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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 05-18-2017, 08:57 AM   #1
EvaJuli
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Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Buffalo, NY
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My Ride: E46 325XiT
TC/Front Drive Shaft/Front Diff Play and Clunk

Car has a clunk when letting clutch out, most noticeable in 1st and 2nd gear, but if I am on the highway and let off and on the gas it is also noticeable.

I checked all the rear subframe and rear diff bushings, everything is solid back there.

I did find there is a big of play in the TC/front drive/front diff.

In this video, I have the back wheels off the ground and someone is turning them back and forth as if going forward and reverse.


You can see there is quite a bit of movement in the shaft, but its not coming from the shaft/joints itself, its coming from the gears that the shaft is attached to.


I just got the car with 145K and changed the TC oil with Redline MTL- same as the transmission. Oil was dark and dirty and there was some very tiny metal pieces- size of sand.


Any help is appreciated.





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Old 05-18-2017, 01:13 PM   #2
indee321
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Could well be the rear strut mounts.. they are notorious for clunking .. replacing them with rouge engineering ones ( designed specifically to resolve this known issue ) resoved the issue for me
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Old 05-18-2017, 02:34 PM   #3
EvaJuli
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Originally Posted by indee321 View Post
Could well be the rear strut mounts.. they are notorious for clunking .. replacing them with rouge engineering ones ( designed specifically to resolve this known issue ) resoved the issue for me
Mounts are brand new. Definitely not the issue. Thanks though.
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Old 05-19-2017, 10:00 AM   #4
WilloCO
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Hmm.
I'd pull the front drive shaft and check each for play again. It's not too bad, just hit the bolts with some penetrating lube (I use pb blaster) the day before.
Was anyone standing on the front brake?
Parking brake engaged/rear wheels on the ground?
Some of that can be the diff directionally shifting (one wheel turns opposite the other. The shift can feel sort of like play.
How's your diff fluid? Low/no oil in there makes them very noisy. (I've played with them with no oil, not driven them)
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05 330xi 6 speed
RIP: 86 e30 w/E36 M3 suspension build

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Old 05-19-2017, 12:01 PM   #5
Marco335
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Push up on the front drive shaft at the joint on both ends and see if there is any left to right or up to down movement (anything that is not rotational), could be a pinion bearing on the diff or an output shaft bearing on the transfer case that went.

My pinion bearing just went on my front diff and the slop was pretty similar to yours.

Just curious, is there any whiring sounds when you let off the throttle?



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Old 05-19-2017, 12:08 PM   #6
Marco335
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Also try rotating the front and rear driveshafts together by pushing them in opposite directions, pulling them both apart and pushing them together to check for slop in the transfer case. If there is not tension on both, there will feel like there is slop in the transfer case


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Old 05-20-2017, 03:57 PM   #7
EvaJuli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WilloCO View Post
Hmm.
I'd pull the front drive shaft and check each for play again. It's not too bad, just hit the bolts with some penetrating lube (I use pb blaster) the day before.
Was anyone standing on the front brake?
Parking brake engaged/rear wheels on the ground?
Some of that can be the diff directionally shifting (one wheel turns opposite the other. The shift can feel sort of like play.
How's your diff fluid? Low/no oil in there makes them very noisy. (I've played with them with no oil, not driven them)

In the video the rear wheels were off the ground, front were on the ground, and my wife was turning one of them back and forth. So as you describe, as she was turning one wheel the opposite wheel was turning the opposite direction.
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Old 05-22-2017, 08:01 PM   #8
EvaJuli
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Thanks for all the advice everyone.

The front drive shaft has much much less movement when all 4 wheels are on the ground.
I also stuck a pry bar in there and it did not have any non-rotational play. It seems fine.

I was able to wiggle the transfer case with the pry bar, which leads me (at this point) to think its the TC bushing.

Now I am wondering if its one of the other bushings around there.
Does the XI have transmission mount bushing somewhere up there or does it all sit on the TC bushing.
If its all on the TC bushing that would make it even more suspect.
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Old 05-22-2017, 09:54 PM   #9
WilloCO
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As I understand it, it's only the TC case bushing that locates the transmission. I was looking up transmission mounts and all I could find were notes about how it only uses the transfer case bushing.

When all wheels are on the ground, the CV joints are compressed. You could have excessive play in the joint(s) when it's expanded vs compressed.
When the slide joint is compressed, the grease that's in there can pack up a bit and limit play.
I'd still take the time to pull the front drive shaft and check for play.

A non-invasive method could be to jack up one side and rotate one wheel from side to side. (keep the car in gear and parking brake on.) Then look for the motion - is it at the drive shaft or the axle. Repeat for the other side. This could help identify if the play is toward the TC or just an axle going out.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YoitsTmac View Post
I bedded my pads when I switched from ceramic to my PDF-Z pads. They actually caught fire during bed in.
05 330xi 6 speed
RIP: 86 e30 w/E36 M3 suspension build
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Old 05-25-2017, 09:41 AM   #10
Marco335
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I too can move my transfer case up and down a slight bit if I push up on it from the way back ( hands near the flex disk). Not sure if this is normal, and I honestly can't tell if that is why my driveline clinks on fast clutch disengagements until I eliminate all other variables.

If I could change the design of the transfer case/ transmission mount, I definitely would. It doesn't seem right to me.


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