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Thread: E39 Differential Removal DIY Guide (M62TU) (Lots of Pics!)

  1. #1
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    E39 Differential Removal DIY Guide (M62TU) (Lots of Pics!)

    The car: 2003 540i/6 M-sport, 153k miles



    Awesome week in the world of e39 ownership. My 540i/6 developed a clicking metallic noise coming from the drive shaft. This noise was present in both forward and reverse, wheel speed dependent, and torque dependent (both accelerating and engine braking), engine speed independent, and gear independent). Here's a video of the noise:

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6XjhiLbOAo&list=UULasd_3Gy8bC7bj4Da2-eBA&index=2[/ame]

    This noise, after maybe 30 miles, developed into a pretty noticeable vibration. This vibration, like the noise, was torque dependent and vehicle speed dependent. At this point, I parked the car in my garage and booked an appointment with my mechanic. Car was towed to the shop, where, upon analysis, it was determined that the rear CV joint at the back of the drive shaft was failing. I had him replace this joint ($225 part), and the center support bearing ($100 part) just in case. I picked up the car, and it drove beautifully until I got on the highway 10 miles later. I got up to speed, put cruise control on at 75mph. All was well for 4-5 miles or so, until the car 'hiccuped' - there was a small but noticeable jolt in the vehicle. At this point, I was like so I took cruise control off and slowed down. 1/2 a mile later, a large vibration started. It felt like I was driving on the rumble strip! I pulled over, and as I stopped, a nice cloud of smoke enveloped the car. Engine was running great, and the smell of the smoke was one I've never smelled before. Anyway, towed the car home, and here's what I found underneath it: (excuse the crappy music coming from the radio)

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpeMeylV77M[/ame]

    You can see that the differential is leaking out of the input shaft bearings, and that the input shaft itself is VERY loose. Time for a new differential! Found one used on eBay, a few hundred miles away, for $275 shipped. Here's the new differential:



    Throughout this guide, I will refer to the "front mount", the "rear passenger" mount, and the "rear driver" mount. You can see where these are in the picture above. This is a 2.81 ratio open diff (didn't have the $$$ for a LSD), and it's actually from a nearly identical 2003 M-sport (looked up the VIN on the sticker). From my research, it seems like all manual 540s had the 2.81's while sport package autos had the 3.15. Not sure about other models of e39.

    I jacked the car up on 4 jack stands, with the rear tires off (placed under the rocker boards for added safety).

    Tools used in this DIY:
    • 3-ton floor jack
    • 4 jack stands, wood blocks, wheel chock from the trunk
    • EarthQuake 1/2 impact wrench
    • Metric shallow socket set, 3/8 drive
    • Metric deep socket set, 3/8 drive
    • Metric Impact socket set, 1/2 drive
    • External torx socket set (or just an e12 socket, other sizes not needed)
    • Flat head screwdriver
    • Small hammer and large mallet
    • 1/2 and 3/8 drive ratchets
    • 1/2 breaker bar
    • Socket extensions, size adapters
    • Fluid Drain pan
    • LOTS of simple green to clean up
    • Penetrating oil (aerosol)
    • CV grease
    • Rope to tie up exhaust
    • Paper towels
    • Pliers, vice grips
    • Creeper




    Step one: Lower the exhaust!

    It is not necessary to totally remove the exhaust from the vehicle for this job. We will simply remove the rear exhaust mounts so we can lower the exhaust down a bit for some extra room. Support the exhaust with your floor jack so you don't put too much strain on the headers. Remove the 13mm nut on this stud, using a deep socket and an extension: (look just left of the rubber. The nut has been removed in this picture)



    Now, remove these two nuts and pop the mount off of the subframe.



    Remove this cross member, just rear of the cats (4 bolts, one nut):




    The exhaust is now free! lower it down a few inches in the back, but not so low that it's hanging by itself.

    Step Two: Disconnect all the shafts!

    The differential is connected to the car via: Driveshaft, two half shafts to the wheels, and three mounting bolts to the subframe. All of these must be removed to get the diff out. Note: the CV joint at the end of the drive shaft has six studs that are not removable. Therefore, it is not possible to remove this joint from the input shaft of the differential before the diff is lowered.


    Remove the 6 16mm nuts on the input shaft.

    This picture was from my re assembly; grease squeezing out of the CV joint. Yours shouldn't have any grease outside of it, however it may be a good idea to buy more CV grease to put in there. Make sure this joint stays clean inside once you remove the diff! I put a zip lock bag over mine.



    ...and all 12 of the e12 external torx bolts on the drive shaft. I was able to just barely get my impact wrench in there to get them out.



    Step Three: Remove the mounting bolts

    Now, the three diff mounting bolts. You can take the nuts off of all three bolts without the diff falling out, assuming you leave the bolts themselves in there. The two rear mounts are 18mm and the front one is 21mm (for both the nuts and bolts)

    Front:

    (Yes, I used an SAE socket... it fit perfectly and I needed another 1/2 drive socket for my breaker bar)

    Rear driver's side:



    The rear passenger mount is the only hard one. I made a special "tool" to help me: a bent bolt with its head sanded down to a 3/8 square to fit in the socket. I hammered this into the drive of the socket, allowing me to to get the socket on the nut in the extremely small space created by the subframe and the spare tire tub. It is not possible to use an closed-end wrench or any other tool on this nut; you'll see why when you get in there.











    Here's all the hardware you just took out: (Note that I also removed two bolts from the sway bar bushings. This is not necessary for the job. This also doesn't include all the exhaust bolts, as I lightly threaded these back in their spots as not to loose them)



    I cleaned mine by soaking it in concentrated simple green over night, then in WD40 for a few hours, then back in simple green to de-grease before going back in the car. I used blue lock-tight on all the drive line fasteners (6 nuts and 12 e-torx bolts) to make sure nothing comes loose after re-assembly.

    Once everything is loose, jack up the differential and remove the thee bolts. Carefully lower the diff out of the car, slide it off of the CV studs, and you're done!

    Step Four: Reassembly

    Re-assembly is pretty straight forward. The only thing to note is that the funny double-washer things on the half shaft bolts have locking grooves on them that mate with grooves on the bolts to keep them tight. Make sure you install these pieces with the grooves meeting the bolt heads! I put lock-tight on any drivetrain bolt (the 6 nuts and 12 torx bolts). Again, make sure the input shaft of the differential and the CV joint on the drive shaft stay clean and are properly lubricated. Throughout the two jobs done on my drive line, I know the position of the drive shaft to the Guibo and differential were not noted. I have no vibration at all up to 85+ mph.

    Perform all work on your vehicle at your own risk! This guide may potentially be non-inclusive and should be taken as friendly advice only.

    Good Luck!
    Last edited by cwise12; 01-17-2013 at 09:20 PM.


    03 540i/6 M-Sport (#166 out of 1,265)
    01 540i/6
    01 525iAT
    01 530i
    M62/TU crank holder tool, fan clutch tools, and rear ball joint removal press available for New England members who need them!

  2. #2
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    Well done, nicely documented

  3. #3
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    Nice work...looks familiar under there.

    '00 540iA with 235k+ on the original TCG's, Vanos and transmission...

  4. #4
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    Sweet. Well done. I'll tow the thread as per your request, but would you like me to leave it in E39 main a while for comments?

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    The best tip i have to add is use your 6 extra jack stands to help position the d/s and exhaust when puttining them on/off. Made life so much easier.
    ~2001 540i/6speed~
    SPEC stage2+ kevlar clutch, JBR 11lb lightweight flywheel, ESS Tuning m60 manifold software tune, 3" SS freeflow OBX catback, afe cold air intake, m60 intake manifold, Cdv delete, powerflex urethane sway bar bushings, M5 rear sway bar ,Autozone replacement driver side blinker light bulb, 545 short shifter zhp weighted, "dsc off" sticker, m5 3.15 lsd differential, m5 chassis rods, akebono ceramic pads, G2 caliper epoxy, ecs braided lines, BC-Racing br-plus series w/swift springs 8/6
    [IMG][/IMG]


  6. #6
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    I love that bent bolt trick to hold the socket in that tight spot. That is a keeper. Nice work.

  7. #7
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    Nice write up!
    Without dropping the exhaust, the diff has to be wedged in & rotated into position- trust me it's not fun.
    I used vice grips to hold the socket on that passenger side rear diff mount- also not fun.
    2002 540i | 6 speed | (892) Titanium Gray | BC Coilovers |E60 SSK - ZHP Knob | CDV Delete | M5 RSB | Muffler Delete - 2.75" Turndown | Dice Duo | Spec Dock | Running log -> http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1713303

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    I got a even easier way i will unveil when i write up my diff build part 4
    ~2001 540i/6speed~
    SPEC stage2+ kevlar clutch, JBR 11lb lightweight flywheel, ESS Tuning m60 manifold software tune, 3" SS freeflow OBX catback, afe cold air intake, m60 intake manifold, Cdv delete, powerflex urethane sway bar bushings, M5 rear sway bar ,Autozone replacement driver side blinker light bulb, 545 short shifter zhp weighted, "dsc off" sticker, m5 3.15 lsd differential, m5 chassis rods, akebono ceramic pads, G2 caliper epoxy, ecs braided lines, BC-Racing br-plus series w/swift springs 8/6
    [IMG][/IMG]


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by guttershark View Post
    Nice write up!
    Without dropping the exhaust, the diff has to be wedged in & rotated into position- trust me it's not fun.
    I used vice grips to hold the socket on that passenger side rear diff mount- also not fun.
    Yeah, it really helped to drop the exhaust down a few inches. It only takes a few minutes to take out the fasteners that hold it on; totally worth it. I tried the vice grips, and it didn't work at all. The jaws weren't parallel, so whenever a torque was applied the socket would just twist out of the grips.

    Quote Originally Posted by topaz540i View Post
    I got a even easier way i will unveil when i write up my diff build part 4
    Excited to see it. I don't see how there's much of a better way, but I'll believe you for now...

    Quote Originally Posted by philly98540 View Post
    I love that bent bolt trick to hold the socket in that tight spot. That is a keeper. Nice work.


    Quote Originally Posted by jamesdc4 View Post
    Sweet. Well done. I'll tow the thread as per your request, but would you like me to leave it in E39 main a while for comments?
    James, Whatever you think is best. I could go either way. I looked for this DIY when going into the project and noticed there wasn't one dedicated to removal/installation, so I made one. Maybe move it in a day or two? Thanks!
    Last edited by cwise12; 01-18-2013 at 11:55 PM.


    03 540i/6 M-Sport (#166 out of 1,265)
    01 540i/6
    01 525iAT
    01 530i
    M62/TU crank holder tool, fan clutch tools, and rear ball joint removal press available for New England members who need them!

  10. #10
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    I used an offset box wrench on the passenger side rear diff mount - held it firmly in there with a pry bar as it just barely fit, but it worked. Props on the bolt trick though.

    Removing the entire exhaust is not that much harder. I dropped the driveshaft, serviced the CSB and guibo/flex disc, and refurbished shifter bushings (540i/6). I was able to tilt the engine down quite a bit (front cats were limiting factor), and the bitch clip is not so bitchy – the tang is on the outside for easy access.

    I too did not note relative position of driveshaft to trans or diff. The driveshaft has to be balanced before install. Of course, if you service the CSB, the two halves of the driveshaft should definitely be marked for relative position, and that position should be maintained on reassembly.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    99 M Rdstr, 92 325ic,
    Good thread. Adding diff ratios that came in various E39's throughoit the years may be beneficial to it.

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Can I borrow that special tool that you made?

    seriously

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by ninetyseven1 View Post
    Can I borrow that special tool that you made?

    seriously
    Can anyone comment on the performance result after the 3.15 differential?

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