Transfer Case Actuator potential free fix! [Archive] - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

Transfer Case Actuator potential free fix!

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pburnett
09-07-2011, 12:31 PM
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:

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4473836&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:
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138498

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)
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138499

After I popped off the oil guard piece, here is what the inside looked like, a ton of shavings and grease.
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138500

and closer:
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138501


So you can see the motor turns a worm gear which is mated to a black gear (which is made of plastic :thumbdwn:!!!) 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.
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138504

http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138506

So, I went farther. I took off the black gear to see what it looked like:
Good side (what it should look like everywhere):
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138508

Bad side (Cause of the problem)
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138507

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!

spokelizard
09-07-2011, 01:07 PM
Brilliant! :clap:

Great idea, great documentation. Hope I never have to do this, but I'll definitely keep it in my arsenal.

Another BMW plastic part causes major problems. You didn't say, but I assume that the little plastic gear can't be purchased as a separate part.

bluskye
09-07-2011, 01:40 PM
Was the actuator difficult to replace? Do you have a DIY?

timfitz63
09-07-2011, 03:02 PM
OK. Engineer here. Not quite following your description of the gear reversal and how that 'fixes' the problem, so maybe I'm missing something critical, but:

I don't think reversing (or simply rotating, if that's what you're suggesting) the exposed white gear 180 degrees will correct the problem. Yes, that could re-position a 'good' portion of the black gear onto the worm gear, but regardless of how the gears are positioned, as all of them turn, the black gear will rotate until its worn portion reaches the worm gear, then it stops turning again. This will happen within one rotation of the black gear.

Based on the wear that you highlighted on the black gear, I think it would have to be replaced -- if one can find the part...

pburnett
09-07-2011, 03:16 PM
OK. Engineer here. Not quite following your description of the gear reversal and how that 'fixes' the problem, so maybe I'm missing something critical, but:

I don't think reversing (or simply rotating, if that's what you're suggesting) the exposed white gear 180 degrees will correct the problem. Yes, that could re-position a 'good' portion of the black gear onto the worm gear, but regardless of how the gears are positioned, as all of them turn, the black gear will rotate until its worn portion reaches the worm gear, then it stops turning again. This will happen within one rotation of the black gear.

Based on the wear that you highlighted on the black gear, I think it would have to be replaced -- if one can find the part...

It looked to me that the black gear doesn't turn the whole way around, only really over that worn area. I believe BMW used a full gear as to ease the installation (not having to worry about the position you put it in)

If it continuously rotated around, woundn't the gear wear more evenly and not in a single spot about the length of the worm gear?

Again, I guess it might not be a fix per say, but it could seriously delay the need to spend 900 bucks.

Just a thought.

pburnett
09-07-2011, 03:19 PM
Was the actuator difficult to replace? Do you have a DIY?

It wasn't too bad. You need external torx sockets, but after I got that, it wasn't bad. I'll try and post the DIY someone else wrote that I followed with some of my own notes.

timfitz63
09-07-2011, 03:45 PM
It looked to me that the black gear doesn't turn the whole way around, only really over that worn area. I believe BMW used a full gear as to ease the installation (not having to worry about the position you put it in)...

Maybe I need to fiddle with it myself, like you have, to really see what's going on there. But what you're describing wouldn't be consistent with how a worm gear and a cog gear typically interact.

... If it continuously rotated around, woundn't the gear wear more evenly and not in a single spot about the length of the worm gear...?

It may have worn evenly until it failed; you'd have to compare the teeth on the gear you extracted from your actuator to a brand new gear.

But I think what's happening is that these plastic gears are not durable enough; they either have a weak spot or just get 'chewed up' by the metal worm gear over time. I'm actually rather shocked that BMW even used plastic cogs inside a transfer case, but... :dunno:

All is not lost, though; you did a good job in isolating the weak component in the actuator! :thumbup: Hopefully someone can zero in on a supplier for those black gears (they've gotta come from somewhere...), and we can all re-build our failed xDrive actuators!

Supercourse
09-07-2011, 04:16 PM
But I think what's happening is that these plastic gears are not durable enough; they either have a weak spot or just get 'chewed up' by the metal worm gear over time. I'm actually rather shocked that BMW even used plastic cogs inside a transfer case, but... :dunno:


I was surprised that even garage door opener motors have those nylon worm drive gears.

Recently took apart one - same sort of thing. The plastic just gets badly chewed up in one section.

The repair guy said it happens randomly, through bad luck.
They otherwise work fine for well over 10 years.

As you say, a weak point in the plastic, or maybe things get slightly out of alignment and the damage is started.

May be the same for the transfer case actuator - some will have that problem, but not inevitable.

pburnett
09-07-2011, 04:57 PM
Maybe I need to fiddle with it myself, like you have, to really see what's going on there. But what you're describing wouldn't be consistent with how a worm gear and a cog gear typically interact.



I see what you are saying. I figured that the gear had, say, 90 degrees of freedom in rotation (on/off on either side of the 90) for actuated/non-actuated. So the real question when the actuator is active, does it spin the black gear constantly or does it stop at some point? I have no idea. Really, it is because I don't know what or how the inside of the X3 transfer case works or looks like, but I am beginning to think you may be correct. Unfortunatly, I don't see a way to get to the black gear without doing some serious damage to the cover that I pulled off, so even if you had found a replacement, I don't think you can get to it to just replace it, but maybe with some luck you can.

Just for reference, I attached kind of what I was talking about in the picture. I'm just wondering if maybe the motor goes forward/reverse to turn on and off something with the transfer case. something like this would cause only this area to be used. Not the best solution for it, but likely cheap and easy to manufacture.

X3-terrestrial
09-07-2011, 09:09 PM
I see what you are saying. I figured that the gear had, say, 90 degrees of freedom in rotation (on/off on either side of the 90) for actuated/non-actuated. So the real question when the actuator is active, does it spin the black gear constantly or does it stop at some point? I have no idea. Really, it is because I don't know what or how the inside of the X3 transfer case works or looks like, but I am beginning to think you may be correct. Unfortunatly, I don't see a way to get to the black gear without doing some serious damage to the cover that I pulled off, so even if you had found a replacement, I don't think you can get to it to just replace it, but maybe with some luck you can.

Just for reference, I attached kind of what I was talking about in the picture. I'm just wondering if maybe the motor goes forward/reverse to turn on and off something with the transfer case. something like this would cause only this area to be used. Not the best solution for it, but likely cheap and easy to manufacture.

Your theory makes sense to me, mostly since Xdrive is RWD most of the time. And it transfers power to the front as needed, it seems like the electric motor turns more the gear, as more power is transferred to the front, wearing the "most used" area considerable more.

timarnold
09-08-2011, 06:28 AM
What I think you are looking at in the top picture, top right hand side is a brushless DC motor, which would be controlled by output from a computer that would tell it to turn a certain number of revolutions in a specific direction. It is likely that the drive gear never does rotate 180°, so rotating the drive gear may work.

The concern would be why the gear wore out. It is obviously being overloaded, which could either be a processing problem in molding the gear or it could be that whatever the actuator is trying to turn is not turning a freely as it is supposed to.

At any rate, it would definitely be worth a try. The only downside I see is expending the time to remove the actuator.

Supercourse
09-08-2011, 08:45 AM
..... mostly since Xdrive is RWD most of the time.

I thought when xDrive has been discussed before, BMW's explanation is that it is only pure RWD under very limited circumstances (such as when parking, ABS activated, over 112 m.p.h.).

Under most conditions, it's a 40/60 split.

See:
https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=427207

The xDrive PDF referenced does attempt to explain how the servo motor on the transfer case works to actuate the clutch packs in the transfer case.

X3-terrestrial
09-08-2011, 10:19 AM
I thought when xDrive has been discussed before, BMW's explanation is that it is only pure RWD under very limited circumstances (such as when parking, ABS activated, over 112 m.p.h.).

Under most conditions, it's a 40/60 split.

See:
https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=427207

The xDrive PDF referenced does attempt to explain how the servo motor on the transfer case works to actuate the clutch packs in the transfer case.

Yes, I meant to say rear-bias. Basically what this actuator does is to tell the TC how much torque to pass onto the front wheels. So the theory that doesn't turn 360* sounds right.

Or maybe it *could* turn more but only on cases when full traction is needed to the front wheels which will depend on the individual driving conditions. Maybe this "spot" is the one that gets more use, therefore wearing out faster.

It would be nice if they'd sold an "Actuator Rebuilding kit" instead of selling the whole unit as a replacement.

timfitz63
09-08-2011, 03:46 PM
I see what you are saying. I figured that the gear had, say, 90 degrees of freedom in rotation (on/off on either side of the 90) for actuated/non-actuated. So the real question when the actuator is active, does it spin the black gear constantly or does it stop at some point? I have no idea. Really, it is because I don't know what or how the inside of the X3 transfer case works or looks like, but I am beginning to think you may be correct. Unfortunatly, I don't see a way to get to the black gear without doing some serious damage to the cover that I pulled off, so even if you had found a replacement, I don't think you can get to it to just replace it, but maybe with some luck you can.

Just for reference, I attached kind of what I was talking about in the picture. I'm just wondering if maybe the motor goes forward/reverse to turn on and off something with the transfer case. something like this would cause only this area to be used. Not the best solution for it, but likely cheap and easy to manufacture.

OK, I follow what you're saying now too.

Well, if the black gear only turns a quarter-turn or so at most, your idea could potentially work; how far the black gear rotates is going to depend on the reduction between it and the worm gear, and how much the black gear needs to turn in order to adjust the torque transfer between the axles...

pburnett
09-08-2011, 03:51 PM
OK, I follow what you're saying now too.

Well, if the black gear only turns a quarter-turn or so at most, your idea could potentially work; how far the black gear rotates is going to depend on the reduction between it and the worm gear, and how much the black gear needs to turn in order to adjust the torque transfer between the axles...

Yup.... And thats a big IF, and I don't know the answer. But if someone has this problem and gives it a try, we may find out more.

timfitz63
09-08-2011, 03:55 PM
Yup.... And thats a big IF, and I don't know the answer...

Yeah, I couldn't seem to cobble together the proper string of keywords to 'google' a description or working schematic of the X3's transfer case, so I can't answer the question either...

dannyy06
09-12-2011, 05:56 PM
I just took out the actuator and its just like in the first picture
before i buy it have anyone try to fix it like its explain in this post

i willing to try but how can i put the worm in without messing up the the gear

pburnett
09-12-2011, 06:34 PM
no one has tried it, you would be thre first one!

I'm really curious as to if it would work. It might, it might not. Do you have the clicking noise when you turn off the car from underneath?

To do the "fix", all you have to do is unbolt the actuator motor (I think you said you did this already), turn the white gear 180 degrees, and put the motor back in. The worm gear will seat itself properly (I have tried this with my messed up one, so you should have nothing to worry about). Reinstall and then let us know!

If you can drive a few times and try to push the X-drive system so that it has to work, and report back many of us would be very eager to hear how it works. Good luck!

dannyy06
09-13-2011, 02:42 PM
Already done!!!!!!!!!

IT WORKS..........

been driving the whole day without any problem and without the lights coming back on
and no clicking sound when turning the engine off.

Thanks for the help this was a successful experiment that save me lot of $$$$$$$$

pburnett
09-13-2011, 02:47 PM
Already done!!!!!!!!!

IT WORKS..........

been driving the whole day without any problem and without the lights coming back on
and no clicking sound when turning the engine off.

Thanks for the help this was a successful experiment that save me lot of $$$$$$$$

HECK YES!!!!!! too bad it cost me to find out, be it sounds like we have a fix that will delay the need to change the whole assembly.

dannyy06
09-13-2011, 02:52 PM
Eventually a new one its going to be needed but my has 66000 miles, lets hope that it last another 66000 .......

thanks again.

crenninger
09-13-2011, 03:03 PM
maybe when doing the 180 turn, do a little less, then you can do it twice... like turn only 1/3 it doesn't look like the engagement is using more than a 1/3 turn.

Also while in there, why not adding some grease to reduce friction and thus lifetime?

pburnett
09-13-2011, 03:10 PM
I see good logic in both of those. It will be interesting to see if more people can have success with this. Either way, I would mark the bad area somehow so you know which way you turned it. I could see 1/3 turn working, but I wouldn't go much less than that.

timfitz63
09-13-2011, 03:14 PM
Already done!!!!!!!!!

IT WORKS..........

been driving the whole day without any problem and without the lights coming back on
and no clicking sound when turning the engine off.

Thanks for the help this was a successful experiment that save me lot of $$$$$$$$

Well, sorry to rain on the parade, but don't celebrate just yet...

Are you certain that you fully exercised the xDrive so that the full range of torque transfer was explored? If not, you might discover that the black gear will end up slipping at some stage -- like during inclement weather...

I recommend cautious optimism. Hopefully "pburnett's" idea will stand the test of time, but let's see how your system handles this 'shade tree repair' as winter sets in... Honestly, I hope it bears itself out successfully!

pburnett
09-13-2011, 03:20 PM
Well, sorry to rain on the parade, but don't celebrate just yet...

Are you certain that you fully exercised the xDrive so that the full range of torque transfer was explored? If not, you might discover that the black gear will end up slipping at some stage -- like during inclement weather...

I recommend cautious optimism. Hopefully "pburnett's" idea will stand the test of time, but let's see how your system handles this 'shade tree repair' as winter sets in... Honestly, I hope it bears itself out successfully!


I agree 100%. I'm optimistic now, but the true test would be winter, and unfortunatly, as the poster who did the fix is in Puerto Rico, we may not see it. I recommend finding some loose dirt or gravel roads and make the xDrive work. Then, we will see if it truely is possible to delay buying a new actuator.

timfitz63
09-13-2011, 03:25 PM
I agree 100%. I'm optimistic now, but the true test would be winter, and unfortunatly, as the poster who did the fix is in Puerto Rico, we may not see it. I recommend finding some loose dirt or gravel roads and make the xDrive work. Then, we will see if it truely is possible to delay buying a new actuator.

Ah, yeah. I missed his location on the first pass... Not much snow down in Puerto Rico, huh...?

Your suggestion is probably a good one, though: find some gravel, sand, or loose soil. Next heavy rain shower should give some indications as well...

Let us know how it pans out, "dannyy06!"

charlesberry
09-13-2011, 03:48 PM
Hi,

Excellent post. Can I ask, is this something I need to be aware of on my 2005 330xi sedan?

Chuck

dannyy06
09-13-2011, 04:23 PM
Just took it to another test in a big hill near still working fine i will keep posting if something happends

styllzs
09-15-2011, 08:46 AM
wow sounds great!! im going to try this fix in a couple of days..will keep you guys posted.

crenninger
09-15-2011, 11:12 AM
well, twice now (in 2000 miles) I get a clicking sounds from under the car when I turn the engine off. Some kind of loud clicking, like a diesel truck turning off engine - kind of noise.

No lights at all. I am wondering if it's the precursor or this actuator failing? 61000 miles on the car , and looks like about 2 years in a snow region.

X3-terrestrial
09-15-2011, 11:40 AM
Hi,

Excellent post. Can I ask, is this something I need to be aware of on my 2005 330xi sedan?

Chuck

Yup...same transfer case. Or at least very similar...

dannyy06
09-16-2011, 11:31 AM
Crenninger
The clicking sound its the transfer case actuator in my case it started at 66000 miles with the clicking sound then one time all light came up (ABS, Brake and 4*4) turn off the engine and they where gone for a while the came back again. The actuator its around $800 but if you want you can do this fix and it works mine stillworking fine since i did it. Its only been three days but i will keep posting if anything happens.

crenninger
09-16-2011, 11:34 AM
thanks, I am due for transfer case oil change anyway, when I am in there, I'll take the actuator out and check things out.

If I see a worn gear, I'll turn it some and hope for an other 60k.

crenninger
09-19-2011, 04:33 PM
I quickly looked this weekend while doing the oil change and quick question

To get the actuator out, do you need to remove the cross-member, exhaust and shield?
or can you get it out without taking these apart?

thx

styllzs
09-19-2011, 06:23 PM
It works!! i tried it today. no more lights. the gear on my actuator was worn pretty bad. i have about 2 inches of good splines left, lets see how long it lasts.
I'm waiting on some rain so i can test it on a grassy hill. ill keep you guys updated.

styllzs
09-19-2011, 06:24 PM
takes about 5 min to get the actuator out. two electrical plugs and 4 bolts..

Supercourse
09-19-2011, 06:58 PM
Not sure why, but according to this earlier thread, even an indie shop charges about $300 for R & R of the actuator (and twice that at a dealership):

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=515960

If there is some substance to needing to update the ABS computer when the transfer case and/or actuator is replaced,
I could see 1 hr. min. for R & R, plus 1 hr. min. to connect up to the computer plus time to refresh s/w.

Wonder if that computer update step is really needed to configure a new actuator?
And if it is needed at all with the quick fix?

styllzs
09-20-2011, 06:01 AM
Its a lot of work to get the transfer case out but the actuator sits right on top and is easily removed.

crenninger
09-20-2011, 09:57 AM
Its a lot of work to get the transfer case out but the actuator sits right on top and is easily removed.

I believe it is, just asking if the crossmember under the transfer case needs to be removed or not to take the actuator out.

For sure the heat shield needs to be removed at least partially to get access to the back of the actuator to remove the electrical plugs.

styllzs
09-20-2011, 11:25 AM
No need to remove the crossmember or heat shield. my car is an 05 x5 i dont know if its the same for an x3.

styllzs
09-20-2011, 11:31 AM
i took the car today on a steep grassy hill that was soaked from rain. everything worked great no lights. I hope it holds up during the winter.

dannyy06
09-20-2011, 01:37 PM
I believe it is, just asking if the crossmember under the transfer case needs to be removed or not to take the actuator out.

For sure the heat shield needs to be removed at least partially to get access to the back of the actuator to remove the electrical plugs.



The second time around i took off the crossmember just to have more space and is easier to remove the actuator but you can do it without taking it out. But its not hard to take the crossmember and you will have the space to work freely.

crenninger
09-20-2011, 02:41 PM
The second time around i took off the crossmember just to have more space and is easier to remove the actuator but you can do it without taking it out. But its not hard to take the crossmember and you will have the space to work freely.

thank you.

pburnett
09-20-2011, 08:13 PM
i took the car today on a steep grassy hill that was soaked from rain. everything worked great no lights. I hope it holds up during the winter.

Thanks for the info. I'm glad my little inspection seems to be helping!

pburnett
09-20-2011, 08:23 PM
Not sure why, but according to this earlier thread, even an indie shop charges about $300 for R & R of the actuator (and twice that at a dealership):

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=515960

If there is some substance to needing to update the ABS computer when the transfer case and/or actuator is replaced,
I could see 1 hr. min. for R & R, plus 1 hr. min. to connect up to the computer plus time to refresh s/w.

Wonder if that computer update step is really needed to configure a new actuator?
And if it is needed at all with the quick fix?

Like I said in the first post of this thread, I installed a new actuator. I didn't do a configuration with a computer, it was simply plug and play for me. Its been a couple weeks since I did the replacement, and we have had some serious rain, and I have had no issues yet. It shouldn't be needed at all if you attempt the quick fix. For all the computer knows the same stuff is there, it just isnt't throwing error codes anymore.

Ishniknork
09-20-2011, 09:57 PM
Excellent thread pburnett :thumbup:

My '05 is only at 51K and I'll remember this little trick if I run into the problem in, oh, say 15K more miles or so. :)

UberXY
09-21-2011, 06:32 AM
Mercedes G500's have a similar problem - an expensive actuator is disabled by an inexpensive gear. On those cars, the actuator cycles thru every time you start the car, so even if you never use AWD, the part wears out eventually. On the Mercedes the ignition won't work at all if the unit does not cycle correctly, meaning sometimes you have to try starting the car a number of times before the unit orients correctly. There are a few remanufacturers that will do the units fairly cheaply, and some people have reported success in finding the $20 gear instead of the $700 unit. Might be worth looking into as far as the X3 goes.

UberXY
09-21-2011, 06:37 AM
OK. Engineer here. Not quite following your description of the gear reversal and how that 'fixes' the problem, so maybe I'm missing something critical, but:

I don't think reversing (or simply rotating, if that's what you're suggesting) the exposed white gear 180 degrees will correct the problem. Yes, that could re-position a 'good' portion of the black gear onto the worm gear, but regardless of how the gears are positioned, as all of them turn, the black gear will rotate until its worn portion reaches the worm gear, then it stops turning again. This will happen within one rotation of the black gear.

Based on the wear that you highlighted on the black gear, I think it would have to be replaced -- if one can find the part...


The gears do not rotate all the way around, just a subset of degrees. That's why the gear wears out in one spot and the fix works.

yagermj
09-23-2011, 09:42 AM
I would like to thank the author of this thread. My wife's x3 had the three dash lights on and was quoted 1400 to do the repair. I did the fix mentioned here two days ago. I have spent the past two days driving my wife's suv " like I stole it" to see how well the fix works and if I could get the warning lights to come back on. Well I'm happy to say I couldn't get them to illuminate no matter how hard I drove the truck(even some freshly rained parking lots and getting the back end to kick out did nothing) the truck functioned as normal as the day she got the truck as memory serves.

timfitz63
09-23-2011, 09:53 AM
Well done, "pburnett!" It's looking more and more like this quick-fix is a winner! :thumbup:

pburnett
09-23-2011, 10:11 PM
Well done, "pburnett!" It's looking more and more like this quick-fix is a winner! :thumbup:

Thanks guys, glad it seems to be helping! Not bad for a 25 year old, huh? :)

dpsaunders
09-24-2011, 10:51 AM
is there any pictures of the actuator removal / location?

I have 71k on my wife's X3 and got all three of the codes. The shop wants $1350 for the repair. I am quasi-competent in repairs but any visuals would be appreciated.

Pisses me off the shop is also charging almost $250 more for the actual part if I go with replacement than what I can pick up online.

appreciate any insight.

thanks

dannyy06
09-26-2011, 12:27 PM
is there any pictures of the actuator removal / location?

I have 71k on my wife's X3 and got all three of the codes. The shop wants $1350 for the repair. I am quasi-competent in repairs but any visuals would be appreciated.

Pisses me off the shop is also charging almost $250 more for the actual part if I go with replacement than what I can pick up online.

appreciate any insight.

thanks

Its only 4 screws to remove it from the transfer case and another 4 screws to remove the
motor. The pictures are in the beginning of this thread they can help lots

jengstro
10-18-2011, 11:53 AM
I started to have the 4x4,dsc,etc. errors on the E60 530x. That terrible clicking noise after you shutdown the engine...

Is it sounding like this (video).
http://www.kolumbus.fi/~w451491/e60_aani.mp4
This sound comes sometimes, not too often.

If this noise is from transfer box, what the actuator/transfer box is doing after you shut down the engine?

Anyhow, I'm definitely going to open actuator next coming days and see what it has eaten...
I could use 2k€uros for something else than new transfer box.

(thanks to pburnett for a excellent post)

Evlengr
10-18-2011, 07:23 PM
I like the pix and all, but looks like the gear stuck in place and the worm just sat there and ate through it. So not the gearing that caused the issue, but that it seized at some point and the cylindrical gear just chewed it up.

jengstro
10-23-2011, 11:47 AM
Here is E60 actuator picture, different kind of than beginning of the this thread. Anyway, E60 / 2006 / 530x actuator has metal sprockets. Badly worn (220 000km driven)

http://www.kolumbus.fi/~w451491/e60/neliveto3.jpg

X3-terrestrial
10-23-2011, 12:34 PM
In your case seems to be the actual "worm" the one with damage and not the "gear". It would be worth to research if the part numbers are the same.

535MSport
10-23-2011, 05:40 PM
Buy your parts online and have the dealer install them. My dealer will install BMW or other quality parts, they did my AC compressor.

sammyers
10-23-2011, 05:56 PM
I just did this DIY repair, and so far all is working just fine. I put it through its paces, breaking tires loose on dry pavement, therefore loosing traction control just slightly.

I will post again once it's gone through bad weather. Up here in the Pacific Northwest we get ice and snow. We'll see how she does.

I would like to advise on the fix though. Once you have the actuator/servomotor out, you will need to rotate the main gear, full 180 degrees. I thoroughly inspected mine, and the effected area was 1/2 of the gear circumference. Not only could I see the wear, but the other 1/2 of the gear had "fresh" green grease on it. Also, you need to pay very close attention to the gear position when reinstalling the worm gear motor. When you reinstall it, it will cause the main gear to move. Just be very careful.

I'll report back when I have updated news.

dgreen78
10-25-2011, 08:42 PM
Anymore updates on how this fix is working? I am having the same issues and will be tackling it this weekend. 06 with 72K on it. Making the clicking on shut off and dash lights on under hard acceleration. Do you need to reset anything in the ECU/TCU after doing this?

Also, if anyone has a used actuator lying around please PM me, I would be interested in making a stronger gear for these (I am a machinist)

sammyers
10-25-2011, 10:38 PM
No, you don't have to reset anything with this apparent fix.

Also, all is still working fine with this.

jengstro
10-26-2011, 01:13 AM
Actuator has been changed, 4x4 works ok now.

That "resistor" / wear indicator. I looked that from old one... I cannot understand how that "inductor?" can measure wear from the plain cover of the motor (on the inside theres no any holes on metal, what could measure rotation or anything?) . Looks a bit like BS to me.

Ok, if it measures the wear from main socket some funny way, but then what is that two wire additional small socket.

dpsaunders
10-26-2011, 09:19 AM
I changed out mine a couple of weeks ago and wasn't that tough at all. Couple of bolts were hard to get to but other than that, all is well. No slip on acceleration and no warning lights. Good luck.

madurodave
10-26-2011, 11:48 AM
Actuator has been changed, 4x4 works ok now.

That "resistor" / wear indicator. I looked that from old one... I cannot understand how that "inductor?" can measure wear from the plain cover of the motor (on the inside theres no any holes on metal, what could measure rotation or anything?) . Looks a bit like BS to me.

Ok, if it measures the wear from main socket some funny way, but then what is that two wire additional small socket.

I am not sure exactly how it is set up, but it measures wear on the fluid through resistance change. As fluid wears and pucks up contaminants, you can use this to measure wear.

I don't know if it flows through sensor or if there is another pickup somewhere in the case.

stedistang
10-26-2011, 09:48 PM
Had the dreaded 3 lights on the dash. Just did the fix. Only time will tell if it works! BTW, I don't know who said it was an easy DIY but I had a hell of a time. Once the actuator is off, it's true it is an easy fix but getting those damn 4 bolts off to take it down took me forever. Hint to help you guys out, use a 1/4 inch wratchet, a long extension, a universal joint and a slim and short 8 mm socket. Had to take 2 bolts off the heat shield and bend it out of the way. For those who don't have access to a lift, my sympathies!

I can't believe this little actuator costs over 800 bucks! What a rip off. Someone definitely has to start refurbishing these units cause from what I could tell, THEY ARE ALL DOOMED TO FAIL, it's only a matter of time and milage!

FYI, I have a 2007 3.0si.

And BTW, I live in Canada, where it snows like hell in winter, so I'll keep you guys posted on the effectiveness of this fix in extreme driving conditions, but I'll have to wait for it to snow, which should be in about one month.

Have fun.

madurodave
10-27-2011, 06:37 AM
Had the dreaded 3 lights on the dash. Just did the fix. Only time will tell if it works! BTW, I don't know who said it was an easy DIY but I had a hell of a time. Once the actuator is off, it's true it is an easy fix but getting those damn 4 bolts off to take it down took me forever. Hint to help you guys out, use a 1/4 inch wratchet, a long extension, a universal joint and a slim and short 8 mm socket. Had to take 2 bolts off the heat shield and bend it out of the way. For those who don't have access to a lift, my sympathies!

I can't believe this little actuator costs over 800 bucks! What a rip off. Someone definitely has to start refurbishing these units cause from what I could tell, THEY ARE ALL DOOMED TO FAIL, it's only a matter of time and milage!

FYI, I have a 2007 3.0si.

And BTW, I live in quebec Canada, where it snows like hell in winter, so I'll keep you guys posted on the effectiveness of this fix in extreme driving conditions, but I'll have to wait for it to snow, which should be in about one month.

Have fun.

How many miles? I have the same year.

stedistang
10-27-2011, 07:51 AM
How many miles? I have the same year.

± 80 000 miles

madurodave
10-27-2011, 08:55 AM
± 80 000 miles

Wow - I am almost at 103000. So far ok, but looks like something I should at least look at next summer. Along with the ball joints!

Did you ever change the transfer case fluid before it went bad? Being a plastic gear, probably would notmake a difference. Just curious.

jengstro
10-27-2011, 12:09 PM
I am not sure exactly how it is set up, but it measures wear on the fluid through resistance change. As fluid wears and pucks up contaminants, you can use this to measure wear.

I don't know if it flows through sensor or if there is another pickup somewhere in the case.

The "fluid" (transfer case oil) does not come to motor side at all, its isolated ;-)

madurodave
10-27-2011, 12:35 PM
The "fluid" (transfer case oil) does not come to motor side at all, its isolated ;-)

Thanks. Thought it was in oil area.

BMW parts sites call it fluid, so that is the term I used (even though bottle says oil).

Supercourse
10-27-2011, 09:56 PM
That "resistor" / wear indicator. I looked that from old one... I cannot understand how that "inductor?" can measure wear from the plain cover of the motor (on the inside theres no any holes on metal, what could measure rotation or anything?)


My understanding is that some part of the xDrive system uses the resistance detected in operating the wet clutches inside the transfer case to indicate the viscosity or general condition of the gear oil/fluid.

If the pressure required deviates from a certain range, it is concluded that the fluid is degraded.

Nothing to do with the actuator which just has grease in it.

(Measuring electrical conductivity of the fluid would surely be too complex a solution, even for BMW engineers.)

stedistang
11-01-2011, 08:47 AM
I was able to locate a few used actuators with ± 50 000 miles. Asking price $450. 2 month warranty included. Any takers?

dgreen78
11-01-2011, 05:05 PM
I was able to locate a few used actuators with ± 50 000 miles. Asking price $450. 2 month warranty included. Any takers?

I thought about that route too but if they are going out at 65-80K thats not much of a deal.

timfitz63
11-01-2011, 06:34 PM
... Also, if anyone has a used actuator lying around please PM me, I would be interested in making a stronger gear for these (I am a machinist)

Been out of the loop for the better part of a week.

Uh, has anyone offered to send this nice gentleman one of their stripped-out gears ("pburnett," I think you had one)...? He wants to produce some stronger (presumably metal) ones for us...! :thumbup:

pburnett
11-02-2011, 07:08 PM
Been out of the loop for the better part of a week.

Uh, has anyone offered to send this nice gentleman one of their stripped-out gears ("pburnett," I think you had one)...? He wants to produce some stronger (presumably metal) ones for us...! :thumbup:

Opps, had been away from the board for a little bit. I am PM'ing with him to see if we can make it happen.

The big challenge would be how to get the housing open without destroying it to get to the gear to replace it. Perhaps we can start thinking about that.

tjspeed25
11-04-2011, 08:48 AM
I know this is a x3 form but I am having the same 4x4,dsc,brake light. errors on my e90 328xi that follows with a clicking noise after you shutdown the engine... almost sounds like someone pulling a e-brake... So i am guessing the ACTUATOR has gone bad. I will be pulling it this weekend to take a look just wondering if it will be the same setup or is it more like an e60?? Will any transfer case fluid, be lost when pulled?? if so whats the fluid type or a compatible fluid (d4atf redline)... might as well drain and refill...
Thanks

madurodave
11-04-2011, 11:27 AM
I know this is a x3 form but I am having the same 4x4,dsc,brake light. errors on my e90 328xi that follows with a clicking noise after you shutdown the engine... almost sounds like someone pulling a e-brake... So i am guessing the ACTUATOR has gone bad. I will be pulling it this weekend to take a look just wondering if it will be the same setup or is it more like an e60?? Will any transfer case fluid, be lost when pulled?? if so whats the fluid type or a compatible fluid (d4atf redline)... might as well drain and refill...
Thanks

Not sure if it will be the same as the X3 or not. From what others posted, no transfer case fluid involved.

BTW, if you do change fluid, you have to buy it from BMW. Expensive - around $50 per liter.

rbanna
11-05-2011, 10:22 AM
I followed your steps and all my systems are working perfect, ABS, 4x4, Self level suspention and Stability system all working fine, I have removed the motor by my self in 30 min, then I opened the motor to shift the gear by 180 degree, now its working properly, thank you very very very much for the help, I have saved around 2000AED like 400$ for used one,

Thsnks again boss;)

rbanna
11-05-2011, 10:26 AM
I followed your steps and all my systems are working perfect, ABS, 4x4, Self level suspention and Stability system all working fine, I have removed the motor by my self in 30 min, then I opened the motor to shift the gear by 180 degree, now its working properly, thank you very very very much for the help, I have saved around 2000AED like 400$ for used one,

Thanks again boss ;)

eliotttache
11-05-2011, 05:59 PM
hello there PBURNETT , well just made the repair today and magic ....its work to me :):):)
well i am very grateful and thanking you all day ..... i dont want to celebrate yet but its working!!!!!!
let me tell you my experience i had the abs brake and 4x4 ligths on and i had an oil leak in my transfer box , first arrange this leak but the lights were still on , i read your post an did the repair only that i didnt take off the motor and did take the metal cover and mine was almost half black gear damage (70k kms on mine ) , well i turned it to 180 o were no damage is put the cover back by pressing well and some hammer delicate job and put it back e voila !!!
thank you very much god bless you !!!:angel::angel::angel::angel:
regards from mexico city

tjspeed25
11-18-2011, 09:28 AM
Actuator has been changed, 4x4 works ok now.

That "resistor" / wear indicator. I looked that from old one... I cannot understand how that "inductor?" can measure wear from the plain cover of the motor (on the inside theres no any holes on metal, what could measure rotation or anything?) . Looks a bit like BS to me.

Ok, if it measures the wear from main socket some funny way, but then what is that two wire additional small socket.

Thank you so much jengstro for replying to my pm... The servo motor in my e90 328xi was bad! i have included a few pics... The car has 60k... I ordered a new one from ECS Tuning for $480 shipped
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR POSTING ON HERE YOU SAVED ME HUNDRED!!!!!

eliotttache
11-26-2011, 03:44 PM
hello there
no light on so far and working well , but i start having some clicking sound in low gear and taking off , and its coming from the transfer or actuator .....( before i did not have any clicking at all ) i disconect the actuator and no clicking but get the 4x4 light on ... take off the actuator turn more the gear but the clicking maybe get lees noisy .... any idea ????or maybe where i can get anew plastic gear ....but still happy with the fix !!:):):)

bluskye
11-28-2011, 04:17 PM
Who has the knowledge of casting the gear in metal and selling them for $80/piece? Id buy it.

pburnett
11-28-2011, 04:58 PM
Who has the knowledge of casting the gear in metal and selling them for $80/piece? Id buy it.

one guy here is actually working on machining them... hopefully he chimes in. I sent him the old one that I took pictures of in this thread so he has something to go off of.

Dominic49
11-29-2011, 08:22 AM
i dont think doing them in metal would be much better, id rather replace with another plastic ala the ODO gears on the early bmws


i'd rather the gear in the actuator strip out vs what it is actuating....


either way it wouldnt be hard to have them machined or cast if i had a sample to work from

timfitz63
11-29-2011, 09:35 AM
i dont think doing them in metal would be much better, id rather replace with another plastic ala the ODO gears on the early bmws


i'd rather the gear in the actuator strip out vs what it is actuating....


either way it wouldnt be hard to have them machined or cast if i had a sample to work from

Hmm. That's an important consideration in this instance that hadn't occurred to me before: the gear may have been deliberately specified by BMW to be made of plastic for that very reason -- to allow it to be the designed failure point, rather than the actuator motor, should the system become jammed for one reason or another...

A plastic replacement gear might be a better alternative to a metal one at that...

pburnett
12-03-2011, 06:55 AM
Good points timfitz63. I hadn't thought of that. If "we" went down that route, we would also need to match the physcial properties of the same type of plastic as BMW uses... Or at least pretty close. It will be interesting to see what dgreen78's thoughts on this are.

buford
12-06-2011, 10:32 AM
I have this same issue and and have a couple questions. I have removed the motor from the actuator and can rotate the gear and see that us looks like the one in the fist pics. Is there a need to completely diaassemble the rest of the part? Should I use a degreaser to try to remove the shavings?

Dominic49
12-06-2011, 10:35 AM
i would use a cleaner specific for electronic components http://www.amazon.com/CRC-Lectra-Motive-Electric-Cleaner/dp/B003NTS890

lovoy7381
12-15-2011, 07:20 PM
I had the 3 lights about a year and a half ago. I turned the car off and then back on and the lights went out. This happened a couple more times and then just the 4x4 yellow light came on and has been on ever since. I have had a couple of indy shops try to turn the light off with no luck. I was told I would have to take it to the dealership. It is an 06 with 81k . Any ideas why this light might be on?

Dominic49
12-15-2011, 07:44 PM
I had the 3 lights about a year and a half ago. I turned the car off and then back on and the lights went out. This happened a couple more times and then just the 4x4 yellow light came on and has been on ever since. I have had a couple of indy shops try to turn the light off with no luck. I was told I would have to take it to the dealership. It is an 06 with 81k . Any ideas why this light might be on?

you need a scanner that can pull the codes from that module. most euro indis should have access to tools that will

Supercourse
12-15-2011, 07:53 PM
If not the the subject of this thread (actuator problem), hopefully just a reasonably priced sensor, but could be the expensive DSC module:

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4311699&postcount=4

Be sure to let us know the outcome.

Chrisuk
12-17-2011, 07:28 AM
I have done this repair today, same issue and at 59000 miles. The car lost its stability control, abs and 4 wheel drive, with 280 bhp our car is dangerous to drive without the electronics with the roads as they are.

Found this thread and thought I would have a go, and can report that the fix works fine. Have tested the car and given it a good thrashing on slimy roads today and it's as it should be as is my bank balance! So thank you for the fix, I have my own garage so this was easy for us to try, you need to support the gearbox and undo the gearbox mount bracket, not take it off just so it drops down to get access, then 4 bolts to drop the actuator out, undo the motor from the housing so as to release the worm drive from the worn cog, then turn the white cog half a turn, put the motor back home and refit assembled to the car. Job done and in less than 1hour, thanks again.

Grinch337
12-27-2011, 10:57 AM
About to try this fix. Wish me luck. Im happy to read that many people have done it relatively easily.

Grinch337
12-27-2011, 12:48 PM
It worked. It wasnt all that difficult. Thanks to all that figured this fix out and posted about it. I owe you one.

spokelizard
12-30-2011, 08:58 PM
Hey everyone, I know we don't normally give out awards here, but as we're ticking down to New Year's Eve I wanted to nominate this thread and especially the first post for the Bimmerfest Post of the Year!

Congratulations and Thank You to pburnett!

:clap::thumbs::beerchug:

Supercourse
12-30-2011, 10:56 PM
I'll drink to that! Cheers, P.B.

angina
12-31-2011, 10:32 AM
I did exactly this, and the ABS and Brake lights disappeared and the XDrive is working properly now. However, the 4X4 light is still showing up. Anyone see this happen?

-jay-
01-03-2012, 02:56 AM
Just finished this earlier today. All the lights on my dash disappeared. It was a pain taking that metal cover off though. Thanks pburnett.

angina
01-03-2012, 07:54 AM
I did exactly this, and the ABS and Brake lights disappeared and the XDrive is working properly now. However, the 4X4 light is still showing up. Anyone see this happen?

ugh, now my ABS and Brake lights are back....

pburnett
01-03-2012, 09:24 AM
Just finished this earlier today. All the lights on my dash disappeared. It was a pain taking that metal cover off though. Thanks pburnett.

eeekkkk... You shouldn't have had to take off the metal cover... Thats why I tore mine apart, so people could see. There is no need to take the cover off, just turn the gear around.

pburnett
01-03-2012, 09:27 AM
ugh, now my ABS and Brake lights are back....

2 things. Are you sure that this is the problem? The 4x4 light should have gone off as well. Also, when you did the gear turn, did you turn it 180 degrees? If you only turned it 90 degrees it is likely that the gear is still in the damaged portion.

Supercourse
01-03-2012, 09:39 AM
.... It was a pain taking that metal cover off though.

I thought pb suggested it is not necessary to take the cover off the actuator in order to rotate the white gear 180 deg.

Unless you really want to clean up the shavings.

I could be wrong as I haven't done this myself.
Mark the position and then use the worm gear or something else to rotate it?

And as I understand it, it isn't necessarily the cure for all instances of the triad of lights.
Just where the clicking sound is heard after shutting the engine down?

-jay-
01-03-2012, 12:37 PM
eeekkkk... You shouldn't have had to take off the metal cover... Thats why I tore mine apart, so people could see. There is no need to take the cover off, just turn the gear around.

I thought pb suggested it is not necessary to take the cover off the actuator in order to rotate the white gear 180 deg.

Unless you really want to clean up the shavings.

I could be wrong as I haven't done this myself.
Mark the position and then use the worm gear or something else to rotate it?

And as I understand it, it isn't necessarily the cure for all instances of the triad of lights.
Just where the clicking sound is heard after shutting the engine down?


lol. yea i took it off anyway. i wanted to clean out the shavings and i wanted to be sure that the worn down piece is completely on the opposite side. wasn't too bad. just had to tap it back into place.

angina
01-04-2012, 08:25 AM
so i had my mechanic rotate the gear 180 degrees in the actuator. This resulted in the ABS and Brake light going away, and he confirmed the XDrive was working, but the 4x4 light didn't go away. After driving it around for around 100 miles, the ABS and Brake light came back on. I also started hearing the honking noise after turning the car off. However, I also started getting friction/feedback/shaking on my wheels when turning slowly to the left or right, almost as if something was wrong with the 4x4.. has anyone felt this before?

I felt this a couple months ago (the friction/shaking on wheels when turning) when the 3 lights first showed up, but it went away. Has anyone experienced this?

I am starting to think I just need to replace the actuator with a new one (or that my mechanic didn't fully rotate the gear 180 degrees).

Esteven
01-05-2012, 01:59 AM
Anymore updates on how this fix is working? I am having the same issues and will be tackling it this weekend. 06 with 72K on it. Making the clicking on shut off and dash lights on under hard acceleration. Do you need to reset anything in the ECU/TCU after doing this?

Also, if anyone has a used actuator lying around please PM me, I would be interested in making a stronger gear for these (I am a machinist)

I doing same thing

buford
01-08-2012, 07:06 PM
Jay,
How did the top off and when you reassembled the part, was the rubber seal hard to get back on?

angina
01-09-2012, 09:42 AM
so even after I rotated the gear, I was getting the lights inconsistently.... i ordered a brand new actuator and replaced it and now my car is fine. sucks that I had to blow $700 instead of having this workaround actually work.

monty802
01-10-2012, 07:18 PM
I've been experiencing the "3 Light" issue along with the "clicking" noise when turning off ignition. Got up under the car this evening to remove the actuator motor and turn the gear to see if it would resolve the problem but ran into access issues. I've got a support bar and a splash guard that runs from just past the transfer case to the rear bumper that is limiting my view and ability to get a socket wrench to the torx bolts. From the sounds of it, some of you have had a pretty easy go at getting to the motor and getting it off. Is my undercarriage cluttered more than yours or am I failing to see the easy route. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

micuzzu42
01-19-2012, 04:08 PM
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:

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4473836&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:
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138498

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)
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138499

After I popped off the oil guard piece, here is what the inside looked like, a ton of shavings and grease.
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138500

and closer:
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138501


So you can see the motor turns a worm gear which is mated to a black gear (which is made of plastic :thumbdwn:!!!) 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.
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138504

http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138506

So, I went farther. I took off the black gear to see what it looked like:
Good side (what it should look like everywhere):
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138508

Bad side (Cause of the problem)
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138507

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!

Hi there i would like to thank you for the info you posted .today i turned the gear on my x3 like you said and it work like a charm, fantastic thanks

yagermj
01-20-2012, 02:05 PM
So I did the roation of the gear fix and it worked until this afternoon. I got the three dash lights to go on. After looking around on the web for any new potential news/fixes came across this eBay listing ( item #130632900391). Anyone try this or have any new leads on someone that can make a rebuild kit/gear?

pburnett
01-20-2012, 02:51 PM
my god.. thats my picture....

yagermj
01-20-2012, 03:29 PM
my god.. thats my picture....

I didn't even notice, well I figured it was to good to be true and I guess I'll be just replacing the whole actuator this time around.

Dominic49
01-20-2012, 03:30 PM
my god.. thats my picture....

you can get them for copyright infringement and ask for damages $$$$ or at least to lower the price a bunch!

micuzzu42
01-20-2012, 05:31 PM
I am in canada, montreal i turned the black gear 180 and its been 4 days now and no problem runs fine in the snow and all around

micuzzu42
01-20-2012, 08:41 PM
I turned the black gear 180 and it works fine i am in canada alot of snow here and had no problems

yagermj
01-20-2012, 09:15 PM
That's great it worked for you, It had worked for a few months for me. I suspect my failure is mostly due to my drivin style. My wife describes it as spirted lol. When I did the rotation I noticed that more then half( closer to 2/3 ) of the black gear had a noticeable "u" grove in it. I fully expected to have to replace the gears(if a kit became available) or the whole actuator.

cldchc
01-23-2012, 10:18 AM
So I did the roation of the gear fix and it worked until this afternoon. I got the three dash lights to go on. After looking around on the web for any new potential news/fixes came across this eBay listing ( item #130632900391). Anyone try this or have any new leads on someone that can make a rebuild kit/gear?


I bought one some months ago. Perfect on my X5 4.4i.

dannyy06
01-28-2012, 03:05 PM
Hello
if you read this post i was the first to try this solution back on sep 2011 everything was fine until today it last 4 month i took it out and the gear was stripped in the other half
so the question is to buy the whole actuator or just the gear that its posted on ebay ? any advice

cldchc
01-28-2012, 04:30 PM
Hello
if you read this post i was the first to try this solution back on sep 2011 everything was fine until today it last 4 month i took it out and the gear was stripped in the other half
so the question is to buy the whole actuator or just the gear that its posted on ebay ? any advice


It's not necessary to buy whole actuator because it comes with same materials. You just need the gear posted on ebay. I can confirm it's a very high quality replacement kit, bronze alloy, indestructible.
It come's with a detailed guide to install kit from yourself.
I'm very satisfied.

yagermj
02-01-2012, 12:54 AM
It's not necessary to buy whole actuator because it comes with same materials. You just need the gear posted on ebay. I can confirm it's a very high quality replacement kit, bronze alloy, indestructible.
It come's with a detailed guide to install kit from yourself.
I'm very satisfied.

Is there any chance you could scan and post the detailed guide for us to view Also did you take any pictures of the install or replacement bronze alloy gear itself? Thanks for your time.

cldchc
02-01-2012, 01:14 AM
Guide comes with package.

Thanks

timfitz63
02-01-2012, 07:05 AM
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 (https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=566880&page=4)).

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... :rolleyes:

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...

cldchc
02-01-2012, 07:14 AM
these components are tested and certified for more than a year.

timfitz63
02-01-2012, 09:03 AM
these components are tested and certified for more than a year.

Which components...? The metal replacement gears...? I have no doubt that they'll last...

That's not the problem I'm talking about, though... The problem I'm describing would arise if mechanisms in the transfer case or xDrive system became jammed for some reason. BMW likely designed that gear to be made out of plastic for a reason other than just to save a few dollars in production costs (although that would have been an additional motivator for them...): it's probably supposed to fail if the system becomes jammed, thereby preventing damage to high-dollar components of the transfer case/xDrive system. A metal replacement gear is not likely to fail under those same circumstances, leading to potential damage to, or failure of, another (probably more expensive) system component -- like the actuator motor.

Now, acknowledging that it's easier said than done in this case, my opinion has become that it's ultimately better to seek out an original plastic gear for this repair, if it becomes necessary (and "pburnett's" 'quick-fix,' outlined at the beginning in this thread, does not do the trick). But folks are certainly free to use the metal replacement gear at their own risk; in most cases, it will probably work out fine for them -- unless they're unfortunate enough to 'win' the lottery where something binds in the transfer case or xDrive system...

Just trying to keep people educated about why some decisions (e.g., the use of a plastic gear inside a transfer case) are made in the world of engineering when on the surface, it seems as if they were made in the world of finance... Carry on...

cldchc
02-01-2012, 11:32 AM
Yes, maybe you're right, but BMW are not God, they make business with replacement component and they know when and how component will wear. They grant work for all employees. Sometimes they are wrong or modify their component to solve some issue.

Thanks

Dominic49
02-01-2012, 11:45 AM
Yes, maybe you're right, but BMW are not God, they make business with replacement component and they know when and how component will wear. They grant work for all employees. Sometimes they are wrong or modify their component to solve some issue.

Thanks

you still have failed to say how they were tested, or certified.

dannyy06
02-01-2012, 02:37 PM
I just found this company over ebay that sell a service and will refurbish your actuator (ebay item130639752074) for $200 with one year warranty so its much better than
just buying the gear and its in USA not italy. i alrady bought the service. if the gear was less expensive i will go for it... but this is not the case

yagermj
02-01-2012, 03:06 PM
I have scepticism about the kit using the bronze gear. Cldchc the kits uses another forum members pictures to aid in the sale and not actual pictures of the gear or kit. Your post count is low your also listed as being from Italy, that leads me to believe that you might gain in some way from a sale of the kit. My most worrisome part is you clearly stated you bought and used this part on your x5. On the XOutpost forum you said the kit listed in the auction was yours and you would produce and ship the part and it was tested since 2011. All these things lead me to think this is a scam, if I'm wrong please prove it to me and post the pictures you should have of your kit packaging ,the gear and the instruction.

yagermj
02-01-2012, 03:07 PM
"I just found this company over ebay that sell a service and will refurbish your actuator (ebay item130639752074) for $200 with one year warranty so its much better than
just buying the gear and its in USA not italy. i alrady bought the service. if the gear was less expensive i will go for it... but this is not the case"

Please keep us informed of this and what your results are. Do you happen to know what material will be used for the new gear? Thanks

Supercourse
02-01-2012, 06:04 PM
I just found this company over ebay that sell a service and will refurbish your actuator (ebay item130639752074) for $200 with one year warranty

I see that the Buy It Now price has just been increased to $250 right after you bought the first service.

Ivan seems to specialize in auto electric repair, and had been offering mainly ABS module rebuilds until starting the actuator side of things.

Will be interesting to hear if the whole unit is worked on and tested rather than just replacing the plastic gear.

angina
02-02-2012, 07:06 AM
so i actually replaced my motor with a new one after trying this fix (as it stopped working after a week). The 3 lights of death went away... so i've been driving for a month now, and I had to disconnect the battery for some reason. When i reconnected and turned on car, the 4X4 and brake lights came back on! what gives! the car drives fine, so not sure why those lights would come back on after I disconnected battery....

ioannis214
02-03-2012, 02:40 AM
I've benn reading this fix for some time now, and it's great to know that when i see those dreaded 3 lights at the same time, there is fix around it. However, i've been wondering whether has someone been able to find a replacement chain of the same quality that bmw uses in the transfer case, just to avoid possible worse damages by using a metal one that some people have suggested?

Is it possible that this sort of plastic gear is common to some other application that could become a vheap donor option? I guess those of you that have opened up the actuator might be able to know more or even have been able to track down a serial number that could give us a hint!

timfitz63
02-03-2012, 07:36 AM
... Is it possible that this sort of plastic gear is common to some other application that could become a vheap donor option? I guess those of you that have opened up the actuator might be able to know more or even have been able to track down a serial number that could give us a hint!

Well, that's the $64,000 question, so to speak...

The exploded parts diagram of the transfer case on RealOEM (http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?model=PC93&mospid=49511&btnr=27_0027&hg=27&fg=15) does not take it down to the level of component parts for the actuator assembly; it just shows that assembly (which, if I'm reading the diagram correctly, also would include the plastic gear in question) as P/N 27107566296 (in the case of my 2007 X3) -- an $800+ part! :yikes:

Obviously, these plastic gears are produced somewhere for use in the actuator assembly; the fundamental question is: who produces them...? In re-examining the original photos posted by "pburnett," it looks like the actuator assembly may be sub-contracted to Bosch -- or it could just be the motor itself that's built by Bosch... :dunno: That might be the place to start, though... Ultimately, someone somewhere builds these OEM plastic gears, then supplies them to whomever (perhaps Bosch) builds the actuator assemblies for BMW...

I submit that an appropriate 'kit' to economically refurbish the actuator assembly should consist of:

The OEM plastic gear or an equivalent reproduction, if one can be located or produced
The metal end plate that covers the gear housing ("pburnett" stated in his original post that it wound up bent and unusable after removal)
A fresh supply of whatever lubricant is inside that gear housing (looks like green jelly in "pburnett's" photos)
Instructions

nrigroom
02-03-2012, 07:43 AM
pburnett: First of all, we can't thank you enough for taking the time to help us with an inexpensive fix to an annoying problem.

I do have a few questions for you. I have the triad of lights, but do not hear any clicking noises after I shut down the engine. My indie guy is running his Chinese "Launch" diagnostic tool, and I am standing by, but he is leaning towards an this actuator issue as the culprit.

1. Do I need a lift for this repair or just a plain old set of ramps under the front wheels will do?
2. You mentioned in the very first post that it is not necessary to take the actuator off to turn the gear 180, but only the motor. How do you take just the motor off? It is not clear to me by looking at the pics...isn't there only one set of 4 bolts...are there two sets of 4 bolts instead - one set to thold the actuator to the car and another set to hold the motor to the actuator?
3. Roughly where underneath the car is the transfer case actuator located? I change the oil on my '04 X3 regularly, so that reference will be very useful.

Thanks very much in advance. We are very grateful to you.

yagermj
02-03-2012, 11:52 AM
1a no you might not , depends on your size. I'm 6'3" about 220 lbs and just did it laying on my back in the driveway in about 2.5 hrs.

2a yes there are four bolts holding the actuator to the transfer case and four more holding the motor to the actuator housing.

3a it's on the driver side just short of mid length of the suv. Towards the top of the transfer case.

Some stuff I noticed that might help, the brace that holds the transfer case in place can be loosen on the pass side( support it from under with a floor jack). Drop it about a inch to give a bit more room. Also a ratchet that has a handle that can control the ratcheting action will help remove the bolts easier in the tight confines on top. Finally the bolts are not just a normal bolt style. I believe they have a torx head style. So you would need a female torx socket set(I think I paid 14 bucks)not sure if I named the sockets right but I think the description fits.

payday140
02-04-2012, 11:12 AM
hello guys this is my first post here!:wave: i have a x3 2004 and like everyone here all 3 lights came on.:thumbdwn: 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...............

timfitz63
02-04-2012, 11:38 AM
... 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...

Welcome!

Being a machinist, I suspect that your friend's preferred material of choice would be metal...? If you haven't done so already, I recommend that you go back and review this thread starting with some of the most recent posts (say, begin with #123 (https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=566880&page=5)), and ask your friend if he (or someone he might be able to recommend) can manufacture the gear out of the same material(s) as the OEM gear. This may be an important consideration to protect other components in the drive system/transfer case.

As a machinist, he might be better in helping to replicate the protective cover plate for the gearbox where this plastic gear resides, which reportedly gets bent out of shape when removed to remove/replace the plastic gear.

payday140
02-04-2012, 04:26 PM
timfitz63 I do believe the preferred material would be metal and I did review every post starting with the first. I did take into consideration your point of view regarding the plastic gear vs. a metal one, still this is a risk I'm willing to take. I do understand before I can claim victory this must be put to the test of many roads, landscapes, all types of weather and time. I agree duplicating the gear to the same material is the safest way to go (also working on it). When I did remove the protective cover plate I did not bend or removed the rubber seal, patience is the key in doing the job because it does take a lot of time. I dont recommend for anyone to folllow my foot steps but someone has to step up to the plate and test the metal gear out! (If it can be done;)

timfitz63
02-05-2012, 10:44 AM
timfitz63 I do believe the preferred material would be metal and I did review every post starting with the first. I did take into consideration your point of view regarding the plastic gear vs. a metal one, still this is a risk I'm willing to take. I do understand before I can claim victory this must be put to the test of many roads, landscapes, all types of weather and time. I agree duplicating the gear to the same material is the safest way to go (also working on it). When I did remove the protective cover plate I did not bend or removed the rubber seal, patience is the key in doing the job because it does take a lot of time. I dont recommend for anyone to folllow my foot steps but someone has to step up to the plate and test the metal gear out! (If it can be done;)

Understood! :thumbup: Keep us posted!

nrigroom
02-05-2012, 12:38 PM
yagemj, thanks so much for your answers.

I put the front wheels of the X3 on the two plastic ramps I normally use for oil changes, and can see the actuator clearly. However, due to the heat shield, brace, and the exhaust system all being in the way, I am having a hard time opening the four torx bolts. I will try putting the brace down on the passenger side as you recommended. Could you please attach a picture or a URL to the "female torx" socket you bought - what size do I need? I think that'll help a lot. Also, how do you remove the electrical connector...I tried "prying" open the tab, but no success so far...

I did change my transfer case oil yesterday but as expected, that did not fix the light triad issue. However, I feel much better now that there's MUCH cleaner fluid in there.

yagermj
02-05-2012, 10:13 PM
For the heat shield I removed all the bolts and if I remember correctly I pushed it down a bit and was able to get it out by rotating it to the side a bit and then pull it out. The sockets are called " e torx sockets" they look like normal sockets from the outer case(shell) but have a star patter cut out instead of the normal 6 or 12 point socket. I wish I could remember the sizes but the more I think about it I'm sure the bolts holding the actuator to the transfer case you use the "e torx socket" and the bolts to separate the motor from the actuator you can use a normal torx socket to remove. I'm off tomm and it would only take a second for me to check and get back to you on the sizes.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000I45Y8Q/ref=aw_d_iv_hi?is=l

As for the clip I honestly don't remember, I must not have had a hard time with it. Maybe once you have it unbolted it will be easier. If the link doesn't work you can google "e torx socket" and it will show them, I'll check the sizes in the am.

nrigroom
02-06-2012, 06:44 AM
yagermj, thanks again! This forum and it's members are so helpful!

OK - one (hopefully final) question: to do the 180 deg rotation fix suggested by pburnett: do I need to remove the actuator from the transfer case only, or do I need to remove the motor from the actuator only, or both? Also, do I need to remove the electrical connector on both ends?

yagermj
02-06-2012, 07:53 AM
yagermj, thanks again! This forum and it's members are so helpful!

OK - one (hopefully final) question: to do the 180 deg rotation fix suggested by pburnett: do I need to remove the actuator from the transfer case only, or do I need to remove the motor from the actuator only, or both? Also, do I need to remove the electrical connector on both ends?

Not a problem at all and I'm glad to help , yes you need to remove the actuator from the transfer case ( the four e torx bolts). Once off you need to separate the motor from the actuator(four normal torx bolts). The reason is to be able to rotate the gear you pull the motor off to disengage the metal spline shaft from the gear. This allows the gear to be spun 180 degrees. If you look at the pictures on page 5 you'll see the motor and spline shaft off of the actuator and the actuator. You spin the white wheel/gear to rotate the gear inside. I'll in box you my cell number. I'm headed to breakfast with my wife then I'll get those bolt sizes for you. The wire harness only needs to be unclipped from the actuator also

yagermj
02-06-2012, 09:24 AM
After crawling back under there I noticed a few things the heat shield has to come off or be moved down. This includes the two braces in the center of the truck(10 mm bolts) the e torx bolt size is e 12 to get the actuator off the transfer case and a t 25 to separate the motor from the actuator.

nrigroom
02-06-2012, 11:37 AM
Thanks!!! I feel much better equipped to attempt this project again next weekend. I think the only challenge I may now face is the removal of the electrical connector.

dannyy06
02-06-2012, 12:17 PM
timfitz63 I do believe the preferred material would be metal and I did review every post starting with the first. I did take into consideration your point of view regarding the plastic gear vs. a metal one, still this is a risk I'm willing to take. I do understand before I can claim victory this must be put to the test of many roads, landscapes, all types of weather and time. I agree duplicating the gear to the same material is the safest way to go (also working on it). When I did remove the protective cover plate I did not bend or removed the rubber seal, patience is the key in doing the job because it does take a lot of time. I dont recommend for anyone to folllow my foot steps but someone has to step up to the plate and test the metal gear out! (If it can be done;)

if you can make the gear i will buy one from you and try it... let me know...

yagermj
02-06-2012, 01:47 PM
Any news Dannyy06 about the eBay service you found? Do you know what the rebuild gear is made of?

yagermj
02-06-2012, 01:54 PM
Thanks!!! I feel much better equipped to attempt this project again next weekend. I think the only challenge I may now face is the removal of the electrical connector.

I'm sure once the heat shield is out of the way there will be more room to get at it. I think it's just a tab connector( I could be wrong) I think I used a small hook\ pick tool to lift up the tab from the end and pulled it back. Either way without the shield and it unbolted it should be cake.

payday140
02-06-2012, 05:33 PM
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:thumbdwn: 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!!!! :yikes: Two more places to go I'll let you guys know how that goes. Metal gear update: still waiting!

Dominic49
02-06-2012, 05:35 PM
I have no issues making the mold myself and have access to many off shore factories to get everything done very cheaply

yagermj
02-06-2012, 06:27 PM
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:thumbdwn: 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!!!! :yikes: 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?

payday140
02-18-2012, 11:05 AM
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.:thumbdwn:

payday140
02-18-2012, 02:39 PM
sorry yagermj i failed to ask what type of nylon it is but i'll be sure to ask next time

siki1277
02-19-2012, 01:12 PM
Hi Payday140, please let me know where did you buy the used part. I will like to find one as well. Thanks!

hello guys this is my first post here!:wave: i have a x3 2004 and like everyone here all 3 lights came on.:thumbdwn: 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...............

payday140
02-19-2012, 09:23 PM
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 dealer:thumbdwn:for 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:tsk: 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:bang: couldnt afford it anymore.

Ramador296
02-23-2012, 11:05 AM
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?

Grinch337
02-23-2012, 11:08 AM
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.

wyowolf
02-25-2012, 10:25 AM
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

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:

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4473836&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:
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138498

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)
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138499

After I popped off the oil guard piece, here is what the inside looked like, a ton of shavings and grease.
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138500

and closer:
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138501


So you can see the motor turns a worm gear which is mated to a black gear (which is made of plastic :thumbdwn:!!!) 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.
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138504

http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138506

So, I went farther. I took off the black gear to see what it looked like:
Good side (what it should look like everywhere):
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138508

Bad side (Cause of the problem)
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138507

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!

nrigroom
02-25-2012, 01:09 PM
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.

wyowolf
02-26-2012, 06:55 AM
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...

wyowolf
02-26-2012, 07:08 AM
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 :(

usaret
02-26-2012, 07:54 AM
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.

wyowolf
02-26-2012, 02:48 PM
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 :(

nrigroom
02-26-2012, 02:53 PM
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!

valem
02-27-2012, 10:29 AM
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!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muB7kE9zt8s
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!!!

nrigroom
02-27-2012, 11:16 AM
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.

rolm
02-27-2012, 02:41 PM
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.

usaret
02-28-2012, 07:34 AM
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.

usaret
02-28-2012, 07:51 AM
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.


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 (https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=566880&page=4)).

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... :rolleyes:

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8uBF4iY79M

wyowolf
02-28-2012, 09:56 AM
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 :(


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!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muB7kE9zt8s
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!!!

rolm
03-01-2012, 10:03 AM
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.

yagermj
03-03-2012, 03:10 PM
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

Supercourse
03-03-2012, 05:22 PM
...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.

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showpost.php?p=5640458&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.

nrigroom
03-06-2012, 07:21 AM
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.

valem
03-06-2012, 09:47 AM
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

This may be a dumb question, but is the transfer case resting on the cross member? You say you supported it with a floor jack, then unbolted it before finally lowering it 1 inch. Could I just remove it to get to the actuator or that would be unwise? Why? :dunno:

Thanks

yagermj
03-06-2012, 01:31 PM
The cross member supports the transfer case. The cross member could be removed but that would mean another type of support for the transfer case or a complete removal of it. The exhaust is still there and in the way of the removal of the brace also. It is much more work to me to remove the brace alltogher and not needed. I have ordered a new actuator and when it arrives will do a write up with pictures. Keep in mind this is just how I did it and I'm sure there are other ways. In total it took me longer to figure out how to take it all apart then to do the fix. This time I'm sure I can remove and replace the actuator put it all back together in two hrs time.

norm w
03-07-2012, 07:26 PM
Yesterday I had the misfortune of viewing the 3 lights on my dash indicating a potential problem with my transfer case actuatorf. After do my due diligence on various BMW blogs I settled into the fact that I would soon be visiting Hans at my local BMW dealer, but to my surprise this morning, the lights went out and the car stopped struggling with its rear end.

Does anyone out there think that this intermittent problem could be caused by a corroded conector.? One would logicaly think that the transfer case actuator is working or not working, right. ??

Any comments would be appreciated.

Norm...

nrigroom
03-07-2012, 08:10 PM
norm w - I would not automatically assume you have the same worn gear problem which is the main topic of discussion in this thread. As far as electronics, there are two related components on an X3. P/N 2760759988 is the control unit for the transfer case, and P/N 27107557345 is a resistor which on the realoem.com diagram seems to reside on the actuator end.

BTW, I talked to one of the BMW indie techs in this area and he said he's swapped two X3 actuators. Both cars had uneven tire tread depths. I have to admit, I have that issue as well...three older tires, and one newer tire. I wonder if fractions of a mm can cause so much stress on the actuator. Wouldn't uneven inflation pressures amount to similar differences in the wheels' overall diameters? When I mentioned to him this may very well be a design flaw given the number of folks experiencing the problem, he pretty adamantly refuted. Regardless, one would expect this component not to be so sensitive but a bit more robust.

nrigroom
03-10-2012, 07:51 PM
Finally, after a 10 hour marathon starting Friday evening, I was able to carry out the 180 deg rotation. Lights are gone - have driven 25 miles since the fix.

I'm curious what is the most miles anyone has driven since this fix without a subsequent issue. 25K miles? 50k?

I took some pictures of the alleged culprit gear. Interestingly, at least to me, it looked very similar all the way around (360 deg.). That said, the issue does seem to be fixed, even if temporarily.

This job is all about underneath access and tools. It is the most difficult thing I've done on this truck. If you don't have access to a lift, please be careful not to strain your shoulders or neck. If the fix lasts for at least 50K miles, it is certainly worth the trouble.

nrigroom
03-12-2012, 12:04 PM
Another related observation and question for the community...

Now that the 4x4 system is working again on my X3, I have resumed noticing a parking feature which was notably absent during the few weeks the 4x4 system was out (truck was on 100% rwd).

When I come to a stop and shift the transmission to "P," there is usually a "thud" that comes from the drivetrain, accompanied by the slightest nudge of vehicle to the rear. It is as if the transfer case actuator gear adjusts itself by a tooth when the vehicle comes to a stop and is parked.

Anyone else notice this? Is this normal? Is this the cause of the gear wear? What causes this? Is this related to unequal tire tread depth?

jpapa
03-19-2012, 08:17 AM
Great thread, appreciate the fix for a common issue. Does anyone have instructions for removal (where it is under the car, step by step how to remove it)? It seems some are able to get it right off of the car while others are having a difficult time. Thanks!

jsuhoops
03-19-2012, 10:58 AM
Hello everyone...need some help.

2007 X3...accelerates fine...no sound at 50-55 mph and release the accelerator have a roaring sound, not actually a vibration but a roar, no clunking or big sounds, just a roar. Car will not do it at any other speeds, go 70-75 and release accelerator--no sounds....go 40 mph and release accelerator---no sounds...Anyone got an answer...car has 69000 miles on it.

Thanks

desertviking
03-23-2012, 01:54 PM
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:

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4473836&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:
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138498

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)
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138499

After I popped off the oil guard piece, here is what the inside looked like, a ton of shavings and grease.
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138500

and closer:
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138501


So you can see the motor turns a worm gear which is mated to a black gear (which is made of plastic :thumbdwn:!!!) 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.
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138504

http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138506

So, I went farther. I took off the black gear to see what it looked like:
Good side (what it should look like everywhere):
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138508

Bad side (Cause of the problem)
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=138507

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!


:):)
Thank you sooooo much for the post.
I followed the instructions and it is now working.
However like someone posted I am not sure if it will work once 4X4 is asked for, but the 4X4 light went out. In addition I made sure to clean everything carefully and relube.
Someone was wondering if the black gear goes bad because the load is too high.
I found 3 cracks in the white nylon gear as well. This will cause it to expand, in turn causing slippage and perhaps make it go stuck, but for now it is fine.
I could perhaps have tied some metal wire around the white gear hold it together.

Lars

desertviking
03-24-2012, 02:42 PM
In my former post I said that I noticed 3 cracks on the bottom of the white nylon gear.
I decided to take it apart again and reinforce the gear with a sleeve. I found a 1 1/4 inch brass drain pipe that fit exactly. Not only is it very thin so that it doesn't interfere, but it is just small enough so that it tightens up the cracks in the gear. I decided to reinforce the top of the gear as well that connects to the transfer case.
I feel that the nylon gear in the cause of the problem. When the black gear tries to turn it, it expands enough for the teeth to get stuck.
I have attached pictures to explain.

Hope this helps.

Lars

3gunshooter
03-26-2012, 09:52 AM
I found this site and I really thank you all for the input. My 08 X3 started making the clicking sound Saturday morning, took it to a local shop where I live (not BMW). They said it was coming from the transfer case area. Made an appointment at the BMW dealer to confirm the noise. I get no dash lights so I hope that it is the same problem or less that you all have said. Great site and a very awesome tread about this problem.

usaret
03-26-2012, 02:25 PM
In my former post I said that I noticed 3 cracks on the bottom of the white nylon gear.
I decided to take it apart again and reinforce the gear with a sleeve. I found a 1 1/4 inch brass drain pipe that fit exactly. Not only is it very thin so that it doesn't interfere, but it is just small enough so that it tightens up the cracks in the gear. I decided to reinforce the top of the gear as well that connects to the transfer case.
I feel that the nylon gear in the cause of the problem. When the black gear tries to turn it, it expands enough for the teeth to get stuck.
I have attached pictures to explain.

Hope this helps.

Lars

Nice! Thanks for the update and pictures. :thumbup:

Supercourse
03-26-2012, 02:32 PM
It seems some are able to get it right off of the car while others are having a difficult time.

This was a good question that has me wondering as well. Any thoughts?

Is it model year dependent, transmission type or something else?

timarnold
03-27-2012, 11:05 AM
In my former post I said that I noticed 3 cracks on the bottom of the white nylon gear.
I decided to take it apart again and reinforce the gear with a sleeve. I found a 1 1/4 inch brass drain pipe that fit exactly. Not only is it very thin so that it doesn't interfere, but it is just small enough so that it tightens up the cracks in the gear. I decided to reinforce the top of the gear as well that connects to the transfer case.
I feel that the nylon gear in the cause of the problem. When the black gear tries to turn it, it expands enough for the teeth to get stuck.
I have attached pictures to explain.

Hope this helps.

Lars

These photos are interesting in that it shows that the problem with the gear is poor molding and poor mold design. If you look closely, you will see that the 3 cracks are halfway between the 3 "bumps" on the top surface of the gear. These are where the plastic enters the mold. If the molding conditions are not quite right, when the flow from one gate runs into the flow from one of the other gates, the material does not "knit" properly and a weak area if formed. These are the areas that you now see cracking.

3gunshooter
03-27-2012, 06:32 PM
Got a new one today for 670.00 out the door and dealer will put it in for 117.00.

3gunshooter
03-27-2012, 08:28 PM
I just found this company over ebay that sell a service and will refurbish your actuator (ebay item130639752074) for $200 with one year warranty so its much better than
just buying the gear and its in USA not italy. i alrady bought the service. if the gear was less expensive i will go for it... but this is not the case

I email the guy and he won't even sell the gear. I thought hat was weird.

X32006
03-28-2012, 04:17 PM
Conclusion / Resolution
Okay here is the bottom line:
The car is fixed using the workaround in this link: https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=566880
Cost:
Mechanic replacing transfer Oil that BMW says for life $93.
BMW diagnostics to make sure it is the Transfer Case that is damaged: $135
1 Hour labor for a friend mechanic who agreed to do the workaround: $65.00
Total $293 vs. $1700.00 BMW estimate
You can save all of this money if you have the courage and patience to do it all. i would have done it if i had another car!
You definitely need the lift or the job will take half a day ..
you definitely need to take the actuator out because other wise its very hard to see the damaged area and 180 degrees is not holy
look into the actuator motor and you will be able to see the damage rotate until you see the damaged area gone
Drove it 100 miles since the fix and it rained hard .. no problem .. flies like new ..
Thanks PBURNETT!!!

desertviking
03-28-2012, 05:26 PM
Well....
I am now back to the original issue which is: When I start up the car, I get a squealing sound like a belt slipping. When it began, I would quickly shut off the engine, turn it back on and the sound would be gone and the car would operate normally. Few days later when it happened I decided to leave the car running, open the hood and look at the serpentine belt. The sound didn't seem to come from there however. I then got back in the car, turned it off and on again. THis time however the 4X4 light was on. When I backed it up carefully it stopped by itself after say 20 yards. I then tried going forwards with the same results. Given the car a little power I heard some bad sounds from underneath. This is when I stopped and eventually repaired the actuator.
Now I am back to the intermittent squeal. I am afraid that the transfer case is bad somehow. I know there is a chain in there, which I wouldn't think could produce a squealing sound.
I am perplexed!!!!

nrigroom
03-28-2012, 06:00 PM
Got a new one today for 670.00 out the door and dealer will put it in for 117.00.

Where did you the new actuator for $670? That is a pretty good price, better than the 20% off you can get at getbmwparts.com.

Also, which BMW dealer is willing to put it in for $117? That is an excellent price. Here in the DC area they would have charged at least 4x that price.

Make sure they re-program the car (the new actuator needs to "adapt" to the car).

3gunshooter
03-29-2012, 08:24 AM
Where did you the new actuator for $670? That is a pretty good price, better than the 20% off you can get at getbmwparts.com.

Also, which BMW dealer is willing to put it in for $117? That is an excellent price. Here in the DC area they would have charged at least 4x that price.

Make sure they re-program the car (the new actuator needs to "adapt" to the car).

I live in Indiana, The dealers here have an online store you can get them from. They said it was for the do it your self type. But if you buy it at the dealer it was 940.00(I know, does not make sense) Basney BMW in South Bend is doing the labor that was the quoted price. They do really good work, the guy had it off in about 20 min. to confirm that's what it was and put it back in and I was out in less than a hour. I got the part and get the new one in on Friday. I feel lucky

nrigroom
03-29-2012, 09:12 AM
I live in Indiana, The dealers here have an online store you can get them from. They said it was for the do it your self type. But if you buy it at the dealer it was 940.00(I know, does not make sense) Basney BMW in South Bend is doing the labor that was the quoted price. They do really good work, the guy had it off in about 20 min. to confirm that's what it was and put it back in and I was out in less than a hour. I got the part and get the new one in on Friday. I feel lucky


Good for you! You'll probably need to eventually replace it anyway.

This is probably the most useful thread on the X3. However, I wish eventually other more knowledgable subiscribers can answer the following questions about the actuator:

1. Why does a 180 deg fix the problem? Does the worn gear in question NEVER rotate more than a few degrees relative to it's set point? What does the rotation of this gear while driving actually accomplish? Vary the engine torque between the rear and front axles?
2. Has anyone obtained > 25K miles after the rotation? One subscriber had to replace the actuator within just a few months of rotation.
3. When you hit the 4x4 button on the dash, is this actuator completely disengaged from the driveline? Meaning, no load on the worn gear in question?

One question for you: On http://www.basneypartsonline.com, the price I see is $900.31 - do they only give you the online store price if you actually physically walk-in? I am wondering if there's a way I can use their excellent prices for my future needs :)

timfitz63
03-29-2012, 12:26 PM
Well, I'll give it a crack...

1. Why does a 180 deg fix the problem? Does the worn gear in question NEVER rotate more than a few degrees relative to it's set point? What does the rotation of this gear while driving actually accomplish? Vary the engine torque between the rear and front axles?

That was a topic of discussion early on in this thread. Apparently, the gear never rotates more than 180 degrees to accomplish its function, which as you surmised, is to distribute torque between the front and rear axles. Somewhere on the forum (could even be within this thread) a short tutorial video was posted about xDrive; the transfer case operation was quickly highlighted.

2. Has anyone obtained > 25K miles after the rotation? One subscriber had to replace the actuator within just a few months of rotation.

I don't think anyone's had this short-cut repair implemented for long enough.

3. When you hit the 4x4 button on the dash, is this actuator completely disengaged from the driveline? Meaning, no load on the worn gear in question?

I don't believe anything (short of a malfunction or failure of the transfer case gear) can fully disengage the xDrive system; it's a full-time all-wheel drive system.

X32006
03-29-2012, 12:38 PM
I don't believe anything (short of a malfunction or failure of the transfer case gear) can fully disengage the xDrive system; it's a full-time all-wheel drive system.
i think it is a full time on demand all wheel drive .. controlled by a computer ..
that's why you get the hesitation on take off uphill .. triggers the 3 lights ... or
when road is slippery .. that also turns the 3 lights on
they are not on all the time ...
only when awd is kicking in ..
just a thought ...

timfitz63
03-29-2012, 01:11 PM
i think it is a full time on demand all wheel drive .. controlled by a computer ..
that's why you get the hesitation on take off uphill .. triggers the 3 lights ... or
when road is slippery .. that also turns the 3 lights on
they are not on all the time ...
only when awd is kicking in ..
just a thought ...

My understanding is that the xDrive system is active at all times under normal operating conditions. The system is RWD-biased (40%/60% split between the F/R axles) but fully variable between nearly 100% FWD or 100% RWD depending on the traction conditions; there are some operating conditions (independent of traction conditions) where it operates entirely in RWD.

nrigroom
03-29-2012, 01:51 PM
Well, I'll give it a crack...
I don't believe anything (short of a malfunction or failure of the transfer case gear) can fully disengage the xDrive system; it's a full-time all-wheel drive system.

Understand, but my question is with reference to the actuator only. The xDrive system senses vehicle states such as yaw rate, steering angle, wheel rotation speed, and responds by actuating selective braking, torque distribution between rear-and-front axle, and engine throttle override.

That is the xDrive system which, as you noted, can't be overridden. However, it seems that the sole purpose of the transfer case actuator is to allocate torque split between the front and rear axles. It does not involve itself either in braking or in throttle input reduction.

Now, my question is when you toggle the 4x4 button on the dash to it's off position, is the subject actuator not in play? One would logically conclude this based upon the emblem and dash light display assigned to this button. I do understand that other components of the xDrive, viz., selective braking and throttle reduction are still active. This is the only conclusion which makes sense to me, but I am not sure and therefore picking on others' brains.

What I am leading to is this: IF this conclusion is correct, one can get a lot more mileage out of the rotated actuator by keeping the 4x4 button off. I think what'll happen in such a situation is that the vehicle will be RWD, but all other components of the xDrive system will still be active. Of course, keeping the button permanently off defeats the whole purpose of buying a 4x4 vehicle in the first place, but at least I want to know how the system works, and I want to use it as I please. Certainly it is recommended to drive with the system on in rainy or snowy conditions with the exceptions as noted by BMW.

Am I right? Way off?

timfitz63
03-29-2012, 04:43 PM
Understand, but my question is with reference to the actuator only. The xDrive system senses vehicle states such as yaw rate, steering angle, wheel rotation speed, and responds by actuating selective braking, torque distribution between rear-and-front axle, and engine throttle override.

That is the xDrive system which, as you noted, can't be overridden. However, it seems that the sole purpose of the transfer case actuator is to allocate torque split between the front and rear axles. It does not involve itself either in braking or in throttle input reduction.

Now, my question is when you toggle the 4x4 button on the dash to it's off position, is the subject actuator not in play? One would logically conclude this based upon the emblem and dash light display assigned to this button. I do understand that other components of the xDrive, viz., selective braking and throttle reduction are still active. This is the only conclusion which makes sense to me, but I am not sure and therefore picking on others' brains.

What I am leading to is this: IF this conclusion is correct, one can get a lot more mileage out of the rotated actuator by keeping the 4x4 button off. I think what'll happen in such a situation is that the vehicle will be RWD, but all other components of the xDrive system will still be active. Of course, keeping the button permanently off defeats the whole purpose of buying a 4x4 vehicle in the first place, but at least I want to know how the system works, and I want to use it as I please. Certainly it is recommended to drive with the system on in rainy or snowy conditions with the exceptions as noted by BMW.

Am I right? Way off?

OK. I follow your question a bit better now, and concur with your conclusion -- if the actuator can be disengaged. However, I still think my original answer applies. And I'll caveat this post by saying my X3 does not have a specific "4x4" button; only a "DTC" button. I'm not sure: do the earlier models of the X3 have a "4x4" button?

Ultimately, though, I still believe that nothing -- no button, regardless of the labeling -- disengages the transfer case actuator. The X3's AWD system is full-time (i.e., always active, regardless of what other features may have been enabled or disabled). Someone else will probably have to chime in about xDrive operation in pre-2007 X3's, if it's different.

Supercourse
03-29-2012, 07:47 PM
.
When you hit the 4x4 button on the dash, is this actuator completely disengaged from the driveline? Meaning, no load on the worn gear in question?

So what you are asking is, what different effect on the transfer case does hitting the DSC button compared to just undoing the electrical connection to the actuator?

Will either or both result in a default RWD mode?

As the normal drive split is 40/60, isn't it quite possible that with a non-functioning actuator the drive would remain at 40/60?

That way, the range of motion of the actuator to vary the drive to the extremes of 0/100 and 100/0 (or close to) would be less.

More questions than answers.

Not sure what dealers measure or observe when they pull off the connector to determine whether the actuator or the transfer case is bad.

Or if driving with it disconnected, whatever drive mode results, has any undesirable side effects, like driving with DSC off can have. (Not referring to DTC at all.)
( Never did quite understand the warning in the O.M. about driving with DSC off for extended periods and what the system does to avoid over-heated rotors with the extra brake interventions.)

hamonbagel
04-02-2012, 06:02 AM
Hey folks,

(I've also started a new post with the same message)

Jeff from Odometer Gears Ltd. I have been following this post and have been requested by many independent shops around the county to work on this problem. I plan on having a permanent fix by producing a replacement gear that will last. Give me about 4-5 months while I tool up. I will post back when the project is complete and the gear is ready.

For those that don't know me, I have been manufacturing small parts to fix cars for about 10 years now. We ONLY sell what we make. NOTHING is brought in from anywhere else. Even my raw material is produced and bought in the US, including tooling. We distribute to all the major wholesalers, WorldPac (now Car Quest), IMC, SSF, Ramac Industries, Bavarian Auto Sport, Pelican Parts, FCP Groton, and others.

I have been an E12 owner for about 14 years and have been a major sponsor of the CCA's BMW O'Fest each year. My goal as a business is to help other DIY's fix their own cars at a reasonable price compared to the dealer. This motor is a dealer only item which runs between $700 to $900 depending on who you know. We should be able to produce the gear for under $100 and offer a lifetime warranty on the part.

If you are interested, email me your contact and I can either include you in the test period and/or let you know when we are ready to go to market with the part.

Thanks everyone.

Jeff Caplan
[email protected]
www.odometergears.com
757-593-3478

timfitz63
04-02-2012, 11:16 AM
Hey folks,

(I've also started a new post with the same message)

Jeff from Odometer Gears Ltd. I have been following this post and have been requested by many independent shops around the county to work on this problem. I plan on having a permanent fix by producing a replacement gear that will last. Give me about 4-5 months while I tool up. I will post back when the project is complete and the gear is ready.

For those that don't know me, I have been manufacturing small parts to fix cars for about 10 years now. We ONLY sell what we make. NOTHING is brought in from anywhere else. Even my raw material is produced and bought in the US, including tooling. We distribute to all the major wholesalers, WorldPac (now Car Quest), IMC, SSF, Ramac Industries, Bavarian Auto Sport, Pelican Parts, FCP Groton, and others.

I have been an E12 owner for about 14 years and have been a major sponsor of the CCA's BMW O'Fest each year. My goal as a business is to help other DIY's fix their own cars at a reasonable price compared to the dealer. This motor is a dealer only item which runs between $700 to $900 depending on who you know. We should be able to produce the gear for under $100 and offer a lifetime warranty on the part.

If you are interested, email me your contact and I can either include you in the test period and/or let you know when we are ready to go to market with the part.

Thanks everyone.

Jeff Caplan
[email protected]
www.odometergears.com
757-593-3478

Hi, Jeff!

I see you're in the Newport News area; I spent about a year down there on a long-term rotational job assignment back in 1993-94; I liked the area very much.

Anyway, it's good to hear that someone with some production capabilities is eying this replacement part problem. Just to reiterate the primary concern that some (including myself) have with replacement parts in this application: any replacement part probably needs to made of a material that will faithfully reproduce the OEM part in its role as the design failure point in the transfer case (i.e., in case of binding, the gear should fail before any other system component). Metal replacement gears, while they will almost certainly survive for the life of the vehicle, are probably not desirable in this application.

It would also be nice if the replacement gear came as part of a 'refurbishing kit,' that provides the correct lubricant and any cover plates or other parts that may have been destroyed in removal to get to the gear. Just a thought.

I'm not one of those who needs this part -- yet. But I'm sure if you post back in this thread when you're ready to go to market with the part, there will be plenty of interest from the X3 community in providing some assistance in beta testing.

Thanks, and welcome!

dannyy06
04-02-2012, 05:53 PM
Jeff Caplan
please include me in the testing period or if you are ready to sell it i will pay....

pburnett
04-02-2012, 06:54 PM
Wow. It's been a while since I've checked in on this thread. Man has it taken off! Hopefully my little short-cut has been helping out, but if we can get an actual replacement gear started, now that is the real deal!

madurodave
04-03-2012, 10:45 AM
I wrote to Jeff to get on the list, just in case.

It will be a plastic gear, in case you were not sure.

For those of you who did the swap, please let Jeff know if there are any specific things on the gear (or perhaps kit) that would help the install and use.

Sounds like he really wants to help us DIYers!

kadbimmer
04-21-2012, 06:08 PM
So after reading your post ur so smart....this is exactly what my car is doing @ 62,K so my question is?? Do i need to buy a transfer case and the motor? Or just the motor both parts used r about 1000 outta salvage yard

cncmastr
04-23-2012, 01:36 PM
I too am interested in Jeff's solution!

hamonbagel
04-24-2012, 08:32 PM
I'm working on it now. I bought my new actuator from the local dealer. I was able to take it a part with little trouble. I'll be putting a YouTube video together showing how I did it. I've heard all the warnings about making a part that is strong enough to hold up and weak enough to break to prevent other damages. I'll do my best. Unless you have an older car, you may not have heard of me. I've been making and supplying parts for older Euro cars for ten years now. Anything I can find that is an expensive, dealer only item, that can be fixed with a simple part, I try and supply. I make everything I sell myself in VA. NOTHING comes from overseas. One of the cool things about my business is others (like China) try and copy me and don't succeed. Not the other way around. Quality and customer service come first together.

I'm an E12 owner and major sponsor of the BMW CCA O'Fest every year. I started my business because no one would supply me with the small plastic part I needed to do a job myself. My goal is to help the DIY's and independent shops fix cars better than replacing the parts with OEM. Aftermarket doesn't have to mean cheap parts. It's about quality, customer service and saving the end user money. Anytime anyone wants to add their 2 cents to the project, just call. I'm always around. This is not the easiest part to reproduce for sure. If anyone has looked closely at this, there are some serious tolerances that have to be met for this gear to work. I'll do my best.

Thanks all.

Jeff Caplan
757-593-3478
1980 535 T4 turbo family sedan (386 flbs at the wheels)

dannyy06
04-25-2012, 01:39 PM
Hey Jeff

once you are ready to test just contact me i will try it on my x3 with no
problem.......

cncmastr
05-09-2012, 07:13 AM
Sounds good! Any updates?

I'm working on it now. I bought my new actuator from the local dealer. I was able to take it a part with little trouble. I'll be putting a YouTube video together showing how I did it. I've heard all the warnings about making a part that is strong enough to hold up and weak enough to break to prevent other damages. I'll do my best. Unless you have an older car, you may not have heard of me. I've been making and supplying parts for older Euro cars for ten years now. Anything I can find that is an expensive, dealer only item, that can be fixed with a simple part, I try and supply. I make everything I sell myself in VA. NOTHING comes from overseas. One of the cool things about my business is others (like China) try and copy me and don't succeed. Not the other way around. Quality and customer service come first together.

I'm an E12 owner and major sponsor of the BMW CCA O'Fest every year. I started my business because no one would supply me with the small plastic part I needed to do a job myself. My goal is to help the DIY's and independent shops fix cars better than replacing the parts with OEM. Aftermarket doesn't have to mean cheap parts. It's about quality, customer service and saving the end user money. Anytime anyone wants to add their 2 cents to the project, just call. I'm always around. This is not the easiest part to reproduce for sure. If anyone has looked closely at this, there are some serious tolerances that have to be met for this gear to work. I'll do my best.

Thanks all.

Jeff Caplan
757-593-3478
1980 535 T4 turbo family sedan (386 flbs at the wheels)

bluskye
05-09-2012, 04:07 PM
I'm working on it now. I bought my new actuator from the local dealer. I was able to take it a part with little trouble. I'll be putting a YouTube video together showing how I did it. I've heard all the warnings about making a part that is strong enough to hold up and weak enough to break to prevent other damages. I'll do my best. Unless you have an older car, you may not have heard of me. I've been making and supplying parts for older Euro cars for ten years now. Anything I can find that is an expensive, dealer only item, that can be fixed with a simple part, I try and supply. I make everything I sell myself in VA. NOTHING comes from overseas. One of the cool things about my business is others (like China) try and copy me and don't succeed. Not the other way around. Quality and customer service come first together.

I'm an E12 owner and major sponsor of the BMW CCA O'Fest every year. I started my business because no one would supply me with the small plastic part I needed to do a job myself. My goal is to help the DIY's and independent shops fix cars better than replacing the parts with OEM. Aftermarket doesn't have to mean cheap parts. It's about quality, customer service and saving the end user money. Anytime anyone wants to add their 2 cents to the project, just call. I'm always around. This is not the easiest part to reproduce for sure. If anyone has looked closely at this, there are some serious tolerances that have to be met for this gear to work. I'll do my best.

Thanks all.

Jeff Caplan
757-593-3478
1980 535 T4 turbo family sedan (386 flbs at the wheels)

Nice. We dont need a replacement gear that is better then the original, we just need one that's pretty much the same that we can purchase =)

X3-terrestrial
05-15-2012, 07:43 AM
Wow. It's been a while since I've checked in on this thread. Man has it taken off! Hopefully my little short-cut has been helping out, but if we can get an actual replacement gear started, now that is the real deal!

And is stickied now! Hopefully when mine fails, we have a replacement part we can swap!

dannyy06
05-23-2012, 03:23 PM
I'm working on it now. I bought my new actuator from the local dealer. I was able to take it a part with little trouble. I'll be putting a YouTube video together showing how I did it. I've heard all the warnings about making a part that is strong enough to hold up and weak enough to break to prevent other damages. I'll do my best. Unless you have an older car, you may not have heard of me. I've been making and supplying parts for older Euro cars for ten years now. Anything I can find that is an expensive, dealer only item, that can be fixed with a simple part, I try and supply. I make everything I sell myself in VA. NOTHING comes from overseas. One of the cool things about my business is others (like China) try and copy me and don't succeed. Not the other way around. Quality and customer service come first together.

I'm an E12 owner and major sponsor of the BMW CCA O'Fest every year. I started my business because no one would supply me with the small plastic part I needed to do a job myself. My goal is to help the DIY's and independent shops fix cars better than replacing the parts with OEM. Aftermarket doesn't have to mean cheap parts. It's about quality, customer service and saving the end user money. Anytime anyone wants to add their 2 cents to the project, just call. I'm always around. This is not the easiest part to reproduce for sure. If anyone has looked closely at this, there are some serious tolerances that have to be met for this gear to work. I'll do my best.

Thanks all.

Jeff Caplan
757-593-3478
1980 535 T4 turbo family sedan (386 flbs at the wheels)

any updated jeff????????????

1hander
05-29-2012, 11:09 PM
you guys should also keep in mind that these symptoms could be a worn commutator or brushes like mine

06-02-2012, 09:43 AM
I didn't have the Triad of lights on Dash till mechanic went in & changed the fluids.
Then he said it was Transfer case Problem. It is weird no noise at all till I turn the car off then a few clicks.
Should I still check for the Actvator?
This is frustrating. I have only 47,000 miles of easy driving. Do the X3 have this issue?
Nancy

1hander
06-02-2012, 09:51 AM
Yes .....because when you turn it off, it is returning to its original or ...the start position ..

tehcook
06-09-2012, 08:28 PM
Do you guys have the ABS, 4x4 and red Brakes lights on always after they lit up first time ?

I've got same lights and I do hear that noise right after I turn the engine off. But the lights always go off for a while if I power it off on a red light stop. And start again shortly after. Is this what you are seeing ? I'm wondering if I should spend time to try this fix or this might be a different issue.

1hander
06-09-2012, 08:31 PM
mine would come and go...evenetually it stayed on, pull the actuator and chheck the gear, it takes 10 minutes to pull it, then you have to remove the cover tro gfet to the gear..ive got one for sale if you happen to need one,

if its doing the weird bumping under acceleration, disconnect the main wire to the solenoid and if the bumping goes away then thats your problem

it sounds like your actuator though

tehcook
06-10-2012, 10:59 AM
Ok I spent an evening under the car and it seem impossible to put torx head on the top ones. Either 2004/2005 have slightly more room there or my tools are too big. I'm considering remove that crossmember altogether. A bit worried if this will results in whatever it holds dropping on the floor. Or will it hang there for a while ?
So far removed both crossmember nuts on the driver side and loosened both on the pass side.

1hander
06-10-2012, 11:38 AM
mines an 06 4.4, yours does have a different transmission...that would explain the trouble your having..that sux man..put a jack under the transmission but dont cave in the trans oilpan, ...to support it, or it will fall, not completely but enough that it might damage some stuff on the firewall and lines and and hoses etc etc..

i used a 10mm deepsocket, with no extension, first put the socklet on the bolt, then push the ratchet onto the socket..this may not work for you ...

Rusty86
06-10-2012, 06:06 PM
Well, it's finally happened to me as well....The terrible triad of lights and clicking noise after turning the car off ('06 X3 with sports package and 98,500 miles). Took the car to BMW yesterday to confirm and sure enough they found faults for VTG and VTG actuator. Their estimate to replace motor: $1,400. He said if the new TC motor didn't resolve the issue, I would need a whole new TC for $3,500. So far I'm out only $150 for the diagnosis.

It appears that this 180º trick remedies the problem - at least temporarily. My 2 questions are:

1. As some had asked already, can anyone who has already done this gear rotation chime in to update how many miles you have gotten since?
2. If left unfixed for a few weeks - or maybe months (will now use the car as a low mileage commuter to train station), can additional damage be done?

My plan is to wait for the new gear from Jeff to see if that works - this way I'm only dropping that thing once (hopefully). Just peeked under the car and it looked a little intimidating.

Thanks!

talkjames
06-11-2012, 10:59 AM
I have the light triad happening on my 2006 X3 at 75K miles. My mechanic said that the transfer case should be replaced based on advice he received but seeing the posts on this forum it appears that the actuator is the way to go.

I do not have any noise but I feel the shudder on acceleration and the three lights come on. My mechanic does not think that I am damaging the car further by driving it in this condition (at least in the near term).

Please advise on the following:

Should I just have the actuator replaced?
Am I damaging the car if I continue driving it for another week? (It's been two weeks since it first occurred)
Should I expect to have more problems in the near future?
Should I sell the car?


Thanks for your help!

James
Fullerton, CA

tehcook
06-12-2012, 12:50 PM
I do not have any noise but I feel the shudder on acceleration and the three lights come on.

I don't think this matches "worn our gear". When worm slips at the worn plasic gear you should hear ratcheting sounds. And I do not see many reports of that shudder on acceleration. I'd get the fault codes off it first. Personally I would say with worn plastic gear issue I would take a risk and drive it for a while. At least until I can get a cheaper TC off internet shipped. Or save some $$ to get it fixed.

Mine "3-lights" '07 X3 reports "2DCE servo motor on transfer case no signal". And I do hear sounds after engine shutoff even though lights triad does not come on every trip even if I try push it harder to have 4x4 kick in.

1hander
06-12-2012, 05:38 PM
the above case sounds like mine, the gear was good even though i bought another thinking it was the gear when it wasnt,

it had the same shudder... if your going to continue to drive it, disconnect the connector to the solenoid to stop the jerking, long term its not good for the driveline, the transmission or the transfer case chain

the motor brushes are likely worn all the way down and the commutator on the solenoid motor is black and dirty. thats why it doesnt have the power to properly engage the arms that actuate the clutch,

as soon as i replaced mine the lights and the shudder went away...

just disconnect the connector to the solenoid, if the shudder goes away, thats your problem, im pretty sure thats the problem. when you replace the solenoid, swap the resistor on the old solenoid to your new solenoid.

talkjames
06-18-2012, 01:11 PM
Took my X3 to the mechanic Friday and suggested he turn the worn out gear to a fresh section to see if it works. He did this and I have put about 100 miles on it since without any problems.

Hopefully that fixed it for the next 75K miles.

He said the gear they use was like the one on the power window mechanism. He said it makes no sense to have plastic gear in this place in the construction.

I don't know if I will find other problems when I hit 80K miles but hopefully this is the last thing before 140K.

Thx

tehcook
06-18-2012, 03:01 PM
Lights on mine seem to go on a little bit less frequent. Took a 200 miles trip over weekend and have not seen them for at least two days. The ratcheting sounds still happen on the engine shutoff. Got appointment to fix it in two days (found out that my CPO is not expired yet). I'll update on the findings.

ONUOsFan
06-19-2012, 01:50 PM
Hey, guys - new here and found this thread via Google, but I didn't see a similar one for my 328xi, but I'm having the same problem (Brake, ABS and 4x4 lights, occasional grinding noise after shutoff).

I don't have a lift or anything but I'm fairly handy - anyone know how hard it would be to get under my car (obviously it's lower to the ground) and try to perform this repair, and/or anything else I should be aware of or try to rule out before trying it?

This is my first BMW and I've only had it two months - I'm not really keen on having a $1000+ repair right out of the gate if I can avoid it, but I don't want to screw up my car, either...

ONUOsFan
06-20-2012, 11:21 AM
Well, after looking at my car I don't think there's any way I can fix anything underneath it... one thing I wanted to add, though: I just realized that this all started right after I went through an automatic car wash with the underbody wash. Anything that you guys can think of that could have caused this from the wash?

Also, two more questions:
1. My car is a 2007 but only has 49k miles on it. Should I try to get it into the dealer before 50k to increase my chances of some kind of goodwill fix?
2. If I just let it go for a while without fixing it, is there a chance it will damage something else and make the ultimate repair more expensive? It seems to drive completely fine from what I can tell, although I haven't been anywhere to test whether the AWD is working or not.

tehcook
06-22-2012, 12:23 PM
So after figuring out I still have CPO it was fixed by BMW. They replaced transfer case activator. Their fault codes were 539E 5463 5F3A and 5462 "Servo motor or coupling force too much". BMW's test plan directed to check lines from transfer case control module to servomotor, Which were fine. The next step according to BMW test plan is to replace motor actuator. Which was done and took care of this issue.

I don't have a lift or anything but I'm fairly handy - anyone know how hard it would be to get under my car (obviously it's lower to the ground) and try to perform this repair, and/or anything else I should be aware of or try to rule out before trying it?


Just try it. Height-wise you will know if you can get there if you get your back on the floor.

Issue I had with 2007 X3 is very tight space, unless you take out exhaust and cross member. I doubt anyone could tell you how it is on your car.

And then you need torx and hex drivers, no big deal.

raaizin
06-23-2012, 07:40 PM
My wifes 2008 X3 with 42k miles lit up the brake, 4X4,abs and airbag light with no ratcheting sound. The 4X4 was acting funny like it was 4x4 on a part time system like an s-10 chevy or ford for those who have had either of those. My battery was low, so I replaced, did a quick 10 mile drive and it went away. While researching this topic I came across this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-x3-x5-Transfer-Case-Motor-Repair-/130639752074?pt=Automotive_Services&hash=item1e6abc6b8a&vxp=mtr

Might be worth a try, has anyone ever used this vendor?

Hopefully I wont need it.

Supercourse
06-23-2012, 08:18 PM
Has been commented on earlier in this thread:

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6602599&postcount=128

Don't know if dannyy06 in P.R. was able to use the service.

raaizin
06-23-2012, 08:48 PM
My wifes 2008 X3 with 42k miles lit up the brake, 4X4,abs and airbag light with no ratcheting sound. The 4X4 was acting funny like it was 4x4 on a part time system like an s-10 chevy or ford for those who have had either of those. My battery was low, so I replaced, did a quick 10 mile drive and it went away. While researching this topic I came across this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-x3-x5-Transfer-Case-Motor-Repair-/130639752074?pt=Automotive_Services&hash=item1e6abc6b8a&vxp=mtr

Might be worth a try, has anyone ever used this vendor?

Hopefully I wont need it.

Just took it for another ride, it drives fine, no lights are on. When you shut it off there is a noise from transfer case like a motor trying to engage for about 1/4 of a sceond. Any ideas??

1hander
06-25-2012, 01:04 PM
Well, after looking at my car I don't think there's any way I can fix anything underneath it... one thing I wanted to add, though: I just realized that this all started right after I went through an automatic car wash with the underbody wash. Anything that you guys can think of that could have caused this from the wash?

Also, two more questions:
1. My car is a 2007 but only has 49k miles on it. Should I try to get it into the dealer before 50k to increase my chances of some kind of goodwill fix?
2. If I just let it go for a while without fixing it, is there a chance it will damage something else and make the ultimate repair more expensive? It seems to drive completely fine from what I can tell, although I haven't been anywhere to test whether the AWD is working or not.

there very well is water iun the connectors, disconnect the wires to the actuatort and resistor and clean with spray electronic or contact cleaner

christy100
06-26-2012, 10:29 AM
i completed it for my girlfriend had to loosen the cross member and the exhaust it made it very easy to get to when all that stuff is out of the way, disasembeled the motor from the housing did notice the spent gear, so rotated it 180 added dielectric lube to the worm gear and reinstalled everything.

she then drove the X3 and was very excited lights went off and X3 seemed to drive better
so we will see how long this will last her X3 is at 82k:thumbup:

dannyy06
06-26-2012, 01:42 PM
Hello its me again. if you read this post from the beginning i was the first to try this solution
and i worked four months then i took it out again rotate bit more and it last around two months. I try to buy a service for the actuator over ebay but i could not do it because i need it to take it out send it to them then wait until they send it back i couldn't stay without transportation without knowing if it was going to work, i wrote to the seller over ebay just to see if he will sell the repair kit and i will do it my self but he said NO. So finally looking over ebay i found a new actuator in Canada i bought it for $350 installed it and no more issues. So in conclusion the fix works for a while it will delay the time to buy a new one. Hopefully jeff will soon have a solution in which we will be able to buy just the worn gear.

dannyy06
06-26-2012, 01:45 PM
Has been commented on earlier in this thread:

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6602599&postcount=128

Don't know if dannyy06 in P.R. was able to use the service.

Hello its me again. if you read this post from the beginning i was the first to try this solution
and i worked four months then i took it out again rotate bit more and it last around two months. I try to buy a service for the actuator over ebay but i could not do it because i need it to take it out send it to them then wait until they send it back i couldn't stay without transportation without knowing if it was going to work, i wrote to the seller over ebay just to see if he will sell the repair kit and i will do it my self but he said NO. So finally looking over ebay i found a new actuator in Canada i bought it for $350 installed it and no more issues. So in conclusion the fix works for a while it will delay the time to buy a new one. Hopefully jeff will soon have a solution in which we will be able to buy just the worn gear.

nukemegawatt
06-27-2012, 07:04 AM
So I was so excited to find this posting and could not wait to get home and turn my gear 180 to rid myself of the "terrible triad". It took me about 1 hour for the task. ( no lift, no ramps, used sockets, torx, extensions, and universal, I did not have to loosen the crossmember ). I was so excited to restart my X3 and wait for the lights to dissappear into oblivion..........BUT they did not:cry:. I feel so defeated. Do I need to have the diagnostic reset or disconnect the battery? After reading everyone else's post, it appears that the lights just cleared themselves.

Here is the history (as short and sweet as possible)
Bought used 1 year ago, currently with 63K mileage.
Three months ago was intermittently delayed to start, sometimes immediate crank, sometimes 1-2 sec start. Thought it was battery, charge light indicated needed charge. Charged battery, but would not hold sufficient charge to get green light. (BATT test says good battery)...decided not to hassle with inconsistent charge and with the wife breathing down my neck about it, I bought a new battery. After new battery installed, no problems on start for two months.
Bought a small boat and installed a CURTs hitch DIY. No problems with install, no wiring had to be connected nor disconnected for install. Decided to use a trailer light conversion kit I had sitting around the garage to DIY the lights. (Ended up with only connecting turn signals, brake lights, and ground.) Average distance for tow has been 1 mile.
Anytime I connected the trailer lights up, lights work appropriately, except I would get the Bulb warning light on the dash. (figured it was a bad bulb on trailer somewhere and when I disconnected trailer light plug the light extiinguishes)..thougth not a big deal at the time.
Still no "terrible triad" of lights...........
One week afterwards the intermittent delay start began again. I was going to troubleshoot it on the following weekend, when during the middle of the week, the X3 would not start. Tried jumping it off, because I thought it might be low voltage on battery, but still would not turn over. Had it towed to the local BMW garage ( not a BMW dealership). They ran diagnostic and determined it was low voltage (possible bad battery) and the starter. So I had a starter installed. Picked up two days later and started right up.
Within 24 hours I got my first encounter with the "terrible triad" warning lights (ABS.4x4,yellow brake).....but they went out after driving about 15 minutes.
Towed the boat once after these lights extinguished during that weekend with no problems other than the bulb indicator warning light as mentioned above.
On Monday, the "terrible triad" resurfaced and did not reset all week, I started to research on the internet. Called the BMW garage where I had the work done and they suggested I bring it by to have a diagnostic run. After the diagnostic, they suggested that I buy a new battery as the one installed was good, but the diagnostic was indicating low voltage (bad battery). So I went and exchanged the battery which when tested was GOOD and the Alternator tested as GOOD, but they exchanged it like for like anyways to put me at ease. After the exchange, the "terrible triad" lights were still illuminated. So I went back to the BMW garage and they reset the diagnostic for me. All three warning lights were gone. :) After signing the paperwork for the free work they documented, I went to start the X3 and it was delayed to start and after another hour of troubleshooting, the mechanic determined it must be a bad starter.:mad: So i left it with them and they replaced the starter the very next day and replaced the motor grounding strap that had a little corrosion on it, at no cost to me. I picked the X3 up with no warning lights and starts right up with no problems. I get home and immediately remove the trailer light connections, thinking now that there may have been a short somewhere and i don't want to chance draining the battery again.
Two days later, without pulling the boat at all, the "terrible triad" resurfaces.:dunno::mad: Then I find this posting and am convinced that it would solve my problems, but the fight continues, and any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

1hander
06-27-2012, 07:15 AM
Was the gear worn..were the teeth chewed up that it required turning the gear ...which OS only a bandaid anyway

nukemegawatt
06-27-2012, 07:23 AM
I did not remove the silver cover plate to look at the teeth to determine if they were worn. I probably should have in hindsight, but I think in a previous post it suggested to not remove the cover plate as it make not re-mate. I just marked the white gear and rotated 180 degrees. Do you suggest I need to remove it again and take that cover plate off to look at the teeth?

1hander
06-27-2012, 07:35 AM
yes you have to, i dont understand how you were able to rotate the gear with removing the plate, the retainer washer and dissasembling it..

if you open it up and the teeth are perfect, then it coud be that the brushes inside the motor portion are comletely worn and or the commutator has too much carbon it to pass the proper amount of voltage to the motor to get it to turn properly,

if the commutator looks really black then use some 400 grit sandpaper and lightly sand it all the way around untill its clean copper and reassemble

when you pry the cover off it may bend or distort, no big deal, its fairly pliable, just bend it back to shape and push it back into its place, it will not fall out

i really think its your commutator and brushes

nukemegawatt
06-27-2012, 08:10 AM
I removed the unit as a whole. Then I marked the current position of the white gear with a sharpie on the bottom. The I separated the motor housing and pulled out the worm gear together. The white gear rotated counterclockwise slightly. A small amount of brush dust fell out. I rotated the gear 180 degrees from this position. When re-installing the worm gear and mating the housing I had to use a flat head screw driver to separate the spring tensioned brushes around the first wheel thingy. When fully inserted the white gear rotated to a position that was 180 degrees from the original marked position ( now at the top ). I did not verify that the brushes where in contact with the barrel portion that sticks out in the picture. Do I need to re-mate the motor housing differently and make sure the brushes are riding on which part? Also I noticed that during this whole process the motor housing casing was warmer to the touch than the rest of the transfer case. Not hot just warmer. Could that mean that the commutator is stuck and could that drain my battery? I'm just brainstorming at this point.http://i45.tinypic.com/ir3pxs.jpg

1hander
06-27-2012, 08:43 AM
actually the commutator is the copper just under that black ring your arrow is pointing to..how much is left of the brushes...

it will only go back one way i think, but clean the commutator, did the gear have a groove worn down the center of the teeth

nukemegawatt
06-27-2012, 10:26 AM
If I had to guess maybe 1/8" or more for visible brush length. And the worm gear did not appear to have any wear on it, and had very little grease on it.

1hander
06-27-2012, 10:30 AM
try cleaning the commutator and putting it back together, also...its the teeth on the plastic gear that get a groove worn in them, not the worm gear...if all the teeth on the gear are intact then theres no need to woryy about the gear...just clean the comm..

but they are wornout..thats how much brush i had left, had to buy a new actuator

nukemegawatt
06-27-2012, 10:58 AM
I'll try it again, and say a little prayer as the wife is already new car shopping, I've got to get this to work or its going to really cost me.........

1hander
06-27-2012, 02:22 PM
theres really no need to buy a new car, the x3 has a much better transmission than the x5 ever had..

the actuator is a part that is ALWAYS opening and closing either just a bit at a time or all the open then close when you start the truck, things like brushes wear out, theres no way around it...

what i find scary is your battery low issue...which very well could be whats causing your 3 light situation...that i would find unsettling as an owner of a 63k mile x3..but the onl,y way to know for sure is to buy a brand new actuator, about 700.00 at the dealer......and it may bnot even be that...

nukemegawatt
06-27-2012, 08:57 PM
Strike 2 for me.... I pulled the actuator again tonight. There was a worn spot on the gear and I checked, and double checked to make sure i was 180 degrees out prior to buttoning it up. The brushes had plenty of length left and the commutator was sanded and cleaned. The "terrible triad" has beat me silly. I checked battery voltage and got 12.54v across the battery while off and 14.04v idle. No more delay on start issues since my last starter install. Brake fluid looks good and tried to reset the steering sensor calibration by rotating lock to lock. I will try to make time to get by for another diagnostic reading before proceeding with a new transfer actuator. It pains me.

Rusty86
06-29-2012, 11:41 AM
I've been driving with the triad of lights intermittently on and clicking noise at turn off for the past 2 weeks. For the last several days the clicking noise has stopped at turn off and the 4x4 light is always on. Could this mean that the actuator has permanently failed or that something is going on with the actual transfer case?

I was going to try and perform the gear rotation this weekend, but am not sure if it's even worth it at this point.