Some of you asking if this conversion can be done easily. So we decide to make a step by step installation on an home garage, like most of you doing this conversion by yourself on simple jack stands.
Few tools and parts are required in addition to this conversion kit.
- 2 front E36 knuckles assembly ( see the compatible models here )
- 2 front E36 struts/shock absorbers ( see the compatible models here )
- 2 front E36 brake line ( better lenght to reach the calipers )
- 1 E30 rear brake pads wear sensor ( the front one generally differ than the rear one that is actually the same as all the next generation of chassis )
- Coil spring press set
- Ball joint separator
- Control arms bushing press ( optional )
Needed parts & tools
Prior this conversion, few parts and tools are needed if you plan to do it by yourself. A listing of the parts and on what model they come from is shown on the conversion kit page. For the DIY tools, a coil spring press is required for interchanging the E30 and E36 top plates ( if you don't have a set of coilovers ), you can source a kit locally or on the internet for under 50$. Plus for spindles easily, a ball joint separator really help for removing the conical end of the ball joints from inside the spindles.
Now you put the car on jack stands and removed the wheels, you are ready to begin !
Remove the knuckles
Now you have to remove the knuckles assembly ( install a oil pan under the brake hose mounting point to not let the brake oil leaking on the ground ). Only 2 ball joints retain them, plus you can disconnect the sway bar to give you extra room.
You have to disconnect the ABS sensors (2 side ) and the front pads wear sensor ( front left wheel only ).
Interchange the top plates
Now that you have both E30's and E36's struts in hands, its time to swap the hats. If you using custom E30/E36 coilovers, go to the next step, you kit should bolt right up.
Use the coil spring press to retain the spring to expand while you remove the first hat, release the coil, press the second coil to reinstall the E30 hat on the E36 strut with the coil of your choice ( some changing the rates or using lower set of springs, its time to install them ) *Please note that E30 springs are smaller than E36 non-M, but they are the same diameter than E36 M3's.
The main concern of this step is the pattern that is not perfectly the same because the E30's doesn't have an equidistant pattern. You can also only re-drill the E36 hat to be the same as the E30.
We also recommend adjustable top plates for alignment purpose.
5 lugs conversion installation
firstly Unbolts the control arm bushings, you can use a bushing removal press but these are costly and not everywhere available. In this case, we will not re-use the old lollipops so we simply cutting them in half to liberated the control arm round end.
Insure the round end is at the right size ( 20.00mm ), some aftermarket LCA's may have excess of paint or small dents in the metal, sand or use a file on them to ensure a smooth and straight surface. On this car, the arms are from BMW directly so the bushing fit perfectly without any problems.
Now you verify the arms, time to press the conversion kit *Please note the way you enter it, the snap ring must face to the rear of the car ( it will help for future maintenance ). With a rubber mallet ( a steel one can work if you are a minimum conscientious ) **You can also use something between the mallet and the bushing to dissipate the impacts an avoiding the dents to the material. Tap gently on the bushing all around delicately it should align by itself on the control arm, push it until you arrive to the end of the control arm and verify if the bolts and the locating sleeves of the chassis fit, if not it should be really near so continue to tap the bushing ( for example using a 20-22mm socket to tap on the sleeve only ). I repeat, you should be really close to the perfect position, don't go to much !
Installing the new strut
By bolting the 3 bolts on the top plate, install the front struts.
Install the front knuckles
Install the front knuckles on the ball joints and then bolt the struts to the spindles. Connect back the sway bar links. And connect the brake line to the chassis mounted hose.
Connect the electronics
Now time to connect the wiring. The pad wear sensor from the rear of an E30 will fit at the front ( you need the small plastic sensor, not the big one ).
The ABS from the E36's is different but not that much, it is still compatible with light modification. Cut and splice the E30 wire and the E36 sensor harness to connect the wires together. A black and a brown wire will be in each of these harness, connect them together ( we using auto-weld and seal connectors ). The yellow wire will stay unconnected because the E30's don't need this features. ( can be used if a very complex E36 system retrofit done to the car, but we never seen that before ).
Install the wheels
Now you successfully install all these parts, time to put the wheels and do an alignment ( a little degre of camber will be needed to be in the specs ). And adjusting the tie rods.
Yes you may need an additional 5th bolts now. The offset is a little bit more than the 4 lugs E30 knuckle's ( 15mm more ). For E36 wheels ( et30-et40 you will still need spacers to be fender flush ) But for E38-39 wheels ( et20-et25 you will be fender flush ).