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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 05-17-2013, 08:29 PM   #1
yoyoguy2
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Join Date: May 2013
Location: Rhode Island
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My Ride: 330xi
Front wheel bearing or CV?

I'm getting constant humming or droning only at high speed, starts around 40-50 maybe and gets louder with increasing speed. it appears to be the right side as if you swerve left (loading the right) it gets louder. I thought it was a wheel bearing, but i jacked it up and it spins pretty well and has no side to side play.. could it be the CV joint? CVs usually click in my experience though... are the bearings on these tight enough that it could still be the bearing without any play? really don't want to do all the work of the bearing swap if i don't have to.
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Old 05-17-2013, 09:19 PM   #2
e46alfonso
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If an axle got to the point of making noises it would show signs (like vibrations) on the steering wheel. Sounds like it's the bearing. How many miles?

I don't think a bearing will show signs of play, that would apply more to CABs and ball joints.
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Old 05-17-2013, 09:44 PM   #3
yoyoguy2
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135k. Yeah i know on the RWD cars the front bearing play is important, but the bearings on the xi are set up differently so maybe that's not a good indicator?
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:40 PM   #4
e46alfonso
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I have replaced 4 bad axles on this car and the symptoms were steering wheel shake and clicking over bumps but never humming.
The front diff can make noises at speed if its low on fluid, easy to check with the wheel off.
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:47 PM   #5
yoyoguy2
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if it was the diff i would not expect it to change when turning one way or the other.. i'll check the fluid level tomorrow anyway though, only takes 5 minutes.
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:51 PM   #6
e46alfonso
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probably the right bearing then. not an easy diy but it can be done.
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:55 PM   #7
e46alfonso
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http://http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=789994&highlight=b90+xi+wheel+bearing
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Old 05-18-2013, 12:03 AM   #8
Kubica
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Yes, bad axles can make a sort of brushing noise. Especially a cheap Chinese axle.

On the other hand, it's tough to tell if its the front bearing making noise by spinning by hand unless the bearing is really far gone.
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:54 PM   #9
bmwbob89
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If the noise get louder when turning the wheel one way and quieter the other way it is almost always a bad wheel bearing.
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:17 PM   #10
TotheMountains!
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yoyo: I've been having almost exactly the same experience: a droning hum at the front left that's been growing louder in the past 7-10 days. I checked tire pressures, and have had no handling issues. I did start to note that I could "unload" the wheel at speed by turning some toward the centerline and the drone diminishes. I suspected bearing, but could not get any wheel play with the car on the ground.

I had the car on stands today for an oil change and to replace an intermittent oil level sensor fault. Unfortunately, I found an uneven, tapering wear on the right front tire. But the driver's side, the one that drones, I gripped top & bottom by the treads and pushed and pulled perpendicular to the axle. It rocks just enough to feel, but it definitely rocks. It doesn't make any weird sounds when freewheeling. The right front does not have that bit of motion.

The Bentley recommends having the steering arm and axle assembly both on a bench to replace the bearing . . . so I'm here researching solutions. Post back with what you decide to do. This is not my only vehicle to maintain, and it's trout season in Maine, so this may go to the local independent shop for a one-day turnaround while I'm at my paying job. We'll see.
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Old 03-11-2014, 02:04 PM   #11
alpine325i
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Have a very similar humming sound on my 325i while driving straight or turning right. Only when I turn left does it go away. I have ordered a front bearing/hub assembly to make it easier for myself. Hopefully that solves the problem. Had the noise previously, replaced all 4 tires since they were very worn, still had noise. Replaced front control arms/bushings, sway links and inner/outer tie rods. Still had noise. Had alignment done. Still have noise... will update after replacing bearing!

What was your conclusion?
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Old 03-12-2014, 06:12 AM   #12
TotheMountains!
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In my case, it was the driver's side wheel bearing. I took it to the shop because I didn't have the time to do the work myself.
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:55 AM   #13
yoyoguy2
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wow, this thread came back from the grave! the problem with mine was the right rear wheel bearing. it still was hard to tell that it was bad by spinning it with the car off the ground, but from more driving and listening i convinced myself it was the RR, and it turned out i was right.

i did it myself with the SIR B90 tool. it's a bit if a pain but the job is doable without taking it to a shop. you also need a slide hammer and hub puller you can get from autozone for a free rental. i actually think the hardest parts of the whole thing were getting the giant circlip out and pounding the axle splines in and out of the hub.
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