Wow, you've crafted the best DIY write-up
for any repair I've ever seen done for the e46, and your photographs are meticulously detailed and instructive. To say nothing of the skill you've applied to understanding and solving a problem seemingly endemic to our M54 engine. Thanks for all you've done and explained.
I'd seriously like to nominate you to redo the next Bentley.
With 48K miles on my car, I've never experienced this dilemma, and yet you reference failures of vanos units after only 20K miles. Do you have any idea why some cars experience this failure repeatedly and why I've never seem this problem reported on this board in my four years of reading it?
Also, is it possible that BMW has modified their parts so that perhaps my '04 engine will not suffer this malady? Or do you believe that the vulnerable vanos was used up till the end of production?
Of course I hope that this doesn't happen to me, but will surely be a customer of yours if I get this ailment.
The problem only shows up >35 degrees F, and.....
only if you stop and idle within the first several minutes. As soon as the engine warms a bit it disappears. The engine does not stall, but slows and surges.
Would like to eliminate this irritant, but this is a huge amount of work for a car that will be replaced by a 335 coupehttp://forums1.roadfly.com/preferenc....php?img=99782
Meant to add this was done by a real pro...
I would buy one of his kits if I were tp do this, and he probably has the thing underpriced.http://forums1.roadfly.com/preferenc....php?img=99782
Less than 35 degree F....THERE.
Rajaje, you are hard core, excellent!
Re: Wow, you've crafted the best DIY write-up
Thanks for the very kind remarks regarding this effort. I do really appreciate that.
You might consider getting a copy if the BMW TIS software repair manual. The Bentley is mostly a mimic of the TIS. There are nice additions and pictures to the Bentley, but the Bentley also manages to screw up the TIS directions in some cases. I mostly like the layout of the TIS and reference it by default.
You can acquire the TIS on ebay. The latest versions come on DVD. The BMW ETK, software parts manual, and other software documents are also quite helpful.
The major aggravating symptom from the failing vanos is the cold weather cold start idle jolts and possible stall. This is only found on the M52TU engine (99-00). BMW became aware of the problem and patched up the next version engines, M54 & M56, software to address the symptom. M52TU owners usually indicate the symptom returns after two years from replacing the vanos.
I bought my car, 528i 06/00, in the summer of 2003 with 51k miles. At the first sign of cold weather I started experiencing the cold ideal symptom. In early 2005 I bought a new vanos. I replaced the pistons from my old vanos with the pistons from the new vanos and reinstalling the old vanos. My idle problems resolved. I also gained some wonderful performance improvements. I used to say my car now drives like its on steroids. I noted that I lost these performance improvements in ~6 months. In two years, ~20k miles, I started experiencing the cold engine symptoms again. I removed the seals and inspected them. The O-rings had significantly deteriorated. During my development and testing process I purchased several new BMW vanos units. I installed one of them for testing, but didn’t get to removing it for 3 months, ~3k miles. Upon removal I was disgusted to see the seal fit had notably degraded. I removed the seals and found the O-rings had already suffered notable compression set.
The Buna O-rings simply are not appropriate for the engine environment. They are not compatible with engine synthetic oil or engine temperatures.
All the vanos units in all the engine years have these Buna O-rings. All the newly sold vanos units have the Buna O-rings. I bought a new vanos unit a year back and tested the O-rings material makeup and the result was Buna.
One of my Beta installers had a 2003 330xi 77k miles. In his case I actually did the install my self since I wanted to take pictures and document the E46 specifics. The owner complained of hesitations at lower RPMs and a lack of passing power on the highway in 5th and 6th gear. He simply thought that’s the way the car drove. I drove his car and noted the hesitations and the lack of low end torque and power. Once I removed and opened his vanos, I noted the piston (seals) were very loose in the cylinder. I could simply insert the piston in the cylinder and let it go and have it drop without resistance to the cylinder bottom and clunk. It doesn’t get much worse than this. Once I removed the seals I noted the O-rings had completely plasticized and turned into plastic. They had flat top and bottom surfaces and had shrunk.
Once I completed the repair and took the car for a drive, with the owner, we noted improvements in the lower end torque. We also noted the lack of hesitations. After driving for a period and breaking in the seals, he has indicated significant improvements in torque and power, and that his car drives like “a different animal”. Here is his post on the vanos forum. Remove the space. http://www.bimmer board.com/forums/posts/440307
M54 & M56 (01+) engine owners do not experience the cold idle symptoms. They are also often not aware of their power losses. But after repairing the vanos they are quite please with the performance enhancements.
In time, enough M54 & M56 owners will perform the repair and indicate their results that the remaining owners will become more convinced.
Here’s a method for attempting to gage the vanos failure degradation. Get the car in third gear at ~1500 RPM on an incline. Fully depress the throttle. With a failing vanos unit the car will bog and clime very slowly. With a well functioning vanos, the car will have good torque and acceleration.
ALL the vanos units are failing. The O-rings simply do not handle the engine environment. There can be grades of failure. This will depend on time of use and spirited driving. Sports driving will cause the engine oil temperature to peak and will intern cause increased damage to the O-rings.
In my experience from inspecting many O-rings and speaking with many owners who have performed the repair, ALL the vanos O-rings are badly damaged.
Hope this helps.
Thanks again from the very kind remarks.
I’ll be happy to try and answer further questions.
528i 5sp 06/00
It helps a lot, so much appreciated! I'll try your
test next time I'm out and see what the evaluation produces.
Please stay in business for our future!
Re: Meant to add this was done by a real pro...
I buying one. My '00 328i has symptoms at outside temps anything less than 45F.
6 hour DIY with no special tools required? under $150 total parts bill? If you can change your own brakes, this sounds like a no-brainer.
Thanks for your hard work! I wish BMW engineers were as dedicated to these cars. I'm looking forward to having my car be able to idle in the mornings at stoplights again!
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