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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing the 3-Series
Driveshaft Bearing

Difficulty Level: 4
Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one
Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten

     This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.
 
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[click to enlarge]


Figure 1


Figure 2


Figure 3



Figure 4



Figure 5



Figure 6



Figure 7


Figure 8



Figure 9



Figure 10



Figure 11



Figure 12



Figure 13



Figure 14

     While replacing your driveshaft flex disc, you may find that you have to disassemble the rear part of the driveshaft.  If so, this would be an excellent time to inspect and/or replace your rear driveshaft bearing.  The bearing supports the rear part of the driveshaft, right before it connects to the rear differential.  Although I haven't found this part to be too terribly worn on the cars that I've inspected, it's a wise idea to replace it while you have access to it.  A worn bearing will generate strange vibrations that you will be able to feel in the cockpit, and may also increase the amount of "gear noise" you hear while driving.

     Replacement of this bearing requires removal of the driveshaft flex disc.  For more information on this, see our Pelican Technical Article on Replacing the 3-Series Driveshaft Guibo / Flex Disc.  Read that article for instructions on how to disconnect and drop down the driveshaft.

     With the Guibo removed, you should have removed the driveshaft tunnel support brace (Figure 1 and Figure 2), and also have loosened up the bracket that holds the rear driveshaft bearing (Figure 3).  Mark the center driveshaft and the rear driveshaft they are a balanced assembly and need to be put back together in the same location in order to avoid vibration later on. The large clamp that secures the middle driveshaft to the rear needs to be loosened (Figure 4).  I found it difficult to fit a normal wrench on this clamp, so I used a plumber's wrench for a better grip.  It's a little cludgy, but it worked the best out of any tool I tried.  Loosen up the clamp (Figure 5) so that the center driveshaft can be removed.  With the clamp loosened, you should be able to pull on the center driveshaft and remove it from the rear driveshaft (Figure 6).  Figure 7 shows the driveshafts disconnected.  If the driveshaft will be hanging like this for an extended period of time, make sure that you support it with some wire or a jack stand.

     The new bearing is shown in Figure 8.  I also like to replace support components when performing a job - you would hate to have a part fail because you were too cheap to replace the one dollar circlip that holds it in.  The picture shows the bearing/support (sold as an assembly), the front and rear support plates, and a new circlip.

     Begin by removing the driveshaft clamp from the splined end.  Then remove the large circlip using a pair of circlip removal pliers, or a pair of needle-nose pliers.  Wear eye protection for sure here, as these can fly off if you're not careful.  Pull the large support cup away from the bearing (Figure 9).  You should not be able to remove the entire bearing and support bracket assembly.

     On the backside, use a pair of pliers to remove the back support plate (Figure 10).  Then tap in the new one, being careful to align it in the same orientation (flat side goes to the bearing).  Tap it all the way onto the driveshaft so that it mates flush with the end.  This piece will spin around with the driveshaft when the car is moving.

     Now, place the new bearing assembly on the shaft.  It should be a snug fit and the bearing should spin freely.  Do not grease this bearing as you insert it - you don't want it to spin on the shaft itself.  Attach the new support cup, and insert the new large circlip into it's groove on the driveshaft (Figure 11).  Reinsert the driveshaft clamp onto the splines (Figure 12), and then reattach the center driveshaft, lining up the marks you previously made on the two driveshafts (Figure 13).  Clamp down and tighten the driveshaft clamp.

     Figure 14 shows the new driveshaft bearing reinstalled.  Refer to the flex disc article for instructions on how to reconnect the flex disc.  When tightening the rear driveshaft bearing to the chassis, push the bearing all the way towards the front of the car.

    Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all.  If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs.  If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one.  Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one.  As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

   
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Comments and Suggestions:
BruceComments: Have a 2001 325xi with 100,000 miles. Just purchased and it's literalkly like new except for one thing. A rumbling noise guess you could call it a vibration but doesn't really get sensed in the seat or steering wheel, no vibration on braking, steers straight and an arrow etc.. Just a rumble upon acceleration AND decellerating more noticable on acceleration thoughas well-ideas? Has brand new front axles, tires, rotors & pads.
April 14, 2014
BullwingsComments: Which way to pre-load the CSB? Your instructions say to push the bearing forward I'm assuming that means towards the engine and u-joint. But, your pictures show that the CSB has been pushed toward the rear the splines. In the pictures, you can tell from the positioning of the bolt holes that the CSB was pushed back towards the splines and differential, rather than forward as instructed... So, which way??? Thanks
February 6, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Push it toward the front of the vehicle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
XfreakComments: And finally! Who would have thought my 325 were equipped with a shaft from an 328. I should have realized something was odd from the begining. So relieved thisis over. The frustration and anger and annoyance.
September 4, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up and info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
korendaComments: I am so sorry ,i did not know it will show on your page.hope it won't make you trouble.
August 16, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: No proble, I will edit the comment. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
KatComments: Hi! This is Cat again, so what would cause a 2006 F250,6.0,4x4 crewcab to vibrate while driving 50 miles an hour or faster and specially hauling a trailer up mountain hills? Could this be caused by an accident? I was rearended never did this before the accident and what are possible problems when the engine light eluminates all the time? Thank You! Kat
July 27, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It is hard to be specific about vibrations without feeling them myseklf. I would take it into a shop and see what they say. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
KatComments: Tell me about a bad carrier barring in a 2006 F250 ,4x4 diesel,6.0 engine and does this cause vibrations and how do u diagnos it?
July 26, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Driveshaft vibrations usually show up during accel and go away during decel. So if your bearing is bad, it would show up under accel. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
XfreakComments: Okey. I have ONE question. How did i end up with this in the photo Bearing and flex-disc is replaced but i just wonder. As i see it the bracket is supposed to line up with the screw-threads, right?
July 15, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the drive-shaft in backwards? The center bearing mount is lining up with the u-joint on the driveshaft and that can't be right - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Christopher SobelComments: Assumed typo: in "You should not be able to remove the entire bearing and support bracket assembly." I assume "not" should be "now" :
July 11, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your right, thanks for the editing - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mrjizemComments: The clamp on the middle drive shaft didnt need to be loosened on mine the shafts just separated with the clamp still tightened. will this be a problem? Its actually got my markings on it to line up with the spline from the rear so will probably reassemble then loosen and tighten that clamp if its required. Do the diff flange nuts need to be tightened in a certain order or did you mean they just needed marking to go on the same way? Thank you
July 1, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you can get it back together properly it should not be an issue.

Tighten the flange nuts in a crisscross pattern. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Ralliart10Comments: Can a bad center bearing create rear vibration while accelerating? When I Iift of the gas and let the car coast the vibration goes away but once I step on the gas the vibration comes back. Also sometimes when I'm at a light and step on the gas hard I can hear like a clunking sound.
June 23, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, that does sound like a bad driveshaft or axle. Inpsect your driveline components for wear. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
PhouthasaneComments: i have a 97 m3 and my drive shaft doesn't look anything like the one on your pictures and i am having trouble separating the front and rear drive shaft. do you guys know a way to remove the two?

Thanks
April 28, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Use the steps inthe techa rticle to separate the front and rear halfs. You will want to remove the driveshaft from the vehicle to do this. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
gregComments: what about the plastic piece inside the threded cap to link the halves of the drive shaft together?? i cant find any info about it. the one for mine turned to nothing. what should i do??
December 20, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Most of the small driveshaft parts are available separately. Give our parts specialists a call: 1-888-280-7799 They will help you find the part. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
joshmoComments: im having trouble reconnecting the splines in the center of the drive shaft. any recomendations?
August 1, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check that are clean and free of debris. Also, inspect the ends to see if is was accidentally damaged while apart. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JeffComments: Unless your CSB has a torn open rubber seal and the bearing is making a crunching or grinding noise, just DON'T replace it!!! I'm convinced these things could last 500k miles. What a battle. Definitley not just a "while you're doing the guibo", hell no....do your shifter parts instead.
July 2, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: While you're in there, it's worth doing just to not have to go back in when it fails. But I hear you and you make a good point. It can be a pain. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JeffComments: The last line in the 5th paragraph says:

"You should not be able to remove the entire bearing and support bracket assembly."

Or should that say "should NOW?" Getting this damn thing off is probably the hardest part. Should the rear shaft be removed from the differential.....Can you please expand on this.....because in the following step you're already putting on the new dust cover.
July 1, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Good catch, it should read "now". Also, disconnecting the driveshaft at rear differential will make separating it easier. Remember to install diff flange fasteners in same orientation that hey come out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mr.e28Comments: you forgot to mention to preload the center bearing before tightening, by pushing it on the grooves toward the front of the car then tightening it down.
June 18, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback and additional information. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Chan ChanComments: I have a automatic trans. 98 M3. When I cold start the car for about less than a minute I would hear a grinding noise coming out from, I would think its the transmission, under the motor. It lasts about a minute or two then it goes away. When the engine warms up I don't hear any noises. Could you or anybody out there tell me what could possibly go wrong? I would like to hear from you. Thanks
May 31, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: This could be the bearing or a joint in the driveshaft. Try to pinpoint the noise when it is happening. This will lead you to the source. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
wallyComments: My bad, thanks for the clarifications. I should've held a magnet to my e39 driveshaft before assuming it was aluminum.
March 23, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
wallyComments: Doesn't the center bearing need to be preloaded before tightening it down? I -haven't- done this myself on an e39 but have been told if the near bearing is not preloaded, it might still be a source of vibrations after the job is done. Comments?

Also, I understand the point of using heat to loosen and remove the old bearing but isn't this extremely risky advice when the part to be heated is an aluminum driveshaft?

Just sayin'....
March 10, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, the comment in the article about pushing the bearing all the way to the front - that will preload the bearing and remove the backlash that may cause vibration in the future. As for the driveshaft, I'm 99.9% sure it's manufactured out of steel, not aluminum, so the heat should not be an issue. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
PatrickComments: A few tips:

1. The dust cap on the back of the CSB is useless...it's a sealed bearing. You can throw it away if you destroy it, which you will if you do step 2.
2. Either hammer on the back of the bearing left side, right side, left side, etc, wiggling it out bit by bit , or the quicker way to do it is to get a 2 or 3-arm puller and pull it off that way. You'll have to cut or torch out the outer shell and mounting assembly. Old bearing came right off. New bearing tapped right on.
November 17, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the notes.

If BMW felt the need to install a dust cap, I would leave it in place. Think of the money spent to install it on every vehicle produced. It wouldn't be there if it didn;t have to be.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
EddieHamComments: In Figure 14 you show about an inch of the center driveshaft splines, or whatever, at a distance from the clamp. This is how mine's looks and I am trying to connect the clamp so that it is flush with the driveshaft bearing. Is Figure 14 the correct way it should look, after it is re-connected? If so, I am done and and stop hassling with the damned thing.
October 18, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, Figure 14 is very close to what it should look like when you are finished. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
DougComments: I replaced the center bearing per the instructions. The old bearing was completed detached from the housing. I drove a few miles could feel a thumping when accelerating in 2nd gear about 3,000 rpm. When I backed off the accelerating, the thumping when away. I could not duplicate thumping in 1st gear. I examined the new center bearing and it looks good. Could this be: a worn u-joint how do you tell if this is worn?, can you install the center bearing backwards on a 1998 Z3?, or can you think of anything else?
June 10, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The old bearing may have been so worn that vibration may have damaged or worn something in the transmission? Just a guess. Make sure that the preload is properly set on the bearing - that can cause the thumping that you're referring to. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
gmanwotComments: I have an e36 and just finished this job. I happened to have a very large puller, but you have to pull the bearing itself not the carrier. I cut the rubber all around and removed the carrier. Then I used the puller. I ran safety wire through the unused holes in the puller arms to keep them from lashing out if something went wrong. It took more effort than I am used to but the bearing finally broke loose. For install I bought a 2 1/8" x 1 ft long exhaust pipe someone else's idea and the parts store had a 2 1/8 metal cap of some sort that was even rounded out towards the middle beautiful, got the cap for free. I used a step drill to drill out a hole big enough to go over the splines. Cap went against the bearing rounded side means pressure was on the inner ring, exhaust pipe against cap. Sledge tapping against exhaust pipe. Voila. Turned out to be not too hard. Fortunately my car did not have a lot of corrosion.
April 8, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional information. This will certainly be helpful to someone. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
foamerdaveComments: had to use an air hammer to get it off and a block of wood and a BIG hammer to put on the new one. this job is a true pita
April 5, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback and tip. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DrewComments: It would really help if you had a better description of how to get the bearing itself off insted of just leaving us to guess.
February 6, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. We'll look into adding some info. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jestercycleComments: Actually, you guys dont even show the removal or install of the bearing,just before and after.
February 5, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The steps for removing and installing are toward the end of the article. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
paradox96Comments: could you explain what do you mean by aligning center drive shaft and rear drive shaft. basically you want to make sure that center drive shaft splines fit in the same location of rear drive shaft? do I understand it correctly. what if someone did clutch replacement and did not align the two shafts. how do you balance them again.
thanks.
November 24, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: In this photo: http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/E36-Guibo/pic18.jpg the two driveshafts are being reinstalled. You want to mark it before disassebling, then reassemble using your mark.

If you are concerned that your driveshaft is not balanced, a driveshaft rebuilder can balance it for you. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
djbmwComments: I also found it extremely difficult to remove the old bearing from the shaft even with heating it up. I ended up doing what most do for removing wheel bearings and I cut the old one off carefully - at 1st with an angle grinder to break off the outer race and bearings and then with a rotary tool for the inner race. This was the easiest way to remove it. The circlip was also a pain as it was rusted out - I ended up breaking that so it was a good thing I had a new one on hand. When putting the new bearing on - remember to press it in from the inner race - not the outer.
November 13, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback and additional information. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
hilow5Comments: the thing is like this. if you dont have the proper tools you will have a hard time just as much as if you did have them this job is a pain in the ???!!!?! no matter how you do it or how its done. you will end up acheky
October 18, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback and additional information. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
NickComments: This article confused me and I ended up putting my support bearing in backwards. I din't realize until now that this article is for an E36 while I have an E30. The CSB is installed backwards on earlier models.
October 2, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Sorry for the confusion. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
WarDogComments: other than heating the bearing when its stuck. Is there a different method that can be done?
July 10, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Heating is pretty easy - use a simple propane torch available at any local hardware store. You can also try dripping some "air in a can" fluid on the shaft to make it cold. That sometimes works elsewhere, but there really isn't too much room to try that here. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
alx917Comments: It was my first time doing this and I found it extremely difficult to get the actual bearing off of the driveshaft. I don't know if maybe there was some specific way to make it easier as it wasn't quite detailed on this article
June 24, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You could try heating the bearing with a little heat from a propane torch. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
johnoComments: Have you anything on replacing the left & right axle bearings. outer
Would a worn center bearing make a noise like a worn axle bearing, I thought the noise was from the tyres but its not. ANY IDEAS or HELP please
April 16, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: We've got two write-ups on wheel bearings:

Front wheel bearing replacement

Rear wheel bearing replacement

- Wayne at Pelican Parts
 
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