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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 05-11-2006, 08:26 PM   #1
stockextra
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Thumbs Up Powerflex CAB Install

Hi all:

Just finished installing Powerflex control arm bushings in my '00 323iT.

I did NOT replace the control arms themselves. I ordered the CABs from Bimmerworld already pressed into new aluminum housings, and the job was a breeze with BIG payoff in terms of improvement of the car's driving characteristics.

I had been experiencing the steering wheel shimmy and jerking (upon stabbing the brakes) that I had learned are characteristic of bad CABs from my e30.

This was a very very easy job. Took me less than one hour, including time spent jacking the car up etc. Hardly got dirty.

1) Jack up the car and support it securely with jackstands. I placed my stands on the frame rails just aft of the point where the CAB housings are bolted on. Remove the wheels (break the lugnuts before jacking ... )

2) Loosen but do not remove the six phillips head screws from the undertray. Remove the three black plastic "christmas tree" fasteners that hold the undertray to the bumper cover (at least on my car ... but mine has a 330i fascia and that might be different than some others).

3) Remove the four 16 mm bolts that hold the triangular crossbrace to the car.

Note: My car has self-leveling Xenon headlights. I did not unbolt the leveling sensor arm from the control arms. It was suggested that I should have done so and that I was lucky to not have damaged the sensors. I dunno ... My self levelers still work fine. :-)

4) Unbolt the two 16 mm bolts that attach the CAB housing to the frame. Carefully work the housing loose from its attachment points; the arm should dangle down several inches from the frame rail.

5) Using a 3- or 4-inch C-clamp, pull the old bushing carefully from the control arm. It's pressed on, and it needs to be pulled off with a tool; you can't do it by hand. Be careful not to damage the aluminum control arm. You'll have to work the clamp on one side, then undo and switch sides. Be patient. It works; takes five to 10 minutes max.

6) Lubricate the purple Powerflex cab insert and shove it ALL THE WAY into the delrin part that was pressed into the CAB housing. I didn't get the first insert in all the way, and it was deceptive. It looked right. But the purple part should depress so that it is flush with the face of the black delrin part.

7) Shove the new CAB onto the control arm by hand. Yes, you can. It's that easy. Then shove the arm and housing back to its attachment points on the frame rail and bolt it back down. Bentley recommends torquing those bolts to 44 ft-lb.

8) Repeat steps 4 through 7 on the passenger side.

9) Reinstall the cross brace, undertray and wheels. Remove the jackstands and lower the car.

That's it. Woohoo!!! No more shimmy, no more jerky wheel when I stab the brakes. MUCH sharper turn in. It's a happy Bimmer again.

Right on, Powerflex!

d.hitchcock

Last edited by stockextra; 05-11-2006 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 05-12-2006, 12:47 PM   #2
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How many miles on your control arms? I did the same thing you did - replaced bushings with powerflex ones without replacing the arms. Now i have to replace the arms one month later. Should have just done everything at the same time. Also, did you reuse the bolts - i read something about having to install new bolts because they are not meant to be reused.
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Old 05-12-2006, 02:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vert
How many miles on your control arms? I did the same thing you did - replaced bushings with powerflex ones without replacing the arms. Now i have to replace the arms one month later. Should have just done everything at the same time. Also, did you reuse the bolts - i read something about having to install new bolts because they are not meant to be reused.

I checked with my dealer before doing this and you don't need new bolts since they are not stretch bolts.
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Old 05-12-2006, 04:17 PM   #4
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When getting the bushing off, you say to use a 3-4in C-Clamp. I'm not quite sure how you orient the clamp to get it off. Can you elaborate? I've seen other write ups that use a 3-prong device that pulls it off. Can this be used instead? I can rent it from AutoZone. I'd rather use the C-Clamp though, because I have plenty of those laying around.

And what'd you torque the cross-brace to? Thanks!
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Old 05-12-2006, 05:45 PM   #5
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using the c-clamp

To use the c-clamp, I positioned the clamp body so it would pull on the center lip of the bushing, and screwed the other part up against the butt end of the control arm. You can work the bushing off fairly quickly from that sort of position. It actually went quite quickly.

You can pull the bushing a quarter inch or so, then loosen the clamp and swing it around to pull from the other side, etc. Sort of work it off the end of the control arm that way. Don't worry about tearing up the old bushing, but do be careful not to damage the arm itself.

You might be able to use a three-jaw puller, but the space is sort of awkward and maybe too small to really fit and work it.

Also, after poking around under the car, I think it would be a simple enough task to replace the control arms too. Something that would be useful would be a 16-mm or 18-mm (whatever size is correct, I didn't check) Gear Wrench to undo the nuts that hold the arms to the subframe, especially that wanky inner nut. Access is tight, but doable.

The Powerflex bushings can be pulled easily off one arm without sustaining any damage and installed on another, unlike stock bushings, so there's no issue there.

I doublechecked the torque values: Both the 16 mm (m10) crossbrace bolts and the 16 mm (m10) bolts that hold the CAB housings are to be torqued to 44 ft. lb. The cross brace bolts are to then get another half turn.

Good luck.

d.hitchcock

Last edited by stockextra; 05-12-2006 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 05-12-2006, 07:16 PM   #6
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just to confirm - 3-prong puller from autozone works perfect to get the bushing off.
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Old 05-15-2006, 01:43 PM   #7
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I saw that BW is having some sort of sale for the CA with Powerflex bushings so I'm buying them this week. I am not sure if the bushings have ever been replaced but I'm assuming that they have since I've put over 100K on my car. The dealership says I need a right CA (how can you tell if you do?) and also said they are always done in pairs. Do I need to do both at the same time?
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Old 05-15-2006, 02:18 PM   #8
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Another happy Powerflex E46.. did these a few mths ago along with new C\arms..
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Old 05-15-2006, 03:00 PM   #9
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Thanks stockextra, I just won a gift certificate for these CABs from bimmerworld while I was down for the AA tuning Open House in Miami!!!
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Old 05-16-2006, 05:23 PM   #10
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ikeupinya wrote:

"Thanks stockextra, I just won a gift certificate for these CABs from bimmerworld while I was down for the AA tuning Open House in Miami!!! "

Awright! Nice work. If you're car is at the 60k mile mark or so, you might just go ahead and order the control arms too. Especially if the bushings are free...

And I should also add, now that I've had a few days to drive the car: Absolutely no difference in ride quality or level of road noise etc.

d.hitchcock
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Old 05-17-2006, 09:14 AM   #11
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OK, so I'll be doing mine this weekend I think. I know there have been several write-ups for it but Ill take some pictures as well, and document how it goes for me. The whole pickle fork versus a puller still has me confused. I've already gotten a list of things I need to have. I don't have a second car so if I mess this up there will be a tow charge.
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Old 05-17-2006, 09:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2001bimmer330i
OK, so I'll be doing mine this weekend I think. I know there have been several write-ups for it but Ill take some pictures as well, and document how it goes for me. The whole pickle fork versus a puller still has me confused. I've already gotten a list of things I need to have. I don't have a second car so if I mess this up there will be a tow charge.
If you changing just the bushings (say with polyurethanes) all you need is a 3-jaw puller that you can rent for free from Autozone. If you are changing control arms then you will also need the pickle fork to get the ball joints on the arms separated. I am also doing this project this weekend.
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Old 05-17-2006, 09:28 AM   #13
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Thanks Vert. Yeah I've already ordered the CA's and bushings with housing from Bimmerworld. I was told I needed the right front CA replaced and that you should do them in pairs, by the dealership. They wanted $1200 to do those and an alignment. I'm going to try this myself, then just have the alignment done for the $110 they charge. I really hope I can get it done and not have the tow truck solution involved.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vert
If you changing just the bushings (say with polyurethanes) all you need is a 3-jaw puller that you can rent for free from Autozone. If you are changing control arms then you will also need the pickle fork to get the ball joints on the arms separated. I am also doing this project this weekend.
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Old 05-17-2006, 09:42 AM   #14
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Just use this thread as reference. Page two has pictures that make the whole process of replacing the arms pretty clear:
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...t=control+arms

and use this thread for the bushings - ignore the stuff about pressing bushing in and out of the carrier since you bought the ones already pressed in:
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...t=control+arms

Make sure you have all the right tools (listed at the end of the first thread) and you should be all set! I'm sure you won't need the tow truck.
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Old 05-17-2006, 12:08 PM   #15
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I just got my bushings in the mail. I'll probably put them in after the HIN show this weekend in AC
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Old 05-20-2006, 09:29 PM   #16
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I got my control arms put in and it was a piece of cake. I did as was suggested and used my jack to hold up the brace while I removed it. Also, the only real problem was getting the bushing bracket to line up with the holes. Other than that no problems, except that I couldn't get my torque wrench in position for anything. I would not have attempted this without this forum so thanks guys. I saved about $850 by doing this myself from what the dealer quoted me. Now I'll get a front end alignment and be done.
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Old 05-20-2006, 10:10 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2001bimmer330i
I got my control arms put in and it was a piece of cake. I did as was suggested and used my jack to hold up the brace while I removed it. Also, the only real problem was getting the bushing bracket to line up with the holes. Other than that no problems, except that I couldn't get my torque wrench in position for anything. I would not have attempted this without this forum so thanks guys. I saved about $850 by doing this myself from what the dealer quoted me. Now I'll get a front end alignment and be done.
Awesome! I put in the new control arms today as well as new tie rods. Took about 4 hours by myself - not bad at all. I was not hustling either - took my time and had a beer or two. Key is to have all the right tools, other than that it's relatively easy. I will get my alignment done on monday and hopefully that will be the end of all the issues that i've been having.
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Old 05-20-2006, 10:46 PM   #18
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Cool! Glad your's worked out too. Mine took about 3 hours just taking my time. I didn't have to do the tie rods though. How did you know you needed them? I just went by what the dealer said and they didn't mention tie rods.
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Old 05-21-2006, 05:12 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2001bimmer330i
I saw that BW is having some sort of sale for the CA with Powerflex bushings so I'm buying them this week. I am not sure if the bushings have ever been replaced but I'm assuming that they have since I've put over 100K on my car. The dealership says I need a right CA (how can you tell if you do?) and also said they are always done in pairs. Do I need to do both at the same time?
The best way I know of to tell if you need a new CA is to jack up the front of the car and compare the amount of play at the wheel. Do this by grabbing the front and rear edge of the tire and trying to wiggle it. You will notice a fair amount of play on a bad CA compared to a good one. Just think about the forces involved while it's rolling. If you can make it wiggle or shake with your measly muscles, that's a bad sign.

My indy shop only replaced the one that was bad and I've never had any trouble with the other one (about 30,000 miles so far).
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Old 05-21-2006, 07:52 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Cool! Glad your's worked out too. Mine took about 3 hours just taking my time. I didn't have to do the tie rods though. How did you know you needed them? I just went by what the dealer said and they didn't mention tie rods.
There was some play in the balljoints that are under the rubber boot right by the steering rack. The dealer showed me when we were under the lift - he asked his mechanic to shake the wheel and i could feel the movement there. Plus they are pretty cheap - 35 bucks per side at pelicanparts.
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