BMW E46 Control Arm Bushing Replacement – 1998-2006 3 Series

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destroyed control arm bushing
The left control arm bushing on a 2003 325ci. The bushing has completely disintegrated and separated from its inner metal core.

BMW E46 Control Arm Bushing Replacement – 3 Hours

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The BMW Repair Guide used this 2003 325ci for the following article. To see other repairs on our site using this actual car, please click on the image below!

A BMW E46 control arm bushing replacement is an easy repair that will restore the “new car” feel to your front suspension.

While recently test driving our 2003 325ci we noticed a horrendous “thump” coming from the front end while accelerating and braking the vehicle. To make matters worse, the thumping sound turned into a bone jarring “clank” when ever we hit a pot hole or rough patch in the road.

After a quick visual inspection of the front end suspension, the culprit of these “thumps” and “clanks” was immediately clear; one of the control arm bushings had completely separated from its inner core (and the other was not far behind). In fact, there was very little bushing left to keep the front wheels from wobbling while driving down the road. An extremely dangerous condition.

destroyed control arm bushing
The left control arm bushing on a 2003 325ci. The bushing has completely disintegrated and separated from its inner metal core.

In simple terms, the control arms help keep the front wheels of your car on the road. They connect the frame of the vehicle to the wheels, and “control” their movement as the car hits bumps and imperfections in the road. The control arm bushings are the flexible connections to the frame; without them the control arms could not swing, creating a bone jarring ride down the highway.

Worn control arm bushings are extremely hazardous and should be changed out immediately. They can cause loss of control of the vehicle and serious injury.

Doing a BMW E46 control arm bushing replacement is actually a rather simple job. You will need to raise the front of the vehicle, so make sure to follow proper jacking techniques. Please read our article on jacking and supporting your BMW for more information.

Parts, Tools and Supplies

Parts

Part Quantity Part # Description
Control arm bushing 57623 1 31126757623 Set of 2, left and right. OEM Mehle.

 

Tools and Supplies
17mm socket wrench
16mm socket wrench
Breaker Bar
Torque Wrench
Three jaw puller – 4”
Vice Grip – 10″
Dremel tool
Dremel steel cutting wheels
Shop rag
Dawn liquid dish detergent

Procedure
The BMW Repair Guide makes every attempt to publish their repair articles with detailed step by step photographs, videos and written instructions. There may be small variations in years and models and your vehicle may be slightly different than what is shown in the following steps and images. Some repairs may also require additional steps not covered in our articles like: removing covers from the engine and undercarriage, moving wires or hoses to access parts, cleaning and lubricating parts associated with the repair and performing general maintenance.
  1. Loosen (DO NOT remove) the lug nuts on the front wheels using a 17mm socket and breaker bar.
  2. Jack and support the front of your vehicle using the Jack Stand Method as shown in our article BMW Jacking and Supporting for Repairs and Maintenance.
  3. Finish removing the two front wheels from the vehicle.

Removing old bushings

  1. Remove the (8) 16mm bolts attaching the skid plate to the frame of the car.e46 control arm bushing
  2. Remove the skid plate exposing the two control arm bushings.e46 control arm bushing
  3. Remove the 2 control arm bushing anchor bolts using 16mm socket socket wrench. You will probably need a breaker bar or piece of pipe to loosen bolts first.e46 control arm bushing
  4. Use a 4” three jaw puller to remove the control arm bushing bracket off of the control arm. The bracket will pull away leaving the inner core of the bushing left on the control arm.e46 control arm bushinge46 control arm bushinge46 control arm bushing
  5. Remove the inner metal core of the bushing from the control arm using a large pair of Vise Grips. Turn the bushing while pulling and it will slowly come off of the control arm. If the inner core is stuck and won’t turn off, score it with a Dremel tool and a steel cutting wheel to release its grip on the control arm. You only have to cut a 1-2” groove in it to release its grip…it will pull right off with the Vice Grips after that.remove control arm metal core metal core removed from control arm cut metal core if necessary
  6. Use a rag to thoroughly clean off any bushing residue left on the control arm.clean end of control arm

 

Installing new bushing

  1. Use liquid dish detergent (like Dawn) to lubricate the control arm and inside of new E46 control arm bushing. You will need to lubricate these parts for installation. Avoid using any type of petroleum based lubricant (WD40, grease, engine oil, etc). These will not dry after installation and will cause the bushing to slip under driving conditions.lubricate control arm bushing lubricate control arm bushing lubricate control arm bushing
  2. Place the new bushing on the end of the control arm. ***Check the alignment of the bracket bolt holes to make sure you have the correct side! Use a rubber mallet to gently pound the new control arm bushing onto the control arm until it is stops.install control arm bushing
  3. Re-install bushing bracket using new bolts. Torque bolts to 59 Nm (44 ft-lb).torque control arm bushing bolts
  4. Reinstall front wheels. Torque lug nuts to 122 Nm (90 ft-lb).

BMW E46 Control Arm Bushing Replacement Finished
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us. And congratulations for Doing It Yourself!

 

 

The Repair Difficulty Level displays graphically how challenging the repair is, from easy to advanced. Easy repairs usually require very few tools, have short repair times and do not require jacking and supporting the vehicle. As the difficulty level rises, expect the repair to demand more time, specialized tools, and better understanding of mechanics to complete the job.

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