Background on the Front Control Arm Bushings
BMW designed the front control arm bushings (FCAB) on the BMW E46 out of rubber, with a fluid filling to reduce the amount of NVH transmitted to the driver. Although they feel great when new, the FCABs have a tendency to go at an alarming rate.
OEM bushings can be tricky to separate from the control arm. It is possible to take them off without trashing the part, but it’s a challenge. Best tool to remove them if the bushings are still intact is to use a three-jaw puller.
Aftermarket polyurethane bushings are designed to overcome the short service life encountered on the OEM part, at the expense of increased NVH.
BMW E46 M vs. non-M FCABs
My Experience with FCABs
The first time that I did this job (February 2, 2010), I swapped in a set of OEM bushings.
The second time (April 6, 2012), UUC Motorwerks had just introduced their second generation polyurethane FCAB for the BMW E46, and I took the plunge. They were quite expensive at the time of introduction, and since then the price has gone down significantly. I spent $239 on them (their introduction pricing) and they’re now selling for $149. Sour grapes.
Anyways, I must have goofed when I placed the order for my FCABs, because the ones that I received had BMW E46 M3 brackets. I went ahead and installed them, and they seem to work.
The third time, I purchased the correct part from UUC Motorwerks.
Replace the FCAB bolts at the first sign of trouble. There’s a very good reason to do this, a story for next time.
Turning the wheel to full lock can help bring the FCAB carrier closer to the correct position on the frame rail — especially helpful when working with polyurethane FCABs.