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Matt_330CI

Replacing Steering Coupler

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Having spent over 2 years with a car seemingly steering itself when I'm holding the wheel tightly I've finally done the fix.

I'd actually given it to a mechanic ams told him this is a known failing part but was told

A) Can't feel it steering itself and

B) Can't find any parts that are worn.

In the end I just thought F it I'll do it anyway.

What you need:

1) Steering coupler from BMW. I won't pay part number because it changed in 2001 IIRC.

2) WD40

3) Threadlock

4) E12 torx spanner + 8mm ratchet spanner

5) Philips screw driver

6) 16mm Socket

7) Jack and stands

Method:

Point your wheels dead forward then lock your steering wheel in place.

Jack the car up. I used the standard jam to lift it enough to slide trolley jack right under the metal support plate. Lifted it right up then put axle stands in the jack points.

Take off the plastic splash shield with about 8 Philips screws. Theses don't come out so you just loosen them them pull the shield out.

Use your 15mm Socket to remove the bolts securing the metal plate off. I had spare tyre in placed under it so I could take each bolt out without it dropping on the floor/my face.

Now you have access to the coupler. There are 2 E10 male torx bolts. I was told to get an E10 torx socket. I have a 1/2" ratchet so needed a 1/2" to 3/8" adapter. When I put them all together it was very quickly evident it'd never get in the gap onto the bolt.

This is when I had to go and get some alternatives. I luckily found a set in B&Q for 7.50 which included E6-E18 simple spanners. I used the E12 (no idea why the E10 didn't fit the E10 bolt) to break the seal having liberally applied WD40 15 minutes before. I then used the 8mm ratchet spanner to slowly wind out the bolts as there's very very little space to work with (1/8th of a turn if you're lucky)

Once both are out the upper part of the steering column can be pulled/pushed and this results in the bottom part of the coupler pulling fairly easily off the splines. You're then left with it connected to the top reasonably tightly.

Plenty of WD40! I then found the best way to release it was to hold the bottom half of the dangling joint and repeatedly bang it against the engine mount. Obviously not hard enough to damage that but enough that the shocks eventually release the coupler from the upper components.

Once it's off you need to fit the new one. Give the spline and the stem a quick clean to aid the new one sliding in. I initially fitted the top part first but couldn't get the bottom bit in place so took it off, slid the button part on (it only goes one way) then using the movement of the upper steering column managed to manipulate the top one in.

Add some threadlock, fiddle the bolts back in and work backwards through this guide.

The car feels much more predictable now. Pot holes and cambers don't make the car wander all over the road and steering play is negligible.

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It's not that hard. Give yourself 2 hours with all the right tools to start with.

It will take some strength to break the seals on those bolts. The E12 spanner I used was pathetically small. I ended up using a ratchet extension with a 19mm socket to put over the other end of the spanner to get leverage.

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Assume this is the Universal joint next to manifold area? On the 6 pots? Mine suffers badly with this over uneven surfaces car steers itself something chronic!

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I have done all the arms and bushes, but there is a bit of play

in the steering, so only bit that's left to do. :thumbsup:

Edited by WhackyWill

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Mine has exactly the same issues. I've got this part sat in my shed waiting to be fitted! I'm the same as you, really don't enjoy driving the car at the moment so I hope this makes me like it again! Changed pretty much everything else as well

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I replaced this on mine and it didn't really sort my issue. I then did complete suspension refresh and found my front top mounts were knackered with lots of play present. Made a big difference but still not 100% resolved.

I will replace the top half of the steering Union assembly next.

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How common is failure of the upper joint? I'm tempted to do the lower one as it's cheap but both together would be a few hundred quid at the garage I think.

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Thanks, shows how much I was paying attention when I helped Mr en and Triggerfish on a similar job .....

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Decided to just do the lower one and see if it makes a difference. Dropping the car into the garage this afternoon, will update here with results.

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Garages always look at you a bit funny when you turn up with a part number on a piece of paper and say "please replace this on my car" lol

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That's why I did mine myself. Took it to my wife's friends garage and told him I thought it was knackered.

Got the car back saying it was fine and drove ok.

Neither were true.

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That's why I did mine myself. Took it to my wife's friends garage and told him I thought it was knackered.

Got the car back saying it was fine and drove ok.

Neither were true.

Yeah, I've encountered that a lot. You'd think they'd be happy to take our money! To my regular garage's credit, the last few times they have just followed my requests. They did the CCV without knowing what it was in advance, same for the DISA valve.

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It's still at the garage, they said they'd be doing it today so I'm expecting a call this afternoon. Not exactly holding my breath though.. I took it in on wednesday with the part numbers of the joint and the bolts/washers on a piece of paper and said "replace these please". Yesterday afternoon they called and said they'd "priced up the repair" and had included replacing the lower assembly which I didn't ask for, and that they didn't know how much labour it would be until they started to do it. I told them only to replace the joint and that I'd read that the diy time was about 2 hours so I would expect a professional mechanic to do it in less. Hopefully I'll get some good news later on this afternoon..

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