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      01-30-2017, 09:47 AM   #1
SYT_Shadow
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DIY: X5 Suspension Refresh

X5 E70 LCI Suspension Refresh DIY
This DIY will not have the same depth as the other ones as the complexity here is much lower


The Patient
2012 X5 35i 'LCI' with sport package. Passive suspension.


Original Suspension
My SUV, like many in the US, has the sport package but for some reason has the 'sport suspension delete'.
At 57k miles, the suspension was essentially worthless. It was soft and floaty but if you hit a midcorner bump it would slam into the bumpstops and massively unsettle the chassis.
A solution would be to take corners slower but I think it's easier to just change the suspension.

New Suspension

It can be hard to choose a new suspension but for me it's pretty easy if the car is meant for the road. Bilstein builds a 'B12' kit for many cars which is the Bilstein shocks paired with Eibach springs. I was waiting for B12 to come out with this setup for the X5 and finally I was rewarded with it!
This is exactly what I bought HERE
This is an OEM+ kit which does a very slight drop and the shocks are very high quality.
I've had this kit in two 330Ci's, one E46M3 and now the X5. In every case I've been very satisfied. The resulting ride is similar to active suspension equipped cars on 'sport', but never crashes like the old stock suspension.


Disclaimer
Working on your car is dangerous and can result in injuries or death to yourself, bystanders and the car. Some people have been known to wake up dead after messing with car lifts, tools, spring compressors, springs and sometimes after just looking at cars, so you may follow what I did but it does not guarantee the same results. Proceed at your own risk! Good luck!


Tools
You do not need spring compressors. I had one just in case but it wasn't needed
You need to set the front or rear of the car depending on which end you're tackling on jackstands, then you need a jack to slightly raise the suspension at some points.


FRONT

The front end is more complicated than the rear. I suggest you start on that end

Jack the X5 up, set up the jackstands and remove the jack so that the front tires are hanging in the air

Remove both front wheels

Open the hood. You have to remove some pieces of plastic to access the center bolt which holds the strut onto the car

Bolt seen here. Do not loosen:



The X5 has a double wishbone front suspension which will be atypical for most BMW people. It's more complicated to remove.

Start with the big bolt I'm pointing to here which is in the bottom wishbone. Fully remove the bolt



Remove the swivel arm of the xenon lights. This is on the driver's side of the car.
After doing the work I realized it was not necessary to remove this, but it's still good practice. You E46 guys know what I'm talking about...



Remove the sway bar link. On one side use an open ended wrench and on the other a torx



Remove the brake lines and sensors from their holder. You do not need to disconnect them





Remove the top bolt of the piece that holds the bottom of the strut.
If it does not release the strut, apply pressure to the brake rotor downwards and it will. I jumped on it a few times while holding onto the car, meanwhile a helper pushed the suspension sideways so it releases outside of the part.



This is what the top inside will look like at this point



Release the top bolt in the engine bay and the strut and spring should just drop out



The new strut and spring needs to be assembled here. Use the spring pad from the OEM strut if yours is in good condition. Mine looked brand new

Put the new strut+spring into the area and make the shaft go into the hole the old shaft was in.





You will not be able to see it in the engine bay immediately, but if you put the jack under the brake rotor you can compress the suspension so eventually the shaft sticks out.



Tighten the shaft with the new bolt. Again, use a torx to hold the shaft from spinning while you tighten it







Reattach the bottom bolt. It's easy to get it lined up as you can use the jack to raise or lower the suspension until it's perfectly lined up





Reattach the sway bar link. Again, you will need to raise/lower the suspension with the jack so it lines up



Finally, compress the suspension until the bottom shaft of the strut is fully inserted into the piece that holds it. Then, tighten the bolt.




Repeat all the steps on the other side of the car. The procedure is identical



REAR
The rear is a lot easier! The strut and spring are separate here so they can be removed individually


Remove the bottom bolt that holds the strut





Remove the sway bar link. Like the front of the car, you need a torx and an open ended wrench



Go to the trunk area and remove the bottom liner. You will easily spot the top bolts that holds onto the shaft and is avoiding the strut from falling to the ground. Loosen it and you can remove the old strut.



Insert the new strut, first tighten the top and then bolt up the bottom




Now it's time to remove the spring. It's held in there just by pressure, although in the bottom of the spring there's a plug that helps keep it there which is plastic and can be partially removed
Here you can see the plug that must be removed



I used a piece of wood to pry it apart as I did not have a pry bar handy. Between standing on the rear hub and prying, eventually it comes apart







The new spring is shorter, so by standing on the hub/brake rotor you can easily slot it back in
Reattach the plastic plug in the bottom center of the spring



Enjoy an X5 that handles correctly!!
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      01-31-2017, 01:41 PM   #2
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Great write up!

Got any before and after pics of the SUV after lowering it? Would also love to see what your alignment is after too.
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      02-01-2017, 12:12 PM   #3
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That's awesome! So the bolt strut bolt is long enough not to use spring compressor and then just use the jack to compress for reassembly. Would the s schwaben spindle housing separator be helpful when pulling the strut out of the bottom or easy without?
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      02-01-2017, 02:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jandref321 View Post
That's awesome! So the bolt strut bolt is long enough not to use spring compressor and then just use the jack to compress for reassembly. Would the s schwaben spindle housing separator be helpful when pulling the strut out of the bottom or easy without?
No need to use a spring compressor which made it a lot easier and safer! Spring compressors feel extremely dangerous
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      02-01-2017, 02:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitch808 View Post
Great write up!

Got any before and after pics of the SUV after lowering it? Would also love to see what your alignment is after too.
I'll post a pic soon. I don't have a before pic but it's the typical height

The height now is lower than before. Not much, probably an inch at most, but if you're looking you can notice
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      02-02-2017, 02:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jandref321 View Post
Would the s schwaben spindle housing separator be helpful when pulling the strut out of the bottom or easy without?
A quarter or a metal plate and the factory bolt can achieve the same thing.... Insert quarter between gap. Put bolt in backwards, into the threaded section, and tighten to spread the bottom mount.

If that tool was sub $15, it would be worth it. But not at $25+...
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      06-18-2018, 08:53 AM   #7
rbreding
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Thanks for the writeup, it came in handy yesterday during suspension swap.

One thing I did note that wasn't mentioned is the lower strut arm for the front has to be disconnected in order to get the bottom of the strut in. During this howto its noted to re-insert the lower bolt and attach but not to remove said bolt and drop the arm.

This swap was quite a bit easier than the e90 swap I did on one of our other vehicles. I planned too much time for this one and actually got the whole vehicle done in about 3 hours.
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      06-18-2018, 10:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbreding View Post
Thanks for the writeup, it came in handy yesterday during suspension swap.

One thing I did note that wasn't mentioned is the lower strut arm for the front has to be disconnected in order to get the bottom of the strut in. During this howto its noted to re-insert the lower bolt and attach but not to remove said bolt and drop the arm.

This swap was quite a bit easier than the e90 swap I did on one of our other vehicles. I planned too much time for this one and actually got the whole vehicle done in about 3 hours.

Glad you found it useful


I'm at 86k now and the suspension works great!
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      06-21-2018, 06:36 PM   #9
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Interesting write-up. My car is an M-sport so it has the actual sport suspension. I wonder how this setup compares in terms of height and ride quality.
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      06-22-2018, 10:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryansbmw View Post
Interesting write-up. My car is an M-sport so it has the actual sport suspension. I wonder how this setup compares in terms of height and ride quality.
You aren't too far from Greenwich!

If you have OEM suspension with >50k miles on it it's probably shot anyway
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      06-23-2018, 08:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SYT_Shadow View Post
You aren't too far from Greenwich!

If you have OEM suspension with >50k miles on it it's probably shot anyway
Hmm maybe on my next trip back to Boston I'll give you a heads up and can swing by. Won't be for a while tho. I haven't had the best luck with bilsteins in the past. I had the "sports" version on my e39 and while it was great on good roads, it got old on the shitty roads here in nj. I also kept having the front replaced because of the infamous bilstein clunk that would develop. Eventually I switched to koni yellows and never looked back.

Would it be possible to provide some measurements? What's the distance from center of the hub to the bottom of the fender on the front and rear?
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      06-30-2018, 05:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SYT_Shadow View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by mitch808 View Post
Great write up!

Got any before and after pics of the SUV after lowering it? Would also love to see what your alignment is after too.
I'll post a pic soon. I don't have a before pic but it's the typical height

The height now is lower than before. Not much, probably an inch at most, but if you're looking you can notice
Would like to see pics as well. Trying to decide between this kit and piecing together my own but with the 2" drop H&R's.
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      06-30-2018, 07:54 PM   #13
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I'll find a flat spot next week and post some pics
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      07-01-2018, 04:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SYT_Shadow View Post
I'll find a flat spot next week and post some pics
If you could provide some measurements too, that would be great. Center of the hub to the bottom of the fender for front and rear. That will help people figure out height if they happen to be running different size wheels
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