Sunday 13 January 2019

F10 530d: Clutch Replacement [Manual 520d, 530d, 535d, F10, F11]

The clutch on my F10 has felt like it's on the way out for about a year now and over the last month or two I've noticed it starting to slip a few times, mainly when moving off in first gear with the car pointing uphill. Time to throw a new clutch in, one of my least favourite jobs and just as with everything on the 5 Series, way more involved a process than swapping a clutch into a Ford Focus. Even I was tempted to just leave the F10 with someone to do the clutch for me, but with quotes in the £1000 - £1500 range I figured it was better to bite the bullet and do it on the drive. Just as well too, as you can see from the pics to the right just how far gone the clutch was, with hardly any face left on the friction-plate and some lovely hot spots on the pressure-plate! Nice.
I'd love to say this job is the same as the E39/E60, which are pretty straight forward, but it is trickier due to updates in the car's design. The main difference is in the prop-shaft removal, the F10 requiring the rear gearbox-mount to be removed to access the bolts to the coupling. This makes it almost impossible to move the car to rotate the prop and access the top bolts, so a bit more ingenuity is needed. I also notice that the gearbox must be lowered in order to remove the slave-clyinder, which is wedged up in the trans-tunnel, something that was not necessary on the E39 and E60. The hose to the slave-cylinder also needs to be unplugged and fluid drained so the gearbox can be lowered. This is an added annoyance that BMW have engineered in here.

** Before you undertake this job yourself, it should be understood that 5-ers are complicated cars and a lot needs to be removed before the gearbox / clutch can be accessed. This is a short list...
  • Main under-tray and both side trays.
  • Exhaust.
  • Two heat-shields.
  • Brackets.
  • Rear gearbox mount and bracket on back of gearbox.
  • Propshaft coupling and centre-bearing.
  • Starter-motor.
  • Hose to slave-cylinder. [inc. refilling and bleeding of clutch].
  • Only now can you remove the gearbox and swap the clutch...
But hey, if you have made it to this guide then chances are you aren't fazed by this kind of thing! So read on... the whole job can be done at home over a weekend by yourself, taking your time and enjoying yourself... or could be done in one day by two of you...


** Disconnect the battery negative-terminal and put it safely out of the way. **

1. Remove the front belly-pan under-tray located below the engine and gearbox. It is held in place by 8mm screws all around the edges and a couple in the middle.

2. Remove the left and right middle under-trays. These are located under the sill on each side and held on by a lot of 8mm screws and some plastic clips.

3. Remove the centre cross-brace by undoing the eight 13mm bolts, four on each side. This is a steel plate that runs across from left-to-right near the back of the prop-shaft.

4. Remove the exhaust up to the down-pipe. First loosen the 16mm nut on the flange connecting it to the down-pipe at the front. There are then two rubber-hangers, one next to the rear-axle and one to the front of the back-box. A third rubber-hanger is located to the front of the exhaust, not far back from the down-pipe and this can be separated on its bracket by removing the two screws using an E10 double-hex (female-torx) socket. Finally there is a 13mm nut holding a bracket at the very back, up inside the rear-bumper. The exhaust can now be carefully lowered [watching the rubber-bush that has no purpose on the right of the back-box does not get caught in the bumper], worked free of the flange on the down-pipe and fully removed. If the car is high-up on a lift then you will likely need a second person for the last bit.

5. Remove the main heat-shield located above the exhaust. It is held on by several large, flat metal nuts that can be loosened with a 10mm wrench and then spun off by hand.

6. Remove the aluminium bracket that sits around the centre-bearing of the prop-shaft by undoing the two 8mm bolts holding it to the bearing and wiggling it free.

7a. Place a jack or suitable stand under the gearbox to support it so the rear mount can be removed. 

7b. Remove the rear gearbox mount by undoing the three 13mm bolts on each side holding it to the car and a single 13mm nut in the centre that holds it to the rubber-mount on the gearbox.

8a. Remove the braided electrical-earth strap at the back of the gearbox by undoing the 13mm nut attaching it to the body.

8b. Remove the bracket at the back of the gearbox that attaches it to the rear mount, by undoing the four bolts using a T55 Torx socket. Make sure the socket has good purchase here, as it can slip out easily and round the edges of the bolt-head.

9. Remove the 3 bolts holding the prop-shaft coupling (donut) to the back of the gearbox using an 18mm wrench on either side of the nut/bolt. The bolts on the upper side of the prop-coupling are difficult to get to up in the trans-tunnel. If the rear wheels are not lifted and the prop cannot be turned to get to the bolts, it is possible to get them with CV-joint type sockets as I did.

10. Undo the bracket holding the centre-bearing of the prop-shaft by removing the 13mm nut either side.

11. Uncouple the prop-shaft from the gearbox by pulling the centre-bearing down enough for the locating pin on the gearbox to be clear of the prop-coupling. The front of the prop can now be lowered and moved to the side. If you have the whole car raised on a lift, then you will need to support the front of the prop, or remove the rear coupling to the diff. and get someone else to help you lift it down.

12. Remove the live terminal from the starter-motor using a 13mm wrench and the earth-terminal using a 10mm wrench.

13. Remove the 3 screws holding the starter-motor to the engine using an E10 double-hex socket and work the starter-motor out from the gearbox.

14. Disconnect the reverse-light switch by depressing the metal wire-clip to remove the plug and unclip the wire along the gearbox.

15. Clamp the rubber-hose to the clutch slave-cylinder and disconnect the clutch-line where the slim metal tube enters the slave-cylinder. This is done by prising the metal-clip out of the connector with a small flat-screwdriver and pulling the rubber-seal out of the slave-cylinder. Don't worry too much if you cannot clamp the clutch-hose, but it will involve more bleeding later on, which is a nightmare.

16. Remove the four bolts from the lower half of the gearbox bell-housing attaching it to the sump using an E10 double-hex socket.

17. Remove the remaining 6 large bolts from the gearbox bell-housing holding it to the engine-block using an E12 double-hex socket. [As in diagram.The 2 down each side of the bell-housing are easy enough to access, but the 2 at the top are quite tricky. There is no easy way to get them, so it might be worth feeling around the top of the gearbox with the socket only until it is on the bolt and then get the ratchet / extension bar or CV-jointed socket to them.

** CAUTION: The gearbox will now be loose and held to the engine only with the locating-pegs, so ensure it is safely supported! **

18. Gently prise the gearbox away from the engine until it is clear of the locating-pegs and held up only by the centre-spline. Rocking it side-to-side should also help here. Draw the gearbox back slowly until the centre-spline is clear of the clutch/flywheel and the gearbox can be safely lowered partially. ONLY LOWER IT ABOUT HALF WAY!

19. Disconnect the wiring-connector from the cars neutral-sensor, located at the top of the gearbox by reaching around the top while it is partially lowered and pressing in the plastic clip on the connector. Fully lowering the gearbox before disconnecting will stretch the wire and potentially snap it!

20. Fully lower the gearbox safely onto the ground.

21. The clutch is now accessible, bolted to the back of the flywheel at the back of the engine. The clutch is removed by undoing the 6 bolts around its circumference using a 6mm allen-key socket [shown in photo]. The clutch can now be prised away from the engine! Be careful the clutch does not drop at this point, so it is best to support it with one hand while loosening the final bolt.

22. Remove the release-module / bearing from the spline inside the gearbox bell-housing. The metal lever should be held in place on the opposite side to the slave-cyinder by a piece of metal-wire and after removing that it should easily pull off. [If your clutch-kit includes a new release-module that is - if you are not replacing this then leave the old one in place.]

RELAX! You are now half way through the job!

23. Clip the new bearing into the new release-module as per the clutch-kit instructions and refit it to the spline in the gearbox bell-housing, replacing the wire-clip.

24. Fit the new clutch friction-plate into the new pressure-plate and mount it to the back of the engine leaving the 6mm allen-bolts loose by a few turns so the friction-plate can be moved around inside, but will hold in position.

25. Use the correct clutch alignment-tool to centralise the clutch, or if you do not have one look directly into the centre bore of the clutch and centralise the friction-plate by hand. It does not have to be perfectly in the centre, so you can get it accurate within about 0.5mm by eye.

26. Fully tighten the 6mm all-bolts.

27. Partially raise the gearbox to leave a few inches clearance above it and reconnect the wire to the neutral-sensor.

28. Fully raise the gearbox so it is in line with the back of the engine and move it forward, guiding the centre-spline into the clutch. Rocking the gearbox left-to-right should locate the spline into the clutch plate without too much fuss and it should then be able to rotate into position to meet the locating studs. The main problem here is the height and pitch of the gearbox on the jack / gearbox-stand, so watch out for differences in the gap at the top and bottom of the bell-housing when marrying it up.

29. Reverse steps 17 to 7. For tightening-torques refer to this post -

30. Bleed the clutch - if you clamped the hose you shouldn't have too much trouble bleeding it, but the nipple is difficult to access and it can be easy to let air back in, so I have devoted a post to my bleeding issues here - F10: Clutch Bleeding Guide... the whole nightmare! [Manual transmission / gearbox 520d, 530d, F10, F11, G07, E90, E92 3er etc.]

31. Reverse steps 6 to 1.

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