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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
Talk about the E83 BMW X3 in this forum!

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  #151  
Old 02-06-2012, 04:35 PM
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Dominic49 Dominic49 is offline
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I have no issues making the mold myself and have access to many off shore factories to get everything done very cheaply
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  #152  
Old 02-06-2012, 05:27 PM
yagermj yagermj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by payday140 View Post
Update plastic gear: Today I've gone to different plastic molding companies and all said the gear is made of nylon and that it would have to be made by an injection mold. Two of them turned me down one of them said they can do it, they told me they would charge me $1.50 per gear out of the same material catch is they would charge me another $12,000.00 to make the mold yyyiiikkkeesss!!!! Two more places to go I'll let you guys know how that goes. Metal gear update: still waiting!
Any idea what type of nylon the original is?
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  #153  
Old 02-18-2012, 10:05 AM
payday140 payday140 is offline
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metal gear

Finaly the gear expert (friend) had some time to view and inspect the nylon gear from the actuator motor. His thoughts were that he had no problem doing the helical gear wich is the one that gets worn out by the metal worm however the top gears would be a problem and unable to duplicate do to not having right equipment. After explaining were gear is from his response was, " maybe its a weak link design to fail to protect other componets in the system". wow! He did lead me to another gear & machine shop and yes it can be done for about 850 bucks! I also did go to diffrent injection molds businesses all with he same response 10k - 13k just for making the mold.
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  #154  
Old 02-18-2012, 01:39 PM
payday140 payday140 is offline
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sorry yagermj i failed to ask what type of nylon it is but i'll be sure to ask next time
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  #155  
Old 02-19-2012, 12:12 PM
siki1277 siki1277 is offline
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Hi Payday140, please let me know where did you buy the used part. I will like to find one as well. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by payday140 View Post
hello guys this is my first post here! i have a x3 2004 and like everyone here all 3 lights came on. i didn't want to blow 750 on a new one so i took a chance on a used one at the salvage yard from a 2005 with 60k miles 400 bucks with 90 day warranty. before i installed it i opened both up just like pburnett did but i didnt remove the rubber seal!! the gear from the 2005 wasn't that worn out still i took pburnett advice and turned it 180d. i assembled everything back together and installed it myself NO MORE LIGHTS! Having the original worn out gear in my hand it does appear that it only works on one side, that being said im placing it on the hands of a professional gear machinist, buddy of mine! and hoping he can duplicate it by using the good side. as soon as i get the gear back (if he's able to make it) i will post pics of the gear and the assembly process and test it on my car. TO BE CONTINUED...............
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  #156  
Old 02-19-2012, 08:23 PM
payday140 payday140 is offline
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I bought it from LONESTAR IMPORTS in houston texas, they also have a website. Still I recommend for you to buy a new one, 350 dollar savings and taking a risk might not be the smartest way to go, the only reason I done it was I had already spent 1,700.00 at the dealerfor replacing crank case vent valve, vent hose, upper middle lower hoses, thrust rod bushing,drivebelts,valve cover gasket(oil leak) and so on, then i needed a break job so i took it to a indy shop 500.00 bucks. Then the lights came on!!!! all this happen in the same month so back to dealer, they quoted me at 1,250.00 to replace actuator motor couldnt afford it anymore.
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  #157  
Old 02-23-2012, 10:05 AM
Ramador296 Ramador296 is offline
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I have read all of the posts. Just to summarize, is it safe to say that rotating the gear will provide a fix that will last about 3-4 months but at some point the unit may still need to be replaced?
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  #158  
Old 02-23-2012, 10:08 AM
Grinch337 Grinch337 is offline
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No, the fix done properly should last quite a while. My gear was worn out at about 90,000 miles. Therefore, theoretically, the fix should last another 90,000. Your results may vary, of course.
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  #159  
Old 02-25-2012, 09:25 AM
wyowolf wyowolf is offline
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Ok trying to remove the actuator from the car seems pretty complicated. trans crossmember is in the way, or heat shield is in the way.

I am trying to understand that if you just remove the motor, and the gear is inside the gear housing, how do you rotate it?? its seems you have to remove the whole thing, then unbolt motor from the gear housing then rotate the gear?

Thanks in advance guys

Frank

Quote:
Originally Posted by pburnett View Post
A couple weeks ago, I got the "terrible triad" of lights (ABS, 4x4, and Brake). Recently, I got the clicking noise after turning the car off and was able to determine that it was coming from a transfer case. Using several posts from here, especially this one:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...6&postcount=19

I bought a new transfer case actuator and installed it. Problem solved, no lights, no clicking, all better. It is not a cheap part at 720 bucks from getbmwparts.com, and 900 bucks elsewhere, so the engineer in me wanted to figure out why they were failing.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post. I disected the old actuator to find out what the heck is going on inside it. I appologize for the huge pictures, but some sort of resolution was needed to describe what I was trying to say.

What the actuator looks like when off the car:


And broken down into the pieces: Bottom right is the motor, top right is the brush assembly, top left is a guard of some sort that pops off (albeit bent and unusable once you have it off) and the bottom left is the gear assembly (we'll focus on this one)


After I popped off the oil guard piece, here is what the inside looked like, a ton of shavings and grease.


and closer:



So you can see the motor turns a worm gear which is mated to a black gear (which is made of plastic !!!) Eventually, this gear wears down like crazy and doesnt have any teeth left to grip the worm gear. This is what causes the slipping, and the error lights, and especially the clicking sound.

In this photo, you can see the change from good gear area to the bad area. The good area is on the left, and as you follow the black gear around to the right, you can see where it has been worn down from sitting all the time.




So, I went farther. I took off the black gear to see what it looked like:
Good side (what it should look like everywhere):


Bad side (Cause of the problem)


POTENTIAL SOLUTION:

So now we know what the cause is, how can we fix it? It has been (from my research) that everyone just buys a new actuator. Yes, it fixes the problem, I can vouch for that, but I don't know how many other people looked into what CAUSED the problem.

I bet you could unbolt the motor from the gear housing assembly (it is held on by 4 torx bolts that come off quite easily compared to trying to remove the actuator from the car).
Mark a location of the current position on the white plastic gear you can see in the first photo. After the motor is unbolted and removed (ONLY THE MOTOR, DONT DESTROY YOUR ACTUATOR AND TAKE THE WHOLE THING APART!!!!), turn the white plastic gear 180 degrees from its current location. This takes the bad part of the gear and puts it where it will not get used, which means that a good part is now in contact with the worm gear.

Re-insert the motor and bolt back together. This should give you, say another 65k miles (when mine failed) or so before you likely have to replace the actuator. Re-install on your transfer case, and voila! you should be good to go with only an hour or so of your time wasted instead of time and 900 bucks.

I haven't tried this, so try it at your own risk, but with pulling everything apart, it seems like a pretty safe bet, but obviously I can't be held responsible if something does go wrong.

Hope perhaps it can save someone almost a thousand dollars. I believe my logic is sound, but I look forward to your comments!
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  #160  
Old 02-25-2012, 12:09 PM
nrigroom nrigroom is offline
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wyowolf - I had the same experience. I spent 6 hours on trying to remove the actuator yesterday with no success. What is disappointing is that I got three of the four bolts out, as well as both the electrical connectors out. One of the top bolts was just too inaccessible. That transmission brace definitely needs to come out, but it seems it'll bring down a whole bunch of drive train components with it. Ideally, the heat shield would need to removed as well, although I was able to move my hands in there by taking just the two front bolts out and lowering it. Removal of the heat shield will required removal of the exhaust system as well. I had the car's front end on two jack stands and it seems that this job is handled much better with the vehicle on a lift. I had to put everything back together last night since I only have the one car and I needed it for this morning. Besides, I can't think of what else I would do to take the fourth bolt out.

On the e-torx socket, I used size 12, although that seems just a tad bigger than what's needed - not sure if they make a size 11. The set I bought goes straight from size 10 to 12.

Another consideration is that this fix is not an urgent fix since the car runs rather well on 100% RWD, UNLESS you live in one of those states that requires an annual safety inspection. I've been told the car will not pass the safety inspection because the BRAKE and ABS lights are on. What in the world was BMW thinking when they threw the triad of lights for a transfer case actuator malfunction? The brake and ABS systems themselves are fine. It's just that the car can't achieve it's stated dynamic stability control goal completely that comes with the X-drive system. Unless I am missing something, the only light that should come up with this particular malfunction is the 4x4 light. If they needed the yellow 4x4 light to indicate another failure mode, well they could have color coded this one red! This is simply ridiculous and has the unintended consequence of getting the owner to fix the actuator problem to resolve the BRAKE and ABS lights.

Well, I am now leaning towards buying the actuator on ecs tuning and taking it to my indy guy to see how much labor he wants for it. I don't think I want to spend the labor hours just for getting them to rotate it.

Several folks on this forum including yagermj have been so helpful and I feel bad for getting so close and not being able to do it. I guess most of you other folks are more handy than I am.
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  #161  
Old 02-26-2012, 05:55 AM
wyowolf wyowolf is offline
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I got the motor off of the actuator fairly easily, but I just dont understand the original post on turning the gear? Seems the whole actuator has to come off?

I may put a jack under the brace and remove it that way...
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  #162  
Old 02-26-2012, 06:08 AM
wyowolf wyowolf is offline
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I wonder about leaving it as is, We get the three lights intermittently, more now. But occasionally there is a problem when turning right or left. The wheels seems to shudder..I am assuming the actuator is stuck in the wrong position
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  #163  
Old 02-26-2012, 06:54 AM
usaret usaret is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyowolf View Post
I wonder about leaving it as is, We get the three lights intermittently, more now. But occasionally there is a problem when turning right or left. The wheels seems to shudder..I am assuming the actuator is stuck in the wrong position
xDrive backs the clutches off during tight cornering to allow for different rotational speeds. If you don't get it fixed you'll create bigger problems elsewhere.

Contact an indie through http://www.bimrs.org/ . They are well aware of the plastic gear issue on these vehicles and it's a simple fix for them.

Last edited by usaret; 02-26-2012 at 06:55 AM.
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  #164  
Old 02-26-2012, 01:48 PM
wyowolf wyowolf is offline
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Ok finally got it out Yep the gear was worn just like the pics show.
Use 12 pt 8mm... works better.. especially the 1/4 drive stuff...

Now if i can figure out why the SES light came on
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  #165  
Old 02-26-2012, 01:53 PM
nrigroom nrigroom is offline
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wyowolf, congratulations! Did you get only the motor out or had to remove the actuator as well? Could you please send me a message to my inbox so I can ask you for some tips? Thanks!
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  #166  
Old 02-27-2012, 09:29 AM
valem valem is offline
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Some info on the x-Drive actuator. Quick video (at 24 seconds) showing that it does act as a switch, and why rotating it 180 deg. fixes the issue!

Some more x-Drive details: http://www.awdwiki.com/en/xdrive/

@nrigroom I'm having the same issue. I was trying to get the job done this weekend, but this little motor is so hard to access! How did others do this job in a couple of hours in the driveway?
Moving the heat-shield out of the way it's easy, but that bar across the transfer case really gets in the way of the bolts.
It seems the whole assembly has to removed from the transfer case and then the motor disconnected from the gears to rotate it ... if I just disconnect the motor, there is no way I would be able to see the gears, mark them and rotate 180! It's in such a tight spot.

wyowolf and nrigroom if you have any advice please let me know how it worked out for you ... it would be a very easy job if it was in another location!

Thanks for all the help, this is a great thread!!!
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  #167  
Old 02-27-2012, 10:16 AM
nrigroom nrigroom is offline
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valem...I think folks on this forum are a bit more handy than I am. As I said, I got three out of the four bolts out, but put it back together since I needed an operational car and didn't know what I what do differently. Agreed, that transmission brace really is a big obstruction. The whole actuator has to come off.

Here in the DC area I called a couple of shops on the bimrs.org link above and needless to say, they are not the least interested in the 180 rotation fix. All of them quoted me roughly $900 for part for $200-$300 for labor for the actuator replacement. That kinda hurts too since I know I can get the part for $720 on getbmwparts.com. I don't know about other places in the country, but in this area pretty much no shop will warranty the work with customer parts. Seems like a big risk to take for such an expensive part.

I have not completely given up yet, given the possibility of realization of significant savings. One thing that negatively impacts me is the unavailability of another car. Heck I might look into one of those < $20/day rentals to take some time pressure off and attempt the job over the span of a few days. But do keep in touch and please let me know if you run into any tricks.
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  #168  
Old 02-27-2012, 01:41 PM
rolm rolm is offline
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Great piece thank-you. I hate when manufacturers use plastic everywhere it seems we pay for the short-comings and pay a lot of cash and go through the hassle or repairing vs installing steel gears and paying a few dollars upfront.
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  #169  
Old 02-28-2012, 06:34 AM
usaret usaret is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrigroom View Post
valem...I think folks on this forum are a bit more handy than I am. As I said, I got three out of the four bolts out, but put it back together since I needed an operational car and didn't know what I what do differently. Agreed, that transmission brace really is a big obstruction. The whole actuator has to come off.

Here in the DC area I called a couple of shops on the bimrs.org link above and needless to say, they are not the least interested in the 180 rotation fix. All of them quoted me roughly $900 for part for $200-$300 for labor for the actuator replacement. That kinda hurts too since I know I can get the part for $720 on getbmwparts.com. I don't know about other places in the country, but in this area pretty much no shop will warranty the work with customer parts. Seems like a big risk to take for such an expensive part.

I have not completely given up yet, given the possibility of realization of significant savings. One thing that negatively impacts me is the unavailability of another car. Heck I might look into one of those < $20/day rentals to take some time pressure off and attempt the job over the span of a few days. But do keep in touch and please let me know if you run into any tricks.
The job is involved but straightforward. The correct procedure is to remove the exhaust, heat shield, and then the cross member. Over the years I've learned that it's often much quicker, and easier, to remove a component that's in your way than to try to work around it. The best part is that you'll blow through it the next time.

I recently installed an override switch on my back hatch lights. I could have done it simpler but wanted to learn the procedure to get to the rear shocks so I went all the way.
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  #170  
Old 02-28-2012, 06:51 AM
usaret usaret is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rolm View Post
Great piece thank-you. I hate when manufacturers use plastic everywhere it seems we pay for the short-comings and pay a lot of cash and go through the hassle or repairing vs installing steel gears and paying a few dollars upfront.
Or it could be for reasons that another poster suggested.


Quote:
Originally Posted by timfitz63 View Post
Before folks start using an indestructible metal gear in the transfer case, they may want to go back and review the portion of this thread where some of us pondered the wisdom of this choice over the original plastic gear (Posts #85-87).

A metal replacement gear will be far more durable, without question, than the original plastic gear; but BMW may have deliberately intended that a plastic gear be used in this application in order to protect the more expensive components (e.g., the actuator motor), should the transfer case system become jammed for some reason: the relatively inexpensive plastic gear becomes what's called the "design failure point" and more expensive components (like the actuator motor) are spared failure/burnout.

Of course, this is all well and good -- if one can obtain the failed component (i.e., the plastic gear) without having to purchase the entire transfer case from BMW...

But the fundamental point I'm trying to make is that, by replacing the plastic gear with a metal one, one needs to realize that they run the risk (however slight) of damaging other components in the transfer case or xDrive system should a situation arise where the plastic gear would have ordinarily failed in order to protect those other components...

In my opinion BMW is not one for cutting corners in manufacturing. If they were they would never have gone to the trouble of building the N52 engine the way they did.

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  #171  
Old 02-28-2012, 08:56 AM
wyowolf wyowolf is offline
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No real advice except I used 8MM 12 points, a few wrenches... whatever would fit in there... i believe each bolt had to have something different... taking the motor off and the connectors off gives you a bit more room....

work at it... take a break... then come back to it 1/4 drive sockets would be best as there isnt much room between the body and the actuator for the top bolts


Quote:
Originally Posted by valem View Post
Some info on the x-Drive actuator. Quick video (at 24 seconds) showing that it does act as a switch, and why rotating it 180 deg. fixes the issue!

Some more x-Drive details: http://www.awdwiki.com/en/xdrive/

@nrigroom I'm having the same issue. I was trying to get the job done this weekend, but this little motor is so hard to access! How did others do this job in a couple of hours in the driveway?
Moving the heat-shield out of the way it's easy, but that bar across the transfer case really gets in the way of the bolts.
It seems the whole assembly has to removed from the transfer case and then the motor disconnected from the gears to rotate it ... if I just disconnect the motor, there is no way I would be able to see the gears, mark them and rotate 180! It's in such a tight spot.

wyowolf and nrigroom if you have any advice please let me know how it worked out for you ... it would be a very easy job if it was in another location!

Thanks for all the help, this is a great thread!!!
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  #172  
Old 03-01-2012, 09:03 AM
rolm rolm is offline
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If the fix works and in my view from what I have read it would work. I suggest any handy guys out there with o6 or 07 X3 with over 80k miles may want to do this fix. Much better to try the fix on a nice warm summer day vs doing the fix when it breaks on a cold wet winter day.
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  #173  
Old 03-03-2012, 02:10 PM
yagermj yagermj is offline
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Hey guys (anyone having cross member issues) you do need to move it. I unbolted the passenger two bolts of the cross member after I supported it with a floor jack. Then lowered the cross member about 3/4 to 1 inch to gain access to the actuators top bolt. Hope this helps
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  #174  
Old 03-03-2012, 04:22 PM
Supercourse Supercourse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrigroom View Post
...I think folks on this forum are a bit more handy than I am. As I said, I got three out of the four bolts out, but put it back together since I needed an operational car and didn't know what I what do differently. Agreed, that transmission brace really is a big obstruction.
Haven't done it myself, and don't know if there is a difference between model years, or maybe A/T vs. M/T, but this earlier thread suggested it is a 10 -15 min. job to remove the actuator.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...58&postcount=1

However, there is growing evidence of why indy shops charge between $100 - $400 just to remove and replace the actuator.
It can obviously be a bit more than removing 4 accessible bolts.

But removing the motor separately first seems to be the best thing to do.
And maybe having the right sort of swiveling handle and shallow depth sockets helps too.
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  #175  
Old 03-06-2012, 06:21 AM
nrigroom nrigroom is offline
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Does anyone know if it is possible to program the vehcile's computer to run in rear wheel drive mode only as opposed to awd? I would like to buy myself some time for fixing this issue. My thought is that if the transfer case is commanded to operate it's default mode, the actuator will not attempt to engage and therefore, the malfunction lights won't appear. Without the malfunction lights, the truck will pass the annual safety inspection. We have plenty of rwd vehicles on the road.
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