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      09-04-2017, 11:20 PM   #1

Drives: e90 xdrive
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: usa

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E90 328xi front differential replacement

"Disclaimer" This is a car lift job, i don't think jack stands would cut it. Also some pictures may show (parts) of out of sequence steps " i was figuring things out". Lastly I used what i had on hand to do this job. I'm far too cheap to buy bmw specialty tools.

Car in question- 2011 e90 328ix W/GM AT
*Make sure you know what ratio your differential is, mine was 3.91*

Parts list:
Differential (199.00 ebay)

Part Number: 33107505601 ( 15.00 )

Part Number: 31521428678 ( 15.00 )

Differential to oil pan O-ring
Part Number: 31511213527 ( 4.00 )

Gear oil 75-90 ( 15.00 )

M12 x 1.5 all thread rod " at least 1 meter length" ( 20.00 )

M12 x 1.5 nuts x 4pcs ( peanuts )

12mm I.D. washers x 4pcs ( peanuts )

Tow hook ( free, if its still in the trunk)

First step, Get rid of all useless garbage

Next prep your used unit with all your new seals so its ready when you need it. I didn't replace the pinion seal in mine because i didn't feel like it. I used an axle bearing slide hammer to remove the axle seal.

Then persuade The new guy in with a big socket and hammer. O-ring go's on the boss on the other side.

Next remove engine acoustic cover to access the engine lift point. *Note the lift point is "tow hook thread". Then with a long extension remove the driver side motor mount bolt; Its easy to see and get to. Once this is done, install the engine support bar. The harbor freight bar needs spacers to get the right tension on the tow hook. We are just trying to support the engine from lowering with the sub-frame, nothing more nothing less.

Remove Both front tires

Remove splash shields under car

Next we need to remove the driver/passenger side cv axle and knuckle unit.
-Remove the tie rod at the knuckle
-Remove the sway bar link at the sway bar
-Remove the tension strut at the body mount ( Easy way )
-Remove the control arm at the body mount ( Easy way )
* NOTE remove these items, and just let it hang there on the strut assembly; cake.

Now it starts getting fun.
We need to pop out the driver/passenger side cv axles.
I didn't use any special tools, just some pry bars and a big screw driver.
Theirs really nothing to pry against so I cant give any helpful advice here; but I used two pry bars and my helper used a big screw driver and we got them both out. it was touch and go there for awhile.

*NOTE you need to wedge something somewhere on the passenger side after you get the axle out to keep it from going back into the differential. " I wedged a big dead blow hammer between the strut assy and the fender well."

Remove drive shaft

Remove Differential bolts and freeup from motor.

Remove driver/passenger side lower motor mount bolts

Remove sub-frame bolts and replace with all thread rod as you go; while supporting the whole assy with a transmission jack or something.
*NOTE only put all-thread support screws in 4 of the six holes, the two nearest the cabin are at an angle and will hang you up.

We need to drop the sub-frame down about 2 inches, this is so we can remove the driver side motor mount. Surprisingly the sub-frame doesn't come down as easy as you would think. I would support it with a transmission jack, loosen up the nuts on the all thread studs, lower the jack and use a pry bar to persuade the sub-frame to the nut stops. " i did this a little at a time"
*NOTE the engine shouldn't be going down with the sub-frame, if it is adjust your engine support bar!

Remove driver side motor mount. "At this point the stud of the mount should be clear of the bracket on the motor."

Now remove the front Differential. Its not easy, i had to use a pry bar and push the motor towards the passenger side to get just enough room for it to come out.
*NOTE This picture shows why you need to remove and prop up the passenger side axle.

Now install new Differential, driveshaft end first. Again its a mofo it get in, have your helper use a pry bar to move the engine over as much as he can. Then just when you cant hardly lift your arms anymore it will pop in. just like installing an n52 valve cover.

Now put everything back together, just make sure you pop the cv axles back in and add gear oil to the Differential before you start bolting all the suspension parts back on.


Special thanks to my old man, the one that had all the good ideas during this project.

Last edited by fast_67ford; 09-06-2017 at 02:17 PM.
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      01-15-2018, 01:28 AM   #2

Drives: 2007 328xi
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Lincoln, CA

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Post Pointers From Another DIYer

I am in the middle of this same job, just got the diff out yesterday. Here's my experience: I didn't use the thread rod idea, I just supported the sub-frame on bottle jacks. I also removed the two bolts from the steering rack to sub-frame and moved the rack off the frame allowing for additional clearance and movement. Good Luck!
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