How to Change the Rear Shocks on an E36

Written by william zane
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The E36 was the third generation of the popular BMW 3 Series and carried on the tradition of a medium sized, fun to drive car. The E36 has proven to a pretty robust car too, though like any BMW there are items that will need to be replaced when they wear out. Components like tires, brakes and shocks don’t last forever. If the rear of your E36 feels loose or bouncy, it probably needs new shocks. Replacing the rear shocks on an E36 is actually quite easy.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Floor jack
  • Socket set and ratchet
  • Vice-Grips
  • New shocks
  • Torque wrench

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  1. 1

    Pull back the trunk liner to access the upper shock mounting nuts. Use a socket and ratchet to remove the two nuts that hold the top of the shock to the body of the car.

  2. 2

    Using the floor jack, raise the rear of the car to gain access to the lower shock mounting bolt. Leave the tire in slight contact with the ground. From under the car, remove the large bolt that holds the lower part of the shock to the trailing arm.

  3. 3

    Remove the shock from the car and place it a work bench or on a flat stable surface. Remove the nut that holds the upper strut mount onto the shock. Use a pair of Vise-Grips on the end of the shock to keep it from turning while the nut is removed. Remove the upper strut mount.

  4. 4

    Install the old strut mount onto the new shock in the reverse of removal, ensuring that the washers and bushings are oriented correctly. It is recommended to install new mounts when changing the shocks.

  5. 5

    Install the new shock by first loosely bolting it to the trailing arm with the bolt. Do not tighten the bolt. Manoeuvre the upper part of the shock into place so that the two studs slide through the holes in the bodywork.

  6. 6

    Install and tighten the two nuts that hold the upper end of the shock in place. Tighten the lower bolt to 57ft.-lbs. with a torque wrench. Repeat for the other side.

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