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-   -   2001 X5 Control Arms or Struts? (

Lisa Marie 06-03-2013 06:23 PM

2001 X5 Control Arms or Struts?
Hi all,

I am having front end control issues with my 2001 BMW X5. The front end is tracking back and forth when I am driving and I am constantly "fighting" my car to keep it aligned from left to right in the drive lane. For example, when I hit a groove in the road the tires will track into that groove and I have to fight the car to keep it aligned.

BMW said I needed front lower control arms. Another reputable auto shop in my area said that I needed front strut assemblies on both sides but not control arms. I went back to BMW and they said my struts are fine!? At this point I am not sure who to believe.

As a side note, my front tires are wearing unevenly with the inside tire wear worse than the outer.

So does this sound like a strut issue or a control arm issue?

Scott ZHP 06-04-2013 05:41 AM

I'm inclined to go with control arm diagnosiss, specifically control arm bushings. It's a common issue on the E53 (and pretty much every BMW of that era). Try this; drive in a straight line at about 20mph with the steering wheel centered. Lightly hold the steering wheel and tap the brakes. If your steering wheel "twitches", you need control arm bushings.

Lisa Marie 06-04-2013 10:30 PM

Thanks Scott for your reply!

Well I checked my maintenance paperwork and looks like I had the control arm bushings replaced in 2011. So definitely not that. Just perplexed how 2 reputable shops could come up such different fixes (expensive fixes!) for my issue.

Think I may take it to a third shop and go from there.:)


ECSTuning 06-05-2013 01:11 PM

Could the shop have been referring to the tension strut, it's another name for the front lower control arm. That would explain why two solid sources said different things (actually saying the same thing).

Lisa Marie 06-05-2013 07:57 PM

The mechanic at the private shop took me out to the garage and showed me what needed fixed (on another vehicle because my X-5 was off the rack). He said, "see that big spring with the big shaft going through it? Thats the shocks and struts...thats what you need." Then he said, "see this metal arm, looks like you just had this replaced." And of course I was like, "ok" because I had no idea what he was showing me or talking about.

Now, I believe the metal arm he was referring to must have been the control arm bushings that I had replaced back in 2011? Hmmm.

Well I just had the front tires replaced for the uneven wear so it is driving better with less side to side front end control issues but if the underlying issue is not fixed that I am sure all of my front end control issues will return.

slowlanemcvane 06-06-2013 02:00 PM

I know it's not directly about an E53, but I was having similar issues on my E46 (325i). I ended up replacing my lower control arms and the associated bushings, and it solved the "wandering" issues that my car had been having previously. Tire wear seems to be improved as well. Not saying it's the same on your car, but my car is a 2001, and has gobs of mileage, so it's possible that your car is experiencing the same thing. You might also want to look into having at least the outer tie rod ends replaced as well, as worn ball joints on those can lead to some alignment and "tracking" issues as well.

As a recommendation, if you do decide to have any suspension components replaced, take it to a reputable BMW mechanic (either an independent or to a dealership) and have it aligned as part of the service. It's a good idea to have an alignment done every couple of years anyway, but any time I replace parts of my suspension or steering system, I have an alignment done just to be sure.

Lisa Marie 06-07-2013 08:03 AM

Thanks slow lane! With the other responses and yours I am leaning more towards the control arms and taking it back to the BMW dealership.

Think I will ask them to take me out to the rack and show me this issue now that I am a shock, strut and control arm expert! :)

Thanks to all who responded to my post question!!!

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