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BMW Rear Drive Axle Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW Rear Drive Axle Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

****

Tools:

Phillips & flathead screwdrivers, 30mm 12 point socket, E12 socket

Applicable Models:

BMW E90 3-Series (2006-11)
BMW E91 3-Series (2006-12)
BMW E92 3-Series (2007-13)
BMW E93 3-Series (2007-13)

Parts Required:

Rear drive axle

Hot Tip:

Replace bolts

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty drive axle

Complementary Modification:

Replace differential fluid

The rear drive axle on BMW E90 models connects the rear differential to the drive wheel. The axle boots fail over time and an axle may also become noisy or create a vibration. Removing the axles is not a bad job, but plan to spend about half the day replacing it. The driver side axle is a bit harder to remove due to restriction caused by the exhaust system. If you are having trouble removing the driver side axle, you may want to remove the exhaust for better access. See our tech article on exhaust system removing. The passenger side axle is much easier as you have plenty of room to get to the fasteners and axle.

In this tech article, I will go over how to replace the rear drive axle on BMW E90 vehicles.

Lift and support rear of your vehicle. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

Remove center cap on rear wheel of vehicle.
Figure 1

Remove center cap on rear wheel of vehicle. Do this on the side of vehicle you are replacing axle on. (green arrow) Use a small flathead screwdriver to lever center cap out of wheel.

Next you will loosen the drive axle nut through the hole in wheel.
Figure 2

Next you will loosen the drive axle nut through the hole in wheel. First, using a flat head screwdriver, lever open the peened-over nut flange (locking collar). Next, using a 30mm 12 point socket and a breaker bar, loosen rear axle nut. Remove drive wheel.

Next you have to loosen six axle mounting bolts.
Figure 3

Next you have to loosen six axle mounting bolts. (green arrows) You will need an E12 socket and a 4" extension. Loosen bolts until they come out of the axle flange in differential. You do not have to remove bolts from axle. Green arrows point to four of the six bolts. Rotate axle to access all bolts. Now you can remove the axle nut on the wheel side of axle.

Pull drive axle (green arrow) down and away from rear differential.
Figure 4

Pull drive axle (green arrow) down and away from rear differential. Remove axle from vehicle. (If the axle is stuck, you will need to press it out of the hub using a universal axle extractor. The tool bolts to the hub, pushing the axle out through the flange. The tool will also help pull the new axle through the hub when reassembling.)

If axle does not slide out of wheel bearing easily, tap out using a brass punch and a soft-faced hammer.
Figure 5

If axle does not slide out of wheel bearing easily, tap out using a brass punch and a soft-faced hammer. If replacing drive axle with new, now is the time to remove the axle bolts and flat washers and transfer these parts over to the new axle. Install axle in reverse order of removing. Install axle bolts on differential and tighten. Then tighten axle nut, you will complete final torque of axle nut with vehicle wheel on ground.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Buttons Comments: There is no bolts holding an E90s 2013 328i axles in the differential. it is a clip inside that slides out with a lot of pulling. clip must re seat when you put axle back in. Please post more E90 tech articles
October 19, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 2013 is not an E90, it is an F30 chassis. That is why the article and my advice did not match. Sounds like with F30, BMW moved to a one piece axle stub and socket. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Buttons Comments: update on 2013 328i. It was not necessary to remove control arms. it actually made job harder as there was nothing holding the hub in place when working with it. Car has less than 100,000 miles had to use huge hub puller a mini sledge and a lot of heat to pull hub assembly off of axle.
October 19, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is a special tool to press the axle out of the wheel hub, if you use heat, you risk burning the grease out of the sealed wheel bearing. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Buttons Comments: I disconnected all the control arms on 2013 328i and I cannot get the axle to release hub. Also are the bolts attaching the Cv axle to the differential under the rubber boot?
October 14, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not under the boot, the bolts surround the boot. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
wetterol Comments: If you can't get the axle to slide away from the diff on removal: jack the hub up from affected side to the level of the diff if your suspension is fully extended car on jack stands. Then the axle aligns and slides right down.
June 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
BavarianCare Comments: Try removing from hub in rusty Ireland...
Had one recently that required 18tonnes of pressure from a hydraulic hub pullers to remove.

Also, fitting back into hub was impossible without a special pullers for doing so. Be careful all DIY people. This can turn into a mess!!
March 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We have the same issue here in NEw England. Rust and corrosion can be a killer. Thanks for the info. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Almighty Ant Comments: I have a 2006 325xi e90 do you have any article on removing and replacing the front axles?
January 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We don't currently have that tech article. If we get a chance to perform the procedure, we will be sure to document it.

I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Brian Comments: FYI. In my 2006 325xi I was unable to pull the axle down, but it went up and around.
December 23, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
JJ2Y Comments: I have trouble pulling drive axle down from the rear differential. I am missing like 1/16" to clear the flange. Any suggestion?
November 4, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try rotating the stub flange in the diff. You may be able to get axle down by rotating it as you pull down. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
KenMac Comments: When removing the axle on the rear driver side you will need to lower the exhaust pipe. This give the axle enough room to be removed.
September 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Lewis Comments: The hub bolt has a crush collar that needs to be teased open before you try and beak it open.

Really enjoy your how-to's and they have helped me in the past. Although I nearly stripped the nut being unaware of the crush collar. Could you perhaps pop a note in step 2.

Thanks - Lewis
June 12, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sure, I will have a note added. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Gunnar Comments: Replaced rear wheel bearing on 2006 325xi, could not get axle into hub without tapping on backside of axle Side closest to splines on the housing itself. Strong vibration coming from wheel area, not sure if the process damaged the CV joint or the wheel bearing, or both. Nick, can you describe the process of getting the axle pressed into the hub? Does one need to remove the "knuckle" itself and take it to an auto-parts store? Thanks!
May 24, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The tool that presses the axle in attached to the wheel stud holes. Then a threaded piece grabs the axle shaft and pulls it through the hub. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Volasko Comments: You need to explain how to press the new axle in, there is nothing to hammer against like when removing it with the hammer and punch. Everytime I try it gets stuck before I can catch a thread with the nut. I have tried heating the hub with a torch and freezing my axles in the freezer. Nothing works and I'm losing my mind here....
May 18, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What vehicle are you working on? I have not had one that would not go in with a little help. If stuck, you may need an axle installed. It will bolt to the hub flange and pull the axle through. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Casca Comments: My mistake. The 325i was 30mm and the 335i is 36mm
November 13, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Casca Comments: Pretty sure all e90's use a 36mm 12pt socket for taking out the axle nut. At least my 325i e90 as well as 335i e90 that I am robbing parts from takes a 36mm socket.
November 11, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the info. I have seen it both ways. We appreciate you joining the conversation. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 12/2/2016 02:22:07 AM