Second generation (E30) BMW 3 Series and the final 3 Series to sport the boxy '80s styling similar to the E32 7 Series and E34 5 Series.

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Replace just one CV joint?

I recently replaced all four rubber CV boots on my 325i, repacked them with grease, and they seem to be holding up fine. During the installation, I decided to leave the axles inserted in their splines in the rear trailing arms because removal is pretty likely to mess up the rear wheel bearings and removing the axels completely is really not necessary. I simply removed the six or so bolts holding the inner CV joints to the output shafts of the differential and lowered the axle enough to remove both boots. On this particular car, you must first remove the inner CV joint to get to the outer CV boot. When trying to remove the press fit collar attaching the inner CV boot to the CV joint, the CV joint fell apart and all the ball bearings fell out onto my concrete floor. Bad news. I somehow managed to get the thing back together, but since I couldn't match the ball bearings to their original slots, the CV joint is pretty "clicky" when slowly pulling away from a stop (in forward and reverse).

So the question: Is it OK to replace just one CV joint (the inner) on the axle? The outer CV joint is welded to the axle, so replacing it requires buying a new axle but it doesn't seem to be making noise. Will a new inner CV joint cause the old outer CV joint to prematurely fail? I know I'm not the only car geek on Answers.

I ordered a new CV joint because of circumstances I won't go into at this point -- I just want to know if it's worth it to install the new joint or if I should pay the 15+ percent restocking fee and return it.

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I thought I'd add a followup since doing the job. Don't ever take your CV joints apart! They have the tendency to fall apart easily if articulated too much, allowing six ball bearings to fall all over the floor. After spending a bunch of time reassembling the CV, I went to pound it on the axle shaft and it stopped moving about 1 mm away from the retaining clip groove. I got fed up and just ended up buying a used axle from a buddy. I would recommend either buying a used axle or ponying up for a new one to avoid a gigantic headache.

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r3vlimited.com and e30tech.com/forum are great sources for DIY forums. Also, if you haven't gotten one, You need to get the Bentley BMW book. Its one of the best publications with step by step info on how to do various repairs on your E30. I had an 89 325is, Bilstein sport shocks, K&N air filter, Bavarian auto works chip, Split second MAF, Stainless steel catback Ireland Engineering to name a few things i purchased for it and installed myself. My go to tools were the Bentley book and aforementioned forums. Hope it also helps!!

== Update ==

I did ball joints, shocks, fuel injectors, exhaust, changed all rubber bushings to Urethane bushings i.e sway bar bushings, etc... Chip installation, stainless steel shock mounts and urethane bushings as well. All was done DIY with book and websites!! I love DIY and i miss my bimmer.

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After spending 16 yrs working as a technician for one of the "Big Three", my personal opinion would be, since you are not replacing it because of wear but because of the problem you described, changing just the one joint would be acceptable. Replacing it because of wear would be a different story. Appears rdklincorporated has started you in the right direction and you might also want to find out if the joints are, by some chance, matched sets. Hope I helped a little.

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I have no clue as to the answer to your question, but as a fellow 325i owner (1991), I just wanted to say, hey, awesome car! :-) I've had mine for 10 years, it has 250K miles, and I love the thing to death.

I buy all my parts on eBay and then give them to my mechanic to install, since I am not as brave as you and therefore don't attempt the work myself. You might try your question on bimmerforums.com...it's sort of the iFixit of BMWs, and it's always been a great resource for me.

Good luck!

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Nice! I've had mine for 6 years and somehow it was spared the fate of most cars driven by 16 year old American males. I used to browse bimmerforums, but I've switched over to r3vlimited.com (a dedicated E30 forum). Check it out if you need very specific E30 info. I figured I'd try my question out here as CV joints come on every independent suspension equipped vehicle on the road.

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Hah, I hear ya! I bought my car in amazing shape and it has therefore continued to work well, but I've dealt with badly abused BMWs in the past, i.e. NEVER buy a BMW that was previously owned by a DJ! :-) Nothing against DJs, but still. Thanks for the website tip, I'll check it out!

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As a former '94 325is owner (great car, until it was hit head-on while parked then sold for $750 -- still operable but not legally) I found that sometimes it's worth pricing-out an "assembly" instead of individual pieces. The control arm assemblies were cheaper to buy and install than the individual failed components were once labor (an extra 6hrs) was figured in. Two control arms replace near Pittsburgh, PA at a local non-dealer garage for $380 INSTALLED (including new parts purchase - and that was only in 2010)

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Andrew Bookholt will be eternally grateful.
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