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Thread: Replacing Air Spring on E39 Touring

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Toronto, Ontario
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    212
    My Cars
    '99 540iT; Porsche 944

    Replacing Air Spring on E39 Touring

    I looked all over but could find a good writeup with pics to help me visualize what need to be done to replace the air springs on the Touring, so I hope this will help someone do just that.

    The air springs fail because the rubber gets old chafed and cracked (see the pic with the chafing and cords showing), if you jack up the car with the springs in this poor condition the spring will extend and can start to leak from the cracks in the rubber or the seal between the plastic parts and the rubber body.

    DISCLAIMER: I bare no responsibility for damages to you or your car, please use these instruction with safety in mind at all times.


    You only need basic tools and a floor jack (the lower the better)

    -lug wrench or torque wrench for wheel lugs
    -needle nose pliers
    -10mm Socket and ratchet
    -10mm wrench
    -13mm wrench
    -small flat head screw driver

    From my experience I recommend that you lower the rear seats, remove the floor panel behind the rear seat and check the part number on the top of the air spring before ordering them online. See pics In my case I ordered the regular air spring only to find out the my car had the S227A Sports Suspension package (read shorter air spring), it was a good thing the dealer exchanged the parts without any restocking charges. If I had ordered online I would have had more difficulty, so be warned.

    The all part numbers are here:
    http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...30&hg=33&fg=50
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by MLue1; 02-24-2008 at 10:42 AM. Reason: Edit Typos

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    '99 540iT; Porsche 944
    Here are the steps that I followed for replacing the left air spring on my Touring.

    - Use the 10mm socket to REMOVE THE NEGATIVE TERMINAL OF THE BATTERY
    - lower the rear seats and remove the floor panel directly behind the rear seat, 3 x 10mm bolts
    - if you do not have a low race jack you may want to set the floor jack under the jack point to support the car once the air in the air spring is released
    - use a 10mm wrench to loosen the small air supply connection (blue or red lines) on the Quick connector fitting on top of the air spring. Warning: Make sure that you open up the connection enough and that ALL the air is released.
    - once all the air is released and the suspension lowers, tighten the 10mm connection back to normal, by now the suspension will be resting on either the floor jack that you placed properly or the bump stop on the suspension arm.
    - use needle nose pliers to gently squeeze the tabs on the quick connect fitting as shown and pull up to remove the quick connect fitting to seperate it from the top of the air spring. * take care not to squeeze too hard, someone wrote to let me know that he broke the plastic tab, to clarify about the plastic clip you have to squeeze it together lightly and at the same time pull up on the quick connector fitting and it comes off easy if you break the clip you have squeezed it too much together.
    - wrap the quick connect fitting to prevent dirt from contaminate the fitting. I used a blue nitrite glove to cover it up.
    - to release the two circlips that secure the air spring use a small Flat Screw Driver to lift the flat metal tab while pulling the circlip with a Pliers as seen in the picture to remove the circlip. Click on the link to see the picture for some reason the picture is not showing up like the others. After removing the circlips the air spring will fall below, nothing to worry about here.
    - jackup the car and remove the wheel
    - use a 13mm wrench to loosen and remove the 13mm bolt and washer (above the drive shaft on the wheel carrier) that secure the air spring to the wheel carrier. I took a pic but it was too blurry to publish, sorry about that!
    - pull the old air spring out and run your hands over the mounting surface on the wheel carrier everything should be smooth, if not you may have to file away any rough edges as I recall someone posted that this may have had some thing to do with a leaking air spring. I didn't find any rough spots but it's better to be safe than sorry.
    Last edited by MLue1; 08-10-2014 at 11:43 PM. Reason: Editing Typos and try to get this last pic to show up with out having to open it manually

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Toronto, Ontario
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    '99 540iT; Porsche 944
    Once the air spring is out the installation of the new part basically follows the removal process. Sorry at this point my camera ran out of batteries and it was below freezing in my garage (-15C), so on we go with the replacement.

    NOTE: There is a paper like gasket on top of the air spring that you should make sure it gets installed with the new air spring. The BMW parts guy told me that they don't stock replacements and mechanics sometimes get rid of them in error.

    Note: There is a cap on the quick connect fitting to prevent dirt from getting into the air spring during installation. I found it easier to shorten the length of the air spring to almost the length of the old air spring by temporarily removing the cap to allow easier manipulation of the air spring then reinstalling the cap allow the air spring to stay in that shape.

    - to manuveur the new air spring into position you may want to get a helper to help you to line up the three studs on the top of the air spring with the three holes in the spring perch so you can install the two circlips. (by the way I used new circlips and 13mm bolt as they weren't expensive even from the BMW stealership, plus if I bent them during the removal process it was no big deal).
    - once the circlips are reinstalled, you need to then install the 13mm bolt and washer to secure the bottom of the air spring to the wheel carrier. There are two ways to do this (1) you can remove the cap from the quick connect fitting on top of the air spring so you can pull down the bottom of the air spring to meet the wheel carrier or you can (2) use a second floor jack to raise the wheel carrier to meet the bottom of the air spring.
    - use the 13mm wrench to install the 13mm bolt and washer, the torque is only 15 ft-lbs but it is hard to get a torque wrench in there because there is simply not enough room, so carefully estimate the torque required and don't over tighten because the threaded insert is only inserted into the plastic base of the air spring.
    - reinstall the wheel and the quick connect fitting to the top of the air spring and make sure it is secure. You will have to once again use the needle nose pliers to once again squeeze the tabs on the fitting to retract the piece that locks the quick connect fitting in place and push down.
    - lower the car part way or all the way, your choice.
    - reinstall the negative battery terminal.
    - open the door of the car if the compressor does not come on to raise the car, insert the ignition key and advance it until the commpressor is heard, no need to start the car. The ride height should raise to the same height as before the failure of the air spring, no adjustment should be required.
    - check all the air connections and replace the floor panel behind the rear seats with the three 10mm bolts.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by MLue1; 02-24-2008 at 10:35 AM. Reason: Editing Typos, if I could spell that would help too

  4. #4
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    '06 X5 4.8is
    be interested to read your write up on this DIY.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    A Few With Roundels
    Check this out. It's a UK-based E39 forum. Good info in the thread.

    http://forum.bmw5.co.uk/viewtopic.ph...st=0&sk=t&sd=a

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
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    540iT
    Once you finish this ought to be a sticky. Thanks for the contribution.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    DFW
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    E34 M5, E39 528it sport
    Just did this. Really improved the ride quality of my sport suspension. Raise the entire rear end instead of doing one side at a time, makes it easier. Use the floor jack to control the height of whichever side you are doing by jacking up or lowering at the control arm.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    socal
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    528itouring
    I did this the other day and it was extremely easy. I hate suspension work but if you can change brake pads, changing the air spring will be easier. AND to think I was going to pay someone to do this for me. It only took 30 mins.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Nashville, TN
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    1999 BMW 540it
    Great post! I need to tackle this job myself. My car looks like a pimping low rider on the passenger rear side. Where did you get your spring and how much did you pay for it?

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    '99 540iT; Porsche 944
    Quote Originally Posted by silver540it View Post
    Great post! I need to tackle this job myself. My car looks like a pimping low rider on the passenger rear side. Where did you get your spring and how much did you pay for it?
    Tischer BMW, they are a forum sponsor, they have it today priced at $158; BMW Partz Direct has it for $148, take your pick. See up top for the part numbers.
    Last edited by MLue1; 01-22-2010 at 01:34 AM. Reason: adding info

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Riga,Latvia
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    My Cars
    BMW-525d wagon

    E39 wagon air spring

    Can I drive with broken air spring on one side? The right side is really low but the left side is ok. I am abroad and need to travel back about 700miles.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    England Nottingham
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    My Cars
    bmw 525d se tourer

    Can anybody help me? Air Spring on E39 Touring

    hi everybody
    I have bmw 525d se tourer 03 Reg old shape
    I have had a problem With my suspension for quite a while now originally orange light came on on dashboard and I realised passenger-side was very low so turn the car of left it for a while but the key in ignition and everything was ok thought it was strange anyway three weeks later did the same and then rectified itself could not hear any leaking coming from a suspension two weeks ago was just about to go on holiday and both sides was completely down came back off holiday one size raised up and the other one didn't so ordered a new suspension airbag replaced it and noticed both of levelling senses located right and left and side of the car was looking old so I took both of them of and clean them up reassembled but unfortunately still didn't work but this time not even one side someone said it might be the relay near the pump so tested it relay is working fine, so I took off BMW TOURING AIR SPRING SUPPLY CONTROL UNIT PART NO;37141092396 opened it up carefully to look for any broking burned-out tracks or some sign of damage but nothing at all everything seemed perfect inside their, just wondered easy anybody out there knows if me disconnecting this unit also self-levelling sensors would stop it working just wondering if they need to be recalibrated to the control unit hope someone can help me out there, once again I have replaced both airbags now, I do all my own service in I remember once when I was taking service light of from the dashboard holding down speedometer reset button and turning ignition one turn pressing the button to different menus cannot remember the menu for testing rear suspension found it by accident and noticed the rear-ended a car jacked right up and then write down then levelled itself out when I first had the car six years ago I found this would for the life of me cannot remember which menu it was if anybody out there could help I would be much appreciated many thanks

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    lexington kentucky
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    10
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    911 356 528

    touring air spring replace with shock?

    Has anybody had any luck replacing this part with a shock or a coil over type of shock? the ride i think would be improved.
    Thanks
    Mike

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    01 525iT 98 323is
    maybe this is too big a job for abroad?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Seattle
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    540iT
    I'm having trouble removing the quick connect fitting from the top of the air spring. From the writeup it sounds like it should just pop off once the air pressure is released but I can't get it off at all. I've removed the black plastic clip (broke it, in fact. Hoping I haven't completely messed up here.) but the air fitting won't release from the top of the spring. What am I missing here?


    ___________

    Never mind. I discovered that I hadn't completely removed the black plastic clip from the fitting. Thank goodness I didn't or else the air fitting wouldn't have stayed on when I would have tried to reconnect it. I ended up disconnecting the air fitting on the other side and removing the clips from the two nuts holding the air spring in place. I then went under the car to unfasten the 13mm nut from the bottom of the spring. Then I discovered there's very little clearance in there between the bottom of the nut and the drive shaft from the differential to the wheel. My ratchet wouldn't fit in there and I somehow lost my 13mm wrench.

    Long story short, I was thankfully able to get everything back together without further damage. This is a pretty straightforward job but it's not as simple as I'd thought from this thread. That's likely due to my lack of sufficient tools and my misunderstanding of some of the steps. Still, I wanted to comment on this job for others who may try it.

    It's not really that hard, but like many things on BMWs, there are little things that can trip you up. I suggest you think about having your mechanic do this job unless you're really pretty handy, have the right tools, and maybe have somebody to help.
    Last edited by aceswerling; 10-08-2010 at 04:04 PM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
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    E36/7 E36/8x2 E39/2 E46
    To help the clip release without breaking the tabs, push down on the air connector with the palm of your hand and wiggle as you squeeze the tabs. Also, make sure there is no pressure in the bag before you disconnect. I left the feed line loose until until I hooked up the new spring.


    /.randy

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Texas
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    E39 wagon. FZ1.
    Big ups to MLue1 for this writeup. I did this today, and it was really not hard at all. Took me maybe 3 hours to do both sides...I was not in a rush.


    • I ended up using the factory jack instead of the floor jack, because I thought I would need the floor jack to raise the wheel carrier. Instead, I raised the wheel carrier by hand to draw up the slack. Left hand fastening the circlip, right hand on the wheel carrier...sort of hugging the C-pillar. Hope that makes sense.
    • The brass air supply fastener may not be a 10mm. I had a hard time getting a 10mm on it
    • I definitely could not get a socket below the wheel carrier, I had to use a box end. Make sure you have a 13mm box end to be safe.
    • Getting the springs in and out is a tight squeeze, even with the springs fully compressed.


    The hardest part of this job are getting those stupid plates out of the cargo anchor points.

    I'm attaching a couple extra photos to supplement MLue1's writeup.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Saltspring island bc can
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    528it
    Does anyone know where to get those plastic retainer clips on the top of the air bag that secure the hose . Factory says only with hose and air res.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    '99 540iT; Porsche 944
    Quote Originally Posted by dashZD View Post
    Big ups to MLue1 for this writeup. I did this today, and it was really not hard at all... I'm attaching a couple extra photos to supplement MLue1's writeup.
    Thanks man for the "ups" and the extra photos and instructions.

    I actually didn't think the thread would be this popular but I've gotten messages from all around the world (Australia and the Far East) and from X5 guys as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by porsche 912 View Post
    Does anyone know where to get those plastic retainer clips on the top of the air bag that secure the hose . Factory says only with hose and air res.
    One of the guys (in Canada) broke the plastic retainer clip, I haven't confirmed this but he apparently went to the dealer and they some how got him just the plastic clips.

    EDIT: The X5 has 2 circlips listed for ~$3, they maybe the same...the part# is 37121096962 and is listed as a circlip/fuse. The pic is small click on the thumbnail to see it. Let us know it they are the right ones.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by MLue1; 01-10-2011 at 02:18 AM. Reason: adding info

  20. #20
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    boca raton, fl, usa
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    2002 BMW 525it
    Folks, I replaced the rear touring shocks and problem is solved except I cannot reset the suspention inactive warning on the dash...Any ideas? jc

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    salisbury, Wilts, uk
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    1999 E39 528iA Touring
    Excellent write up. did one in <1hr today. The black retaining ring on the top of the airspring only needed finger presure and wiggling of the fitting to remove so no need to risk breaking it with pliers. Squashing the new bag to make it shorter before refitting is a must to get it in to the space! Tight fit!

    thanks again!

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Edison, NJ
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    2001 BMW 540iT
    Great write up. I did one side yesterday and it was smooth sailing thanks to your directions.

  23. #23
    Join Date
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    Albuquerque,NM
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    2002 BMW 525it

    Problem fixed

    thanks for the write up
    just did it and took me 20 minutes
    thanks again

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    London
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    e26 323i coupe alpina rep
    ** HINT FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO BREAK THE RETAINING CLIP **

    Firstly great guide everything worked as said, apart from I was a fool and read the post after breaking the clip. (completly breaking) which involved leaving the actual retaining ring in the connector with no means of removal hence shock being stuck in car.

    If any one has this problem the best way to get the ring out is to use 2 safety pins bent straight, firstly rotate the retaining ring so you can see when it broke then fix it inplace by using the sharp end of a pin.

    Secondly use the other pin to slide under the retaining clip to gently bend it away and out of the slot which you should then be able to remove with pointed nose plyers.


    I only post this because it took me an hour to get the stupid thing out.

    Also I would advise to use the safety pins with caution - if in doubt use a paperclip.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    San Diego, CA
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    '99 E39 5.28iT
    It's definitely amazing to see some people do this job in 20-30 minutes. I just ordered the two sport springs from eeuro ( I should have used someone else but I was in a hurry) and look forward to doing this job "quickly, safely and accurately." I didn't order anything else but the springs. Are there more parts that I need?
    '99 5.28iT [build date 01/99]
    '88 3.25i Convertible [build date 11/87] - SOLD

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