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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 04-28-2019, 02:20 PM   #1
Bhewgs
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My Ride: 2005 325xiT
Year: 2005
Model: 325XiT
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Any way to determine which CV axle is bad?

Hey All,

I've got the characteristics in my 325xiT of a faulty CV joint, but I'm curious if there's any way to determine WHICH joint is the problem if none of the boots are torn? I don't have the typical clicking in turns, but after driving the car for more than 20-30 minutes, the car will start violently shaking under acceleration. When I let off the accelerator, shaking goes away. Unfortunately, New England is made out of mountains, so "letting off" on the highway means that I either slow drastically below the flow of traffic on an incline, or just have to hold my throttle position and endure the bucking until I reach the top of the crest and can coast down the other side.

When I bought the car at the beginning of winter, the front driver's side CV was torn. I kept it packed through the winter with fresh grease until it was warm enough to replace. Having just done a Stage 3 cooling/pulley overhaul, I cheaped out on the axle because I'm a knucklehead and went with one made of Chinesium.
During the replacement and after the CV splines were pushed out of the hub, the bolt holding the steering knuckle onto the strut snapped due to rust, and I had to flatbed the car to a local indy to finish the job for me. 9 days and $1000 later (I can't get too far into this without blatantly flaming the shop and their practices, so I won't) I picked my car up with the chinese axle on the driver's side. The axle that came off the car was a GKN.
Now, the passenger side axle, also a GKN, doesn't have any tears in the boots but the outside boot looks like the photo attached to this post. Swapping the driver's axle made the shaking and shuddering stop for several weeks but it has returned.

My thoughts are these: Because the driver's side was done so recently, I should be able to get through another replacement of that side without anything breaking. The passenger side is a risk of stranding me in the same position as the first pass at the driver's side.
I'd rather not replace both axles, though that is of course an option. I'm not certain whether the suspect axle is the brand new (1000 miles) low quality item failing immediately, or the OE quality axle with many more miles on it failing shortly after its brother. The car has 189k on the clock, and the passenger axle was definitely replaced at some point but I have no record of it.

Do any of you have any insight into which axle I should start with? I'd appreciate any guidance I can get - this forum has been an amazing resource for keeping my wagon on the road.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:21 AM   #2
77'911
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1st, you might check your drive line mounts and driveshaft. That center support bearing and guibo can make quite a racket if they are shot. I use to like GKN decades ago, but they seem to be ebbing in quality lately. When I replace both fronts on our current xi(which is in a year), they will be factory unit with a new support and seals. The factory original units seem to last longer and are balanced much better then after market axles currently available. I find are axles can use replacement around 70-80k, but they get a ton of city driving which is never easy on a car.
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Old 04-29-2019, 04:14 PM   #3
wayne0
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FYI, Boots will last longer if you cut the clamp on the shaft and stretch the boot out a bit so the bellows don't chafe together on tight turns. Use a hose clamp to replace the crimped clamp. It's a bad design!

Last edited by wayne0; 04-29-2019 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 05-01-2019, 06:40 AM   #4
Bhewgs
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Thanks for the input, guys. Project deadlines are stacking up at work so I might not be able to address this right away, but I'll definitely post an update when I get this sorted out.
Last time I was under the car none of the mounts or bushings looked worn/cracked to the naked eye or had any play I could detect with muscle strength, though obviously that isn't in any way definitive.

Also seems the front right caliper is sticking as of yesterday. When this issue first started I checked all four corners of the car after every drive for heat in the discs, and experienced nothing until yesterday when the FR was HOT and the other three were barely warmer than ambient temperature. Rebuild kit from FCP is on the way for both front calipers. The rears were both done about a month and a half ago and are still holding up fine. Hopefully the vibration I've been experiencing has just been an intermittently sticky brake and I won't have to pull the driveline apart. Otherwise I'll go ahead and do both front axles, guibo, center bearing, and see if anything else needs to be addressed from there.

This car is staying with me for a while, so I'll be chasing a solution until it's fixed. Oxford green 5 speed Xi touring with the sport package and sunroof - took me months to find and I don't plan to let it go.
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Old 05-01-2019, 10:46 PM   #5
jmo69
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When I had the vibration from a bad CV there was axial play in inner Joint. A friend crawled under and could rotate the axle enough to make clicking noises when it stopped turning. I tried to yank the axle out and the boot pulled off and I found very little grease in the joint. A previous axle failure had no vibrations but a split boot.
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Alternative to expensive xi control arm bushings https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1231503

Bad outer xi ball joint? https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1127077


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Old 05-11-2019, 05:26 PM   #6
Bhewgs
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Just wanted to post an update - I rebuilt both front calipers last week and the front brake isn't sticking anymore. Today was the first chance I've had to go on a drive longer than 10 or 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the shaking is still present, showing up after driving half an hour or so and appears to be unrelated to the brakes. I think I'm going to go ahead and order a pair of front axles, a new guibo, and a new CSB. I'm headed to the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of weeks to demonstrate my company's technology to a possible customer, so I won't be able to DIY these items for a bit. Current plan is to do both front axles and drive on them for a few days to determine if they are the culprit. I'll still do guibo and CSB since I'm buying them, but doing everything at once won't tell me what the specific problem was. I'll post another update when I make some progress.
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Old 05-13-2019, 06:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bhewgs View Post
Just wanted to post an update - I rebuilt both front calipers last week and the front brake isn't sticking anymore. Today was the first chance I've had to go on a drive longer than 10 or 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the shaking is still present, showing up after driving half an hour or so and appears to be unrelated to the brakes. I think I'm going to go ahead and order a pair of front axles, a new guibo, and a new CSB. I'm headed to the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of weeks to demonstrate my company's technology to a possible customer, so I won't be able to DIY these items for a bit. Current plan is to do both front axles and drive on them for a few days to determine if they are the culprit. I'll still do guibo and CSB since I'm buying them, but doing everything at once won't tell me what the specific problem was. I'll post another update when I make some progress.
Then do one axle at a time unless an inspection shows the fault.
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Alternative to expensive xi control arm bushings https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1231503

Bad outer xi ball joint? https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1127077


2003 325xi auto Stahlgrau

1998328is 5sp
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Old 06-28-2019, 08:19 AM   #8
Bhewgs
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Finally got around to chasing this again, and the problem is solved. Because of the lack of time I've faced over the last few weeks, I outsourced to Redline Motorsport in Hartland, VT. I'm very glad I did as they did great work at a fantastic price.

The Chinesium axle on the Driver's side had not failed, but has been replaced with GKN and will not see use on my vehicles again. The passenger side front axle (with a bunched up boot but no obvious failure) was absolutely full of grit at the outer joint. I suspect this was the core cause of my issue. We also dropped the exhaust to examine the rear flex disc and CSB. The disc looked fine, but the CSB was beyond shot. I could take two fingers and push the driveshaft laterally until it touched the bearing carrier! This came out immediately (I know, I know - I'm going back on my word to replace one thing at a time, but this thing was beyond trashed). Since the driveshaft was out we replaced the flex disk with a new one just to prolong that repair and because I already had the part. The joints in both of my driveshafts are starting to get sticky, but I was reassured I could push this down the line a bit as they aren't too bad yet.

Since we had most of the parts between me and the shift linkage out of the way, we went ahead and refreshed the shifter with the BMW rebuild kit and replaced my stock lever with one out of an E60. This thing feels brand new, and is hands down the best work that's gone into the car. If I can track down a reasonably priced ZHP 5 speed knob, that will go in as well to reduce the knob height a bit.

All in for replacing both axles, rear flex disc, CSB, and overhauling the shifter, I was only charged 8 hours of labor. I highly recommend Mike and the Redline team to anyone in the area.
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Old 06-28-2019, 09:07 AM   #9
MJC12
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E60 Shifter + ZHP Weighted Knob is one of the best changes I made to my vehicle.

Also, there's an Oxford Green 325xiT 5Sp w/ Sport Package and Sunroof for sale where my parents live and I've been incredibly tempted to buy it because I love that combination as well.

Cheers from another NH E46 Owner, glad you solved your issue!
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Old 06-28-2019, 11:19 AM   #10
Bhewgs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MJC12 View Post
E60 Shifter + ZHP Weighted Knob is one of the best changes I made to my vehicle.

Also, there's an Oxford Green 325xiT 5Sp w/ Sport Package and Sunroof for sale where my parents live and I've been incredibly tempted to buy it because I love that combination as well.

Cheers from another NH E46 Owner, glad you solved your issue!
You'd better buy it before I do!
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Old 07-21-2019, 03:18 PM   #11
WilloCO
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Yeah, your description sounded like a CSB to me. Seems like it's good that you did the extra work there.

I sprung for the adjustable height shifter for mine, I love it with the weighted ZHP knob.
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