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e46 323i Control Arm Replacement

Discussion in 'E46 (1999-2006)' started by silversnl, Aug 16, 2010.

    • Member

    silversnl

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    After heading in to get an alignment, I was told I need to replace the lower control arms, and get a bushing kit and have that replaced as well. After labor and parts, the total came to over $1000 (Les Schwab)

    So, I did some research, and I found this kit online: ECS Tuning Rebuild Kit

    I am mechanically inclined enough to be able to get this taken care of in my own garage. My first question is has anybody had any experience with this? (Project or kit specifically)

    Secondly, I have recently noticed a pretty drastic hum (for lack of better noise description) that I can hear from inside the cabin, but I cannot hear it over the wind noise whilst driving down the road. I have isolated it to a wheel issue because when I clutch in and let the RPMs drop, the noise stays constant, and only varies based on vehicle speed. Is it potentially the tire from being out of alignment so terribly? When driving in a straight line, it feels as if the car is plowing with the front end (bit sluggish based on previous experience).

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
    • Member

    Zeichen311

    Post Count: 548
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    Assembling the bushings to the control arms requires substantial force--a press or clamp arrangement. Take a good hard look at the parts and your installed bushings on the car. If you do not possess the necessary tools to press the bushing into the identical position on the new control arm, within a millimeter (note the arm protrudes through the bushing), plan to buy them or farm out the job.

    You should get the hum professionally evaluated. Apart from tires, other possible sources of rotational noise that varies with vehicle speed (but not engine speed) include: wheel bearings, brakes, half-shafts (CV joints), final drive (differential), driveshaft and the transmission. Intarweb diagnosis of noise issues is hit-or-miss at best.
    • Member

    silversnl

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    You sir make a good point about interwebz diagnosis. And that I completely understand. I have yet to order anything, and I am awaiting a response from my step father who owns an auto shop, so this is good information for me to have as well. I appreciate your thoughts. I will bring this up if/when I ever talk to my step dad. Depending on his thoughts I will make the next step in the next couple days.

    As for the hum, I am having a coworker (He races Porsches and has rebuilt all his race cars) take a drive in it and see if he can diagnose it. This weekend I plan to drop the front wheels off of it and see if I can see anything. I am about 90% sure it is from the front end, but a second set of ears is always appreciated.
    • Member

    John in VA

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    Are the ball joints on your lower control arms bad, or just the bushings? The bearing puller tool makes the job a breeze (our chapter has one for rent at our DIY clinics), and the control arms are relatively easy except for the bolt you have to access from the engine compartment. Then you'll need an alignment.
    • Member

    silversnl

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    Well, I got some reasonably decent news, and some bad news. First off, I found out that the hum is from a wheel bearing that is bad. Now the bad news is that I need to get it replaced ASAP, and the dealership wants an exorbitant amount to replace the hub assembly.

    Hopefully, after the bearing replacement I can get an alignment and ideally not have to replace the control arms and busings.
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    If it's just a 'hum', take the advice of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

    [IMG]

    Wheel bearings don't fail suddenly. It can take weeks or months as they get progressively worse (louder, shakier, etc.). You have to be World Class negligent to have one get bad enough to strand you. So check out the procedure and consider changing it yourself. The biggest problem is the huge torque numbers you have to generate. This is your chance to convince your wife you need to buy the Biggest Damn Breaker Bar in the World (3/4"). :D
    You shouldn't need an alignment after a simple bearing replacement. It doesn't affect any alignment adjustments.
    • Member

    silversnl

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    First things first, I am single (Not even a girlfriend... ...yet), so I don't need to convince anybody to buy tools.:D

    Secondly, I got the procedure to replace the bearings from my step dad (the alldata system), so I am all set. I found out where to get a 250 ft-lb torque wrench, so I think I should be in good shape. If not I have dynam.... er, I mean, BMW CCA premier membership, so I can get it towed to the dealership for free.

    As for the alignment, the reason I learned of my control arm and bearing issues is because I suspected the alignment is off (Portland roads are rutted like crazy, and after the winter abuse, I figured it would be beneficial). So, I still want to get it aligned regardless.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    Stop taking it to the dealer. Go to a local independent BMW shop. FWIW, the alignment won't change just from swapping out the control arms and bushings.
    • Member

    silversnl

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    For the most part I am pretty skeptical of a lot of auto mechanics. I know I get screwed on cost, but I am confident in the work performed at the dealer. I take it to my step dad when possible, but when it isn't, I do it myself or have the deLership take care of it. If you have any reputable shops in the Portland area, I am open for suggestions.


    As for the wheel bearings, I got them replaced yesterday without issue. The hum is gone and I am back to tue usual quiet ride I've come to expect from my bimmer.
    • Member

    silversnl

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    So the verdict is in (as is the bill). Friday I will be replacing the control arms and brakes. The unfortunate thing is the cost. Though the price I am getting is close to half retail price, and I don't have to pay for labor, a brake job all the way around (all 4 wheels) and the control arms and bushing kit totals to close to $800. The good news is that the shudder I get and the constant pulling I am experiencing everytime I turn the wheel will be long gone (Thank God!). So as for parts, see below:

    Control Arms: Bilstein OE replacements
    Bushings: Bilstein OE replacements
    Rotors: Brembo OE replacements
    Pads: Akebono ceramic

    As far as replacing brakes all the way around, I know the front is bad and in need of replacement, as far as the rear, I haven't checked, but I know it has been almost 5 years since they were last replaced (I did them myself then too) so I figure it is an acceptable time to do the job.

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