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1997 manual 318TI M...
05-13-2024 09:38 AM
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Play in steering: Lower joint Assembly DIY
Play in steering: Lower joint Assembly DIY
Published by Bluebimma
Default Play in steering: Lower joint Assembly DIY

Earlier this week I finally had some extra money to buy the part and finally rid myself of this sloppy steering. Part #32311159866 quoted at $152.89 by realoem.com, and my dealer charged $154.xx+tax.

This may look like an easy job, and it is, just a PITA. I’ve searched this forum up and down for some kind of DIY and haven’t seen one yet and if I did, it was “hey I have play in the steering, I found the problem, ill write a DIY, and the post disappears”….not very helpful. I started last night on the project and it seemed pretty straight forward. Below is a picture of the assembly which I am/have been referring to in this DIY.


Follow my instructions at your own risk. I am not liable for any damages caused by following my instructions. Proceed at your own risk.

Tools needed:
[2] 3/8 Ratchets
[2] 13mm Sockets
[2] 15mm Sockets
[1] Breaker bar
[1] Lower joint assembly (Part #32311159866)
[1] Mallet/hammer
[1] Tube of Anti-seize
[1] Can of Wd40/PB Blaster

1. Park the car on a flat surface.

2. Loosen the front wheels with a 4-way or equivalent. Lift the front end of the car using a jack, and secure it with a jack stand. Secure the rear wheels so the car does roll backwards while attempting to repair your vehicle. (For instructions on how to properly jack and support your vehicle, visit pelicanparts.com tech info section.)

3. Disconnect the (-) Negative cable to the battery to prevent any mishaps with the airbag and other electrical components in the car. Note: If you have the stock radio installed in your vehicle, it will be reset and you WILL be required to input a user code in order for it to work again. If you do not have this code, call your nearest BMW Dealership for the code.

This job is easier done with (2) two people but can be done just as easily with one.

4. Turn the steering wheel so that the top nut/bolt in part #2 is accessible with an open-end wrench and the other side accessible with a socket. Once positioned where you need it, lock the steering wheel by removing the key from the ignition and turning the wheel to lock it.

5. Remove the nut and bolt. The size required is 13mm for both the nut and the bolt. This may take a little effort due to being exposed to the elements.

6. Now check the position of the nut/bolt that connects #1 to the upper section of the steering column.

7. Unlock the position of the steering wheel inside the car and turn the wheel to the desired position to remove the nut/bolt at the top of #1. Lock the position of the steering wheel.

8. Remove the nut and bolt. The size required is 13mm for both the nut and the bolt. This may take a little effort due to being exposed to the elements but not as much as the lower nut/bolt.

Now for the more difficult part, removing the steering rack. Make sure you have put the bolts and nuts in a safe spot so they don’t become lost.

9. Turn the steering wheel so that the wheels are straight as well as the steering wheel being as straight as possible. Lock it in this position.

*Note: The next few steps refer to the steering rack image.*

10. Remove bolt #2 and nut #3 from the rack. To do so, you need (2) ratchets with (2) 15mm sockets. One ratchet/socket will be used to hold #3 nut in place, and the other ratchet to unscrew #2 bolt from it. *These were difficult to remove on my car, so I used a 3/8 breaker bar with a 15mm socket to remove the bolt.*

11. Once the nuts are removed, the bolts may still be stuck in there. To remove them, you’ll need to “pry” them out somehow. The method I used was using a hammer like you remove a nail from a wall, and used the sub frame as my pivot point and was able to “claw” the bolts from the rack.

12. Now that the two bolts/nuts are free, you can now remove the rack from its position.

13. When I moved the rack, the assembly came right apart and I was able to remove the Lower Joint Assembly from the rack.

14. Unfortunately for me, the upper part of the assembly was rusted to the upper column and I was unable to remove the assembly from the car. (It was about 1am and no stores were open to go buy any products to “un-rust” the assembly. I put the car back together so I can attempt to finish today)

15. Remove the assembly from the car, and install the new one in its place, in the same position. I would recommend using some kind of anti-rusting agent where the threads of the column is just in case you have problems in the future and need to remove these parts again.

Now the tricky part. I know there is some kind of way to make sure the wheels are perfectly straight so it matches up to the steering wheel, but I’m not too sure what the procedure is.

16. Line the rack up with the new assembly. Do NOT bolt the rack in place. Check to see if the steering wheel lines up with the wheels. If not, remove the rack and realign to the correct position.

17. Once aligned, the rack can now be bolted back in place. You may need a mallet/hammer to knock the bolts back in completely.

18. Next, fasten the bolts and nuts into the lower assembly joint. Make sure all bolts are tight and anything that was moved to get to parts is moved back to the proper position.

19. Bolt the wheels to the car.

20. Remove the jack stands, and lower the car to the ground.

21. Reconnect the (-) negative cable to the battery. You will now have to reprogram any settings for time, audio functions, etc.

22. Take one last check over your work, and take the car for a test drive.

Hope this helps those of you looking for a DIY or waiting for someone else to publish their DIY. Ill be posting actual pics later on tonight or tomorrow. I also have this in pdf. if you need it.

Please add any valuable info pertaining to this DIY. Be safe and have a good day!

Pics of the old unit.

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By Tyler on 05-01-2008, 04:54 PM

I will be doing this on my car this weekend.
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By thesk8nmidget on 05-01-2008, 05:02 PM

direct links to realoem aren't allowed by them. try hosting the pictures yourself or just posting the links

otherwise good write up
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By Bluebimma on 05-01-2008, 06:09 PM

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By aceyx on 05-02-2008, 12:53 AM

This part is also known as the steering knuckle (in case someone is searching).

Nice write-up.
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By bimmern00b on 10-29-2016, 01:43 AM
Default How I got this sucker out

Had to replace lower joint because one axis was seizing up, and when I got it unbolted the thing didn't want to come out. So I bathed it in PB Blaster and tried getting it out with a couple of pry bars, but it wasn't budging. The answer came to me in a dream, which was really weird because why dream about Harbor Freight? But it came to me in two words: Slide Hammer! So off I went to HF and picked up the two pound slide hammer/puller in the attached pictures for $25.00, and attached it as shown, and a few swift taps later, the old part was laying on the ground. Hope this helps those who have been asking how to get this piece out!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg pic 1.jpg (80.7 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg pic 2.jpg (127.2 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg pic 3.jpg (123.8 KB, 18 views)
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