The postings on this thread have been most helpful and I have been fortunate enough to take advantage of the notes and postings in my latest Endeavour with my 2001 540I – v8 - and the front-end shimmy. I, too, had the infamous front –end shimmy between 45-50 and 70 mph. After reading this thread – and may I take this opportunity to thank my esteemed colleagues for their summations of their adventures; because without them, you wouldn’t be reading this drivel - and listening to my mechanic tell me $1200.00 was the price for the rear control ball-joints, I decided to have some fun and do it myself.
My comments are intended as additional detail to the above thread and is in no way intended to be construed as a criticism of the text of this thread; quite the opposite. You will encounter considerable tongue-in-cheek dialogue; sorry, that is how I write. Without humor, why do we work on our own cars??? I already know ALL of the deleted expletives associated with this sport; my grandfather was a mechanic from 1918 until he retired in 1965. He would only supervise, I had to do all of the work, but his language… we are all rank amateurs.
1. Lowering the strut to reach the nut for loosening the front and/or rear control arms: Instead of a half to one inch for space to loosen the nut, I suggest at least two to three inches to leave room for a three to four pound sledge – to drive the bolt from the aluminum frame – if necessary, once the nut is removed. MY experience is the bolt really does not want to come out; it appears to be very comfortable there. A lot of BP and/or WD-40 –C4 if you have it- on the bolt is an absolute necessity.
2. The Ball Joint Separator tool pictured here actually required at least a four pound baby sledge to drive the tool between the members. Once in position, while attempting to force the ball joint out of the frame, the tool broke; btw, the ball joint did not come out. $40.00 down the drain. The aluminum tool, in my opinion, is too light for this duty. I purchased the similar tool from FreightHouse – Heavy gauge STEEL – for about $15.00. In ten minutes, I had both rear ball joints removed.
BTW, on the driver’s side, while the ball-joint did pop-out, please be advised that there is a “steel” insert within the “Aluminum” frame that came out with my ball-joint. I had no warning about this. I subsequently: had to “press the steel insert off” of the old ball joint fixture – press the “steel” insert back into the same aluminum frame opening using the same ball joint separator tool used to extract the ball joint initially. I can explain, in excruciating detail, if it happens to you and you need assistance.
3. Because I was removing the rear control arms and because I am a masochist – and the cost each front control arm was under $50.00 each and because the front control arm was in the way of replacing the rears, not to mention 1280 more dollars– I decided to replace both the front and the rear at once. After all, you are there and so are the front control arms, and… they are in the way.
4. Removing the front control arms cannot be accomplished using either ball joint tool mentioned herein – the tools are too small, the jaws do not open fully enough to accommodate the front control arm bolt. The good news is, the front control arms are easier than the rear to replace; just more fun/challenging to remove. As I mentioned earlier, these ball joints really do not want to come out; the fronts are no different than the rears.
6. In order to remove the front control arms – conveniently, without any manual labor – use a pneumatic hammer!!! I used a hammer with 90PSI, 4.5cfm and 3200 blows per minute- BPM. Three healthy bursts ----with mucho BP and WD40 on the bolt- and the stud will submit. The new front control arm will slide right into position – bushing first and ball joint last – at least it did for me. And, let me tell you a short story, I beat the bejesus out of those studs with my 4-lb sledge and they wouldn’t budge. But, the pneumatic hammer took maybe 5 minutes – three bursts with the hammer and liberal dose of BP and WD40.
7. Now that we have the old OUT, Let us turn our attention to installing the new parts:
a. Always install the BUSHING end first, both front and rear. The front will slide in without any considerable labor The ball joint slides right in – at least it did for me.
B. Regarding the rear control ball joint installation: I used a hydraulic jack to support the ball-joint – while the stud of the ball-joint is inserted into the hole – and then slowly rotate the steering wheel from left to right until the stud “finds” it way into the hole. So do not “force” the stud into the hole in the aluminum frame. Instead, use the jack to “support” the ball joint from the bottom – while not forcing - but guiding - the stud into the opening. While rotating the steering wheel from left to right, SLOWLY, one-quarter turn at a time, the “guided” stud will find its way in. Tighten up and away we go.
Another note: For what it is worth: each “new” appliance – new part – will come with it’s own bolt. I did NOT have good luck with these… they refuse to “snug up” to tighten to the new ball joint. Therefore, I used the “OLD” nuts, and they worked fine. Just an FYI… Your mileage may vary…
6. So, I replaced the rear and the fronts, in the same excercise. Not for everyone but it worked for me.
7. If you have more specific questions - believe me I had plenty - I will be happy to relate my experience as reply to your questions. I apologize for the lack of pictures, I really was busy…Thinking, cursing, wondering why my god had forsaken me, etc. etc. ……..