the E30 84-88 Aluminum Bumpers Author:
10mm allen wrench (88-on shorter bumpers)
19mm socket (84-88 longer bumpers)
1 big piece of cardboard (broken down fridge or large appliance box)
Power drill and several small size bits
2 small screws (1/2 to 1 inch long should do – optional)
Bench mounted vice
1 can of PB Blaster (available at most hardware stores)
Clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
you have an 84-88 BMW E30, chances are good you have the big US-Spec aluminum
bumpers, affectionately referred to as “diving boards”. Now while we would
almost all like to have the later style plastic bumpers, sometimes it
just isn’t possible. They are expensive, and if you have an 84-87 body,
the rear bumper requires a lot of modification to fit. But there is hope!
In about an hour, you can push in or “tuck” your aluminum bumpers.
The method described here was done on a 1988 E30 with the shorter-style
aluminum bumpers, but it should be pretty much the same procedure on and
diving board equipped car. This method will also involve removing the
front bumper from the car, which makes things much easier. Most people
will tell you that you can do it with them on the car, but you risk spraying
oil all over your car, and in order to compress the shocks, you would
have to drive your car up against a wall and push them in. While you will
be doing this for the rear bumper, who wants to do it twice?
A big thanks to Jordan Sarette, who did most of the work during this procedure!
After finding a dry spot with plenty of room to move around and make a
mess, prepare your tools and materials.
1. Get on your back under the front bumper of the car. Look straight up,
and there will be a hole on the underside of the metal part of the bumper
about six inches in from each side. In these holes, are the 2 large bolts
that hold the bumper on the car. These are most likely going to be stuck
on pretty well, having never been touched in 12 years. Get your can of
PB Blaster, and spray them down, being sure to coat the entire head of
the bolt where it meets the hole. You probably want to let this stuff
sit for at least a few hours. We left it overnight.
Get your 10mm allen wrench or 19mm socket, and remove the two large bolts.
Make sure when you do the second one that you are not under the bumper!
When the bumper is loose, pull it out just a little bit until you see
the wires connecting to the turn signals. Disconnect these, and set the
bumper aside. Now you can get to the shocks clearly. They are located
directly below your hi-beams.
3. Get your 10mm socket and a socket wrench and undo the two bolts on
each side of the bumper shocks. After undoing these bolts, the shocks
will simply pull right out from the front valence.
4. Secure the shock in the vice, and get your drill. You will be drilling
a small hole through each of the shocks. Put your piece of cardboard down
on the ground under your workbench, and cover anything you don’t want
getting soaked in oil.
You will most likely need the protective goggles at this point. Most bumper
shocks are filled with oil, and when you drill your holes through them,
the oil will spray out quite forcefully. Luckily, my front shocks were
filled with some kind of oily foam that just flew everywhere. Have extra
drill bits handy, we broke a couple in the process of drilling. Keep at
it, they take a little work to get through.
After drilling the holes to release the pressure in the shocks, place
the shock in the vice lengthwise. Then start turning the clamp SLOWLY,
to compress the shock. Oil may continue to spray out, so be careful. Continue
to compress the shock until the part where the bolt goes through is all
the way down against the top of the flange. After compressing the shocks,
they should look like this. The one on the top is the compressed shock.
After compressing the shocks, put them back in the vice widthwise and
drill one hole all the way into the shock, not all the through. Put a
screw slightly bigger than the drilled hole in the hole, and tighten down.
This is to keep the shock from extending back out. This is optional because
it takes a fairly good amount of force to compress them, and they probably
won’t come back out.
6. After you have compressed the shocks, get your 10mm socket and wrench
and put the shocks back into the front of the car. The shock flanges have
room in their spaces to move up and down about ¼ of an inch, so be sure
that the shocks sit at the same height on each side, or else your bumper
will sit crooked. Replace the 10mm bolts and tighten them down good and
7. Have someone hold the bumper for you while you reconnect the turn signal
wires. Make sure they are seated all the way, then place the bumper back
on the car, making sure that the holes on the underside of the bumper
line up with the holes for the bolts on the front of the shocks. Replace
the bolts and tighten them down good and hard. You are done with the front
8. Now on to the rear bumper. This one is very easy. Grab your drill,
goggles, and cardboard. Place the cardboard on the ground under the car,
get on your back under the bumper, and look straight up. You should be
able to see the shocks clearly on each side. Make sure your goggles are
on good and tight, and drill those suckers! Once again, BE CAREFUL!
9. To compress the rear bumper, bring a friend and go find yourself a
big, solid brick wall, like the back of a Safeway or something. Back your
car straight up to wall, and have your friend guide you to about 6 inches
from the wall. Put the car in reverse, and give it a little gas. Don’t
romp your car into the wall, just enough so you bump up against it. Have
your friend get out of the way, because more oil is going to spray out
of the shocks. Once you feel the bumper is pushed in all the way, get
out and take a look to see that the rear is even on each end, and you’re