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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 11-13-2012, 06:51 PM   #1
325xittt
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Join Date: Apr 2010
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My Ride: 2003, 325 XIT
Question Transfer Case Front Output Flange Play, Is This Normal

I found some play in the transfer case front output flange Item 12 . I can move this up and down and side to side by hand maybe 3-4 mm. Is this normal or am I living on borrowed time?

http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...15&hg=27&fg=15

Background,
The car in question is a 2003 325xi 5sp sedan with about 140K (my girl friends car)
I just finished a complete FCAB, control arm, inner ball joint and tie rod refresh. Also replaced the front drive axles with remans. After getting the car aligned and the wheels rebalance. All shimmy and shaking is gone, It handles beautifully again just like new.

BUT. There is a subtle drive train vibration more like a low hum. It seems the issue is coming more from the center of the car in the transmission area and not from the front end and I really donít think from the rear, but itís hard to localize. Clutch and shifting are real good and donít seem to effect the sound/hum so I donít suspect anything wrong with the trany or clutch. So back under the car to check things out. Drive shafts guido and u-joints are solid and appear ok. I did however notice the play in the front output shaft on the transfer case.

My car a 2003 325xit 5sp wagon with 160K. It has some movement at the out flange (1-2 mm) as well. It is not as bad as the sedans but the movement is more then I would expect. I suspect that there should not be any appreciable play here but itís possible this has some sort of float built in. Great, I may be looking at doing two of these in the near future. http://s1.e46fanatics.com/forum/imag...es/excited.gif I seem to do all the same maintenance on these cars at the same time. I do all my own work as itís the only way that we can afford a BMW. Any ideas. New TCís are expensive and who know what you get with a used one. Has anyone tried replacing the bearings or gearing inside? If so can you share part details (IE bearing sizes/part number ect.) and where you found parts. And what about the play, does anyone have a definitive answer if play here is normal and how much.

Thanks for your help
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Old 11-13-2012, 09:40 PM   #2
Kubica
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No that's not normal.

I'm looking at an opened TC right now and don't see how the front output flange could be moving 3-4mm. The flange is locked into the gear behind it, which is meshed to the transfer gear. One of those gears must be very worn too. I just can't see how just a worn bearing could allow 3-4mm of movement.

Change the fluid and see how it looks, or better yet get a new magnetic drain/fill bolt from BMW if you don't have them. The bolts I recently bought from BMW were magnetic and had a 17mm head. My stock bolts were 16mm and not magnetic. My old TC was damaged externally, but was in perfect shape and had no metal on the bolts when I drained the fluid for the final time. The fluid was changed at least 12 times on that case. The replacement case was purchased used with "low-miles" and a warranty. It's had a modest amount of metal shavings on the drain bolts at each of it's three fluid changes so far.
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Old 11-13-2012, 10:39 PM   #3
e46alfonso
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Having the same issue and i'm certain that the play is from the diferential not the transfer box (as it moves freely).
I have replaced the front diff and yet still have the play. Dont really understand why the diff gears would have any slack.
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:26 AM   #4
325xittt
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Unhappy Not looking good for Transfer Case

Just so I'm clear the motion I have in this area that I'm concerned with is not a rotational looseness, like a gear backlash. I can take the flange and push it to the side up or down and side to side with no rotation of the shaft. Now maybe its not really 3-4 mm but it seems like a lot when I would expect almost zero play this way.

K - I've never had the TC torn down, I assume that the output flange has a splined shaft where it mates up with the gear inside, if so could the splines be worn out. Any chance you could post some pictures of the internals.

its looking like I'll be replacing the TC soon. Maybe I'll try and rebuild one of them. Anyone have any ideas where to get parts for the inside, I haven't stumbled on a source yet? Or does anyone have a good used TC they could part with for a good deal.
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:05 AM   #5
bikesandcars
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46alfonso View Post
Having the same issue and i'm certain that the play is from the diferential not the transfer box (as it moves freely).
I have replaced the front diff and yet still have the play. Dont really understand why the diff gears would have any slack.
ouch! that must have hurt the wallet
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:22 AM   #6
SamDoe1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46alfonso View Post
Having the same issue and i'm certain that the play is from the diferential not the transfer box (as it moves freely).
I have replaced the front diff and yet still have the play. Dont really understand why the diff gears would have any slack.
All standard gear systems have slack no matter what and have a relatively short lifespan compared to helical gears. Standard gears are found in your TC and diffs. Helical gear systems have very little slack and a very long useable life (if serviced properly), these are found in your transmission.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 325xittt View Post
K - I've never had the TC torn down, I assume that the output flange has a splined shaft where it mates up with the gear inside, if so could the splines be worn out. Any chance you could post some pictures of the internals.

its looking like I'll be replacing the TC soon. Maybe I'll try and rebuild one of them. Anyone have any ideas where to get parts for the inside, I haven't stumbled on a source yet? Or does anyone have a good used TC they could part with for a good deal.
Do you hear or feel anything out of the ordinary? How did you discover this issue?

You can have a bearing failure that can result in lateral movement. If you say that it's less than 3-4mm of movement, then it could very well be that the bearing failed. This could be a cheap fix if it is what failed. Only way to tell for sure is by pulling it and checking it out.

If you are going to find a good TC, why would you swap all the good parts to a different housing instead of just installing the whole TC...?
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:29 PM   #7
e46alfonso
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aaahh, this is a different issue of what i thought. I'd avoid driving the car.

With 160k you could have a leaky seal. Check the fluid first and measure how much came out of it. What fluid did you use?

A used TC shouldn't cost more than $200.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:49 PM   #8
325xittt
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Looking to replace my Transfer Case

No leaks so far in either car. If i find a good used TC I'll replace my Girl friends TC and just swap them out. I'll then tear into GF's TC and rebuild it if possible and put it into my wagon which is also experiencing some play at the output shaft.
Anyone have a good Transfer case for $200, let me know.

As for how I found the problem, I have been trying to find a humming source which is not quite yet a vibration but is still evident after rebuilding my front end. While poking around underneath the car I was able to wiggle the output shaft up and down and side to side slightly. My experience with mechanical systems suggests this is not normal.
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:02 PM   #9
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Last edited by ///MPR77; 11-14-2012 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 03-17-2014, 05:50 AM   #10
Mowg
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Hi guys,

Any update on that subject ? I am experiencing the same sort of movement in the front output flange of my transfer case (as well as a sort of vibration / rumbling when I accelerate) and I'm pretty worried about that.

Any advice on that topic would be very helpful.

Cheers,

Michael.
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