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Old 04-25-2016, 04:24 AM   #1
RazrE46
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Holland
Posts: 11
My Ride: E46 316 1.9
Loud, constant noise when driving certain speeds

Car; E46 with almost 300.000 kilometers / 186.000 miles

When driving certain speeds there is a loud constant tone. It sounds like hauling wind, or blowing air sideways on an empty beer bottle (like the horn of a ship). When driving ~60 mph you do not hear anything unusual. If I increase the speed to ~70 mph the noise comes up - really loud. It goes away again when I start to driver faster, towards 80 mph the sound is gone (it comes back again around 90/95 mph).

Facts:
  • The noise almost completely disappears when I engage the clutch.
  • The noise is the same in gear 3, 4 and 5 (as long as you drive ~70 mph)
  • When driving, it sounds like it comes from the back of the car (hence I swapped the differential first).
  • Car shifts fine, I do have another issue when pulling up with clutch half engaged. There is a metal/metal sound – probably the thrust bearing.
  • Noise also depends on load, if I let go of the pedal the frequency also changes (but noise remains).

Replaced/done:
  • Swapped complete differential (new oil as well)
  • Replaced drive shaft center bearing
  • Replaced flex-disc/guibo

Unlikely?
  • Tires, same noise with winter and summer tires
  • Rear wheel bearings, sound almost disappears with clutch engaged

Maybe?
  • DMF/flywheel? Although it is not a rattling sound, but more a constant noise.
  • Clutch/thrust bearing? Although the noise presents itself with the clutch disengaged.

I have done a lot of research but I couldn’t really pinpoint any other parts that might cause this sound. Actually I was pretty confident that the differential swap would solve this – but it did not. Is there anyone who has any idea how I can diagnose this better or what I could try to fix (DMF is an expensive guess).
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Old 08-15-2016, 08:20 AM   #2
RazrE46
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Holland
Posts: 11
My Ride: E46 316 1.9
In the end the issue was fixed by installing part #12 from this diagram. It's a kind of rubberish strap which has to be placed between the top of the central drivetrain bearing and the chassis. It prevents any vibrations/resonance caused by the drive-train to get stronger through the chassis. The part is really cheap, it's a little work to get it in the right spot. You have to lower your exhaust, remove the heat shield, unbolt the central bearing/lower your drivetrain to reach the spot.

Hopefully this information helps anyone in the future.

PS. The rubberish strap (part #12) was not installed out of the factory, it seems like a "fix" advised by BMW.
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Old 08-15-2016, 08:26 AM   #3
Yewzer B Lewzer
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: St. Petersburg FL
Posts: 2,255
My Ride: 2003 325i
Thanks for the follow up. Sorry nobody responded to your initial post, usually there is an abundance of advice on this forum.

Good tip here too, I don't think I've heard of this one, it will certainly help someone.
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