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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 06-02-2010, 07:17 AM
myrddin myrddin is offline
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Replace My Drive Shaft Or Replace Worn Parts?

Hey guys, I have found out this week that my wife’s car needs Drive Shaft work. I can hear a clang as the car moves, and the car has a vibration when driving at low speeds.

Do I need to replace the whole thing or do I just replace the parts:
CENTER BEARING
DRIVE SHAFT FLEX JOINT


And whatever else I can get to...


Just trying to save where I can and not throw money out the window... this car has me replacing things right and left.


Any help would be great... Also if someone has done the job, and idea as to what will make it go easy would be great as well... I will be on my garage floor...




2000 BWM 540i 170K
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  #2  
Old 06-02-2010, 07:22 AM
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Josh P. Josh P. is offline
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Pretty sure the ds is sealed and is typically replaced as a unit. That's BMW's rec anyway. Mine was done under warranty so I can't give you the cost.
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  #3  
Old 06-02-2010, 11:24 AM
qwksilver97 qwksilver97 is offline
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Mine had the same issue. Lots of vibration from under car. The problem was the center bearing. The flex joint/guibo can be inspected from underneath with flashlight, the center bearing cannot be seen its buried under the exhaust and heat shields. I was told by the mechanic that rarley do you ever have to change out the whole driveshaft on these cars. Chances are good its just your center bearing. Mine went out at 109,000 miles. Took it to an independent mechanic and it cost me around $280.00 parts and labor. Good luck
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  #4  
Old 06-02-2010, 11:58 AM
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Josh P. Josh P. is offline
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My U joint was bad, the whole ds was replaced. Are you getting the clunking too when shifting out of D or just vibration?

This thread may help you. I guess it depends where your problem is, CV or U-joint.
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OEM M5 bumper, 40% Huper Optik ceramic tint, Dice Silverline Pro iPod adapter, 540SP radial spokes, Zimmerman Z-Coat rotors w/ Hawk HPS pads
"Mods": driveshaft, cooling system, Vanos, CCV, PSR, VCG, FSU, spark plugs, buncha belts-n-hoses, & other things I'd just as soon forget

BMW CCA member for 15 years

Last edited by Josh P.; 06-02-2010 at 12:06 PM.
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  #5  
Old 06-02-2010, 12:05 PM
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ganesht ganesht is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qwksilver97 View Post
Mine had the same issue. Lots of vibration from under car. The problem was the center bearing. The flex joint/guibo can be inspected from underneath with flashlight, the center bearing cannot be seen its buried under the exhaust and heat shields. I was told by the mechanic that rarley do you ever have to change out the whole driveshaft on these cars. Chances are good its just your center bearing. Mine went out at 109,000 miles. Took it to an independent mechanic and it cost me around $280.00 parts and labor. Good luck
most of the time center bearings only fail due to a bad u joint. my cb failed in my e28, and i replaced it only to have the new cb fail after 15k miles. i ended up spending close to 115 for the cb from my local dealer, had i waited i could have gotten a reman ds with a new cb for 250 locally which comes with a 50k mile warranty. if your going to go through all the trouble of replacing the cb it might just be worth your while to get a new ds.
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  #6  
Old 06-03-2010, 07:14 AM
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DHoang DHoang is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganesht View Post
if your going to go through all the trouble of replacing the cb it might just be worth your while to get a new ds.
+1, and you might as well change out the flex disc too, especially w/ a manual trans. the disc develops hairline cracks that cannot be visually detected, but under strain, there they be.
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  #7  
Old 06-03-2010, 08:45 AM
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- -I am having similar issues, between 10-20mph I get a viberation. After I pass 20mph everything is fine. Would that be CB or UJ?- -
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  #8  
Old 06-03-2010, 10:16 AM
NFS NFS is offline
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I replaced my driveshaft couple of years ago with a new one. I paid $600 for the new driveshaft. I did the job myself. You'll have to remove the whole exhaust in order to remove the driveshaft which was a PITA. I also replaced the transmission mounts while the driveshaft was removed.
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  #9  
Old 06-03-2010, 11:57 AM
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ganesht ganesht is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfive96 View Post
- -I am having similar issues, between 10-20mph I get a viberation. After I pass 20mph everything is fine. Would that be CB or UJ?- -
mine would vibrate and then eventually started making a thumping noise any time i would accelerate, it was most pronounced starting the car off the line.
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  #10  
Old 06-03-2010, 02:01 PM
sunny5280 sunny5280 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myrddin View Post
Hey guys, I have found out this week that my wife's car needs Drive Shaft work. I can hear a clang as the car moves, and the car has a vibration when driving at low speeds.

Do I need to replace the whole thing or do I just replace the parts:
CENTER BEARING
DRIVE SHAFT FLEX JOINT


And whatever else I can get to...


Just trying to save where I can and not throw money out the window... this car has me replacing things right and left.


Any help would be great... Also if someone has done the job, and idea as to what will make it go easy would be great as well... I will be on my garage floor...




2000 BWM 540i 170K
I just had both of the drive shafts in my X5 replaced (boot was torn and it was $30/side more expensive to replace the entire shaft than just the boot). Each one cost $200 and the labor was about $300.
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  #11  
Old 06-03-2010, 05:47 PM
july865 july865 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunny5280 View Post
I just had both of the drive shafts in my X5 replaced (boot was torn and it was $30/side more expensive to replace the entire shaft than just the boot). Each one cost $200 and the labor was about $300.
there are no boots on a driveshaft.
.

.
op. are you referring to the driveshaft (above) or outputshaft below

imho
center bearings do fail, but not as often. flex couplings are more plausible. aka, flex disc, flex bushing.
OEM calls it cv joint. not the proper term imo. back to the point at hand.
spend a little $$ to get it properly diagnosed. then you will know and we will know how to help you better.
diagnosing noises over chat forums are tricky. i have been a auto tech for over 20yrs and even hands on it can bite you in the azz.
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  #12  
Old 03-13-2014, 04:33 PM
TomCat88 TomCat88 is offline
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Replace the thing!...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganesht View Post
most of the time center bearings only fail due to a bad u joint. my cb failed in my e28, and i replaced it only to have the new cb fail after 15k miles. i ended up spending close to 115 for the cb from my local dealer, had i waited i could have gotten a reman ds with a new cb for 250 locally which comes with a 50k mile warranty. if your going to go through all the trouble of replacing the cb it might just be worth your while to get a new ds.
Hey Guys,

First post, I found a lot of good drive shaft info on other threads and thought I should try to pay some forward. Like the guy in the quote said, better to just replace the drive shaft with a reman rather than going back and forth replacing parts that don't need it and spending money you don't need too. Sometimes trying to save too much money causes you to spend way more than necessary. After having problems with drive shaft getting vibration and what not. I purchased rebuilt drive shaft complete for $372.50, I found this company on another thread. Very happy to say its been over a month now and no problems so far. The name of the company I purchased from is Wholesale Import Parts.com. Sometimes paying a little upfront saves you from spending a lot more later...
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  #13  
Old 03-13-2014, 11:50 PM
AnalogCaliga AnalogCaliga is offline
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I actually dropped my exhaust today - turns out my culprit was a severed transmission mount along with an "ok" condition csb and flex.




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  #14  
Old 05-21-2015, 03:13 PM
MJB9 MJB9 is online now
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I had a center support bearing installed for me at a shop (not indy shop). shaking/thud is worse now. I would have installed myself, or at least tried, but I don't have a place I can do it while in an apartment. They don't allow any car work on their property.

4:33 into this video, you can see the "sticky" stuff. Butyl something or other it's called.
I did not buy, nor do I think tech installed it. What does it do/prevent? I suspect even though the CSB is bolted to car, that without that sticky material, the CSB still moves around?

Also, I notice there's a lube shown, that I did not buy, and mechanic didn't mention if I needed.
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  #15  
Old 05-21-2015, 04:01 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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To replace a CSB, the two-piece driveshaft has to be separated. The front and back shafts have to be marked (with white-out or whatever) to ensure that they are lined up exactly on the same splines. If they aren't the DS will be out of balance and vibrate.
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Old 05-21-2015, 04:12 PM
MJB9 MJB9 is online now
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Thanks pleiades. I'm going to make a big assumption that the mechanic (owner of shop) knows how to change a DS, but BMW specific, maybe not. Assuming he knows the issues of aligning back up right, and it's still got a thud/shake only at about 23MPH, and that's it. And the motor and trainy mounts have already been done too. I'm just wondering how important that butyl 'stuff' is? I'm thinking it matters, but don't know.
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  #17  
Old 05-21-2015, 04:47 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjbennett9 View Post
Thanks pleiades. I'm going to make a big assumption that the mechanic (owner of shop) knows how to change a DS, but BMW specific, maybe not. Assuming he knows the issues of aligning back up right, and it's still got a thud/shake only at about 23MPH, and that's it. And the motor and trainy mounts have already been done too. I'm just wondering how important that butyl 'stuff' is? I'm thinking it matters, but don't know.
You know, it's sorta hard to give any useful advice on things like this -after the work- to folks that are paying others and coming back with more problems. You might need to take your car to a qualified BMW repair center to have this done right, or find a smart DIY friend with a backyard. You -are- looking at more $ out the window if the "shop" didn't do things right. Time and again, we've seen how hard it can be with work like this to diagnose follow-up problems and prove that the repair-ist didn't follow procedure.

The butyl cord is stuffed between the top of the CSB and the shaft tunnel, if used at all. It prevents the thin CSB bracket from flexing forward-backward when the DS is under variable torque loads. It is NOT originally on every e39, and it may not have been on yours. If you have the old CSB and looked at the round (top) part of the bracket and saw traces of butyl, you'd know. My opinion of the butyl is that it might dampen interim vibrations when you are shifting and the load on the DS is changing, but it shouldn't matter at all at a steady speed. My car didn't have it but the drivetrain is smooth as silk.

Many wrenchers know how to replace a DS. You don't have to balance these two-piece shafts as long as you leave them assembled. Replacing a CSB is not the same procedure. The e39 DS has to be pulled apart and put back together with the splines aligned as they were originally, or you will have an unbalanced shaft that cannot be re-balanced by the average shop that doesn't have special equipment for that.

Incidentally, the tube of CV grease you circled in that diagram is for repacking the CV joint on the end of the DS.
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  #18  
Old 05-21-2015, 04:55 PM
MJB9 MJB9 is online now
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Thanks Pleiades! I knew right after I had the shop do it, that I'd regret it. It seems that every time I can't do a repair myself, and have a non-dealership do the work, the problem is not fixed, or worse! lol. If I do a repair, I spend days upon days of research. I've done likely 50+ minor to major repairs on my car, after researching, and I'd have to say 95% of the time it works. I didn't have anywhere to do this work, so I paid to have it done, but likely will only pay to have it redone! lol. Unless I find a place I can do it.

Great info you provided, so thanks! Oh, as for the old CSB, the shop never offered it back to me. So I can't see if the butyl wsa there or not.

Unless they car is falling apart, I'm just skipping the repair until I can do it. At least I will be more informed that the average shop, and I will know if something was done right or missed. And only me to blame :-)
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  #19  
Old 05-21-2015, 05:06 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Yeah not having a place to DIY on this is a pain. CSB replacement is probably one of those repairs where if you are in this situation, you still don't want to give the work to the lowest bidder.

Of course, you could loosen a heat shield and squeeze that butyl up in there yourself. Loosening the two nuts holding the CSB bracket in place would give you more space to get the butyl up in there and then tighten the bracket back up. The CSB nuts are on studs welded into the car body, and they are rather low-torque spec, much lower than they look capable of handling. Can't remember but I think around 16 ft.lb. If you overtorque them and break a stud, your e39 doodoo will get much deeper.

My opinion is worth what you paid for it. I'd be surprised if the butyl fixed a vibration at a constant speed, but I've been proven wrong about lots of things. You might want to chat with the shop repair guy and see if you can get him to describe how he put the DS back together.

Good luck.

[edit] Forgot to mention one extra thing. Some people report curing vibrations on a re-installed DS by "pre-loading" the CSB, moving it forward a few mm before bolting it down. I'm not one of the believers in preloading, but BMW does spec it for certain series cars (just not the e39s). If the new CSB were bolted on exactly where the old one was, it should be fine, but again, you are going to have to get under there, lower exhaust maybe, pull out a couple heat shields, and look at these things before you can do anything else.

BTW ..... If your DS is vibrating out-of-balance, you are driving a dangerous car. No way to predict what's going to happen with it. It could snap apart and impale the passenger in an oncoming car.... for example ....

Last edited by pleiades; 05-21-2015 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 05-21-2015, 05:22 PM
AV8R4AA AV8R4AA is offline
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Not so fast guys......
Had what I thought was a bad drive shaft, turned out the engine mounts and the tranny mounts
caused undue stress on the drive line. My shaft whistled as 23 MPH.
New mounts fixed the alignment and no more problems.
With both engine and tranny mounts sagging the alignment is critically stressed.

If you haven't done mounts, the newest factory ones on the road are now 12 years old.

It's actually a fun job, pry bar and floor jack and some good "wrasltlin" moves and they are done.
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Last edited by AV8R4AA; 05-21-2015 at 05:24 PM.
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  #21  
Old 05-21-2015, 05:27 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV8R4AA View Post
Not so fast guys......
Had what I thought was a bad drive shaft, turned out the engine mounts and the tranny mounts
caused undue stress on the drive line. My shaft whistled as 23 MPH.
New mounts fixed the alignment and no more problems.
With both engine and tranny mounts sagging the alignment is critically stressed.

If you haven't done mounts, the newest factory ones on the road are now 12 years old.

It's actually a fun job, pry bar and floor jack and some good "wrasltlin" moves and they are done.
See post #16.

Hey I notice both you and Mr. Bennett are in DFW....
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  #22  
Old 05-21-2015, 08:33 PM
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Just want to reference what is found by typing /drive shaft in the bestlinks, in case it's useful ...
- Worn drive shaft, center bearing, and giubo or "giunti Boschi" DIY (1) (2) (3) (4) & a drive shaft and center bearing DIY (1) (2) & how to pronounce the word often misspelled as guibo because Americans spell Italian words the way they think they're pronounced (1)
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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