Feb 18, 2019 update to the BMW 318is project car

Project BMW 318is: Subframe R&R

Removing the rear subframe is a bit tougher than removing the front subframe. You have driveshaft and rear end to deal with, as well as stubborn subframe bushings.
Your author is trying to knock the subframe off the rusted bolt holding the assembly to the car. With a bit of persuasion, the subframe finally came loose and we lowered it from the car, with a transmission jack.
Removing the front subframe is very straightforward. it is frightening how few bolts hold an E30 front subframe into the car.
With the front subframe on our custom-made table (from stuff we picked up a yard sale) we could disassemble, clean, paint and then start reassembly.
This is how simple an E30 rear subframe is, once you remove all the components. We painted this one with Eastwood Chassis Black paint, which we like for its original looks and durability. Next, we will revers the process and bolt the subframes back to the car.

story by Tim Suddard

As we mentioned earlier, with the engine and transmission already out of our 318is, and the decision already made to replace every bushing in the car as well as the rear end, we decided it was best to just completely remove both the front and rear subframes from the car.

While any shop manual can tell you how to do this, we can add that it is easiest on a lift, with the brake rotors and calipers removed (to make everything a bit lighter) and with a transmission jack.

Once the subframes assemblies are safely removed, and on the bench, or floor, you can carefully photograph how everything goes together, and then start disassembly of the individual components.

We would recommend you tackle one end of the car at a time and work your way down to a bare subframe.

From there you need to remove the rear subframe bushings. Invariably, these will be rusted and difficult to press out. While we hate to officially recommend this (it is nasty and environmentally not a great idea), despite our best efforts for pressing the rear subframe bushings out, we gave up and resorted to heating them with an Oxy/acetylene torch, at which point they nearly fell right out (into a burning, nasty mass of rubber and metal).

One we checked for damage and rust we had to only clean, scuff and paint our still nearly perfect subframes. As you will remember, ours was a very nice condition southern car with virtually no rust. Those of you in norther states may need to replace or repair your subframes before going any further.

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View comments on the GRM forums
JBasham HalfDork
2/27/19 3:28 p.m.

BMW bushing jobs are a notorious drag to perform. But so worth it. I am a fan of the $15 pipe puller tool for the subframe mounting bushings. A search of Bimmerforums will provide the details.

3/6/19 11:22 a.m.

My last ITA BMW was an 84 318. It did have a 188mm medium case diff bolted directly into the 318 subframe. I also used the 318 axles, hubs, and brakes. If I remember corectly (15 years) I had to use the small frame output flanges for the half shafts. But, the 188mm medium case diff definitely fits.

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