If you’re in the market for a new set of shocks and struts for your E39, you’re in the right place. In this post I’ll go over the types of shocks available and how to choose the correct type that will suit your needs. The first thing you need to consider is what model E39 you drive. The 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i were available in either the base model or sport package. Those with the sport package require sport shocks and those without the sport package require base shocks. BMW and parts dealers refer to the sport model parts as M sport suspension.
E39 Base Model Shocks
The base model 5 series sedans are not as low as the sport package models, and the dampening is not as firm. The ride is much more comfortable and plush, which is really enjoyable for long commutes or rough New England roads. My first E39 was a 2001 530i base model, here’s a video of that car before I sold it. Driving that car was like rolling on a tub of organic melted butter. And I mean that in the most positive way possible.
E39 Sport Package Shocks
The sport package models are a rare breed for obvious reasons: the majority of BMW shoppers purchased less expensive base models. If you’re lucky enough to have a true sport package sedan, be sure to order the appropriate shocks.
There are several brands and options available to those of us who drive the sport package models. Bilstein, Sachs, Koni and OEM Sachs are the most common options. Bilstein sports have a great reputation on older applications such as the E30, but are not well received in the E39 community because of their harsh ride characteristics. If that’s your preference, then I won’t stop you from ordering Bilstein shocks here.
Sachs sport shocks are an OEM replacement for the original shocks and are my favorite option. These will restore your ride to that OEM ride quality without the price of the Sachs version that is sold at the dealership. They are the same shocks as the version sold by the dealer, just without the BMW stamp. Sachs sport shocks provide a firm ride but are not too harsh. The improvement over blown shocks with over 100k miles is immediately noticeable after installation. These are the best shocks for the money and are what I installed on my 530i sport. You can order the Sachs sport shocks here.
Koni yellow sport shocks are probably the high performance option available for E39 owners but are also the most expensive. The Koni sport shocks have adjustable dampening so you can enjoy a greater range of driving dynamics. Drive during the week on a softer setting and adjust to a firmer setting before track or auto-cross events. You can order the Koni yellow shocks here.
In conclusion, my favorite shocks that balance quality, performance, and cost are the Sachs Sport shocks. These OEM replacements are made in Germany and restore that firm factory ride without being too harsh or too soft. They cost hundreds of dollars less than the Koni Yellow adjustable shocks, money which I feel is better spent on Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires anyway.
If you’re looking for a video guide to installing new shocks in your E39, check out my suspension overhaul videos here.
As always, if you have comments, questions or suggestions feel free to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!
I can only confirm what the author says. Sachs sport shocks/struts and H&R sport coil springs are the way to go with a BMW E39 factory Sports Package. I tried with the E39 spec’d Bilsteins and the ride was horrible. After two and a half years knocking my teeth (and swearing) while driving, I have my beauty currently at the shop, where the bilsteins are removed and the Sachs/H&R setup is being installed. I’m really looking forward to have the old ride quality back.
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Can we have details please on where and what type of E39 shocks to buy
What is an appropriate bill for the parts and install?
Hi hope you are well. I recently purchased a 2002 BMW E39 auto 2.5i sport with 18” M parallel alloys
Since I bought this car I have been having so many problems with the suspension. The previous owner install some cheap JOM brand coil overs and sold original. The coil overs are damaged and making so much noise. locking mechanism are seized up n hard to adjust. I am having struggling on humps and potholes. Car scrapes badly and hits underneath car quite badly I live in typical London roads with so many humps. I spoke to the dealership and my car is fitted with M Sport II suspensions and replacement cost is way out my budget. Which struts and springs would you recommend without it sitting to high and good for the rough humpy roads. I travel a lot with the family so need something will give me a comfort but not look so high. Do you have pics with OEM Sachs and H&R springs. Any help or advice will be much appreciated.
Awesome blog! Max, is the sachs sport shocks/struts and H&R sport coil springs the way to go for canyon runs? I’m currently on the original setup for my ’02 530i 5 speed and looking to enhance my twisty canyon experience with a newer setup that is great for canyon runs and for my daily drive to work.
do you have an exploded view of front and rear shock assembly? I am pre assembling my set up but want to make sure I assemble correctly.
I have all the parts.
Hi Max. If I am may ask, which Bilsteins did you put on your BMW E39 with Sport Package? B4s (black)? B6s (yellow)? B8s (yellow)? or Other? What was your expectations by replacing with Bilsteins? Were you looking for OE ride or something firmer? Thanks for your time and advise. Let me know any other feed back you can provide.
I owned a e39 touring for 8 years and just sold it (regretfully). It had the sports package on it and I replaced it with the Bilsteins all the way around. They were very stiff. I decided to back to the Sachs after a while and they were fine. I just recently purchased another e39 (because I missed my old one so badly) but this time I went with the sedan model with NO sports suspension. I want to get the Sachs Sport shocks onto this one and put the BAVAUTO/ECS Tuning Sport Springs on it. I am hearing about the tire rods on the front needing to be replaced to accommodate the new length so I don’t blow out my new shocks. I’ve read numerous blogs on it, but have not come to 100% conclusion on what to do. Any one have any answers to this one. I live in the US.