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Thread: My e39 540i Intrax/Koni suspension Install Thread

  1. #1
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    My e39 540i Intrax/Koni suspension Install Thread

    This might be long but if you are concerned about suspension for your 540i or any other e39 5 series, then this thread would be a good one to read.

    This weekend, I installed Intrax springs and Koni yellows onto my 1998 540i6 sport package along with Hawk HPS brake pads, and UUC red transmission mounts. I bought both the Intrax springs and Koni struts off of ebay. I paid 850 dollars shipped for everything. Hawk pads for 131 and UUC mounts for 40.



    My car has 90k miles on it and it still has the original suspension. After reading all I could about different types of suspension made for this car, I finally decided that the Intrax/Koni setup was the right move for me. I am so glad I do not have to worry about which suspension to get anymore. It is such a load off my shoulders.

    I did all the work to the car at my local Honda Carland where my roommate works as a tecnician. I had access to all of his tools, his personal lift, and a former certified BMW master tech that works in the bay right next to him. I had access to a nice spring compressor, a very expensive snap-on electronic torque wrench that you can adjust to the 1/10th of a ft/lb of torque, along with a couple other special tools that helped out a lot.

    I have read all sorts of information saying that the front would be the hardest or the rear would be the hardest. It also seems like many people took a bunch of different approaches as to how they removed the suspension. I was very interested to see how I would approach the install.

    My total installation time from when I raised the lift to the time I lowered the lift was 5 hours. In that 5 hours I installed all 4 struts, all 4 springs, all the brake pads, installed new transmission mounts from UUC and checked all my spark plug holes for oil accumulation. I had a 5 minute power lunch in there somewhere. I

    The front suspension-
    It is by far the easiest. Each side took me 8 minutes to disassemble. 10 minutes to change the spring, and then another 8 minutes to install the new spring/strut. Removing the strut is simple.

    *at this point Supark says it is best to remove the brake calipers to ensure that you do not stretch or break the brake lines. That is an excellent idea and is only 2 addition bolts.

    Loosen the pinch bolt that holds the strut to the wheel hub.
    Remove either of the sway bar end link nuts.
    Remove the plastic arm off the front control arm for the headlight adjusters. It is located on the passenger side front control arm. This will most likely break if you do not remove it.
    Remove the 3 13mm nuts from the engine bay.
    Push the wheel hub down with your foot while pulling the top of the suspension towards you. The suspension will all clear under the fender.

    Then all you have to do is pull up on the spring and strut and it will just slide out of the hub. Easy! Re-installation is the reverse of removal.

    Pic-



    The rear suspension-

    Ok, the rear is definately harder. Its not hard to do but just more involved. Instead of loosening 5 bolts and your done, you have multiple items to remove to actually get to the suspension.

    You have to deal with getting to the top of the suspension to remove the 3 13mm nuts and then you have to deal with actually getting the spring/strut combo out of the fender well.

    For the top of the suspension you must remove the following-

    Seat bottom
    Seat back
    left and right trim panels behind the rear windows. These are the ones that hold the little reading lights.
    Remove the deck lid
    remove both left and right subwoofers
    pull back foam insulation
    remove the 3 13mm bolts on each side of the car.

    Location of strut top-


    For the bottom of the suspension you must remove the following.

    Bottom bolt on the strut. Be careful because the suspension is still loaded up by its bushings. If you push the strut off the wheel hub, the wheel hub is going to fly up pretty quickly. Make sure someone applies downward pressure on the hub to prevent this.

    Remove either nut on each sway bar end link to allow the hub to drop down further.

    You must remove both rear fender liners.
    On the passenger side, you must remove 2 10mm nuts that hold the gas filler neck to the car.

    On the driver side, you must remove 1 10mm nut and unplug one wiring connector to remove the charcoal canister. That makes it able to get the spring/strut assembly out. You do not have to entirely remove the cansiter but just move it around a little.

    Push down on the rear hubs while pushing the very bottom of the strut tube towards the rear differential. At the the same time, pull the top of the spring/strut towards you. Then pull side ways out of the car.

    Remove old spring to get the top mount and bumpstop separate.

    EDIT- added 10-24-06 thanks to Shawn C...

    Before you assemble the rear Koni adjustable struts, you will have to pre-adjust them before installation. I wish Koni had installed an external adjustment screw or something because it would/will be a pain in the ass to keep disassembling the rear suspension every time you need to adjust the rear rebound.

    The way you adjust the rear strut is by lightly clamping the tops of the struts in a bench vice or something that can catch the outer ring of the strut shaft. In the picture, you will see the threaded rod is not as thick as the rest of the shaft. You want the vice to be open just enough to let the smaller diameter shaft go in between but then stop at the thicker portion.


    Once the vice is setup right, tighten the vice snug against the strut. It will not damage the threads since they have a slightly smaller diameter than the rest of the thinner rod due to the cutting of the threads. Once that is semi tight, you will stand at the back of the strut and push it forward into the vice to compress the strut all the way in.

    *on a side note, i compared the amount of force it took to compress the koni strut vs the oem sport strut @ 90k miles and the koni was significantly stiffer than the oem strut. Both of them were the same. I could also tell the difference between the different levels of adjustment.

    The strut reacts very slowly to your push. Dont worry, its not going to go flying away or give you a big recoil. Once you have compressed the strut all teh way in, you need to twist the strut to one extreme; fully soft or fully hard depending on your taste. If you twist the strut body counter clockwise, you will go all the way soft. If you twist the strut body clockwise, you will stop at fully stiff. The strut should come from the factory in the middle of its range. There are 4 full 360* rotations between extreme soft and extreme hard. Twist the strut until the middle shaft starts spinning along with the strut body. Thats when you know you have engauged the adjustment cam at the end. Then depending on how stiff you want it, you will turn the strut body back clockwise to stiffen it up. My personal settings are 1 full turn from extreme soft. I chose this setting because of other 540i koni users. I didnt know what to set it to so I relied on them and it seems good. Sometimes I feel it could be stiffer though- maybe a little. Its much easier to have 2 people while adjusting the strut. One can push the strut in and hold it there with a firm stance and grip. The 2nd person can rotate the strut body more accurately and ensure that it is rotated just as much as the other one. I put a black mark with a sharpie on the top dead center of the strut body. Then i rotated the strut around back to top dead center. This worked very well.

    After both sides are complete, you have to modify the bump stops. I cut all my bumpstops in half using the portion that had the most 'bumpstop' to it. I sprayed down all of my rubber dust boots with a product in a white can called SQUEEKEE. It restores rubber and makes it the way it should be.

    You can assemble the new strut/spring assembly now.

    Re-Installation for the rears is the reverse of removal.

    Brakes easy
    tranny mounts easy (yet gives a slight vibration in the cabin due to the new stiffness)

    Before I installed the suspension. I put my car on gauranteed perfectly level ground and got these height measurements.

    Front Right= 24 1/16th inches
    Front Left= 24 1/8th inches
    Right Rear= 22 13/16th inches
    Left Rear= 22 15/16th inches

    After the suspension was on for 24 hours I re-measured the height difference and I got these measurements.

    Front Right= 22 7/8th inches
    Front Left= 22 15/16th inches
    Right Rear= 22 3/4 inches
    Left Rear= 22 7/8th inches

    The front dropped 1.19 inches
    The rear dropped 1/8th of an inch with the rear konis set at the lowest ring out of 3 available heights.

    rear strut pic- the silver ring on the strut is the middle height for the perch adjustment.


    The intrax springs made the car sit perfectly level @ just under 23 inches with just 1 finger gap between the fender and the tire all the way around.

    My impressions?

    Honestly I am pretty damn happy with the results. I think the ride height of the car is perfect. It doesnt give the car that hammered look but it looks way more aggressive and has a much nicer stance to it.

    I have my suspension settings adjusted half way in the front. For my rear struts, I have them adjusted 1 turn from fully soft.

    I am very happy with they way they ride as well. The suspension is firmer than with the OEM setup. It is not jaring at all. It rides smooth yet firm. I feel much more planted to the road. Before, the car would feel floaty sometimes and just too soft. The car rides a little flatter but not too much. The steering feel is what i like the best. I now have more feedback through the steering wheel and that is really nice. Higher speed turns 100+mph feels much better. The car does not float anymore. It just sits flat and takes the corner without upset. I will be adding an oem M5 sway bar soon. I am interested in how much body roll its going to eliminate. Then I will add the M5 front later on after Ive experienced the car with just the rear M5 bar.

    Here are some pics of the results and the install. I will try to add more pictures when I take them. These were just the first shots I could get. Its so weird, it seems like the car is lower in person than on camera.

    Oh, and if you have any questions- bring it on. Now you will have to excuse me, I need to go re-aim my headlights cause they point down now.

    Before-

    After-












    EDIT Added new pictures!
    I messed with the shadows and highlights in P'shop to make it easier to see the drop.










    Even more pictures *added 11-5-06







    1 more ....
    Last edited by John 540i6; 11-06-2006 at 07:16 PM.

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    looks very nice maybe if it was a tad lower. I will be going with PSS9's very soon

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    sweet looking drop....now is it possible to drop just the front? Being that I have a touring model with the active rear suspension, the front is all I can touch (correct me if I'm wrong)
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    great write up! Lookin good
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    Looks great, it will settle some and get a little lower, I think it looks good where it is! I am thinking of going the H&R/Koni route.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oekundar View Post
    sweet looking drop....now is it possible to drop just the front? Being that I have a touring model with the active rear suspension, the front is all I can touch (correct me if I'm wrong)
    sure it is possible and that's the way to do it. BTW congrats on picking up the touring.

    here is my Intrax/Koni combo
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    Quote Originally Posted by PENER View Post
    sure it is possible and that's the way to do it. BTW congrats on picking up the touring.

    here is my Intrax/Koni combo
    Thank you much...I got it for a steal, although its going to take some work/time to get it even close to the beast you have there!
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    I tried putting some stock 17" wheels on the car and it looks way lower. I think there is another thread on here that SilverE39 started with his koni/H&R setup and it looks the same as that. I think my 18s make the front end look more lifted. Its weird. Ive thought about going with some style 66 17s that come on the new 540i sport. Its like an m5 wheel but with half the spokes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John 540i6 View Post
    I tried putting some stock 17" wheels on the car and it looks way lower. I think there is another thread on here that SilverE39 started with his koni/H&R setup and it looks the same as that. I think my 18s make the front end look more lifted. Its weird. Ive thought about going with some style 66 17s that come on the new 540i sport. Its like an m5 wheel but with half the spokes.

    I agree with you John.......stockers seems to make the car visually lower. BTW, great write-up regarding a DIY.

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    ok...i have a questions

    1. Why my cars look higher compare to all those people who had installed intrax springs with koni even bilstein ??
    2. i am running intrax/bilstein B8 and my front has 1 finger gap and the rear is 2 to 3.....
    3. i am happy with the front but not the rear....too high...is it because i am using bilstein ??
    4. i have heard that bilstein HD will lift your car but even my B8 ??

    here is some pics of mine with 18" bbs rx and 235/40/18 all around :



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    Very Nice! My rear suspension is starting to feel a bit squishy so I may be doing the same thing before long. Excellent write up! Now if I only had access to a garage like you do - I could do all the work myself.
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    Nicely done write-up - thank you!

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    I turned my front suspension all the way stiff today just to see the difference and boy do i like it a lot better. The car rides flatter and its not as floaty. When i go over speedbumps, the cars nose doesnt sink down drastically after my front wheels roll off the back of the speed bump. now, it just feels firm and really good. Now i am really happy with the suspension- i cant wait to get this m5 bar on the back and see what that does.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken21 View Post
    ok...i have a questions

    1. Why my cars look higher compare to all those people who had installed intrax springs with koni even bilstein ??
    2. i am running intrax/bilstein B8 and my front has 1 finger gap and the rear is 2 to 3.....
    3. i am happy with the front but not the rear....too high...is it because i am using bilstein ??
    4. i have heard that bilstein HD will lift your car but even my B8 ??

    here is some pics of mine with 18" bbs rx and 235/40/18 all around :

    IMG]http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/1196/img1775kh7.jpg[/IMG]

    IMG]http://img405.imageshack.us/img405/2279/img1776wi5.jpg[/IMG]
    I would be interested in seeing your distances between the bottom of the wheel lip to the fender lip above it. How does your drop compare to my measurements I have on post #1?

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    Quote Originally Posted by John 540i6 View Post
    I turned my front suspension all the way stiff today just to see the difference and boy do i like it a lot better. The car rides flatter and its not as floaty. When i go over speedbumps, the cars nose doesnt sink down drastically after my front wheels roll off the back of the speed bump. now, it just feels firm and really good. Now i am really happy with the suspension- i cant wait to get this m5 bar on the back and see what that does.



    I would be interested in seeing your distances between the bottom of the wheel lip to the fender lip above it. How does your drop compare to my measurements I have on post #1?
    i will measure it withn 5 hours
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    My biggest problem with the springs available for the 540 is that they all give the car a major rake as i have seen in many photos as well as the measurments given in this thread. I really would like to find a set of springs that lower the car an equal amount (or close to equal) front and rear to keep the same stance that the car has on the factory springs... only lower - or the stance of the M5. Basically, i want the rocker panel to be somewhat level to the ground... not the same spacing in the front and rear wheel wells (since the front wheel well has a larger opening than the rear... just like my E36 M3).

    Anyone know if the factory M5 springs would work on a 540 and give it the same ride height as an M5, or is it different suspension components/geometry that won't give it the same stance?
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    All things being equal/ unchanged, M5 springs on a 540 may raise the car a little as it is designed for the heavier M5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 98M3_4 View Post
    All things being equal/ unchanged, M5 springs on a 540 may raise the car a little as it is designed for the heavier M5
    Yeah... that's what i'm finding as i search through past threads.

    Hey! I just discovered (and haven't seen this specifically mentioned in previous E39 540i suspension threads) that H&R makes a spring set specific for the 540i sport package that lowers the front 0.75" and the rear 0.6" (the springs for the non-sport 540i offer a 1.3F/0.75R drop). Intrax and Eibach don't seem to offer springs that are specific for the 540i sport, so i think i've finally found the springs that i'll be going with. It's not much of a drop, but i honestly don't want a really low drop as this is the wife's daily driver. We scrape the front of the M3 all the damn time on it's infrequent street voyages due to the Velocity Splitters on the front lip.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrazeauRacing View Post
    Yeah... that's what i'm finding as i search through past threads.

    Hey! I just discovered (and haven't seen this specifically mentioned in previous E39 540i suspension threads) that H&R makes a spring set specific for the 540i sport package that lowers the front 0.75" and the rear 0.6" (the springs for the non-sport 540i offer a 1.3F/0.75R drop). Intrax and Eibach don't seem to offer springs that are specific for the 540i sport, so i think i've finally found the springs that i'll be going with. It's not much of a drop, but i honestly don't want a really low drop as this is the wife's daily driver. We scrape the front of the M3 all the damn time on it's infrequent street voyages due to the Velocity Splitters on the front lip.
    I believe the 2 spring sets for the sport and non-sport are pretty much the same thing. The different lowering figures are due to the different starting points, as the 540 Sport is already lower than non-Sport by around .6"-.75", so the .75" and .6" lowering is based on starting from that point.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 98M3_4 View Post
    I believe the 2 spring sets for the sport and non-sport are pretty much the same thing. The different lowering figures are due to the different starting points, as the 540 Sport is already lower than non-Sport by around .6"-.75", so the .75" and .6" lowering is based on starting from that point.
    This may be true, but H&R has a completely different part number for the sport and non-sport 540i springs. Who knows for sure, though. I never imagined that selecting off the shelf springs for this car would be so frustrating.
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  20. #20
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    The reason eibach and intrax dont offer a spring specifically for the sport model is because it simply does not matter at all. H&R is trying to steal more money from you.

    the difference in the H&R sport springs for a SPORT model 540i is that they are simply more expensive. That is all. If you were to install h&r sport springs for a NON SPORT 540i onto a 540i sport, the drop will be the exact same as if you used the 540i sport model springs. They are simply making money off the word SPORT.

    If you want to lower the rear as much as the front, then the rear tire would be tucking under the rear fender by atleast 1 inch where you would still be able to see a gap between the front wheel and the fender. It would like the car is hauling ass while sitting still. I think it makes the car look funny. here is a picture of my car that would show you what it would look like if it was lowered how you want it- this pic is un edited btw.
    Last edited by John 540i6; 10-25-2006 at 02:07 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John 540i6 View Post
    If you want to lower the rear as much as the front, then the rear tire would be tucking under the rear fender by atleast 1 inch where you would still be able to see a gap between the front wheel and the fender.
    Actually an equal one inch drop (which would be ideal for my preference) would not tuck the back tires.

    Here is a side profile shot of my 540...


    And here is a photoshopped version with the car lowered evenly approximately one inch...


    I don't disagree that H&R is using the same spring for sport and non-sport offerings. Who knows for sure what they're actually doing behind the scenes on the manufacturing floor. I'm just saying that i don't personally like the front being dropped 2 to 3 times as much as the rear on this particular car, and i wish there were more options for ride height other than coilovers. My M3 has a slight rake even with the back tires slightly tucked under the fenders (Eibach Pro-kit), but that is the nature of the body lines of that car. The body lines on the 540 also give the car a natural rake (as you can see in the photos above comparing the front and rear bumpers to the lines behind the car although the rocker panel appears level with the ground), which is why i don't want to increase the rake further with the suspension. The sport specific springs that H&R offers for the 540 are only $30 more than the non-sport springs, so it's definitely worth it (to me) to see if they give a more even drop. I'll definitely post my findings when i get around to purchasing and installing them.

    Anyway... thanks for the write-up, John... great info.
    Last edited by BrazeauRacing; 08-23-2006 at 01:24 PM.
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  22. #22
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    2008 M3, 1998 540i6
    the p-shoped pic of your car is how my car sits right now- The side shot i have in my first post might be a little mis leading because the camera was level but the grade of the land makes the front nose look lower. Also, i dont know how much it will affect anything but all those pictures were taken with almost an empty tank of gas. I will be filling up today so i am going to get measurements and see how much more the rear of the car drops with 19 gallons of gas in it. 19 gallons time 6.15lbs per gallon of gas equals an extra 116lbs of weight in the back.

    In this picture- the front wheels have a 1 finger gap between the tire and the fender. The rear wheels have just slightly less than a finger gap. It looks just like the p-shoped 2nd pic in your thread.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    West Texas
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by John 540i6 View Post
    It looks just like the p-shoped 2nd pic in your thread.
    I noticed that in this particular photo as well. I think you may be right about the photos being misleading. That's why i love to take pics at the top of that parking garage... it's perfectly level, and the lines in the background give an even better reference...



    I love this pic because my bike appears to be perfectly level.

    Anyway.... drive the car around for a while to let the suspension settle and re-measure everything and update us. I'd be interested to see if the rear drops down more than the initial 1/8".
    Chuck Brazeau
    www.BrazeauRacing.com

    1995 BMW M3 | 2003 BMW 330i ZHP | 2002 Range Rover 4.6
    2008 Ducati 1098 | 2002 Ducati 748s | 2001 Ducati 900SSie | 2008 Honda CBR600RR | 2002 Yamaha Roadstar Warrior

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Roswell, Alpharetta, GA
    Posts
    1,281
    My Cars
    2008 M3, 1998 540i6
    i love that picture too but just because that bike looks badass

    Ive got about 40 miles on the suspension right now so we will see if it gets any lower. I am going to re-measure it today and see what happens. Hell, i may even go to a parking deck just for you

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    West Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by John 540i6 View Post
    i love that picture too but just because that bike looks badass
    LOL Thanks! I hope to add an R6 (preferably silver/black like yours) to my stable soon as well!

    Quote Originally Posted by John 540i6 View Post
    Ive got about 40 miles on the suspension right now so we will see if it gets any lower. I am going to re-measure it today and see what happens. Hell, i may even go to a parking deck just for you
    You da MAN!
    Last edited by BrazeauRacing; 08-23-2006 at 02:06 PM.
    Chuck Brazeau
    www.BrazeauRacing.com

    1995 BMW M3 | 2003 BMW 330i ZHP | 2002 Range Rover 4.6
    2008 Ducati 1098 | 2002 Ducati 748s | 2001 Ducati 900SSie | 2008 Honda CBR600RR | 2002 Yamaha Roadstar Warrior

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