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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Powertrain and Drivetrain Discussions > N54 Turbo Engine / Drivetrain / Exhaust Modifications - 335i > Suspected leak on front axle differential....Ideas? Help?



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      12-05-2012, 02:39 PM   #1
stopper
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Leak on front axle differential....FUN TIMES!

(Updated Status Below)

Hey all, I had the front of my car jacked up the other day to get my front wheels off and install some LED turn signals, but before I mounted my wheels back on, I was inspecting my driver's side wheel wheel when I noticed what you see in the pictures...

Background: 2009 e92 335i xdrive

This is the front axle differential which is mounted on the drivers side of the oil pan (which has the front passenger side drive axle actually go through the bottom of the block/pan to the other side) It appears that the bottom of the housing is completely caked in oil/grime. Now my engine bay has always been kept very clean, and there is no other leaking or "wetness" anywhere I can see, and I've never had any warning lights pop up.

The car is not driving any differently as far as I can tell, nor have I noticed any increased wear noises when driving/shifting, but just seeing that set alarms bells off in my head and I want to stop a potentially developing issue in its tracks.

Has this happened to anyone else, and if so, any ideas as to what the problem (if there is one) may be? I will surely be calling the dealer, but I just want to educate myself beforehand if anyone has some similar experience.

The pics: 1st one is looking through the undertray vent hole toward the housing from the front of the car. The 2nd and 3rd are through the drivers side wheel well.
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Last edited by stopper; 01-22-2013 at 07:12 PM.
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      12-08-2012, 07:56 PM   #2
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140 views, no responses. Ok, I think I've figured out how to get to you guys...
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      12-09-2012, 06:32 AM   #3
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I get some oil/dirt build up in that spot too, but less than what I can see in your pictures

Why not open the fill plug and check the fluid level on the front differential? If you slip your finger through the fill hole, you should feel the oil. If you don't then a leak may be present.

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      12-09-2012, 08:40 AM   #4
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has the oil pan ever been replaced on this car? could have damaged the diff gasket when the oil pan was being replaced.
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      01-03-2013, 10:48 AM   #5
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Ok, I have some updates to anyone who may be interested or encounter a similar problem. (To answer your question above, the oil pan has never been replaced on the car).....

I brought the car to the dealership a few weeks ago to have the front diff looked at.
Diagnosis: According to the tech notes and service advisor, the bottom bolts on the differential hosuing were "loose", i.e. not torqued to factory spec.
Solution: Clean up the entire area and retighten bolts. Bring back in a week or two after driving around to re-inspect. The first attached pic is right after I got it back, made me realize just how grimy it was before.

So I put about 300 miles on the car in the next 2 weeks, and check under the car and sure enough, new oil covering the bottom of the housing (See the 2nd pic I took). I didn't really expect just torquing those bolts down to fix whatever the problem was, nor was there any reason for those bolts to need tightening in the first place. So back it went to the dealership yesterday.

Well, I got a call that the Service Mgr. gave the go-ahead to order a completely new front differential unit. I was actually surprised it wasn't just a pinched o-ring or shaft seal that they would try and replace.

Based on the cost of that unit, as well as the labor involved, all I can say is... FACTORY WARRANTY
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      01-22-2013, 04:37 PM   #6
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I believe there was some issue with the front differential and an O ring being pressed in incorrectly during manufacturing, or something like that where others had problems.

I remember I had a lot of oil/gunk sitting under the front diff, on the top of the metal pan. I replaced my front diff fluid about 30K miles ago and all seems okay. I think some of that oil may be coming down from the oil housing gasket that is the original part at 120,000 miles.....

I gotta get under there and do some work when it warms up......replace fluids on front and rear diffs, manual tranny and transfer case.
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      01-22-2013, 07:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E36graduate View Post
I believe there was some issue with the front differential and an O ring being pressed in incorrectly during manufacturing, or something like that where others had problems.
Hmm well it could very well have been the factory seal. My oil filter housing has always been clean and dry; I know that I'll always keep an eye on it since the seal can be a common leak point.

NOW GET THIS: So it's been 1-2 weeks since I got my car back with a brand new front differential and I've put about 250 miles on it. The other day I decided to just check under to take a look and this is what I see. Am I going crazy or is it completely misaligned to the side of the oil pan?? Not only that, but it looks like theres a fresh leak where the seal is (take a look at my previous pics).

I swear all of the other pictures I took of it while it was leaking, before the replacement, show that joint lined up evenly...

Can anyone look at theirs and confirm my suspicions? Is it even possible for the dealership to position it incorrectly? I feel like I'll be needing to call my SA again...
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