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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Sun, Nov-15-2015, 05:02:28 PM   #11
Kieffer87
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Default Re: Rear End Clunk - Play in Axles

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Originally Posted by Vmals89 View Post
Do you think a set of gears can reduce the backlash?
I would think when they install the gears they would adjust backlash. On most differentials you can adjust back lash without replacing gears but being that the M differential components aren't really "serviceable" I'm not sure it's possible, anyone know that answer?
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Old Sun, Nov-15-2015, 05:15:56 PM   #12
EricSMG
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Default Re: Rear End Clunk - Play in Axles

My car has similar rotational play. Entire rear end has new bushings, torqued to spec.

The play is 100% coming from the rear axles and their connection within the diff. Mostly the axles, though. The CVs are worn.

Chas3n replaced his axles and it reduced 90% of his clunk. I think this is normal wear as these cars age.
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Old Mon, Nov-16-2015, 12:48:30 PM   #13
Kieffer87
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Default Re: Rear End Clunk - Play in Axles

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Originally Posted by EricSMG View Post
My car has similar rotational play. Entire rear end has new bushings, torqued to spec.

The play is 100% coming from the rear axles and their connection within the diff. Mostly the axles, though. The CVs are worn.

Chas3n replaced his axles and it reduced 90% of his clunk. I think this is normal wear as these cars age.
Looks like I'll start with axles then...Thanks for all the input guys, I know it's tough to help out when someone just mentions clunk, play, etc.
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Old Mon, Nov-16-2015, 04:08:14 PM   #14
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Default Re: Rear End Clunk - Play in Axles

Do you have leaking axle diff seals? If so, check for radial and axial play on the axle stubs, particularly the passenger side. The passenger side carrier bearing failed on my car, causing a leak, a lot of play and it made the clunk worse.

As I'm sure you know already, these cars clunk even when everything is in good condition. Some people claim it's due to the design of the LSD.
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Old Mon, Nov-16-2015, 11:07:16 PM   #15
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Default Re: Rear End Clunk - Play in Axles

I have an exagerated clunk as well from the passenger side half shaft. I also noticed a slight leak and went ahead and ordered the seal for that side. Upon removing the splined shaft from the diff, I have found metal shavings and the teeth on the splined shaft are being chewed away at the very last 2mm of it. Im not sure if this is the source of the clunk but have not been able to get my old seal out yet and install the new one to see if that cures it. Further, If it does not cure the clunk, I dont know if i need a new splined shaft, a diff rebuild or what.
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Old Tue, Nov-17-2015, 12:05:36 AM   #16
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Default Re: Rear End Clunk - Play in Axles

I just ordered a set of 3.91 gears. Replacing the gears and new shims etc. will hopefully get rid of some of the play. If it doesn't at least I have gears!
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Old Tue, Nov-17-2015, 01:39:16 AM   #17
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Default Re: Rear End Clunk - Play in Axles

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Originally Posted by Kieffer87 View Post
I can tolerate the clunk taking off, it's just the thud and "hop" I get if I let off the gas for a second and then get back on it. Reminds me when I was 16 and first learning to drive a manual transmission.
This! It happens when trying to smoothly take off in 2nd or 3rd rolling at 20-25 mph. I can't seem to drive smoothly, it's either revving hard on 1st to not get hop, or "hopping" in 2nd or 3rd. It almost feels like the car's choking, but the tach is revving just fine. Also get the feeling the tranny or diff are bouncing back and forth (I'll have to check the mounts).

I had my mechanic check the flex disc, and for any other items in need of repair, said it was all good. Maybe I need a second opinion...

Last edited by shossni; Tue, Nov-17-2015 at 01:40:32 AM. Reason: Grammar&Syntax
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Old Tue, Nov-17-2015, 01:46:15 AM   #18
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Default Re: Rear End Clunk - Play in Axles

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Originally Posted by F1Dryvr View Post
I have an exagerated clunk as well from the passenger side half shaft. I also noticed a slight leak and went ahead and ordered the seal for that side. Upon removing the splined shaft from the diff, I have found metal shavings and the teeth on the splined shaft are being chewed away at the very last 2mm of it. Im not sure if this is the source of the clunk but have not been able to get my old seal out yet and install the new one to see if that cures it. Further, If it does not cure the clunk, I dont know if i need a new splined shaft, a diff rebuild or what.
Not good. On mine, the passenger side carrier bearing failed, causing a lot of radial play (side to side), as well as rotational play. I noticed this because of the seal leaking. The only failed component was the carrier bearing, but the diff was taken apart and reassembled with all new bearings and seals. It's much quieter now and the clunk is reduced, although there still is some clunk.
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Old Tue, Nov-17-2015, 03:58:14 PM   #19
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Default Re: Rear End Clunk - Play in Axles

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Originally Posted by Vmals89 View Post
Do you think a set of gears can reduce the backlash?
Sorry about the late reply, I'm not sure if it can be adjusted on stock diffs or not, I would check with a proffesional builder.
U can check for axle play separately, I will be rebuilding my axles soon with new boots and gease, but I will be getting a custom built diff since everything in my rear end has been rebuilt and replaced.
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Old Tue, Nov-17-2015, 04:46:22 PM   #20
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Default Re: Rear End Clunk - Play in Axles

My car has been completely gone through as well and still has bad clunks. One time when I tightened the front diff bushing up it was good and had no clunks, but that didnt last long at all. I think its come loose again.

For more context, it had 4.10 gears when I bought it.
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Discussing Rear End Clunk - Play in Axles in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)