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View Full Version : E21 suspension How-To?



Dag
06-20-2010, 03:34 PM
I'm looking to remove the suspension from my E21 320i. I'm fairly technically handy, just need the basic info, tips, tricks and hints if anyone's got em?

Thanks in advance!

TheNeek
06-21-2010, 08:45 AM
The rears are cake.

The fronts might require a pickle fork and a new set of control arms if they're good and frozen. I usually try to loosen the ball joint from the strut first (not remove, just loosen). Pop the inner bolt second (closest to the center line of the car). Pound it through with a drift if you need too. Then it should be pretty flipppy floopy. Undo the sway bar nut and slip the control arm off and out. Then undo the top hat while you hold the strut and it's all done.

Trust me... sometimes those ball joints are frozen! Don't beat on it too much from the top because it'll mushroom the head.

Depending on where you are in Bellevue I might be able to stop by today after work. I've got family in town so I don't want to hang out for hours on end, but I can point at stuff.

Dag
06-22-2010, 11:03 AM
The rears are cake.

The fronts might require a pickle fork and a new set of control arms if they're good and frozen. I usually try to loosen the ball joint from the strut first (not remove, just loosen). Pop the inner bolt second (closest to the center line of the car). Pound it through with a drift if you need too. Then it should be pretty flipppy floopy. Undo the sway bar nut and slip the control arm off and out. Then undo the top hat while you hold the strut and it's all done.

Trust me... sometimes those ball joints are frozen! Don't beat on it too much from the top because it'll mushroom the head.

Depending on where you are in Bellevue I might be able to stop by today after work. I've got family in town so I don't want to hang out for hours on end, but I can point at stuff.


Man, thank you so much for the help. I wrapped it up last night, the fronts anyways. I'm going to be doing the rears tonight afterwork.

Any tips for the rear? Any special tools I'll need? I have a spring compressor, but don't want to rent it for another 24hrs if I don't need to. Can i get away without it for the rears?

Thanks! You have PM with my number Neek.

TheNeek
06-23-2010, 10:07 AM
Man, thank you so much for the help. I wrapped it up last night, the fronts anyways. I'm going to be doing the rears tonight afterwork.

Any tips for the rear? Any special tools I'll need? I have a spring compressor, but don't want to rent it for another 24hrs if I don't need to. Can i get away without it for the rears?

Thanks! You have PM with my number Neek.

Didn't see your PM until this morning... sorry.

You can get the rears removed without a spring compressor.

1) Unbolt the through bolt in the bottom of the rear shock. Pair of 17mms I think
2) Unbolt the top hat from the shock tower with the three nuts that are in the trunk on top of the shock tower (13mm if my memory serves). The shock will "fall" out at this point, and I do mean fall. So hold onto it while you undo the last nut. I'll text you so you have my number.

P.S. There is a different way to get to the top hat that BMW designed for. You remove the rear deck lid and there are three holes in there to get to nuts. but you have to pull the seat and stuff. I think you already did this though so it may be worth your time. Then you just need a long extension.

Dag
06-24-2010, 10:45 AM
Didn't see your PM until this morning... sorry.

You can get the rears removed without a spring compressor.

1) Unbolt the through bolt in the bottom of the rear shock. Pair of 17mms I think
2) Unbolt the top hat from the shock tower with the three nuts that are in the trunk on top of the shock tower (13mm if my memory serves). The shock will "fall" out at this point, and I do mean fall. So hold onto it while you undo the last nut. I'll text you so you have my number.

P.S. There is a different way to get to the top hat that BMW designed for. You remove the rear deck lid and there are three holes in there to get to nuts. but you have to pull the seat and stuff. I think you already did this though so it may be worth your time. Then you just need a long extension.


Yo! I didn't end up doing any work on the car yesterday but tonight I should knock it out.

Thank you very much for the info, it is most helpful. I looked briefly but didn't see how the rear deck-lid would come off. I'll definitely look again, and you are correct the rear seat is removed so I think that would be easiest.

I don't have many tools so im basically stuck to deep sockets, crescent wrench and vise grips.

The bolt on top of the strut which I beleive you are referring to as the "Top hat" the one that is sunk into the top washer, do I need to remove that prior to the strut "falling out?" Or do those three nuts release it?

The top hat nut is the one I really am having difficulty removing. I'm assuming i need a box end wrench with a sunken head?

TheNeek
06-24-2010, 12:16 PM
You don't need to undo that big nut that holds the shock in... just the three smaller ones. A box end wrench comes in REALLY handy. Sunken head not required. If you have a limitation on tools, I would not suggest going through the rear deck lid, unless you have 1/4 drive stuff with an extension.

The three should be easily gotten to through the trunk, then you can remove the shock nut.

Dag
06-24-2010, 03:26 PM
You don't need to undo that big nut that holds the shock in... just the three smaller ones. A box end wrench comes in REALLY handy. Sunken head not required. If you have a limitation on tools, I would not suggest going through the rear deck lid, unless you have 1/4 drive stuff with an extension.

The three should be easily gotten to through the trunk, then you can remove the shock nut.

My man. Thank you so very much.

TheNeek
06-24-2010, 04:06 PM
My man. Thank you so very much.

Drove the E21 today. I'll be in redmond until 4pm or so. Not that you check the boards in the next 2 hours.

Dag
07-03-2010, 04:05 PM
Drove the E21 today. I'll be in redmond until 4pm or so. Not that you check the boards in the next 2 hours.

haha text me next time your around the area.