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Driveshaft center support bearing failure...

Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by Onoratos, Feb 10, 2009.

    Onoratos guest

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    All,

    I'm having an issue with my drive shaft on my 1989 325is. I am absolutely certain that my center support bearing is dead or quickly dying. There is a loud metallic screeching noise from the center of the car and intense vibration at high speeds. There is also a loud clunking noise when I drive forward from a stop. I'm assuming that this is from the center support bearing allowing slack in the drive shaft and its banging around (hopefully not contacting anything).

    For now I've parked the car. I'm going to order a new center support bearing today. Dismantle when the weather warms up. Could this failure be caused by an underlying issue? The car has 273K miles on it, so I'm sure it's well over due for replacement. I checked the U-Joints that I can readily inspect without taking the protective shields off. They look good. I'm worried about the integrity of the U-Joints from this abuse. I've also replaced the "guibo" disc within the last two years. Should I consider buying a new/used drive shaft for the car under the circumstances? I'm assuming mileage is the more likely culprit for failure. I'm going to consult my Bentley manual tonight as well.

    Thanks for your input...
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    mooseheadm5

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    You definitely have at least a bad center support bearing. Usually at that age, the driveshaft U joints are notchy and will cause vibration. You will be able to tell when you pull the shaft. You will need snap ring pliers and a press or bearing puller with bearing knife to get the bearing replaced. I would certainly consider ordering a drveshaft from Beyer (I think they only sell to shops and retailers like BMP, though) or Driveline in Portland, but I do suggest pulling the shaft and checking the joints for wear, notchiness, and what looks like rust coming out of the joints (that means they are dry and the needles are trashed.) Rebuilt shafts come with new bearings.
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    Jeff Gomon

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    +1

    I totally second moose. I have a replacement Portland driveshaft and it is certainly a quality piece. As mentioned, remove the original and diagnose, but with that mileage, and knowing every joint and bearing is new with a rebuilt unit, I would just swap and go. Check the Guibo/flex disk for tears and wear as well as you will have it out to remove the shaft anyway.

    Onoratos guest

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    Thanks for the info guys. I pulled everything apart last night and I have a bad U-Joint on the differential side (the metal sleeve is "peeling" out of the u-joint - LOL). No wonder it sounded so awesome driving down the road (sarcasm)!! The center bearing is also a little noisy, which is probably from the U-Joint failure. I think I'm going to order a replacement from Portland as they are quoting $400 without any mention of a CCA discount. Not great, but not awful. I think I know the answer to this question, but before I do that, is there any way to repair these U-Joints? I'm thinking it's more cost effective to replace the whole drive shaft?

    Thanks!
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    Jeff Gomon

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    Unlike many manufacturers, BMW "stake" the u-joints in place. Staking makes the u-joint a semi-permanent component of the driveshaft unit. You must machine away the "tangs" of metal that trap the cups/u-joints in place to remove or replace. That makes them pretty much unservicable unless you have a machine shop and a driveshaft balancer in your garage. The other designs have a removable "c-clip" that holds the u-joint cups. Once you remove the clip, you can drive out the u-joint and replace.

    The other perceived downside to the OE BMW shafts and u-joints are they are sealed and not greaseable. The rebuilt Portland units have a grease zerk which, is greased properly, can extend its life greatly, over non servicable joints.

    That said, I gladly paid $400 for my Portland Shaft. That price included shipping both ways, a 5yr/50k mile warranty, all new serviceable u-joints, carrier bearing, and rear cv-joint. I would bet by the time you found all your own parts and someone to do the custom work for you, you will be ahead with just buying the complete unit.

    That is just my opinion...

    Onoratos guest

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    Thanks Jeff!
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    mooseheadm5

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    I could sell you one that I tried to "fix." It had the same problem as yours, and didn't get any better because you need the right equipment to align the joints properly and rebalance the driveshaft.

    Onoratos guest

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    LOL. Thanks Paul. I think I'll stick with the remanufactured one... :D
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    John in VA

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    I went with the rebuilt one from Beyer that I sourced from Steve Haygood, a pro mechanic, parts source, and E28 & E24 guru. (706) 647-0302. The nice thing about the Beyer unit: it was shipped to me in a container that I then used to return my old one to them - came with new guibo & center support bearing installed. I didn't have to remove my drive shaft, find a way to safely send it to OR (or Atlanta), and have the car down while waiting for the turn-around. You might want to consider replacing your transmission mounts "while you're in there."
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    granthr

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    Both of these companies sells drive shafts that have the new center bearing in place and balanced right? So when it arrives you just bolt it up so to speak.

    I think my 88 M3 needs a new one. I had the center bearing replaced, the old one had tore through the supporting rubber. But after that was replaced, I immediatly had a vibration from the rear between 20 and 24 mph, any gear on or off power, or in neutral. So I am thinking it is the drive shaft. That is what the indi Mechanic thought. Great guy and I trust him, this was a few years ago and I no longer live anywhere near him. As you can tell I have been putting this off. But I don't put a lot of miles on this car and it happens in such a low and small mph range.
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    John in VA

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    Yep, the shafts come balanced & assembled, ready to go in.
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    mooseheadm5

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    Yes, they are balanced with a new bearing and ready to go. I buy the Beyer ones myself (no grease fitting and cheaper) but they don't sell to mortals- only shops and I think that is where BMP or Bav Auto get theirs.
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    granthr

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    Thanks guys, looks like I got a good spring/summer project ahead of me. :D I have seen them advertised in Roundel and in BMP & BavAuto.
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    Jeff Gomon

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    Just to be clear, the Portland unit also comes in a sealed tube with shipping paid both ways and a pick up ticket for UPS. They will come and get it from you. Sounds like both units are fully assembled and are "remove and replace". Makes it more of a choice of price, warranty and availability at that point. I don't think you can really make a wrong decision either way.
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    John in VA

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    Jeff,
    The Beyer unit is sent to install, then you return your core vs. Driveline Specialists repairing the original then sending it back rebuilt. The choice of going with Beyer results in less down time.

    Steve Haygood can beat BMP & BavAuto pricing all day long - no fancy catalogs to pay for!
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    Jeff Gomon

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    John,

    I am speaking in regards to Driveline Service of Portland.

    There seems to be some confusion, perhaps I didn't explain it precisely enough. When you order a "Portland Drivline" you recieve a rebuilt unit in a shipping tube within 3 days. You remove your damaged driveshaft, replace it with the one you just received, you pack up your old one, call UPS, they come and pick it up and ship it back in the same container your rebuilt unit just came it. There is no waiting for any turnaround. The damaged unit you send back to Portland will be repaired and put into stock and sent out to another in need.

    I just don't want the people here to be misled into thinking that ordering the Portland Drivline product will result in any additional steps, delays or expense. You do no have to go thru anyone for "price break", you buy direct and everyone is afforded the same discount and pricing. I have not found a better warranty. I have purchased two of these units for different BMWs with excellent results and would recommend them without reservation.

    These are just my experiences....
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    mooseheadm5

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    Both units are excellent, and both are shipped to you, then you ship back your core (both companies may require you to send your original first if you have a particularly rare car or if you want custom work done, but that is not the norm.) THe prices from both companies are great, but shops (at least used to) get a slightly better price from Beyer than Portland. That said, I have never had a problem with the service or parts from either company.
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    John in VA

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    Jeff,
    I considered using DLS of Portland for an earlier project, but figured there HAD to be a competent service closer to me, on the east coast. I had heard good things about DLS of Atlanta (a Roundel advertiser), so used them. At that time it WAS necessary to send them my unit for rebuilding - perhaps that has changed. I don't know if DLS of Portland & Atlanta are affiliated.
    As Paul stated, the Beyer unit is first-rate, but not sold to mere hobbyists. That's why I went through Steve H. to obtain one.

    2bmw8288 guest

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    Driveshaft center bearing failure

    I seem to have the exact problem that Shaun (Onoratos) describes. I just bought a 1988 325. The owner said it needed a differential, but after reserching, I'm not convinced it's the differential. It sounds more like the center support bearing as symptoms are the same. I want to upgrade from the current 2.93 differential anyway using one from a 533i (same year) with 3.25.:) I was thinking of ordering the rebuilt shaft from Portland as recommeded by these posts. Is swaping out the shaft a pretty straight forward job for a person who has a little auto repair) experience? I will probably try to swap out the differential with someone who has a bit more experience. Would the driveshafft swap be about the same difficulty? Thanks.

    Bill
    1982 320i
    1988 325e
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    Brian A

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    I resolved a couple of years ago to make wrenching my car a hobby. No more shops! One of the bigger projects was changing my driveshaft on my 1987 325ic which had a bad rear U-joint. (I used Driveline Service of Portland.) (http://bmwcca.org/reviews/showproduct.php?product=44&cat=5).

    The hardest part of the job is removing the entire exhaust system and then all of the underbelly shielding. Once the driveshaft is exposed, it is an easy swap out. The Bentley manual is an excellent guide. The center bearing needs to be pre-loaded correctly and everything needs to be torqued correctly which are the trickiest parts of the swap.

    While the driveshaft is out, you might consider rebuilding your shift mechanism or even installing a short-throw shifter kit. Removing the driveshaft gives excellent access to the mechanism.

    You should also change your flex-disk.

    EDIT:
    Note that if its just the central bearing that is shot, you don't need to replace the whole driveshaft; just the bearing. My commentary above still applies.

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