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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, Jul-06-2013, 07:10:13 PM   #1
M3only
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Default DIY: How to Replace the E36 Steering Column Bearings and Joints (Pic Heavy)

******NOTE: THESE ARE ONLY GUIDELINES BASED ON MY INSTALL, USE AT YOUR OWN RISK! I assume no responsibility for users following this DIY.****

This DIY will show you how to properly fix the squeaking noises caused by faulty steering column bearings and/or steering joints. Don’t worry it’s not that hard to do. Hopefully someone will find this useful.

It’s common for dealers to automatically equate the squealing sound many E36 owners complain about to the steering wheel slip ring, which may or may not be the problem. For reference, having a dealer replace a slip ring will cost you approximately $400. To assist those having this problem, I’m providing two different ways you can address the cause of the noise.

***Special thanks to EricSMG for passing his knowledge on to me as I tacked this DIY and for getting my steering back to factory fresh condition.***

Why should you replace these bearings?
  • They assist in stabilizing the steering column shaft = steering feel
  • Bad bearings sound horrible when they go bad and can lead vibration in the steering wheel
  • It’s cheap to fix yourself.
Parts list for E36 M3:
http://realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?...35&hg=32&fg=30

Video of bad/worn lower bearing:
http://flic.kr/p/f3XSPa

Why replace the universal joint and joint assembly?
  • The tension in the universal joint and lower joint assembly weakens over time causing poor/loose steering response.
  • Both parts can dry out. If they do, noise and vibration can arise which inevitably gets transmitted through the steering column to you.
Parts List:
http://realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?...40&hg=32&fg=30

Video of bad/worn vs new joint assembly:
http://flic.kr/p/f3XS2n

Picture of old/worn universal joint:


Picture of old/worn lower joint vs new one:


Two (2) methods for addressing to squealing noise:

The Lubrication Spray fix:
There’s a thread on this already (http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...Writeup-w-pics), so I’ll simply provide the cliff notes version of it. It’s a band-aid, but it works and only requires ten minutes of your time.

Total Work Time: 10min

Step 1: Safely place the car up on jack stands (http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/tech...Jacking_Up.htm)

Step 2: Buy a can of Tri-Flow lubricant from your local cycling shop ($8)


Step 3: Spray Tri-Flow into the lower portion of the steering column shaft.
  • The is located near the firewall, driver’s side, just above the lower assembly joint.
For reference, a picture showing the area you want to hit:


Step 4: Turn wheel lock to lock a few times while it’s on jack stands


Replacing the Steering Column Bearings and Joints:

Total work time: 3-4 hours

Tools you'll need (+ or -)


Step 1: Safely place the car up on jack stands

***DO NOT PROCEED FORWARD UNTIL YOU CONDUCT THE FOLLOWING STEP***

Step 2: Remove/disconnect the battery from the car

Step 3: Remove universal joint and joint assembly from the power steering rack/steering column near the firewall.
  • Three (3) 10mm bolts





****(disclaimer: Complete the next step AT YOUR OWN RISK. Read and follow the proper procedure on how to remove the airbag, i.e. the Bentley manual, before conducting step #4)****

Step 4: Remove the steering wheel and airbag






Step 5: Remove steering wheel column cover
  • Two phillips head screws and inserts.
Step 6: Mark steering wheel column with a sharpie.

Step 7: Remove upper steering bearing
  • Remove hex bolt
  • Remove ring
  • Remove snap ring
  • Remove backup ring
  • Remove bearing
  • DO NOT reinstall the new bearing until step 19

Step 8: Remove knee protector
  • Three (3) 10mm bolts


Step 9: Remove turn signal/cruise control switches from steering column bracket
  • Pinch the clips on the side of the switches and they slide right out.




Step 10: Remove bracket screw
  • Located on the bottom of the bracket.


Step 11: Remove bracket
  • Pinch the clips on the top of bracket and pull down.




Step 12: Remove screw holding grounding wire/clip.




Step 13: Remove ignition switch and various wires attached near column.
  • Two (2) small flat head screws (tip: use a small computer screw driver)




Picture of what you’re left with:


Step 14: Remove the two (2) steering column lock bolts

***THIS IS THE HARDEST PART due to lapse in BMW engineering. For a bolt that has barely any torque applied to it, BMW chose a fracture bolt that is extremely difficult to remove. Use one of the following techniques to get them off:***
  • Sheer the bolt off - self explanatory.
  • Combine and modify the above methods -----Pretty simple technique: cut a portion of the bolt off, then place a chisel or screwdriver on the end of the bolt that will turn it in the counter-clock direction, apply a small amount of force to the tool with a dead blow hammer, and watch the bolt come loose.
Put you safety glasses on!!



This is the cut you want to make:




Close up:





Step 15: Remove retaining screw located near the firewall between the brake and gas pedal.






Step 16: Remove column.




Step 17: Remove lower bushingTip: If you’re having trouble getting the column to drop the lower bearing out, do not waste your time attempting to pry it out with a screw driver. Follow the advice offered in the video linked above or lightly tap the top of the column shaft (where the upper bearing is located) with a rubber mallet or dead blow hammer and let gravity do the work. See the next video for details.


http://flic.kr/p/f3XU32

Step 18: Install new lower bearing and reinstall backup ring, compression spring, securing ring, and snap ring.


---Do not reinstall the column into the car yet as it will be near impossible to get the upper bearing’s snap ring back on.---

Step 19: Replace the upper bearing
  • Install bearing
  • Install backup ring
  • Install snap ring

Tip: Getting the snap ring back on can be difficult at this step because the column in completely removed from the car and the lower bearing spring fully extended, but its even tougher with the column back in the car. With the column outside of the car, compress the lower spring by setting the column vertically on the ground, place downward pressure on the column with your arm or leg, and attach the snap ring.



Step 20: Reinstall the column
  • Tip: replace the two BMW fracture bolts with two (2) 10.9 hex bolts for easy removal next time. To secure the bearing in the column shaft, tap it in with a large socket.



Step 21: Reinstall remaining upper bearing parts, steering wheel, etc.









This is also a good time to install a new wheel (custom 3 spoke with thumbs rests):



Step 22: Reinstall universal joint/joint assembly to steering rack


**********Congrats, you’re done!************

If your steering rack or slip ring need to be addressed (i.e. worn tie rods, Z3 rack install, etc, power steering leak fix, etc), you can add them to this project to complete a full steering refresh.




Last edited by M3only; Thu, Aug-14-2014 at 04:14:06 AM.
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Old Sat, Jul-06-2013, 08:01:08 PM   #2
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Default Re: DIY: How to Replace the E36 Steering Column Bearings and Joints (Pic Heavy)

Very nice write up! Great job!
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Old Sat, Jul-06-2013, 09:45:17 PM   #3
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Default Re: DIY: How to Replace the E36 Steering Column Bearings and Joints (Pic Heavy)

VERY detailed write up. Kudos to you... Makes me kind of want to invistagate that strange noise in my steering column
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Old Sat, Jul-06-2013, 10:43:57 PM   #4
Kalahari
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Default Re: DIY: How to Replace the E36 Steering Column Bearings and Joints (Pic Heavy)

Great write-up. Did you notice much difference in steering feel after the job?

Just did my giubo, but thinking I may switch to the older all-metal design when/if I do this.
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Old Sat, Jul-06-2013, 11:13:11 PM   #5
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Default Re: DIY: How to Replace the E36 Steering Column Bearings and Joints (Pic Heavy)

Fantastic instructions, detailed videos and links, this is a good DIY. [s]I see you also have more photos of this job on your photobucket site.[/s]

For having essentially run out of maintenance to do for my car, and considering how much I appreciate steering feel, and for months having all of these parts in my "to buy" spreadsheet, I need to stop procrastinating

edit: looks like I had this tab open too long without reading - there are pics now.

Last edited by Jrrrrrrr; Sat, Jul-06-2013 at 11:16:21 PM.
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Old Sun, Jul-07-2013, 12:19:27 AM   #6
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Default Re: DIY: How to Replace the E36 Steering Column Bearings and Joints (Pic Heavy)

Thanks guys for the feedback. This was the first DIY I’ve done where I questioned if the pain was worth it prior to getting started.....it was.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jrrrrrrr View Post
Fantastic instructions, detailed videos and links, this is a good DIY. [s]I see you also have more photos of this job on your photobucket site.[/s]

For having essentially run out of maintenance to do for my car, and considering how much I appreciate steering feel, and for months having all of these parts in my "to buy" spreadsheet, I need to stop procrastinating

edit: looks like I had this tab open too long without reading - there are pics now.
Thanks Jrrrrrrr! I try to take as many pictures as possible so I can go back and verify I’m putting everything back together correctly. I uploaded a ton for this DIY so if someone needs a better angle or photo to describe what I'm talking about, I can pull it up for them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalahari View Post
Great write-up. Did you notice much difference in steering feel after the job?

Just did my giubo, but thinking I may switch to the older all-metal design when/if I do this.
I would have considered the all-metal design had I known about it prior to purchasing the new joint. Maybe next time. I can tell you the squeak is now completely eradicated from my steering column, however, a full review will have to wait until I install the Z3 rack sitting in my garage and the new steering wheel gets here. Given that the tie rods on my factory rack where beyond shot, I'll have to report back once everything has been installed
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Old Sun, Jul-07-2013, 01:59:34 AM   #7
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Default Re: DIY: How to Replace the E36 Steering Column Bearings and Joints (Pic Heavy)

Great job! Long overdue.....
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Old Sun, Jul-07-2013, 04:15:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: DIY: How to Replace the E36 Steering Column Bearings and Joints (Pic Heavy)

Big thumbs up for creating this DIY. Will be handy in the future.
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Old Sun, Jul-07-2013, 02:34:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: DIY: How to Replace the E36 Steering Column Bearings and Joints (Pic Heavy)

Awesome write up! You have much more patience than I do when it comes to documentation. I see many people using this DIY in the future as there is no other like it on the internet and these cars are getting old..... they all need steering work

Edit - the all metal U-joint "upgrade" can be done easily at any time since only the rack has to be moved slightly. It also retails for ~$70.
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Old Sun, Jul-07-2013, 03:04:29 PM   #10
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Most excellent. Thanks for your contribution!!
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Discussing DIY: How to Replace the E36 Steering Column Bearings and Joints (Pic Heavy) 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)