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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 02-04-2011, 01:14 AM   #1
ixtoxi
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Can't get front axle back into differential

Hey fellow iXers. I had a bad front right axle and have removed the old one and am in the process of installing the new one. I am having trouble getting the new front passenger side axle to seat into the differential. The splined shaft with new circlip gets about 3/4 inch from where it needs to be, but I can't get it to snap into place. I installed a new radial seal and everything is clean, but it still will not go. Any hints? Seems to be binding up on the outboard bearing.
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:01 AM   #2
Rickna
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I read somwhere that the gap in the circlip should be at 12 o'clock when you insert the new axle. BTW-what brand is the axle?
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:33 AM   #3
SILVRRONIN
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look at my past posts..! I went through this s*** this past august when I redid mine! except one of mine got jammed into the gearbox and then WOULD NOT COME OUT!. USE THE OLD CIRCLIP FROM THE OLD STOCK BMW AXLE!...and make sure it is in the twelve oclock position..RICKNA is correct. And DONT POUND IT IN!...gently tab and havesomeone watch to see if it moves into the gearbox...you dont want to knock a gear outta place in the transfercase gearbox. Lemme know how it goes..been there done that!
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:57 AM   #4
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look at my past posts..! I went through this s*** this past august when I redid mine! except one of mine got jammed into the gearbox and then WOULD NOT COME OUT!. USE THE OLD CIRCLIP FROM THE OLD STOCK BMW AXLE!...and make sure it is in the twelve oclock position..RICKNA is correct. And DONT POUND IT IN!...gently tab and havesomeone watch to see if it moves into the gearbox...you dont want to knock a gear outta place in the transfercase gearbox. Lemme know how it goes..been there done that!
Good point-I forgot that...
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:44 AM   #5
Mark M
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I've never done this job, but will in the next month.

However to the OP, I'd imagine the shaft has splines on it that fit into the receiving end inside the gearbox. Have you tried rotating the shaft slightly so as to line up the splines for mating into the box then putting pressure on it?
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Old 02-04-2011, 10:57 AM   #6
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Make sure that the part going into the differential is lined up right. I spent forever trying to get mine to go back in and I ended up just having to reach in to lift up the part close to the differential then push to make it snap in.
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:16 AM   #7
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The trick I use is to get the splines seated (confirm by twisting the axle and making sure the wheels turn). Once they're seated, put the outboard splines into the hub, and use the motion of seating the strut to push teh circlip back in. There isn't any surface that you'll want to use tools to pound it in, so I found this to work well.
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Old 02-07-2011, 09:35 PM   #8
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OK you guys. This was not a case of just lining things up and sliding the axle in until the circlip engaged. I went through 3 cycles of partially installing and then removing the new axle before I got it to seat. It seems that the main resistance was the outboard bearing in the extension of the differential on the passenger's side. There is no way that you (I) can (could) easily push the axle in and have it just click into place, and I don't consider myself a weakling. The outboard bearing fits VERY snugly onto the axle shaft. This took quite a bit of "coaxing" to get it to its fullest insertion point. I have done a LOT of DIY work on e30s and e46s, including full rebuilds of the front end, and this one was the most psychologically taxing. I even tried the old axle, and it bound up the same way the new one did. After quite a bit of teeth gnashing and physical encouragement, it has found its way home. Glad to FINALLY be done with this beotch! Thanks to all who posted tips.
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Old 02-07-2011, 09:38 PM   #9
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yes, this was one of the more challenging parts of the axle swap. yelling and throwing **** ensued.
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:24 PM   #10
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Get service manual before DIY, very worthy for $65. ( even $35 if you buy PDF file ).
I bought 5 for 5 cars, never regret, save ton of $$$ & time.
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Old 02-08-2011, 11:48 PM   #11
ixtoxi
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Get service manual before DIY, very worthy for $65. ( even $35 if you buy PDF file ).
I bought 5 for 5 cars, never regret, save ton of $$$ & time.
I have the service manual.
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Old 11-04-2012, 03:52 PM   #12
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I'm bringing back this old post because I just had the same issue.

The spring clip on the replacement axle was noticably larger than the OE. I swapped them out

I completed the job with a sledge-hammer... not joking. I screwed the axle nut onto the axle then tapped the end gently with an 8lb sledge palmed in my hand. I made sure the axle was supported and straight before tapping. You need the inertia from a sledge to move the heavy axle into position, you dont want to hit the axle hard enough ruin something. A small hammer would likely ruin the axle end without seating the axle. Just my $.02
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:17 PM   #13
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There are notches on the side of the housing that the three lobed bearing ride in on the axle shaft. You can place the blade of a large screw driver or dull flat chisel on these notches and tap the axle into place. Tap tap done
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Old 11-06-2012, 11:26 AM   #14
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There are notches on the side of the housing that the three lobed bearing ride in on the axle shaft. You can place the blade of a large screw driver or dull flat chisel on these notches and tap the axle into place. Tap tap done
I also used this method without any issues. The GKN axles had the notches. A previous brand I used (cardone?) did not.

The more difficult task I found was getting the other end of the axle into the steering knuckle. For that I used a large, square piece of wood on the knuckle and a large sledge hammer. Once I could thread on the axle nut a bit, air gun handled the rest.

Last edited by mcopenha; 11-06-2012 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:32 AM   #15
bikesandcars
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I also used this method without any issues. The GKN axles had the notches. A previous brand I used (cardone?) did not.

The more difficult task I found was getting the other end of the axle into the steering knuckle. For that I used a large, square piece of wood on the knuckle and a large sledge hammer. Once I could thread on the axle nut a bit, air gun handled the rest.
good pointers on axle tap... not sure why (besides not having many hands) I decided to take the axle out by using the notches, but put the axle in using the sledge... it just seemed easier at the time to line up the axle by palming the CV and tap on the tip of the axle palming the sledge (that way I didn't have to hold a screwdriver in addition to an axle).

I experienced same thing with "homing" the outer stub-axle in the upright. I used anti-sieze on the splines and a dead-blow hammer on the upright to get enough bite on the nut. then finished with an impact and final hand torque

Bonus tip: Don't forget to inspect the new / replacement CV sealing surfaces on the inner joints, and don't forget to grease those seals (old or new) before inserting the axle. Suggest new seals of course.

Last edited by bikesandcars; 11-13-2012 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 09-23-2015, 08:03 PM   #16
BigMaineWomen
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I'm having a really hard time getting the hub end of the axle in. I just can't get it to slide on. The old one slid right off by hand.

I was using the same method as mcopenha, starting the splines and using a block of wood on the hub with a sledge to pound on it. I was finding that i really had to beat on it to get any movement from the spline. I got it far enough that the threads were even with opening, another quarter inch and i probably could have used the impact to put the nut on. But when i rotated the shaft i noticed that my opposite tire wasnt rotating any more. I was immediately afraid i knocked gears out of the transfer case and used the axle puller to remove it from the hub. I can spin the opposite tire in all gears but it doesnt spin in neutral. I'm pretty sure i was spinning it in neutral before (at least getting some movement) and now it has no movement whatsoever.

Does someone have a better method for getting the hub side on? I really dont want to beat on it like i was before.

Thanks

Last edited by BigMaineWomen; 09-23-2015 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 09-23-2015, 09:26 PM   #17
jmo69
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I've done this job twice, the first time I beat on the hub with a 3lb. mini sledge, got it in but mushroomed the hub and made it hard to put the wheel on and off. The second time I held onto the outer cv joint and pounded on the hub with my dead blow hammer. Took a while but it finally went on far enough to get the nut on. Used a ratchet for a few turns before using my impact. Can't speak about the other axle turning because mine's an auto and was in park. Any kind of lube on the splines can't hurt, not sure if I put some anti-seize on the last time but I'm pretty sure I did on the right front one.
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Old 09-23-2015, 09:31 PM   #18
BigMaineWomen
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Thanks jmo. If you mushroomed the hub without breaking anything in the transfer case I guess I will try the same method again. If anyone else has advice I'm open to it. Thank you.
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Old 09-23-2015, 09:43 PM   #19
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IDK if I did anything to the axle by beating on it but if you are doing the left side the inner joint ends up being real close to the dif. You could put something in that space so the axle is against the dif housing and the force isn't being transferred to the internals.
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Old 09-23-2015, 10:16 PM   #20
BigMaineWomen
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I'm working on the passenger side for now. Hopefully I can finish it up tomorrow morning in time to not be too late for work. Driver side is this weekend but it's more as PM.
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