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BMW Preventive Maintenance – Jacking Up The Rear Your Car

November 3, 2009

Jacking up your car.
We showed you how to use a floor jack and jack stands on the front of your car in the Fast Times Spring 2009 issue. We will repeat some of that here, but talk specifically about the rear of the car. In using a hydraulic floor jack, you want to be sure that you place the jack’s lifting 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. (Note: If you are using ramps to raise your vehicle, you will still need to jack each side of the car high enough to get the tire off the ramp in order to fully check wheel bearings, brakes and outer suspension bushings.

Click below for the Winter, Spring & Summer 2009 Fast Times Preventative Maintenance DIY articles (Part-1: Underhood, Part-2: Undercar-Front, Part-3: Undercar-Rear):

Click HERE to see other maintenance articles in the Fast Times newsletters

: 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).

Prior to doing any jacking, loosen the lugs on the rear wheels, place the shifter in Park (automatic transmission) or 1st gear (manual transmission) and securely apply the park brake. Place a pair of wheel chocks in front of the front wheels. 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 back the rear of the vehicle up onto 2″ x 8″ (or wider) lumber in order to get the floor jack under the chassis.

Jack placement.
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, 318ti, Z3), we can jack directly under the rear suspension cross member outer bushing (Fig. 1).BMW Jacking Points

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. And even though these vehicles 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.

BMW Jacking Point

BMW Differential Jacking Point

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).

BMW Floor Jack Location

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.

BMW Jacking Pad / Lift Support

BMW Jacking Pad / Lift Support Pad

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.

BMW on Jack Stand
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.

  1. Kingfisher permalink

    E61 series
    You show a floor jack being used on a lift pad in Figure 2 and then you appear to have a jack stand on the same lift pad in Figure 4. Pretty neat trick. Seems to me that if I use the jack on a lift point, the jack stand needs to go elsewhere (when?) or visa versa. Just need to get the front end up enough to do an oil filter change.

    • patrick permalink

      Thank you for your question.

      Actually, figure-2 and figure-4 are two different vehicles, showing the jacking/lifting pads being used for either jack placement or jack-stand placement.

      On the E60 & E61 chassis (5 series 04 through 10) there really aren’t two good points to lift and also then place a jack-stand. One option is to lift at the lifting pad, place a stand under the front suspension pivot point, remove the under engine splash panels and then either replace the stand under the engine cradle or place the jack under the cradle and then get the stands under the lift pads.

      Of course, for an oil change, it may be easier to just use a set of ramps. This will typically be our choice (especially on the newer chassis) for non-suspension tasks, such as an oil change.

      These points will apply to all of the later BMW chassis, such as the E63 & E64 (6 series 03 on), E65 & E66 (7 series 02 through 07), E90 & E91 & E92 & E93 (3 series 06 on) and even some of the earlier 3, 5 and 7 series.

  2. Alexander permalink

    I have an E34 520i 03/91. My lifting points are pretty much ‘destroyed’ and i can’t use my stock bmw jack .. First i want to raise the front end and put it on jackstands (do what i have to do ), put it back on the ground and after that raise the back end ,also with jackstands ..
    So i ask:

    1.Where is it safe to put the floor jack on the front & at the back of the car ? ( for the back ,you’ve described it here but if you don’t mind asking maybe you have another recommendation :)

    2.Where is it safe to put jackstands on the front & rear of the car? knowing that the it will stay on them a good amount of time ~3-5 hours and i don’t want to put unnecessary stain/fatigue on components of the car etc.

    Thankyou very much.

    • On the E34 5-series chassis (and most BMW models up through the ’90s), you can place a floor jack under the center of the front crossmember or under the forward sections of the uni-body frame rails. The frame rails are very strong at the point just before they curve upward along the front of the floor, toward the firewall. If the car is lowered you may have to drive the front up on one or two sections of 2″ lumber (2×10 or similar) in order to get the jack under the car.

      Jack-stand points would be the front of the frame rails (as noted) or on the engine crossmember, just inboard of the lower control arm bushing mounts.

      At the rear, you can jack on the center or the outboard bushing mounts for the crossmember. Jack-stands should go directly under the crossmember bushings at the outer ends of the crossmember.

  3. Chris permalink

    E46 – You mention points for the rear, what about the front?Thanks!

    • See the Spring 2009 issue of our Fast Times newsletter (Preventative Maintenance, Part-2: Undercar-Front) for details on lifting the front of the car. See the links at the top of the original post.

  4. Steve permalink

    To lift and support the rear of later 3 series models, you suggest lifting using the rocker panel lifting pads and then placing the jack stands under the differential and suspension carrier assembly. If this is suitable to place jack stands, why not lift the entire rear of the car at the suspension carrier assembly and place the jack stands under the rocker panel lifting pads? Wouldn’t this provide the safest final configuration (especially if the floor jack is kept under the carrier assembly)?

    • Thank you for your question. We do make note, in the text, that you can certainly jack on the crossmember or the differential (although, jacking on the differential does stress the differential mounting bushings) and place the jack-stands at the rocker panel lifting pad locations. It all depends on what type of work you will be doing.

  5. While jacking on the differential itself does strain the differential bushings, there are times when this may be your only choice. We do recommend this as only the last course of action, but we have never actually experienced any bushing problems from doing this when you have no other choice. Similarly, when jacking on the crossmember you are stressing the crossmember bushings. Again, when working with a floor jack and jack-stands you may have no other alternatives. If you happen to have a four-point chassis lift, then of course, these points are no longer issues or problems.

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