The BMW E30 is considered an iconic car, whether it’s an M3 or a regular E30. It’s still owned by thousands of people across the world and used on the track. Our E30 was bought back in March 2013, and it already had adequate H&R Race front springs as well as Bilstein B8 Sport shocks. While these are awesome, we couldn’t really tell their condition.
After doing regular maintenance, we took the time to look at the front suspension because it seemed it wasn’t working as well as it should. The great thing about our E30 is that the Bilstein shocks are rebuildable. Anyway, here’s how you can do your front e30 springs and struts on your own!
Article updated on 12/20/21. Original publishing date 08/05/16
Why Get Performance E30 Springs and Shocks?
When it comes to cars, the moment they come out of the factory, they’re equipped with suspension parts that are suitable for most drivers. In other words, the factory has found a median solution that offers a performance profile most people will find practical.
Performance e30 springs and shocks offer a different type of driving experience. With these, you’ll lose some comfort, but you’ll gain a lot in terms of handling and cornering. It’s a tradeoff, but one that will shave valuable seconds off your lap time if you track your car, or if you simply enjoy a dynamic drive through your local driver-friendly canyon.
Can Aftermarket E30 Springs and Shocks Improve Handling?
They absolutely can! Aftermarket performance shocks are built with handling in mind. If you go for something more advanced, such as a set of Bilstein coilovers, you’ll be able to adjust the ride height manually. That way you can set the car up for a specific track, or even for a specific type of surface.
Going aftermarket isn’t cheap, but you’re buying maneuvering space that stock shocks simply can’t deliver. That being said, you don’t need to burn a hole in your wallet to get better handling.
A set of good performance shocks such as Bilstein B8, paired with a good set of lowering springs, will get the job done for less money. The only drawback to this setup is the lack of adjustment. However, so many E30 spring upgrades have been done so far that we know exactly which combinations work and how well.
How To Replace The Front E30 Springs and Struts
Alright, so you want to get a set of performance e30 springs, and a new set of shock absorbers for your bimmer? Good, but first you’ll need to get all the tools and parts that are essential for this project. Let’s start with tools!
The Tools and Parts You’ll Need
Even though it looks like a simple and quick job, replacing e30 springs and struts requires some patience and several special tools.
- Torque wrench
- Regular socket wrench (3/8 or 1/2)
- 13 mm socket
- 17 mm socket
- 19 mm socket
- Ball Joint Separator
- Various 3/8in Allen wrench attachments
- Spring compressor (if you’re running stock springs)
- Stillsen wrench, also known as a pipe wrench (if you’re running stock shocks)
- Vice grips (if you’re running stock shocks)
- Channel locks (if you’re running Bilsteins)
- Shock Spanner wrench or flathead screwdriver (if you’re running Bilsteins)
- Wire coat hanger or zip ties
When it comes to the parts, you’ll need:
Step 1 – Remove The Wheels
The first step of the process is removing the wheels and preparing everything to replace your e30 springs and struts.
Safety is the most important part of any job, so the first thing you need to do is pull the handbrake, and loosen the lugs while the car is still on the ground. Once all the bolts are loose, you can safely jack up the car and put it on jack stands.
With the car safely up on jack stands, you can continue by removing the bolts and taking the wheels off of the car.
Step 2 – Remove The Caliper Pins
By using an Allen wrench, you’ll need to remove the two caliper pins. The process only includes loosening the bolts with the Allen wrench.
Get yourself a piece of sturdy wire, a zip tie, or a wire hanger and hang the calipers in a way that doesn’t put a strain on the brake lines. If you let the calipers hang on the brake lines, you’ll have a bad time, guaranteed.
Step 3 – Remove The Caliper Bracket Bolts
To remove the two caliper bracket bolts, you’ll want to use a 19 mm socket. Keep in mind that these bolts can get stuck so if you need a bit of leverage, don’t be afraid to use the jack handle to make it easier on yourself.
Step 4 – Remove The Rotor and ABS Sensor
To remove the rotor, you’ll first need to remove the rotor set screw. Removing the ABS sensor requires the use of an Allen wrench again. It’s a simple process and won’t take long.
Step 5 – Remove The Tie Rod Link
The first thing you’ll need to do to remove the tie rod link is to remove the tie rod link nut. It may need some WD40 or penetrating oil to get it to budge, but it shouldn’t give you too much trouble.
The next thing you’ll need to do is to remove the tie rod link by using the ball joint separator. It will be difficult, and it will most likely cause a bang.
Step 6 – Remove The Strut Assembly
Start by removing the strut assembly nut. Again, you’ll need to use the ball joint separator to make the strut assembly free.
The strut assembly should be held into place by three 13 mm bolts on the top of the shock tower. Remove two out of three of these bolts, and let the assembly hang by one bolt until you can use one hand to loosen the bolt and hold onto the assembly, so it doesn’t fall to the ground.
If You Have Stock Shocks and E30 Springs
With stock shocks and springs, you’ll first need to compress the spring and remove the top of the shock. When the spring is compressed, use the vice grips to secure the shock shaft.
The next thing to do is to remove the nut on the top of the spring retainer while making sure the strut doesn’t rotate.
Remove the spring retainer, and remove the spring while keeping it compressed if you plan on reusing it. By using the Stillson wrench, twist off the strut collar. There might be oil in the bottom of the strut housing so be careful.
The reassembling process is the reverse process of removing the shock and e30 springs.
If You Have Bilstein Shocks, H&R Race Springs, and Camber Plates
If you have the combination of Bilstein shocks and H&R Race springs, the spring shouldn’t be putting any pressure on the camber plate. This means that the strut can be removed from the strut housing by using the channel locks or spanner.
The next step is to remove the strut and spring from the housing. As with the stock shocks and springs, there might be some oil in the bottom of the strut housing.
After this, you’ll need to remove the nut on the top of the camber plate while holding the channel lock, so it wouldn’t rotate.
By using the Stillson wrench, twist off the strut collar from the strut housing. The reassembling process is the reverse process of removing the shock and e30 springs.
Torque Specs for Assembly
- Strut tower mounting nuts – 16 ft. lb
- Control arm locknut – 47 ft. lb.
- Tie rod locknut – 26.5+/-2.5 ft. lb.
- Brake Caliper Mounting Bolts – 80 – 90 ft. lb.
- Brake Caliper Pins – 23 ft. lb.
- Wheel bolts – 90 ft. lb.
Where To Find Quality E30 Springs and Shocks?
The process of replacing e30 springs and struts requires the use of special tools and performance aftermarket parts.
While our selection of tools is somewhat limited, our selection of shock absorbers, performance springs, and other hardware is by far one of the best out there. Head over to eEuroparts.com, select your vehicle in our car selection tool, and you’ll find all the parts that perfectly fit your vehicle!