BMW How To, Strut Spring Seat and Spring Alignment, Oval, Elliptical, Egg Shaped Lower Seat, E46, E39, E60, E63, E85, E86, Z4
One of the common requests for tech assistance that we receive, here at BAVauto, involves the proper alignment of the front shock/strut spring seat and the spring on the BMW models that have the elliptical, or “egg”, shaped lower spring seats. This includes the E46 (3-series 99-05), E39 (5-series 97-03), E60/61 (5-series 04-10), E63/64 (6-series 04-10), E85/86 (Z4 coupe & roadster through 08).
Typical Elliptical Spring Seat:
At first glance, an installer may assume that the spring installs on the seat with the end of the spring butted against what appears to be the spring stop on the spring pad, as many (if not all) older models would have been designed in this manner. This install position is, however, incorrect and will result in a misalignment that will cause the spring to dislodge from the spring seat.. See the images below, which detail the proper spring and seat alignment.
These photos are from a customer who was having noise and steering issues after the installation of new shocks (struts) on his E39 540i. While the photos are not the best, you can see how the spring is falling off the spring seat and the end of the spring is improperly positioned:
Here are a few images that show the proper alignment, from different angles. Note that the specific spring end point can vary slightly between the models noted and the specific spring used. However, using this example while positioning the spring to be snug and aligned on the seat will result in the proper overall alignment.
Click on images to expand: