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Discussion Starter #1
My '03 325i has an axle shaft going out (I think). The symptom is loud clicking noise coming from right rear side of car only under acceleration. Sound follows wheel speed. This is the same sound I have heard from front wheel drive cars during turn/acceleration with bad CV joints before. Car is at 183k miles so not surprised it is time for new axle shafts. Let me know if there are any differences of opinion with regard to my diagnosis.

So on to ECS Tuning: The price difference between remanufactured Genuine BMW shafts and new "FEQ" shafts is very significant (5x). If I was looking at twice the price I would probably bite on the genuine, but for 5x I'm not feeling it. ECS has no "customer reviews" on the FEQ shafts, so I'm hoping there is someone here with experience that they can share. I find ECS a good vendor, so I wouldn't think they would sell crap.

I can spend $200 or I can spend $1,000. I'm fairly willing to gamble unless there is some bad reviews by you. If there is another brand that would be recommended I could go there too.

FEQ: https://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E46-325i-M54_2.5L/Drivetrain/Axles/ES2581192/

Reman Gen BMW: https://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E46-325i-M54_2.5L/Drivetrain/Axles/ES2562142/

Thanks in advance for your advice. :thumbup:
 

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Search for a GKN Loebro axle. They are an OEM brand and may offer an option for less cost than the BMW Reman and way better quality than the Chinese FEQ.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Search for a GKN Loebro axle. They are an OEM brand and may offer an option for less cost than the BMW Reman and way better quality than the Chinese FEQ.

Ah yes, thank you. Much more like what I was looking for. Pelican Parts has them for under $200 each. fanatics ftw.

What do you think of the diagnosis, sound like a CV going out?

Only thing that is weird to me is that it was very sudden. Everything was fine then I left from a stop sign and the noise was there and very pronounced.

I did have something happen the same day though, where I was leaving a parking lot pulling into traffic and my right rear slipped on some sand then grabbed clean pavement and "chirp'd" the right rear tire. Could have been what finished an old CV joint off.:hmm:
 

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^ GKN Loebro all the way. There's a reason they're more expensive. Try finding a deal elsewhere but stick with GKN.

Those FEQ-type options are only there when you're "fixing" your car to unload it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks both of you. I am going with GKN for sure. Placing order now.
 

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Not going to argue FEQ is a more budget-oriented axle vs the GNK and Genuine. That being said I'm ~20k miles on them (both fronts) on my E53 with no issues and a multitude of our customers have the same type results (aka no issues with them).
-James
 

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If you need good remans and I mean good remans, CVJ Axles in Colorado. Used them on an MB as you can imagine the Mercedes axles are very expensive as well. No problems at all from them. The CVJs are carefully rebuilt units; the cores undergo thorough analysis so only the really rebuildable examples make the cut. Will likely be more expensive than the FEQs, but another option if in fact you need axles.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
YOu sure it's not bearings? I've heard BMW rear bearings make that same clicky noise when they go out. Are the boots leaking? Maybe raise the car and rotate the hub
Thanks for the reply. No, I'm not sure its not the bearing, the only thing I can say is it is perfectly quite and vibration free at all speeds except low speed acceleration. The boots are not leaking, checked that over the weekend. Also I raised the car on jack stands with the wheels hanging (more CV angle) and disabled TC and DSC and put it in gear so I could lay under it and listen for odd noises... no such odd noises, all quiet.

At this point I am fairly convinced it is CV and ordered the ones recommended above. I will post results after the axle swap to close this thread out.

Thanks all - and ECS as well for your experience with FEQ.
 

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Sweet, take some photos comparing the stock & FEQs if you feel like it. I'm curious about the differences if any. I hope you don't go through all of this just to find out it was something else.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sweet, take some photos comparing the stock & FEQs if you feel like it. I'm curious about the differences if any. I hope you don't go through all of this just to find out it was something else.

Sorry I went with the GKN not the FEQ's. The GKN's are reasonably priced. I will do a comparison and post it up. Also might do a little autopsy on the right side one that is making noise.
 

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If you need good remans and I mean good remans, CVJ Axles in Colorado. Used them on an MB as you can imagine the Mercedes axles are very expensive as well. No problems at all from them. The CVJs are carefully rebuilt units; the cores undergo thorough analysis so only the really rebuildable examples make the cut. Will likely be more expensive than the FEQs, but another option if in fact you need axles.
CVJ does not list prices on their website. Do you remember what they cost?
 

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Not going to argue FEQ is a more budget-oriented axle vs the GNK and Genuine. That being said I'm ~20k miles on them (both fronts) on my E53 with no issues and a multitude of our customers have the same type results (aka no issues with them).
-James
Hi James! Respectfully 20k is not enough of a test when the GKN BMW axles will go 200K+ easy. They're not even that much more expensive from other sources like AutoHausAZ or RMEuropean.

I looked at it differently. I Googled "FEQ axle issues" against "GKN axle issues" and determined it wasn't worth the $70 bucks in "savings".

But like I said before, it's always good to have choices. By now there are more than a few E46 that are being "fixed" so the owner can unload it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Ok, job is done. Much more of a PITA than I expected.

As noted earlier, I ordered the GNK axles. Here’s a pic of the Original BMW axles and the GKN, no distinguishable differences:

ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1464130543.353316.jpg

ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1464130560.333911.jpg

The hardest part was something that I didn’t expect, I’ve done front drive axles on cars before and never had a problem separating the axle shaft from the hub. In this case I couldn’t get it to budge. Heat, hammer, puller, nothing would even move it a bit. I broke my 8 inch puller on it.

ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1464130585.986420.jpg

After hours of wrestling with it, I finally got desperate. I went to Harbor Freight and got a 12 ton hydraulic puller ($109), which did it after some strain. I had a similar conundrum a year or two ago and had to go to Harbor Freight and get a shop press (12 ton, $120). Nice to have for sure, but not too regularly used and it takes up some garage space.

ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1464130617.405681.jpg

One trick for not taking shrapnel to the noggin is to wrap towels around the work. I learned this from winching a jeep, where you hang a wet towel over the cable to dampen a broken cable should it happen. The towels in this case should contain any metal objects if they come loose.

ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1464130641.693531.jpg

It was at this point that I realized it would be entirely stupid to get this far and not do the wheel bearings. Autozone didn’t have what I consider a good option like Timken, so I ordered from ECS (F.A.G.). The rest of the job will need to wait until the next weekend, in the mean time, a batch of IPA is in order:

ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1464130659.992881.jpg

The parts came in on Friday, so Saturday was replacing wheel bearings and upper control arm bushings. I had already done RTAB’s and lower control arm bushings not too long ago. Getting the hub off the control arm is a bit of a trick, here’s a pic of how its done. It may not be apparent in the pic, but a bearing separator is closed in behind the hub (not too tight) and the lug bolts are used to jack the hub off the bearing.

ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1464130702.243742.jpg

Pressing the outer race off was straight forward enough for me since I have the aforementioned shop press. Pressing bearings on needs to be done correctly. Never press a race on or in with pressure through the balls. Ball pressure, well, you know...

In this pic I am supporting the inner race from the bottom, and pressing the hub from the top. No pressure through the balls.

ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1464130742.987745.jpg

Last, press in new control arm bushings:

ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1464130767.001588.jpg

Assemble, alignment, torque. Done, done, done.

ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1464130818.056356.jpg

ImageUploadedByBimmerApp1464130845.742034.jpg

All is good in the world again, smooth as silk under acceleration and at speed.

Cheers
 

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Nice job, my only experience with axles are with the front axles on my xi. I replaced the passenger side with a torn boot, with an Empire from FCP, (they don't handle them anymore, but will still issue credit in case of a failure) and the drivers side with a GKN. I never had any clicking but the drivers side had a horrendous vibration at any speed unless I was coasting. Usually clicking CV joints are associated with turning on FWD/AWD cars. Consider yourself lucky, AWD cars only have the option of $$BMW rear axles.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I forgot to mention, the right rear bearing seemed a little worse for wear compared to the left, it was a bit "dry" feeling like there wasn't much lubrication left. Both were pretty sloppy but the right was worse. Also, the CV's all the way around seemed sloppy. Mango may have been right with his suggestion as to the bearing, that's the only thing that seemed worse on the right side compared to the left. No regrets though, full rear suspension and drive-train is like new now. All new bushings, shafts, shocks, bearings, ready for another 183k
 

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I forgot to mention, the right rear bearing seemed a little worse for wear compared to the left, it was a bit "dry" feeling like there wasn't much lubrication left. Both were pretty sloppy but the right was worse. Also, the CV's all the way around seemed sloppy. Mango may have been right with his suggestion as to the bearing, that's the only thing that seemed worse on the right side compared to the left. No regrets though, full rear suspension and drive-train is like new now. All new bushings, shafts, shocks, bearings, ready for another 183k
My right rear bearing went out at 59k. The left one is still going at 135k.

183k isn't bad if those were original!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Exactly; have a look first. Might just be a torn boot. I never buy parts until I know exactly what is wrong.

This job is done. It was either the right side bearing or the right side CV. I would have had to do the job twice to know which one unfortunately.

I did raise the car and rotate the hub: no noise.
 
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