BMW E90 Suspension Upgrade Guide
Zach is a BMW enthusiast with a passion for performance. With over 10 years of experience modifying and performing DIY work on BMWs, he’s developed a deep understanding of virtually every BMW engine. He’s also the proud owner of a 600whp N54 with upgraded twin turbos and an E30 325i drift car and has a particular affinity for the S58 engine. Zach is highly knowledgeable about all things BMW, but his expertise in tuning and performance mods sets him apart. His experience as an enthusiast, combined with his technical knowledge, makes him an essential resource for anyone looking to improve the performance of their BMW.
We believe BMW did an excellent job with the E90 and E92 chassis. They might not be the lightest cars compared to the previous 3 series models. However, the E9x chassis offers great balance and the power steering feels flawless. Of course, with most E90 and E92’s nearing or surpassing a decade old a lot of the E90 suspension parts are likely on their way out. A few suspension upgrades can help take the 325i, 328i, 330i, or 335i to the next level. In this guide, we’ll discuss a few of the best suspension upgrades for the E90 & E92, including coilovers, control arms, bushings, and more.
*Bear with us through this article. We did a complete suspension overhaul/upgrade on our E90 N54 335i. We’re familiar with the large scope of upgrades. There are a lot of different suspension parts, and it will be tough to fit it in one article. We may end up short-handing a few topics in this post. If that’s the case we’ll possibly expand this into several articles.
*TC Kline Single Adjustable Coilover Kit pictured above
BMW E90 Suspension Upgrade List
Again, there’s a lot of stuff to cover here. Coilovers are typically at the forefront of discussion, and that will be our primary topic. However, here’s a quick list of all the different E90 suspension mods we’ll discuss:
- Coilovers (shocks & struts)
- Camber plates
- Control arms
- Trailing arms
- Subframe bushings
- Sway bars
- Trans & engine mounts
This is a little bit of a short list, too. There are plenty of other suspension parts that aren’t included in the list above. For example, sway bars also have end links that can be refreshed or upgraded. A lot of different upgrades are available for the E90 and E92 chassis. It’s understandably a little overwhelming. At least, it was for us.
Where To Start?
Again, coilovers are one of the most common starting points for E90 suspension upgrades. That applies to almost any car and holds true for the E9x 325i, 328i, 330i, and 335i. Shocks and struts take a lot of abuse through their lives. Often, they’re among the first parts to wear down and require replacement. As such, it’s an excellent area to upgrade when the time comes. Chances are, a set of quality E90 coilovers will provide the most noticeable improvements in handling.
Most owners who are driving their E9x’s on the street and just want a little more will be happy with coilovers alone. However, those looking for more will find joy in a set of camber plates and M3 control arms. Fitment and install can be a little more complex, but E90 M3 control arms are a direct fit on all E90 and E92 RWD models.
The next step is generally upgrades to the engine & transmission mounts as well as the subframe bushings. M3 subframe bushings will also fit on any E9X chassis BMW. However, some prefer to go with solid subframe bushings. A simple refresh with OEM engine & trans mounts can go a long way, but some also prefer to go solid on those, too.
*NOTE* Don’t forget a set of quality tires. Often, tires have the biggest impact on handling and a set of high quality tires will get you further than any suspension mods.
BMW E90 E92 Coilover Upgrades
This section is likely one we’ll expand into its own post in the future. There’s a lot that goes into shocks and struts. Coilovers technically aren’t a correct term for most of the E90 suspension setups. However, we don’t want to add much so we’re sticking with coilovers as the generally accepted term. For those interested, here’s a quick video that explains the various setups.
Moving on, we’ll discuss a few of the various coilover options for the BMW 325i, 328i, 330i, and 335i. These E90 coilovers will fit any of the following models. However, the fitment for XI all wheel drive models varies. Not all companies offer a product that will fit XI models, but there are tons of options out there. Just ensure you’re shopping for a coilover set that specifically fits the E90 XI models.
1) E90 E92 BC Racing BR Series Coilovers
Available for XI? Yes
BC Racing BR Series coilover E90 suspension kits are a fairly popular choice for the N52, N54, and N55 E9x models. At under $1,000 they’re at the lower-end of the price range for most coilover kits. They will allow you to lower your BMW up to roughly 2″ from the stock ride height. For the price, BC Racing E90 coilovers are a great price for those looking for a modest setup.
Don’t expect top quality handling or ride comfort out of this E90 suspension setup. You’ll notice an improvement in handling, especially compared to older worn down suspension. However, higher quality kits will go a long way for BMW owners looking for even better handling without sacrificing much comfort.
2) E90 E92 TC Kline Racing Coilover Suspension Kit
Price: $1,885.60 – $3,188.60
Available for XI? Yes
These are the coilovers we run on our N54 335i. Single adjustable coilovers start at $1,885 without the camber plate option. The double adjustable E90/E92 coilovers run up to $3,188 with the camber plates. I opted for the single adjustable option knowing I’m the kind of person that was going to set the coilovers and leave them. These are definitely the real deal for E90 coilover kits that offer an excellent balance between street, track, and race.
Our E90 335i has a plethora of other suspension mods. However, the TC Kline coils were without question the best addition. In our opinion, it’s going to be tough to find a better set of coilovers without breaking into the extreme $5,000+ race-dedicated setups. E90 N54 TC Kline coilovers also didn’t sacrifice much in terms of ride quality. Don’t get us wrong – it’s an aggressive suspension kit and you will notice bigger potholes a bit more. However, the ride comfort is high quality given the aggressive nature of these TC Kline coilovers.
3) 325i, 328i, 330i, 335i KW Coilover Kits
Price: $1,449.00 – $3,369.00
Available for XI? Yes
We don’t have personal experience with KW coilover suspension on the BMW E90 or E92 chassis. However, KW has tons of happy customers who swear by these coilovers. KW offers a lot of choices for varying budgets and goals. They offer the modest KW V1 and Street Comfort kits. Then there are the aggressive KW V3 and Clubsport options with a few more choices in between.
Point is – KW has something for everyone assuming your budget allows for a $1,449+ starting point. Comfort and handling, of course, vary based on each specific E90 coilover kit. The reviews and comments from E90/E92 owners running these kits are overwhelmingly positive. They’re also a common choice for many other car owners outside of just the E90 and BMW world. It’s really hard to go wrong with a set of KW coilovers, and the KW V3’s were almost our choice for the E90 335i. I’m sure we would be very happy with those coilovers, but the TC Kline certainly didn’t disappoint.
E90 Coilovers Summary
The above is a very short list of the various great options that are out there for the E90 3 series. We could spend hours and hours writing about all of the different options. As such, the above list is really more of a starting point in the search for coilovers that are right for you. You simply need to understand your budget and goals going into it.
Lower quality kits under $1,000 typically offer respectable handling and the ability to lower your E90/E92 a decent bit. However, handling and ride comfort don’t quite live up to what top quality coilovers have to offer. TC Kline and KW are two of our favorite choices for the 325i, 328, 330i, and 335i. They both offer plenty of choices and variants for XI models. There’s a coilover suspension kit for everyone, but if you want the best of the best then expect to spend $2,500+.
E90 Suspension Control Arm Upgrades
Following coilovers and camber plates, M3 control arms are one of the next big E90 & E92 suspension upgrades. Control arms is somewhat of a vague term for a few different suspension parts. They’re all control arms, but have different formal names. An M3 control arm upgrade on the E9x typically consists of:
- Front wishbones
- Front tension struts
- Rear wishbones
- Rear guide rods
OE M3 control arms are made by TRW. They offer move negative camber and feature stronger bushings and joints. We’re running the exact M3 control arms as listed above on our N54 335i. The difference was night and day. Note – you’ll need the M3 headlight rod and ABS brackets for the conversion to M3 control arms.
BMW E90 Suspension Refresh Kits
Alright. Chances are if you’ve made it this far you’re likely looking to refresh most of the suspension parts on your BMW E90/E92. That’s exactly what we did with the 2007 335i. You can source all of these parts separately and choose the upgrades you want along the way. As such, the following link is more for a reference point to some of the parts: BMW E90 E92 325i, 328i, 330i, 335i Front And Rear Suspension Refresh Kit.
The list of parts within that E90 suspension refresh kit is basically exactly what we did to our 335i. Of course, we added the TC Kline coilovers to the whole upgrade & refresh. We also went with OEM engine and transmission mounts, but we’ll discuss those upgrades in a moment.
You can add upgrades and refresh parts outside of just what’s on the list there. It’s a good baseline, though. The entire upgrade and refresh can be pretty costly, especially when adding in a quality set of coilovers. However, we would do these mods to our N54 335i time and time again.
325i, 328i, 330i, 335i Subframe Bushing Mods
M3 subframe bushings are another common upgrade on the E9x chassis. As with the M3 control arms, these subframe bushings are a direct fit on E90 and E92 models. The M3 bushings are a little stiffer compared to factory non-M subframe bushings. It’s a modest upgrade that won’t be too noticeable for most. We went that route on the 335i to keep things modest for the streets.
You can also opt for a bushing insert kit similar to what Whiteline offers here. Like the M3 subframe bushings, the inserts will have an impact but it will be pretty modest. The next real upgrade is moving on to solid aluminum subframe bushings such as these.
Solid bushings can be a bit pricier, but they’ll provide the biggest improvement. Of course, going with solid E90 N52, N54, N55 subframe bushings will stiffen up the ride quite a bit. It’s likely tolerable, but something to keep in mind. Opt for aggressive coilovers with solid bushings and mounts all around and things can start to get pretty stiff and harsh for street and city driving.
Generally, here is a list of E90 subframe bushing mods from least aggressive to stiffest:
- M3 Subframe Bushings
- Poly Subframe Bushings
- Solid Subframe Bushings
BMW E90/E92 Engine & Trans Mounts
We’re including these parts in the suspension guide since engine and transmission mounts can have a big impact on E90 handling. These parts take a lot of abuse over the years so it’s a good area to refresh. Most modest street/track BMW’s will be fine with a simple refresh of OEM engine and trans mounts.
As with the subframe bushings, you can upgrade to either poly mounts or go with the stiffer solid aluminum mounts. It’s probably overkill to go solid all around for most street cars. However, there is one important note. Stick with the same material mounts for both the engine and transmission. For example, you should not mix OEM E90 engine mounts with solid transmission mounts. If one is solid they should both be solid.
E90 & E92 Suspension Guide Summary
There’s certainly a lot to cover when it comes to BMW E90 & E92 suspension refresh and upgrades. Suspension includes many different parts and there are a plethora of options for each. We could have gone on for thousands more words in this article, so we’ll likely expand this into multiple posts in the future. For now, our primary focus was BMW 325i, 328i, 330i, and 335i coilover upgrades.
Coilovers are typically the go to mod for E90 suspension. They generally offer the biggest benefit out of any of the various mods. You can find dozens of coilover kits for the E90 ranging from about $500 up to $3,000+. BC Racing offers a solid option at the lower price point. We really like the offerings from TC Kline and KW, which we believe are two of the best coilovers around.
Those looking to go further may consider a full suspension refresh with some additional upgrades. M3 control arms are usually next in line following the coilover upgrades for the E90/E92 chassis. After that, solid subframe bushings and engine + transmission mounts offer excellent improvements. However, be cautious going too aggressive as things can get stiff and harsh very quickly.
What suspension mods do you have on your E90/E92 N52, N54, or N55? Which are you considering?
Drop a comment and let us know!
Just want to ask a question in regards to the suspension arm section.
You make mention of sway bar links so I just wanted to ask would it be beneficial to change the E92 335I sway bars for the M3 ones or just stick to them and buy the new links and bushing instead?
Bmw 335i E 92 sport front shocks needed
What spring rate did you guys go with for the front and rear? Would you go harder or softer in the future?