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Old 01-19-2010, 02:15 PM   #1
benisona
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Driveline noise and vibrations, need help

Hey Fanatics,
So I have been trying to diagnose a vibration/droning oscillating noise for about two weeks now and I have finally hit the wall with this one. In my 2001 (pre-facelift) 330xi I have a speed dependent (rpm independent) low droning oscillating noise that starts to be really noticable around 25 mph. It increases proportionally with increasing speed and is really bad at higher speeds. It is not affected by putting the car in neutral and dropping the rpm's while traveling at speed. It seems to be load independent as well, if I bank hard right or left I don't get any noticeable change in the sound, because I was thinking bearings. Sounds like wheels then, right? I thought so too, so I had my wheels balanced, no change, then they found a bent rim, changed all the rims, no dice, then we thought it might be tire cupping, switched out my snows for my all seasons, no difference.

So, finally broke down and took it to my mechanic, we put it up on a lift and ran it, couldn't really hear the noise at that point, so he took out the stethoscope and we still couldn't really find a problem/noise, but the car wasn't under load so it's hard to make too many inferences from that test. all my sway bars, cv boots and suspension look pretty good. The mechanic said that if it was the driveshaft we would probably feel the vibrations coming more from under the drivers seat while test driving it.

The problem came on pretty suddenly a few weeks ago and doesn't really seem to be getting worse, maybe a little, but that could also be because I've been obsessing over it/placebo.

One side note/blond moment, last time I change my oil my little bro was helping and I went inside to answer a phone call, needless to say, when it was all said and done between the two of us we had put an extra 3qts in, and didn't notice until after I got back from work the next day. I immediately drained the oil and set back to correct level, and haven't noticed any major blown seals or leaks since, but I'm hoping it couldn't have overflown into some part of the driveline and is now causing this sound.

I've also noticed that my serpentine belt is pretty cracked and needs tp be repalced, but I can't imagine that is the problem either. When the car was up on lifts I looked at what I think was the GUIBO, and it seemed to be in good condition.

Please let me know any thoughts you guys have because your expertise is needed here. My mechanic is saying that the next step would be to put 4 mics on the car and basically drive around and move the mics while comparing the sound to try and pinpoint it, but that would be more than a couple of hours worth of work and might still not really get at it. I'm a student and like to do as much work as I can on the car, and really don't want to just throw money at it, even thought the noise is really pretty loud and I commute about 40 miles a day.

Thanks in advance,
Alex
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Old 01-19-2010, 02:17 PM   #2
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Sounds like the flex disc/guibo? It's a rubber coupling for the driveshaft which absorbs vibrations.
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Old 01-19-2010, 03:31 PM   #3
benisona
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Is there a good way to see if the GUIBO is actually defective? Also I just noticed, if I load the car to the left (turn right) at highway speeds, pretty abruptly, I can hear a little change in the intensity of the noise. I don't hear a major change at lower speeds or if I turn left at highway speeds.
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Old 01-19-2010, 03:36 PM   #4
BMW#1_323i
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Could be a wheel bearing. Does this happen all the time or only under acceleration? If the Guibo is the culprit you will feel a vibration at around 25-30 MPH, worse on heavy acceleration.
The word you used "droning" makes me think it is a wheel bearing or related part, maybe a diff seal?
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Old 01-19-2010, 03:49 PM   #5
benisona
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it's sounds kind of like, wa wa wa wa wa wa wa, in a lower frequency at lower seeds and then gets louder and increases frequency with speed, no change in intensity whether I am accelerating, coasting or stopping, only speed dependent. I'm starting to think wheel bearing, but I thought that would be more load dependent when turning....
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:11 PM   #6
dmax
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Benison,

It could be a number of things and given the year of your car, it probably is more than just one thing...nothing personal!

I've been hunting a vibration...and went through the same sound as you. I did have rear wheel bearing...certainly you'd notice difference on long sweeping turns...you know, opposite bearing to direction of sweep.

Could be guibo, and you can't look at rubber and see that it's lost some of the 'flex' it's supposed to have...and, at one time, can only see a portion of guibo anyway. At your estimated mileage (aka, many miles), at the guibo time is good time for center support bracket and bearing replacement too...and for this, I recommend a specialty bmw place or dealer...there's a lot to this simple little change that many indys just don't know.

I also learned that tires can be balanced but still be bad (aka belts problems).

There are many rubber pieces on your car that can attenuate vibrations too...the rear dif mount is one particularly vulnerable spot on car too.

I've just started replacing rubber on mine...still have minor vibration...the guibo/csb took car of a lot of it. Got new diff bushing/trans bushings...cab, and soon will have front sway bar supports and end links...to go with new shocks all around the car.

One thing I've sadly found is that for a lot of us hunting vibrations, it's not just one thing. You replace one thing and then continue to notice vibration...
once you know something is replaced and presumably a good part and properly installed, you move on to next thing.

That said, your 'slight' difference in right and left turns does make me think wheel bearings mostly...but if those are gone, you've got to know that it's not the only part that's showing its age. Eventually, the way I look at it is that by the time I'm really old, the car will be running like new, and I just hope it's not too much of an antique for one of my boys to carry on its legacy! LOL

HTH,

Doug
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Old 01-20-2010, 09:31 AM   #7
benisona
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Doug,
Thanks for the input, sounds like we are in similar boats here (with 9+ year old e46's). The mystery to me, which could mean that it's only one thing wrong with the car, is that it came on pretty suddenly and it is pretty loud. I'd be willing to bet that it is the front wheel bearing, if not both of them. For the first time ever, a mechanic told me to drive till it got a bit worse, then I should be able to pinpoint it more easily. I'm not used to doing this and it might drive me crazy, but on the other hand I'm so busy that I guess it's one less thing to do, for now.

When the guibo goes, is it more of a vibrational feeling? Mine has some minor vibrations, but is mostly a wa wa sound....
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Old 01-20-2010, 10:18 AM   #8
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Please do a 0-60 really fast. Take a video of it. It is something shaking from the back of the car or in the middle? Middle = Flex joint.

Little crack on it mean you have to change it soon. Noise again? Have you hit something with your car? Who take your car except you? Maybe your drive shaft is damaged.

CV joint are okay?

You have an IX? Front inner CV joint dry!

You will find solution to your problem here:
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=539444
And here:
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=535897

Good luck!
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Old 01-21-2010, 09:38 AM   #9
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sounds like a bearing issue, dude. They won't necessarily get much worse under turning load, even though that would make sense. Could be wheel or differential bearings, or your driveshaft bearing. Usually, the guibo results in more shaking than sound, and is much more noticebale under acceleration (it pretty much goes away if you put the clutch in). I would look at wheel bearings first, listening with a stethescope on a lift. Then check out your inner CV joints and differential bearings. Sorry dude, this isn't going to be cheap, any way you look at it
:-(

P.S. I'm doing a guibo and real diff seal on my M3 right now; I feel your pain.
-Mateo

EDIT: I doubt if it's the inner CV's or driveshaft bearings, because they're load-independent. Since you said the noise is not nearly as noticable when it's not on a lift, it's 90% likely that you need at least one new wheel bearing. :-(
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Old 01-21-2010, 03:25 PM   #10
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Go in a deserted parking lot and drive in a straight line at say 40 and then drive turning right as if taking an on ramp and then do the same for the left if you hear that its louder turning one way then the other or you might not even hear it at all turning in one direction then its definetly a wheel bearing. If there is no noise you still shouldnt rule out bearing it can be on two sides, especially you say you have a bent rim hitting a sidewalk or a pothole can make the seals on the bearings come out of place and let the grease come out or let water get in.

Another test you can do while in your parking lot is drive up to a good speed say 60 and hit the brakes without your hands on the wheel if the wheel turns back and forth your rotors are warped, if it pulls to one side check your calipers.

My money is on the bearings.

Note - your mechanic sounds pretty pricey man and not too good at diagnosing your car... I would personally laugh it up in my head a little if someone was going to put mics on my wheels to listen to idk what.
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Old 01-21-2010, 04:32 PM   #11
benisona
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Thanks Mateo and Brian,

I'm really thinking wheel bearings too now. I'm gonna try the empty parking lot tricks this afternoon.

I found a new clue today, if I go slow and whip the steering wheel all the way to either side and drive in circles, I get a pretty loud popping sound about once per tire revolution. It is accompanied by a jolt that kinda feels like the lateral movement that you would feel if you ran over a spherical rock about the size of a silver dollar and it kinda slipped out from under the side of the tire (pretty disconcerting). I felt it earlier this morning and actually thought that it was a rock, but this afternoon I felt it again so I kept backing up and found that it happened again and again. It only happens when the wheel is turned all the way, but it doesn't matter which way the wheel is turned and it also happens if I go forward or backward. I've also noticed that if I turn the wheel just a bit to the right when driving I definitely get a reduction of the noise and vibration.

Does this help?

Thanks for all the help guys...
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Old 01-21-2010, 04:43 PM   #12
benisona
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Also, I had my CV boots go out a few years back and let it go too long to the point where I had to have the whole front axle replaced, so I don't think that is causing it, and when I put it up on the lift the CV's are still in great condition....
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Old 01-21-2010, 06:25 PM   #13
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Well if you hear a popping noise when you steer in it's most likely your final drives, have a look there has to be a rip on the boot somewhere. And it sucks because those things arent cheap P/N 31607505199 LEFT 31607505200 RIGHT Pelican Parts. Dealer sells it for about 650 each.

And if your bearing is the problem there pretty cheap about 50 bucks.

Last edited by brian328i; 01-21-2010 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 01-21-2010, 07:23 PM   #14
benisona
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Brian,
By final drive are you talking about the front axel assembly (still learning) never heard it called that and would love some explanation. If so, I think the axel should still be warranted (through brakes plus, from my pre DIY days), I'll check.

If it is a bearing (which I'm hoping) I've seen a few DIY threads on doing the front ones, but was wondering if you have had any experience with it what exact parts to order and any things to watch for, or just a DIY thread recommendation.

Also is there anything else I should look for/ do while I have the tires and brakes off?

thanks again, this forum is the best...
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Old 01-21-2010, 07:34 PM   #15
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Popping noise doesn't sound so great...and if it is a bearing, didn't quite sound like mine...but I don't recall doing tight circles either. With me, bearing were a slight ticking noise I felt more turning one way than the other...but at speed a failed bearing would exhibit different symptoms than at slow speed.

Beyond the parking lot test, the long sweeping turns on highways will help you identify bearing or not...varying by direction (guibo/csb pretty constant independent of direction).

When my bearing came out, I was amazed at how much a tiny imperfection bothered me--if was a little dimpled out area inside bearing--maybe 2mm x 5mm x .2 mm deep. Yours could be that and snagging more because of low speed--actually, I like that theory.

You might also test it further by jacking up car firmly and getting someone to spin wheels...while you listen with stethoscope or hose. Suppose you could do this while driving too...with long stiff hose and someone willing to suffer the 'inquisitive' looks!

Of course, before I'd replace half shafts, I'd do bearings anyway...if half shafts are bad, then bearings have probably failed far before...so for the $100 or so in parts (and a diy if you're up to that), it's a reasonable first attempt...presuming you get some further evidence to substantiate your theory. You did notice difference in side to side slightly I think you'd said...and if in rear, then you'd be harder pressed to tell right from left than if it was in front.

Also, just get underneath car and look closely at things...like leaking grease...bushing condition, make sure calipers are on firmly and brake pads aren't sticking or have a rock stuck in them...or frankly, that you don't just have a large nail stuck in tire somewhere. Simple is always better, but all is theory right now. Look around and you might actually see something. If not, then bearings is a decent bet I think.

Warning...I'm not a mechanic...but not afraid to guess with others' cars! LOL

D
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Old 01-21-2010, 09:08 PM   #16
benisona
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THanks everyone,
I'm ordering parts on Pelican, and read the DIY thread ( http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...wheel+bearings ). While it's a great thread, and I'm sure that I have the tools and ability to get it done, I went on the pelican site and they don't have a front bearing for 330xi?! does this mean that the front bearings in xi are the same as rear bearings ( http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/cata...SUSaxl_pg1.htm )? If so, does this make the DIY waaay harder, because everything I've read about DIY on the rear bearings is that they are a giant pain in the ass to get out of the hub unless you buy the special tool to extract them which is 269$ on pelican...

If anyone has done, or knows anything about front bearings on XI's let me know asap, I wanna try and get this badboy knocked out (pun intended) soon...
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Old 02-12-2010, 07:17 PM   #17
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I had a "wa wa wa wa" noise just as explained where the culprit was a left rear wheel bearing. Took me a while to figure it out, but that's what it was. My car is a 2001 300xi. The noise started at around 115k miles.
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Old 09-18-2012, 12:37 PM   #18
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wa wa wa wa noise again points to bearings. Has to be one of my rears. HAS TO.
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Old 02-05-2013, 01:09 PM   #19
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the problem you are experiencing is most likely coming from your drive shaft center bearing. It is covered up by all of your heat shields so you cant see it, however it is located almost directly in the middle of the drive shaft. you have to take the drive shaft off, pop of the c clamps pull the bearing off and put the new one on
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Old 04-10-2013, 03:45 PM   #20
rogerbohl
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Drive line vibration

About 6 months ago, I experienced some almost undetectable (but irritating to this ex-engineer) drive line vibration at freeway speeds, but my mechanic (not a BMW specialist, but very knowledgeable) guessed a Flex disc (guibo). He could not detect it, but there was no 65MPH road nearby for a comparable test.

Later, some serious vibrations developed, and a bad tire was found, 4 tires replaced and balanced, solving the immediate issue. The original vibration seems to persist. It is barely noticeable, but evident when the cruise control asks for more or less power, as when starting up a grade or topping a grade.

Due to the cost of just getting access, and the possible wisdom of replacing the center(?) bearing support at the same time, my tentative plan is to try to put up with the little vibration and wait until something more identifiable develops.

Prudent? Ideas? (2001 330xi, 90K easy miles)

Roger
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