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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Sat, Aug-19-2017, 12:38:04 PM   #1
kyrix1st
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Default Front control arm ball joint

I've seen some threads on guys replacing with E30 or E46 Meyle HD ones, but none of them seem to state "fits M3 models". Does anyone know what the mechanical difference is between non-M and M control arms?
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Old Sat, Aug-19-2017, 03:39:10 PM   #2
bluptgm3
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Default Front control arm ball joint

E36 non-M Forward Lower Control Arms contain an isolated outer ball joint and fit in a 46mm hole.
E36 M FLCA have a solid outer ball joint and fit in a 41mm hole.
E30M3 steel and aluminum FLCAs have solid inner BJs and solid outer BJs (and same geometry as E36 318/323/325/328 and 1995 M3.)
The press in replacements from the E30 are both solid and fit in the 1995M3 and 1996+M3 FLCAs.
However, geometrically, the 1996+M3 FLCA has different geometry than the E36 318/323/325/328 and 1995 M3.

I have not seen firm confirmation that the E30 BJs fit in the outer BJ location of the E36 non-M FLCAs.
I also don't have conformation the inner E30 BJ is smaller than the E36 Non-M and/or E36 M FLCA.
My understanding is that the E30 M3 FLCAs are the same geometry as the 1995 E36 M3 FLCAs, something has to be different as they both have solid BJs but carry different p/n's.

The guys replacing the BJs of their E36 M3 FLCAs (both 1995 and 1996+ model year arms) feel confidant that there is no issue.

https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/s...ement-with-E30

https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/s...E36-M3-spindle
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Last edited by bluptgm3; Fri, Sep-08-2017 at 02:21:23 PM.
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Old Sat, Aug-19-2017, 09:56:34 PM   #3
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Default Re: Front control arm ball joint

And just for the record. 3.2 control arms are totally different from M3 3.0/non-M, as it's shaped to increase caster.

On side pics you can see the front wheel on 3.2's isn't centered and also has wheelbase listed as 2710mm vs 2700mm for all other E36's.
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Old Sat, Aug-19-2017, 09:57:22 PM   #4
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Default Re: Front control arm ball joint

The ball joints fit and are the same size. Many of us have been using this method to refurbish the arms for years (credit to whoever figured it out). There's no difference in the ball joint, only the arms differ.
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Old Sun, Aug-20-2017, 03:47:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: Front control arm ball joint

One user PMed me claiming he attempted the DIY replacement, but found there was a difference in the balljoint bore size for the front control arms of his 1995 car. That was the one contrary account I've ever seen on this subject, and I bet if that user had a problem, there was some other explanation like 3-series control arms on his/her M3, or buying the wrong P/N balljoints.. The overriding consensus of 1995 owners in the DIY thread is that the physical difference between 1995 and 96-99 front control arms doesn't matter - the bore sizes for the balljoints are the same, so the 31121126254 and 31121126253 balljoints press into all of the 1995-1999 e36 M3 FCAs.

http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=402063

Last edited by Jrrrrrrr; Sun, Aug-20-2017 at 03:56:20 PM.
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Old Sun, Aug-20-2017, 06:10:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Front control arm ball joint

Of course does the physical difference matter.

They each use different control arm bushings. You can't just mix stuff.
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Last edited by M_Parallel; Sun, Aug-20-2017 at 10:17:07 PM.
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Old Sun, Aug-20-2017, 07:20:42 PM   #7
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Default Front control arm ball joint

Quote:
Originally Posted by M_Parallel View Post
And just for the record. 3.2 control arms are totally different from M3 3.0/non-M, as it's shaped to increase caster.

On side pics you can see the front wheel on 3.2's isn't centered and also has wheelbase listed as 2710mm vs 2700mm for all other E36's.

Yes the 10mm added length negates the need for Offset FLCA Bushings for caster.
Additionally, the Spindle/Kin Pin lower pad for the two strut attach bolts grew in thickness adding ~ 1 degree of camber (for increased King Pin Inclination which increases camber at full steering lock.) The Guide Supports/Bearing Plates for 3.2L 1996+M3 have been modified to negate the added Spindle/King Pin camber (and some) by moving the strut shaft outboard. Swapped Guide Supports/Bearing Plates add additional camber stated previously.
245/40-17 tires on 8.5 inch rims with ET41 backspace need spacers to fit on 3.2L 1996+M3, spacers not required for same on 3.0L 1995M3.



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Last edited by bluptgm3; Fri, Sep-08-2017 at 02:24:06 PM.
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Old Sun, Aug-20-2017, 10:22:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: Front control arm ball joint

Yes the kingpin/hub is also different and so are the topmounts.

I use the 3.0 setup on my 328i, solid balljoint control arm, topmounts and excentric lower bushes. Stock hub/kingpin. Added the reinforcement plates.

My 3.2...well it uses the factory setup.
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Old Sun, Aug-20-2017, 11:54:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: Front control arm ball joint

Pressed new balljoints on my m3 over the winter myself, running them all season thrashing in autox.. so far, no problems.
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Old Mon, Aug-21-2017, 01:45:41 PM   #10
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Default Re: Front control arm ball joint

Quote:
Originally Posted by M_Parallel View Post
Of course does the physical difference matter.

They each use different control arm bushings. You can't just mix stuff.
Obviously I was only talking about the physical differences in the '95 and '96-99 FCAs not mattering in terms of balljoint fitment.
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Discussing Front control arm ball joint in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)