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General E46 Forum
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Old 04-13-2017, 07:40 PM   #1
DOB2009
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Differential leaking?

Hey guys I just noticed my Differential is leaking. I think it has been for awhile I've noticed puddles before and sometimes a little bit of smoke after driving through the front vents. I just started the car (2001 manual e46 325i)
I then looked under the car and saw it leaking really fast maybe 2-3 ounces in 10 seconds, so I turned it off.

I did change the fluid maybe 6 years ago, and I think I changed the bolt. I cannot remember if it was aftermarket or original, but it hasn't started leaking esp so bad until just recently.

My question is, do you guys think this is simply a loose bolt or maybe bad gasket on it? How common is that? I'm really hoping it's not the actual differential, but I don't understand it enough to know if this a common issue. If it isn't just the bolt I think I'm in trouble because I cannot afford a new one. I hope the bolt is a common problem. Please let me know what you guys think. thanks
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Old 04-13-2017, 08:15 PM   #2
DOB2009
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Also guys, I'm curious if I just replace it. Can I put an auto 3.46 Differential in a manual and still pass smog in CA? I have to smog as soon as it's running again. I'm finding conflicting info on this. Thanks again, I'm starting to think through more research maybe it's the gasget that needs to be replaced. If so too complicated of a DIY for me
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Old 04-13-2017, 08:43 PM   #3
Spannerhead
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Did you jack up the rear of the car recently using the diff? I cracked a diff cover doing this a few years ago. Not a great day.
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Old 04-14-2017, 03:32 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DOB2009 View Post
Also guys, I'm curious if I just replace it. Can I put an auto 3.46 Differential in a manual and still pass smog in CA? I have to smog as soon as it's running again. I'm finding conflicting info on this. Thanks again, I'm starting to think through more research maybe it's the gasget that needs to be replaced. If so too complicated of a DIY for me


I upgraded my differential in San Francisco and has no issue with emissions. They do look at your drivetrain during the smog process but the differential looks absolutely identical.


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Old 05-19-2017, 06:15 PM   #5
DOB2009
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Did you jack up the rear of the car recently using the diff? I cracked a diff cover doing this a few years ago. Not a great day.
No not recently. I still don't know if it's cracked or a seal is broken. I'm without a car now almost 5 weeks

Today I tried to drive it just to move the car to avoid a tow. I noticed it just has a little trickle of oil following me.

What do you guys suggest as the chepest solution to fix this, I'm on such a tight budget I don't know what to do. I was thinking of buying a used one on eBay or something and finding someone to do a straight swap for me.
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Old 05-19-2017, 06:43 PM   #6
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BMR parts is in California try them, at least you'll get a warranty. http://www.bmrparts.com/
Yours is the second leaky dif I've run across this week. A friends e36 is leaking with no visible cause. I drained it, swapped the sealing washer from the fill plug to the drain plug (didn't have new ones), put some teflon tape on the threads and some old Form a Gasket on the washer. It didn't leak while it was up in the air and I haven't heard if it leaked after he drove it. It wasn't leaking as bad as yours though. Putting an auto dif in will work but the higher gear ratio will give you better acceleration but lower fuel mileage due to higher rpms.
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:00 PM   #7
Spannerhead
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Originally Posted by DOB2009 View Post
No not recently. I still don't know if it's cracked or a seal is broken. I'm without a car now almost 5 weeks

Today I tried to drive it just to move the car to avoid a tow. I noticed it just has a little trickle of oil following me.

What do you guys suggest as the cheapest solution to fix this, I'm on such a tight budget I don't know what to do. I was thinking of buying a used one on eBay or something and finding someone to do a straight swap for me.
Well first you have to find out where it's leaking from. Jack it up and get under there. Clean the area thoroughly, spin the rear wheels by hand and see if you can determine if it's the fill plug or the drain plug or the gasket or something is cracked. Then you'll have a better idea of the scope of the job.
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Last edited by Spannerhead; 05-19-2017 at 09:01 PM.
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