88 535is noises and issues

E28 technical advice asked and given! Troubleshooting, modifications and more.
Kowalskicw
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Joined: Aug 29, 2020 8:56 AM
Location: Minnesota

88 535is noises and issues

Post by Kowalskicw »

Hey everyone new to the classic BMW game here and I noticed that when driving in gear and letting off the throttle I get a whirring noise in the drive-line. Normally I'd dive into replacing things and ruling things out but I wanted to take it on a long cruise next weekend so I brought it to my local shop I like. He said the front bearing on the rear differential is going and the center support bearing for the drive shaft is iffy and the u-joint. Does the rear end bearing sound right? He wanted something like $1200 assuming he'd have to replace other parts while in there. Is the center bearing and u-joint easy to replace? I'm going to get it up on wheel cribs for the winter soon and start going to town, just didn't know if it was worth having them do the work or trying myself.
When I hammer down I get a good thunk in the rear too...thinking the dog bones? PO left me brand new high quality ones so assume he knew they were bad.
There is a host of other things. 3 of the 4 ball joints in the front suspension are bad saying the entire arm needs to be replaced not just the ball joint? Front sway bar end links are both bad
exhaust has many leaks...might just replace whole system
PO also left me upper bump stops from front or rear shocks? I've never dealt with these but he obviously thought they needed replacing.
Host of weird electrical problems. drivers side rear brake/driving light and blinkers don't work, but front blinker does. All other lights seem to work.
Any insight before I do something stupid and spend money I don't need to is appreciated.
Mike W.
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Mike W. »

Hard to say on the whirring, although it's possible. Personally I would look for a good used replacement diff rather than replace the bearing.

The center support and bearing are generally replaced as an assembly and are some work, but not too bad. U joints however are staked in place, not held with circlips and not really practical to replace yourself, although the typical symptom for bad U joints is a shudder on acceleration, they usually get stiff and notchy long before they develop any real play. The procedure is to buy a rebuilt driveshaft. Neither the driveshaft nor the diff are likely to leave you stranded without plenty of advance warning.

E28 front ends are notoriously sensitive and like to shimmy. The ball joints are not replaceable separately so yes, you do need to replace the entire arm. Use quality parts, generally Lemforder or Meyle or you'll likely be doing it again soon. Clunk is unlikely to be related to dogbones. Aux spring/overload I wouldn't bother with unless I was in there, kind of a nice to have but not super essential.
Kowalskicw
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Kowalskicw »

Well I got my car and estimates back and this is turning out to be a nightmare in the making. Added up everything suspension and driveline wise and I'm looking at $4600. Of course I can do many things myself over winter, but the rear end I cannot and the driveshaft sounds like I need a new rebuilt one. I bought this thing for $5k and looking like I need another 3-4k just to make it frickin safe enough for me and my kids to rip around in. Very sad day here.
ABS rear sensor and axle flange and wheel bearing - $825
Rebuild differential with front and rear and inner and outter bearings and other wheel bearing and driveshaft - $2535
Front suspension all control arms and sway bar links and alignment - $1285
bout to faint. I knew this car would be sorta expensive hobby....but just to make it safe...ill
Mike W.
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Mike W. »

Parts while not as common as they used to be are still out there and people right here parting cars. Get a used diff, they rarely fail so for a hundred or two, and maybe an upgraded ratio, and an afternoon you can save a couple of thou. Sounds like a rear wheel bearing, just get a used trailing arm, it's gotta be a late one, sensors are different, but not expensive and not hard to do. Front end including alignment you can do for about half that if you do the work yourself.

These cars can be inexpensive to run, but not if you're taking it into a shop.
tn535i
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by tn535i »

Well first my car whirs one tune when you accelerate and another when you decel and it's being doing that for about 5-6 years or maybe more.

I would NOT trust the mechanic's conclusions in this case. He's giving you too many similar diagnosis and parts to replace. You whirring sound is far more likely to be driveshaft and center support bearing or wheel bearing. Lucky if d/s lasts more than 150-200k, wheel bearing probably longer and diff should last lifetime. The diff while it rarely goes bad, should have the fluid changed and then see if the whir changes. You need to drop the exhaust to do the d/s so do them both at the same time. $500 for d/s with all the associated parts and not too bad DIY. Wheel bearing $150 if you have access to some of the right tools.

The front end parts are not really sold except for replacement arms with ball joints in them but when replacing you want an upgraded upper control arm bushing. You can search that. There is ONLY toe in on these vehicles. Replace the parts yourself after seeing how people describe doing it all then get a toe only alignment and negotiate a lower price or just do it yourself as described by some here.

Get the ETM at wedophones and learn to track down those electrical gremlins.

You could have this and more under your belt for <$2500.
Kowalskicw
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Location: Minnesota

Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Kowalskicw »

Thanks guys. I'll start with stuff I know I can do and work up the courage to do the rear end over winter. I'll start tracking some stuff down and get familiar with my Bentley manual!
cek
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by cek »

The rule is "Expect to spend $3000 (used to be $2000) to baseline any used E28 regardless of the condition promised by the seller."

However, I'm with Mike & tn535i that you can fix your ills for a lot less with a little of your own blood, sweat, and tears.
Dana in Reno
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Dana in Reno »

This is good advice. A 535is is a great car, but e28s are at the age where all but the best examples will need work.

The front end issues you describe are common on e28s and need to be addressed for safety. Replacing the driveshaft center support and the exhaust are also normal maintenance items. The symptoms you describe don't sound like the u-joint is bad, though.

I wouldn't entertain rebuilding the differential, either. It's not unusual for differentials to make noise on any old car, but they can do that for years without causing any other problem. Try putting fresh oil in the diff and see if the noise goes away.
Kowalskicw
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Location: Minnesota

Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Kowalskicw »

Well I'm going to start with the drive shaft center bearing thing and differential oil change and rear hubs as the shop told me one is going for sure. Got the valve cover off for valve adjustment right now just need a 36mm socket to turn motor over slowly. Installed a new trunk seal this weekend as well. I'll get to the suspension soon. Need the rear muffler or some custom exhaust work done while doing the driveshaft. I just wanna drive it! But I want it safe first.
Blue Shadow
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Blue Shadow »

Post the full list with the mechanic's comments and we can tell you what the general opinion of that issue is. As stated there were a few items that can be put off for years

These cars have certain lifetimes for different parts and knowing your mileage and such will allow folks to tell you if a part is gonna last much longer or not based on decades of experience.

With the list of what needs to be done folks can put out some helpful info to get this ride out there safely ripping around with the kids.
tn535i
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by tn535i »

Safe is relative to speed IMO. The things you describe make me think it is safe for around town and taking kids to school or ice cream for sure. 80+ on freeway maybe not but then again I would be more concerned about tires than some mechanical noises. I've had them all like front end wiggles when braking, wheel bearings that growl a bit, d/s that shook on acceleration and vibrated at higher speed... none of those things made my car feel unsafe, just reminder it needed attention and not to let it go too long. As I said I think I have a rear end that makes noise right now and has for many years and it has not really changed. I don't believe it is unsafe. I put new tires on my car earlier this year because I felt the old tires were unsafe in the wet. I made a couple 'higher' speed runs on those new tires and I felt 'safer' than before ;)

My advice on a high mileage d/s... don't go to the trouble to pull it all out just to do the c/b. It's too much work and I would put in a rebuilt d/s. I think if you have 150-200 k miles on the u-joints you got most of the life from them.
Kowalskicw
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Kowalskicw »

Alright so I checked all my valve lash and here are my findings. I know lifters and there has to be one or a valve bent cause it just doesn't sound quite right. From front to back. I=Intake E+Exhaust. Weird thing is they all seem just a bit too tight according to specs? but 2 of them felt loose by hand wiggle feeler gauge haha. Cam looks great and has a giant M on it?
I - .010" E - .010"
I - .012" E - .012"
I - .010" E - .010"
I - .010" E - .010"
I - .010" E - .010"
I - .012" E - .010"
So mechanic notes:
front control arms and sway bar links worn/loose. rear axle pivot links binding(dog bones? which I have a brand new set to put in)
rear pinion bearings noisy, bearings around differential all showing signs of wear and feeling loose.
Cost break down
-right rear axle tone ring broken causing erratic speed signals and low speed ABS issues, replace rear drive axle flange and wheel bearing - $823
-differential pinion inner and outer bearing cone, differential pinion outer bearing cup, differential bearing cup, differential bearing, left wheel bearing, differential pinion seal outer rear axle and driveshaft rear - $2535 basically rebuilding differential and replacing driveshaft
-control arm with ball joint lowers both, control arm with ball joint uppers both and sway bar links and alignment - $1285
This doesn't include my exhaust having several leaks and is straight piped after the mid muffler-too loud
I still have to figure out photo hosting.
Thank you guys for your help!
Image
Image
Blue Shadow
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Blue Shadow »

Nice high numbers there.

Replace diff and save on all the diff rebuild...a few hundred
Need a tone ring on the car for abs to work so maybe replace a trailing arm...a couple hundred for one. Or replace the rear hub on the trailing arm.
Driveshaft, gotta see the issues before I replace it.

Front steering (center track rod, left and right tie rods and idler) are 125,000 miles parts if you use the good stuff. I replace the idler arm bushing not the arm itself. Center track rod last longer than the tie rod ends. Rods are cheaper than a pair of ends.

Control arms, lower controls the shimmy when going to the brakes. That bushing in the body gets beat to death and there are work arounds.

A grand maybe, and some wrenching.
Mike W.
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Mike W. »

A curious side note on the M30 engine is for the first 12 years or so the valve specs were .010-.012, so being at .010 isn't much of a big deal. If there is visible wear on the cam it's almost always at the very front lobe.

Agree with Blue Shadow on the trailing arm, replacing it with a used one is a ton less work than changing the bearing. Just get a clean one from someplace that's likely rust free, even if shipping costs more.
Kowalskicw
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Kowalskicw »

Thanks for the info. Wouldn't buying a used diff just create the same problem shortly with unknown abuse possibly on it? If it's what everyone seems to do that's the route I'll go just seems like you're asking for it to happen again.
I'll try to grab a video of the valve sounds after I put it back together. It really has quite the lifter tick. It just seems like one is really making a decent amount of noise compared to the rest but none seemed out of spec. It goes with the rpm too. Anyway I'll start looking for parts!
kojo96
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by kojo96 »

Get a stethoscope, even a cheap harbor freight one and listen to the injectors. They can make noise like valves out of wack. Should hear a quiet pulsing sound, bet one or two could be clacking, you'll immediately notice the difference.
Mike W.
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Mike W. »

Kowalskicw wrote: Sep 14, 2020 11:53 PM Thanks for the info. Wouldn't buying a used diff just create the same problem shortly with unknown abuse possibly on it? If it's what everyone seems to do that's the route I'll go just seems like you're asking for it to happen again.
It's true you never really know, but diff's aren't a common problem. Not quite like winning the lottery twice, although I know a guy who did, but along those lines. The odds are strongly in your favor.
I'll try to grab a video of the valve sounds after I put it back together. It really has quite the lifter tick. It just seems like one is really making a decent amount of noise compared to the rest but none seemed out of spec. It goes with the rpm too. Anyway I'll start looking for parts!
As Kogo said, injectors can mimic valves in their sound, so keep that in mind. Also it's easy to hit the beginning of the cam ramp when the valve is closed, it starts before you would think it would and just a couple of thou will result in a noisy valve. So pay attention to exactly where the cam lobes are when adjusting them.
Kowalskicw
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Kowalskicw »

Ok I'll double check my valves again tonight and make sure they are each 180deg away from the lifter. I'll put it all back together and start unplugging an injector at a time and see if that noise goes away. If it's that I'll get some new injectors. They are already mustang injectors. I have the original ones from the PO but they don't look great.
Kowalskicw
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Location: Minnesota

Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Kowalskicw »

Well I rechecked all my valves individually at 180deg from the rocker and they are all .010 except one was .012 so for the heck of it I adjusted it to .010 to match the rest. Put it all back together and tonight I'll check the injectors assuming what I did didn't fix the tick I'm hearing. I'll keep this updated.
Kowalskicw
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Kowalskicw »

So my next problem which I started to cover on the gen conv page was my crank no start issue. The majority of the time I cannot get it to start. Sometimes if my battery is fully charged and I crank enough I can get it to start. I have spark everywhere. I have done some research and by my gut its fuel pump related. I have just barely 1/4 tank of gas in it right now which according to others can be the tipping point for the intake fuel pump to not work. So I started looking for one just to see what I'm looking at cost wise and I'm seeing $480+. Is that right? Does anyone have a good source cheaper than that? I've checked 6-7 sites. Has anyone ever bothered with a junk yard fuel pump? I was going to just replace all fuel items, in-tank pump, sending unit, external pump and filter and pump relay just to rule it all out. I do not have a electronics manual and to be honest that s**t intimidates the crap outta me. Mechanically I can and will do anything, but electronics just baffle me. Any tips or links to videos on how or what to test before dropping serious money? Maybe I shouldn't own anything this new and with this much electronics haha
Thanks
tn535i
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by tn535i »

There are lower cost alternatives to replacing the in tank pump with OEM equivalent including replacing brushes in a existing pump(done that), a Vega pump (done that), and replacing both pumps with single in tank pump like a Walbro or TRE(done that). Each one of those is about $10 to $40 to less than $125 but might require some extra effort or fittings to make it work correctly.

Don't let electrical scare you off. Think of it like water in a pipe or hydraulics which should be simple enough. Start at novice level.

Novice - Measure Volts (like pressure) which is almost always a safe thing to do especially on 12v DC vehicle.
Intermediate - Know DC versus AC and when you need to switch or what can't be measured...like high side of ignition.
Advanced - Measure Ohms (like restriction) but you have to first remove the voltage (pressure) before you measure.
Expert - Measure Amps (like flow) but you need to be careful and take the circuit (pipe) apart then use the meter to connect it back together and turn power on again. And know when it's likely too much power for your meter.

To see if you pump(s) get voltage is super easy to do... novice level stuff.
cek
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by cek »

Kowalskicw wrote: Sep 24, 2020 10:41 AM So my next problem which I started to cover on the gen conv page was my crank no start issue. The majority of the time I cannot get it to start. Sometimes if my battery is fully charged and I crank enough I can get it to start. I have spark everywhere. I have done some research and by my gut its fuel pump related. I have just barely 1/4 tank of gas in it right now which according to others can be the tipping point for the intake fuel pump to not work. So I started looking for one just to see what I'm looking at cost wise and I'm seeing $480+. Is that right? Does anyone have a good source cheaper than that? I've checked 6-7 sites. Has anyone ever bothered with a junk yard fuel pump? I was going to just replace all fuel items, in-tank pump, sending unit, external pump and filter and pump relay just to rule it all out. I do not have a electronics manual and to be honest that s**t intimidates the crap outta me. Mechanically I can and will do anything, but electronics just baffle me. Any tips or links to videos on how or what to test before dropping serious money? Maybe I shouldn't own anything this new and with this much electronics haha
Thanks
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... multimeter

Like most things, once you dive in and get started, you'll find it's all not so complicated afterall.
Mike W.
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Mike W. »

Fuel pumps. I've never had a working intank pump with ~375K on BMWs with that system. Half a dozen cars or more. Closest thing to a problem I've had is with one pump, it would start to miss over ~5k-5500RPM if it was below a quarter of a tank. Not everyone agrees, but IMO it pretty much just lets you more completely empty the tank. Euro cars, except 535s and M5s didn't even use one, and 528i's were rated at more HP than our 535s. So lack of an intank pump will not prevent it from starting.

Test fuel by detaching the return hose, the one in front, hooking up another hose to it leading to a coffee can or something. Pull the spark plug wire off the coil so it won't start. Then crank the engine. You should get fuel coming out of the hose going to the coffee can. Assuming you do, fuel delivery is not the problem on being hard to start, you just verified delivery and pressure.
matt_wheels
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by matt_wheels »

Hey Kowalskicw, welcome! I am PMing you with my contact info. I'm in St. Paul, and have help/info/ used parts available (15 years almost continuous e28s, with a few parted out). Where in MN are you? I'm infrequent to the forum, but have learned TONS here, and especially learn from and enjoy the heated discussions from time to time.

In regards to the whine/whirr during slowing, don't rule out axle/CVs. I am in process replacing axle shaft and bearing on my e30. Constant whine during coasting, and "gurgle" when turning predicted by my machine shop, where I sometimes moonlight. Wheel bearing was also not smooth enough when axle extracted, so replacing both. I'll chirp up if these don't fix the whine, as will my wallet.

Clunk may be coming from or exacerbated by:
- diff mount, especially if reversing from stop uphill, or slightly aggressive direction change. You may want to do that "as long as you're in there" replacing the diff...
- subframe bushings. Subframe bushings not fun to replace, need full vocabulary if doing in place.
- Giubo/flex puck at front of driveshaft. This didn't really give a clunk on a recent e30, but a "WTF is THAT?" noise upon good acceleration, that indicates you need to let off the gas NOW. Kind of a gurgle/crunching/chunking noise all at once. Not pleasant. The giubo was mostly threads, with a touch of rubber.
-Unless the non-maintenance u-joint at the rear is actually shot on the driveshaft, you have at least 2 other places that could be causing issues as already noted by others, the giubo and center bearing. I may have a driveshaft for you, if I can find it, from a manual 535.

My lesson learned: If going deep, go deep, and plan ahead. Exhaust, driveshaft, subframe bushings, diff mount, trailing arm bushings and wheel bearings done at once will save knuckles and time if parts are borderline needing replacement, you really don't want to do these jobs twice if it can be avoided. Get new parts prior to disassembly if possible, except for possible used good driveshaft and used diff. Odds are with you on used diffs, as mentioned above.

Exhaust needs dropped for driveshaft. Driveshaft needs to be disconnected for diff replacement. Subframe accessible when diff and driveshaft out. Replace cheap gaskets and seals when diff is out. Subframe bushings WAY easier when subframe out of car. Great time for all of the above, and to teach the kids what a car looks like blown apart, and how to turn wrenches. Throw some new brake lines in there as long as you are at it, and check e-brake shoes and hardware. Winter is coming, and if you don't drive it in salt nor work outside in 10-below temps, you will have plenty of time up here before saltfree roads emerge again for this project!

You may need to re-use your rear cover and axle mount "ears", depending on the source of your new medium-case differential; don't get rid of them until new is in place! And don't buy an early e23 medium diff, the rear cover/mount is different, and will not fit a later e28. I just found this out the hard way, and gave the cleaned up diff to my 82 e23's new owner.

I can help with some of your issues: in parts, spirit or possibly in person, and likely save you a bit of time/$. Hopefully this forum can get someone new rollong in the correct direction into these sometimes cantakerous but FUN cars. They are not cheap, but with some sweat equity and patience, they can remain reasonable, give or take the issue. It will NOT be reasonable if you don't do any work yourself. You have found your greatest resource in this forum.

Also highly recommended: Bosch Fuel Injection and Management, by Charles O. Probst. Bentley Stock number: GFIB ISBN 0-8376-0300-5.
Kowalskicw
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Re: 88 535is noises and issues

Post by Kowalskicw »

So a couple things happened since my last post. So far so good.
I replaced the dog bones with some Lemforder(sp) ones that came with the car and my squeeks are gone! Amazing that little part contributed to such annoying sounds.
I also replaced the fuel pressure regulator, ignition coil, fuel pump relay, intake boot between AFV and intake(was cracking around the ports) and cleaned a bunch of contacts and now the car seems to start much better. Initial start after a couple days it takes a bit longer but still starts everytime now.
So next I am getting a full custom exhaust from a local shop including a high flow cat and resonator and muffler and I'll share the pics Thurs next week when it gets done, but I'm super excited. The exhaust is complete rubbish on this car now and louder than anything I've ever owned. It's embarrassing. I'm having them make it so I can unbolt it in 2 places(after the cat and between the resonator and muffler sections) More than I wanted to spend but it'll be worth it.
And I know the whole while the exhaust is off replace things, but I'll have to wait til I get it home to do that.
Still have light issues, brake lights, warning lights and such, but I'm feeling better about my chances lately of getting it figured out!
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