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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 02-29-2004, 04:24 PM   #1
sycE46
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Post Differential DYI instructions

Differential installation instructions. These instructions are only as a guide for people to swap differentials. Please read through all the instructions before attempting to install on your own. I take no responsibilities for any inaccuracies or problems/damage you may encounter from using these instructions. Please consult your shop manual. Sorry about the poor photos. I wasn’t planning on doing a differential write up. Most of the pictures were taken after I installed the differential. That said… lets begin.

1. Remove rear sway bar. (Check DYI section in E46 fanatics)

2. Remove Exhaust hangers and let it dangle. Unscrew the 2 rubber hangers on the exhaust. 4 M8 nuts (you'll need the room for the next step.) (Fig 1.)

3. Remove Rear suspension reinforcement brace. There's also a heat shield on the exhaust side (2 bolts). Remove the heat shield first. (Fig 2.) The Brace is held down by 6 bolts. Remove the inner 4 small bolts first. Then remove the 2 outer bolts. (Fig 3) (Tightening torque - M12 nut 57 ft-lbs, M8 bolt 8.8 grade 15 ft-lbs, M8 bolt 10.9 grade 22 ft-lbs)

4. Disconnect the drive shaft from the differential input flange. 4 M10 Torx Bolts. (Fig 4) Pry the drive shaft off the differential input flange with a screwdriver. (Tightening torque - M10 Torx bolts 61 ft-lbs)

5. Disconnect the right and left drive axels from the differential output flanges. Each axel has 6 M10 external Torx bolts. (Fig 5) (Suspend the right/left axels with a wire, Fig 6) (Tightening torque - M10x46 59 ft-lbs)

6. Remove the Differential. Support the differential with a transmission jack. The Differential is held down by 3 bolts. 2 M12 bolts in the front, 1 M14 bolt on the rear. Remove the 2 front ones first (Fig 3), then remove the rear one (Fig 7). (Tightening torque – M12 Bolts 70 ft-lbs, M14 Bolt 128ft-lbs) (when reinstalling, insert all 3 bolts finger tight. Tighten the 2 front bolts first, then tighten down the rear bolt).
Work the differential off the car by pulling it towards the rear end. Slowly lower the jack as you pull it out. (you need 2 people for this part.)

7. Install your new rear differential. Flow the steps in reverse.

Misc.
I filled up the Differential with new differential gear oil before I put it on the car. It’s just easier that way. (differentials always come without differential oil) I just used Mobil 1 Synthetic 75/90 since that's what they had at Pep Boys. (oil specification BMW SAF-XO synthetic oil. 0.95 US qt) The drain/fill plugs use a 14mm hex wrench. it's kinda hard to find. I used a nut that was 14mm in diameter instead. (any hardware store will have one for about 8 cents) (Tightening torque 14mm plug 52 ft –lbs).
The input/output flanges use External Torx bolts. You need an E12 external torx socket. You can buy the sockets at Sear (Sears item #00947733000 Mfr. model #26750)

Fig1


Fig2


Fig3


Fig4


Fig5


Fig6


Fig7


Enjoy
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Old 02-29-2004, 04:27 PM   #2
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very good write up
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Old 02-29-2004, 05:03 PM   #3
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oh... forgot one thing. When replacing the differential fluid, buy new seal rings. part # 07-11-9-963-355 They were 12 cents a piece at my local BMW dealer. You need 2. 1 for the drain plug, 1 for the fill plug.
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Old 03-01-2004, 01:23 AM   #4
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Old 03-01-2004, 06:29 PM   #5
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Great write up. Thanks bro for sharing
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Old 03-07-2004, 09:57 PM   #6
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Complete list of E46 gear ratios. Includes automatic final drive ratio.

Model...........1.......2.......3.......4.......5.......6... ....reverse Final...Final.Drive
............................................................ ............Drive...From.Automatic
323i/ci.........4.23....2.52....1.66....1.22....1...............4 .04....3.07....3.46
325i/ci.........4.23....2.52....1.66....1.22....1...............4 .04....3.15....3.46
328i/ci.........4.21....2.49....1.66....1.24....1...............3 .85....2.93....3.46
330i/ci.........4.21....2.49....1.66....1.24....1...............3 .85....2.93....3.38
330i-6sp........4.35....2.50....1.66....1.23....1.......0.85....3 .93....2.93....3.38
330i-zhp........4.35....2.50....1.66....1.23....1.......0.85....3 .93....3.07........

323cic..........4.23....2.52....1.66....1.22....1........... ....4.04....3.46....3.46
325cic..........4.23....2.52....1.66....1.22....1........... ....4.04....3.46....3.46
330cic..........4.21....2.49....1.66....1.24....1........... ....3.85....3.07....3.38
330cic.6sp......4.35....2.50....1.66....1.23....1.......0.85 ....3.93....3.07....3.38

323i-touring....4.23....2.52....1.66....1.22....1...............4 .04....3.46....3.46
325i-touring....4.23....2.52....1.66....1.22....1...............4 .04....3.46....3.46

325xi./touring..4.21....2.49....1.66....1.24....1...............3.8 5....3.23....3.46
330xi...........4.21....2.49....1.66....1.24....1........... ....3.85....3.07....3.46
330xi.6sp.......4.35....2.50....1.66....1.23....1.......0.85 ....3.93....3.07....3.46

z4.2.5..........4.23....2.52....1.66....1.22....1........... ....4.04....3.46....3.64
z4.3.0..........4.35....2.50....1.66....1.23....1.......0.85 ....3.93....3.07....3.46
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Old 03-31-2005, 09:02 PM   #7
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Can I ask a dumb question?

Why do you guys swap differentials instead of swapping gears and doing an easy diff rebuild (clutch packs/springs) and a diff fluid swap?

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Old 03-31-2005, 09:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stickaz
Can I ask a dumb question?

Why do you guys swap differentials instead of swapping gears and doing an easy diff rebuild (clutch packs/springs) and a diff fluid swap?

That's a question I personally don't have an answer to, but maybe someone else might explain why.
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Old 03-31-2005, 10:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stickaz
Can I ask a dumb question?

Why do you guys swap differentials instead of swapping gears and doing an easy diff rebuild (clutch packs/springs) and a diff fluid swap?

Diffs are cheap. They contain the final gear ratio. Easier to just buy one and swap it, then to open up the diff and rebuild it.

Last edited by sycE46; 03-31-2005 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 04-01-2005, 01:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by sycE46
Diffs are cheap. They contain the final gear ratio. Easier to just buy one and swap it, then to open up the diff and rebuild it.

I understand cheap, but a re-built diff is always going to outperform/last a junkyard diff. Also you can use a stronger spring in the diff for a more robust posi-type action, and have complete freedom in gear selection, and you can stuff in additional clutch packs and so forth.

I haven't personally done the swap in an E46, but likely access to the rear cover for a fluid swap is about all the space you need to get at the diff to rebuild it and replace gears. In otherwords, their will be less labor involved.

To each their own, of course.

For instance, rebuilding the diff in my ford 8.8 takes all of around 30 minutes to swap the spring/clutchpacks in the diff, and another 30 minutes to remove the gears and swap them and set the backlash.

I have never swapped a rear (brake lines, sway bars, parking brake cables, lower/upper control arms) in less than 4 hours (removing + re-installing) and that's with some serious motivation to.
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Last edited by stickaz; 04-01-2005 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 04-01-2005, 02:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stickaz
I understand cheap, but a re-built diff is always going to outperform/last a junkyard diff. Also you can use a stronger spring in the diff for a more robust posi-type action, and have complete freedom in gear selection, and you can stuff in additional clutch packs and so forth.

I haven't personally done the swap in an E46, but likely access to the rear cover for a fluid swap is about all the space you need to get at the diff to rebuild it and replace gears. In otherwords, their will be less labor involved.

To each their own, of course.

For instance, rebuilding the diff in my ford 8.8 takes all of around 30 minutes to swap the spring/clutchpacks in the diff, and another 30 minutes to remove the gears and swap them and set the backlash.

I have never swapped a rear (brake lines, sway bars, parking brake cables, lower/upper control arms) in less than 4 hours (removing + re-installing) and that's with some serious motivation to.
I may be wrong, and not trying to make you look bad on this suggestion, but Ford diffs aren't as involved as BMW's. I've done diffs swaps in BMW several times, even had a Quaife on one. Having read up on the different diffs ratios and gears and such. I have found that it's always listed that BMW differentials are very tricky to rebuild and set-up properly. I have not tried on the E46, so it could be different. But Roundel, European Car, and BIMMER all strongly suggest only a very good specialized Differential shop rebuild, or else it'll go out in a short time. BMW only sells matching ring/pinion sets(engraved numbers on the sets)so that their tolerances are exact. I think that means it's gotta be very precisely installed and back lash set. But like I said, your suggestion may be very correct.
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Old 04-01-2005, 05:31 PM   #12
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But Roundel, European Car, and BIMMER all strongly suggest only a very good specialized Differential shop rebuild, or else it'll go out in a short time. BMW only sells matching ring/pinion sets(engraved numbers on the sets)so that their tolerances are exact. I think that means it's gotta be very precisely installed and back lash set. But like I said, your suggestion may be very correct.
Differential rebuilds are always like that. This isn't a water pump replacement procedure, a more appropriate analogy is replacing a rod. You don't just slap the rod in there, you have to make sure it's straight on several axis', it may need re-machining, and you may need to install oversized bearings if you had to machine some material off to bring the rod end back to spec.

In any event, a dial caliper is part of the procedure for any make I'm aware of so that might be why hobbyists are asked to pass on it unless they know what they're doing--- But I don't think that just because there is a propeller on the hood that the differential is more complicated than anyone else's.

I could be wrong, I've never had one apart. I should ask the shop that did my last rear if they ever work on BMW's. I'm betting they do.
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Old 12-28-2005, 10:24 PM   #13
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Thank you! Did the diff swap today and your write up was very helpful! Justin
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Old 12-31-2005, 02:39 PM   #14
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Thank you! Did the diff swap today and your write up was very helpful! Justin
I'm glad this write up has helped out a lot of people.
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Old 12-31-2005, 06:49 PM   #15
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33 10 7 504 532 --- 330xi auto l 3.15
33 10 7 500 785 --- 330xi manual 3.07
33 10 7 500 781 --- 330xi auto 3.46

330xi 2002 premium + sport package.

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Old 01-01-2006, 11:08 AM   #16
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I also found three ratios for the xi, same as above. Below is the ETK showing it. Interesting that the 3.46 is listed with the word "export." Did they make different ratios for different locations?
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Old 01-01-2006, 02:36 PM   #17
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If this "Export" means export from Germany then it should be 3.46, cause I'm not in Germany. No?

Do you think dealer might know? haha. Yeah I know stupid question - often dealers don't know crap.
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Old 01-01-2006, 04:23 PM   #18
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If this "Export" means export from Germany then it should be 3.46, cause I'm not in Germany. No?
Yeah... if it means that. I'm just curious as to why there's a 3.15. There was no 3.15 option for my car in the ETK.
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Old 01-01-2006, 09:25 PM   #19
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Anyone knows how to define what ratio your diff is?
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Old 01-03-2006, 12:17 AM   #20
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