Rear Subframe Removal

The first step in rebuilding the rear suspension is to drop the entire subframe. We already dropped the drive shaft, removed the axles, and disconnected the rear brakes. The next step was to disconnected the shocks and removed the springs. After lowering the car over a shop cart and supporting the rear assembly with scrap wood, we removed the rear mounting bolts and removed the front subframe mount nuts.

At that point we simply lifted the car off of its rear end.

The body looks great. No rust. I need to clean it up and coat it with pickup truck bed liner.

Next step: disassembly.

New Wheels

My custom made 15" Rota RB wheels arrived today. When you put 15s on a 2002 you usually need spacers or fender flares. Luckily I got in on a group buy of custom ordered 25mm offset wheels on These wheels should fit perfectly with no modifications. Plus they look like classic Panasports at half the price.

Rebuilding Axles

I guess axle rebuilds are one of those projects that build character. I feel great that I know how to do it now, but I hope I never have to do it again.

The axles and boots on this car looked great, but they had to be rebuilt. I have a new (used) 3.91 LSD from a 320i. In order to swap in this rear I needed to install 320i CV joints on the inboard ends of the axles. While I had them apart I figured I should clean everything up and replace all four boots.

The axles, and the whole rear of the car for that matter, were caked with mud. A scraper and some parts cleaner took care of that problem.

Here's a shot of the inner workings of the 320i CV joint.

To do this project you need two key tools. First, a press to remove and reinstall the CV joints. My brother and I have a 20 ton press from Harbor Freight that works great. Money well spent. The second tool I needed was a CV boot clamp crimper. Here's a shot of the one I borrowed from my brother.

I got the new boots from Bavarian Autosport (part# 33 21 1 207 036.) They came with the boots, clamps, grease, and a new C-clip for the end of the axle. I must've gone through a dozen pairs of medical gloves disassembling and repacking these joints.

Here is a shot of the final product. Notice the difference in the CVs. I also painted the axles, but found that it's almost impossible to reassemble these things without scratching the new paint.

Here's a closeup of the joints. The 320i on the left and the 2002 on the right.

I hope these things are right. I never want to take them apart again.

The next step is to rebuild the rear subframe and install the 3.91. Then I have to order a set of spacers from Ireland Engineering. The new rear is narrower than the original, so spacers are needed to make up the difference.