It's December, the sun is shining, and a 1993 BMW 325is is almost ready to get back out on the road. This e36 came to us in terrible shape. The owner was actually quite fortunate to have made the trip from Muncie to Westfield in one piece. Upon inspection, it was clear that this bimmer was in desperate need of some TLC. Reggie's Motorworks to the rescue!
Safety is one of our top priorities. Here's a list of what needed to be done to get this car back up to speed:
- Rear wheel bearings (both sides)
- Differential service
- Transmission service
- Brake fluid flush
- Right and left control arms and bushings, front sway bar links
- Tie rod assembly (left and right)
- Rear trailing arm bushings and sway bar link
- Serpentine belt replacement
- Rear shocks and shock mounts
- Front struts and mounts
A pile of goodies for this job! Santa came early for this bimmer! ;)
Today we'll take a closer look at the work done on the trailing arms. The axles were stuck in the original trailing arms, so they needed to be replaced. They were totally seized up. Both replacement trailing arms were purchased at Zionsville Autosport. Here are the old trailing arms:
The new used axles!
And the replacement right trailing arm with the rear trailing arm bushing:
The upper rear control arm bushing has to be centered properly:
While waiting on parts to finish the right trailing arm, Reggie turned his attention to the left one. The left trailing arm has already been broken down, but still needed a bit more work before the bushings could be installed:
Removing the dust shield makes the task of installing the bushings and wheel bearing easier:
Removing some rust:
Using greased washers and a threaded rod to press out the old lower rear control arm bushing:
Voila! The old lower rear control arm bushing is out!
Reggie uses the same process to remove the upper control arm bushing:
The outer shell of the trailing arm bushing is made of aluminum, while the inner seating surface is made of steel. Add moisture to that combo, and you get corrosion, which affects fitment of the control arm bushings.
Reggie carefully removes the corrosion without getting into the steel. It needs to be nice and smooth so that the new bushing slides right in. If more material is removed than necessary, it will affect the precision fit that is needed for the bushing. This particular housing is in much worse condition than they usually are!
New vs. Old trailing arm bushings:
Installing the new rear trailing arm bushing:
The great thing about the tool Reggie is using, is that it allows him to see exactly how much of the bushing is protruding so as to not go too far:
Next, Reggie flattened out a ridge that was on the back side of the left trailing arm, which made it difficult to line up the bushing for proper installation:
These are lower control arm bushings. The one on the left had a bolt seized inside it.
Pressing in the lower left control arm bushing. The same process was used to install the bushings on the right trailing arm.
Now both the left upper and lower control arm bushings are in place!
Next, it's time to install the wheel bearing:
Finally, Reggie installs the dust shield:
Next, Reggie removed the knuckle to then remove the struts to make room for new struts, control arms, and tie rods.
Removing the strut:
Original struts and springs:
Removing the right control arm:
New strut assembled with original springs:
Reggie installs the right control arm with the help of a little pressure from the jack. He actually installed the right tie rod on the right side, unlike the previous installer did! Tie rods are side-specific for e36's, unlike e30's.
Installing the spring and strut assembly. Struts are another e36 side-specific part. Reggie also replaced the brake hose.
Jumping back to the right trailing arm now. Remember how the bushings need to fit precisely in their housing? Well, after removing the old bushing, installing an inferior bushing, removing said inferior bushing to favor a better alternative, the housing was a bit loose. Applying a bit of science did the trick to make the bushing fit perfectly! First, Reggie applies heat with a blow torch until the housing became red hot:
Then cold, wet rags are used to rapidly cool the metal, causing it to shrink just enough:
The new favored bushing is then installed:
Overhauling this bimmer was quite a task, but the results are worth much more than all the effort! It's what makes Reggie's heart skip a beat, and fuels his desire to do the same for the next bimmer that comes in to the shop. After all is said and done, this car drives fantastically well! We're excited for the owner to arrive tonight and get behind the wheel of his refreshed e36!