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Thread: Bernman's excellent adventure (warning large pictures)

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Bernmobile
    ...or, How to make your 325 "M-like"

    I will start with the parts.

    31 12 1 140 957 Left Control arm for 325 $72
    31 12 1 140 958 Right Control arm for 325 $72
    31 12 9 064 875 Offset control arm bushing set $40
    31 35 1 090 268 Sway bar bushing for 25.5mm 325 bar $4 (need 2)
    31 33 2 227 897 Left Upper strut bearing for M3 $80 (was sent the 96 model instead of the 95 I asked for)
    31 33 2 227 898 Right Upper strut bearing for M3 $80 (was sent the 96 model instead of the 95 I asked for)
    31 33 1 115 983 Washer $1 (need 2)
    31 33 1 128 523 Front spring cushion $4 (need 2)
    33 52 1 092 362 Rear shock mount $12 (need 2)
    VE3-4237 Bilstein strut for 95 M3 $155
    VE3-4238 Bilstein strut for 95 M3 $155
    BE5-2453 Bilstein rear shock for M3 $101 (need 2)
    29910 H&R spring set for 95 M3 $225 (comes with upper spring plates and cushions)
    Assorted nuts and bolts $20
    Bridgestone RE730 $474

    Total parts $1617

    Total labor $180 ($23/tire for mount, balance, disposal. $88 for "special" alignment...tweaked the camber)

    Grand total $1797

    You can see my notes on why I went with these part in this thread:

    http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...&threadid=2992

    Installation

    There were many more pictures that could have been taken (and I do have more, just not so interesting), but when things got tough, I tended to stay with the job and not take a break to grab the camera. Hopefully I have enough here to give some insight to the job.

    I started with the front suspension.
    Jacking from the center crossmember may not be an approved place, but it was the only way I had to be able to get two jackstands at the proper points under the doors.



    Once the car was securely on the jackstands, I went to work getting the old struts out. When removing the struts, make sure you support the hub/brake assembly.

    Supporting the strut


    As you can see, I made due with some soft rope. There are three bolts at the bottom of the strut that attach to the hub assembly. Two of these were very difficult to remove. They had some kind of locking compound on them, on top of which I could not get good leverage on the wrench. Once you have the bottom bolts out, you can remove the top three bolts that hold the strut to the car and pull the strut free.

    With the strut out of the way, I started on the control arm. The control arm is held in place with two ball joints and a bushing at the rear. I started by removing the sway bar to have better access to the ball joints. The outer one is pretty easy to remove. Remove the nut at the top, and hammer in a tie rod remover (Sears, $15). The inner joint was a little more difficult. There was no way to get a socket on the nut without removing other parts on the engine. It is a 22mm locking nut, but fortunately a 7/8 open end wrench fit perfectly. It takes a while, but eventually it came off. Whacked it out with the tie rod remover after getting the nut off. The last part was to unbolt the bushing carrier, and the control arm is free.

    I had to get the old bushing out of the carrier before installing the new one. I started by cutting the rubber away from the bushing leaving the metal sleeve in the carrier.

    Bushing carrier

    This is one of those places where more pictures would have been nice, but it was one of those struggling/cursing times that the camera stayed on the table. Once the carrier was free, I used a hacksaw to carefully cut the outside metal band of the bushing. I didn't want to touch the carrier with the saw since that would put a cut into it making a weak point. Cutting the band released the pressure holding the bushing sleeve in place, and it slipped right out. Putting the new bushing in was a chore since, as most people, I don't have a hydralic press at home. I made do with some spray lubricant and careful use of a bench vise. The bushing is a little wider than the carrier, so I used this tool behind the carrier and pushed it through so the bushing was even on both sides of the carrier.

    Home made bushing tool

    I could have made it out of wood and it would have been fine, but I didn't know what to expect so I made this up ahead of time to help with the bushing install. The bushing is 60mm in diameter, so the hole is 60.5mm and the press part (which I didn't really need) is 59.5.

    The hard parts are done, it's mostly smooth sledding from here on. Here is a picture of the new control arm parts ready to be installed. Pushing the bushing onto the control arm takes some doing. The Bentley manual tells you to use a special lube, and then get the parts put back together and resting on the ground in 30 mins...not a chance. Not only did I not have the lube, but there was no way the car was going to be on its wheels in a half hour. I slobbered some Dawn (dishwashing soap) on the control arm and in the bushing, and pushed them together. It was tough, but it went on.

    New control arm parts

    I used the torque wrench where I could, but the inner ball joints could only get a wrench, so they got the "as tight as I can" treatment. They are locking nuts, and the ball joint is held with a taper so they should be fine. The taper, and the ball joint shaft must be clean or they won't stay together as well. When installed, here is what the new control arm bushings look like.

    Control arms installed

    After the control arms are in, I installed the new struts. Aren't Bilsteins just too sexy?

    Bitchin yellow struts

    The rest of the front is bolt-together. Got the wheels back on, moved the tools out of the way, and put my wife's car back in the garage. Quick shower to get some of the dirt off and crawled in bed at 2AM.

    The next morning I tackled the rear. As I anticipated, this was much easier. Jack up the rear, and put the jackstands under the door spot again.

    Jacking the rear

    To get to the top of the shock, you have to pull the trunk liner away. I lowered the seat backs and pulled the side bolsters off. A good stiff yank at the top and they come off. There is a plastic cover across the opening that is held in place with some push-in fasteners. Remove this, and the fasteners holding the liner to the body, and you can see the top of the shock.

    Accessing the shock tower nuts

    I supported the rear control arm with the jack and removed the bottom shock bolt then released the jack letting the control arm hang. Remove the two shock tower nuts and the shock is free. Getting the spring out, and back in, is a little tough for one person. I was able to do it using a pole as a lever that I could push on with my leg while pulling the spring out. That was the hardest part of the rear install, but it was not too bad. The Bentley book wants you to remove the rear drive axles at the differential before doing this. Probably to avoid damaging the CV joints, or maybe just to make it easier. Hard to say if anything was damaged, but I think it is ok. Time will tell, maybe my next report will be how to replace rear CV joints

    Once the spring is in place, just bolt the shock in, put the interior back together, and put the wheels on. Done!

    I took ride height measurements before and after the install by measuring from the fender to the bottom of the wheel (not the ground...consult Bentley for how to do it). The rear is lower by .75" and the front only went down .5". I expected it to be quite a bit lower from it's old 325 self since I went with suspension components that were supposed to lower an M3 about .5" to .75" and the M3 should be lower than my 325 with the stock sport suspension. I like the rear where it is, but the front really should be lower. One possibility is the strut tower bearings. I had ordered a set for a 95 M3, but they sent me ones from the later model (96-99). I thought the only difference was the geometry, but it is possible that the height is different. I have to do a little investigating. Not sure what to do yet. It doesn't look terrible, but I would like it to be a little lower in front.


    <img src="http://">





    This morning I took the car to Roger Krause Racing for an alignment and to put the new tires on (Bridgestone RE730's 225/50-16). They did an excellent job and I left there with a straight steering wheel and tires that don't vibrate up to 110MPH <font size="1">("professional" driver on a closed course)</font>. The ride is firm, but not uncomfortable. I have to let the tires break in before forming an opinion about them. So far they are a little noisier than the AVS Sports in the corners, and don't stick as well. They are quiet on the freeway though. We shall see. I did save $200 by using the Bridgestones over the Yokohamas so I can be consoled by this savings should they not turn out to handle as well.

    Alignment specs:
    Front

    Left camber -0.8 deg, right camber -0.9 deg.
    Left caster 7.2 deg, right caster 7.5 deg.
    Left toe 0.07", right toe 0.06".
    Some other numbers that I don't know what they are...

    Rear

    Left camber -1.8 deg, right camber -1.8 deg.
    Left toe 0.10", right toe 0.10"
    Thrust angle 0.00 deg.

    Don't really know what to make of this except that the camber and caster are right there in M3 land, which is just what I was aiming for.

    Sources

    Zygmunt Motors http://www.bimmerparts.com (most of the suspension components, best price on Bilsteins)
    Turner Motorsports http://www.turnermotorsports.com (H&R springs)
    Double 02 Salvage, Hayward CA (local part resource, very nice guys)
    Roger Krause Racing, Castro Valley CA (alignment, tire installation...excellent work, not inexpensive though)

    What's left?
    I am planning on an x-brace pretty soon, and now that I can attach the sway bar to the strut, I will make a link with some rod ends to do this. I could just buy the M3 links, but making them will be more fun. I expect that attaching the front sway bar to the shock will increase the rate enough that the rear will be too small, which means a new rear bar as well. My front bar is already larger than an M3 one, so I would have to go for an aftermarket one that is larger than an M3 to maintain a balance. But that is for future tweaking. Wheels would be nice, but that one will be in the distant future for now. I will post driving impressions once I get some stick time on the new tires and suspension.

    I hope this gives you some idea what it takes to replace the suspension in an E36. It's not the hardest car-related work I have done, gutting an 88 Golf 16V and putting in a custom stereo, then putting it all back together was my peak. I could see myself paying the $400-$600 in labor if I were to do this again. I do have the satisfaction of saying I did it myself, and I had a great time, so all-in-all it was worth the pain

    Have fun all!
    Bernman
    94 325is, M suspension (mostly)

    *edit* fixed links to the pictures 12/27/03
    *edit* fixed pictures again 8/11/07
    Last edited by Bernman; 08-11-2007 at 06:14 PM.

  2. #2
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    Thumbs up Wow!

    OMG bernman... that was one hell of a write-up u did!

    Lots of really useful information in that post... Great job!
    Richard

  3. #3
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    Heh, thanks. Fortunately I write a little faster than I work on my car. I am glad to give back to the community that helped me find the answers to be able to make this swap. I'd like to thank the academy for....oops, wrong speach.

    I just hope someone finds this useful

    Bernman (who desperately needs sleep after 4 hours of writing...)

  4. #4
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    Bernmann,
    Very good write-up. I am going to use that info to replace my shock. BTW does one have to compress the springs that go on the front struts. prior to installation.
    <FONT COLOR=PURPLE FONT FACE="TIMES NEW ROMAN" FONT SIZE="3"><i><b><br>Sean Gohain `02///325ci</i></b></br></FONT><IMG SRC="http://members.roadfly.org/seangohain/night+shot+star+frame.JPG"><FONT COLOR=PURPLE FONT FACE="TIMES NEW ROMAN" FONT SIZE="2"><i><b><br>A thing of beauty is a joy forever, <br>as its beauty increases it shall never pass into nothingness </i></b></br></FONT>

  5. #5
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    I didn't take apart the old struts, but would have needed to use a compressor if I needed any parts from them. The H&R springs weren't long enough to require a compressor to put the new struts together.

    The hardest bolts to get out on the struts were the bottom two that connect the strut to the hub carrier. If you are going to do this yourself, make sure you have 16mm and 18mm 1/2" drive sockets (and a ratchet to go with them of course). These bolts had some nasty loctite on them and were very hard to get off.

    Good luck with your install!
    Bernman

  6. #6
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    e36 M3 sedan 5-spd

    Thumbs up wow

    I have to say that post is one of the most informative posts I have ever seen.
    Great friggin' job!!

  7. #7
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    oh! i see what you are saying. If i get bilstein front struts and i want to use my stock springs, i will have to take them out of the old stock strut and put in the new strut. That would require a compressor huh!
    <FONT COLOR=PURPLE FONT FACE="TIMES NEW ROMAN" FONT SIZE="3"><i><b><br>Sean Gohain `02///325ci</i></b></br></FONT><IMG SRC="http://members.roadfly.org/seangohain/night+shot+star+frame.JPG"><FONT COLOR=PURPLE FONT FACE="TIMES NEW ROMAN" FONT SIZE="2"><i><b><br>A thing of beauty is a joy forever, <br>as its beauty increases it shall never pass into nothingness </i></b></br></FONT>

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    just an old 328
    WOW.. thats a write up.. we should publish that..
    97' BMW SC328i - Sold
    06' BMW 330i sport
    02' Porsche 911 Carrera
    06' BMW 530xi
    06' Nissan Pathfinder SE
    [/URL]

  9. #9
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    95 M3, 94 525it
    Excellent technical post. Thank you for sharing the information.
    happy motoring
    94 525it (M50tu)
    95 M3 (S50)

    92 325is (M50) SOLD

  10. #10
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    I finally got around to fixing the pictures. Have fun guys

    Bernman
    '94 325is with "stuff"...

  11. #11
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    just an old 328
    this should be in a FAQ! Great job bernman!
    97' BMW SC328i - Sold
    06' BMW 330i sport
    02' Porsche 911 Carrera
    06' BMW 530xi
    06' Nissan Pathfinder SE
    [/URL]

  12. #12
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    Bernman,

    You are the MAN. This is really going to help me out!

    A few questions:

    What brand of hydraulic jack did you use to jack up your car, and what brand jack stands?

    Could you be ever more the man and list all the tools needed? I've been told : metric socket set and metric wrench set.

    You mentioned Loctite... I'm assuming you need some of this to put on certain areas where it was before you took that nut/bolt off. Are there any other fluids/greases I will be needing?

    Thanks!
    Kevin
    1978 Black 320i [July 28, 2007-Present]
    2003 Audi A4 Avant [2012-Present]
    2004 Accord: [2006-2012]
    1995 Boston Green 318is: [2001-2006]
    Knoxville, TN

  13. #13
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    I have had my Sears jack and jackstands for about 15 years. It is a 2-ton version that is relatively low. Now that the car is lower, I need to drive up onto a couple of 2x4's to be able to get it under the front. Look for one that has the lowest height. The procedure to get the car up on four stands is to jack and support the front, the do thre rear by sliding the jack under the middle of the car from the passenger side, jacking by the subframe. I would rather not jack the car by this potentially sensitive area, but I do not see another way to get the car up on four stands. I support the car at the four pads at the sides of the car. You don't have to jack both ends at the same time since you can replace the suspension then move to the other end.

    You only need a few special tools. I nice torque wrench capable of 100 ft-lbs, preferably 1/2" drive. 1/2" drive 16mm, 17mm, and 18mm sockets in addition to your "normal" set of sockets. A few of the bolts are *really* tight, and it would be really nice to have an air impact, and air ratchet. I have done it 4 times now without these tools, but kick myself every time I am in the middle of the job. You will also need a spring compressor if you need to reuse parts from your old struts. Can't think of anything else that is required.

    Use loctite on the bolts that hold the kingpin to the strut. These were the ones that I stuggled with the first time they came off. BMW uses some high-strength stuff on these. You can get by with medium strength blue when reassembling. I don't think you need any other fluids.

    Good luck on your suspension

    Bernman
    '94 325is with "stuff"...

  14. #14
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    If I am getting the TC Kline Trackline Spring/Shock set (new struts), would I need to reuse any parts off of the old struts? If so, what? If not, I'm assuming the set they send me will already be put together (i.e. spring already in position), so it wouldn't need to be compressed any?

    No air impact gun for me either! Hopefully I will soon be able to afford a brand spankin' new Craftsman 3-ton service jack. 5 and a half inch minimum height. Due to a recent review in European car, I'm looking at AC Hydraulics jack stands.

    Silly question: Even though I know it is not the preferred method, would there be any way to complete this change without a hydraulic floor jack? Like, could I use the stock jack (and the jack points on the sides) to jack up the car enough that I could get a jack stand under the car? Get four stands under the car first, and then move on to actually taking out the suspension? I realize this is not the place to scrimp on funds, but $100 for a hydraulic jack on top of $800 for the shock/spring combo, along with $98 for Ground Control Street/Track RSMs, along with AC Hydraulics Jack Stands ($82 + shipping for two).

    I sincerely doubt that method would work, but hey if I can cheat I would!

    Looks like I'm going into work early today...!
    Kevin
    1978 Black 320i [July 28, 2007-Present]
    2003 Audi A4 Avant [2012-Present]
    2004 Accord: [2006-2012]
    1995 Boston Green 318is: [2001-2006]
    Knoxville, TN

  15. #15
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    Can I get the shocks,struts, and springs and put them in my 325is without the other M3 suspension parts?
    Weightlift?<br><a href="http://www.gowtfo.com">gowtfo.com</a>

  16. #16
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    Go to http://sears.com and do a search on item 00950134000 . For only $120, you get a 3-ton jack, and 2 jackstands. I see no reason to spend a ton on the AC hydraulics ones. They are very nice, but the Sears version will do fine. I would stay away from the $49 Sears jack. I don't like the saddle part on that one. As an occasional jack user, this setup will probably last you the rest of your life.

    You might also try Harbor Freight. They have good values if you "choose wisely".

    I also do not think you should bother with the GC rear shock mounts. This is something you can do later very easily, and you could save $75 by using the E46 mounts ($12 each). If they go bad, then you can change them. They have been on my car for almost 10k miles with no apparent problems. $800 for the TC kline kit sounds a little steep. You can use the money that you just saved and buy the coilover kit from GC ($900?). Ride height, and damping adjustability are two things that I miss with my current suspension.

    <b>fecund</b> Yes you can fit the M3 parts on your car. Just make sure you get the upper spring plates from whoever you buy the shocks from. Your E36 plates will not work with the M3 springs. If you can't get them with your shocks, then you can buy them from Pacific BMW for about $20 to $30.
    '94 325is with "stuff"...

  17. #17
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    nice write up man
    drop's looking good man
    2006 TiAg/Black 330i 6MT ZSP ZPP |F1 Pinnacle 15%|Debadged|Mtec Cosmos Fogs|Hamann Style Diffuser|Quad Magnaflow Exhaust|Transmissive Polarizer Mod:|Silver CF Amber-Gone|MTech Dead + ACS Pedals|

  18. #18
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    Bernman - Hmm... I'll think about it, but I still don't see any need for all that adjustability...

    Now I don't have to buy a jack or jack stands! On of my highschool friends who works at the theatre, well his Dad teaches autoshop at the highschool and he's got all the stuff I need. Sweet.
    Kevin
    1978 Black 320i [July 28, 2007-Present]
    2003 Audi A4 Avant [2012-Present]
    2004 Accord: [2006-2012]
    1995 Boston Green 318is: [2001-2006]
    Knoxville, TN

  19. #19
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    Very nice writeup!!

    All right, after reading all that I want to trash my old suspension. But when I look at my wallet, it just says NO!

    So my other alternative is to ask a question. I currently have HR Springs/ Bilstein shocks on my 93 325i. I want to change over to the M3 swaybars. Do you think a local shop could/would weld on tabs so that these sways would work? All info is appreciated, I really want to get sways that connect to shocks rather then the control arms without having to buy new springs/shocks.

    Fabian
    <img src="http://home.pacbell.net/animekid/sig.jpg">

  20. #20
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    awesome writeup, I just bought a new 3.5 ton jack and stands from sears, it's always good to have around. For anyone doing suspension, you can pick up some Bilstein PSS coilovers for about 900 from bimmerparts. Nice to see people putting some much love into their cars. Good job!

    Mods: TMS Intake, Dinan Stage I, BMP Big Bore TB, Remus Exhaust,
    M3 short shifter, Inpro Euro Headlights, Alpine HU, 6x9 Conversion

  21. #21
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    I would not do it. When you weld, the metal of the tube can deform possibly damaging the shock surface. I don't know if the twin-tube bilsteins use the inner surface or not, but I would not risk it.

    There is no real big advantage to M3 sway bars. If you want, you can run the M3 rear (19mm for 95 and 20mm for 96+) in conjunction with a 26mm (E36 sport package) front bar. It works very nicely.
    '94 325is with "stuff"...

  22. #22
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    I'm experiencing a large amount of roll in my car right now, and I think that's its due to the fact that my sways connect to the control arms rather than the shocks themselves. Help me out if I'm wrong, but I don't know what else I could do. What I was planning on is buying Eibach sways made for m3 that way I could attach them to shocks..

    Fabian
    <img src="http://home.pacbell.net/animekid/sig.jpg">

  23. #23
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    From what I understand, you have a number of options.
    Note: Attachment to struts requires use of M3 strut housings or the riskyish modifying of stock housings.. Standard E36 struts do not have the mounting tabs on the strut housing.
    1) Attach stock sway to struts. Increasing the lever arm length will increase anti-roll characteristics. Need the mounting tabs and M3 bar links.
    2) Stiffer (larger diameter) bar using stock mounts.
    3) What you said - stiffer bars attached to struts. Biggest change.

  24. #24
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    Awesome job man! You deserve much credit!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bernman
    I would not do it. When you weld, the metal of the tube can deform possibly damaging the shock surface. I don't know if the twin-tube bilsteins use the inner surface or not, but I would not risk it.

    There is no real big advantage to M3 sway bars. If you want, you can run the M3 rear (19mm for 95 and 20mm for 96+) in conjunction with a 26mm (E36 sport package) front bar. It works very nicely.
    Why on earth does BMW have the sway bars for the M3 attached to the struts as opposed to the 325 and most cars having it attached to the control arms?

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