Help fitting new control arms

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Del
Joined: Sat 19 Nov, 2011 18:35
Posts: 2136

  Z3 roadster 1.9

Help fitting new control arms

Post by Del »

My 1998 1.9 Z3 has suffered from tramlining since I acquired it in June 2011. At the last MOT the offside outer ball joint was an “advisory” as the rubber cover was damaged and the similar nearside ball joint was also an advisory with “slight play”. As the whole control arms are looking a bit tired and the end lollipop bushes probably getting to the end of their natural life, I decided to make the job a bit easier by renewing the whole lot as a combined unit – see attached link. The Meyle make seems to get a good write-up in several online sources with claims that the lollipop rubber bushes are better than the OEM ones.

I “surveyed” the job today before ordering these control arms and it looks fairly straightforward apart from difficulties with access to the 22mm bolt that attaches the inner ball joint to the main crossmember. These bolts are visible from the top of the engine bay but access is tricky both from above and from underneath behind the roll bar.

Does anyone have any experience of doing this job and any useful tips about accessing these bolts?

Thanks

Derek

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/200762551643? ... 1423.l2649

alan36
Joined: Wed 17 Aug, 2011 19:57
Posts: 68

  Z3 roadster 1.9
Location: Macclesfield

Re: Help fitting new control arms

Post by alan36 »

Ratchet, couple of long extensions and a swivel end, a 22mm socket. Job done. :)

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BladeRunner919
Joined: Fri 17 Feb, 2012 20:18
Posts: 2225

  Z3 roadster 1.9

Re: Help fitting new control arms

Post by BladeRunner919 »

alan36 wrote:Ratchet, couple of long extensions and a swivel end, a 22mm socket. Job done. :)

Yup, exactly that.

I'd go for control arms without bushes and put in Powerflex bushes, which is what I did, but that's a personal preference.

Del
Joined: Sat 19 Nov, 2011 18:35
Posts: 2136

  Z3 roadster 1.9

Re: Help fitting new control arms

Post by Del »

Thanks for the input guys – I have organised a 20 inch ratchet extension and by unbolting the coil pack on the offside, access to both inner ball-joint nuts is now good.

Zedonist – sounds like you’re upgrading with some high quality kit which should make your front end more taut and precise than when it was new. I had new front shock absorbers in September 2011 at the last MOT but the tramlining has slowly got worse. When encountering the motorway lorry ruts on the inside lanes, my car feels as if it has a mind of its own. You make a good point about the overall suspension. The whole geometry will only be as good as the weakest component and mine has two dodgy ball joints and probably bushes on the way out and yet has managed to limp through MOTs. This gradual deterioration of several components over the years may be why some members have not cured their tramlining issues by fixing just one component such as the bushes.

I’m hoping that these Meyle heavy duty control arm kits are as good as the online write-ups and cure my tramlining. I’ll provide some feedback for the benefit of other members.

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Brian H
Joined: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 19:55
Posts: 2504

  Z3 roadster 3.0i

Re: Help fitting new control arms

Post by Brian H »

Hi Del

I changed a couple of these arms on my 1.9 and I needed a fork type ball joint splitter to release the inner ball joint. It is also worth getting the tracking done after you carry out the work. The parts are supposed to be exactly like for like dimentionally but there are some differances.

Brian

Del
Joined: Sat 19 Nov, 2011 18:35
Posts: 2136

  Z3 roadster 1.9

Re: Help fitting new control arms

Post by Del »

Having problems removing the offside, outer ball joint at the wheel knuckle. This particular one was in poor condition with a broken rubber and seems to be well and truly seized in. Currently taking a break and letting some penetrating spray soak in.

I’ve been using a fork style ball joint “chisel” but it hasn’t worked on this one. I’ve not removed either the shock absorber or brake calliper. Any tips, suggestions or advice on th best process or an alternative ball joint splitting tool would be gratefully received.

Del
Joined: Sat 19 Nov, 2011 18:35
Posts: 2136

  Z3 roadster 1.9

Re: Help fitting new control arms

Post by Del »

Job done, new nuts fitted, all torqued correctly and tracking adjusted.

Feedback for anyone considering this job:-

• Old ball joints can be a swine to split! After letting penetrating oil soak into my offside one overnight and on Sunday morning heating it with a hot air gun until hot to the touch, after cooling it popped open with a further couple of blows with the “fork tool”. The nearside one came apart relatively easily and was changed inside an hour.
• All four ball joints were floppy in their base and the nearside outer one had slight vertical movement as well. The offside outer had a split rubber boot and looked wet inside.
• The rubber bushes were original BMW ones and could be moved by hand in a circular motion whereas the new Meyle HD ones could not be moved by hand in the same direction. Where the rubber bar goes across the centre of the bush to join the perimeter, the old ones were showing signs of splitting at that juncture. You could not really see this with them attached to the car.

The driving experience has improved, before I was constantly making small steering adjustments even when driving along a straight road. This was a bit unsettling on narrower country roads with oncoming traffic. One of the first things I noticed after the change was that the car now glides along on a firm course with no need for constant small steering wheel adjustments. Similarly, whilst I still feel lumps and bumps on the road surface, the car is not now changing course by itself to follow ruts and white lines.

I changed the front shocks last year as one was leaking and whilst the rears have not had any obvious problems, the car’s back end feels a little skittish at times on a rough surface. Doing this control arm job has now made me think I will change the rear shocks as well and hopefully restore the original handling.

Silent31
Joined: Tue 26 May, 2020 21:12
Posts: 1

  Z3 roadster 1.9

Re: Help fitting new control arms

Post by Silent31 »

Time to bring this thread back to life. New z3 (but not bmw) owner here. Needed enough bits and pieces to get it through an mot that it was worth just changing both the control arms. So far everything that could go wrong, has. Anyway... I’m at the stage where I’ve got the tapered part of the outer ball joint stud still stuck in the steering knuckle and nothing will break it out. I’ve even moved the strut out of the way to get a claw extractor over the top of it and it just bent the extractors arm. Heat doesn’t work, whacking doesn’t work. I’m gonna take the whole hub off and take it to a mate with a 20 ton press.

So the problem I’m actually left with on my driveway is the inner balljoint. Had no trouble getting the nut off once the coil pack was out of the way. But this joint will not break free. No fork will touch it. Hoping once the hubs removed entirely I can get a good swing at it but what’s the last resort if it won’t free off? There must be some ultimate tip that doesn’t involve moving the engine to get a good swing at the stud from the top. Could it be carefully drilled out if necessary?

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