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BMW Preventative Maintenance – How to Jack and Support Common BMWs for Under Car Work

February 13, 2015

There are many preventative maintenance and inspection tasks that require access to the underside of the vehicle, or to have the wheels off the ground.  For these procedures you will need to use a floor jack and jack stands to lift and support the vehicle (unless you are fortunate enough to have a lift).  In using a hydraulic floor jack, you want to be sure that you place the jack’s lifter pad on a structural part of the car that can support the weight of the vehicle as you raise it. Similarly, you need to place jack stands under areas that can fully support the vehicle’s weight when the jack is lowered.

WARNING:
Make sure your car is on a level, sturdy surface such as concrete. DO NOT jack up a car that is parked on dirt, lawn or sand. DO NOT jack up a car that is on a slope (either front to back or side to side). If jacking up a car on asphalt, make sure that the asphalt is not soft (i.e. in the hot sun). We recommend that a 3/4″ thick plywood board be placed under the jack stand feet if working on asphalt.

Prior to doing any jacking, place the shifter in Park (automatic transmission) or 1st gear (manual transmission) and securely apply the park brake. Place a pair of wheel chocks at the wheels that are not being lifted. Give the chocks a firm kick to snug them against the tires. If your vehicle’s chassis has been lowered using sport springs or a coil-over kit, you may need to drive the front or rear of the vehicle up onto 2″ x 8″ (or thicker) lumber in order to get the floor jack under the chassis.  If the wheels are to be removed, loosen the lugs before lifting the wheels off the ground.  If you are using air and a pneumatic gun, this step can be skipped.

Jack Placement – Front of Car

On earlier BMW models that do not have under-car splash panels that cover the oil pan, front suspension cross-members and under-floor frame rails, you can place the floor jack under the uni-body frame rails (under the driver or passenger floors). This includes 2002, Bavaria, 3.0cs, 3 series thru 91, 5 series thru 96, 6 series thru 89 and 7 series thru 94. In using the frame rails you must place the jack pad at the forward end of the frame rails, just behind the point where the rails start to curve upward toward the firewall and engine compartment (fig. 1). This is the strongest area of the rail and can support the weight of the vehicle.

Do not place the jack at a point further to the rear on these frame rails. If there are no splash panels in the way, you can also lift the whole front end by placing the jack under the center of the front suspension cross-member (if the vehicle is not too low). Note that even though these earlier vehicles have lifting points on the undersides of the rocker panels, these points are only for use with the original BMW emergency jacks. Placing a floor jack at these points will damage the underside of the rocker panels.

On later model BMWs that have rubber jack pads on the undersides of the rocker panels, you can use these for lifting the vehicle with the floor jack. This includes 3 series 92 on, 5 series 97 on, 6 series 03 on, 7 series 95 on, 8 series, X series and Z series. Place the floor jack’s lifting pad under the rubber jack pad on the underside of the rocker panel (fig. 2).

NOTE: One or more of the rubber jack pads may be missing from the rocker panels. DO NOT jack on a bare rocker panel – either remove a jack pad from one of the other lifting points and insert it where you need it (fig. 3), or order a new pad from Bavarian Autosport.

Click image below for replacement jack/lift pads:

Jack Stand Placement – Front of Car

Our favorite spot for jack stand placement is under the forward ends of the uni-body frame rails (referred to previously for jack placement on early models). However, you may not be able to access these points for various reasons (e.g. splash panels, jack is already there, etc.). If the frame rails are not readily accessible, you can use the front suspension cross-member (at the outer left and right ends, near the inner ball joints or control arm bushings), or the rearward control arm bushing mount brackets (fig. 4).

On many of the late models BMWs, locating a suitable position for a jack stand can be a bit frustrating. You may have to jack the car up, temporarily place a jack stand, remove the various splash panels, then re-jack and place the stands in a more desirable spot (fig. 5 & 6).

NOTE:
After final placement of the jack stands, leave the floor jack in a safeguard position that is not actually supporting the vehicle. Get out from under the car and give the car a few shoves from side to side. It should feel solid and secure, not wobbly. Once you are sure that the vehicle is safe and secure, place the floor jack in a safety position with the lifter contacting the underside of the vehicle and the jack locked in this position.

Jack Placement – Rear of Car

On BMWs that have the “A” or “Y” shaped semi-trailing arm rear suspensions (2002, Bavaria, CS, 3 series thru 91, 5 series thru 96, 6 series thru 89, 7 series thru 94, Z3), we can jack directly under the rear suspension cross member outer bushing (Fig. 1).

Alternately, we can place the floor jack under the center of the cross member (Fig. 1), ahead of the differential housing, or on the underside of the differential housing (Fig. 1a).

NOTE:
While these options are safe, they do put a strain on the cross member bushings and differential mount bushings. Even though the early BMW models have lifting points on the undersides of the rocker panels, these points are for use only with original BMW emergency jacks: DO NOT use a floor jack at these points, as it can damage the underside of the rocker panels.

On later BMWs that have lifting pads on the undersides of the rocker panels (3 series 92 on, 5 series 97 on, 6 series 03 on, 7 series 95 on, 8 series, X series, Z series), you can use these points for lifting the vehicle with the floor jack. Place the floor jack’s lifter under the rubber lifting pad at the rear of the rocker panel (Fig. 2).

NOTE:
One or more of the lifting pads may be missing from the rocker panels. DO NOT jack on the bare rocker panel. You can either borrow a lifting pad from one of the other lifting points on your car (Fig. 3) or order new pads from Bavarian Autosport. Alternately, as with the earlier models, you can jack under the differential or carrier frame. This will allow use of the rocker panel lifting pads for jack stand placement.

Click image below for replacement jack/lift pads:


 Jack stand placement

On the earlier models, as noted previously, we can place the jack stands under the outer ends of the rear suspension cross member or directly under the cross member mounts (Fig. 1).

On late models, jack stand placement can be under the differential and suspension carrier frame assembly or under the rocker panel lifting pads (Fig. 4). Make sure that the two jack stands are placed far enough apart that the vehicle is stable if pushed from the side.

NOTE:
After final placement of the jack stands, leave the floor jack in a safeguard position that is not actually supporting the vehicle. Get out from under the car and give the car a few shoves from side to side. It should feel solid and secure, not wobbly. Once you are sure that the vehicle is safe and secure, place the floor jack in a safety position with the lifter contacting the underside of the vehicle and the jack locked in this position.


BAVauto®
BAVauto.com
www.BAVauto.com
Bavarian Autosport

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4 Comments
  1. Richard permalink

    Nice overview, thanks. With my ’74 2002 I’ve always placed about 4+ inches worth of 2″x8″ boards (about 2′ long) under the wheels – not supporting the car, but if it ever did come down at least I’d have that much additional clearance. (I lost a friend many years ago whose car did come down on him.)

  2. Get a free catalog for my car b m w year 1986 serie 735i (my inglés is litter and bat)

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