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e36 Differential Replacement

Discussion in 'E36 (1992-1999)' started by teamcna, Jun 26, 2010.

    teamcna guest

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    Woops, I think I posted in the wrong forum....OK...I'm 80% certain the diff on my 97 M3 daily driver is shot. It is not driveable. I'm shopping for a replacement, but can't find one locally and am agonizing over shipping costs added to an expensive part that I can't say for absolute certain will fix my problem. Locally there is one available from a 97 328i for only $50. I realize, of course that this is not a limited slip diff and that the ratio is taller, but for 50 bucks?... My question is, however, would it fit and function? If so, I could have the car back on the road tomorrow and for next to nothing. This would give me plenty of time to locate the correct part locally and the confidence to know that I was throwing 3 or 4 hundred in the right direction.

    mzmtg guest

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    Yes, it will fit & function.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    I believe that you are incorrect. The E36 M3 uses a large case diff with different output flanges and axles from the other E36s. In addition, some of them have a 4 bolt input flange and some have a 6 bolt.

    What is the actual problem?

    SuperBimmer guest

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    Yes, why do you think that the diff is shot?

    railroader guest

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    My question also-- as a newbie to the marque, I'd like to know what a failing diff might
    feel like when it firsts "starts to go." ?? I'm surprised to read of your troubles..I thought
    the diffferentials were known to go 100K and then some? Maybe the owner before you did
    some abuse? I'll never forget as a teenager a "Fonzie-type" of dude who lived next door had a souped up '40 Ford...that guy would go through differentials about every 4th tank of gas--
    I remember him showing me milk crates full of mangled gears...:eek::p Such were the foibles of youth, eh?

    SuperBimmer guest

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    Failing diffs will start to hum and get quite loud. You can also get alot of play in gears, which will also cause an audible clunk.
    I have over 270k on the diff that is in my car, and the only thing that has been changed on it, (other then the oil regularly) was the pinion seal.

    railroader guest

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    Thanks Super-- I'm expecting the same service life or more on my three three five,
    that you referred to on yours. Hope the OP gets his problem sorted out, too.:)

    teamcna guest

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    FYI in my case there was no warning that I am aware of. Just a fairly violent pop during a mild down shift and then several very loud clunks and shudders as I nursed it home. When I drained the oil, I stirred it with a pickup magnet and got a ball of metallic dust the size of a large grape. The magnet pulled 3 or four sheared studs out of the case through the drain hole. I have not done the full autopsy yet.

    I replaced it with a fairly low mileage unit and in hind sight I would say the replacement has much less "play" in on and off throttle transitions. Also I think I was losing a lot of the limited slip in the last few months tending more toward a full lock, rather than an open state. There is no difference in the sound though.

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