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Old 09-28-2009, 03:21 PM   #1
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BMW vehicle issue no one has been able to solve..... can you !??!?!?

We own a 2002 X5 3.0i tiptronic. Weíve owned the thing since new and all the maintenance/service is up to date including inspection I and II. Mileage is 149,000 km.

The issue weíre having is this. In the last year to year and a half, thereís been a faint ticking noise present that seems to come from behind the centre of the dash. Itís now gotten louder and more noticeable. Weíve been in and out of the dealerships and no one can figure it out. Weíve also been into the independents with no luck. Thereís some speculation that itís in the driveline somewhere. Brakes were recently all changed (pads and rotors) and nothing particular arose during that inspection either. And there's been no noticable performance chnages in the vehicle.

Here are the facts Iíve been able to note about this ticking sound over the last year.
  • Itís definitely speed related. Faster you go, the faster the ticking sound.
  • Ticking is not present while the vehicle is at a stand-still
  • You apply the brakes while driving and the ticking noise goes away
  • You shift the transmission into neutral while driving and the ticking goes away.
  • The ticking is not always present. We can go for days without hearing it. I have not been able to trigger it under any specific conditions.
  • There are no leaks observed.

Originally many thought it might be a bearing, but after this much time, something like an outer bearing would be nasty sounding, especially when cornering..... which is not the case here. Similar I guess with any bearing in the'd think after this much time it would stop ticking and start skreeching or something.

How about a relay? Well, not sure how that would be speed related or go away when you put on the brakes or shift into neutral. So a relay doesnít seem likely.

Torque converter?
Transfer case?
Front half shafts?
Front differential?

If anyone has any ideas, regardless of how nutz, please toss them out here. I appreciate any thoughts on this matter. Iíve posted for a few months on which is all X5 related stuff and no one has had this issue. So I'm not sure where to look anymore........... and bringing it into the Stealership will be another waste of money as they had no idea previously either........ and I had to pay money for that wonderful advice. Mind you, they did wash the X5 for that hundred and something bucks.
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Old 09-28-2009, 03:42 PM   #2
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Sounds like some play in the drive line, such as in a half-shaft or something like that. It could be in any part. You have no noise when
there is no load between the tranny and wheels, or if you load it up by putting on the brakes. Is the sound usually gone when accelerating? I bet it is. It probably is worse when just driving around with light load on the drive line. Is that correct?
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Old 09-28-2009, 04:20 PM   #3
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i will have to check that out under acceleration but the rest seems about right
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Old 09-29-2009, 07:40 AM   #4
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MARKD - You are correct. The ticking disappears under heavier acceleration. And the ticking is definitely worse under light load.

When you say there's play in the driveline somewhere such as the half shafts, what exactly are you thinking it may be. Reason I'm asking is the more information I have in hand, the better I feel about returning somewhere to have this checked again for the millionth time.
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:09 AM   #5
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I am not familiar with the X3 transmission but I don't think it's a bearing, but it could be.

>>> I have not been able to trigger it under any specific conditions.

I think you can now trigger it, if you transition from acceleration to light load.

Any part of the driveline that actually transfers the torque to the wheels could cause this once there is excessive "play" (wear) in that part. So it could be a bearing, but I don't think a bearing would make a ticking sound but maybe it would. I'm thinking half-shafts since that is a part that can make ticking/clicking sounds when they wear. It's really hard for me to diagnose further.

One last guess, but it's just a really wild one: pull out the ABS controller and see if this sound completely goes away. If so, it's not in the driveline, but something wrong with the ABS. If there is a separate DSC module, try removing that also. As I said, just something to try.

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Old 09-29-2009, 10:23 AM   #6
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Hmmmmmmmmm, I'll try and see if I can trigger it. I don't remember if I tried that combination of acceleration and unloading into a coast. I'll try that tonite.

A friend of mine with an '04 3.0i X5 was having a bunch of ABS/DSC issues. Although his resulted in the warning lights being activated. I've never had the warning lights come on. Your idea of checking out the ABS is a possibility, however I think your first line of thought maybe closer to the issue as if it's an ABS problem, why when shifting out into neutral would the ticking stop right away......... unless there's something triggered there with traction control in the DSC ??? I'm no mechanic, so I'm just learning and guessing here.

BTW, thanks for the input so far. It's been actually helpful.
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Old 09-29-2009, 12:08 PM   #7
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As mentioned above: I suspect a half shaft. I have had a similar problem with my GTI when it started wearing. it would come and go depending on driving/weather conditions. Colder to warmer, heavy or light driving. CV joints would make such a sound - under excessive wear they have crunching sound when turning hard in a stop position. I would suspect you can't hear the ticking under heavy acceleration due to the engine noise. As the vehicle moves faster it makes sense that less weight load is on it. As you slow, the ticking returns due to resting weight. is this nutz enough? (grin)

Personally I'd wait it out to see if it gets progressively worse before spending anymore money. no point in hoping something is wrong and it not being the case. Sometimes utter failure is the best remedy.

good luck.

I think I've had 14 bmw's in 4 years.
2 IX's -sold and parts
2 325i 4 dr - sold
4 318is all white - sold and parts
1 87 325is red - parts
1 89 325i vert grey - parts
1 90 325is white - keepin
1 87 325i vert -red - keepin
latest addition 1 88-325is red - parts
latest addition 1 89-325i vert - white -fixin/sold
latest addition 1 92-318i vert - blue - parts
latest addition 1 87 325is blk - parts.

latest addition as of 2013-Gold 87-325is auto! it's a keeper!
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Old 09-29-2009, 04:19 PM   #8
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Any chance tranny mounts are shot?
E39 540i Sport
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:06 PM   #9
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Before reading everyone else's replies, I too would think it's a CV joint on one of your half shafts. Like Ceeker said, let it get worse and it should be easier to diagnose... but then again, we both drive E30's, so we wait until it gets WWAAAYYY worse before we actually do anything about it... gotta get out money's worth out of all the parts.

Originally Posted by richie_s999 View Post
Grow up and move on.
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Old 09-29-2009, 08:11 PM   #10
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Sorry I'm too impatient to read every word, so I apologize if this has been addressed but what part of the car does the ticking frequency appear to be in harmony with? The valve train, engine, transmission, wheels? Should be reasonably obvious which. If it's higher than wheel frequency, try shifting up and down at a constant speed, see if the ticking frequency changes. If it doesn't, you've eliminated everything forward of the transmission (or the converse).
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Old 09-29-2009, 08:17 PM   #11
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Trust me once. Really.

take your car to Autobhan East, Ajax.

Mark is a super great guy! I am damn serious. (webpage)

Trust me he fixed many things that Dearship and other shop can't even determine what is causing the problem.
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:57 PM   #12
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That's a head scratcher almost unbelievable. Here's my bizarre contribution: maybe there's something loose and light thingy (wire?) hitting a metal part down there. Sound pitch changes at varying speed. I said bizarre didnt I
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:41 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the input guys................ we've actually been waiting this out for over a year now to see how bad it gets. It's been very very slowly getting worse. And I'm getting tired of waiting it out. The annoyance has worn me out. I need to get this one fixed soon.

To address one of the points Creeker made, there's no change in the tick when cornering or any new noises.

I have a good independent that can look at it but they are not available until next week. I was trying to find out as much as I can prior to going back into any garage.................... and blowing more money to get the old shoulder shrug again.
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:00 AM   #14
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I deal with strange noises ALL the time in peoples cars.
This sounds distinctly like either a slight exhaust header leak, or preignition.

Since your noise isnt heard at idle, or standstill, it makes it difficult to diagnose. A driveline or bearing noise is very rarely described as a 'ticking', I would look elsewhere.
The brakes have been changed. Recheck the brakes... were OEM parts used?

Many header leaks are only noticed when driving beside a wall with the windows down, or under light load. A good way to check for this condition, is to have a friend hold a few rags over the exhaust tips, plugging it as best as he can, while the engine is running. This increases exhaust pressure, similarly to light load conditions.

What brand/grade of gas are you using?
Preignition will cause the noise your describing. This could be caused by an out of date PCM strategy, a faulty sensor, carbon buildup in the cylinders or .... low quality fuel.
Engine ping in newer vehicles is more common than you would think, and not always an easy fix.
Many OEM dealers can actually adjust the octane rating a vehicle can use.

Try filling up with some Shell premium fuel and see if it goes away. If this doesnt fix it, be prepared to demosnstrate the problem to your BMW dealer, and insist it be fixed.
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Old 09-30-2009, 08:10 AM   #15
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I don't believe it's either of the two mentioned above due to the duration of time this has been occurring for. Any exhaust header leak that I've dealt with in the past has never ticked like this. And an exhaust header leak would be more consistent.

I'm using 94 gas.

I don't think this is pre-ignition either.

I'd luv to take it back to the stealership and demand they fix it but an '02 x5 is worth about $17K on the used market. If I took that attitude, the bill they'd force feed me would be worth more then the vehicles value very quickly.......

Thanks for the ideas though
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