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

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  #1  
Old 01-28-2020, 04:48 PM
e60xfercase e60xfercase is offline
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Mein Auto:
2010 528i xdrive - Vibration Before 4x4 Malfunction

Long time lurker here. Here's the deal:
- Bought a 528i with xdrive at auction
- Car would usually get the three lights (4x4, abs, dsc) whenever it was started
- Replaced actuator motor. (Note that the replacement motor was some kind of brand new unit from China with no brand name, so it is slightly questionable)
- Now the car always starts in all wheel drive

I have also replaced the valve cover gasket, spark plugs, front diff fluid, transfer case fluid, and ATF.

However, over the course of about 20 minutes of driving, the car will start vibrating while stopped at red lights. It feels like there is a disconnected vacuum hose, but the RPMs don't wander around much. The vibration increases significantly when the steering wheel is turned. If I try to take a tight turn slowly, the wheels skip and the car jerks a bit like the front diff is locked up. The vibration will gradually get stronger and stronger until I get a 4x4 malfunction alert, followed by DSC and ABS lights. Once the 4x4 malfunction occurs, the car stops vibrating and drives normally (albeit in RWD with no traction control or ABS).

The only notable fault code that I am reading is something along the lines of "Coupling force too high".

Question: What would:
1. Cause the car to vibrate when stopped while in all wheel drive
2. Cause a 4x4 Malfunction
3. Stop all vibration after the 4x4 Malfunction

I have been considering replacing the transfer case altogether (car has >100k miles), but I don't understand why the transfer case would cause vibration while the driveshaft is not rotating. Alternatively, I can't see how an engine problem (vacuum hose, spark plug, etc) would cause vibration until the car goes out of 4x4.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated before I shell out for a new transfer case, thanks.
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  #2  
Old 02-12-2020, 03:55 PM
e60xfercase e60xfercase is offline
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Problem solved. I replaced the cheapo actuator motor with a Dorman unit and now everything works fine.
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  #3  
Old 02-13-2020, 04:12 AM
MarkCh MarkCh is offline
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Mein Auto: 2008 528xi
Thank for the update.
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  #4  
Old 02-13-2020, 07:31 AM
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kd7iwp kd7iwp is offline
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Mein Auto: '01 325i, '09 535xi wagon
Yes, thanks for the update. I wouldn't have expected that to be the issue. As a side note, these cars are always in all wheel drive mode. There are only 3 times when it goes strictly RWD:

1. When negotiating extremely tight corners with little engine torque in order to allow speed equalization between the front and rear axle (e.g. parking)
2. At speeds in excess of 180 km/h
3. In extreme understeer driving situations
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