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E36/E46 Rear Trailing Arm Bushing (RTAB) Removal/Installation

Rogue Engineering does NOT offer any telephone or email technical support for this modification, so please do NOT call or write.

Perform these modifications at your own risk. 

The rear trailing arm bushings (RTAB) of the E36 is a common wear item on all E36/E46 coupe/sedans (not Z3s or Ti).  During acceleration and braking, the dynamics of the rear suspension settings change (by design).  Specifically, the rear wheels get positive and negative toe, based on what the car is dong (squatting under acceleration or lifting under braking).

As the bushings wear, the vehicle will begin to wander.  A test (on an open stretch of flat, straight road) can be done easily to verify and confirm if the bushings are worn.  While traveling in a straight line, at moderate speeds (40mph), firming press the brake pedal WITHOUT HOLDING the steering wheel.  If the car begins to veer to one side, this may be an indication that one (or both) of the bushings are worn.  Another verification, while traveling at the same moderate speed (40mph), STOMP on the accelerator (2nd or 3rd gear).  If the car lurches to one side, this may also be an indication that one or both of the RTAB are worn.

For all E36s produced to 1995 (including the M3), they used BMW # 33 32 1 097 009.  A common upgrade is using the rear trailing arm bushing from the 96-99 M3 (US and Euro) BMW # 33 32 2 228 153.  If you plan on using these factory replacements, you may want to consider purchasing Trailing Arm Bushing Limiter Kit while you're doing this job.  

Ideally, after replacement of the RTAB, the car should be aligned to verify that it is within alignment specs or uneven tire wear, or improper suspension performance may result.  Expect an average BMW dealership to charge around $300 for parts and labor.  An alignment is generally required after this service.

While the tool below is very expensive, some have resorted to brute force and tried drilling around the rubber section of the bushing to remove it.  Regardless of how it comes out, replacing it requires even, delicate, pressure.  Installing urethane performance RTABS such as Rogue Engineering's Performance RTABS prevent the need of using a tool for reinstallation.

Elevate the rear of the vehicle and remove the rear wheels.  Located the front of the trailing arm showed at the right.  Locate and scribe the 3 bolt locations (installing them in the same location may save the need for an alignment).

The bolt heads are 18mm.

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After removing the 3 bolts, the "console" (as BMW calls it) can be lowered.  A bolt and nut hold the console onto the bushing.  Note its position on the arm as it will have to be installed in the SAME position (vs. installed on an angle).  Using a marker or crayon will help you make sure that the console is the same position relative to the trailing arm.

Remove the bolt and nut holding the console using an 18mm wrench and stocket.

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Using a feeler gauge, measure the gap between the existing bushing and trailing arm.  Note this value.
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At Rogue Engineering, we use a special RTAB puller to remove the old bushing.  The BMW factory tool does it in a similar manner.  With the pulley in position, its ready to come out.
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By turning the center bolt, the bushing is pulled out in a controlled manner.
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The new bushing is installed using other parts of the tool, to press in the new bushing.  It is pressed back into the housing.  It is important that the bushing is NOT pressed all the way flush, but that a gap of 2.5mm

With the new bushing pressed into position, the console can be reinstalled.  Be sure that it is in the same position it was removed.

Reinstall the 3 bolts that hold the console to the chassis.  If you install them in the same position scribed when removed, your alignment setting should remain the same as when you removed the arm.

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