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Rear Drive Axle Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Rear Drive Axle Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

****

Tools:

Flathead screwdriver, pry bar, 30mm 6 point socket, E12 inverted Torx socket, floor jack, two jack stands, two wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 528i xDrive Sedan (2009-10)
BMW 528i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 530i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 530xi Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535i xDrive Sedan/Wagon (2009-10)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)
BMW 545i Sedan (2004-05)
BMW 550i Sedan (2006-10)

Parts Required:

Rear drive axle, drive axle bolts, differential fluid

Hot Tip:

Replace bolts

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty drive axle

Complementary Modification:

Replace differential fluid

Drive axles transfer power from the differential(s) to the wheels. The differential is solidly bolted to the rear subframe (rear) or engine oil pan (front), whereas the wheels move up and down on the vehicle suspension. In the case of the front wheels, they also steer the vehicle. The drive axles therefore need to be equipped with flexible joints, which allow a significant amount of bending and flexing by the drive axle. This is accomplished by equipping each drive axle with a constant velocity (or CV) joint at each end. The joint is filled with high temperature grease and sealed with a rubber boot.

These axle boots fail over time causing loss of grease in the CV joint. As a result, an axle may become noisy or create a vibration. Removing a rear drive axle is not a difficult job, but plan to spend about half the day replacing it. Each inner CV joint attaches to the differential output flange using six special bolts. The outer CV joint includes a stub axle that fits through the wheel bearing hub and is secured to the hub with a 30mm nut. The left side axle is a bit harder to remove due to obstruction by the exhaust system. If you are having trouble removing the driver side axle, you may want to remove the rear section of the exhaust for better access. See our tech article on exhaust system removing. The right side axle is much easier, as you have plenty of room to get to the fasteners and axle. Usually, I am able to sneak the axle out without removing the exhaust. I will unbolt the rear control arm to get some movement out of the wheel hub.

You can replace the axle boots and clean and repack the CV joints with high temperature molybdenum grease. However, if the boot has been torn for a while, the damage has been done. At this point you are better off replacing the complete front drive axle.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

In this tech article, I will go over how to replace the rear drive axle on BMW E60 vehicles.

Remove the center cap on the rear wheel of vehicle.
Figure 1

Remove the center cap on the rear wheel of vehicle. Do this on the side of the vehicle you are replacing the axle on. Use a small flathead screwdriver to lever the center cap out of the wheel. Next, you will loosen the drive axle nut (red arrow) through the hole in the wheel. Using a 30mm, six-point socket and a breaker bar, loosen the rear axle nut. Lift and support the rear of your vehicle. See our tech article on jacking your vehicle and remove the drive wheel. If the nut is stuck, you may have to remove the wheel. Then lever the folded portion of the nut away from the axle shaft end (inset).

Once loose, remove the nut from the drive axle.
Figure 2

Once loose, remove the nut from the drive axle.

Next, you have to detach the rear upper control arm (red arrow).
Figure 3

Next, you have to detach the rear upper control arm (red arrow). This will allow the wheel hub to be moved enough to get the axle out. Remove the bushing end mounting bolts and pull the control arm out of the body. See our tech article on the rear upper control arm replacing for more information.

Then, remove the 18mm strut mounting bolt (red arrow).
Figure 4

Then, remove the 18mm strut mounting bolt (red arrow). This will allow the wheel hub to be moved enough to get the axle out.

Next, you have to loosen the six axle-mounting bolts (red arrows).
Figure 5

Next, you have to loosen the six axle-mounting bolts (red arrows). In this photo, two are out of sight behind the axle. You will need an E12 socket and a six-inch extension. Loosen the bolts until they come out of the axle flange in the differential. You do not have to remove the bolts from the axle. Rotate the axle to access all the bolts.

This photo shows loosening the drive axle bolts (red arrows) using an E12 socket with a six-inch extension and a flex-head ratchet.
Figure 6

This photo shows loosening the drive axle bolts (red arrows) using an E12 socket with a six-inch extension and a flex-head ratchet. If the boot is giving you trouble when accessing the bolts, loosen the top bolts. Then rotate the axle to move to the next bolt at the top.

Pull the drive axle down and away from the rear differential.
Figure 7

Pull the drive axle down and away from the rear differential. If it is stuck, use a flathead screwdriver to detach it, or tap it with a soft-faced hammer.

Next, remove the drive axle from the wheel hub.
Figure 8

Next, remove the drive axle from the wheel hub. Use an axle remover (red arrow) to push the axle out of the wheel bearing.

As you drive the axle out of the wheel hub, guide it down and remove it from the vehicle.
Figure 9

As you drive the axle out of the wheel hub, guide it down and remove it from the vehicle. If you're replacing the drive axle with a new one, now is the time to remove the axle bolts and flat washers and transfer these parts over to the new axle.

Install the axle in the reverse order of removing.
Figure 10

Install the axle in the reverse order of removing. Install the axle bolts on the differential and tighten. Then install the axle nut and tighten the axle nut. You will complete the final torque of the axle nut with the vehicle wheel on the ground. Then peen over the axle nut to secure it onto the axle shaft. I use a drift and a hammer (red arrow) to do this. Install the drive wheel and test drive the vehicle to confirm the repair is complete.

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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:43:56 AM