E60 535i LSD/Diff swap (E65/E66 case)

Ty_Bo

Lurker
May 12, 2020
18
10
0
Livermore, CA
Ride
2009 535i
Hey guys,
Bit of a lurker but this one felt like it was worth writing up

An LSD is something I've wanted for this car for a while, so here we are.

Quick primer, the car is an auto 09 535i with bolt-ons and KW V3s. My original plan was to finish the suspension out with rear monoballs and poly diff/subframe bushings, but my mechanic friends gave me the right nudge to commit to a helical LSD while the subframe was coming out. The driveline/subframe part numbers are listed below:

DescriptionPNQty
Big Ticket:
E65/E66 Big Case Diff (3.38)
33107537985​
1​
Mfactory Helical DifferentialMF-TRS-05E92
1​
BMW CV Axle AssemblyGKN 33207572430
2​
Miscellanious Seals, hardware, etc:
BMW Differential Pinion Seal Rear
33107609536​
1​
BMW Differential Side Cover Seal
33107505605​
2​
Differential Drain/Fill Plug
33117525064​
2​
BMW Axle Nut
33411133785​
2​
BMW Reinforcement
33207572719​
6​
Poly Bushings
Powerflex Rear Diff Front BushingsPFR5-725
1​
Powerflex Rear Diff Rear BushingsPFR5-726
1​
Powerflex Rear Subframe Rear BushingsPFR5-722
1​
Powerflex Rear Subframe Front Bushings - E60/E61, E63/E64PFR5-720
1​

With some creative BMW OEM research in hand, I sourced an E65/E66 differential off ebay (they're surprisingly cheap, and free shipping), the appropriate MFactory Helical LSD, and upsized manual/diesel 38mm axles.

1616783912512.png


1616783922691.png


The E65 diff is a bigger case than the auto diff my car came with, bolted ring gear, and the 3.38 final drive was close enough to my factory 3.46 (2.3%). The E60 and E65 also share most of their subframe geometry, making this a plug-and-play swap. I was able to keep my factory driveshaft as well. The Rear End Shop in Livermore installed the helical LSD and shimmed everything for me.

There were some hiccups along the way, including a very stubborn driver axle that didn't want to come out. CA car, not sure why it was so stuck, but it took my friends about an hour to make it move

1616784048452.png


Diff and subframe bushings were plug and play, although their stiffness makes getting the diff back into the subframe a bit of a wrestling match

1616784063658.png


1616784076383.png



1616784099546.png


Aaand woosh, you have traction.
 

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Ty_Bo

Lurker
May 12, 2020
18
10
0
Livermore, CA
Ride
2009 535i
As far as driving impressions go, I'm very happy and it feels like a different car. Corner exits under throttle feel worlds different, and overall the car is a lot more lively. With the combination of a complete monoball suspension, KW V3s, 265/285 tires, and the LSD it's a completely different car than last year. Very happy with the result, and it's a bit more car than I can handle for now. Now I get to dig into the weeds of getting it dialed in where I want it

PXL_20210313_003755439.MP_2.jpg
 

TorqueySandwich

New Member
Dec 8, 2023
3
1
0
Hello there. What was the reason behind the E65 diff and the 38 mm axles? Were these requirements?

Do you know if your original diff had a bolted or welded gear?

I already have a Mfactory Helical LSD that I'm borrowing from another project, so I'm trying to see if I can throw it into my existing diff (09 AT 535i) or if I need a different diff with a bolted gear.

Thanks!
 

Ty_Bo

Lurker
May 12, 2020
18
10
0
Livermore, CA
Ride
2009 535i
Hello there. What was the reason behind the E65 diff and the 38 mm axles? Were these requirements?

Do you know if your original diff had a bolted or welded gear?

I already have a Mfactory Helical LSD that I'm borrowing from another project, so I'm trying to see if I can throw it into my existing diff (09 AT 535i) or if I need a different diff with a bolted gear.

Thanks!
All valid questions. I believe all the auto cars are bolted ring gear, but do your research before betting on that.

I was always going to buy a spare diff to minimized downtime, so I took that as an opportunity to future-proof the drivetrain. Changing diffs to the 215mm also forces your hand on swapping axles, so that’s a cost consideration. Bearing sizes in the 215 are comparable to a ford 9” diff, it’s a very stout option.

If you do opt for my route, torsional strength is an r^3 equation, so going from 31mm axles to 38 is a substantial increase, almost double the strength.

I’ve manual swapped the car since and bumped the tune up to mhd2+, this setup launches from 4000rpm and handles wheelspin without issue. I’ve definitely wheel hopped it more than I should. I’m not worried about the driveline if I someday do upgraded turbos etc.
 

TorqueySandwich

New Member
Dec 8, 2023
3
1
0
Thanks for the additional info that helps! I've been looking around for info on the bolted gear and haven't been able to find anything definitive. I was hoping you had peaked inside your original one and could tell me for certain. I may just pop my cover off and confirm.

Sounds sick on the manual swap. I've had a manual e92 335i for the last 3 years that has been a blast, so this is my second N54 project :) I don't plan to take this E60 too far and just keep it as a daily. But, even Stage 1 MHD will break the tires loose, and I loved the LSD difference on the E92 even for daily driving, so I've been thinking about the LSD swap.
 
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Ty_Bo

Lurker
May 12, 2020
18
10
0
Livermore, CA
Ride
2009 535i
Thanks for the additional info that helps! I've been looking around for info on the bolted gear and haven't been able to find anything definitive. I was hoping you had peaked inside your original one and could tell me for certain. I may just pop my cover off and confirm.

Sounds sick on the manual swap. I've had a manual e92 335i for the last 3 years that has been a blast, so this is my second N54 project :) I don't plan to take this E60 too far and just keep it as a daily. But, even Stage 1 MHD will break the tires loose, and I loved the LSD difference on the E92 even for daily driving, so I've been thinking about the LSD swap.
It’s unfortunate that E60 specific info is thin and the E90 forums have so much conflicting / unverified info. I never opened the case on mine, so I can’t confirm for you

I think these n54 cars really deserved a factory LSD option from the dealer, it’s a huge improvement to driving experience. LSD and 6mt are the best changes I’ve made to the car by a wide margin