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BMW E46 Axle CV Boot Replacement 325xi 330xi

Axle boot failure is a very common issue with BMW E46 325xi and 330xi cars and if not taken care of in time can lead to a CV joint failure.  If you catch the boot failure in time you can usually swap out the boots and avoid the expense of replacing the entire axle shaft.  Original GKN axles are well made except for the boots and can last well over 200K miles.  To do this job you will need the inner boot kit part number 31607507402,  the outer boot kit part number 31607565315, axle shaft seals 33107505601, a liter of 75W-90 differential fluid 83229407768 and two differential drain plugs 33117525064. 

1.  Jack up the car, remove the under panels, remove the wheel and drain the differential fluid.

2.  Remove the brake caliper with bracket by removing the two bolts at the back of the spindle. 

BMW E46 325xi Removing Brake Caliper

3.  Hang the caliper on the strut to avoid damage to the brake line.

BMW E46 Hanging Brake Caliper to avoid damage

4.  Remove the brake disk set screw and remove the brake disk.

BMW E46 325xi Removing the Brake Rotor

5. Unscrew and pull the ABS sensor out of the spindle. 

BMW E46 325xi Removing Front ABS Sensor

6.  Remove the two bolts that hold the inner control arm ball joint to the subframe.

BMW E46 325xi Removing Inner Control Arm Ball Joint

7.  Remove the two bolts that hold the control arm bushing to the subframe. 

BMW E46 325xi Removing Control Arm Bushing Bracket

8.  Unscrew the tie rod from the spindle or from the steering rack.  You will need a tie rod puller to separate the tie rod ball joint from the spindle.  I unscrewed the tie rod from the steering rack in this case, because the steering rack boot had  to be replaced.

BMW E46 325xi Unbolting the Tie Rod from Steering Rack

9.  Using a long screwdriver or something similar, pop the axle shaft out of the differential. 

BMW E46 Removing Axle Shaft from Differential 

10.   Remove the bolt that holds the strut to the spindle. 

BMW E46 325Xi Unbolting Strut from Steering Knuckle

11.  Remove the entire assembly (axle shaft, control arm and tie rod) out of the car.

BMW E46 325xi Suspension Removed  

12.  Now you can start disassembling the axle shaft in order to replace the boots.  It is a messy job so be sure to have some rubber gloves and plenty of paper towels. 

Start out by removing the tripod bearing housing.  Once you remove the tripod bearing out of the housing you will need to knock off the three bearings.  Use a piece of wood and just whack the bearings from the back.  The bearings should come off without too much effort.

BMW E46 325xi Axle Shaft Tripod Bearings

13.  Now you will need to remove the rest of the tripod joint.  Remove the circlip using the appropriate circlip pliers.

BMW E46 Axle Shaft Tripod Bearing Removal

14.  Tripod joint is pressed on to the axle shaft so you will need to ether use a press or a gear puller to get it off.  I used a press but a gear puller should work just fine, it isn't on there very tight.

BMW E46 325xi Pressing off tripod joint

15.  Remove the outer boot, clean the outer CV joint with a clean rag.  If the boot failed completely and CV joint got dirt in it, you might want to wash it out completely with solvent.

BMW E46 325xi Outer CV-Joint

16.  Repack the outer CV joint with new grease that came with your GKN boot kit and reinstall the boot using new clamps.

BMW E46 325xi Outer CV-Joint Greased

17.  Install the outer CV boot and press on the tripod bearing, don't forget to install a new circlip that came in the boot kit.  I used a hammer and a block of wood to reinstall the tripod bearing.  To reinstall the 3 tripod roller bearings, whack them with a block of wood and they should snap back onto the joint.  Pack the new inner boot with 3 packs of grease that were included in a kit.

BMW E46 325xi AxleTripod Joint Installed

18.  You will need to reuse a part of the old inner boot in order to seal a new boot up against the axle shaft housing.  In some cases the part that you need to reuse will need to be trimmed.  Please see the picture:

BMW E46 325xi Axle Boot Trimmed

19.  Because the new inner axle boots are made of some kind of plastic you will need to use some RTV silicone to seal the new boot against the rubber part you are reusing from the old boot.

BMW E46 325xi Axle Boot Sealed

20.  Reassemble the axle using new clamps that came with your boot kit and a new clip that locks the axle inside the differential.

BMW E46 325xi Axle Shaft reassembled

21.  Remove and install a new differential axle seal.

BMW E46 325xi Differential Seal Replacement

22.  Slide the axle into the differential and make sure you feel it click and lock in place.  Reinstall everything in the reverse order and don't forget to fill the differential with 75W-90 gear oil. 

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