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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-08-2006, 06:54 AM
Johnstof Johnstof is offline
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Is replacing Sway Bar Links a DIY Job?

I have a 1999 528i and it needs new sway bar links. From under the car it looks really easy to replace them myself. But looks can be deceiving. A local shop quoted me $428 for the job. But I can buy the links online for under $50 a pair and it looks to be less than a 1 hour job.

Does anyone know if once I remove the links if the sway bar itself will shift and make it difficult to install the new links?
Are any special tools needed?
Can it be done with the wheels on and the car up on ramps or do I need to remove the wheels and put it on jack stands?

Thanks a lot,
John
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  #2  
Old 10-08-2006, 09:07 AM
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dmako dmako is offline
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Cromwell CT, I'm over in Marlborough CT. I'm looking to replace my entire rear sway bar with a M5 unit but not until spring time. This may or may not involve replacing the links, trying to determine.

Not the answer to your question but, I'd like to know how you make out with the install.
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  #3  
Old 10-08-2006, 09:14 AM
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Brian McKinney Brian McKinney is offline
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not that hard really about 30 minutes an end link, if you have all the proper tools and space to do it..... I am taking mine off this winter and having a weld shop reinforce them with tempered steel, then ordering poly bushings from energysuspension to fit in the ends(which involves a little customization for bolt to fit...shimming down and what not) super stiff endlinkd equals very responsive turn in, maybe some slight oversteer as well.
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  #4  
Old 10-08-2006, 09:27 AM
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$428 for the job is an amazing ripoff. I just took off my stock bar and links and put them back on (the M5 sway bar I bought had a stripped bolt holding a link on). Once you get everything loosened up a little bit it should be easy. Just make sure you have jackstands/wheel chocks when you raise it (and you NEED to raise it to do this)
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  #5  
Old 10-08-2006, 12:15 PM
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dmako dmako is offline
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By the way, who was charging $428? I'd like to stay clear of them.
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1999 BMW 528i sports pkg. 5-speed, rear lip spoiler, removed phone, Aspheric mirror, new M5 dead pedal, home made clutch stop, removed intake muffler, clear side and rear lights, Nein CDV, full cooling system overall, Beisan VANOS seals.
Best mod to date: removed seat clip.
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  #6  
Old 10-08-2006, 01:48 PM
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chivas chivas is offline
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well, are they also doing the fronts? the rear is easy but the fronts... it's not exactly a fun fun job.
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  #7  
Old 10-08-2006, 04:24 PM
Johnstof Johnstof is offline
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The $428 quote is from Firestone in Cromwell, CT. They are not my usual mechanic but I had them do a front end alignment recently and a week or two later I noticed the telltale clunking of the faulty FRONT sway bar links. I only brought it back to them to be sure it was not something they left loose when doing the alignment. I agree that $428 is outrageous and I have no intention of them doing the job at this or any price. This Firestone has a repuation for being a rip off place. I now agree with the rumors.

I appreciate the input thus far but I still have questions:

Brian McKinney wrote: As long as you have the right tools. If by that you mean box wrenches, socket wrenches, and an impact wrench then yes I have the right tools. Are there any special tools required?

According to Lex89 I need to raise the car on jackstands. From this I assume that I can't put my car up on ramps and I need to remove the wheels. I also read elsewhere that it is best if I remove both front wheels and put jack stands under both sides. This apparently allows the suspension to hang equally and take the tension out of the links. I would really prefer to avoid raising both sides at the same time. So can someone conmfirm is this is necessary or not.

On that note: How would I raise both side and how do you get the car on jack stands. It seems that there is only one lifting point (for the jack) so how can I get a jackstand in place? I always use ramps when getting under the car.

Chivas: I need to replace the front links. Why do you say it's not exactly a fun job?

Thanks for the quick replies everyone.

John
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  #8  
Old 10-08-2006, 04:35 PM
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I'm sorry I thought you were wanted to do the rear links. The front is a whole different ballpark. I'm not sure what replacing just the links would entail, but replacing the bar is a very big job. $428 may not be all that bad
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  #9  
Old 10-08-2006, 05:10 PM
Johnstof Johnstof is offline
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It's not the whole bar, just the two links. I can buy the pair on ebay for about $40. They are roughly 8 inches long and they bolt in on the top and bottom. It looks very simple but I am not sure how much tension is on the links. I read that if you let the suspension hang, all the tension is removed and it is a simple job but I still prefer more input before I attempt to do it myself.

Thanks
John
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  #10  
Old 10-08-2006, 06:33 PM
Nick540 Nick540 is offline
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After doing my suspension install a couple weeks ago (which included front swaybar install...what a bitch), the links seemed like they would be really easy to do...of course, my car was on jackstands so all the suspension was just hanging. With the wheels off and no load on the suspension I see it being no more than a 10 minute job to replace both. Very easy.
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  #11  
Old 10-08-2006, 08:38 PM
Johnstof Johnstof is offline
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Nick,

Did you have both sides up on jack stands at the same time or can you do left and right sides separately? Also, how do you get the car up on jackstands. It seems that once you use the jack to raise the car, there is no place/mouting pad to put the jack stand under.

Thanks
John
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  #12  
Old 10-08-2006, 09:02 PM
Nick540 Nick540 is offline
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The best way I found was using the subframe...right behind the oil pan you will see that round middle part of the subframe and just use that you jack up the car. But I had both sides of the car up at the time. Having one side down might still leave pressure on the swaybar, applying pressure on the other side of the suspension, but it should still be doable. But as far as jacking goes, I don't think it is a big deal if you place the jack adjacent to the jacking points, then once you get it high enough, slide the jackstand under the jacking point.
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  #13  
Old 10-09-2006, 08:35 AM
mobilegun mobilegun is offline
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you may need a second jack or to roll the car onto ramps or blocks in order to fit the (second, if you have another) jack onto the center jacking point.

i found the fronts easier than the rears maybe due to the amount of room you have to work with. though im starting to forget. at any rate its a diy in my book and im a novice.

id raise the front and take the wheels off for access. taking the load off the suspension makes it much more doable. as for "fun fun job" depends on what you call fun i suppose. saving 428-parts can equate to fun depending on how you spend it though :P

as for tools you don't need anything special. open ended wrenches and sockets and a torque wrench should be sufficient.
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  #14  
Old 10-09-2006, 01:33 PM
bmwlovr bmwlovr is offline
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It is a pretty easy DIY -- shouldn't take you more than a few hours and all you need is some jackstands. Toughest part may be removing the old links -- I would spend $30 on a ball joint puller just in case. Did the firestone do a weighted allignment? I once made the mistake of having an allignment done at a tire shop and they f'd it up by not doing it properly (as per indicated in the BMW tech service manual). Cost me a set of tires...
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  #15  
Old 10-10-2006, 02:02 PM
mcaro mcaro is offline
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John,

Since no one answered staight out, Yes, you should definitely raise the front end and remove both wheels, it will make the job go alot easier.

As others have said, the 99 528iTA has a jack pad in the center of the front sub-frame, use that to raise then support with jack stands. I needed to replace just one side and found when I raised only one front side, there was alot of tension on the link and it would not remove easily and would have needed force to be removed. If I'd gotten it out, I'm sure there would have been no way to re-assemble. I raised the entire front end and replaced the links on both sides, very easy.

FWIW... I to bought cheap parts on fleabay, beware... depending on the source, the quality may be lacking, it was in my case. When they fail again, I will just go to the dealer for these.

- MarkC.
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  #16  
Old 10-10-2006, 03:19 PM
Johnstof Johnstof is offline
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Thanks a lot for the direct and specific answers to my questions. I ordered the parts on ebay yesterday afternoon and they arrived today. Hopefully the quality is half as good as the speed of delivery.

John
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  #17  
Old 10-18-2006, 11:07 PM
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NFS NFS is offline
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I just did my front Sway Bar links 2 week ago. They were pretty worn. It's a fairly easy DIY job. I put the car up on a Rhino ramp and it took 1/2 an hour to replace both links.
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  #18  
Old 10-19-2006, 04:45 AM
Lastcall Lastcall is offline
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I paid $178 each side at a dealership for the front links. Parts are real cheap even from the dealer. Labor was
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  #19  
Old 10-19-2006, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Lastcall View Post
I paid $178 each side at a dealership for the front links. Parts are real cheap even from the dealer. Labor was
Wow, you really need to find yourself a good BMW indy shop. As for the stealer's price that sounds about right. $120/hour labor per side plus parts = $178.
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  #20  
Old 10-19-2006, 11:30 AM
Lastcall Lastcall is offline
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Originally Posted by NFS View Post
Wow, you really need to find yourself a good BMW indy shop. As for the stealer's price that sounds about right. $120/hour labor per side plus parts = $178.

They at least gave me a loaner 330I for the day. Other that the bill made my face do
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  #21  
Old 10-24-2006, 02:27 PM
Johnstof Johnstof is offline
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Job complete

Well I did the job with no problems. I put the car on jack stands and removed the wheels for easy access. Took about an hour.

Thanks for all the help.

John
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  #22  
Old 08-31-2012, 07:59 AM
tice03 tice03 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFS View Post
I just did my front Sway Bar links 2 week ago. They were pretty worn....
Hey NFS, thanks for your comments. I'm dealing with the sway bar end links right now and wondering if you could tell me what signs of wear you noticed in your end links when you replaced? I just replaced mine last night because I had a pop/clunk sound when I reversed out of a parking stalls and touched the brakes. I was expecting the old links to feel more loose, but after I removed them, at least just wiggling the bolt/ball-joint part by hand, I couldn't discern any more play in the old than the new end links. The car is at 120k miles, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to swap them out. Any insight? Maybe the play can't be felt by hand?

I haven't driven enough yet to tell if the problem is fixed since the pop/clunk didn't used to happen every single time.
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  #23  
Old 08-31-2012, 08:13 AM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tice03 View Post
Hey NFS, thanks for your comments. I'm dealing with the sway bar end links right now and wondering if you could tell me what signs of wear you noticed in your end links when you replaced? I just replaced mine last night because I had a pop/clunk sound when I reversed out of a parking stalls and touched the brakes. I was expecting the old links to feel more loose, but after I removed them, at least just wiggling the bolt/ball-joint part by hand, I couldn't discern any more play in the old than the new end links. The car is at 120k miles, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to swap them out. Any insight? Maybe the play can't be felt by hand?

I haven't driven enough yet to tell if the problem is fixed since the pop/clunk didn't used to happen every single time.
Typically a worn ball joint will start with a clunking sound while driving over uneven roads.

When taken off the car, minor play is exhibited when you move the ball joint to the 12 o'clock position and it immediately falls to the 6o'clock position.

Excessively worn ball joints will exhibit play, meaning if you pull on the ball joint bolt thread, the ball joint itself feels loose, like you can pull it out of the socket.

But many people will replace when there is no resistance in rotations when you attempt to move it with 2 fingers as clunking will soon appear shortly after.

Last edited by dvsgene; 08-31-2012 at 10:01 AM.
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  #24  
Old 08-31-2012, 08:13 AM
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The free play in the ball joint is usually noticeable. Sometimes a torn boot is a giveaway. If you still have the clunk, raise your car and physically inspect each ball joint.
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  #25  
Old 08-31-2012, 08:14 AM
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