bmw 2002

Dropping the Rear Subframe

Jan 24, 2010

     Webby's been hauled on quite a journey since I took possession of her.  First from Arizona to Connecticut.  Now, from Connecticut to Virginia.  No more cold, ice, and salt;  Webby's back in a warmer clime.  But that also means no more garage.  Working outside is kind of nice.  There's plenty of light and fresh air.

     But southern Virginia still gets cold, and I don't feel like wrenching during the winter.  Anyway, the rear end has been making some nasty sounds ever since the car's been drivable.  Grinding sounds, banging sounds.  Something ain't right.  Multiple things ain't right.  The rear end needs a refurb, kinda like I did to the front.

     The nice thing about the rear end is that the whole thing basically just unbolts and drops out.  So my plan was to do just that and move it into the warm, dry basement to work on it over the winter.  Here we go. . . .

Jack stands have to be put on the body where they won't get in the way of the subframe being dropped.  I put them on the body shell just ahead of the subframe's front supports, with some wood to spread the weight over the sheetmetal.


The exhaust needs to come off.  This wire exhaust hanger probably explains that banging sound.  Clipping it wasn't hard.  Surprisingly, the rusty muffler and center resonator came off without cutting.  Just lots of hammering.

muffler hanger

Double bolts hold the shock tops.  I used vice grips to keep the shock from spinning while cracking the nuts.  That rubber bushing wasn't doing much good.

shock mount

I put a spring compressor on each spring, just to keep them from bouncing when the whole assembly finally drops.  Disconnect the brake hoses and be ready for some brake fluid dribble.  After slackening the brake shoe adjusters -- and releasing the parking brake! -- a lot of banging got the brake drums off.  The parking brake cables are attached to the control arm.  Disconnect them, then pull apart the brake assembly, and you can yank out the parking brake cable.  Here it's dangling below.

parking brake cable

It's a tight fit reaching in there, but the drive shaft has to come off the differential.  Putting the car in gear holds it still.  Put it in neutral to spin the shaft to get to all four of them.  These were pretty loose and came off easily, which was kinda scary.

drive shaft

These front supports can probably come off at any time.

front mounts

With the whole assembly supported by a floor jack, the two differential supports can be removed.  After those, there's only these two forward subframe mounts holding it all to the car.  The jack needs to be farther forward than this if you want the assembly to balance and drop gracefully;  it toppled forward and landed on the drum brake back plates.  The spring compressors aren't necessary but helped prevent any surprise sproings.

final detachment

The springs stayed on the car, but nothing actually holds them there besides dirt and grime.  These KYB shocks mean that someone cared about the rear end sometime in the past (before it was repainted).

rear subframe

It's heavy and cruddy, but not too rusty.

rear subframe

Two people can carry it, but something that rolls helps.  Dogs don't help.

rear subframe

And there we have it:  an assless 02.

rear subframe gone

     Alright, so the rear end is in the basement and out of the cold.  Next, time:  teardown and cleaning.