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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 01-31-2013, 09:02 PM
Moon the Loon Moon the Loon is offline
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Should I keep it - BMW Says Rear Diff Needs To Be Replaced

Looking for any insight on what I should do from those of you who may have had this same problem.

The problem I'm having is when driving very slow (like in stop and go traffic) I get a series of clunks from the rear when decelerating. It happens the most at about 10-15 mph and especially when I allow the car to roll to a stop by itself not braking at all or braking very little.

The bmw repair shop first did a trans software update, which did make the shifting smoother but still clunking.

After trying a few other things that didn't work, they had a tech from bmw corp come out and he says its the rear diff and that it needs to be replaced.

What I really want to know is should I keep the vehicle? So far the repairs have been covered by the dealership I got it from. But this diff repair they are only covering half. If I want to keep the vehicle I'll have to pay $1,400.00. I just bought this thing a month ago, drove it for a week and it started having problems. Its been at the bmw repair shop now for three weeks.

Its a 2006 with 75k
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  #2  
Old 02-01-2013, 04:42 AM
jdauria jdauria is offline
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When this bwm repair shop did the trans software update, did they also try a diff flush and fill? 75k seems a bit premature to have to repair the entire diff
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  #3  
Old 02-01-2013, 07:25 AM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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75K miles does seem a bit soon -- actually I believe that rear ends should be the last thing to go in a car. And when they do finally "go" they just howl but never really seem to actually fail. However that said, since this is a used car there is no way of knowing what the previous owner(s) did to the car or what conditions it was driven in. I have long felt that the rear ends in BMW's are a bit fragile compared to those in the domestics and asian offerings. Over the years I have replaced three BMW rear ends in different cars; a 2002, 325, and 735. I have never had to replace a rear end in any other car. Just my personal experience.

Last edited by UncleJ; 02-01-2013 at 07:26 AM.
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  #4  
Old 02-01-2013, 07:30 AM
jdauria jdauria is offline
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Why not try a different diff fluid? A heavier one maybe? 75w140?

Who knows if the previous owner even did a diff flush at anytime
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  #5  
Old 02-01-2013, 07:35 AM
x3brian x3brian is online now
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I did have a front differential fail in mine at 60k but it was a very obvious and catastrophic failure. This sounds like a low fluid condition. Heck the pumpkin only holds a little under a quart of fluid.

Replace fluid with redline 75w90 and let us know results. This is easily done.

Last edited by x3brian; 02-01-2013 at 07:37 AM.
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  #6  
Old 02-01-2013, 08:26 AM
Moon the Loon Moon the Loon is offline
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Thanks for the input guys appreciate it.

The repair shop said they checked the diff fluid and said it looked clean and it did not smell burnt. But I don't think they ever did a flush though. I'll check with them today about the flush and post results. Researching this around the forums someone else posted about Rear Diff + FM which stands for "friction modifier to try?

Also one last note I forgot to mention above is that the clunking only happens after the car has warmed up maybe 10-15 mins into my commute it starts happening. Also when its colder outside it takes longer.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:05 AM
mrsanchez3 mrsanchez3 is offline
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I say definitely just change the fluid, drive it a day or two, change it again. Costs almost nothing to do that and its easy to do. I used redline 75 90.

Good luck.
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  #8  
Old 02-01-2013, 11:08 AM
jdauria jdauria is offline
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yeah for under $55 it wont hurt to try it
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  #9  
Old 02-01-2013, 11:08 AM
Moon the Loon Moon the Loon is offline
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Thanks for the feedback mrsanchez3.

Question for everyone: Am I just masking the problem by changing the fluid?
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  #10  
Old 02-01-2013, 11:11 AM
jdauria jdauria is offline
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I dont think so, because if you do the flush/fill and its still there, you'll know its the diff for sure
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  #11  
Old 02-01-2013, 11:14 AM
mrsanchez3 mrsanchez3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moon the Loon View Post
Thanks for the feedback mrsanchez3.

Question for everyone: Am I just masking the problem by changing the fluid?
Well, if the diff is dead then yes. If not, then I don't see how. Changing the fluid is never a bad thing so you can't hurt it imo.
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  #12  
Old 02-01-2013, 02:30 PM
nightmareuki nightmareuki is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdauria View Post
When this bwm repair shop did the trans software update, did they also try a diff flush and fill? 75k seems a bit premature to have to repair the entire diff
mine was replaced by 50K, on a 07. was making humming noise
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  #13  
Old 02-02-2013, 06:55 AM
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Clunk

Not to throw a monkey wrench in things here nor to second guess the dealer but this "clunk" can also and more often is the t-case however my experience is it does it all the time not just when warm. Your not going to believe this but tires can cause the t-case clunk. Scorpions are recommended. Changing just two tires will cause this issue as well due to different tire diameters and thus stress on t-case. You might check tires to see if wear is equal and what type they are.

On another point, with all the issues you have had I would see if dealer would #1- take it back or #2 CPO it for you if possible or sell you an extended warranty cheap. Even if you have to pay the $1400 you would have to pay for the diff you would have piece of mind and a warranty to work through any other unknown issues.

I've said it before and I'll say it again NEVER buy a used BMW without some sort of warranty even if it is just 6 months of the OEM one left but preferably a CPO or extended one.
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  #14  
Old 02-05-2013, 08:38 AM
Moon the Loon Moon the Loon is offline
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Well I picked up the vehicle last night after having the Diff Fluid flushed and refilled with redline 75 90. Still making the clunking noise this morning on my commute in to work.

Also checked and I did notice that the tires are indeed miss matched, two rear are different then two front.
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:52 AM
jdauria jdauria is offline
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how long did you have two different tread patterns? (miles)
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  #16  
Old 02-05-2013, 08:56 AM
Moon the Loon Moon the Loon is offline
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I have no idea. I'll have ask the dealership if they put those tires on. If the dealership put them on then 2-3 k miles.
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  #17  
Old 02-06-2013, 05:28 PM
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Tires

Are they the same size, even if they are I would bet this is your problem. If two were replaced they will be a different diameter than the other two and this will most definetly cause your issue with the transfer case as I indicated above. See if they will put on a set of matching ones just to test drive it around the lot. They could swap out the wheels pretty quickly. You may still get some clunking but hopefully not as bad.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:46 PM
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Tires

Delete, dup post got trigger happy
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  #19  
Old 02-06-2013, 07:32 PM
Moon the Loon Moon the Loon is offline
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Update - So the who ever owned the vehicle before me had the wheels miss matched. The 255/45 R18 were in the front and the 235/50 R18 were in the back. We just switched them and it did make a difference much smoother. However, the clunking is still there, though its not as bad as it was. I asked the dealership if they put the tires on or rotated the wheels when they took it in and they said they DID NOT. So I don't know how long they have been like that or the damage it caused cause of the miss match.

So couple questions for you guys:

Is it the Rear Differential (like everyone including BMW is telling me it is) or should I be worried about the transfer case now?

Should I try a Transfer Case oil change?
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  #20  
Old 02-07-2013, 04:37 AM
ncativo ncativo is offline
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Perhaps you should change the transfer case oil with friction modifier? The following video is all you need if you are a DIY person:


Alternatively, you should check that your tires have the right pressure too.
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  #21  
Old 02-07-2013, 08:27 AM
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Clunk

I would change the Tcase fluid as suggested. I don't think this will fix the clunk but it needs done anyway. Based upon the two different tires sizes I really really believe this is a tcase issue. As to the damage, they are pretty tough. Please use BMW fluid, it is very expensive but don't get talked into some snake oil that will make it better than new. It is hard to find a dealer who will sell it because my understanding is they buy it in bulk. I would let them do it probably. Get the tranny fluid done while you are at it. When was the last time the cooling system was flushed, BMW recommends every 2 years.

Unless you can return the vehicle you are stuck with it so change the fluids and drive it, I don't see where you have any other options. Please be aware that in addition to the tire size the brand also contributes to tcase clunking. I have had more than one conversation with BMW personnel about this issue. I know the manager of the service department at the BMW near me and just last month we had a discussion about the sensitivity of the X3 to tire brand. He said unless you are running the OEM tire (Scorpions in my case) they can not effectively diagnosis such issues. I know it doesn't make sense but I have heard this from different sources over the past 3 years.
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  #22  
Old 02-07-2013, 08:31 AM
Moon the Loon Moon the Loon is offline
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Thanks for the replies guys.

Where is the Transfer Case located? Near the rear?

By the way X3emist we have the exact same X3. Yours probably clunk free though
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:35 AM
al_macaroni al_macaroni is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moon the Loon View Post
Thanks for the replies guys.

Where is the Transfer Case located? Near the rear?

By the way X3emist we have the exact same X3. Yours probably clunk free though
It is approximately under your driver's seat. You can best see it from crawling underneath from the left side of the SAV.

It is a rather straight forward DIY. My two cents on the DIY - 1. you need BMW OEM transfer case fluid and it runs about $50 for a liter. (You will need less than 1 liter.) 2. You will need a 16mm wrench or ratcheting wrench to remove the fill (upper) bolt. There is not enough clearance to get a socket in there.

Check out this DIY thread http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=583647
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  #24  
Old 02-07-2013, 08:43 AM
mrsanchez3 mrsanchez3 is offline
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Definitely change the TC fluid... It's actually pretty simple. With a little wiggling it can be done without even lifting the car.

I tried adding a you tube vid but it doesn't seem to be working.. Dunno why... Search it on you tube you will find hits.

Last edited by mrsanchez3; 02-07-2013 at 08:45 AM.
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  #25  
Old 02-07-2013, 10:15 AM
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Nope, I got one to

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moon the Loon View Post
Thanks for the replies guys.

Where is the Transfer Case located? Near the rear?

By the way X3emist we have the exact same X3. Yours probably clunk free though
Actually I get a clunk at times specifically if I go to take off from a stop and then let off the gas abruptly, same when backing up and letting off gas to stop and reverse direction. It seems the deceleration when the vehicle is in 2nd or 3rd gear causes the clunk.
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