BMW DIY – How To Remove Front Axle X6, X5, X3, X1, 3-Series and 5-Series xi and ix Models
This answer is applicable for many BMWs in addition to the one listed below.
car year: 2005 car model: X5 4.4i Do you have info on replacing the front axle shaft boots ( or axles )? What is involved? Are special tools required? Do you recommend just replacing boots (98K miles ) or replacing entire shaft?
When you encounter a torn axle boot (front or rear), you do indeed have the option to replace the boot or replace the complete axle. In order to replace a torn axle boot, the complete axle must be removed from the vehicle. At this point, a complete new axle can just be installed or, for less cost, the faulty boot can be replaced on the original axle assembly. So, you ask, “why would anyone replace the complete axle if it is in working order and costs more than just replacing one or two of the boots?”. Good question. Replacing the boot requires full disassembly of the axle C/V joint. While this is not terribly difficult, it can be tedious and messy. Some DIYers would prefer to just slip the complete new axle back into place. Additionally, the old axle does have the wear of however many miles have been put on the vehicle and installing a new axle means the wear mileage is starting over at zero. Either way, if the torn axle boot is not taken care of, the lubricating grease for the joint will be expelled and dirt and moisture will enter …. quickly wearing the joint, resulting in need for complete axle replacement.
In order to replace the front axle boots or the complete axle assemblies on most four wheel drive BMWs, you can proceed (in a general manner) as follows (the applicable Bentley repair manual will detail the specific steps for a given chassis/model). The very general procedures noted below will work for most models. In most cases, it is not necessary to fully remove the strut assembly.
1) Raise and support the front of the vehicle so that both front wheels are off the ground.
2) Remove the wheel (on the side that is being serviced).
3) Remove any underside splash panels and/or cross-bracing that may impede access to the inner axle joint.
4) Remove brake caliper from caliper mounting bracket and disconnect the fluid hose mounting grommet from the strut wire and hose bracket. Set the caliper aside using a piece of wire or cord to support it.
5) Remove the ABS wheel speed sensor from the hub. It is not necessary to fully remove the sensor assembly, just remove the sensor head from the hub.
3) Remove the outer axle-end securing nut.
4) Disconnect the swaybar link from the control arm or the strut housing (depending on the model), or from the swaybar end.
5) Disconnect the control arm ball joint(s) from the lower end of the strut/hub assembly.
6) Disconnect the outer tie-rod end from the strut/hub assembly.
7) Using a hub mount threaded press or a larger two or three jaw gear puller, press the axle end out of the hub. As you are pressing, the hub and strut assembly will move outward, away from the axle end. In some cases you may be able to push the axle end out of the hub, by hand. Do not hammer on the end of the axle.
8) Use a prybar to gently pry the inboard axle joint housing out of the differential output bearing housing. You may have just a bit of fluid leakage as the axle is removed.
9) Remove the axle from the vehicle.
Once the axle is removed, the C/V joint must be disassembled in order to replace the boot. We would recommend that you use the applicable Bentley repair manual for details of these steps. See the blog post in the link below for the VERY basic procedures.