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E60 / E61 (2004 - 2010)
BMW 5-Series E60 Sedan was first seen in the Unites States in the fall of 2003 with a 2004 Model Year designation. The E61 wagon followed shortly there after. The E60/E61 5 series is now available as a 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and a 535xi sports wagon! -- View the E60 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 03-24-2020, 01:50 PM
scottalexander scottalexander is online now
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Strut tube will not align with pinch clamp

This afternoon I replaced both thrust arms on my e60, but the pinch clamp will not return to its original position.

There are two pictures attached.

After I installed the Meyle thrust arms, I tried to get the pinch clamp to return to its original position, but it would not return.

When I did this job I used a big crow bar to pry between the ball joint and strut tube. It took a lot of work, then finally I separated the two enough to lift up and out the ball joint. I was able to install the new Meyle thrust arm.

I could not get the strut tube to return to its original ride height.

I tried to put a floor jack under the ball joint and lift it, but the entire assembly was moving upwards and the pinch clamp was not sliding upwards.

I put everything back together "loosely" and drove up on ramps. I thought the load would reset the strut tube in the proper position, but the strut tube didn't budge.

I jumped up and down on the front end bouncing it up and down, but that didn't work either.

Who's got some ideas? Thanks.
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Last edited by scottalexander; 03-24-2020 at 01:56 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-24-2020, 02:11 PM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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There is a tang on the strut tube that is supposed to align with a slot on the steering knuckle. Is it properly located? Also, applying some anti seize to the parts makes everything slide in to place easier. Looks like you didn't use any lube at all.....
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Old 03-24-2020, 02:45 PM
scottalexander scottalexander is online now
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I didn't see the tang on the strut tube that is supposed to align with a slot on the steering knuckle. Even if I did see it I couldn't get the steering knuckle to slide up and down.

At one point I did spray some WD 40 on the strut tube, but it didn't seem to help and the steering knuckle wouldn't move at all.

Idea:

If I drove it slowly around the block and used the brakes to pitch the front end forward, would that move the pinch clamp upwards on the strut tube?
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Old 03-24-2020, 03:40 PM
NedB NedB is offline
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Tap a chisel or screwdriver into the slot on the pinch clamp until the strut moves easily in the pinch clamp (but DON'T hit the strut). Turn the bottom of the strut to align the tang with the slot. Tap the pinch clamp up until it seats. Remove the screwdriver/chisel. Tighten the bolt.
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Old 03-24-2020, 04:14 PM
scottalexander scottalexander is online now
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You say, "Tap a chisel or screwdriver into the slot on the pinch clamp until the strut moves easily in the pinch clamp."

I have the front end of the car up on ramps right now.

The pinch clamp bolt is loose.

Wouldn't you expect the weight of the car to naturally move the strut tube to the bottom of the pinch clamp?

If the tang is not aligned with the slot, is that the reason why the strut tube won't slide down?
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  #6  
Old 03-24-2020, 05:16 PM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottalexander View Post
You say, "Tap a chisel or screwdriver into the slot on the pinch clamp until the strut moves easily in the pinch clamp."

I have the front end of the car up on ramps right now.

The pinch clamp bolt is loose.

Wouldn't you expect the weight of the car to naturally move the strut tube to the bottom of the pinch clamp?

If the tang is not aligned with the slot, is that the reason why the strut tube won't slide down?
Getting the strut to drop into the knuckle is a function of geometry, alignment and how loose the fit is.

I would lift the front end up, remove the wheel and examine things carefully. To open the slot, I used a BF screwdriver, wedged into the slot. Failing that, a cold chisel parallel to the strut would work. WD 40 is not sufficient. A squirt of motor oil or grease is better.

If the tang isn't lined up, the strut is not going to go down. It may even be wedged in there, so you will need a long pry bar to pop it out.
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Last edited by dharmabmw; 03-24-2020 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 03-24-2020, 05:45 PM
scottalexander scottalexander is online now
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When you say 'tang' are you talking about the raised metal piece (see arrow in picture attached).
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  #8  
Old 03-24-2020, 07:52 PM
SunglassesGuy SunglassesGuy is offline
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try some different angles with the assembly. I did that on one side and then it just fell into place. the other side, no luck, had to man handle it back into place. If I recall correctly, the manuals state not to put lubricant in there. that said, you could maybe try cleaning up the oxidation to gain a fraction of mm, that may help.
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Last edited by SunglassesGuy; 03-24-2020 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 03-24-2020, 09:15 PM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottalexander View Post
When you say 'tang' are you talking about the raised metal piece (see arrow in picture attached).
That looks like it. As suggested, a little clean up of the strut would help things move easier.
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  #10  
Old 03-25-2020, 05:46 AM
scottalexander scottalexander is online now
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I'll try to use the pry bar on the pinch clamp assembly with some different angles as mentioned.

When you say, I did that on one side and then it just fell into place. Does that mean the pinch clamp maneuvered into place exactly at the height where it should be?

Or did you still have to a use a floor jack to adjust the height on the clamp assembly?
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Old 03-25-2020, 05:49 AM
SunglassesGuy SunglassesGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottalexander View Post
I'll try to use the pry bar on the pinch clamp assembly with some different angles as mentioned.

When you say, I did that on one side and then it just fell into place. Does that mean the pinch clamp maneuvered into place exactly at the height where it should be?

Or did you still have to a use a floor jack to adjust the height on the clamp assembly?
yes, definitely open up the pinch clamp, but be careful, if you open it up too far it makes it hard to get the bolt back in, the pinch opening angle will make bolt hard to get it.

when I say drop right it, it literally fell into place. not much force was needed. I don't recall if it had it setting on anything to create downward force, but don't think so, had it on a lift for most of the job.
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  #12  
Old 03-25-2020, 05:52 AM
SunglassesGuy SunglassesGuy is offline
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Putting force on it, but resting it on ground or jacking it up may cause it to get at such an angle that it will bind, be wary of that.
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  #13  
Old 03-25-2020, 06:37 AM
l1tech l1tech is offline
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Make sure that the pinch bolt is removed when attempting to do this and make sure that the tang on the strut is aligned with the opening on the steering knuckle. The steering knuckle also needs to be opened up so the strut will slide into it, BMW has a nifty special tool to do this but all you really need to do is take a chisel and tap it into the opening so it opens up the knuckle. When the knuckle is opened up enough the strut will easily slide into it without having to use any force.
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  #14  
Old 03-25-2020, 08:47 AM
habbyguy habbyguy is offline
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There's an easier way to spread the strut clamp. Just insert a 1/4" ratchet "nose", and turn it 1/8th of a turn (so that it's wedged point-to-point between the clamp's faces). It opens up the strut mount enough to easily slide the old strut out, or the new one in. And yes, you do have to make sure that the little tab is lined up with the slot.
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Old 03-25-2020, 09:22 AM
scottalexander scottalexander is online now
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I tried using a 1/4 inch ratchet and I can see the pinch clamp visually is spreading.

I then put a floor jack under the ball joint and raised it 5 inches or so.

However, I can't get the knuckle to move upwards. It needs to move upwards 1 inch. See attached picture of the wheel travel. Its too high.

While the floor jack was under the ball joint, I took a big crow bar and tinkered with the strut tube. I was prying on it in a few directions and it didn't move.

The pinch clamp appears binded on the strut tube.

Idea:

Shouldn’t I be able to drive the car around the block very, very slowly with a ultra loose pinch bolt?

When I brake at 10 mph shouldn’t the knuckle naturally move upwards where I want it?

If I’m driving around the block at 10 mph and I go over a speed bump at 5 mph shouldn’t the knuckle move upwards to where I want it?
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  #16  
Old 03-25-2020, 09:42 AM
cmyachtie cmyachtie is offline
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I went thru a similar challenge recently and found with the car on ramps, had to wedge the pinch bolt bracket/clamp open some more to get it to reposition, be forewarned went it comes down it does so with a vengeance.....
So stay safe and keep your fingers away.
i used a thick chisel and hammer to open it.
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Old 03-25-2020, 09:46 AM
habbyguy habbyguy is offline
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The thing that doesn't make sense is that you didn't see the tang on the strut. it should be there, and HAS to be lined up with the slot in the knuckle, or it won't slide down. Feel around just above the top of the knuckle clamp for that tang, and see if it's just a matter of rotating the strut body to line up the tang and slot (which will have to be done with the strut unloaded, of course).
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  #18  
Old 03-25-2020, 10:27 AM
scottalexander scottalexander is online now
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I didn’t see the tang on the strut (at the pinch clamp slot) before the job started.

I looked for it all up and down the slot before I did anything.

Before I started this job, I took a black permanent marker and marked the strut horizontal original position to help me with this problem I have now.

What I didn't do and I wish I had, is to put a black vertical line inside the pinch clamp slot. That way I would know if the strut has rotated on me (and the tang is not visible).
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Old 03-25-2020, 02:16 PM
habbyguy habbyguy is offline
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This ain't rocket science. If the tang is there, it's dead simple to find it. Just feel around the top of the knuckle clamp for a vertical piece of metal welded to the strut. That's the tang. It takes 10x longer to type that than it does to find it.

Maybe it got sheared off somehow, but if so I'm betting it buggered the area so that it's deformed enough to keep it from going into the knuckle clamp.

If there is no tang, and no buggered tang weld, it's possible that you got the strut in there crooked, and it's now deformed enough that it's never, ever going to seat properly.
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Old 03-25-2020, 02:20 PM
NedB NedB is offline
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I looked at a front strut I replaced on my car. The bottom of the tang is 1 1/2" below where the top of the knuckle is when it is seated correctly. If the tang is not lined up with the slot on the knuckle, the strut will NEVER go into the knuckle correctly. You have to find the tang, and start it into the slot...
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:32 PM
NedB NedB is offline
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Also, on the old strut, it is obvious where the slot was; even if you can't see the tang, the dirty line on the strut, where the slot allowed the strut to accumulate dirt, will show you where it was before.
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Old 03-25-2020, 04:02 PM
scottalexander scottalexander is online now
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Yes, there is a significant dirt line on my strut tube that tells me where the pinch clamp should be positioned (if I can lift it to that line).

Tomorrow a friend of mine told me I could use his electric lift inside his barn. I'll be looking for that raised piece of metal tang first thing.

How could the tang be any place other than inside the slot in the pinch clamp?

I can't image I'm so strong I rotated the strut tube and the tang is hiding and isn't visible 90 degrees to the left of the slot.

Some say the strut tube could have rotated, yet the tang in the slot shouldn't have let the strut tube rotate.

I had to use a big crow bar to lower the pinch clamp (it was some fight).

If I broke off the tang during the process. It should have heard it break or hit the ground.

I should have an update tomorrow.
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  #23  
Old 03-26-2020, 02:40 AM
MarkCh MarkCh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottalexander View Post
...
I could not get the strut tube to return to its original ride height.
.....
Who's got some ideas? Thanks.
Looking at the new pictures you recently added to your first post in this thread, it shows that the bolt (which squeezes the hole where the strut inserts) is still in place. As others have wrote, remove that bolt first. Then put a small pry bar/large screw driver in that slotted area to spread the hole larger to allow the strut to slide in (again, as others in this thread have already wrote).

Your picture below:

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Old 03-26-2020, 04:57 AM
scottalexander scottalexander is online now
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When I replaced the strut arms I had to remove the pinch bolt and drive a large screw driver through the slot.

The picture you see was after I could not return the knuckle to its original position (and I put the bolt back just so I wouldn't lose it).

I had a earlier idea that no one respond to below.


Shouldn't I be able to drive the car around the block very, very slowly with a ultra loose pinch bolt?

When I brake at 10 mph shouldn't the knuckle naturally move upwards where I want it?

If I'm driving around the block at 10 mph and I go over a speed bump at 5 mph shouldn't the knuckle move upwards to where I want it (if the pinch bolt was loose)?
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Old 03-26-2020, 05:15 AM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottalexander View Post
When I replaced the strut arms I had to remove the pinch bolt and drive a large screw driver through the slot.

The picture you see was after I could not return the knuckle to its original position (and I put the bolt back just so I wouldn't lose it).

I had a earlier idea that no one respond to below.


Shouldn't I be able to drive the car around the block very, very slowly with a ultra loose pinch bolt?

When I brake at 10 mph shouldn't the knuckle naturally move upwards where I want it?

If I'm driving around the block at 10 mph and I go over a speed bump at 5 mph shouldn't the knuckle move upwards to where I want it (if the pinch bolt was loose)?
This is a bad idea. If the strut tube is mis aligned in the knuckle the steering geometry will be effectively effed up until you change the strut.

Driving the car around to provide force to jam the strut down will just damage the strut further compounding your problem.

There's also a possibility of losing control of the car due to things not being connected properly. If you get on an accident as a result have fun explaining that to the police and insurance companies. I hear lawyers are looking for work these days....
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