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Front Driveshaft and Flex-Disc Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Driveshaft and Flex-Disc Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Sockets 16mm, 16mm wrench, pry bar, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

Parts Required:

Front driveshaft, blue Loctite

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine and allow exhaust to cool before beginning

Performance Gain:

Smooth drivetrain

Complementary Modification:

Replace rear driveshaft flex-disc (Giubo)

The front driveshaft connects the transmission transfer case to the front differential on E53 X5 models. It is made of steel tubing welded to steel flanges. The driveshaft is one piece with a flange and a splined end.

The problem spot in the driveshaft is the splined end. The splined end strips out, ruining the driveshaft and the transfer case. In this tech article, we will cover replacing the front driveshaft. When servicing the driveshaft it is important to mark the orientation of connection points before removing. Also replace any self-locking fasteners.

A Giubo, also known as a driveshaft flex-disc, and frequently misspelled as guibo, is a flexible coupling used to transmit rotational torque between the drive shaft and the transmission or the rear differential.

The Giubo is made from flexible rubber and is designed to allow some angular misalignment while reducing driveline vibrations. Input and output shaft flanges are bolted to the Giubo on either side using alternating hole positions, so the flanges are not connected directly to one another but instead only through the insulating rubber material of the coupling. The elasticity of the rubber absorbs vibration and flexes for alignment.

Since it is made of solid rubber it dries out and wears over time. You may experience a drivetrain vibration or shimmy. If so, inspect your driveshaft flex-disc. It should be free from distortion, cracks and tears, and have no missing pieces. If you find any of these problems, replace the driveshaft flex-disc and mounting fasteners. When replacing, at the minimum, replace the self-locking nuts that attach the driveshaft flex-disc. I prefer to replace the bolts too. The driveshaft flex-disc is also referred to as the Giubo.

Remember that your car may have been serviced before and had parts 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. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve, as they grow older. 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.

Raise and support the front of the vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

The front driveshaft (green arrow) connects the transfer case (red arrow) to the front differential (yellow arrow).
Figure 1

The front driveshaft (green arrow) connects the transfer case (red arrow) to the front differential (yellow arrow). The front driveshaft can be removed without removing the exhaust or other major components. However, the front reinforcement plate has to be removed. See our tech article on engine splash shield and reinforcement plate removing.

The yellow arrows point to marks I made on the driveshaft and differential flange.
Figure 2

The yellow arrows point to marks I made on the driveshaft and differential flange. Before removing, note the position and be sure to install with the driveshaft and differential flange in the same position.

Place the transmission in neutral.
Figure 3

Place the transmission in neutral. Start by removing the driveshaft side fasteners. Counterhold the 16mm nut while loosening the 16mm bolts (red arrows).

Lever (red arrow) the driveshaft toward the rear of the vehicle to separate it from the flex-disc.
Figure 4

Lever (red arrow) the driveshaft toward the rear of the vehicle to separate it from the flex-disc.

Next, remove the final three 16mm fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 5

Next, remove the final three 16mm fasteners (red arrows). Two fasteners are shown, while one is out of sight. These fasteners thread directly into the front differential flange (yellow arrows).

Next, mark the driveshaft (yellow arrow) split flange (green arrow).
Figure 6

Next, mark the driveshaft (yellow arrow) split flange (green arrow). Then lever the split flange away from the driveshaft (red arrow).

Remove the flex-disc with the split flange.
Figure 7

Remove the flex-disc with the split flange. If you're just replacing the flex-disc, reverse the steps for the installation. If you're replacing the driveshaft as well, see the following steps.

Remove the driveshaft from the transfer case.
Figure 8

Remove the driveshaft from the transfer case. Slide it toward the front of the vehicle (red arrow) to remove it. Pull the splined end (inset) out of the transfer case.

Before installing the driveshaft, inspect the transfer case splines (red arrow) for wear.
Figure 9

Before installing the driveshaft, inspect the transfer case splines (red arrow) for wear. If you find stripped or flattened splines, I suggest replacing your transfer case.

This photo shows the order of the driveshaft components.
Figure 10

This photo shows the order of the driveshaft components. When installing, feed the new driveshaft into the transfer case splines. Then install the flex-disc and split flange. Align your marks and join the split flange to the driveshaft. Then install the fasteners for the flex-disc finger tight. Then, tighten the fasteners in a crisscross pattern.

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Comments and Suggestions:
thstone Comments: There are two aftermarket drive shaft sources: Cobra Transmission in Florida and TC BMW in Buena Park, CA. The replacement drive shaft runs around $300 with the 1" longer spines. Thus, there is no need to replace the stripped transfer case female splines because there is still 1.5"-2.75" of new, never used spine in the rear of the transfer case which should last at least another 100K miles.
September 3, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Wayne Comments: Where can I find a new drive shaft for my 2003 X5 4.4i or alternatively a new spline to weld in?
May 30, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure they can be repaired, Usually they are replaced.

Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Wachuko Comments: BMW just issued a letter extending the warranty on the drive shafts for 10 years or 120,000 miles... On X5. I just got the letter for my 2012 X5 Diesel... So this is a known problem, not recognized by BMW as a recall...but warranty extended nonetheless ...
September 8, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:47:18 AM