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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 09-21-2010, 08:02 PM   #1
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Houston
Posts: 760
My Ride: 2002 BMW 325 xi
Xi front axle change questions

Well my xi went under the knife, in my case the butter knife. I ordered a shaft months ago because of the shake in the wheel, and I saw the boot torn. Finally I went through it and I had many reservations before doing it. My truck is getting ready to be sold because it is no longer reliable for me. It breaks every time it is driven so it fails the test and after 257k I've taken it as far as I can with my skills. I didn't have a backup vehicle which means I would be pressed for time and resources.

As luck would have it, I ordered the wrong axle, but not before I tore the car apart and had to old axle out. I found out the parts do not interchange. The cups are different sizes so they don't mix on the inner joints as well as the shaft lengths being different. So I'm down for 2 weeks. I worked 2 weeks straight and have a full time class load so it was a miserably long time to get rides with my wife to work. I'm still spoiled on the BMW experience. Finally I get the time to to work on it Saturday and get it finished. A test drive around the block, and I pop a sway bar link. No surprise that I can't get one anywhere for the weekend so I order one and installed it today and skipped class in order to do it. It drives and no more shimmy.

Here are my questions. I jacked the front end up to do all this work and never got any fluid out during that time. Is that normal, for those who have done this job? I've asked around a bit and got that there generally isn't that much fluid in a diff. This is my first time with the drive train, clutches excluded. Also, for the 14mm allen, did you use a socket or a key to open the diff. Did you have to use any special tricks because the space is so tight? Where do you recommend getting the 14mm allen/key or socket? I couldn't find this anywhere and it appears to be a special order item.
My thinking is that because no fluid came out that either I've been driving with it low a long time (doubtful but possible), or that because of the angle, I didn't lose any. At any rate I'm trying to get that socket as quick as I can in order to make sure in order to reduce drive time until I can replace the fluids. Does anyone know how a diff sounds before it goes out, or what kind of symptoms to listen, smell or look for? What do you guys think? I know I'll probably get the occasional safety nazi that says to park your car before it is perfect, but that is not really a realistic possibility unless you can justify it with realistic results instead of fear-mongering.

I hesitate to even post this but I am curious from the few that have done this job what they think.
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