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Front Drive Axle Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Drive Axle Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

****

Tools:

Phillips & flathead screwdrivers, 36mm 12 point socket

Applicable Models:

BMW 525xi Sedan (2006-07)
BMW 528xi Sedan (2008)
BMW 530xi Sedan/Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)

Parts Required:

Front drive axle

Hot Tip:

Replace bolts

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty drive axle

Complementary Modification:

Replace front fluid

The front drive axle on BMW E60 all-wheel drive models connects the front differential to the front drive wheel. The axle boots fail over time. 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. You can replace the axle boots or the external CV (constant velocity) joint. 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.

Lift and support the front of your vehicle. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle. Wear those safety glasses whenever you're working under your vehicle.

Working in the right side wheel well, remove the wheel well housing liner (red arrow).
Figure 1

Working in the right side wheel well, remove the wheel well housing liner (red arrow). See our tech article on wheel well housing liner replacing.

You now have access to the drive axle.
Figure 2

You now have access to the drive axle. In this tech article I will show you how to replace the right side axle and axle seal. The left side axle and seal are similar.

Start by removing the 18mm bolt and nut from the lower control arm (red arrow).
Figure 3

Start by removing the 18mm bolt and nut from the lower control arm (red arrow).

Then, pull the lower control arm out of the subframe and allow it to hang.
Figure 4

Then, pull the lower control arm out of the subframe and allow it to hang.

Working at the lower strut (control) arm, remove the headlight level sensor.
Figure 5

Working at the lower strut (control) arm, remove the headlight level sensor. Remove the 10mm nut while counter-holding the 10mm hex on the opposite side. Then remove the arm from the control arm. I like to install the nut back on the arm for safe keeping (green arrow).

Working at the lower strut (control) arm, remove the 21mm nut (red arrow).
Figure 6

Working at the lower strut (control) arm, remove the 21mm nut (red arrow).

Then, pull the lower strut (control) arm (red arrow) away from the ball joint.
Figure 7

Then, pull the lower strut (control) arm (red arrow) away from the ball joint. You will not need to separate it using a special tool. It just pulls away.

Remove the 36mm 12-point nut from the drive axle (red arrow).
Figure 8

Remove the 36mm 12-point nut from the drive axle (red arrow).

If the axle does not slide out of the wheel bearing easily, tap it out using a brass punch and a soft-faced hammer.
Figure 9

If the axle does not slide out of the wheel bearing easily, tap it out using a brass punch and a soft-faced hammer. If it is still stuck, use an axle removing tool. This tool (red arrow) will push the axle out without damaging the wheel bearing or axle shaft.

Pull the spindle away from the axle as you pull the axle out and away from the spindle.
Figure 10

Pull the spindle away from the axle as you pull the axle out and away from the spindle.

Next, use a punch or drift (red arrow) to tap the axle (green arrow) out of the front differential.
Figure 11

Next, use a punch or drift (red arrow) to tap the axle (green arrow) out of the front differential.

Once the axle moves freely, slide it out of the differential and remove it from the vehicle.
Figure 12

Once the axle moves freely, slide it out of the differential and remove it from the vehicle.

If the axle seal needs to be replaced, lever it out using a flathead screwdriver.
Figure 13

If the axle seal needs to be replaced, lever it out using a flathead screwdriver. Then install the new seal using a seal installer until it is flush with the differential output flange. Install the new axle in the reverse order of removing. Install the axle bolts on the differential and tighten. Then tighten the axle nut. You will complete the final torque of the axle nut with the vehicle wheel on the ground.



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Comments and Suggestions:
Roger Smith Comments: My car/wheel makes a vibrating/shaking/scraping noise when i make a sharp left turn about 90 degree turn. I replaced the whole axle shaft front, both sides from my car, but the shaking is still there, any other clues what it might be? Thank you.

BMW 2009 e60 535i xdrive
November 12, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: A bent wheel or worn suspension component. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
barreto Comments: Is there any fluid that needs to be replaced during this procedure?
October 6, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can service the diff, at the least top it up when complete. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jim Comments: Question. How would one tighten the wheel nut axle with the wheel on the ground? This would imply the tire is on and there would be no way to access it. Unless you maybe take the center cap of the wheel off? Thanks Jim j
July 17, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Through the wheel center. Remove the center cap. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 12/2/2016 02:39:05 AM