Originally Posted by kronson
My 01 LT has about 50, 000 km on it now. I was told buy a former lt owner that I should take it in and get the original bearing changed before it fails, as it is cheaper than fixing a failed one....
First: No, there were slightly different bearings used over time, but not 12-ball.
Second: don't touch the bearing unless you know what you are doing and know how to check and change the preload. View posts of CharlieVT
and articles in BMWMOA ON for more detail on the issue; here it suffices to say that the cause of the failures is related to housing tolerances and to the preload. If you just replace the bearing without checking and adjusting the preloading shims, the potential causes of failure remain - that is, if you actually have anything incorrect.
I'd say that at 50k km you are probably OK by now and should not worry. It seems that most drives fail earlier - although my '00 LT indeed went out at high 30k's miles. One preventive-maintenance method is to change the FD fluid at each engine oil change. This allows checking whether any metallic pieces are flaking off the bearing balls or the ball cage - presumably letting you know about an impending failure.
If you need to put your worries to rest, do as ironbuttwannabe
suggested and get a spare one. You can have it boxed-up and ready to ship in case of a failure - that is what I do. Remember that - at the very, very least - you need a 30mm socket to take off; properly it should be a special modified socket.
Also, read up on the maintenance procedures and required maintenance intervals. Some of the items are not simple - I hope that you realize that fuel filter change is a time-consuming job as it requires removal of all bodywork and lifting off the tank.
Good luck! It's a fun machine!