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///M3 Forum
The BMW E46 ///M3 is the M version E46 and puts out an amazing 333 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque at stock specs! There are an amazing amount of modifications for both the coupe and convertible models so read up and get started modifying your cars today!

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Old 10-16-2013, 10:27 AM   #1
tim330i
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What to do about diff - 100K miles and leaking

My 03 has just over 100K on the clock. I am pulling the diff to replace the bushings in the control arms. While I have it out I was thinking about addressing the leaking seals. I started reading up on the E46 M3 differential and the viscous unit seems to start going out around 100K miles. So far I haven't had any issues. What would everyone do if they were me?

1) Leave it as-is until it goes out.

2) Replace the output seals (can you do that?) and leave it as is until it goes out.

3) Have it rebuilt

4) Look for a lower mileage diff to swap in

5) Something I'm not thinking of????

Thanks,
Tim
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Old 10-16-2013, 10:47 AM   #2
XIinSC
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Kind of hard to say until you drop it and inspect. If there are no shavings inside and you're not experiencing any problems - I vote to reseal it.

2004 M3 115K here. Did my a few weeks ago myself. Had a leak on the input seal and it was time for a service.
Once i opened it up there was no noticeable wear/shavings inside. I opted to just replace the seals and fluid.
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Old 10-16-2013, 10:50 AM   #3
tim330i
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So it is possible to replace the seals without messing with the gearing? I know my limits and don't want to tear into that project. Will you give me a quick run down on what you did and what parts you used?

Tim

Last edited by tim330i; 10-16-2013 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:57 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by tim330i View Post
So it is possible to replace the seals without messing with the gearing?
Yes. Replacing seals on a diff is a common job on any car and can be done by any shop.

From the DIY it seems replacing the seals on the M3 diff is fairly easy compared to other vehicles I've owned.
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Old 10-17-2013, 12:30 AM   #5
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I bought my car with 79k and a leaking input on the diff. PPI quoted $860 to repair diff. Applied that cash toward a 3.91 Dinan, could not be happier.
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Old 10-17-2013, 11:44 PM   #6
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So it is possible to replace the seals without messing with the gearing? I know my limits and don't want to tear into that project. Will you give me a quick run down on what you did and what parts you used?

Tim
33121213949 Input seal
33107510289 Axle seal X2
ES#1895208 ECS Tuning diff service kit

The axles seals were fairly easy.
Remove the wheel - Remove the flange bolts and work the axle free - I used a small pry bar to pop the seal out - Lube the new seal and tap it in the same depth as the old one - reattach the axle and move on the the other side.

The Input seal was a bit trickier. I followed this DIY -
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=320142
I did NOT remove the entire driveshaft - just pushed it to the side.
I only removed the center section of the exhaust and left the rear hanging.
I made sure to mark my pinion nut as best as I could. I chose to use a paint marker rather than a punch.
I didn't use anything special to hold the input flange - just threaded 2 bolts into it a bit and had someone hold it with a pry bar as I used the impact.
After hearing other people complain of noise - I made sure to use the OEM diff fluid to refill. I didn't actually lose that much pulling the seals but still chose to drain it.

Was my first time doing these and I still managed to do all the seals in about 2 hours. I did have the car on a lift though and had someone helping between other jobs we had in the shop.
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Old 10-18-2013, 03:28 AM   #7
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How much of a leak do you have? I had about a drop of two leaking every few days and I put it off for a while until last week. If you can, I would just get it out of the way now.

I have the car in the shop right now to reseal a diff leak and few other things

Here are the parts I bought from ECS as far as the differential

differential cover with rear bushings
differential cover gasket
input shaft seal (also known as a pineon seal?)
front differential mounting bolt
front differential bushing
axle shaft seal x2

I also got a new constant pressure valve to replace while they're down there
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Old 10-18-2013, 11:24 AM   #8
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My leak isn't bad, I am debating putting off the diff work until later as I have so many other things going on. Check out my restoration thread here -

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1010095

Tim
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Old 10-18-2013, 11:36 AM   #9
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I replaced the input and both out shaft flanges at the 65k mark. My diff had a penny sized drop and was leaking from only one axle flange. I cost me less than $450 do the diff service which included parts from Pelican. Pelican was cheaper than ECS. I bought the diff fluid+FM booster separately.

BTW I had a considerable amout of shavings that came out of my diff which means that this part was never serviced before my ownership. No bueno.

Good Luck. A healthy E46 ///M is a happy E46
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Old 10-18-2013, 11:36 AM   #10
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I agree. Maybe do the axle seals yourself then take it to a shop to have the input seal done.
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:54 PM   #11
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I agree. Maybe do the axle seals yourself then take it to a shop to have the input seal done.
By the looks of his restoration thread, he should be more than able to handle the input seal. It honestly wasn't nearly as hard as I expected.
Just take your time and be sure and mark that pinion nut.
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Old 10-31-2013, 02:56 PM   #12
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Had my right diff seal leak last year. Turner fixed it great. Of course it was on the side of the exhaust, so they had to drop.

-gh
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