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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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 06-02-2011, 08:55 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Search for 2002 I6 BMW E39 front struts DIY writup (research for a future task)

Looking for a 2002 I6 front shocks/struts DIY in the bestlinks, I was surprised that there weren't more to look through to get the general details, particularly about which spring compressors folks used (as they're dangerous, and I keep reading about bent spring compressors).

Surprisingly, I found only three front struts writeups in the bestlinks (none of which were for my particular model & year):
- cn90 DIY: 1998 BMW 528i COMPLETE FRONT SUSPENSION OVERHAUL
- DavidC DIY: How to replace the front shocks absorbers in a '92 750iL
- Beisan E39 Front Struts Write-up (they say it's an 8 hour job)

For an all-day job, I was surprised there were so few DIYs.

Since I like to line up the ducks, I ran an "e39+front+shocks+struts+diy" search in Bimmerfest, which found one of my older posts where I was just as confused as I am now, but at least I listed the DIYs I had found in 2009:
- E39 Koni sport shock strut install
- E39 My e39 Koni FSD install and thoughts (Sachs owners especially need to see post #19)
- E39 Sport suspension in a non-sport
- E39 How to replace your thrust arms
- E39 H&R Install photos

Looking for better strut-only DIYs, google finds mostly non-E39-related writeups:
- BavAuto BMW Shock, Strut and Spring Replacement / Installation
- PelicanParts E30 Front Springs and Shock Replacement
-
Bilstein PSS9 Coilover Installation
- E46 Front Strut Replacement DIY
- Bimmerhaus Replacing struts, shocks, and springs on an E36

And, of course, I have the Bentleys.

Later this summer, I will replace my front struts ... so ... if you know of any good DIYs (or personal advice) on replacing them (particularly for a 2002 I6), please append here for all to benefit.

Advice from cn90's front-suspension DIY on the spring compressors:

Last edited by bluebee; 06-02-2011 at 08:57 AM.
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  #2  
Old 06-02-2011, 09:08 AM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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BB,

The spring compressor rented from Autozone is pretty stout and have locking pins. Reports of bent spring compressors are probably a different (cheap) one. I find it very hard to believe anyone can bend the Autozone ones-item 27036.


3 things to note about the spring compressor.

1) You only need to compress the spring enough to remove the tension on the strut mount when removing ( about 2-3") and enough to flush the strut mount to the strut spindle on re-install. If compressing just enough for clearance, most spring compressors will do.

2) ALWAYS point the top of the struts AWAY from you or the car so if the strut mount pops off due to spring tension it doesn't hit you or dent the car. Even then, if you've compressed the spring just an an inch or so, the strut mount will only shoot a foot or so in the direction it is pointed.

3) Make sure EACH compressor is 180 degrees opposite each other to equalize tension.
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Last edited by dvsgene; 06-02-2011 at 09:18 AM.
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  #3  
Old 06-02-2011, 10:02 AM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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The spring compressor kit I use is from Blue point which is snap-ons "cheaper" brand. I've done quite a few e39 suspensions with it. The front coils can be a bit hairy with just two spring compressors, it's due to the shape of the spring rather than the tools.
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  #4  
Old 06-02-2011, 01:34 PM
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[QUOTE=dvsgene;6105577]BB,

The spring compressor rented from Autozone is pretty stout and have locking pins. Reports of bent spring compressors are probably a different (cheap) one. I find it very hard to believe anyone can bend the Autozone ones-item 27036.
QUOTE]

+1, I bent my cheapo Harbor Freight spring compressors on the first strut. Fortunately, i had borrowed the Autozone loaners, as I wanted to use three comprssors on each strut. That turns out to be overkill and not really necessary. The Autozone ones worked great for me.

It is not an 8 hour job. It might be 8 hrs if you replace everything, like we (Chris - NeverSayNever) did. Even then we were done in about 7. It helps to have an impact wrench to help compress the springs. That simply reduces the sweat equity involved.

We used a combination of the Beisan DIY, Cam's DIY and common sense. The hardest part was removing some stubborn ball joints.
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  #5  
Old 06-02-2011, 01:56 PM
granlund granlund is offline
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Just having done this job on my -02 530 two months ago, I can just chime in with the need of more than two spring compressors.

If the steering wheel is hard to turn and feels gritty, like mine was, you probably have bad strut mount bearings and need to replace them.

There is no need to remove the tie rod on the I6, but loosen the inner bolts on the control arms (two per side) so that you don't twist and break the rubber bushings when you push the strut down. Use a towel on the strut top in order not to scratch the fender.

If you have a high-mileage car and drive a lot on bad roads, now is the time to also replace the front wheel bearings. The struts need to come out to reach the bolts on the back of the hub and you definitely would want to use an air impact wrench here.

Last edited by granlund; 06-02-2011 at 01:58 PM.
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  #6  
Old 07-18-2011, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by granlund View Post
Just having done this job on my -02 530 two months ago, I can just chime in with the need of more than two spring compressors.

If the steering wheel is hard to turn and feels gritty, like mine was, you probably have bad strut mount bearings and need to replace them.

There is no need to remove the tie rod on the I6, but loosen the inner bolts on the control arms (two per side) so that you don't twist and break the rubber bushings when you push the strut down. Use a towel on the strut top in order not to scratch the fender.

If you have a high-mileage car and drive a lot on bad roads, now is the time to also replace the front wheel bearings. The struts need to come out to reach the bolts on the back of the hub and you definitely would want to use an air impact wrench here.
I have not read elsewhere that it is possible to do the fronts on a 6cyl without seperating the ball joint. Has anyone else done this or similar? The PITA of the BJ is supposed to be significant. I would like to plan on skipping this step if at all possible.
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  #7  
Old 07-18-2011, 11:39 AM
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The tie rod ball joints need to be removed. The BJ job is not that bad. If you replace your tie rods, then it becomes easy (cut the bolt to shorten it, which then allows the BJ tool to achieve the proper angle). Just follow the Beisan procedure.
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  #8  
Old 07-18-2011, 11:58 AM
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Why would you need more write-ups on this...?
What is there not to get?
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:09 PM
granlund granlund is offline
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You don't need to separate the balljoints.

Remove the brake caliper and loosen the inboard bolts for the control arms so that they can be pushed down far enough for the strut to clear the fender. If you need more clearance, remove the inboard bolt for the transversal control arm completely.

Don't forget that these bolts should be tightened up when the car is resting on the wheels to have zero preload on the rubber bushings.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason5driver View Post
Why would you need more write-ups on this...?
What is there not to get?
As can be seen from the difference of opinion between Fudman and Granlund, there is still lack of consensus on a significant aspect of this DIY.

Thank you both for the feedback
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  #11  
Old 07-18-2011, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by GSA1 View Post
As can be seen from the difference of opinion between Fudman and Granlund, there is still lack of consensus on a significant aspect of this DIY.

Thank you both for the feedback

Nope.
Fudman is correct, if you want to do it correctly and not wrestle with the hub.
Just follow the Beisan Systems DIY.
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:41 PM
vetaldj vetaldj is offline
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I went with Beisan and CN90 DIY and it works well for me, I did struts in 3 h total (just struts).
But, my tie rods where new so it was easy to take that BJ and I did untight strut mount bolts (under the hood when everything together) using air tool on my way to place where I did it (store parking lot).
You need to have helper here, it will be much easier. Also, you don't need specific year DIY, it will be very easy with basic guidance and common sense.
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  #13  
Old 07-18-2011, 10:45 PM
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so Koni Yellow with OEM Sport springs ?
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  #14  
Old 07-18-2011, 10:54 PM
granlund granlund is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason5driver View Post
Nope.
Fudman is correct, if you want to do it correctly and not wrestle with the hub.
Just follow the Beisan Systems DIY.
i don't particularly care whether any method is wrong or right. I simply stated MY approach to replacing struts that worked for ME. Whether anyone follows my advice or not is up to them.
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Old 12-11-2011, 02:37 AM
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i put pss9s in my 530 m sport today... took about 12 hours including removal of rear interior...

there is no need to remove the tie rod ends (at least for the m tech II suspension), it is done easily just by unbolting lower control arm as stated, you don't need to wrestle the wheel carrier, just push down a little on the wheel carrier and move the struts down and towards the rear of the car when you bring them out from the wheel arch.

not sure if this work with std struts but it has gotta be close!
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Old 12-11-2011, 06:36 AM
granlund granlund is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crimespree View Post
...

not sure if this work with std struts but it has gotta be close!
Good observation! I did not think about the potentially different of methods for the slightly longer standard struts, but that might just be what requires the balljoint to be separated.
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  #17  
Old 12-11-2011, 09:10 AM
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Taken from one of my prior posts:

Ball Joint removal is not necessary on the 6 cylinder models. I did an install of bilstein sport struts and shocks without performing that step. All that is required to remove the old struts is to turn the steering wheel to full lock in the opposite direction. Then push down on the assembly and tilt the strut out and up to remove.

Straighten the steering when your ready to install the new strut.
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