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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 11-25-2014, 09:52 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2014
Location: Elkhart Lake, WI
Posts: 6
My Ride: 325xi
Transfer case front output shaft play?

Hello Fanatics,

I'm new here and purchased a 325XI earlier this year. I've been trying to determine the source of an intermittent hum (grrrrr) that is present around 70mph. It is not very loud, but seems to be getting worse. Searching under the car I found a loose output shaft on the transfer case. Does this look normal? Could this be part of the vibration I'm hearing? _a_
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Old 11-30-2014, 09:45 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Mid Coast Maine
Posts: 51
My Ride: '02 325xiT 5mt sport
NOT normal. Not uncommon at all really and there should be NONE to speak of. Many shops will say "it's normal".... that doesn't mean it's right!

That said it could also be the ujoints. Pull the shaft off so you can really flex the joints around, most likely they are seized up which will only make the bearing issue feel worse as every time it comes around the bearing is taking up some of that movement.

Hard to explain really but many times its the joints freezing that stress the bearing and start wearing it out. Chick/egg problem.

That bearing shouldn't have near that play however. No way.

This is not a red 2001 5 speed wagon with grey interior from Maine you bought is it? I had one a while back with the same 70MPH issue that I sold to another guy in Maine (with full disclosure that it needed a bearing) I know he ran it as is and sold it a while later. I found the bearing issue and also found the driveshaft joints frozen. I swapped a newer smooth free joints shaft in as a trial to see how it was leaving the case and the issue was then "hardly" noticeable but certainly still there. Car has since seen a lot of miles... so if this is my old car (that would be weird!) the case is overdue to swap/repair.

In fact I still have a spare low mile transfer case on the shelf for it.


Last edited by DesertBoat; 11-30-2014 at 10:01 PM.
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Old 12-01-2014, 06:47 AM   #3
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Join Date: May 2014
Location: Elkhart Lake, WI
Posts: 6
My Ride: 325xi

Thanks for the coments on both posts. The car is actually a Red sedan that I bought in Wisconsin. I wish it was a wagon, I searched long and hard for a one owner XI wagon but ended up settling on the sedan (2 owner, dealer serviced with all the records).
I am definitely going to drop/inspect the driveshaft this next weekend. Thanks a ton for the advise. If the driveshaft is in need of service I really hope your method works. I was anticipating there was a way to lube those bearings but have never tried befor. I have only really had replaceable ujoints to deal with in the past.
Do you know if the transfer case can be serviced? Tony
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Old 12-01-2014, 08:48 PM   #4
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Mid Coast Maine
Posts: 51
My Ride: '02 325xiT 5mt sport
No idea if they are "serviceable" - meaning of course you can probably find a bearing with a TON of research and digging and or custom production run. However last I checked there was little info on hard parts for them. Replacement was the option.

Thats why I have a super low mile one on my shelf in the shop. Saved for a rainy day.
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Old 04-15-2015, 01:24 PM   #5
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Charlotte
Posts: 424
My Ride: e39 540i M, 330i 6sp
I have the same problem with my 325xi. I pulled the driveshaft and the U-joints are good and tight. The TC output flange has axial and lateral slop that is of concern. I experience front driveline vibration at all speeds. The entire front end is new - suspension, bearings, axles, endlinks, control arms, bushings, etc. all OEM. Will get a good used TC and see if it solves my vibration problems.
Diagnosis - BMW...
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:34 AM   #6
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Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: France
Posts: 23
My Ride: 330XD
A thread that talks about repairing a TC : http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...light=skf+6011

I have made some other research and found some other pictures here : https://www.flickr.com/photos/790678...ith/6364615685

The list of the bearings if you ever want to repair yours instead of trying to find one in a good shape :
SKF 6011 NTN9/C3 D7VB344 0608209W
Torrington B-3616-D
Torrington NK 47/20A.h40 S.G

Please, keep us informed of your work. I'm very interested in.
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Old 04-16-2015, 10:18 AM   #7
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Boston
Posts: 4,715
My Ride: 2003 325xi
You guys need to start changing TC fluid at least every year. Not a bad idea to do it every oil change until it starts to looks fresh over an interval.

I just drained my fluid which had been in there for a year and a half- it looked nasty.
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