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The BMW E53 X5 was a wonderful first crack at an SUV by BMW. They're smooth, comfortable, and even with a base model 3.0i, they're good fun to throw around on a back road. The reason for this is due to the fact that the E53 uses suspension very similar to that of the BMW E39. The components used were beefed up from the E39’s aluminum bits, but still. With 5000+ pounds of BMW and 14 years of driving on the newest of examples, things are going to show their age.

Once the front suspension components start to wear on your X5, you'll know pretty quickly. In this article we are going to cover replacement of the front control arms on my 2003 X5 4.6is, however, this process is the same for all other BMW E53s. 

 

BMW models and years applicable:

  • 2000-2006 BMW X5

 

What are the symptoms of failed control arms?

  • Knocking from the suspension when pulling into driveways/driving over uneven surfaces
  • Uneven tire wear due to worn bushings
  • Steering wheel shake while braking

Ignoring these things can not only lead to a less than great driving experience, but in extreme cases of neglect a ball joint could separate and cause an accident.

There isn't a service interval on these control arms. Their lifespan depends on a few things, the biggest of which is time. Time kills rubber. And secondly, driving style. I tend to go through parts like these faster than the average person. If you're just commuting on smooth highways to and from work, these will last much longer than someone who lives on one of their town's roads that mimics a rally stage. 

 

How long will it take to replace my BMW E53 X5 front lower control arms?

Even though this is a suspension job, it's pretty straightforward and shouldn't take too much time at all. Book time is 2.2 hours, so for your first time, you should be able to get it done in under 3. 

 

How much does it cost to replace my BMW E53 X5 front lower control arms?

If you plan to take your car to the dealer to have this job done, you'd be looking at it costing north of $400. By purchasing the parts through us and doing this job yourself, you will only pay a fraction of the cost. Plus, when you need to replace them again, you can make use of our Lifetime Replacement Guarantee

 

Tools required to replace your BMW E53 X5 front lower control arms:

 

Parts required to replace your BMW E53 X5 front lower control arms:

 

Steps required to replace your E53 lower control arms:

Step 1: Lift and support vehicle

Before getting started, break your lug bolts loose. Once it's up in the air, unless you're using an impact gun, you won't be able to do so. Once those are loose, it's time to lift it up. There's a lift point on the subframe that i like to use to lift the entire front end in one go so you can put jack stands under the designated jacking points. Be sure to safely and securely support the vehicle. We like to place the wheel we remove under the vehicle as an added precaution as well. 

BMW E53 X5 subframe jacking point

 

Step 2: Remove wheels and begin removing the control arms 

Now that you've got the car lifted and supported properly, you can remove the front wheels. With the front wheels off, you can start removing the control arms.

Begin by loosening the bolt that holds the control arm into the subframe. For this you’ll need an 18mm socket to loosen the nut and a 16mm combination wrench to hold the bold from turning once the nut is loose.

BMW E53 X5 Front Lower Control Arm Ball Joint

BMW E53 X5 Front Lower Control Arm 18mm Nut

Now that that bolt is loose remove the 22mm nut on the ball joint. You’ll find it helpful to turn the wheel full lock depending on which side you are replacing. This creates just enough space to gain some leverage to remove this typically-stubborn nut. 

BMW E53 X5 Front Lower Control Arm 22mm nut

 

Step 3: Remove the control arm

Now that everything is loose, you can remove the ball joint from the knuckle. Because the ball joint is being replaced, I went ahead and gave it a few good smacks with a hammer to pop the joint out of the knuckle. However, you may use a pickle fork or whatever tool you feel is best.

Now that the joint is free from the knuckle, completely remove the bolt holding the control arm into the subframe and remove the control arm. The process is exactly the same for both sides. However, if your BMW E53 X5 is equipped with Xenon headlights, there will be a level sensor bracket on the right side that will need to be removed.

BMW E53 X5 Front Lower Control Arm Removal

 

Step 4: Reverse steps and reassemble

The installation process is nearly the same as removal with a couple of exceptions. First insert the ball joint into the knuckle and thread the nut on a couple of turns.

Then, leaving the joint loose in the knuckle, install the bolt that holds the control arm to the subframe. To do this, you may find it helpful to turn the steering wheel straight. Once the bolt is installed, put the nut on a few turns. Do NOT over tighten it yet. You’ll tighten it after the car is on the ground so as not to put extra stress on the bushing in the control arm.

Now that the control arm is loosely installed, tighten the 22mm nut holding the ball joint into the knuckle. Because the nut being used here is a lock nut, you may need to hold it as you’re tightening it. Do this by using a 6mm hex socket in the top of the joint to hold it while tightening it with a box wrench.

Once the joint is tight into the knuckle you can reinstall the wheels. Lower the vehicle on the ground and roll it back and forth a few times to settle the suspension. Then crawl underneath and tighten the control arm bushings fully. 

That's it! You're all set. All you need now is an alignment. If you want to read more BMW DIYs, news, and build features, be sure to visit our BMW hub at bmw.fcpeuro.com and check back here often. 

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Written by :
Chandler Claussen


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