How To use a steering knuckle spreader when replacing shocks / struts on a BMW or MINI

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In this DIY and How-To video, we'll outline the procedure for properly using the steering knuckle spreader tool for removing or installing the front shocks or struts on late model BMWs and MINIs This applies to most BMWs from the mid to late '90s and all MINIs.

Most later model (mid to late '90s on) BMW and MINI models employ a front shock/strut design that allows the complete shock and spring assembly to be removed from the vehicle without disconnecting the steering knuckle, control arms, ball-joints or steering tie-rods. In order to facilitate this, the shock/strut is secured into the steering knuckle via a clamping sleeve. To remove the shock/strut, one or two bolts are removed from the clamping sleeve, the clamping sleeve is then de-tensioned (or, spread) and the shock/strut is pulled up and out of the clamping sleeve. As just noted, the clamping sleeve will still have tension on the shock/strut after the securing bolt is removed. The clamping sleeve must be slightly spread open so that the shock/strut can be removed.

The Steering Knuckle Spreader Tool is designed to properly and safely spread the clamping sleeve so that the shock/strut can be removed and reinstalled.

Follow along as we show how to use the Steering Knuckle Spreader Tool. The example show here is on an E46 3-series (99-05). The tool is applicable to all BMWs and MINIs from 2000-on as well as 5-series 97-on and 7-series 95-on.

See our photo and video DIYs on full shock/strut replacement and how to use a spring compressor, in the links below.

How To replace shocks, struts and springs on an E30 3-series (84-91):
http://blog.bavauto.com/14003

How To replace shocks, struts and springs on an E36 3-series (92-98):
http://blog.bavauto.com/4383

How To replace shocks, struts and springs on an E46 3-series (99-05):
http://blog.bavauto.com/14307

How To replace shocks & struts on an E90 3-series (06-12):
http://blog.bavauto.com/14344

How To use a spring compressor to replace front shocks, struts and springs on BMW and MINI:
http://blog.bavauto.com/14362

TOOLS USED:

* Steering Knuckle Spreader - http://www.bavauto.com/fland.asp?part=cta4008

* Bentley repair manual (click link, then ID BMW or MINI): http://www.bavauto.com/se1.asp?dept_id=5228

* 13mm 3/8"drive socket and ratchet or combination wrench

PROCEDURE:

** The applicable Bentley repair manual will detail the specific procedures and torque values for your given BMW model, to include those for the models and chassis not listed here.

1) Prepare the vehicle for shock/strut replacement as outlined in the various BavAuto DIY articles (see links above) or the applicable Bentley repair manual.

2) Loosen and remove the steering knuckle shock/strut clamp bolt(s)

3) Assemble the Steering Knuckle Spreader Tool onto the steering knuckle shock/strut clamp.

4) Insert the two mounting pins into the left and right sides of the clamp's bolt holes.

5) Assemble the tool's side bars, cross bar and pressing wedge onto the mounting pins.

6) Thread the press bolt and wedge into place, centered in the split in the clamp.

7) Tighten the pressing bolt to force the wedge into the split.

8) When wedge is fully tightened into the clamp's split, pull the steering knuckle assembly downward.

9) The shock/strut assembly can now be fully removed from the steering knuckle clamp, once the upper mount and remaining hardware has been disconnected.


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