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3 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Car: 1986 BMW 325 Coupe
Stats: 6 cylinder inline-six "eta" engine, five speed manual transmission,
rear wheel drive, 148,000 miles estimated.

I've had this car for six months. When I bought it, I knew it needed
suspension work. The springs are still fine, but the shocks, after 17
years of Arkansas roads, have finally given up the ghost. They've
gotten worse and worse lately. Driving on the interstate is scary when
the road is anything less than smooth. So, I bought new stuff to replace
the worn shocks and strut cartridges, as well as new mounting
hardware, to replace the poor, abused old stuff. Here's the stuff I

Carquest brand strut cartridges (x2)
Carquest brand rear shocks (x2)
Factory BMW front strut tower bearing (x2)
Factory BMW rear shock mount (x2)
Bavarian Autosport Shock Installation kit

Dad and I started working on this this morning, and then I had to go to
work. While I was gone, Dad ran into some problems, and he had this
to say regarding our installation woes:

Here's my problem... While trying to reinstall the strut with the new
cartridge, I'm lacking about 1-1.5 inches of clearance (upwards
towards the strut upper mounting) to insert the control arm ball joint
stud through the strut hole. I've tried using my floor jack to compress
the tower/strut, but the tower just moves to one side or the other, not
compressing at all. I've tried to stabilize the jack and it doesn't help. All
I need is a couple of inches. I've tried to pry up with a long cheater from
under the strut and can't get the necessary leverage to compress the
strut. Removing the strut proved to be the easy part, I even thought
removing the old cartridge would be too. But this part has me stumped.
I've thought of reinstalling the spring compressor but they won't fit inside
the strut mount. How can I compress the strut enough to get the
clearance I need?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

ex owner/admin
10,839 Posts
did you grease the cartridge first? (about 75% of it) you should be able to get the strut to move with some muscle power, however im not too sure, i hope someone else may have some experience, maybe tech, kc ron or extech does.

434 Posts
I'm not sure I'm following what is being said here, but I think that you have the strut/spring/insert all together, and you are trying to get the upper lower control arm lower, so that the strut will fit? If the strut is assembled, you don't want to try and compress it. It's nearly impossible. Rather, you need to move the suspension components. I haven't done many E30 struts, maye none at all that I can remember.
If the strut is a single unit with the spindle/hub, put the upper strut end into the fenderwell first, and while holding it in place, try and start a nut to keep it up there. What I usually do is stand on the lower control arm with my foot, to get the clearance I need.

If the design of the strut is seperate from the spindle and brake rotor/hub, then it should line up ok... :dunno

1 Posts
LIke Tech said, put the strut in first, then put the three nuts on that hold the upper bearing, but not to tight. Then you should be able to get the lower control arm low enough to slide it back in. I have just recently done this on my fathers 325is, and had no problems getting it back in. If you could explain it more or show a picture, we might be able to help you better.
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