Welcome to Bimmerfest -- The #1 Online Community for BMW related information! Please enjoy the discussion forums below and share your experiences with the 200,000 current, new and past BMW owners. The forums are broken out by car model and into other special interest sections such as BMW European Delivery and a special forum to voice your questions to the many BMW dealers on the site to assist our members!

Please follow the links below to help get you started!

Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > X Series > X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)

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

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-16-2013, 02:18 PM
Supercourse Supercourse is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 3,450
Mein Auto: 2004 X3 2.5i
DIY rear differential fluid made easy

Applies to a 2004 - may be slight differences for 2007+

1. Assemble things needed
- 1L of synthetic 70W90 EP gear oil meeting GL-5 spec.
- 14mm. hex head socket (http://www.ebay.com/itm/14mm-HEX-KEY...71156018039%26)
- 13mm. standard socket
- drain pan, shop towels, etc.
- fluid transfer device of some type with associated tubing
- nitrile gloves

2. The work itself
- lower spare tire carrier carefully using instructions in Owners Handbook
- remove spare tire
- take out the three 13mm. bolts securing the carrier and unhook metal bar of lowering mechanism
- pull the carrier free by moving it left and right as it clears the sway bar and any other obstructions
- undo the combined drain & fill plug with the 14mm. hex head socket (you will find it is factory torqued to about 20 ft-lbs)
- drain the old fluid (the first bit that drips out on removing the plug may look clean but it gets blacker)
- check the condition of the rubber o-ring on the plug by carefully picking it out of its groove, and reseat if it looks good
- pump in new fluid until it starts to drip out (probably about 100cc. left in new 1L container)
- put plug back in and use torque wrench if possible
- clean off spare tire carrier and re-install
- inspect spare tire, inflate to 60 psi and position so valve is accessible through the hole
- finish off securing the spare tire carrier in the trunk

3. Cleanup
- this is the hard part as that gear oil has a strong odor
- confirm no leak and see if you can notice quieter running from the rear


One bimmerfest member reported in an earlier unrelated thread what can happen if you don't recognize the relationship between the plastic lowering handle and the big knurled nut.
i.e. if you have the handle upright without holding it and unscrew the knob fully, the spare wheel and carrier will crash to the ground breaking the plastic handle in the process

The job can be done without removing the carrier, but taking it out is not difficult.
You might think that re-attaching it could be a PITA but it's surprisingly easy.

No need to raise the vehicle as there is plenty of room.

I don't get excited about premium fluids for differentials but others will want to use Redline, Amsoil, Royal Purple, etc. I think any brand name GL-5 is fine.

Don't know whether the Castrol SAF-XO factory fill has any particular advantage over any other GL-5 fluid.

Keeners might want to take a drive and then repeat the drain and fill to be sure of getting all the old fluid out.

As you can see the old fluid was quite black after about 75K miles (120K kms.).
In the drain pan, some of the dirt held in suspension settled out but I could not detect any metal particles.

Haven't done the front diff. yet as hoping it has an easier life (e.g. 40/60).

I used a Mityvac hand vac. pump to create a siphon for draining the old oil which worked quite well, but it's slow, and either way you have to keep moving the tube end around to get everything.

I don't have a total time estimate as I was doing other things concurrently, including really cleaning up the tire carrier, but if you wanted, it might be possible to do it all well within 1 hour.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	carrier.jpg
Views:	225
Size:	249.6 KB
ID:	362539   Click image for larger version

Name:	plug.jpg
Views:	201
Size:	82.6 KB
ID:	362540   Click image for larger version

Name:	diff.jpg
Views:	308
Size:	412.5 KB
ID:	362541   Click image for larger version

Name:	20130216.jpg
Views:	206
Size:	65.3 KB
ID:	362551  

Last edited by Supercourse; 02-17-2013 at 01:54 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2013, 03:38 PM
x3brian x3brian is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Sacramento CA
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,043
Mein Auto: X3
Excellent write up! Just to add to the thread and write up...It's the exact same steps on the 2007-2010. No difference.

You can follow same steps for front...just substitute removing spare tire carrier with stiffening plate/lower modesty cover. The only other difference with the front is there is a separate fill and drain plug. It's a shame BMW didn't expand the access hole for the oil drain because the diff drain plug is less than an inch away and you can access the fill plug by just removing the drivers side tire.

Also another source of a hex socket set is harbor freight. I picked up a nice metric set for about $15 at the one by my house.

Last edited by x3brian; 02-17-2013 at 07:32 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2013, 07:20 AM
X3-terrestrial's Avatar
X3-terrestrial X3-terrestrial is offline
Location: N.Miss - Memphis,TN Area
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,669
Mein Auto: '05 X3, '95 M3, '89 MkI
Thanks for taking the time!
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough"
-Mario Andretti.

River City Bimmers BMW CCA
2005 X3 3.0i ZPP, Htd seats, Htd strng, Black Sapphire on Terracotta. (08/2008-Current)
2002 ///M3 Coupe, Silver Gray Metallic on black leather, HK, three pedals.(01/2015-Current)
Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013, 07:11 AM
Rosie158 Rosie158 is offline
Registered User
Location: New Jersey
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 2007 X3
Smile Rear Differential Issue

I purchased a 2007 X3 with 60k miles on it last week from a reputable BMW dealer - the truck still had 2 months of CP warranty on it.

After driving it around for a while, I noticed a whine coming from the rear end at roughly 40 mph. After readings threads on this forum, I decided to change-out the diff. fluid. But, my local Indy wanted $300 - 400 to change the transfer case, and diff fluids. My local BMW dealer said "That's not necessary until 100K miles?. So, I went back to the selling dealer.

He agreed to change-out the fluid in the rear diff. But, once he got the truck on the lift came back and said that they needed to replace the differential. I have been assured that the costs would be covered by the CPO warranty. They ordered the new differential and I am awaiting a call to bring the truck back to them.

So, we will see how things go!

Last edited by Rosie158; 02-18-2013 at 07:13 AM. Reason: gramatical errors.
Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-2013, 09:55 AM
sjladopoulos sjladopoulos is offline
Location: Toronto
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 250
Mein Auto: 2007 BMW X3 3.0si
Excellent post! Thanks for taking the time to write it up!
Reply With Quote


Forum Navigation
Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > X Series > X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
Today's Posts Search
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 12:46 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
© 2001-2015 performanceIX, Inc. All Rights Reserved .: guidelines .:. privacy .:. terms