Lemberg Law is currently examining ongoing reports of rear differential bolt failure, or symptoms of pending bolt failure, in the 2020-2023 BMW X3. Owners are reporting clunking, clicking, popping, and sometimes snapping sounds. Many report that the rear differential bolt has failed while others are extremely worried that it’s about to happen.
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Rear Differential Failure Explained
There are critical issues with 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 BMW X3 rear differential bolts failing. Complaints lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) describe noises that warn the bolt is about to snap or shear — or, frequently, that it is breaking. As one complaint about a 2020 model made in June 2023 states, “This failure is not a matter of ‘if’, it is a matter of ‘when’. There needs to be a stronger bolt in place, otherwise it is a near $5,000 repair to replace the rear differential if not covered under warranty.”
Unfortunately, there are lots of complaints that describe when it did happen. Fortunately, though, some have been repaired under warranty. A typical complaint states that while driving home, “I heard a loud pop and a thump. Had the vehicle towed home to see that the rear differential bolt had sheared off the head!”
An owner of a 2023 model BMW X3 from Michigan puts the issue into perspective.
Symptomatic Sounds of Issue
In the only complaint lodged about the 2023 (so far), the Michigan owner states that the failure “has not happened yet, but will happen eventually with enough mileage as seen with many other BMW X3M vehicles.” He then goes on to describe the problem with the rear differential bolt.
“The bolt is prone to shearing or snapping (and) noises may be heard from (the) differential up until failure occurs at some point. Once this occurs it can wreak havoc on the differential and associated parts and cause thousands of dollars worth of damage if you are outside of the warranty period.
“The bolt needs to be stronger or something needs to be added to the bolt area to lessen the movement of the differential under power. If (the) bolt is to snap on the road this will cause safety issues as you will lose power and potentially break many things on (the) vehicle that could cause road debris and also require you to pull over immediately.”
He points out an important factor that the problem can’t be reproduced because it’s a single bolt that can fail at any time. “No inspections have taken place, no warning lights or problems beforehand. However, some may hear noises in the rear differential under power.”
This is exactly what complaints to the NHTSA show.
Similarly, the owner of a 2020 model warns that “The rear differential bolt is a known failure point on these cars. I see it time and time again where there is a clunk noise coming from the rear of the car and sure enough, the bolt has broken on the rear differential and leaves the car undriveable. BMW has said that they are unable to do anything without NHTSA informing them of the issue.”
Some of the symptoms that owners describe include:
- The vehicle “makes a distinct clunking sound under normal stop-and-go driving conditions.”
- The differential makes “clicking noises at low speed, especially when on and off the gas.”
- Heard a “severe clunk while in reverse, probably coming from (the) rear differential.”
- A “loud bang” that turned out to be the diff bolt breaking.
The owner of a 2020 model tells how the rear differential disconnected from the vehicle when the bolt snapped. Ironically, he had bought the vehicle after the previous owner had had the differential bolt replaced by BMW “due to rear differential failure.”
Another owner states that his “car is exhibiting symptoms that others have heard in their cars before the failure occurred. Clunking when putting the car into drive or reverse. This can also be heard while going into second gear and driving at 5-20 mph on light throttle then letting off the gas pedal and getting back on. This will cause the differential to clunk back onto the bolt and off. This is a failure due to a simple bolt component that could be enhanced by BMW to a higher tensile strength to avoid this situation from happening on the highway.”
While accelerating from a stop, yet another BMW X3 owner heard “a loud, popping sound coming from the vehicle. There was no warning light illuminated.” He “inspected the vehicle and discovered that the upper rear differential mounting bolt head had sheared off.” The dealer confirmed the failure, and, luckily for him, they repaired the vehicle under warranty.
What Should You Do if Your BMW Has Rear Differential Issues?
If you own or lease a 2020-2023 BMW X3 that is exhibiting rear differential failure symptoms or has experienced a rear differential bolt failure, you may qualify to join our class action investigation. We need information about your problems and a clear description about what has happened. Then we will be able to assess and evaluate your problems to see if you qualify to join the investigation.
All you have to do is fill out a contact form or call our Helpline. It won’t cost you anything because the law says BMW must pay the legal bills for lemon law cases.