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X5 E70 (2007 - 2013)
E70 BMW X5 produced between 2007 and 2013. Discuss the E70 X5 with other BMW owners here.

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  #1  
Old 09-21-2014, 09:20 PM
fireroasted fireroasted is offline
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How To replace front thrust rods (bushings) 2011 E70

In case there are not already good write ups on the thrust rod arm, or what they weirdly call upper control arm, even though its not on the top, I wanted to share my little project to give others the option to DIY it. It was very easy. I a task scale of 1 to 10. 1 being oil change and 10 being pull the motor and replace bottom end, I'd say this is a 3 at most.

Why:
On what seems many BMW's and particularly the SUV's the control arm that takes the weight of the vehicle is the front or 'upper' rod, and in it is a big bushing on one end and a ball joint on the other. This piece is relatively exposed to environment, so beyond some surprisingly short life expectancy it can also suffer from the elements. Now why a bushing on an 80k SUV should wear out at 50k miles is a different and disappointing post all together. But the fix is relatively easy.

You will notice a stuttering while slow speed braking. You can even have some flutter the brake pedal while you are standing outside the vehicle and you will see the front wheels deflect rearward. The entire suspension assembly looks like its going to come off the car. It just rattles around. That means the front bushing of this rod is done. You can replace the bushing, which can cost 40-120 bucks each and get it pressed, or you can buy the entire arm that also comes with a new ball joints which makes sense to replace, and get more for your money. Most recommend replacing the entire arm, and its also easier.

I didn't and never do find DIY's or How To's for the 2011, or E70, so I figured I get this one going. I have seen many good ones for older models.

Parts & Tools:
I purchased both driver and passenger side Thrust rods, or also called upper control arms for 140 bucks for the set. They are definitely your knock off part, but so far seems fine. I did not like the boot seal on them as I will go over later. There could be a case of you get what you pay for here, so make your choice accordingly. I am always on a budget so.....
http://www.ebay.com/itm/170903480478...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

Adding this link as the above doesn't work anymore.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/170903480478...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

They will likely keep getting outdated. Its essentially an ebay store, DeutschePartsUSA, and the cheapest ones I found. More discussion on that in the following posts.

I needed a 27mm combination wrench. I actually spent/wasted a good amount of time trying to find what folks noted was a special wrench for the washers on the suspension, but a regular 12 point combination or box end wrench is fine. I ended up using a 1 1/16th as it was a good enough fit and readily available at my local hardware store.

Then I needed two 18mm wrenches, and a 5mm allen.
Jack, jack stands, phillips and usual safety stuff.



We'll be replacing #5.



This is how I setup the car. Just make sure you have double safety stuff if you plan on getting under. On this job you really don't get all the way under, but still.

Basic stuff. You need access to the front of the suspension. So here I took the wheels off and slid them behind the jacks as a backup. So, main jack, jack stands sharing the load, and wheels just in case the other two take a dump.



Here is the old and new part next to each other for reference.



This is the area where you will be working. On the xDrive models, or at least mine the ball joint will come out without removing any other suspension components, like in other models. Its tight but it will come out.



This is the 27mm, or 1 1/16th nut. Mine both came off very easily. somewhat scary easily. If I had known they were that lose I would have just used a adjustable wrench of some kind, and not purchased a 1 1/16th. No allen was needed, They just both spun off easily.



This is the exposed ball joint end with no nut. Since I was not reusing the unit I went ahead and smacked it with a mini sledge hammer. Again, surprisingly it took very little force to free the tapered ball joint.



Now with the ball lose, but still in place go to the front bushing bolt. Its two 18mm, bolt and lock nut, on my model. I was able to access the nut which is behind a plastic cover. I just forced the panel out of the way. The bolt end you see here in the pic. You can see here I have two wrenches on them. I needed leverage to break these free. Lots of it. There is good access, and you can get a long wrench on the bolt 18mm and pop the bond. I then spun the bolt end until the nut fell off in the little chamber.



No many of you may want to take the plastic shielding off to do this properly, and hopefully a shop would do that. I didn't want to deal with a bunch of plastic rivets I didn't have replacements for so I used more of the sledge hammer to get the bolt out. Its at just an angle that you can't use a socket, and the plastic deflects the bolt at an angle. So I used a combination of smacking the bolt up into the plastic and out. I don't have a good pic of this, but when you are faced with it the choice is obvious. You can try the open end of the wrench on the back of the bolt washer, but anything with some force will work.

Here you see my leverage bar ghetto style. Watch out if you slip off on this setup. Like I did.



With the bolt removed the bushing should fall out, if not a couple of taps with the sledge will free it. Mine fell out.

Now back to the ball joint end. A small couple taps with the sledge free'd up the ball joints. If you plan on reusing these units make sure to protect the ball threads with the nut or something else. I wasn't so I just smacked the ball joint end. Mine popped out super easy.

Its a bit tricky to show, but at just the right angle you can manipulate the ball joint out. I moved the steering arm in and out to find the best angle. Its not pretty, but just enough jiggle and whack.



Now getting the new unit in is the same steps in reverse. First jiggle wiggle smack and curse the new ball joint into the hole, and hand tighten the nut. Then push the bushing end in, and maybe smack with sledge to get the hole as lined up as you can feel with your finger. Now the tricky part is getting the bolt back in. Again its pressed against the plastic so I smacked it at a 45 degree angle of up and over until the bolt popped in. You could also slowly turn it so the threads get it going in. As long as it doesn't require too much force the threads will be fine. I did both methods. This is likely the most difficult part. Once in the nut goes on from the space and tighten down.

Then tighten the ball joint end, and hold the center with an allen if necessary. That's it, and after a couple of days, check to make sure everything is still nice and tight.

Here is the new unit installed, it doesn't have a large flare nut, just a regular locking nut.



The difference was immediately noticeable. The front end tightened up and the jiggle in the front suspension was gone. Mine did not need an alignment, but if your has been off and the car aligned, its possible you might need one. In normal replacement conditions thought it shouldn't.


Last edited by fireroasted; 10-14-2014 at 11:30 AM. Reason: parts link update
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  #2  
Old 09-22-2014, 12:12 AM
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Nice write-up, thanks for the effort.

Your symptoms were similar to what I'm experiencing with the addition of experiencing trailing throttle vibration that's worse than when the drivetrain is power loaded. I have 62K miles on mine so I think I'll have the dealership take a look at it.
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Old 09-22-2014, 04:10 AM
PAX5 PAX5 is offline
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Excellent write up. Will archive for future use.

One observation and CAUTION: in the last picture you used a self locking (ny-lock) nut ... DON'T. Buy the OE nut and replace the nut you have on there (just Google the p/n).

Look at the design of the used BMW OE nut, it's fairly sophisticated. The MOST important feature: the head spins on the washer base ... it also has a compression neck flange on it that prevents it from spinning loose (hence the reason why this came off so easily!) ... and the washer is a certain thickness ...

These are all important features that are engineered into the design of the suspension components.

Your self locking nut will work, for now, but may put undue stress(ses) on the ball joint it was not designed for ...
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  #4  
Old 09-22-2014, 04:54 AM
smyles smyles is offline
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I'd add that while the lure of cheaper knock-off parts is strong and I use aftermarkets whenever possible myself, in this particular case the mantra "thy shalt use OEM lower control arms" is actually proven by many real life experiencesand has bearing on.
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Old 09-22-2014, 04:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smyles View Post
I'd add that while the lure of cheaper knock-off parts is strong and I use aftermarkets whenever possible myself, in this particular case the mantra "thy shalt use OEM lower control arms" is actually proven by many real life experiencesand has bearing on.
... I'd second that, because I believe that the BMW OE bushing design contains some kind of "liquid" (parafin oil?) to make it more compliant ... Don't know about after market.

Anyone?
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Old 09-22-2014, 05:15 AM
blue dragon blue dragon is offline
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What was your total cost for the project?
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Old 09-22-2014, 03:02 PM
fireroasted fireroasted is offline
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Well the total cost was 140 bucks. My kind of budget. That was both sides. If you count the 20 bucks I spent on the 1 1/16th wrench I probably didn't need then it was 160 bucks.

I don't buy into the OEM knock off argument. Most, not all, but most OEM parts all come from the same production line anyway. Manufacturers have specs they give out for bid, and various suppliers bid on them. I'll admit that the difference is usually that testing and QC are usually where they save the extra money. They just come out in batches in big runs. All the extra not purchased go to the secondary market. The Parts market.

I know people feel very strongly about this subject so I will leave it, but so far if there is anything inferior its actually the X5 itself. I can't believe the amount of failures in a 50k miles car that cost nearly 80k. what a pile. A bushing that is failing at 50k miles? That is ridiculous.

failed turbo cooling lines
failed airbag, twice
failed battery
failed fuel pump
failed window shade.

The list goes on but its silly is the point.

Back to the bushing. Its exactly the same for both parts. The OEM and the new one side by side. I took a pic, but I know its hard to see the detail their. Nothing liquid inside of the failed one. Or at least nothing different without cutting them apart. Its just the typical bushing. I was told by BMW techs in the know, that those need to be replaced every 50k, on most all models. They consider it a maintenance items, but just not advertised as such to avoid guys like me with the useless maintenance plan.

Guys that want to pay full OEM prices may also be likely to have the dealer do the work. If you can afford that, then its the best way to go for sure.
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Old 09-22-2014, 04:00 PM
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Thanks very much for this DIY: I'll add it to the list.

Would you happen to have the manufacturer of the control arm you bought?
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Old 09-22-2014, 05:58 PM
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On most BMWs I've owned in the past, the bolt for the bushing side of that thrust arm should be tightened with the weight of the car on the ground.
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Old 09-22-2014, 07:02 PM
Nonsuch Nonsuch is offline
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Thanks for the DIY. It's very helpful to know that arm can be so easily removed, on some BMW models the base of the strut blocks the ball joint.
The large front bushing seems to be a common failure (or wear item) on several BMW models.
I agree wit the PP, the bolt should be tightened with the car on the ground (or suspension loaded).

On the subject of parts, generally the mail order BMW dealers (getbmwparts.com for example) are a good source for OE parts (or for parts without an alternate source). My local dealers charge over list price, so there is no reason to give them any business.
Pelican Parts is an excellent source for suspension parts, showing 4 price for different vendors. Pelican Parts has excellent order tracking (the best of any online store, not just parts).
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Old 09-22-2014, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony(topaz,SMG) View Post
On most BMWs I've owned in the past, the bolt for the bushing side of that thrust arm should be tightened with the weight of the car on the ground.
Yup. On the E39 failing to do this can lead to dramatically shorter part life.

Also, on most BMWs Ive seen the bushing can be replaced in the control arm at a fraction of the cost. Looking at the X5 parts tehre is a bush and then the whole arm. I recommend on cycle of 'replace the bushing, then the next time do the whole arm.

OE versus OEM vs Aftermarket. I dont mine an OEM part, if I can be sure that that OEM is really the guys that made the OE part. Can be very hard to nail down.
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Old 09-22-2014, 09:55 PM
fireroasted fireroasted is offline
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Its true that really knowing if its actually OEM and has gone through the same testing is hard, or maybe impossible.

Suspension loaded made no difference in this case. The arm does not receive a load from vertical compression. It functions to hold the tire in place front to back, or horizontal axis. When you have it apart you can see and test this. The only deflection that could add load is if the vehicle is moving and changing its speed, wanting to accelerate or decelerate to load that bushing.

Either way its easy to reach even when on the ground, to give it a test. the 18mm will fit. Getting enough torque is tricky, but I was able to not move or retighten at all confirming it was set.

I think with this an all suspension work you should recheck everything you touched a week later, after the suspension has time to really load and unload over all kinds of bumps and body twists.

I like the idea of using a bushing only next time, and cycling this task, so the 'maintenance' or wear item issue is reduced. You need to get the bushings pressed and wait on that, but otherwise its essentially the same tasks.

I like ECStuning's site, and prices are good, but the shipping annoys me. Its expensive and too slow. Pelican is much better, but the site isn't as slick in my experience.
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Old 09-22-2014, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fireroasted View Post
The only deflection that could add load is if the vehicle is moving and changing its speed, wanting to accelerate or decelerate to load that bushing.
That's exactly what I experience. In addition to somewhat constant, slight vibration through the steering wheel, seats, and frame when driving at speeds of 65mph and up, I can easily and consistently increase the vibration by decelerating. Tires have been balanced twice, shocks and other forgotten suspension components have been checked, so I think replacing this part might be the solution to my problem, especially given that I'm over the anticipated failure mileage.
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Old 09-22-2014, 11:22 PM
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Great job and nice write-up OP. What's up with socks and flip-flops?
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Old 09-23-2014, 12:06 AM
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1. There maybe a slighlt rotation of the arm around the mounting bolt as you fully load the suspension. If you tighten when unladen, then load it you may have residual 'twist' in the bushing.

2. I pushed the old out and new in using a large bench vise. A press is faster, if you have one.

3. HT- in sedans Ive seen this with light braking at speed. Not at lower speed, but higher speed with enough kinetic energy the bushings oscillate side to side, sometimes dramatically. Low speed and on the rack they look OK.
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Old 09-23-2014, 06:10 AM
PAX5 PAX5 is offline
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... What's up with socks and flip-flops?
... european (German) ...
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Old 09-23-2014, 08:51 AM
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, You guys called me out on the socks and flip flops before the filthy car pic. I love it. And yes I probably wouldn't be seen out of my driveway like that, but my dad goes all over like that. Its a german thing and he is 80 so he doesn't care anymore. I love it. Guilty!

I usually monitor to have my big ugly feet out of pics. At size 14 and life time of soccer abuse nobody wants to see that. Your better off with socks and anything.

@HT - I found the solution to purchase the correct parts by discussing with a friend. My research indicated the upper arm and was what I understood from a BMW inspection when I bought the truck a year ago. My friend argued it was this front bushing. To prove his point he 'drove' the truck at less than 1 mph while I stood next to it and watched as he fluttered the brake pedal. You could easily see the wheel deflecting rear wards inside of the fender well. A very unnatural movement no matter your level of auto mechanic DIY experience. It just looked wrong. If you have this behavior, you need to replace this bushing. If you have it at speed it may be very dangerous. Then again, any rear vibration at speed is likely an indicator of a project that is in high priority status.

If I didn't mention it before it was night and day. All rattles over speed bumps, or any deflection during braking or brake fluttering is gone.

@lp I don't really know the manufacturer. The ebay add was for DuetschePartsUSA which is likely just the importer. Some of the paperwork in the box had EuroAsiana on it. Other than that it was generic. It was by far the cheapest stuff I found, and that's about it. I do know that the ball joint boot was a much better seal on the OEM than on this, but otherwise they looked identical (and that ball joint nut was different).
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Old 09-23-2014, 09:06 AM
Nonsuch Nonsuch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fireroasted View Post
I like ECStuning's site, and prices are good, but the shipping annoys me. Its expensive and too slow.
I paid for 2 day shipping, but after 2 days the order had not even shipped.
ECS is only for non-urgent parts (the BMW online dealers are also rather slow).

Quote:
Originally Posted by fireroasted View Post
Pelican is much better, but the site isn't as slick in my experience.
The site is rather unusual, seems to be developed in-house (not the usual generic retail site).
My free shipping (over $75) orders arrive in 2 days (often 1 day)
It helps that I'm in the Bay Area, and Pelican has warehouses in Northern and Southern California.
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Old 09-23-2014, 09:28 AM
PAX5 PAX5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fireroasted View Post
... @lp I don't really know the manufacturer. The ebay add was for DuetschePartsUSA which is likely just the importer. Some of the paperwork in the box had EuroAsiana on it. Other than that it was generic. It was by far the cheapest stuff I found, and that's about it. I do know that the ball joint boot was a much better seal on the OEM than on this, but otherwise they looked identical (and that ball joint nut was different).
Here are at least half a dozen Chinese suppliers of this part: http://www.alibaba.com/trade/search?...mw+31126773949

No way to judge the quality ...
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Old 09-23-2014, 09:55 AM
lpcapital lpcapital is offline
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Since we are talking suppliers of suspension parts, here's my 2 cents. Just like ard and other said, if you own BMW you know every once in a while a bushing or a rod bearing goes.

1) oembimmerparts has always serviced me very well. Reasonable price and prompt shipment. They also stock both BMW OE and quality aftermarket. For the aftermarket they clearly state who the manufacturer is and it's guys of the caliber or Febi, Valeo, Mahle, ZF and many others. If you buy OE BMW it comes with BMW stickers and boxes.

2) BavAuto, albeit being popular has been nothing but disappointments to me, particularly because they have (or had, since I have not visited them in a while) the habit of advertising parts as if they were BMW OE, but you end up getting a generic. Or maybe you get one OE and one generic.

3) I used to have my dealer price match the Tischer of the world. Now they have just set me up with an account at MSRP -20%. The will call window is often MSRP +5% or even +10% so they are sneaky like the other guys. But hey, if you have a local dealer give them a call, ask for part number so and so, get the price, and tel them this or that online dealer sells it for so much, can you price match.
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Old 09-25-2014, 07:05 AM
PAX5 PAX5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAX5 View Post
One observation and CAUTION: in the last picture you used a self locking (ny-lock) nut ... DON'T. Buy the OE nut and replace the nut you have on there (just Google the p/n).

Look at the design of the used BMW OE nut, it's fairly sophisticated. The MOST important feature: the head spins on the washer base ... it also has a compression neck flange on it that prevents it from spinning loose (hence the reason why this came off so easily!) ... and the washer is a certain thickness ...

These are all important features that are engineered into the design of the suspension components.

Your self locking nut will work, for now, but may put undue stress(ses) on the ball joint it was not designed for ...
Here's an example of what could happen when using inferior components and/or wrong nut: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=798788
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Old 09-25-2014, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by ard View Post
3. HT- in sedans Ive seen this with light braking at speed. Not at lower speed, but higher speed with enough kinetic energy the bushings oscillate side to side, sometimes dramatically. Low speed and on the rack they look OK.
This also sounds like what I'm experiencing. If I'm on the brakes harder it feels like a lightly warped disc but at a frequency much higher than I'm used to. Also vibrates going around curves and it's getting slowly worse. Accelerate and it's mostly smooth. Decelerate and the vibration kicks in. Your point about looking OK on the rack matches what I've heard from the shop when I asked them to take a look at the front components. This thread is golden as I don't think the shop would have ever found the problem before replacing my entire front end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fireroasted View Post
@HT - I found the solution to purchase the correct parts by discussing with a friend. My research indicated the upper arm and was what I understood from a BMW inspection when I bought the truck a year ago. My friend argued it was this front bushing. To prove his point he 'drove' the truck at less than 1 mph while I stood next to it and watched as he fluttered the brake pedal. You could easily see the wheel deflecting rear wards inside of the fender well. A very unnatural movement no matter your level of auto mechanic DIY experience. It just looked wrong. If you have this behavior, you need to replace this bushing. If you have it at speed it may be very dangerous. Then again, any rear vibration at speed is likely an indicator of a project that is in high priority status.

If I didn't mention it before it was night and day. All rattles over speed bumps, or any deflection during braking or brake fluttering is gone.
The vibration seems to be isolated to the front and it's noticeable in the steering wheel. No rattles or noises. Since I'm new to shopping BMW parts online, EDIT: I'm going to look with the ones lp mentioned in addition to Pelican. I'm also trying to decide if replacing just the bushing is enough. I'm also thinking about doing the front rear lower arm bushings at the same time since it's already on the lift. Trying not to get my hopes too high but I am hoping for a night and day difference.

Last edited by HT417; 09-25-2014 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 09-25-2014, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by HT417 View Post
... Since I'm new to shopping BMW parts online, I'm going with the ones lp mentioned, Pelican primarily, ....
You can also try this one (BMW dealer discount site) - http://europartsdirect.net/

I've used it with varying success ...
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Old 09-25-2014, 12:25 PM
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HT417 HT417 is offline
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Location: Oberpfalz, Germany
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 835
Mein Auto: 2008 BMW X5 3.0si
Quote:
Originally Posted by PAX5 View Post
Excellent write up. Will archive for future use.

One observation and CAUTION: in the last picture you used a self locking (ny-lock) nut ... DON'T. Buy the OE nut and replace the nut you have on there (just Google the p/n).

Look at the design of the used BMW OE nut, it's fairly sophisticated. The MOST important feature: the head spins on the washer base ... it also has a compression neck flange on it that prevents it from spinning loose (hence the reason why this came off so easily!) ... and the washer is a certain thickness ...

These are all important features that are engineered into the design of the suspension components.

Your self locking nut will work, for now, but may put undue stress(ses) on the ball joint it was not designed for ...
Something caught my eye while looking at your pics again and it looks like the nut isn't wide enough to retain the arm if the sleeve breaks loose and it lifts.

Maybe in reality that's not a high probability but I wouldn't want to risk it and I completely agree with PAX's caution that you should replace it with an OE nut ASAP.

Yeah, I got a little chuckle out of seeing the socks, too. But, you know I'm used to it from living over here.

Last edited by HT417; 09-25-2014 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 10-04-2014, 05:15 AM
HT417's Avatar
HT417 HT417 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Oberpfalz, Germany
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 835
Mein Auto: 2008 BMW X5 3.0si
Quote:
Originally Posted by PAX5 View Post
You can also try this one (BMW dealer discount site) - http://europartsdirect.net/

I've used it with varying success ...
PAX5 - thanks , I somehow overlooked this before. However, they're actually more expensive than buying from the dealership. And some of the links lp posted are cheaper, even for OEM. I ended up ordering the front lowers from the dealership at a price of $174 tax free per side based on the current exchange rate. That's about $30 more than the lowest I've seen online but some of that advantage would've been lost in shipping anyway. Also, if there's a problem I can get it solved immediately. I also decided to let the dealership put them in so I can get the 2 year warranty on parts and labor.

Well, that's only partially true. Another reason I went with the dealership is because I don't have the proper socks and sandals for the job.

Thanks to all for the comments. I hope that in a week and a half I can come back and report the same success that FR had.
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