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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 01-25-2015, 04:15 PM   #1
iSpiff
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Cool 325xi Shaking randomly

Hello E46 Forums. I appreciate your time for reviewing my post and I appreciate all inputs.

Earlier today I took my MT 2003 325xi for a 2 Hour trip of about 100ish miles. This is the first time taking it on this long of a drive. After about and hour or so of driving I started to get a fairly violent shake seemingly resonating from the front right side of the car. I pulled over to inspect any loose lugs or flat tires and there was nothing of the sort. After continuing to drive it seemed to come and go. It wasn't happening often but when it did happen you could definitely feel it. It seemed like after I would leave off the gas and then very easily accelerate it wouldn't happen. Left it sit overnight at the hotel and it was back to normal the next day. It then started to act up just at certain times on the long trip back home. After quickly researching I found that bushings may be the issue, however after extensive research I read that it could more commonly be axels and cv boots/joints. Please shed some light for me, I plan on doing the repair myself as I am mechanically inclined. I also have a 03 350z that I built and maintain. What should I check first? Just drop the bottom plates and inspect cv joints? Thanks again!
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Old 01-25-2015, 05:31 PM   #2
Kubica
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Yeah that sounds like the right front inner cv needs grease. The grease that's still in there heats up after a while and you get that vibration.

Could also be a sticky caliper.
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Old 01-25-2015, 05:43 PM   #3
iSpiff
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Is it worth greasing or should I just swap out the entire axels? I found some online for around $100-$175 each.
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Old 01-25-2015, 09:13 PM   #4
jdevarie
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Hmm, interesting. I wonder how severe the shaking was. I got my car with shot axles and after 173,000 a lot more was bad. But when driving the car with the bad axles, I never felt a bad vibration. Note that in my car, both the inner and outer boots were shot and the car had seen several winters with the boots in that condition so they were really in bad shape. They also made noise when turning in a close radius in either direction. Take a look at your boots and see if they are damaged. If they are not damage, I am no so sure that is your problem. In recent times my other cars have vibrated while driving and I have found out that tires were an issue. I am not sure in BMWs but mounts, wheels, bearings, etc is worth checking.

I hope this helps.
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Old 01-25-2015, 09:15 PM   #5
iSpiff
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Thanks for the input. I will check the boots shortly and if they're shot then I'm going to do new front axels. Found them all over the web for seemingly good prices and they include boots. The shaking was extremely noticeable when it happened. Like it felt like a wheel was next to falling off lol. Thanks again!
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Old 01-26-2015, 01:55 PM   #6
AKbob
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Originally Posted by iSpiff View Post
Thanks for the input. I will check the boots shortly and if they're shot then I'm going to do new front axels. Found them all over the web for seemingly good prices and they include boots. The shaking was extremely noticeable when it happened. Like it felt like a wheel was next to falling off lol. Thanks again!
My guess is that you have a sticky caliper. This is a common problem with E46 cars. The next time the shaking occurs, stop the car and check to see how hot the front calipers are relative to each other. If one is way hot, then you have found the problem. Calipers are about $40 at Autozone, et. al. plus core.

Good luck
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Old 01-26-2015, 09:56 PM   #7
iSpiff
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Thanks for all the replies! I'm hoping it's a caliper as it's been driving just fine the last few days on short trips. Is there anyway to check for a caliper failure with the wheel off? I would hate to start just replacing parts without knowing, but I can at least check the axel and cv boots when it's jacked up, but how could I identify a bad caliper by inspecting it? Is it possible?
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Old 01-30-2015, 04:58 PM   #8
erehtuo
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I had a Honda with a stuck caliper and it was VERY difficult to get to the cylinder to go back into the caliper. That was a screw in one - not sure how they operate on BMW's.

If its difficult to press back in, you should probably just replace it.
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Old 01-30-2015, 05:44 PM   #9
AKbob
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Don't know of anyway to verify a bad caliper if the shaking is not present. Just stop the car the next time it occurs and check the temperature of the rotors.
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:57 PM   #10
iSpiff
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I appreciate the support guys... Car is going to get diagnosed for free by the dealer this week so hopefully I'll know shortly. I'll also ask them about an awkward idling issue.. I'll report our findings!
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Old 02-02-2015, 09:14 PM   #11
jrtsrt
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Please post what they find. I've been dealing with the exact same issue. Only does it after around 1 hour of driving. I've replaced both front axles and control arm bushings. Along with replacing both front rotors and calipers and still have the issue. My rotors are warped again for some reason so maybe the calipers are still sticking even after replacing them. One thing to add is that I replaced the driver side front axle with OEM but the passenger side with aftermarket from AutoZone. That aftermarket may also be causing the issue because I've read that others have had to get 3 or 4 to get a good one.
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Old 03-28-2015, 10:28 AM   #12
iSpiff
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Sorry for the delay everyone but I wanted to fully test before marking it as resolved. So basically it was the front passenger side axle and cv joint. The mechanic I went to replaced the compete assembly for a total if about $380... Note that I'm referring to the passenger side on the US version of the car (left-hand drive)

Since having it replaced I've been driving it daily and also recently took it on a trip that was 2 hours both ways with NO shaking whatsoever so I would mark it as fixed only because it hasn't happened since it was replaced and even when the car is warmed up it still does not shake. So I'm pretty happy about it.

I could have replaced it myself because that was going to be my first part I replaced however as this is my daily and I can't drive my weekend warrior or the family car to work, I wanted to have a mechanic do it just for time saving.
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Old 03-30-2015, 07:17 PM   #13
Corvetteman115
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So glad I found this bc im Kinda pissed at my mechanic, need advise
I have an 03 325xi. Over the last few months it's developed a front end shake that's there one day and gone the next. It seems to come and go randomly, stops completely when I let off the gas and when I hit the breaks. Car doesn't pull to either side, but the drivers side front tire is wearing faster on the inside. Anyway took to my bmw mechanic who specializes in vw/audi/porsche but does do bmw and benz also. Anyway he's an old timer and deff knows his **** and he's always been cheap and fair as hell to me. Anyway I drop the car off tell him what it's doing he throws it on the lift and finds my inner tierod is shot on the drivers side. Does both the inner and outta tie rod and changes my torn axel boot charges me $250 parts and labor, couldn't be happier. I pick the car up all seems fine, 20 min later starts doin the same thing again!! I should also mention when making a hard left turn im hearing and feeling a popping sound from the front of my car. Almost like a piece of metal jumping. Im a motorcycle mechanic and have worked on many old cars but I don't even attempt to work on the bimmer myself. The mechanics basically telling me he solved what the issue was and that any other shake is secondary to the problem he fixed. But im tellin you it's not, even if the tierod was worn out it must not have been the cause of the shake, if it's the axle how hard is this to do myself? Does this sound like the axle? Anyone with any insight would be a huge help as im pissed bc i just wasted $250 today. Thanks guys sorry this was so long
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Old 03-30-2015, 07:32 PM   #14
Statik330
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325xi Shaking randomly

From my experience and everything I've read, that popping sound means the CV joint is on it way out, and when that happens the car won't move under its own power at all . I've read and seen several xi front axle diys, most say its a b1tch but doable. I too have a here now, gone the next shake in my 330, same symptoms as you, let off the gas and ease back into it and the shake stops. I'm not entirely sold on the axles just yet though; have a list of things to check before I jump into that, not looking forward to it at all.

Last edited by Statik330; 03-30-2015 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 03-30-2015, 08:22 PM   #15
Kubica
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corvetteman115 View Post
So glad I found this bc im Kinda pissed at my mechanic, need advise
I have an 03 325xi. Over the last few months it's developed a front end shake that's there one day and gone the next. It seems to come and go randomly, stops completely when I let off the gas and when I hit the breaks. Car doesn't pull to either side, but the drivers side front tire is wearing faster on the inside. Anyway took to my bmw mechanic who specializes in vw/audi/porsche but does do bmw and benz also. Anyway he's an old timer and deff knows his **** and he's always been cheap and fair as hell to me. Anyway I drop the car off tell him what it's doing he throws it on the lift and finds my inner tierod is shot on the drivers side. Does both the inner and outta tie rod and changes my torn axel boot charges me $250 parts and labor, couldn't be happier. I pick the car up all seems fine, 20 min later starts doin the same thing again!! I should also mention when making a hard left turn im hearing and feeling a popping sound from the front of my car. Almost like a piece of metal jumping. Im a motorcycle mechanic and have worked on many old cars but I don't even attempt to work on the bimmer myself. The mechanics basically telling me he solved what the issue was and that any other shake is secondary to the problem he fixed. But im tellin you it's not, even if the tierod was worn out it must not have been the cause of the shake, if it's the axle how hard is this to do myself? Does this sound like the axle? Anyone with any insight would be a huge help as im pissed bc i just wasted $250 today. Thanks guys sorry this was so long
Sounds like an axle issue. $250 is not the end of the world for a new tierod and alignment. I would ask the mechanic to install a new GKN axle and to refund the labor to install said axle if it fixes the problem.
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Old 03-31-2015, 11:34 PM   #16
iSpiff
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I looked up how to do the passenger axle replacement online. It didn't seem hard, I just didn't want to deal with it as I needed it fixed ASAP. But you can buy decent aftermarket axles for around $150
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Old 04-14-2015, 06:43 PM   #17
Scuzone
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I just replaced the two front axels on my 05 325xit I paid about 170 from BMA and a local put them both in for 140. they are opparts brand

I also replaced all brake pads and rotors with the same BMA free ship ceramic on close out for like 30 per rotor 40 per install

Could not be happier.
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Old 04-17-2015, 08:39 AM   #18
TheERacer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corvetteman115 View Post
So glad I found this bc im Kinda pissed at my mechanic, need advise
I have an 03 325xi. Over the last few months it's developed a front end shake that's there one day and gone the next. It seems to come and go randomly, stops completely when I let off the gas and when I hit the breaks. Car doesn't pull to either side, but the drivers side front tire is wearing faster on the inside. Anyway took to my bmw mechanic who specializes in vw/audi/porsche but does do bmw and benz also. Anyway he's an old timer and deff knows his **** and he's always been cheap and fair as hell to me. Anyway I drop the car off tell him what it's doing he throws it on the lift and finds my inner tierod is shot on the drivers side. Does both the inner and outta tie rod and changes my torn axel boot charges me $250 parts and labor, couldn't be happier. I pick the car up all seems fine, 20 min later starts doin the same thing again!! I should also mention when making a hard left turn im hearing and feeling a popping sound from the front of my car. Almost like a piece of metal jumping. Im a motorcycle mechanic and have worked on many old cars but I don't even attempt to work on the bimmer myself. The mechanics basically telling me he solved what the issue was and that any other shake is secondary to the problem he fixed. But im tellin you it's not, even if the tierod was worn out it must not have been the cause of the shake, if it's the axle how hard is this to do myself? Does this sound like the axle? Anyone with any insight would be a huge help as im pissed bc i just wasted $250 today. Thanks guys sorry this was so long
If your inner TRE was bad, then it needed to be changed, and I would not consider it a "waste" of $250 at all (especially with the fact that he did all and the alignment).

I've had this conversation with customers many times- sometimes you have to replace things that are bad to find out what's really the problem. I've seen problems where we had to do ball joints, only to find out that bushings are bad too (but we couldn't really determine that until we took the play out of other places).

Also, if you were seeing tire wear, the likelihood of that being from the CV is extremely low...

Even if it didn't solve the issue, I think that $250 was well spent.
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Old 04-19-2015, 08:35 AM   #19
Corvetteman115
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Shop removed and replaced the passenger side axle and all is well, thanks for all the replies guys
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