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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 03-21-2014, 02:20 PM   #21
MiniXP
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If he has already been driving around on it I wonder if the axle is sat all the way in and it is just an issue with his seal?

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Originally Posted by Mannydog View Post
NO!


Possibly the most frustrating part of the whole axle change procedure.
Definitely lol. I've change 3 axles on my car and for everyone this part takes way longer than it should and I sit around thinking it will never go in correctly.

I think I have figured out that you have to 1. have the opening of the clip at the facing up and 2. have the clip shaped just right, I think it actually has to be a little oval shaped to click in correctly.
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Old 03-21-2014, 02:51 PM   #22
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If he has already been driving around on it I wonder if the axle is sat all the way in and it is just an issue with his seal?



Definitely lol. I've change 3 axles on my car and for everyone this part takes way longer than it should and I sit around thinking it will never go in correctly.

I think I have figured out that you have to 1. have the opening of the clip at the facing up and 2. have the clip shaped just right, I think it actually has to be a little oval shaped to click in correctly.
I really doubt it's a seal issue if it has a 1/4" gap. I think that's the right amount if it hasn't engaged the snap ring. If there was no gap and it still leaed, I would say to take it apart and make sure the metal coil spring is still in place on the seal. I chased that for a while, and when I figured out mine had popped off, I replaced it and it fixed my leak. But that's totally separate from the gap.

I agree with everything after your "lol"
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:11 PM   #23
thassler25
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NO!

Don't drive it! You will leak dif fluid and risk damaging the dif!
It's not all the way in and it can take several tries to get it seated (the snap ring has to go past the internal splines into the corresponding groove).

Possibly the most frustrating part of the whole axle change procedure.

I seriously doubt it will work its way in on its own.
Do you think it would be ok to just take off the wheel and knock the axle into place without taking off the hub, tie rod, and everything else? I also want to mention ibhad probably driven about 30-50 miles since I installed it.

Last edited by thassler25; 03-21-2014 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:53 PM   #24
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Do you think it would be ok to just take off the wheel and knock the axle into place without taking off the hub, tie rod, and everything else? I also want to mention ibhad probably driven about 30-50 miles since I installed it.
Its worth a try to knock it in with everything in place, but you risk damaging your CV joints if you knock on the axle. Plus I somehow F@cked up my wheel bearing during removal and that turned into a major ha$$le, so you really don't want to take a chance on that (depending on what you are hitting).

If you do it without disassembly, you still need to hit on the plastic hex piece as per the photos in this thread - that's what they are there for. A hassle for sure, but I like to think of myself as a halfway decent shadetree mechanic, and I've never run into so many problems on a job before.

Make sure you top up the dif fluid when its all done.
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:58 PM   #25
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Its worth a try to knock it in with everything in place, but you risk damaging your CV joints if you knock on the axle. Plus I somehow F@cked up my wheel bearing during removal and that turned into a major ha$$le, so you really don't want to take a chance on that (depending on what you are hitting).

If you do it without disassembly, you still need to hit on the plastic hex piece as per the photos in this thread - that's what they are there for. A hassle for sure, but I like to think of myself as a halfway decent shadetree mechanic, and I've never run into so many problems on a job before.

Make sure you top up the dif fluid when its all done.
I've been trying to knock it into place for a little and its not working. I am hitting it on the part that I'm suppose to. I just put a jack under the control arm to raise it up and possibly relieve a little pressure. I'll try to knock it in a few more times and if that doesnt work, I'm gonna have to pull it all apart again. So much for that $90 alignment I got yesterday...
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Old 03-21-2014, 06:08 PM   #26
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I feel your pain, but trust me, this is not a job to take shortcuts on.
Rather than trying to support the control arm, you should try to position the axle so its going in straight (which is tricky).

The good news is that your alignment should still be good if you didn't mess with the length of the tie rod(s).
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Old 03-21-2014, 06:16 PM   #27
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This thing just doesnt want to go in. I can easily access the part to tap it in even with everything still attached so I feel its pointless to pull everything off. Do you think the hub and everything is hold in it back? Do you think maybe the clip has done some internal damage and made its own groove that it wont budge now? Im using a small sledge hammer and a long flat screw driver to hit it in and it isn't moving. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Also I just looked closer and it is only about an 1/8 inch gap but there was definitely leaking diff oil.

Last edited by thassler25; 03-21-2014 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 03-21-2014, 06:24 PM   #28
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This thing just doesnt want to go in. I can easily access the part to tap it in even with everything still attached so I feel its pointless to pull everything off. Do you think the hub and everything is hold in it back? Do you think maybe the clip has done some internal damage and made its own groove that it wont budge now? Im using a small sledge hammer and a long flat screw driver to hit it in and it isn't moving. Any thoughts or suggestions?
There were times when it took me a LOT of whacks before it finally went.
No reason I could figure. It is worth seeing if the clip is chewed up, but I doubt it would damage the internal splines, I think they are a lot harder.
One other benefit of disassembly is you can test install the shaft without the clip. Odds are it will slide in nicely and the gap will be gone.
Also, as many have mentioned in various threads, try using the clip off the old axle. Read all the threads on axles replacement you can find (there are several) if you haven't already.
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Old 03-21-2014, 06:27 PM   #29
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There were times when it took me a LOT of whacks before it finally went.
No reason I could figure. It is worth seeing if the clip is chewed up, but I doubt it would damage the internal splines, I think they are a lot harder.
One other benefit of disassembly is you can test install the shaft without the clip. Odds are it will slide in nicely and the gap will be gone.
Also, as many have mentioned in various threads, try using the clip off the old axle. Read all the threads on axles replacement you can find (there are several) if you haven't already.
I will give it a few more whacks and if it doesnt go I'm gonna tear it apart tomorrow again. Also the gap is actually 1/8 inch...not a quarter. I edited my last post just a little too late I guess.
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Old 03-21-2014, 07:10 PM   #30
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I would pull the whole thing out and take a look at the clip. Try making the open part of the clip face up and have it be in a slightly oval shape so that the sides are slightly more tucked in than the side and the bottom. Also, make sure the part of the axle that meets up with the diff is correctly lines up. The first time I did this that was my issue, i shimmed it up a little and it slid right in.

I took the clip on and off so many times trying to get this to work and hit the end of the axle with a mallet many more times than I should have (the mallet didn't help). When it finally goes in correctly it will click in pretty easily actually. You definitely want to make sure the clip in on correctly and the axle has clicked in or you could destroy your diff.

Also take a pic of the gap if you can. I seem to remember it may not go completely flush even when its all the way in. If you have diff oil leaking there's definitely an issue though.
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Old 03-21-2014, 08:01 PM   #31
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I would pull the whole thing out and take a look at the clip. Try making the open part of the clip face up and have it be in a slightly oval shape so that the sides are slightly more tucked in than the side and the bottom. Also, make sure the part of the axle that meets up with the diff is correctly lines up. The first time I did this that was my issue, i shimmed it up a little and it slid right in.

I took the clip on and off so many times trying to get this to work and hit the end of the axle with a mallet many more times than I should have (the mallet didn't help). When it finally goes in correctly it will click in pretty easily actually. You definitely want to make sure the clip in on correctly and the axle has clicked in or you could destroy your diff.

Also take a pic of the gap if you can. I seem to remember it may not go completely flush even when its all the way in. If you have diff oil leaking there's definitely an issue though.
I already have the axle out and it definitely wasnt all the way in and oil was leaking. I put a new oem clip on it and I'm just waiting for some extra hands to hold the axle straight while I beat it in. I'll make sure it's in all the way before I button everything up this time. I'll update Everyone once I get this thing in. Hopefully my alignment isn't completely thrown off. Thanks everyone for the help! I really appreciate it.
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Old 03-21-2014, 11:57 PM   #32
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Ok so here is what I hope was the conclusion to this whole mess. I pulled the whole passenger side out and replaced the clip. I still couldnt get it to go on the whole way. It just stopped where it was before. It lots of beating the axle to come up with the solution. Having someone hold it in place didn't work so I used a floor jack and a small piece of a 2x4 placed just behind the inner boot to slightly raise it more into position. A few hits and it went right in. Now I cant even get my fingernail in there. I then noticed that the drivers side also had a gap but no leaking oil so I pulled off the tire and used the floor jack method without taking everything apart and it work. I topple off the diff fluid and it appears that I am good to go. I'll just have to keep a close eye on it. Thanks again Mannydog and MiniXP! You guys really helped me out. Hopefully the floor jack idea will help others out.
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Old 03-22-2014, 12:01 AM   #33
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Awesome!
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Old 03-22-2014, 11:40 AM   #34
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Ok so here is what I hope was the conclusion to this whole mess. I pulled the whole passenger side out and replaced the clip. I still couldnt get it to go on the whole way. It just stopped where it was before. It lots of beating the axle to come up with the solution. Having someone hold it in place didn't work so I used a floor jack and a small piece of a 2x4 placed just behind the inner boot to slightly raise it more into position. A few hits and it went right in. Now I cant even get my fingernail in there. I then noticed that the drivers side also had a gap but no leaking oil so I pulled off the tire and used the floor jack method without taking everything apart and it work. I topple off the diff fluid and it appears that I am good to go. I'll just have to keep a close eye on it. Thanks again Mannydog and MiniXP! You guys really helped me out. Hopefully the floor jack idea will help others out.
Nice. Yea raising the inner boot is exactly the issue I had the first time. The second time I did it idk what my issue was... It seems everything that can go wrong does when replacing axles on these cars.

Anyone else bend their torx wrench when disconnecting the strut stabilizer. I bend a snap on and craftsman torx socket doing that part. Idk why bc it wasn't even that tight
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Old 03-23-2014, 12:14 PM   #35
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On neither side do you need to remove the tie rod/steering rod from the knuckle. And the torque value isn't 220 its 320 ft lbs. Instead of removing the tie rod from steering knuckle, you should be removing the FCAB Bracket from the sub-frame, this lets you move the entire strut and hub assembly to get the clearance needed to remove and install the axle. The right side is a bit harder than the left side because of the increased length of the axle going thru the pedestal and not directly into the diff (remember, only do 1 side at a time!!!!). always replace the outer seal even if it wasn't leaking and looks good, the new or remanufactured axle seal surface may be slightly different in diameter. Use a new BMW Clip, of in the case of the GNK, their clip has the same shape as the BMW Clip, DON NOT USE the round clip found on some axles as it is prone to come off as the axle is pushed into the diff all the way. Instead of never-seize compound, use a light grease to coat the splines (lubroplate 105 is great). Slide the axle as far in as it will go, there is no need to hit it with a hammer or hammer and punch. Put everything back together and then start the axle into the hub, then use your axle remover to push the axle the rest of the way into the diff until you hear it click. Remove the axle puller, use a dead blow hammer to lightly tap the hub onto the outer splines. Start the nut and tighten by hand and ratchet, then use an impact gun. Finish installing the brakes, etc and the wheel, remove jack stand and lower car so that the full weight is on the new axle side and either use the impact, a torque wrench that goes to 350 ft lbs or a 1/2 drive ratchet attached to a 3.5 foot pipe (will give you roughly 310 ft lbs of torque) and finish tightening the nut and then stack.

Overall not a bad DIY write up, just adding a few corrections and easier way.
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Old 03-23-2014, 12:26 PM   #36
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Two last things I forgot to add, before installing the new outer seal, if you are careful and brave, you can remove the spring, look for the end where it is turned together and turning counter clockwise you can take the spring apart and with a sharp side cutter/diagonal cutter cut 2 loops off the fat end. Then twist the small end back into the wide end. This is an old mechanics trick to make the sealing surface fit tighter on the surface its sealing. But be very careful, it is easy to damage the spring and then you'll need another new seal, practice with the spring out of the old seal first. Then before installing the seal, back the area inside the lip where the spring lives with a light grease.
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Old 03-23-2014, 12:31 PM   #37
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Another insight, if the axle on either side isn't in all the way that the clip can be heard snapping into place, if you put the car all back together, IT WILL NOT MOVE. Between the diff end of the axle and the seal flange of either the diff or the diff extension housing on the right side, there should be almost no clearance when the axle is in all the way and the ring has snapped into place. Main problem with using a hammer and punch to hit the axle into the diff is that you can not hear the ring snap into place and continual pounding on the axle can damage the cv joint(s).
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Old 04-01-2014, 07:30 PM   #38
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using wood to help align worked great. mine popped right in with a couple light taps. I used the new c clip that came with the axle (gkn) since it looked just like the old
hard part for me was getting the other side into the knuckle without smacking the hell out of it. 20 min of light taps while threading the nut on backwards by hand did it. also removing the old diff seal was a bit fussy.
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Old 04-01-2014, 08:21 PM   #39
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using wood to help align worked great. mine popped right in with a couple light taps. I used the new c clip that came with the axle (gkn) since it looked just like the old
hard part for me was getting the other side into the knuckle without smacking the hell out of it. 20 min of light taps while threading the nut on backwards by hand did it. also removing the old diff seal was a bit fussy.
To remove the old diff seal just take a channel lock and grab a hold of one side and pry it out. Comes out very easy that way. I've pulled it out 3 times that way cause I had to fix a leak.
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Old 04-04-2014, 03:55 PM   #40
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So I still have a diff leak. I'm replacing the seal now. Does anybody know how far the seal should be pressed into the diff? On the seal itself it has thread looking rings around half of it. Do those get pressed in too? How far does the seal stick out of the diff? Does it sit flush or how far should it be pushed in from the outter part of the diff.I realize I made this sound confusing but an ode would be helpful considering I have changed this a few times to try and solve the leak.
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