BMW differential types

There are a wide variety of differentials and mostly the components are not interchangeable between generations. Generally early differentials are fitted with taper bearings, and most post 2006 units are fitted with ball bearings. Both can use 75W140 oil, though, ball bearings are supposed to use the thinner 75W90 for increased fuel economy. Most bearings are not interchangeable between pre and post 2006. Diff Lab stocks all bearings prior to F-series and can service all of these differentials, and perform factory blueprinting.

 

 BMW 215LW diff spline type

215LW Spline Type - Found in 135i, 235i, 335i etc

- Fitted to all DCTs, automatics and manuals after 2008
- Uses all ball bearings
- No side covers
- Symmetrical output shafts
- Often has a welded ring gear
- Generally all open differentials
- Requires cutting and drilling for LSD fitment

BMW 215LW diff 3-bolt type 215LW 3-bolt Type - Found in early 135i and 335i

- Fitted to manual 135i before 2008
- Uses all ball bearings
- No side covers
- Symmetrical output shafts
- Often has a welded ring gear
- Generally all open differentials
- Requires cutting and drilling for LSD fitment
BMW 210mm diff

210mm / 215mm - Found in E36 M3 3.2L, E39 M5 and E46 M3

- Uses all taper bearings
- 8-bolt side covers
- Symmetrical in E36 and asymetrical from E39 onwards
- Fitted with a 2-clutch LSD or M-Variable Viscolok LSD
- Takes 210mm ring and pinion sets

BMW 188K differential

188K - Found in E39, E53 and E46 6cyl vehicles

- Uses all taper bearings
- No side covers
- Updated 'K' style output shafts
- Takes 188K ring and pinion sets only
- Accepts all 188K and 188LW style LSDs

BMW 168LW differential

168LW - Found in E82, E87, E90 116i, 118i, 120i, 318i, 320i etc

- Uses all ball bearings
- No side covers
- Updated 'K' style output shafts
- Accepts 168K style LSDs

BMW 188mm differential

188mm - Found in E28, E30, E32, E34, E36

- Uses all taper bearings
- 6-bolt side covers
- 8-bolt rear cover
- Uses 188mm style LSDs
- Uses 188mm style ring and pinion sets
- Standard offset 3.15 to 4.88
- High offset 2.79 to 3.07, and 5.00 to 5.44

BMW 168mm differential

168mm - Found in E30 and E36 319i and 320i

- Uses all taper bearings
- 4-bolt side covers
- 6-bolt rear cover
- Uses 168mm type LSDs
- Uses 168mm style ring and pinion sets
- Two different carrier offsets depending on ring and pinion offset

BMW E21 differential

168mm - Found in E21 and 2002

- Uses all taper bearings
- 4-bolt or 6-bolt side covers
- Uses 168mm type LSDs, though three offsets exist
- Uses 168mm ring and pinion sets
- Two different case/carrier widths exist