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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not very familiar with this forum, someone from 5series net recommend that I post this here.
If this is in the wrong area or anything lemme know.

So here's a little something hoping it can help or even entertain someone haha.

2004 530i 6 speed m54 super basic package

So basically one night I decided to go out and drift around with some friends after a light rain. Turns out to my sadness that the stock e60 doesn't handle nearly as well as my heavily modded suspension z3 or e39 530i msport did. Anyways, I embarrassingly hopped a curb and did some damage to the under side of the car, luckily nothing to the body. I felt pretty stupid.

Luckily for me I work at an independent shop with access to lifts and basically every machine I need, so the next day I lifted the car at my work and inspected the underside. Turns out that I ripped the cradle/subframe from the chassis, bent some control arms, sheared the sway bar mounts, blew out both my engine mounts, basically blew out all the bushings for all suspension components, cracked 1 rim, and bent 3 rims. None of my tires blew out so that was pretty cool I guess. I was really bummed because I figured if the cradle was ripped from the chassis I would have to cut out a portion of the chassis in the front and weld some new metal in for the cradle to hold on to.

After doing some browsing online, it was looking like I was about to spend around $1500 on parts. I was able to find some other shop that was parting out a 545i (can't remember what year it was, probably a 2005 or something) and scored the whole front end complete with cradle, steering rack, engine mounts, control arms, sway bar/linkages, struts, springs, hubs, rotors, calipers, and pads, all bushings and rubber was in good condition, everything all for $500. And I also found some guy on craigslist that was selling some great condition no curbrash 545i rims with Michelin pilot sports almost new for $400! I checked around on this forum to see if anyone had done a swap like this before and only found small info on the brake swap. So I was just like "F*ck it, if it works or not, whatever.

I decided to do the swap in my garage instead of at work due to the fact that I like drinking while I do this kind of work and figured it would be cool to take my time. I didn't really mind working all on the ground for this, although it was like 100 degrees when I was doing it in San Diego which sucked alot.

All the tools required were pretty basic: Torx, reverse torx, basic size sockets/wrenches. I had to borrow a engine bar/holder from a co worker

Lifted the car as high as I could
Remove fender liners and all plastic covers in the way
Disconnect brake lines/sensors from wheels/hubs
Place jack under cradle centered in middle
Support engine with bar
Disconnect all electrical connectors that hold to the cradle
Remover air box/intake tube for access to engine mounts
Disconnect power steering lines and crimp them with some flat vices to keep all the fluid in
Disconnect steering column from rack
Remove nuts from engine mounts
Remove 3 nuts from strut tower mounts
Remove 6 bolts underneath car that hold cradle to chassis
*I decided to just keep the struts together with the hubs because I planned on upgrading to some Vogtland coilovers.
*The steering column is notched and can only be put in one position. I still marked it with a marker to ensure that I put it back together lined up correctly.

At this point all I did was lower the jack slowly and low enough for the struts to clear the fenders of the car.

Once it was out, I inspected the chassis where the cradle bolts were ripped from and found that inside the chassis rail there is a block that the bolts go into. So basically instead of bolting to the aluminum chassis, the cradle bolts to a block INSIDE the chassis. This was perfect, I just re aligned the block with the hole in the chassis and re threaded it. Perfect, no welding necessary.

Before putting the 545i assembly in, I realized that the steering rack was equipped with electric connectors. Turns out that it had active steering, and my 530i did not. So I transferred the 530i rack to the new cradle. Pretty simple, only had a couple reverse torx on both sides.
Since the 545i had a v8 engine configuration, all the lines and hoses were routed and bolted to the cradle differently. I swapped the metal power steering lines over along with brackets, and replaced the "banjo" washers which was easy because the 545i cradle had the same holes to bolt it all to.
The engine mounts looked identical for both cradles and the only difference was that the 530i had a bracket to space the mounts closer together due to skinnier engine. I figured why spend more money and just use the 545i engine mounts. This was a mistake, the mounts were way to stiff and I got a lot of engine rattle at startup and engine noise in the cab of the car. (I ended up getting oem Valeo mounts for like $45 a piece shortly after everything was done. Not a problem because swapping the mounts out is super easy.)
I swapped the 530i struts/springs over to the new cradle. Easy, just 2 bolts on the hub.

Now the new cradle and components were ready to go in, I made sure the hubs were both facing forward so that the steering column would be centered before connection and slowly raised everything with the jack making sure the strut mounts and engine mounts were aligning properly with the engine and towers. Once all was lined up just tighten it all up. After it was all together I double checked the steering to make sure I got it even, which was fine, like I stated earlier, there's a notch to ensure correct alignment of the column. When checking it if I remember correctly, I got about 3.5 turns to the left and 3.5 turns to the right which is perfect.
I basically connected everything in reverse order of removal. Once the power steering lines were re connected, I uncrimped them and started the engine. Some fluid was lost during transfer so I topped off the reservoir capped it and turned the steering wheel to the max in both directions to ensure the steering rack had properly filled with fluid. I didn't have to bleed the steering system due to the fact that the m54 power steering reservoir cap is equipped with a little hole in the side to allow for air escaping, so the system bleeds itself.
Also I bled the brakes as air was in the system from disconnecting the lines.
After all this I took the car to my shop for an alignment and everything is perfect within spec. Tracking and steering is fine. No clanking or slip when going over bumps and the car feels solid.

Since the rotors/calipers from the 545i are bigger than the 530i the braking feels pretty good, responsive and quicker than stock for sure. Not as good as an m5 but still better than stock, even without doing mods or anything to lines or master cylinder.
The only thing I noticed that I wasn't too fond about was that the front wheels stick out on the sides more than the rear, nothing spacers can't fix.

That's basically it as far as I can remember, it took me about 12 hours working pretty slow and killing a 12 pack/bull****ting with my neighbors haha. I took step by step pictures to document it all for you guys but for some reason my phone lost most of the photos.

I hear a lot of negative stuff about the e60 but honestly, after all the repairs I've done on this car whether it be preventative or because of my own stupidity, it's not a bad car, everything is pretty strait forward and fairly simple. I don't think the quality is nearly even close on the same level as the e39, but honestly I feel like they're completely different cars.

I'm sure there's some stuff that I missed, if you have any questions or input let me know!

I'm not sure how to upload the photos in a manner that allows me to put a caption for each photo but:
First 3 photos are the old/new front end.
All photos after are damage that was done (Doesn't look like much but the car drove pretty terribly)


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