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Control Arms - What's Going On Here?

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  • Control Arms - What's Going On Here?

    I recently ordered some 1995 front control arms from Maximillian Importing and received the following arms. You will note the left side control arm (31.12.2.227.249) is finished in a different color and - most important - the end that the FCAB would mount to is not finished (not milled / polished). Has anyone encountered this before? I returned the part and contacted Maximillian to get a replacement and the replacement they received from BMW was exactly the same.

    I am not comfortable installing the "unfinished" control arm as I don't know what the impact of the non-milled / polished end will be with the FCAB.

    I am assuming BMW has switched suppliers and that somehow these control arms have "escaped" BMW's final quality control before shipping. I can't imagine this is a finished product.



    I've ordered a new arm from TMS. Fingers crossed that it is properly finished.

    BTW - this should in NO WAY reflect on the service Maximillian Importing provides. They have been super to work with no questions asked. IMO this is outside of their control. I would certainly recommend them if you are needing parts. (www.bimmer.com)

    Thanks,
    Mark
    1990 M3

    Usually it's best not to know how much money you have into your M3

  • #2
    That is very strange, and strange that the replacement looks the same. It's hard to say for sure from the photo, but these look like two different control arms? The grey one looks generally beefier and unless the light is playing tricks on me, has more holes than the black one. I think this might just be a mis-labeled batch of parts.

    I have to imagine that the person at the ball-joint press would notice and raise alarm if one arm coming down the line was completely the wrong color. Mis-labeled parts seems the simplest possibility, and might explain why the replacement looks the same as well.
    1989 Lachs
    1988 Lachs - sold
    1988 DS - sold
    Car blog
    Bay Area M3 FB group

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    • #3
      Man that is really weird, so much so I thought the lower one was an alloy arm.
      I'd return that for sure.
      Either its a weird anomaly or they started using a new source / foundry for their parts. Regardless I dont like the way that looks at all.

      I bought two Meyle HD ones for my Ti recently and they looked just like the upper one (not from Max, I think from either BW or FCP).
      jimmy p.
      87 E30 M3 Prodrive British Touring Car
      88 E30 M3 Zinnoberot - Street
      88 E30 M3 Lachsilber - Race (#98 SCCA SPU)
      92 E30 M Technic Cabrio - S14 POWERED!
      98 318Ti M44, Base - Morea Green
      04 Ford F350 - V10

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jimmy p. View Post
        Man that is really weird, so much so I thought the lower one was an alloy arm.
        I'd return that for sure.
        Either its a weird anomaly or they started using a new source / foundry for their parts. Regardless I dont like the way that looks at all.

        I bought two Meyle HD ones for my Ti recently and they looked just like the upper one (not from Max, I think from either BW or FCP).
        It has already been returned. Interestingly the replacement arm Max received from BMW was the same gray finish and the FCAB end was not milled / polished. It is likely that what I received was not a one-off, but rather some gross manufacturing error that allowed these arms to be produced and put into the supply chain without any final QC inspection.

        Regarding the Meyle HD arms you purchased. Were they the 1995 one-year-only version? The reason I am going with the BMW OEM 1995 one-year version is 1) the cost of the aluminum arms is approaching extorsion-level dollar numbers, 2) my understanding is that the ball joints in the 1995 arms are stronger than what is in the aluminum arms and 3) the 1995 one-year-only arms have the same geometry as the 1988 - 1990 arms (both steel and aluminum) and work with the offset FCABs.
        1990 M3

        Usually it's best not to know how much money you have into your M3

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        • #5
          BMW parts quality is not the same as it was 5 years ago. (And it was declining then.)

          That's pretty special, though.

          I'm not a huge fan of the Meyle HD E36 control arms. They use a weird balljoint, and I haven't had a great experience with their durability.
          2011 BMW M3 Alpinweiß
          2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD
          1990 325is Brilliantrot

          1989 M3 Alpinweiß
          Hers: 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo
          Hers: 1989 325iX Zinnoberrot

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          • #6
            UPDATE - I ordered another left side control arm and receive one identical to my first one. I have to assume this is the way BMW (or their supplier) is now manufacturing them. All indications are is that it is identical to the right side with the exception of two fewer holes. I am still leery of the end that the FCAB presses on to as it looks unfinished. I'll leave the final decision up to my shop. If they have concerns I'll wait. Otherwise I'll move forward and install it.

            1990 M3

            Usually it's best not to know how much money you have into your M3

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            • #7
              Have also dealt with this recently- it’s the way they are shipping them out now, sadly.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by AWDBOB View Post
                Have also dealt with this recently- it’s the way they are shipping them out now, sadly.
                Really, wow that is shitty. Really shitty.
                Kind of unbelievable they would sell a product that poorly made.

                I'm now so glad all my street cars have nice new arms on them now.
                jimmy p.
                87 E30 M3 Prodrive British Touring Car
                88 E30 M3 Zinnoberot - Street
                88 E30 M3 Lachsilber - Race (#98 SCCA SPU)
                92 E30 M Technic Cabrio - S14 POWERED!
                98 318Ti M44, Base - Morea Green
                04 Ford F350 - V10

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                • #9
                  Fortunately once installed I will not have to look at it. Just sitting on my dining room table has my OCD in overdrive. Really want to grab a rattle can and paint it!

                  FWIW apart from the end that the FCAB mounts on, the rest of the arm, as well as the ball joints, appear up to standards.
                  1990 M3

                  Usually it's best not to know how much money you have into your M3

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                  • #10
                    I also wonder if this has something to do with the 1995 M3 and the fact that the control arm was a single year specification - the same as the 1986 - 1991 M3. The control arms for the 1996 - 1999 M3 had a different castor specification and uses the centered FCABs. The 1995 M3 control arm uses the offset FCAB same as the previous generation M3 (1986 - 1991) Maybe it is BMW's way of visually differentiating the years.
                    1990 M3

                    Usually it's best not to know how much money you have into your M3

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                    • #11
                      From the looks of the finish on it in the photo I wouldnt want to stick the LCAB end into a nice eyeball mount or any type of delrin or PTFE bushing without some smoothing or polishing.
                      And I agree with you, no way I would be able to put that in my car without painting it LOL.

                      So is that a Lemforder arm?
                      jimmy p.
                      87 E30 M3 Prodrive British Touring Car
                      88 E30 M3 Zinnoberot - Street
                      88 E30 M3 Lachsilber - Race (#98 SCCA SPU)
                      92 E30 M Technic Cabrio - S14 POWERED!
                      98 318Ti M44, Base - Morea Green
                      04 Ford F350 - V10

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jimmy p. View Post
                        So is that a Lemforder arm?
                        Nope. Factory BMW part.

                        1990 M3

                        Usually it's best not to know how much money you have into your M3

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                        • #13
                          That sucks. I thought maybe it helped them differentiate Left from Right without having to look for the marking on the CA. Maybe they are from a different manufacturer?

                          88 M3 - LACHSSILBER/M TECH
                          89 M3 - ALPINEWEISS II/SCHWARZ
                          85 323I S52 - ALPINEWEISS/SCHWARZ
                          91 M TECHNIC TURBO - MACAOBLAU/M TECH


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                          • #14
                            This is discomforting as I need to do my lca in my 95 M3. Getting hard to support BMW these days, seems everything is a cost margin.
                            Who knows where I'll be, changes from day to Continent.

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                            • mwagner10702
                              mwagner10702 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Assuming my shop gives the thumbs-up, I will be installing these next week. I'll follow up with the results once complete.

                          • #15
                            I hazard a guess that the coating is just a different yet equally effective corrosion protection as the original black organic cathodic dip coating and that it is applied after the machining instead of prior...

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