Super Street Network

 |   |   |  BMW E28 Suspension Upgrade - Web Exclusive

BMW E28 Suspension Upgrade - Web Exclusive

Revive your tired suspension and brakes.

Peter Tarach
Aug 2, 2012
SHARE
Eurp 1208 01+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+cover Photo 1/18   |   BMW E28 Suspension Upgrade - Web Exclusive

To own a 20+ year-old BMW while keeping it roadworthy takes commitment and maintenance. By no means are these cars unreliable; this particular 1987 BMW 528e has been nothing short of spectacular–in terms of dependability. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok to wait until things break or wear out to replace them. Instead preventative maintenance is the best method of avoiding future failures and better yet, an excuse for upgrades.

A tired suspension produces a lazy, bouncing, and lethargic ride quality. Not exactly what we’re looking for from our e28. This upgrade wasn’t meant to be built to carve corners like the M5 of its era but retain some of those qualities of a much more stout sibling.

These days, the preferred method of lowering ones car is to slam it so low that you can’t get over a speed bump. While that may be fine for some, most of us want a more civilized ride that offers a lowered look with better handling over every bump in the road.

Eurp 1208 02+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+bilstein shocks Photo 2/18   |   The Bavarian Autosport e28 Suspension kit consists of front and rear Bilstein Sport shocks and Bav Auto lowering springs.
Eurp 1208 03+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+lowering springs Photo 3/18   |   The setup is designed to lower your e28 by 1 1/4-inches without sacrificing ride quality.

To help us out, we turned to Bavarian Autosport who has been servicing the BMW community long before there was an internet – when you actually had to use a phone and catalog to order parts. We got in touch with one of their lead service advisors Jon Broome, who’s owned an e28 himself and sought his advice for a nice suspension package. We wanted a setup that would lower the car a bit and improve the sportiness of the driving experience while still retaining a civil ride – being a daily driver after all. Jon recommended the Bav Auto e28 Suspension kit, which consists of Bilstein Sport shocks and Bav Auto lowering springs.

The Bilstein Sport shocks have been designed specifically to provide a combination of better control and comfort over the stock units. Unlike many OE replacement shocks they won’t blow out if used with lowering springs.

Speaking of, don’t ever think cutting your stock springs is a good idea to lower you car. It will result in horrible ride quality and an uneven ride height. Considering Bav Auto sells their lowering springs separate from the kit for under $200, it’s a small price to pay for a German made, properly cold-rolled spring that will provide you with superior ride quality. The Bav Auto lowering springs lower the car about an inch and a quarter, which gets rid of a good amount of wheel gap resulting a much more steamlined look.

Eurp 1208 04+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+hardware Photo 4/18   |   A Bav Auto shock installation kit is a must buy since the 20+ year old OEM components like rubber stoppers and shock covers will have deteriorated beyond re-use.

Before we got our hands dirty with the install, Jon also recommended we grab the Bav Auto shock installation kit that includes upper and lower spring pads, shaft protection tubes, and compression absorbers since all those items are guaranteed to be worn (or completely disintegrated as was the case on our right rear shock). If you’re going to have the suspension apart you might as replace these items.

Eurp 1208 05+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+camber kit Photo 5/18   |   Bav Auto’s front and rear camber kits will ensure you can dial in your camber and caster settings to correct for the car’s lowered ride height. Or perhaps you want to run a more aggressive setup, which these parts will allow.

The factory front and rear suspension pieces don’t allow any significant camber adjustment but we wanted to be able to dial the suspension in a bit more aggressively then the factory settings. This way we can try to get the car to be more neutral handling in the corners.

Eurp 1208 06+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+front tower mount Photo 6/18   |   The front strut tower mounts allow for both camber and caster adjustment and are made of polyurethane to improve handling response and feel.
Eurp 1208 07+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+rear tower mount Photo 7/18   |   BMW E28 Suspension Upgrade - Web Exclusive

Bav Auto has adjustable front shock mounts that allow easy fine-tuning of both camber and caster. Not only that but they are made with a polyurethane bushing that rides the front shocks of any slop. Bav Auto has several versions of these mounts ranging from a street oriented setup to a full race version. We obviously opted for the street friendly kind. Out back, we opted for a set of adjustable trailing arm bushings will allow more negative camber to be added.

Eurp 1208 08+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+brakes Photo 8/18   |   Stoptech Street Performance brake pads and Power Slot Performance rotors are an ideal upgrade for any street going e28 as they provide more consistent braking with shorter stopping distances.

There was just one last item that needed to be addressed before a single wheel could be removed – the brakes. They too have been neglected by the previous owner and were in dire need of replacement. Like any true enthusiast we went for a slight increase in performance instead of buying aftermarket OE replacements. Stoptech Street Performance brake pads and Power Slot high performance rotors were installed on all four corners, providing a much-needed boost in braking with linear response from the pads at all temperatures. Best of all a low dust compound is used to keep the wheels clean – knowing that the BMW brake pads are notorious for dusting. Even though these are primarily street oriented pads they can be used for the occasional autocross or light track duty. Same goes for the slotted rotors, they are a great upgrade for anyone looking to do high performance driving without spending big bucks on upgraded rotors.

Eurp 1208 09+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+remove suspension Photo 9/18   |   Removal of the front suspension requires removing the ABS and brake lines off the strut housing then the caliper and rotor have to come off as well.

You’ll need to give yourself at least a day or two to install all the components. A spring compressor and a well-equipped toolbox will get the job done for an average mechanic.

Our biggest hurdle occurred when we couldn’t remove the front shock’s collar nut due to rust issues.

Eurp 1208 10+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+front shock Photo 10/18   |   The front shock of the e28 is housed inside the strut assembly and a collar nut needs to be loosened in order to remove it. As in our case, it was rusted and needed a much larger set of pliers than shown to crack it loose.
Eurp 1208 11+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+spring compressor Photo 11/18   |   A set of spring compressing tools will be needed to remove and install the new springs.
Eurp 1208 12+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+reassemble Photo 12/18   |   With the Bilstein Sport shocks in place and Bav Auto lowering springs tucked nicely underneath the adjustable shock mounts, the entire assembly can be reinstalled.

After using a rather large set of pliers (20-inches long) the nut finally cracked loose we were able to slide the old shock cartridge out and replace it with the Bilstein.

The other spot where we hit a major snag was the rear trail arms. Again, rust had taken its toll on this poor e28 and after some contemplating we opted out of installing the rear adjustable camber bushings. We left that to a shop that has the proper hydraulic press and tools for the job. Sometimes, it’s better to pay someone to do it right the first time then do a half-ass job yourself.

Eurp 1208 13+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+trailer arm bushings Photo 13/18   |   The rear Bav Auto adjustable trailing arm bushings allow more negative camber in the rear suspension setup.
Eurp 1208 14+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+rear shock Photo 14/18   |   The rear shocks and springs are a much easier install with only one bottom bolt and two up top holding them onto the trailing arm.
Eurp 1208 15+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+install rear shock Photo 15/18   |   BMW E28 Suspension Upgrade - Web Exclusive

Aside from those two issues and having to deal with some nuts and bolts in tight places, everything went together in a full dedicated days worth of work.

Once back on the street, the e28 was a new car. It’s handling improved significantly over stock and the brake pedal was back to normal height with better responsiveness and more bite.

Eurp 1208 16+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+rotors Photo 16/18   |   Power Slot Performance rotors and Stoptech Street Performance brakes pads will not only improve braking but also reduce the amount of dust production through the use of a special compound.

Something that surprised us was the ride quality. We knew lowering a car could diminish the comfort of the vehicle but to our surprise the e28 felt better than before. The side-to-side wandering and exaggerated bounce of the suspension was now gone, replaced by a firmer feel in the suspension that is still tollerable over bumps and cracks.

Eurp 1208 17+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+before Photo 17/18   |   Subtle but effective.
Eurp 1208 18+bmw e28 suspension upgrade+after Photo 18/18   |   The new Bav Auto suspension setup lowers the car without compromising on the ride comfort and handling about. Perfect for the daily driven e28.

It may not be the lowest vehicle on the street but it also doesn’t have that bone-jarring ride associated with an extreme drop. It meets exactly what we were looking for in our upgrade for the e28 – improving the looks with a subtle drop that won’t leave you in tears during your commute.

SHARE ARTICLE
By Peter Tarach
351 Articles

RELATED ARTICLES

BROWSE CARS BY MARKET

MORE FEATURES

Our top tuner car picks featured in 2014 print issues
Sean RussellDec 18, 2014
Video game concept previews what we can expect on a future car.
Kelly PleskotDec 17, 2014
Looks are deceiving with this K-swap from Arkansas
Matthew RodriquezDec 16, 2014
To celebrate a massive milestone, Aston Martin Works will release 6 very limited-edition Vanquish Coupes.
Jake HolmesDec 15, 2014
Reflecting on the builds that blew our minds
Sean RussellDec 15, 2014

SEARCH ARTICLES BY MAKE/MODEL

Search
TO TOP