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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 08-30-2019, 10:58 AM
donato_r donato_r is offline
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Advice on replacing front struts 530xi

Hello everyone, the time has come for me to replace my front struts. A look on fcp euro shows 2 different brands of struts; bilistein and sachs. Ive decided to go with the bilisteins as they are cheaper but Im curious on how they perform compared to the oem struts. Lastly, what else should I replace with the struts out? I was thinking of replacing the mounts preventatively but what else is a good idea to replace? Thank you


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  #2  
Old 08-30-2019, 11:17 AM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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How many miles on your car? Any exposure to road salt? Might be wise to do springs, spring seats, bump stops, strut bearings, etc as well as an alignment after you are done. Assembly is a bear. Have a shop put them together, then do the remaining installation. I put in Sachs. I was advised by my local supplier that b4 bilsteins were poor quality with a poor service life. Others have remarked on a harsher ride.
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Old 08-30-2019, 12:46 PM
donato_r donato_r is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmabmw View Post
I was advised by my local supplier that b4 bilsteins were poor quality with a poor service life. Others have remarked on a harsher ride.


That probably would explain why when I put those on my e39 it literally rode like I did nothing to it. Despite having entirely new suspension. 95k on my car by the way


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Old 08-30-2019, 12:46 PM
twh twh is offline
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You should also replace the lower control arms (aka tension strut, aka trust arm, aka radius rod). They have a bushing that is liquid filled that ruptures after some years. Unless you see the fluid on the garage floor, you probably wouldn't know. I got my replacements off Amazon - TRW aftermarket with the BMW part number ground off. The ones I took off the car were original and were marked TRW with a BMW part number in the casting.

And the lower ball joints.

Most of the fasteners in this area are one time use, so pay attention there.

Optional to replace the wishbones. I replaced mine, but the one ones were in fine shape.
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Old 08-30-2019, 03:34 PM
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banglenot banglenot is offline
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Did OEM Sachs on my '07 530 (3400 lbs) at 90K. The E91 ('07 328xi, also 3400 lbs) has b4 bilsteins as OEM. At this point, I'm thinking of the b4's again, needed at 104K, since the E91 will get 3k per years or so.

Any public review of the B4 vs. compatible sachs out there?
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Old 08-30-2019, 03:37 PM
donato_r donato_r is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banglenot View Post
Did OEM Sachs on my '07 530 (3400 lbs); did them at 90K. The E91 ('07 328xi, also 3400 lbs) has b4 bilsteins as OEM. At this point, I'm thinking of the b4's again, needed at 104K, since the E91 will get 3k per years or so.



Any public review of the B4 vs. compatible sachs out there?


So the oem for the e60 is sachs?


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Old 08-30-2019, 04:14 PM
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Ive used bilstein Hd's as a gold standard for the last 5 bmw's ive done

heavy duty's with heavy tops... and urethane suspension makes for a once and done suspension build
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Old 08-30-2019, 06:58 PM
donato_r donato_r is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burning2nd View Post
Ive used bilstein Hd's as a gold standard for the last 5 bmw's ive done

heavy duty's with heavy tops... and urethane suspension makes for a once and done suspension build


To be honest, Im not going for a built suspension. Im going for the original suspension feel. For that reason im probably getting sachs if theyre the oe.


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Old 08-30-2019, 08:51 PM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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I did all shocks and struts at about 300000km. The struts were done but not leaking. (No gas charge left). The rear shocks are still fine, with the gas charge still intact but I figured I might as well change them given the age. OEM was Sachs on my car.
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Old 08-31-2019, 04:37 PM
audiophool audiophool is offline
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I just put Bilstein B6 (HD) on my 535xi. Fitted new strut bearings, rubber spring seats (but the old ones were just fine) and used a new clamp bolt. Control arms and ball joints are were all tight as a drum (I replaced the tension arms/ball joints a couple years back). Top strut bearing was absolutely destroyed. The rubber part was flattened out and at least 3/4" thinner than the new one.

R&R was a major PITA and I ended up buying tools.

Some notes:

-You have to remove the driveshaft from the hub in order to slide the strut out of the hub. If you try prying down without taking the axle out, you'll pull the inner CV joint apart. (Ask me how I know.) To do that, you need a big breaker bar (I got a 30" 3/4" drive) and a 36mm 12pt socket, and a new axle nut for when you're done. Loosen the nut with the car on the ground - socket will go through the wheel center.

-In order to make room to take the strut out of the pinch mount in the hub, I disconnected the control arm at the frame, (Bentley says you need a new bolt/nut.) and the tension arm at the hub. (Again, Bentley says to use a new nut.) Support the hub on a crate and steer toward the side you're taking apart. This gives working space to pull the strut. Press the axle out of the hub - I used the screw from my harmonic balancer puller plus a slide-hammer flange to press out the axle. (I don't like banging on bearings.)

-I ground a 6mm hex key to make a spreader for the lower strut clamp, but a cold chisel works too.

-Picked up a floor-mounted spring compressor for C$120. Couldnt' resist. R&R the strut assembly was easy with this tool. Otherwise take it to a shop. I used to use 'widowmaker' clamps, but never again. OE strut top bolt is 21mm and I used a 13/16" sparkplug socket that has a hex on the end for a box wrench. 6mm hex key passes through the socket. Bilsteins have a 22mm top nut so I sacrificed a 7/8" deep with 3/8" drive and ground 7/8" flats on it.

-I needed more space inside the wheelwell, so I took out the fender liner. Maybe you don't have to, but it gives access to tilt the strut assembly out and back in.

-Assembly is reverse, EXCEPT: the axle does not go in far enough to get the nut on. There's no way to tap it into place from behind either. Holding it from the CV boot from behind and smacking the hub with a rubber mallet did nothing. I bought this tool from ECS: CV installer. Cranked that puller down and it took a lot of force to pull the CV into place (video link at bottom). There was no rust in the spines either.

After all that, you'd think I was done, right? Well the ride is good, but now I'm getting a clunk when I go over certain dips in the pavement at speed, and potholes crash/bang. Not happy, and I can't see what's wrong.

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Last edited by audiophool; 08-31-2019 at 04:55 PM.
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  #11  
Old 08-31-2019, 04:58 PM
donato_r donato_r is offline
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Detailed instructions.... I like it! Are there any videos of someone replacing struts on an xdrive e60? Also howd you physically remove the strut? When I did it on my e39 I just removed the nuts from top and pushed the knuckle down enough so that the top of the strut cleared the wheel well


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  #12  
Old 08-31-2019, 05:18 PM
audiophool audiophool is offline
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As I mentioned, the CV has to come out and the tension arm nut from the hub and the inner bolt on the control arm. After that's all removed, you can pry the hub down far enough to get the strut out of the hub clamp. You must support the hub though.

Edit to add: you can leave the top mount bolted in until the bottom of the strut is out of the hub.

Last edited by audiophool; 08-31-2019 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 08-31-2019, 05:49 PM
donato_r donato_r is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiophool View Post
As I mentioned, the CV has to come out and the tension arm nut from the hub and the inner bolt on the control arm. After that's all removed, you can pry the hub down far enough to get the strut out of the hub clamp. You must support the hub though.

Edit to add: you can leave the top mount bolted in until the bottom of the strut is out of the hub.


That doesnt sound too shabby. Ive never taken out a cv joint before so well see what happens. I do plan on having my shop compress the springs so that I dont send a spring flying through my torso. One other thing: when re-installing, does it matter wether the cv goes in first or the strut? Also which control arm did you loosen, the actual control arm or the thrust arms (or whatever bmw calls them)?


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Old 08-31-2019, 06:09 PM
audiophool audiophool is offline
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Put the strut assembly up into the top pocket and start the nuts on the studs. Pry the hub down and slide the strut bottom into in the knuckle, then take the chisel/spreader out. With the tension arm (the one from the front) nut off the ball joint, and the control arm (short one that mounts near the engine) inner bolt out, you can swing the assembly out far enough to get the CV to slide into the hub.
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Old 08-31-2019, 07:42 PM
twh twh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiophool View Post
-Assembly is reverse, EXCEPT: the axle does not go in far enough to get the nut on. There's no way to tap it into place from behind either. Holding it from the CV boot from behind and smacking the hub with a rubber mallet did nothing. I bought this tool from ECS:[see above]. Cranked that puller down and it took a lot of force to pull the CV into place (video link at bottom). There was no rust in the spines either.[/URL]
Pretty sure the same tool does the rear axle shaft as well. I just did the rear wheel bearings and could have used this tool. I was able to get the shaft through with some moderate banging, but the tool is a better route. If I did any others or the E60 or my wife's E70, I'd get the tool.
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Old 08-31-2019, 07:59 PM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiophool View Post
I just put Bilstein B6 (HD) on my 535xi. ......

R&R was a major PITA and I ended up buying tools....

After all that, you'd think I was done, right? Well the ride is good, but now I'm getting a clunk when I go over certain dips in the pavement at speed, and potholes crash/bang. Not happy, and I can't see what's wrong.

[]
World of difference between B4 and B6s. And price too.

I found two bad sway bar endlinks up front caused the same issue. Replaced both which solved the problem.
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Old 09-01-2019, 12:33 AM
MarkCh MarkCh is offline
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As a fellow Xi owner who plans on doing this job in the near future I also want to think you for the write-up .

I recently replaced the thrust arm bushings and lower ball joint (which took some effort to drive out of the hub) and was studying the front strut set up for future replacement. I have a strut spring compressor (threaded rod, two part style with safety pin to prevent slipping off the spring) and was able to fit them to the spring in-situ. The idea is to compress the spring enough to be able to pull the strut up and out of the hub. I didn't go any further but I wonder if the spring can be compressed enough to get the strut out of the hub. This would be a lot easier than removing the axle from the hub for sure.
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Old 09-01-2019, 04:44 AM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkCh View Post
As a fellow Xi owner who plans on doing this job in the near future I also want to think you for the write-up .

I recently replaced the thrust arm bushings and lower ball joint (which took some effort to drive out of the hub) and was studying the front strut set up for future replacement. I have a strut spring compressor (threaded rod, two part style with safety pin to prevent slipping off the spring) and was able to fit them to the spring in-situ. The idea is to compress the spring enough to be able to pull the strut up and out of the hub. I didn't go any further but I wonder if the spring can be compressed enough to get the strut out of the hub. This would be a lot easier than removing the axle from the hub for sure.
I used my spring compressors (same type) and was able to do exactly this on one side. I used a cold chisel to spread the steering knuckle a bit. Just needs a light tap to spread it a thou or so. I also put a light coating of antiseize on the knuckle which lubricated the passage of the strut.
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Old 09-01-2019, 09:11 AM
audiophool audiophool is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkCh View Post
As a fellow Xi owner who plans on doing this job in the near future I also want to think you for the write-up .

I recently replaced the thrust arm bushings and lower ball joint (which took some effort to drive out of the hub) and was studying the front strut set up for future replacement. I have a strut spring compressor (threaded rod, two part style with safety pin to prevent slipping off the spring) and was able to fit them to the spring in-situ. The idea is to compress the spring enough to be able to pull the strut up and out of the hub. I didn't go any further but I wonder if the spring can be compressed enough to get the strut out of the hub. This would be a lot easier than removing the axle from the hub for sure.
I tried using the 'widowmaker' compressors to shorten the spring in situ, but stopped when it looked like I was going to scratch up the finish on the coils. Damage to the coating is a sure way to have the spring fail. You can't see in the picture, but I was able to compress the spring by fitting the compressor to the spring hat rather than putting its hooks on the coils. When I did the rears, I nicked the coils during R&R but coated the nicks with neoprene dip to ward off rust.
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Old 09-01-2019, 09:15 AM
audiophool audiophool is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmabmw View Post
World of difference between B4 and B6s. And price too.

I found two bad sway bar endlinks up front caused the same issue. Replaced both which solved the problem.
I'd heard less than stellar reviews of the B4, and have always preferred a firmer ride than stock so went with the B6. Rock Auto has pricing for B6 close to the OE Sachs, so I was easily swayed toward the B6.

When I had everything apart, I checked all the joints and all were tight as a drum. And prior to doing the work I had it at an alignment shop who said everything was good save one of the front shocks that had barfed its fluid. OE shox with 230,000km.
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Old 09-01-2019, 11:16 AM
dharmabmw dharmabmw is offline
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My sway bar endlinks looked tight too but I put a jack under the end while the car was lifted and the slop became obvious. The curious thing is, it was the upper joint on one side and the lower joint on the other.
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Old 09-01-2019, 12:29 PM
audiophool audiophool is offline
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^ Worth checking.
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Old 09-01-2019, 08:51 PM
donato_r donato_r is offline
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I just wanted to say thank you to you all for your input. I have decided to go with the sachs. Also I just thought of another question: would the brakes have to be removed loosening and tightening the axle nut?


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  #24  
Old 09-01-2019, 09:12 PM
audiophool audiophool is offline
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Brakes can stay on by all accounts. I removed mine so the hub would be lighter - they're not that much work to R&R.
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Old 09-01-2019, 10:58 PM
spazzz spazzz is offline
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I didn't remove the axle from the hub.

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