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      11-04-2013, 02:40 PM   #265
mrrm3
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Alternative cause for cow bell noise

My 2008 manual E92 now has about 36K miles. I'd estimate at 30K miles, it started to make a cow bell noise about 80% of the time when I started moving from a complete stop in 1st gear. Same thing in Reverse. You could call it a "clunk", "clink" or "dink," but cow bell is perhaps the best description. It was as if a dwarf was under my car w/ a ball-peen hammer and tapping the drive shaft upon loading the drive line. Eventually, I also started to hear it when in second gear and transitioning from slack to strain in the drive line. Also, some bumps could cause the sound especially when there was no tension on the drive shaft in second gear.

I got in touch w/ another member (Eric) w/ the same noise, and he had the gumption to replace his drive shaft w/ excellent results. I did the same this past weekend. Bingo. No more cow bell noise.

I think it was the universal joint developing play or losing the grease packed in the area. (You could see grease splattered on the under carriage around the area of the u-joint). When it is torqued, the joint reaches end of travel as two pieces of metal make contact. The noise reverberates through the hollow drive shaft and sounds very much like a cow bell.

Your results may vary, but it worked for me and at least one other member.

Good luck.
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      12-23-2013, 10:46 AM   #266
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I created an account just to post on this thread.

First, a little back history - I flogged a e92 335i MT w/sport for 5 years, 60K miles and, other than the HPFP growing pains, I absolutely loved that car. It was built like a bank vault. With a mild tune, it pulled like freight train at low rpm, got a mixed driving average of 25 mpg and would hit 32 mpg with the cruise set at 80 on a flat highway. Only absolutely hateful flaw in the car was that open differential. BMW, what were you thinking?!? However, it was a coupe and we have a 2 year old and the wife doesn't always want to take her vehicle (Flex Limited Ecoboost, not a bad baby hauler) when we go out. Well, a few months ago, she asked me to get a sedan, so I did. 2011 E90 MT ZCP.

We had a Christmas party last night, and I took a couple of car guy buddies for a little drive in the car. Nothing elaborate, couple of hard runs to triple digits, little drift around a round-about, etc. It was nothing that I'd expect to hurt any car, but definitely not one with the credentials the M3 has.

I back out of the garage this morning to this horrifying noise from the rear end. Clanking, clanging, popping... so I grabbed the wife and had her move the car forward and backward while I lay on the freezing ground shining a light under the car looking for anything making contact, watching the insides of the wheels, etc. I couldn't find a thing. I drove around the block and it seemed to stop, so I drove on into work. The noise returned several times on my commute. I was ready to call BMW for a service tow.

So, thank god for Google and the information you guys have posted on this thread. I sent a link to the cowbell picture posted earlier in the thread to the wife, and her response was, "Well, probably too late to get that for you for Christmas!"

I will agree that it's an absolutely embarrassing sound. It's a noise I'd hate in my 200K mile VW (I have a 2002 TDI Jetta as a winter car), to say nothing of a fairly new M3.
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      12-23-2013, 11:07 AM   #267
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      12-23-2013, 12:40 PM   #268
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I had the same cow bell noise on my E36 328is and the problem was a broken spring pin (holding the e-brake in place) and at low speed bouncing around, sounded like cow bell (at faster speed centripetal force held it in one place). After a few hard brake the cow bell noise disappeared (the spring pin got stuck somewhere in the rotor). I didn't use the e-brake and I was fine for few years. I did the same with my M3 and no cow bell so far (6 months)! My cow bell is e-brake related.
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      02-20-2014, 08:11 AM   #269
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Welp, finally after 44k miles my 09 m3 now has this stupid noise. Weirdly enough it only has happened when my car is cold (like sitting even more than 4 hours as i couldnt reproduce it after it sat for 4 hours) and it happens when backing out of my garage and eventually it will go away within 15 seconds not to return until leaving the car overnight....I live in Atlanta and there's a ton of gravel/sand on the roads downtown and I assume it could be something stuck in the rotor/shield but this morning when i pressed on the brake dust shield after i got back home nothing fell out.....
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      02-24-2014, 12:04 AM   #270
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Just washed mine yesterday and put the top down for the first time and had this same noise. Glad I found this thread. Mine sounds like it's coming from the right rear wheel.
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      02-24-2014, 12:36 AM   #271
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Have this problem too but it's transient. And it only happens when I cold start the car. Then it goes away.
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      03-01-2014, 03:12 PM   #272
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Oh wow thats fucking annoying
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      03-01-2014, 09:02 PM   #273
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My previous M3 has the same problem never took it to the dealer never found out what it was, but it was damn annoying.
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      03-01-2014, 10:39 PM   #274
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I have had the same problem since ~45k miles. Like others have mentioned, the sound seems as if it's coming from the rear passenger side wheel. It only happens when moving very slowly in reverse or first gear.
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      03-02-2014, 09:02 AM   #275
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Embarrassing? Yes!

Did I have it? Yes!

Did I procrastinate long enough that it "formed a scab" and healed itself? Yup!

:-)
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      03-07-2014, 02:44 PM   #276
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I noticed this noise coming back to work today and was going to run it by BMW since I work a block away from them but of course it was gone by the time I got to work.

I had a brake flush done yesterday, could they have messed something up while they were in there?
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      03-07-2014, 02:53 PM   #277
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cchong4 View Post
Had this same exact problem. Except it wasn't the ebrake or a pebble...
this was something completely different lol

somehow my tpms broke off and was rolling inside the tire causing a cowbell noise.
Was it still reading the tire pressure after it broke off? Seems like you would have gotten some kind of error for that.
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      03-07-2014, 03:12 PM   #278
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZEEM3R View Post
Have this problem too but it's transient. And it only happens when I cold start the car. Then it goes away.
+1 I only hear it when it's cold ...
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      03-09-2014, 07:44 PM   #279
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Got the infamous cowbell noise for the first time yesterday. It wasn't nearly as loud as what others have described here (or shown via videos), but given that I am a perfectionist and pamper this car it was troubling, not to mention really F'n annoying!! Here's what I experienced:

1) while driving at about 30 mph, felt a very short "rubbing" sensation (similar to what you'd feel in the steering wheel if there is a branch with leaves dragging under your car). Lasted just a second.
2) When backing out of my driveway later on, heard the cowbell noise. Drove for about five minutes and did not hear it anymore. Heard it again when inching into the garage (had my wife do it so I could hear from the outside...too faint to clearly hear from inside the cabin).
3) Rushed inside and onto this great forum to research the issue to figure out what is going on and whether my car was about to blow up.

Now, I don't know if #1 and #2 are correlated, but I assume so. Based on that, coupled with reading this thread, I assumed I got a pebble or that e-brake spring causing the issue. Here is what I did to try to address it:

1) gently pushed on the heat shields behind each rear rotor. I used a wooden cook spoon so as not to risk any damage.
2) I then drove the car with multiple fast accelerations and fairly hard brakings. I also engaged and disengaged the parking brake a couple times (when stationary and then when going about 5 mph).

Result: Noise gone.

Good luck to any of you experiencing the same issue!
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      03-12-2014, 01:27 PM   #280
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Seriously, has ANYONE actually found out what this noise is?

Hi All,

I am new to the forum, but signed up specifically to see if you guys have solved the cowbell mystery.

I have read this whole thread, and nobody has had a concrete answer as to why the "cowbell" is happening. Pebbles, rotors, shields, drive fast then hit the brakes, its the e-brake, springs, and even drive shaft have been the culprits, but to me, it does not make sense.

Everyone seems to have it, but nobody can actually say what the fix is. I sent the video to my SA (tommy) here in CA, and he just said "wow, that sounds like shit, better bring it in."...not "oh, that is the cowbell, we can fix it.". If it is happening to so many people, you would assume the dealer SA would know what it is...and he acted like he had never heard it before. Every time i bring it in, nobody can recreate it.

Anyway, please don't say its a pebble. It's not. Everyone has the same problem in the same place and NOBODY has been able to fix it with a sane solution. Replacing the dif might solve it for the week, but it is not actually solving it, it is simply "not happening" when you pick it up from the mech. Same with "drive real fast then hit the brakes a bunch". Both might solve it for a day/week/month, but it comes back, so to me, those are not fixes. Mine has been happening for the past 8 months on/off with no rhyme/reason.

Anyway, it seems to be a pain for everyone, so does anyone actually know what it is?

I know - its a pebble in the heat shield or you need more cowbell. heard it already.

Thanks in advance.
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      03-12-2014, 02:25 PM   #281
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Did the heat sheilds/dust covers change after 09? Seems like I read this somewhere... I never heard the cowbell noise in my 2012 but I occasionally hear it in my 2008.
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      03-22-2014, 08:07 PM   #282
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Whew. Sorta. Glad it's not just me experiencing/experienced this. Finally hit 60deg F in NYC today. Drove with top down. Got home. Slow turn and I hear the "cowbells." At first, I thought it was one of the neighbor's kids with her drum kit. Or maybe a neighbor's wind chime. But nah, everytime I'd pull up to my garage I'd hear that clunk... Rear, driver's side. Even in reverse. Drove around a block and noise disappears with WOT. Noise gone for now. Will investigate again tomorrow. Nothing in underside. Will take off tires and hope nothing expensive or that noise will just never come back.
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      03-22-2014, 08:41 PM   #283
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I'm in on this thread. Let my wife drive the car for two days and got it back with this noise. Was blaming her for running over something.
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