Project E36 M3: Part 5 – Suspension V1.1 – Sway Bars, Control Arms, and Fender Rolling


E36 M3 Hotchkis rear sway bar end link adjustment
Once bolted in, you’ll want to set the drop links so that the bar is about right in the middle between the rear control arm and half shaft. It’ll all be fairly close, so be sure to double check for any contact after a quick post-installation test drive. 

There are enough DIY articles on removal and installation of the rear bars on E36s that we don’t need to go into it all here, but the key thing to remember is how you got the bar out, as that’s going to be the best way to snake it back in. Yes, you can remove your exhaust to make life easier, and you probably should. I seem to be one of those “Do as I say, not as I do” people, unfortunately.


E36 M3 rear sway bar Hotchkis reinforcement installed
Here you can see how the reinforcement bracket bolts up to the subframe and sway bar mount. There’s a spacer that goes in between the bracket and mount in order to make everything line up perfectly.
E36 M3 Hotchkis rear sway bar zerk grease fitting installed
Another view of the new rear bar attached. You can see the reinforcement bracket, spacer, and heavy duty mount with easy-to-access grease fitting. Note that even with the grease fittings, we still wrapped the bar with teflon tape on the rear bar, too. It’s cheap noise-preventing insurance.

While the new front control arm bushings from our first rehab session on this car made a dramatic difference in our steering feel, it was obvious that there was still a bit of work needed due to age. Since the original owners of this car had never tracked it, they obviously weren’t quite using track-specific maintenance protocols, so the front control arms appeared to be original. While there were no signs of damage, the ball joints weren’t in great condition, so it was out with the old and in with the new. As a side note, E36 M3 arms come with solid-mounted ball joints, so the whole arm gets replaced.


E36 M3 front control arms
Our new control arms from Bavarian Autosport ready for installation. Normally we’d have good comparison shots to show the old versus new, but in haste and anger, the old ones were simply tossed. As mentioned above, they seemed to be the originals from 1999, so removing them was… Let’s call it an adventure. The passenger side came off with basically no issues, but once we got to the driver side arm, the cursing and injuries began. 
E36 M3 front control arm ball joint
Here are our healthy new control arms with no tears or damage. They are a beautiful thing compared to our post-removal mangled original arms. Trust me!

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