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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E60 / E61 (2004 - 2010)

E60 / E61 (2004 - 2010)
BMW 5-Series E60 Sedan was first seen in the Unites States in the fall of 2003 with a 2004 Model Year designation. The E61 wagon followed shortly there after. The E60/E61 5 series is now available as a 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and a 535xi sports wagon! -- View the E60 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 01-12-2015, 12:23 PM
Spark876 Spark876 is offline
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Mein Auto: '06 & '10 E61, '07E85 MCp
í06 E61 Mystery: Tranny, Transfer Case, Rear Dif or Misfire?

My 2006 E61 [manual] with 160,000 miles is making me sad & frustrated.

Sorry in advance that this is long, but I think mysteries are easier to solve with lots of details.

In first gear above 3000 rpm, in second gear above 2000 rpm and in third gear at a lower rpm, the car does what Iím calling ďgrabbingĒ. Its noticeable on the tach & speedo and by anyone riding in the car [even people who know nothing about cars recognize there is an issue].

I think its in the tranny. Or, maybe a rear dif or transfer case??? Its been diagnosed as a misfire by one and needing a timing chain by another.

Iím not a technician, but a misfire to me is like a little cough for a human. What the car is doing is more of a little convulsion for a human. Imagine a second brake pedal and someone slamming on the brake for 1/4 second. It happens under all acceleration [light or hard], usually three to five times in ten seconds. Its a bit similar to the feeling of lugging the motor at a very low rpm, but much harder feeling. Its holding the car back Ė rather than just not going, as I think a misfire does.

This started 20,000+/- miles ago. Its been to two independent shops eight+ times for this. Iím now leery of the first one. And, the second shop, which I feel good about, is telling me to drive it until it sets a code and turns on a light. I can REALLY appreciate them not wanting to throw thousands of dollars of parts at it, but Iím worried that Iím doing damage to other parts of the car Ė and after reading automatic transmission threads mostly on M5s & 535s [this is a manual], I see that that is a real possibility of killing alternators and ?? other parts.

Iíve read the threads and donít think this is a carbon build-up problem, but possible. It a manual, so the automatic transmission threads donít apply.

A few driving observations:
- When coming to a stop, with clutch fully-depressed for 2+ seconds before, I ocassionally feel in the seat [not shifter] and barely hear, what feels like someone kicking the back bumper hard or lightly kicking my seat, as if something had not entirely disengaged, but then does. Sometimes I feel this twice in a matter of a couple seconds.
- When starting, especially with wheels turned, I think I feel something slipping, then with a soft thunk, it catches.
- After driving an hour +, often 6th gear on the highway, then stopped at a traffic light, the clutch chatters when starting in first gear, especially on a hill. It does not do this regularly around town. My foot never touches the clutch pedal unless I'm pushing it to the floor.
- The car moves a bit when parked facing downhill on a hill. Iím pretty sure that this is not the engine turning over as the car is moving down the slope, but instead the tranny not fully holding it. This happened before, and it stopped when it got the new clutch & transfer case four years ago.
- Iíd never normally do this, but if I ride the clutch for the last 1/2 or 2/3 of an inch, I can get the car to not do this grabbing/misfire thing [or maybe its just taking-up the slack, so I donít feel it].
- The [now four year old replacement] transfer case is showing a bit of leakage. If its serviceable, I'm sure that the shop addressed that.
- Unlike on my M - where its necessary, for regular driving around town, I've usually got the clutch out before I'm on the gas much, or at all. I logged 220,000 miles around town in a Subaru with no need for a clutch replacement. I don't burn them as some do.

History:
- Purchased w/ 52,000 miles, when it was three years old. The CarFax revealed that two [not four] tires were replaced at some point. No sign of accidents & clean CarFax. Never been hit since Iíve had it.
- At about 70,000 miles, started getting a thunk, especially when turning left and right, like when navigating a parking lot. This was diagnosed by the dealer as thrust arm bushings. I was pretty confident that it was not in the front end. But, I let the dealer proceed, and they were wrong. The problem still existed. Done with the dealer.
- A independent shop suggested gybo flex disc. That didnít fix it, but possibly made it a bit less bad. Kept driving it.
- Somewhere in the 80,000 mile range, a misfire began. Initially thought it was bad gas. This feeling was somewhat similar to my issue now, but not the same. Vanos parts replaced and problem fixed.
- The thunk continues to get worse. Then, when parked on a hill, the car would slip a bit, causing me to think a clutch problem. Iíve never driven the car in a way that should have worn the clutch much, but I wasnít the only owner. At about 95,000 miles, the clutch was replaced. - - The old clutch was not worn out, but had some strange wear marks on it. Iím pretty sure that only the clutch was replaced [not pressure plate or other parts]. I got the car back from this shop with lots of lights on including 4x4 [as if I wouldnít notice]. The AWD was in/op. Nervously, the independent shop took the car to a dealer for reprogramming, which didnít help the issue.
- The transfer case motor was replaced. Didnít help. Next, the transfer case was replaced. That solved all of the problems, including the thunk noise/feeling. The new TC was rebuilt, sold through the BMW dealer.
- Lots of fixes along the way [causing me to want BMW to make this amazing car with a non-motorized rear door, a small steel non-motorized sunroof, no rear air suspension, etc]. At sometime around 120,000 miles, the clutch pedal assembly was replaced and the clutch pedal became lighter. Same independent shop for three+ years which I happily paid $10,000+ to to keep this car going.
- Hesitation / misfire [or whatever this is] shows-up at about 140,000 miles. My 3+ year Indy shop fixed it, but neither they nor I are certain what they did to get rid of the problem. They did bleed the clutch on that visit.
- Hesitation / misfire [or whatever this is] returns within 5,000 miles and then progressively gets much worse.
- Suddenly the independent shop is doing things that the dealer was notorious for. The car comes back with more problems than it went in with and I have a $800 bill to fix things that were not broken when it went-in, which can happen, BUT, the shop owner gives me information that isnít correct [really dumb stuff, possibly to cover tracks] and my trust is seriously eroded. The recommendation is keep driving it. Or, they could fix this issue by replacing the timing chain, if its really bothering me.
- A few months ago, switched to a different independent shop thats highly recommended. Their two guys had differing opinions. One technician thought misfire. Another, the long-time owner, thought transmission. They took it to a granny-buddy of theirs who said its not the transmission, so they dropped that. I think they unplugged the transfer case motor to see if something changed. Theyíve swapped-in a new coil [??], moved it to each cylinder with no improvement, they replaced all of the plugs [less than 40,000 miles on the old ones], theyíve done three fuel injection cleanings, theyíve looked closely at [but not replaced] Vanos components. No wiring concerns. The computer box was not properly sealed, but no noticeable concerns inside and its now closed-up properly. They donít want to throw thousands of $ of parts at it even though Iím encouraging getting it fixed. Theyíve had some codes in many scans, but nothing that seemed unusual and nothing that caused any dash lights to illuminate. They want me to drive it until I get a light. If I knew that that wouldnít cause harm and never had a passenger, Iíd be ok with that.

-The latest shop thinks that it does this in all gears ďif you get on itĒ. I can only really feel it in 1st, 2nd & 3rd. I feel something in 4th, at a very low [1000ish rpm], but I think its lugging the motor, at about 1,000 rpm.

Is there any chance that my hill-holder, which works ok, is getting out of place and jamming into the gears. Could this be a rear dif Ė I think unlikely given that the clutch is exhibiting other weird symptoms? If it was a transfer case, would unhooking the tc motor reveal if it was the tc?

Thank you in advance for any insight you can provide.
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  #2  
Old 01-13-2015, 08:39 PM
toga94m toga94m is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spark876 View Post
My 2006 E61 [manual] with 160,000 miles is making me sad & frustrated.

Sorry in advance that this is long, but I think mysteries are easier to solve with lots of details.

In first gear above 3000 rpm, in second gear above 2000 rpm and in third gear at a lower rpm, the car does what Iím calling ďgrabbingĒ. Its noticeable on the tach & speedo and by anyone riding in the car [even people who know nothing about cars recognize there is an issue].
My '06 E61 [manual] only has 129k miles, but I'm going to follow along to see if anything similar happens. I've had some hiccups lately (this winter), maybe once a week and just a single kick per event. They result in stored codes (no light) complaining about the VANOS system, not getting the cams where they should be in time. I haven't had it in a shop to check it out, but other posts here indicate that a quick cleaning of the solenoids should help a lot. When I did finally get a light last week, I had 4-5 previous events stored up, so I guess when you have enough onetime no-light events, it triggers a light to get your attention.

The stored codes (I read it using BMW INPA rather than a generic code reader) come with the odometer, rpm, and oil temperature readings when the event occurred. They're always when the car is driving and warming up, oil temp between 9C and 13C, low RPMS (cruising at 30mph in 3rd when I feel it). I'm guessing that Vanos is disabled until oil warms up enough for reasonable operation. Also guessing that my solenoids are tired/dirty enough that it still can't control accurately at that low temperature once it starts trying.

Do your events correlate to outside temperature, or uphill/flat/downhill at all?

Since yours is independent of RPM, and more speed dependent, it does sound like driveline more than engine. I noticed you're using the transmission to hold the parked car in place - do you use the handbrake at all? I'd ask how your terrain is, but I've heard Colorado has mountains so I'm guessing "not flat".

Have you had the transmission or diff fluid changed, and look at what comes out the drain hole? Maybe there's something thick/hard swimming around in there, which occasionally gets stirred up and jams between gears unexpectedly, then gets spun out of the way again. I don't know of any way something like that could be detected and set a code.

I don't know for sure, but I believe hillholder in our cars is brains electrically driving the brakes through the ABS and stability control systems, rather than being something near the clutch/transmission. Back in my Subaru days (yeah, I had a few too) the Hill Holder was a ball bearing in the brake master cylinder that would roll back and block the brakes on for you as long as you were on an uphill incline and stopped. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill-holder At least I've been told that's how the '80s Subarus did it.

tom
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  #3  
Old 01-14-2015, 09:45 AM
Spark876 Spark876 is offline
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Mein Auto: '06 & '10 E61, '07E85 MCp
Thank you Tom!

Great insight on these items.

I don't know enough to answer all of your questions, but will check my log and check-in with the shop and report back early next week, when back in town.

Tranny fluid and transfer case fluid would have been new at about 98,000 miles with new clutch and new transfer case. Now with two shops looking at this closely and with my suggestions of this being tranny or tc, I can't imagine those were not checked, but I should make sure.

With the grabbing, initially, there was an engine/driveline temperature correlation, but, I can't remember whether it was happening warm or cold - now, there is no correlation. There is no outside temperature correlation - our temps in the last month have ranged from -8 to 62, and its always present, and it was there all the time in the summer when its 90+ outside. No correlation to uphill, downhill or to hard or light acceleration. It does it with all, but if coasting, regardless of clutch engaged or not, it doesn't do it.

The clutch chatters only after a long time on the freeway in a high gear, then starting from a stop.

My e-brake has never been too good on this car. Once, I had it tightened, but then I thought it was dragging, so un-did that. I have a 2010 [auto :-( ] E61 that has a much-better e-brake. And, in the winter, I don't want to use it, thinking it might freeze in the on position. I leave it in 2nd or R, which feel most-confident that its securely in a gear, and then point the wheels at a curb as a back-up.
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  #4  
Old 01-14-2015, 10:42 AM
toga94m toga94m is offline
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I wonder if it could be something completely different... if something's odd in the stability control world, it might think you're sliding, and it's applying a brake at one corner to pull you back in line. That could result from intermittent bad brains, bad connections, bad sensors (yaw or wheelspeed) though I think all of those things would store a code. Just not a code that you could read through regular OBDII scanners, because it wouldn't be in the engine computer.
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  #5  
Old 01-14-2015, 11:19 AM
u3b3rg33k u3b3rg33k is offline
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I'm virtually certain the N52 engine is not a DI motor, so carbon buildup should not be a thing like it is on the N54 motors. you can probably rule that out.
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  #6  
Old 01-26-2015, 09:35 PM
Spark876 Spark876 is offline
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Mein Auto: '06 & '10 E61, '07E85 MCp
Two new transfer cases is too much!!!

New update. I took it to a transmission shop and he pulled the front drive shafts and the problem has gone away. It seems to us that it is therefore the transfer case. Do you agree? Seems unlikely it could be from front differential, since I sometimes feel something like my back bumper gets kicked after the car is stopped...

My current transfer case is 3.5 years old, now with about 60,000 miles on this one. It is leaking a bit of fluid. Since before the current transfer case was installed, I'm certain that the tires have always been identical, rotated properly, spare never used, tire pressure checked every month, plus this car has FTM. This car is not driven hard.

My next question is: given that the transfer case that's on it was remanufactured and purchased thru a BMW dealer [but not installed by a dealer Ė and beyond its warranty that would have been in-place had a BMW dealer installed it], do you think that BMW will cut be a discount on what is about a $2,600 replacement part? If so, how do I start that request?

Thank you in advance for suggestions and insight.

Last edited by Spark876; 01-26-2015 at 09:37 PM.
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  #7  
Old 01-26-2015, 09:59 PM
Spark876 Spark876 is offline
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Driving without AWD is OK?

Is it a crazy idea to consider not reinstalling the front drive shafts and driving it solely as a rwd car? I have another one I can drive in the snow.

Aside from a concern about the car not holding by the motor when parked on a hill, is there a safety issue not having the front drive shafts? The new transfer case, with labor, will be $3,100 if BMW doesn't help with parts costs. That seems like a lot for a car with 165,000 miles if it'll still go ok on dry roads...
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Old 01-26-2015, 10:04 PM
u3b3rg33k u3b3rg33k is offline
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I'm pretty sure it's not meant to be driven without the front wheels powered. what exactly are you referring to by "transfer case" ? the magic box with the motor driven cam that pushes on the clutches?
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Old 01-26-2015, 10:13 PM
Spark876 Spark876 is offline
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u3b3rg33k: Sorry, I don't understand your question.

The first time that the transfer case died, I drove the car for 1,000 miles, but with no parts uninstalled. The front wheels were not getting any power delivered to them. Lots of lights were on, including the 4WD warning light. With wintertime tires on the car and some weight in the car, the car still went incredibly-well in the snow.
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Old 01-26-2015, 10:20 PM
u3b3rg33k u3b3rg33k is offline
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I think the multi-plate clutch thingy (near the driveshaft) isn't meant to have one side unloaded - it' will probably burn out if it is handling 100% of the torque, since it's not meant to. I could be wrong, but without understanding how it works better i'd be pretty uncomfortable having it disconnected - i feel like that'd be driving a LSD around with one wheel off the ground...
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:04 AM
Spark876 Spark876 is offline
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u3b3rg33k: Thank you! Makes sense.
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  #12  
Old 01-27-2015, 10:48 AM
pshovest pshovest is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spark876 View Post
............ Tranny fluid and transfer case fluid would have been new at about 98,000 miles with new clutch and new transfer case.........
Does "grabbing" occur during straight line and while negotiating corners?
I believe the clutch pack in the cutaway of the transfer case is the front/rear differential. It has to slip when front/rear axle speeds are different, when cornering. If you've ever owned a car with a limited slip differential, which has similar clutches, the clutch packs will chatter under some conditions. I would change the transfer case fluid and make certain it's the recommended fluid. I don't think transfer case fluid is lifetime.

The front/rear torque split is controlled by a servo motor that loads/unloads the clutch pack in the transfer case. Have you scanned for BMW proprietary codes? It might give some clues.

Here's a description on the X3's XDrive. It should be similar to yours.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf xDrive.pdf (159.1 KB, 7 views)

Last edited by pshovest; 01-27-2015 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:53 AM
u3b3rg33k u3b3rg33k is offline
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After reading that, I am inclined to believe that removing the front drive shaft would not cause damage. HOWEVER, the gearbox is still in place and connected. Have you replaced the drive motor on the t-case/gearbox? apparently some models have plastic gears that strip/wear down. Also, how's the health of the CV joints?

And regarding the hill holder, I believe that is run via the ABS system, not an additional mechanism.
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