SEADave Reader
May 29, 2013 11:47 a.m.

I am midway through doing a lot of work on the rear suspension of my 96 328i. If figured as long as I was in there, I would replace the rear trailing arm bushings (RTAB's) too. The parts are ordered and on the way.

How much trouble is it to replace these things? I see that, like practically everything else on the E36, there is an (expensive) special tool kit for doing this job. I can rent the kit for $50, or buy a different tool made by MIS for $95. Do I even need these tools? I have a Harbor Freight 4x4 ball joint tool (like a giant c-clamp) that has a lot of different sleeves and adapters, do you think I can make it work with that? Anything else I need to know about doing this job?

SlickDizzy UberDork
May 29, 2013 12:35 p.m.

Some people have luck without the tool (look up "E36 RTAB" on YouTube) but I highly recommend it. Makes the job a lot easier.

BTW, if you didn't order the new-style RTABs (33-32-6-770-817) return what you ordered and get those instead. The newer part is a significantly improved design.

SEADave Reader
May 29, 2013 12:54 p.m.
SlickDizzy wrote: Some people have luck without the tool (look up "E36 RTAB" on YouTube) but I highly recommend it. Makes the job a lot easier. BTW, if you didn't order the new-style RTABs (33-32-6-770-817) return what you ordered and get those instead. The newer part is a significantly improved design.

Hmm - I ordered the 33-32-6-770-786 which is the only OEM RTAB Pelican shows as correct for a '96 328i. The -817 is shown as a 96+ M3 application. Are you saying the M3 bushing works in the stock non-M trailing arm?

May 29, 2013 1:01 p.m.

When you remove the old ones - drop the arm down below the car (unhook the swaybar!) and drill out the rubber with the biggest bit you have. Stick a sawzall in there and slice thru to the outside thin wall of metal and it will fall right out.

Order aftermarket urethane or nylon ones that you can just push in by hand as replacements. They are much more crisp for handling and no special tools required. Google "AKG RTAB E36" and choose 80 or 90 durometer. (80 is pretty close to stock rubber as feel goes)

For the while you are in there list - if you are going to run this car hard with very sticky tires and/or big power/brakes - weld in reinforcements to the three bolt "cradle" for the trailing arm (where you adjust the alignment).

SlickDizzy UberDork
May 29, 2013 1:21 p.m.
SEADave wrote:
SlickDizzy wrote: Some people have luck without the tool (look up "E36 RTAB" on YouTube) but I highly recommend it. Makes the job a lot easier. BTW, if you didn't order the new-style RTABs (33-32-6-770-817) return what you ordered and get those instead. The newer part is a significantly improved design.

Hmm - I ordered the 33-32-6-770-786 which is the only OEM RTAB Pelican shows as correct for a '96 328i. The -817 is shown as a 96+ M3 application. Are you saying the M3 bushing works in the stock non-M trailing arm?

Yes. Pelican's listings totally suck in that they will only show you what originally came on your car even if the part has been superseded or upgraded. Many, many, many sources including BMW themselves have superseded 33-32-6-770-786. If you were to take your car to a BMW dealer they would likely put 33-32-6-770-817 in themselves.

Funny enough, the newer, 100% better RTAB is also cheaper, which is why BMW no longer uses the old style. Beats me why Pelican still sells the old one.

http://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw-trailing-arm-bushing-e36-e46-33326770817 Fits all E36 (non-ti), E46, and Z4.

Bushings like GPS mentions are "half and half" style that push right in without a press. Good stuff, might hurt NVH a bit though.

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