Cars / e32 / Suspension & Steering / Front Shock Absorber

Front Shock Absorber

Article by: Johan

Article applies to: most 3, 5, 6, and 7 series BMWs during the 1980s and 1990s.

Problem: Soggy front suspension. The car takes a nose dive while braking hard and will lean too much while cornering.

Replacement: Let’s start by jacking up the car, placing it on jack stands and removing the wheels.

On the left side there is a brake pad wear sensor mounted on the brake pads. Undo the connector as we are about to remove the entire caliper.

And while you are in the neighborhood you might as well remove the brake line, ABS sensor wire and the brake pad wear wiring from the holders on the strut:

To remove the brake caliper you have to undo the two 19mm nuts holding it.

As my brake discs are far from new they have a small lip which gets in the when when removing the caliper. So the trick is to get the caliper to go in a bit.

I used water pump pliers to do this. When you have the caliper off hang it on the car with some metal wiring or place it on a bucket. NEVER leave it hanging from the brake lines !!!

If you are doing this repair alone you might want to remove the brake disc.

Removing it reduces the weight of the spring strut quite a bit ! To remove the brake disc undo the hex bolt holding the disc to the wheel hub.

Remove ABS-sensor by undoing the hex screw.

Remove the swing supports from the strut. It’s easiest to remove them at the spring strut.

Ok…ok…so I removed them from the stabilizer bar…but that’s why I came to the former mentioned conclusion 🙂

Now all the “extra parts” are removed from the strut it’s time to remove the 3 bolts that hold the strut on the underside.

This picture (with caliper and disc back on) was taken while refitting.

Pop off the bearing dust cap from the top of the strut and undo the three nuts.

The strut will now fall on your foot or if you’re lucky it will stay on the metal plate you took the three bolts out off.

Now get those spring compressors ready and start compressing and compressing and compressing.

When putting the spring back on the first strut I wound up using four spring compressors.

I started off by using two (probably in a wrong position) which couldn’t compress the spring enough to get all the tension of the spring.

However this did make removing the shock’s top nut very easy. On the second I used my two “new” spring compressors which worked like a charm.

If you haven’t done so already remove the top nut from the shock. I got these off fairly easy.

The first time the spring still had some tension and for the other side I used an air wrench.

Now comes the fun part. Removing the collar nut…In my case almost impossible.

The previous owner must have gone to some cheap shock-shop.

The monkeys in the shop did replace the shocks but not the bump stop OR the collar nut.

In my case it was rusted shut and wouldn’t budge at all not even after having heated it with a plumbers torch.

So I went off to my favorite relative (you know the one with the shed full of tools !!!) and welded a big nail to the collar nut.

Using a hammer I got the collar nut off. And what did I find ? Busted imitation absorbers covered in oil.

Now that everything is apart I’m sure you can all put it back together in one piece by yourself . . .


BMW Part NumberDescriptionPriceQTY
31331134314Protective Tube$0.682
32211095267Self locking nut$0.302
31331092887Locking collar nut$0.296
31321129196Threaded ring$8.202
31321132540Shock Absorber$159.002

As usual prices are approx prices in dollars excl. taxes. And you can always shop around for some cheaper shocks.

The OEM for the shocks is Boge – other brands (such as Bilstein) are an excellent choice as well.


It took me about 2 hours to get the struts off and back on. However I spend the rest of the day playing with spring compressors (now I know why so many owners lower their cars…shorter springs !!!), a welder, lots of coffee and a Mercedes 190.

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