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E12 Idler Arm Bushing R&R

Peter Florance

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The idler arm bushing is a key pivot point to the most non-rack and pinion type steering systems. On E12s this bushing is pressed in to the idler arm. A 12mm bolt is installed through the arm and bushing secures them to the subframe. Sorry, I don't have an in-situ photo yet.

Sometimes they get worn and cause wandering. Mine seized and started creaking. Steering was intermittantly heavy. Many BMW complete idler arms are $50.00 or less. The e12 arm is well over $100.00. The bushing (32.21.1.115.489?) is less than $20.00

The bushing is a soft sleeve bearing with slightly larger than 12mm ID (so the 12mm bolt can fit through it) encased in rubber and then a steel outer jacket. The rubber is brought out to the top as a shoulder and at the bottom as, well, just some rubber sticking out.

Here's a couple of pictures of the idler arm bushing:

This job took about 2 hours. Things you'll need for sure:

After jacking up the car safely on stands, remove the wheels. Pop the tie rod end loose from the steering arm with the tool. Then remove the bushing to subframe nut and bolt. The key to keeping this job easy is to leave the arm attached to the center track rod. I was able to swing the subframe end of the idler arm around and out to the wheel well where I set up the below mess:

Note after I took this picture I used two nuts tightened together on the bottom. Hidden inside the pipe is the top of the bushing. Once you tightened the lower of the two bottom nuts the bushing is pressed out into the pipe. Note I used an air ratchet for this

Now the tough part. Rig the below mess. I used an air impact wrench. Wear eye protection in case something goes wrong. Not shown is the 7/16" washer in between the nuts and the large washer. I pulled the nut through the 1/2" washer and now have a washer with a hex center on it. )-:

It takes A LOT of force to pull this though. Once I snugged it together with two wrenches, I smacked it with a hammer until the bushing was straight. Then I tightened it a little more. Once it was in a little, out came the impact gun. Note if you have more stamina then me, you won't need this.

Good luck!

 


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