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      10-11-2022, 04:14 PM   #1

Drives: 2011 BMW X3 F25 28i
Join Date: Oct 2022
Location: Chula Vista, Ca.

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Thumbs up SOLVED: 2011 BMW X3 F25 28i Transfer Box / Shuddering at Low Speed (137K Miles)

Hey all,

Figured I would post this on a BMW forum to hopefully help someone out in the future. I have just recently acquired a good friend's used 2011 BMW X3 F25 28i and have been working to restore it to "reliable commuter status". It's a long story (see below) but he was initially convinced that his X3 had a bad transmission because it was shuddering while turning at low speed (pulling into parking spots, driving in parking lots, etc.).

TLDR; Drained and inspected the transfer case fluid, it was PITCH BLACK (the worst I've seen) but no chunks of metal, refilled with fresh Triax DTF-1 fluid, used a bidirectional programmer to perform the relearn function on the transfer box, problem appears to be fixed.

The rest of the story....

My friend took it to one independent shop (that works on BMW, Mercedes and Audi) who changed the transmission fluid for him and told him if it didn't solve the issue that he would need to replace the transmission.

Now, I'm a Jeep guy, try to do as much work on my own vehicles as possible and I needed a commuter. After hearing all of this, test driving the car and doing some research (using the internet as well as calling and visiting *3* local independent BMW only shops) on the symptoms it was obvious this was a driveline issue and not transmission related. I even mentioned this to my friend (and actually tried to talk him out of getting rid of the car) and he still wanted to sell the car (He bought a new M based X4 -- this may have been the real reason he was done with the X3). He made me a deal I couldn't refuse, so to speak, so I jumped at it and started working through the various issues a 137K mile N52 BMW has (replaced the valve cover and oil cooler seals which were leaking, replaced the serpentine belt and tensioner, cleaned and then decided to replace the vanos solenoids to sort out a rough cold start idle, etc.)

I pretty much worked my way down to the driveline issues over the last few weeks. The three local BMW shops I spoke to all agreed on two things:

1) It's definitely transfer case related
2) We are happy to sell you / install one for you

None of them suggested to simply change the fluid and put the box through the re-learn procedure. (although one did agree that this first step was a reasonable one after I suggested that I was going to try that first.

Things I tried that DIDN'T fix the shuddering issues before changing the fluid:

1) Inspected the drive shafts. I found the ujoint in the front DS was beginning to fail and found a new (serviceable replacement on amazon) and swapped it.
2) Performed only the transfer box relearn procedure
3) Sorted out the rough idle

The fluid cost me ~$36 (Triax DTF-1) and the programmer was $129 (Elite Launch BMW Creader). Both were purchased on Amazon. I also purchased the replacement front driveshaft on amazon (and quite frankly it appears to be better made than the BMW equivalent and has the advantage of being serviceable.

Let me tell you...if you're being told (by experts) that you need to replace your transfer box (at least in the Gen 2 F25 based X3) you have nothing to lose trying a fluid change and relearn procedure first. If you can jack your BMW up and get it safely on all four jack stands, you can do this job yourself.


PS: I've posted this on one other BMW related board; both forums were used when I was researching this issue along with the other n52 common issues I was working through. Really appreciate helpful communities like this and hope this helps someone in the future.

PPS: Please move this to the Gen 2 area. Apologies to the mods! :facepalm:
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      03-04-2023, 09:14 PM   #2
First Lieutenant

Drives: 335is
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Michigan

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many people underestimate of changing transfer case and transmission fluid. My good friend uses "life time fluid" talking point on me all the time. he tells me that I waste money when I change transmission and transfer case fluids at every 60k miles.
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