BMWs and especially the 3 series have proven their worth for many decades. On the whole, the BMW E92 is very reliable but there have been instances of owners experiencing a clunk sound.
In today’s article, we will go through the most likely reasons for experiencing a clunking sound or any other noise. And just like any good doctor, we will diagnose the problem and give possible solutions.
Where this clunking noise emanates from will be the first port of call. From there we will provide likely causes from user feedback. Plus, quick fixes or if you’re particular car needs further work.
What Is a BMW E92?
The BMW E92 is essentially the coupe version of the 2006, 3 series model. The E92 and E93 models were produced up to 2013, with additional design cues.
The main differences between the E92 and other sedan models are redesigned tail-lights and headlights, and two rear passenger seats rather than three. The coupe models also have longer doors. This model was eventually taken over by the 2014 F32 and F33.
The E92 was also one of the last 3 series models to feature a naturally aspirated engine. The E92 also had access to the majority of BMW engines and gearboxes.
Why Is My BMW E92 Making a Clunking Sound?
If you experience a clunking sound from your BMW E92, the problem may stem from the steering, brakes, prop shaft, suspension, or engine. Each area will need to be thoroughly checked for symptoms and solutions.
Any type of weird noise coming from your car is a cause for concern. Where the clunking sound emanates from is a good indication of the problematic area. For instance, if the clunking sound only happens when you apply the brakes, the whole brake system will need checking.
On the other hand, if the clunking sound is coming from the middle or rear of the car, then the prop shaft will need checking.
The M3 version of the BMW E92 has experience clunking sounds over the years as a common problem. These points we will discuss below.
BMW E92 M3 Clunking Sounds
The BMW E92 clunking sound is a commonly reported problem. The main cause is the prop shaft, which will need heavily greasing. However, the clunking sound can also be caused by the suspension or braking system.
As the problem has been reported quite readily with the BMW E92 M3, it’s worth documenting this model on its own. We have gone into detail below about prop shaft diagnosis and solutions. While in this section we will add other specifics solutions found by BMW E92 M3 owners.
BMW E92 M3 Drivetrain Noises
Noise coming from the BMW E92 M3 drivetrain can be inherent as with any sports car. A large load change may produce an audible sound, especially when ‘Sport Mode’ is selected.
‘Acoustic feedback’ is a common trait of the M3. When a sudden load change is experienced, a small clunk is seen as ‘normal to the model. However, there is a difference between the inherent small clunk and constant loud noise. On older vehicles, the bushings may need replacing down to a prop shaft repair as documented below.
If you can rule out inherent load transfer noises, then checking for any broken bolts and differential fittings is a common step. A change of differential fluid can also remedy the problem in some cases.
Generally, a car will need a trip to the dealer or a qualified mechanic with drivetrain problems. However, a quick check of all bushes and mounts around the differential, prop shaft, and gearbox is wise. For a thorough check, the car will need to be elevated.
BMW E92 M3 Clunking Sounds Over Speed Bumps
If you’re BMW E92 M3 experiences unusual clunking over speed bumps then firstly check the front sway bar endlink. The nuts may have worked loose and need tightening. The strut guide lower washer can also be wrongly fitted.
Other experienced noise problems have come from the rear shock mount not being properly seated. This will require either a refitting or a replacement part. Clunking sounds from the suspension have also been reported after a suspension upgrade. Therefore, if you are in this camp make sure that the correct M3 parts have been fitted to the manufacturer’s specifications.
The strut mounts will also need checking. If there is any type of knocking or clunking from this area, then the strut mounts may be too tight or loose. The strut tower brace will need disconnecting to tighten any loose areas.
One report has shown the metal top cover of the shock absorber can rust and degrade over time. If these have deteriorated on your vehicle, then there are replacement kits available.
BMW E92 M3 Noise When Steering
Noise coming from the BMW E92 M3 steering can be due to a loose steering rack. If the steering feels like it has play, the attachment bolts will need either tightening or replacing.
Any dashboard warning lights or loss of power can point to the main area of problems.
If the car enters limp mode, then there could be an inherent engine problem. The E92 M3 has been known to have throttle body actuator problems and failure with the rod bearings. However, these points generally result in a lack of power rather than a continual clunking sound.
Why Is the BMW M3 E92 3 Series Diff. Often Noisy?
A common problem with BMW M3 E92 differential noise is worn pinion bearings. A tell-tale sign of this fault is a change in pitch when accelerating or decelerating.
BMW E92 M3 Engine Clunking Sounds
A multitude of areas needs checking when a BMW E92 M3 experiences engine clunking sounds. One report pointed to a clutch and flywheel replacement. Even if you don’t have any dashboard warning lights showing engine problems, unusual noises need instant investigation.
Check all fluid levels including transmission fluid. If any gaskets look worn or degraded, these will also need replacing. Fluid leaks and worn gaskets can be small but fatal flaws. Any signs of drips or leaks where you park the car are a good giveaway.
A standard first test is to allow the car to get up to temperature before driving. After a fresh oil change, check the oil after a few thousand miles. If the oil level has dropped dramatically and/or is very dirty, then you may have oil leaks.
As with any sports car, the BMW E92 M3 should have maintenance intervals more frequently than base models. Performing a general inspection and keeping all fluid levels topped up and frequently replaced should be standard.
Common BMW E92 M3 Engine Faults
If you experience any type of BMW E92 M3 noise or engine fault, then common and associated problems are first in line. The BMW E92 M3 has documented rod bearing wear, connecting rod clearance, and known throttle body actuator failure. There have also been instances of the electric fuel pump failing, differential grinding noises and the power steering assist fading due to wear.
The above problems can be highlighted by a loss of power, unusual noises, or engine failure. With these types of problems, an expert will be needed for a proper diagnosis.
Some people have also reported a ticking sound coming from the engine. If the car is driving normally without loss of power, then this may be a small problem such as with the air conditioning. However, this could also be a valvetrain or lifter tick, which will need further investigation.
Lifter ticks are common problems with mid-2000 BMWs. Although BMW says that this is partly inherent in the design, it can also mean that the lifters need adjusting. With this problem, a lifter bleed procedure is usually performed. If your car is still under warranty then BMW may even replace the complete cylinder head for a more new design.
BMW E92 M3 Differential Noises
Differential noises from the BMW E92 M3 are commonly documented. A typical solution is to use FM booster with differential oil. The oil change may also be needed a few times to alleviate the problem. Counterintuitively, this affects cars that are more lightly driven.
The differential will also need checking to see if it is knocking against other elements. Also, check all bolts are secure. Tighten any loose bolts and check for degraded washers.
The bearings may also have worn in the differential. This can lead to excessive noise, which will need the differential taking out of the car.
BMW E92 M3 Propshaft
If your experience a BMW e92 clunk sound from the centre of the car, then the prop shaft(UK) or driveshaft will need inspecting. For most users, this will mean a visit to your local dealer or mechanic.
From user feedback, the most likely areas to check are the support bearing and housing, differential and fluid levels, and any loose bolts.
As a clunking sound is more intermittent than a constant screech, then it’s worth first checking all attachments. As a matter of course check all exhaust attachments, the centre U-joint and any other areas of wear. The idea here is to eliminate all areas that may have become worn over time. If you have struck lucky in this area, then you new may just need to replace things like worn mountings.
The list below includes common checks you could apply to the underside of the vehicle.
- Check for any defective differential bolts.
- Inspect differential bushings and replace if needed.
- Check all mounting brackets from the front of the exhaust to the back.
Check the prop shaft/driveshaft, along with the centre housing and support bearings. If the prop shaft has worn, then a prescribed remedy is to completely grease all related components. However, if the noise persists or increases the greasing solution is only a quick fix. Some users have reported that they had to replace the whole prop shaft in this instance.
Check the differential for loose or worn bolts, fluid levels and general condition. Also, check all couplers and U joints for excessive wear. Some users have reported excessive wear in the U joints, with a replacement solving the clunking problem.
Other Propshaft Related Symptoms
It has been reported that centre support bearings fail more often than U joints. Therefore, check all the rear prop shaft components for excessive wear.
There have also been instances of the vibration dampener becoming loose within the mounting cup. In other words, a component by component check will be needed to zero in on the exact problem.
BMW E92 Clunking Sound When Driving
When you experience a BMW e92 clunk sound from your BMW E92 when driving, the prop shaft will need inspecting. Preliminary checks include the doughnut coupling, drive shaft bearing mounts, the differential bearings, and internals. The driveshaft will also need checking for general wear.
A rear-wheel drive BMW will always have a tiny amount of free play in the prop shaft. If all components were too tightly fitted, then they would wear far faster. However, if the drive snatches when setting off, there may be too much play in the components.
If you can jack up the car, check the prop shaft by giving it a quick twist to check for excessive play. You can also check the amount of play in the wheels before it engages with the prop shaft.
BMW E92 Clunking Around Corners
A BMW E92 clunking noise experience when going around corners could indicate a fault with the brakes or suspension. Quick initial checks include worn brake pads, warped or damaged brake discs, excessive play, or wrongly mounted suspension points.
As the suspension and braking system are independent areas, we will check out each area individually.
Clunking Sounds From the BMW E92 Suspension
If you experience any clunking or loud sounds from the suspension, firstly check all mounting points for excessive wear. Each area of the suspension will need checking, like the top bearings. There is also a possibility that the front suspension has not been seated correctly which can cause a knocking sound.
In some instances, worn washers and top mounts can display excessive wear or be the cause of the BMW e92 clunk sound. Therefore, check all connection points before thinking about replacing large parts of the suspension unit.
A worn ARB or drop link arm can cause unnecessary noise. If these areas are worn they can cause a knocking sound. Trailing arm bushes, along with the upper and lower control arm bushes will need to be checked for long-term wear.
If the noise you experience is more like an intermittent clunk, then there is the possibility of misaligned wheels or heavy compression. A possible cause could be the tyre hitting the wheel arch. In this instance, a wheel alignment and check of the camber is in order.
There have been cases reported of motor mounts going bad in some instances. Therefore, even if it seems unlikely, check all mounts within the engine bay.
Clunking Sounds Over Bumps
If you experience a clunking sound when driving over bumps, a joint may be worn. This can result in increased clearance and excessive wearing of other suspension parts. Check any loose nuts or worn bushings. You can also check the BMW Technical Service Bulletins for any common faults.
BMW E92 Clunking When Braking
The initial things to check when you hear a clunking sound when braking are overly worn brake pads and discs. If these areas are in good order, then the E9X thrust arms are well worth checking. Brake lines, brake fluid, and the condition of the braking system are checked as a matter of course.
At this stage, it’s also worth asking if the BMW e92 clunk sound is a steady vibration, a shudder, or an actual clunking sound. Does the vehicle brake effectively? If you’ve recently changed your brake pads, then there have been cases of some brands causing unnecessary shudders or clunks.
Other checks needed when you suspect your braking system include the tie rod ends and thrust arm bushes. You may also have a stuck calliper, loose brake pads, or even a fault with a single piston.
Summary of the BMW E92 Clunk Sound
Like any performance vehicle, the BMW E92 and M3 have experienced some inherent problems over the years. A BMW e92 clunk sound from the prop shaft, when driven with force, has been commonly reported. As documented above, there are workarounds to this problem, such as a thorough greasing of all components.
However, a general clunking sound can be produced from many areas of the car. Any unusual sounds should be located once the car has warmed up. Any noises coming from the rear of the vehicle may point to a prop shaft of differential fault. On the other hand, noises coming from the front of the car may point to an engine, suspension, or brake problem.
The BMW E92 and the M3 equivalent are still extremely fun cars to drive. The word on the street may say that the steering may not be as exciting as other models. But well-maintained vehicles can still be very reliable with plenty more years of driving fun.
If you found this article useful, please comment below with your own BMW experiences. Also, please share this article on social media, so that it can help others. It would also be interesting to hear your own feedback on other problems found with the BMW E92.