shocks but I think they're too short even for that application.
    So I'm not wrong in my understanding that for the E34 all the strut housing are the same lenght, and this shocks doesn't belong to an E34 ? I don't really want to argue with my parts supplier about the fitment, but I'm pretty sure that this isn't the right parts.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ipv7net View Post
    The shocks itself is stamped as "0420P36" which doesn't return any usefull information on google or in the bilstein catalog...
    Maybe I'm going blind, the shock is stamped 0420P36 3019H2, where "P36-3019" it's the part number for an E34 B8 shocks, so the shocks seems to be, from bilstein catalog, the correct one for the application, except that it doesn't fit ! Still no reply from Bilstein about this problem and my supplier is trying to find out why they doesn't fit when they're supposed to be the right one.
    I can always make then fit (cut a piece of steel tube, turn it to rigth OD and lenght, and effectly shim the shocks in position) but I'm not sure for what application they're valved and for what I've payed them I'm not very happy.
    We well see if Bilstein came up with an explanation.

  5. #5
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    Here's a PDF version of the Bilstein catalog, which is easier to use than their website: https://www.bilstein.com/fileadmin/u...015_GB_low.pdf

    It looks like there are two versions of the B8 front strut:
    start to 07/1990 = 34-030189
    08/1990 onwards = 34-030196

    - - - Updated - - -

    OK nevermind, it looks like you already changed the upper mount to a later version. Maybe that's the only difference between the early/late struts.

  6. #6
    moroza's Avatar
    moroza is offline MORΩN ΛABIA BMW CCA Member
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    I'm looking specifically at the truncated cone thing on the silver part of the shock, a few cm from the yellow part. That doesn't look like it'll mate correctly with the E34's strut housing nut, which is why I wonder if it's a mislabeled non-E34 part.

  7. #7
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    That's the collar nut for Bilsteins. Normally hidden under the blue boot, and definitely different from other brands. I've found a picture of the Bilsteins that used to be on my car. On the right are 540i sport struts.

    IMG_2066.JPG

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by eddycooper View Post
    Here's a PDF version of the Bilstein catalog, which is easier to use than their website: https://www.bilstein.com/fileadmin/u...015_GB_low.pdf

    It looks like there are two versions of the B8 front strut:
    start to 07/1990 = 34-030189
    08/1990 onwards = 34-030196

    - - - Updated - - -

    OK nevermind, it looks like you already changed the upper mount to a later version. Maybe that's the only difference between the early/late struts.
    The only difference that I know from early to late struts it's in the strut top mount and the wheel bearing size, and in fact when I bought this 535i it came with one early strut with M12 top mount and one late strut with it's M14 top mount, probably because of a previous accident. The two strut has the same lenght and in fact I had no trouble fitting both type of shocks absorber in the strut (with the correct top mount for the shocks), on this car I had installed the original boge shocks (one late and one early type), some sachs pro touring (early type), the current ta-technix shocks (late type), all without problem.
    I don't claim to know everything about the E34 but I'm sure BMW never had a shorter strut for this chassis, and so I can't understand how this shocks could be considered the correct application for any E34.
    Still waiting on an reply from Bilstein, still waiting to know if I can return the shocks to my supplier and swap to some Koni's (which will probably be a wiser choise for riding comfort).

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by moroza View Post
    I'm looking specifically at the truncated cone thing on the silver part of the shock, a few cm from the yellow part. That doesn't look like it'll mate correctly with the E34's strut housing nut, which is why I wonder if it's a mislabeled non-E34 part.
    As indicated by eddycooper the truncated cone thing it's the collar nut for the bilstein, it's threaded on the inside and fits no problem on the E34 strut, the problem is that even with the nut tighten all the way on the strut the shock still has that 1.5" inch of freeplay up and down in the housing, not something you will want to have on your shocks.

  9. #9
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    I guess you have no other choice but to return that to your parts supplier and show them your old struts for length comparison.

  10. #10
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    Sent back the Bilstein B8 to the parts supplier, they agreed that the parts wasn't correct for the application and opted for a full refound.
    I'm pretty annoyed that Bilstein hasn't came up with any sort of explanation, not a word came from them about this problem, not even a generic reply, I was expecting something better from a "world leader" manufacturer regarding a problem with one of their best product.
    I will order some Koni's adjustable as soon as the car is back from the body shop (full respray).
    Thanks to everyone.

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