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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 06-22-2012, 07:08 AM
CapsFanBen CapsFanBen is offline
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AWD Front Half Axles Refresh

I am getting new shocks for my car, and I am wondering if it makes sense to refresh the front half axles. They aren't that bad, but I am getting some vibration on the highway despite having replaced the CABs. The car has about 90k miles. One boot on each side has ripped in the past, and most of the grease came out before I realized. I guess it was the outer CV boot on both sides but I am not sure.

What should I replace? Just the outer JV joint or should I just get entire new/rebuilt half axles. Not really sure exactly of the anatomy of the half axles so any advice would be great. Any idea where I should buy these parts? Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 06-22-2012, 07:29 AM
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floydarogers floydarogers is offline
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IME, having had a CVJ go bad and have to be replaced, any vibration is *not* from the CVJ.
Look elsewhere - like out-of-balance tires/wheels, bent rims, ball joint (tie-rod ends and such), possibly bearings.
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  #3  
Old 06-22-2012, 07:33 AM
CapsFanBen CapsFanBen is offline
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Thanks for the response. The wheels have been balanced on the car. Maybe the bearings are bad. I do hear a lot of noise when I have the windows down and pass by parked cars so that the noise is bouncing of them, but I dont hear it otherwise. Also, when I am on the highways, I am getting a clunking feeling coming throught the floor. Not sure if it is on the passenger side too.
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  #4  
Old 06-22-2012, 09:44 AM
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SJBimmer SJBimmer is offline
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Your CV joints are shot. At 90k, with ripped boots in the past, and grease loss, you need to replace the half shafts on both sides. There are several DIY's on here somewhere if you search. There may be a link in the wiki. Take a look at this link, the second up from the bottom of the page.

http://www.oembimmerparts.com/category_s/1913.htm

Max can answer questions if you contact him.
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  #5  
Old 06-22-2012, 12:17 PM
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floydarogers floydarogers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJBimmer View Post
Your CV joints are shot. At 90k, with ripped boots in the past, and grease loss, you need to replace the half shafts on both sides. There are several DIY's on here somewhere if you search. There may be a link in the wiki. Take a look at this link, the second up from the bottom of the page.

http://www.oembimmerparts.com/category_s/1913.htm

Max can answer questions if you contact him.
Considering that, on my '01 330xi, only one of 4 CVJ's broke by the time I hit 145K (and I replaced all the covers around 90K as a couple cracked), I disagree with your diagnosis.
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  #6  
Old 06-22-2012, 12:19 PM
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Scott ZHP Scott ZHP is offline
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+1 on the above. I'll add that I am not a fan of the EMPI rebuilt axles. The OEM for BMW is GKN. If you are going to keep it for a while, pony up the cash for original axles.

The outer front boots *always* wear out first.
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  #7  
Old 06-22-2012, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by floydarogers View Post
Considering that, on my '01 330xi, only one of 4 CVJ's broke by the time I hit 145K (and I replaced all the covers around 90K as a couple cracked), I disagree with your diagnosis.
CVs rarely break outright. But if you drive on one with a ripped boot for more than a few hundred miles, it's probably trash. The grease literally gets spun/thrown right out of the joint. Add a little water and some dust and it's toast.
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JUST...LOOK...UNDER...THE...CAR....for Chrissakes....it`s like checking to see if a dog is male or female....
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A bimmer with forced induction should have a proper manual gearbox. Anything less is like french kissing your sister.
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  #8  
Old 06-22-2012, 01:08 PM
CapsFanBen CapsFanBen is offline
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I do not know how long I rode with the torn boot, but the inside of the wheel was covered in grease by the time I noticed.
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  #9  
Old 06-22-2012, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floydarogers View Post
Considering that, on my '01 330xi, only one of 4 CVJ's broke by the time I hit 145K (and I replaced all the covers around 90K as a couple cracked), I disagree with your diagnosis.
Of course if you drive mostly highway, CV joints can last forever. Considering the OP lives in DC, there was probably movement in those CV joints at 60k The extreme steering angles required by parking, and lots of turns, and extreme temperatures, all conspire to kill CV joints. If you had a CV joint break on you, you didn't notice the symptoms of impending failure. They tend to vibrate a lot, and make all kinds of funny noises for quite a while before they break.
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  #10  
Old 06-22-2012, 01:55 PM
CapsFanBen CapsFanBen is offline
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SJBimmer, what do you say regarding OEM versus non-OEM. I definitely plan to keep the car for a while.
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  #11  
Old 06-22-2012, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by CapsFanBen View Post
SJBimmer, what do you say regarding OEM versus non-OEM. I definitely plan to keep the car for a while.
Unfortunately, it seems as though these aftermarket manufacturers change all the time, so you might want to call Max at oembimmerparts and see what he thinks, as he has real world data. I have experience with inferior CV joints, and they are not worth the hassle. Sometimes, inferior joints can vibrate. Sure, they replace it, but how about the labor? It's not a job you want to do twice. If you can afford it, and are going to keep the car for another 50k, the OEM joints are probably the way to go. This video will give you an idea of whats involved.


Last edited by SJBimmer; 06-22-2012 at 02:41 PM.
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  #12  
Old 06-22-2012, 09:40 PM
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Scott ZHP Scott ZHP is offline
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Originally Posted by CapsFanBen View Post
SJBimmer, what do you say regarding OEM versus non-OEM. I definitely plan to keep the car for a while.
OEM.

They're twice the price, but worth it if you are planning to keep the car.
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Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
JUST...LOOK...UNDER...THE...CAR....for Chrissakes....it`s like checking to see if a dog is male or female....
Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
A bimmer with forced induction should have a proper manual gearbox. Anything less is like french kissing your sister.
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  #13  
Old 06-23-2012, 06:17 AM
CapsFanBen CapsFanBen is offline
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Thanks for the advice.

I am kind of also worried it is the transfer case since I feel the vibration under the driver side. I feel it worst when I am coasting on the highway at about 60-80 with my RPMs at around 2k. The clunking feeling does NOT get worse when I bring up the RPMs tho. Could it still be the transfer case even if the problem does not get worse with higher RPMs when traveling at high speed?

why, oh, why was i foolish enough to get an xi...oh well
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  #14  
Old 06-23-2012, 07:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CapsFanBen View Post
Thanks for the advice.

I am kind of also worried it is the transfer case since I feel the vibration under the driver side. I feel it worst when I am coasting on the highway at about 60-80 with my RPMs at around 2k. The clunking feeling does NOT get worse when I bring up the RPMs tho. Could it still be the transfer case even if the problem does not get worse with higher RPMs when traveling at high speed?

why, oh, why was i foolish enough to get an xi...oh well
I would suspect guibos (rubber donuts in lieu of u-joints) before the transfer case. Transfer cases are pretty rugged.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
JUST...LOOK...UNDER...THE...CAR....for Chrissakes....it`s like checking to see if a dog is male or female....
Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
A bimmer with forced induction should have a proper manual gearbox. Anything less is like french kissing your sister.
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  #15  
Old 06-23-2012, 07:45 AM
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floydarogers floydarogers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CapsFanBen View Post
Thanks for the advice.

I am kind of also worried it is the transfer case since I feel the vibration under the driver side. I feel it worst when I am coasting on the highway at about 60-80 with my RPMs at around 2k. The clunking feeling does NOT get worse when I bring up the RPMs tho. Could it still be the transfer case even if the problem does not get worse with higher RPMs when traveling at high speed?

why, oh, why was i foolish enough to get an xi...oh well
Frankly, I traded in my '01 330xi at 145K precisely because I was worried about the transfer case. I had had the afore-mentioned CVJ replaced, the right-front wheel bearing, the CABs and everything replaced, it was perfect. Then, I had a very unusual failure - front diff threw a tooth and locked the entire drivetrain; very fun.

Some time after that, I started to notice a rumble in the drivetrain. Very subtle, but gradually got a little more noticeable. It would only happen at 45-65 or so with low load on the drivetrain - maintaining speed on the level. It was finally just enough that I was able to demonstrate it to the great techs that had done all the work (I no longer do that kind of wrenching), and they worked it over and puzzled it out to isolate the transfer case as the source. My guess is that I had another 25K or more before it got bad enough to have to replace it.

However, the car was worth less than $9500. The part is $1700. Labor would be another $1500 or more. While doing that you might as well replace the clutch since the labor to do so would be incremental: another $500 parts and $500 labor, plus 9% sales tax and I'm spending over $4500 on the car.

But I still miss the utility of AWD and snow tires during the winter - unstoppable and extremely safe on the snow in the mountains. The Highlander is just not as good.
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  #16  
Old 06-24-2012, 09:43 AM
YiMMA2k5 YiMMA2k5 is offline
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why, oh, why was i foolish enough to get an xi...oh well[/QUOTE]

xi's dont have rear subframe issues. that was my choice maker for me. As an RWD/Manual enthusiast. I had to give those two options up for a auto xi, just b.c i didnt want to deal with the sub frame cracking (1400 job).
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  #17  
Old 06-24-2012, 03:35 PM
CapsFanBen CapsFanBen is offline
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the transfer case is more like a 2000 dollar job tho and mine probably does have play in it...who knows how long before it actually breaks tho
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  #18  
Old 06-24-2012, 07:16 PM
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floydarogers floydarogers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CapsFanBen View Post
the transfer case is more like a 2000 dollar job tho and mine probably does have play in it...who knows how long before it actually breaks tho
On realoem.com, it costs $2272. Yeah you could find a used one for less, but how good is it going to be?
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