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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, prybar, 36mm 12 point socket, E12 inverted Torx socket, safety glasses, floor jack, two jack stands, two wheel chocks, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

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

The rear drive axle on BMW E53 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 left 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 rear section of the exhaust for better access. 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.

Remember that your car may have been serviced before and 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 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 over with years with similar components used though different. If something seems other than the components used on your BMW, 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 provide your vehicle information.

In this tech article, I will go over how to replace the rear drive axle on BMW E53 vehicles.

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

Remove the center cap on the rear wheel of the 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 through the hole in the wheel. Using a 36mm 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 up your vehicle. 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. Then remove the nut from the axle (inset).

You are going to have to remove a few pieces of the trunk interior trim.
Figure 2

You are going to have to remove a few pieces of the trunk interior trim. Start by pulling out the center solid carpet (red arrow).

Working at the side trim panels, remove the plastic rivets (red arrow).
Figure 3

Working at the side trim panels, remove the plastic rivets (red arrow). Lever the center tab out using a trim panel tool.

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor.
Figure 4

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor. Start by removing the 10mm nut at the panel junction.

Then move toward the front of the trunk area, at the seat back and remove the plastic rivets (red arrows).
Figure 5

Then move toward the front of the trunk area, at the seat back and remove the plastic rivets (red arrows). Lever the center tab out using a trim panel tool.

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor.
Figure 6

Next, you will have to remove the plastic nuts that secure the plastic bracket to the trunk floor. Start by removing the 10mm nuts (red arrows) at the rear corner of the trunk.

Then, open the storage compartment door and remove it (red arrow) from the vehicle.
Figure 7

Then, open the storage compartment door and remove it (red arrow) from the vehicle.

With the storage compartment door out of the way, lift and remove the rear most plastic bracket (red arrow).
Figure 8

With the storage compartment door out of the way, lift and remove the rear most plastic bracket (red arrow). Then remove the spare tire (yellow arrow) from the vehicle.

With the spare tire out of the way, lift and remove the front most plastic bracket (red arrow).
Figure 9

With the spare tire out of the way, lift and remove the front most plastic bracket (red arrow).

Once all brackets have been removed, you have access to the accumulator (yellow arrow).
Figure 10

Once all brackets have been removed, you have access to the accumulator (yellow arrow). Loosen the 10mm air line (red arrow) just enough to bleed the air from the system.

Next you have to detach the rear upper control arm.
Figure 11

Next you have to detach the rear upper control arm. 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. Start by removing the main bolt for the lower control arm. Loosen the 18mm nut (blue arrow) while counter holding the 24mm bolt (red arrow). Loosen the nut so there is about a 20mm gap between it and the control arm. Then lightly tap it using a soft-faced hammer to begin to move the bolt out of the control arm.

Next, remove the drive axle from the wheel hub.
Figure 12

Next, remove the drive axle from the wheel hub. Use an axle remover to push the axle out of the wheel bearing. The axle will slowly push out of the wheel-bearing, while the wheel-bearing carrier slides out (red arrow).

Mark the axle to stub flange position (inset).
Figure 13

Mark the axle to stub flange position (inset). Next you have to loosen six-axle mounting bolts (red arrows). Three of these fasteners are out of sight behind the axle. You will need an E12 socket to remove them.

Loosen the bolts until they come out of the axle flange in the differential.
Figure 14

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. The green arrows point to four of the six bolts. Rotate the axle to access all of the bolts.

Pull the wheel-bearing carrier away from the axle.
Figure 15

Pull the wheel-bearing carrier away from the axle. Then 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.

As you drive the axle out of the wheel hub, guide it down (red arrow) and remove it from the vehicle.
Figure 16

As you drive the axle out of the wheel hub, guide it down (red arrow) and remove it from the vehicle. If you are 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. Install the axle bolts on the differential and tighten. Then install the axle nut and tighten it. You will complete the final torque of the axle nut with the vehicle wheel on the ground. Then utilize a ball peen hammer over the axle nut to secure it onto the axle shaft. I use a drift and a hammer to do this. Reinstall the air-line to the accumulator and reassemble the trunk interior. Install the drive wheel and test drive the vehicle to confirm that the repair is complete.

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Comments and Suggestions:
dzajic Comments: Shoot. It's not a 6-point socket, it's a 12-point. That's inconvenient, but please update for others' sake.
September 18, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for catching that. We appreciate it. I will have the article updated.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 02:44:48 AM