bmw 2002

Front Suspension Rebuild

Apr 17, 2008

     A while ago, I decided to tear down the front suspension.  All of the ball joints were completely worn and many of the rubber bushings were tired and cracked.  The teardown took quite a long time due to stuck bolts.  But with everything in pieces, I cleaned and painted the parts I was reusing and bought a number of replacements.  I've rebuild the front end and only need to properly torque the bolts and replace the cotter pins.  I found Bill Williams' suspension rehab post at the 2002FAQ tremendously helpful.

The tension rod connecting to the frame with a new polyurethane bushing.  The urethane bushings were far easier to install than the old ones were to remove;  they are split in the middle and don't have to be forced through their hole.  I've coated them in a non-petroleum-based grease so that they won't squeak.  

tension rod front bushing

New and old tie rods.  The ball joints were worn and cracked, and new tie rods come with new ball joints and they aren't expensive, so I replaced them outright.  Here, I've adjusted the new tie rod to be the same length as the old.

new tie rods

Here you can see both the tension rods and tie rods installed.  The creeper in the background was a huge help.

new tie rods

This is the right control arm attached at both its inboard point and outboard pivot with the tension rod.  Again, the old rubber bushings have been replaced with new urethane ones.

control arm

I bolted the new ball joint onto the control arm using the new hardware supplied with it and then bolted the pitman arm to the top of the ball joint.  As per many people's advice, I coated this top bolt in grease to prevent water from sitting in the bowl of the pitman arm and causing rust.  Now it's ready to be reattached to the bottom of the strut (top left).

ball joint top grease

Here's the pitman arm attached to the bottom of the strut. There are three bolts that do this.  I used Locktite on the threads, but the heads of the three bolts have holes in them and were originally wired together with safety wire to prevent loosing.  I'll wire them together again before driving.

new pitman arm

The rebuild took a fraction of the time of the teardown.  I just need to torque the bolts and reinsert cotter pins into the castellated nuts once the car's on the ground and the suspension is loaded.  Then I'll put the rebuilt calipers on the car and refill the brake system with fluid.  After that, Webby will be back on four tires for the first time in about six months.

front suspension complete

     I still need to put the sway bar back on.  I'll do a whole 'nother post on that since I'm swapping out the stock swaybar with a big fat one from Ireland Engineering.