Big drive train issue

Discuss the problems with your X5 (E53).
Edward R-W
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Big drive train issue

Fri Mar 06, 2020 9:41 pm

Just been food shopping and the car is not well. As leaving the car park something in the drive train sounded like it gave way (3.0d auto). When placed in drive, the car starts to rev up when trying to pull away then drive only engages with a short burst. Managed to limp it home but going over 35mph I can feel and hear some mechanical churning noises. What's more likely to be the cause; gearbox, transfer box, other items? I dont know the drive system so I'm just guessing components at the moment I dont even know if they're fitted to the car?
Edd
2004 3.0d 218bhp E53 X5, Black, Cream Leather Interior.
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Re: Big drive train issue

Fri Mar 06, 2020 10:31 pm

I’m sorry to read this. The text after this will not be what you want to read either..... :o :cry: Sorry.

There could be two causes. One sounds awfully like mine a few years ago, and that was the gearbox itself failing after an issue with the torque converter - a part failed and jammed the box oil pump. The loss of pressure wrecked the clutch packs. The car would drive a little in forward but not reverse. It also made horrible metallic noises. The warning lights didn’t come on! As to why it suddenly went at 38k miles, who knows.

Unfortunately it had to have a complete gearbox rebuild. If it is a 2004 facelift version with the 6-speed then it will be the ZF GA26HPZ box.

My advice would be to not drive the car until you have had a gearbox error code read done. I had mine trailered to a BMW garage who diagnosed the box failure and offered to replace (not repair please note) the box for £7k! I declined.

My rebuild was done by A1 Premier Transmissions at Biggleswade. They are a ZF specialist and I used them a couple of years back to rebuild my E46 manual box too. They will recover the car from home (or in my case BMW in Milton Keynes). Driving it will very likely cause more serious damage. In 2008 it cost my warranty company £2,200 for a full rebuild, and I was without the car for a month. You can get exchange boxes for less but will need to remove and fit yourself. It shouldn’t affect the Mechatronics module, but if it does those are about £1,500 on top if a replacement is needed (mine did need it due to swarf ingestion), but that was plain bad luck and is not normally required.

There is another potential cause and that is a broken diff or transfer box, frequently caused by use of the wrong tyres. xDrive cars need tyres marked with an ‘*’ on the sidewall and must have less than 1.5mm difference in tread depth between axles. It’s not a BMW specific issue and is a problem with BMW, Audi, Porsche and Mercedes all of whom have their own specific tyres now for AWD cars. The different sized tyres front/rear need to have matched rolling radii (hence the ‘*’ Mark) or wind-up occurs and in extreme cases that over stresses and breaks the diff or transfer boxes.

It just might be a knackered drive shaft too if the splines have gone. A lot cheaper to fix too.
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Edward R-W
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Re: Big drive train issue

Fri Mar 06, 2020 11:02 pm

Thanks X5sport for taking the time to read. I had put my foot down to pull into a slip road section of the car park as my kids were faffing in the back of the car, went to put it into reverse and all the problems started. I could of done it putting my foot down! Of course you can't see anything underneath as everything in cases. I'm hoping driveshaft, that won't be my luck though!

If a gear box or transfer case needs swapping out, do these need programming to the car? I have read so much in the last hour with talk of boxes and programming etc that I'm lost haha.
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sleepyfolk
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Re: Big drive train issue

Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:19 am

Depends on the year, up to 2003 is the 5HP24 box and that doesn’t need programming, I know because a very nice man did this to it. Full saga here viewtopic.php?t=18645

Find out what’s wrong before you start panicking!
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Re: Big drive train issue

Sat Mar 07, 2020 9:08 am

As you have the 218bhp it’s the 6-sp ZF box in my original reply. As above, get a code read done first. The box is the expensive issue but it gets cheaper with the other possible faults and it is fixable :)

Mine went when pulling out too. If I remember correctly it was a plastic part in the Sprag Clutch in the TC that broke and somehow got into the oil pump. I could not see anything underneath and there were no leaks. The issues were identified when a code read was done at the Dealer and showed two clutch packs and two brake packs had failed meaning no more ‘drive’.

If it’s a box change then you don’t need any programming done because the Mechatronics module can just be swapped over if it’s OK. It is screwed to the bottom of the box. If it does need changing then A1 took the part only to a Bosch Autocentre in Hitchin (I think) who blew the relevant BMW programming into its ‘brain’ and that takes just a few minutes. That is only needed if it is a new Mech unit, or the replacement was sourced from another non-BMW car. That box was used in all sorts of vehicles.

The ZF major rebuild kit wasn’t expensive (£250 from memory) with a new oil pump, seals, fluids and a new TC coming to about £750. It was the 18 hours of labour that added up. It did come with a 12-month warranty and a service after 1,000 miles to make sure all was well.

Not the news you wanted I am sure :cry:
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Edward R-W
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Re: Big drive train issue

Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:18 am

I've got a mechanic I use coming to look at it Tuesday, spoke to him and he said he will look at it first but if it's a gearbox he'll pass it on to a specialist he knows. If it's a loose drive shaft, prop shaft etc he should be able to do it. That's the worry is the man hours at a specialist will cost more than the box itself. Oh well onwards and upwards! Who said owning cars was a cheap hobby anyhow? Hopefully I'll get some pictures off people and I'll keep this thread updated with what happens.
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Re: Big drive train issue

Tue Mar 10, 2020 11:56 am

Looks like I have a broken gearbox, the AA and a mechanic I use both said its gearbox. The questions I'm now asking myself is whether it's worth getting the car repaired or not? I'm getting quoted £1800/£2000 plus vat to repair the box. I'm also concerned the car has an electrical drain somewhere as I put in a new battery and that drained. Really not sure what to do at this point. Argh!
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Re: Big drive train issue

Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:34 pm

That is a sore one to be honest and with a car that age and value you have to weigh up whether its worth repairing. That is the reason many are broken for parts. I suppose you have to decide on how long you will keep it for and what is its condition other than that. If you were to keep it for a few years and it is otherwise in good condition then that outlay may be worth it.....its a hard choice.

The other option is to find another box which is often cheaper than repairing a faulty one. The only issue here is knowing the condition of the donor box.

To put it into perspective, I have a 2003 E53 3.0d which is in great condition and drives faultlessly with no smoke rattles or bangs. It has however 206,000 miles on it and the abs light is now showing. Realistically to sell it, it is only worth around £1200 due to the mileage. If I had the space I would break it for parts achieving a good bit more.
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Re: Big drive train issue

Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:39 pm

Mine was worth doing because I’d already put a fair amount of work into the car and planned to keep it for a while, and what else would I get if I spent the gearbox money on another car - just another unknown entity so I thought it was better to repair but it’s a tricky one
Edward R-W
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Re: Big drive train issue

Tue Mar 10, 2020 6:38 pm

Thanks guys. I've bitten the bullet and called up A1 premier transmissions to come and collect it and take it away for repair. I was contemplating whether to sell it as spares but as you guys have mentioned, I dont truly know what I would be buying to replace it.
I have concerns that I also have a bloody electrical problem it but I will deal with that another day haha. Fingers crossed this isn't the start to a BMW shaped money pit!
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Re: Big drive train issue

Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:48 pm

So an update, I've just spoke to the garage (A1 premier transmissions in biggleswade), last week Thursday I was told the box was knackered and needed a rebuild. I hadn't heard anything more and with coronavirus shutting everything down I thought best to give them a call. Looks like the box isn't actually the problem but the rear diff instead. The car is in the workshop but as all the staff are being sent home and to not return I dont know the full extent of the damage and dont really know when they will know either. Oh fun and games haha. Again as a novice in the car world I wasnt aware that (I was told?) the e53 is rear wheel drive until grip is required then it becomes 4 wheel drive, it's not permanent 4 wheel drive and the rear diffs are problematic? I was hoping this may be a cheaper fix than a gearbox rebuilt but no idea now lol. Onwards and upwards.
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Re: Big drive train issue

Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:43 pm

The usual cause for diff failure is either the wrong tyres or a tread depth difference of more than about 1.5mm front/rear. Rear diff failure is not unusual, though rather than gearbox failure.

The drive varies in ratio terms with speed but I think it starts off as AWD 40:60%, or something like that, and then shifts progressively to 10:90% front to rear for cars fitted with xDrive (post 2003 facelift). Loss of grip causes a shift to the axle with grip. The original X5s (99-03) were permanent 4WD with a fixed ratio as they didn’t have xDrive.

At least it isn’t the box so should be cheaper. Unfortunate timing with Coronavirus shutting everything down. I need new tyres on the car and have the same issue. Everywhere shutting down for at least the next three weeks.
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Edward R-W
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Re: Big drive train issue

Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:30 pm

Not long after buying the car I had all the tyres replaced at the same time so the treads should be pretty even across them all, unless something is causing uneven wear but I hadn't noticed anything. I'm not fully convinced the garage know the full extent of the problem but I wont be harassing them in these uncertain times, no point making enemies for nothing! If the costs aren't too bad and they already have the car I might just get them service the box whilst it's there...
Edd
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Re: Big drive train issue

Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:52 am

Hi Ed, I had an electrical drain on mine and traced it down to the cigarette lighter....pulled that out and no more drain ....worth a try.
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Re: Big drive train issue

Wed Mar 25, 2020 8:24 am

The damage could have been done before you bought the car and has just been waiting to happen, or it could just be one of those things.

If I remember correctly, the box is interrogated separately via different software. When mine failed it said something like Clutch A and B ‘implausible’ and another error on a brake set. That told them that the box was knackered.

Mine was sent there by Warranty Direct. At one time their yard had about 90 BMWs in it with failed auto-boxes whereas last summer it had a couple (both SMG equipped E46 M3s) with the rest being VW/Audi with DSG or Haldex axle failures on 4x4 variants of those cars. They were ‘less than complimentary’ about the DSG system. It’s one of the reasons I ditched the Mk3 Superb - that was the worst ‘auto’ I have ever driven.
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