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A few suspension refresh questions...

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    A few suspension refresh questions...

    I'm just going through some parts to order for a susp refresh on my 91 318is. A lot of the kits include new front control arms... why? Are these prone to fail/distort/warp? Or is it just people being to lazy to press in and out ball joints? Same with the tie rods and control arm brackets...

    I am currently thinking of ordering the follow... any thoughts on things I'm missing or dont need?

    - inner and outer ball joints for the front control arms
    - control arm bushings
    - inner and outer tie rods (or should I just get the ball joints again?)
    - either full new sway bar kit (thicker front and rear), or just new bushings and end links.
    - trailing arm bushings
    - subframe bushings
    - new Konis and springs (still deciding in springs)
    - front and rear shock mounts
    - rear shock mount reinforcements

    There are several glaring omissions from this list which include: motor mounts, trans mounts, guibo, and solid steering knuckle. These are missing because I am trying to do things in some sort of order. The wife has approved an S54 swap, but its less of a money issue than a time issue. I will have to really set some time aside to get that done. The things left off the list are all things that will likely get swapped out when I start doing swap stuff. New 5 lugs and bbk, new steering rack and solid knuckle, diff and driveshaft, etc... are all things that will happen in stages while an S54 is stripped down and rebuilt... if I ever have the time and dont get bored of this car (just being honest.. haha)

    Also, I'm so torn about going with oem style bushings or solid poly's. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated... even just opinions...
    Last edited by Chrisw; 12-26-2019, 09:49 AM.

    You can definitely replace the ball joints, but the control arms are relatively cheap and it's often easier and less time consuming to replace them as a unit than to press in new ball joints. The control arm bushings aren't too bad to replace the bushings, but new lollipop brackets and bushings aren't too expensive either, and that way they're ready to go on the new control arms so they can be installed as an entire assembly.

    Another simple fix/upgrade that can make a nice difference is a set of new brake lines with fresh fluid as a "while you're in there project."

    If you're planning to do a 5 lug swap, it might make sense to do the 5 lug swap during the suspension refresh, as you'll be working in the same area. If you go the e36 5-lug route, you may be changing out control arms and trailing arms again, so just something to consider.

    As for bushing material, the only location I personally have used poly is for the rear subframe bushings (I went with the soft AKG "street" compound) out of ease of install. Otherwise fresh rubber bushings feel great and don't make noise for a street car.


      I totally get the idea of doing the 5 lug swap right away but it's more of a "dont bit off more than you can chew" things. If I do the 5 lug too.. I'm looking at new breaks, then might as well go with wilwood calipers, then a different booster system... the list keeps going and suddenly the car is in the garage on jack stands for 2 years. Haha. Its something we all see a lot.

      I would be tempted to just get the ball joints because I really do hate tossing away good parts. if the control arms are good, maybe I'll just reuse them. I'm also wond4ring if I should replace the

      As for the poly mounts. I really do want the car to maintain its daily usability. The poly subframe mounts are actually not a bad idea at all. The trailing arm and control arm bushing is what I worry will harshen the ride a bit too much. The e30 chassis is light enough that I dont want to turn it super bouncy... maybe I'll go with rubber and see how a fully refreshed suspension rides. If I still want it a bit firmer I can start going poly. Rubber doesnt last forever anyway.

      I think I'll also add front and rear shock mounts, and rear shock mount reinforcements to the list....


        I used the ground control touring camber plates instead of new front strut mounts. They were nicely made, did not add any noise or vibration & have a decent amount of adjustment.


          Originally posted by Caperix View Post
          I used the ground control touring camber plates instead of new front strut mounts. They were nicely made, did not add any noise or vibration & have a decent amount of adjustment.
          Those are actually a good idea as well but are really expensive. Like 350 for those seems a little steep. Maybe I should consider them to add some adjustability though.


            There are some cheaper camber plates, I chose the ground control touring as they made the most sense for a street car. I have driven cars that squeak & groan constantly from cheap camber plates\coil over kits. How do you plan on using the car & what is your tolerance level for nvh?


              My intention is to drive it a decent amount. I've had it for 2 years and have only done maintenance. Keeping time totally stock which I loved, but I'm not getting the bug to change things up like I always eventually do. I was actually going to sell it and buy something like a newer m3 but for that money, I could build a pretty cool e30 if I stick with it. A good ballpark would be "if BMW built an e30 today".

              in all honesty, I'm not a fan of getting cheaper camber plates. I'd rather have good parts, but I'm also a little cheap. Haha!


                I can understand that, e30's are still cheap enough that you can easily spend more money on a suspension refresh than you paid for the car. My 230th is still on 14" rims so that helps the ride, but with h & r springs bilstien sports and ground control camber plates the ride is better than my e36 m3 & my e46 wagon.