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E46 F10 W204 W212
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It's supposed to be longer when it's out of the car. Compress it (after you install it above at the RSM) if you have the leverage or use a jack, then slip the bolt on.
 

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E46 F10 W204 W212
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I misunderstood as you said shocks. Shocks go to the rear.

That said my OEM Sachs struts were also longer than the OE BMW that came off the car, but they still fit with no issue.

Tip, tilt the knuckle slightly forward and the strut will slip in.
 
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