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DIY springs and shocks? Y/N ?

Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by Schattenjager, Jul 1, 2008.

    Schattenjager guest

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    In an effort to outfit my little E30 with some high quality goodies, I am wanting to keep expenses low. Is it conceivable for me to install a set of springs and shocks - rear shock mounts too - at home with a simple set of hand tools?

    I am looking at the Bavarian Auto kit - Eibach springs and Bilstien shocks and their solid upper rear shock mounts.

    Any input? Words of Wisdom? Warning?
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    It's certainly do-able, depending on several things, plus a few caveats.

    You need to have a place to work on the car, preferably secure - things can take more than a day, particularly when you haven't done them before. Your car work locale should ideally have a solid cement, flat, level floor, where you can get the car elevated securely onto 4 jack stands, using a proper floor jack, not the jack that comes with the car. For this job, you need the car somewhat elevated, but I doubt you'd need it as high as possible with the tallest jack stands. If all the tires are off the ground a few inches that presumably would be adequate.

    You'll need the tool to separate the tie-rods from the front struts, as well as a spring compressor you can trust. A compressed spring represents a potentially lethal amount of energy; if the spring compression process goes awry through mishap or mistake, there is a risk of severe injury or death. I don't think those types of accidents happen often, but potential risk exists. I don't say that to encourage you to shy you away from the procedure, but that's one project that should be tackled with care, precision, and forethought.

    You also want to be careful in the shock installation, they can be damaged if overtightened (I believe any info that comes w/ the shocks will probably explain necessary precautions). You might need a click-type torque wrench.

    You'll need an alignment afterwards. Rear shocks are relatively easy to change, the fronts are more time consuming and require removal of the strut and compressing the spring to extract the strut insert.

    Since you're at it, unless it's been done relatively recently, might not be a bad idea to replace the front strut mount bearings as well. Stock ones are fine for the majority of the time, if you want extra negative camber you could use the offset ones, possibly with camber plates, or the camber-adjustable mounts. Negative camber means increased tire wear on the inside edge for street driving, and potentially less wet-condition grip. The adjustable mounts with polyurethane bushings will make the ride stiffer - there will be less compliance for soaking up bumps.

    A Bentley manual has tightening torques, and I think outlines the necessary procedures - useful for any variety of E30 maintenance and projects -

    I'm always a little wary of using spring compressors just due to the potential danger, however I imagine hundreds or thousands are used every day and you don't seem to hear of rashes of decapitations due to spring compressor accidents. Some tools you can skimp on (relatively speaking), but I don't think I'd want the cheapest-on-Ebay, made-in-who-knows-where, spring compressor.

    You'll also want a backup plan in case tie-rod removal ends up damaging the tie-rod boots, or should the tie-rods themselves require replacement (i.e. how far away is the nearest dealer/parts source, or shop, if you get stuck somewhere mid-project?).

    If you have the space, the time, the tools, the know-how, the supplies, and the willingness - I'd say there's no reason not to tackle it.

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