N20 engine rattle

Here a slight audio video of the rattle noise,,,,you might hear it at the end of the audio video image Here’s a picture of inside the oil cap,,,,as you might be able to see is some metal flakes inside the oil,,,,,customer was complaining about a rattle noise heard during cold start,,,,,,on a 2014 328 N20 engine,,,,,I verified the rattle noise from the engine,,,,,so I removed the oil filter and noticed the metal flakes inside the oil cap,,,,,some other dealer just performed a oil service 3000miles ago,,,,,there was probably plenty of metal inside the oil filter and oil.

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43 Responses to N20 engine rattle

  1. kr4va says:

    ouch, nasty noise… re; filers, dealer was changing my oil until i took it over at 30k, pulled off the filter and washed it out– filter was 80% clogged with gritty carbon,,(large tablespoon of shit ) filter had never been changed im sure.


  2. oasis says:

    Is this normal? Is this just break-in metal flakes? What caused the rattle?


  3. oasis says:

    How could this have been prevented?


    • There is no way to stop this,,,,,when the N20 motors came out,,,,they had 2 problem,,,,rod bearing and timing chain rail,,,,we saw a lot of rod bearing going bad in bran new engines with less then 20k miles,,,,,so there is no way to stop this from happening


  4. a.a. says:

    has nothing to do with topic but I don’t know where to post….
    I forgot to thank you for setting me on the right track to removing side inner trunk cladding on my 7. Just got to it today and revealed my stereo amp. Thanks!


  5. The N20 is notorious for being noisy. Any hints on how to differentiate normal engine noise to bad one?

    On a cold start, mine sound like a diesel with a little metallic sound, stops after around 10 seconds.


    • That metallic sound for the first 10 seconds is normal,,,,you will know when there’s a difference in engine noise,,,,it will be this abnormal noise that just doesn’t sound right


      • F30ed says:

        >>will be this abnormal noise that just doesn’t sound right [bmwtechnician]
        When it starts we pretty much know it is rod bearing or timing chain or oil pump chain or some similar expensive thing is about to fail. What is you advise, what would yo do, if this happens on a car what has no warranty (>50k ml)?


      • I don’t know what you should due if your car is out of warranty and has a timing chain or rod bearing problem,,,,I don’t see that part of the business,,,,,I only see cars that are still under warranty coverage.,,,,,I get asked this question a lot about this problem,,,,it sucks ,,,,I wish I had a answer for everyone.


  6. ktan902 says:

    Hi Andreas, thanks for all the helpful info on your blog. I just bought a 2011 X3 with the N52 engine…and 2 months into ownership I am experiencing this noise 😦 Have you come across rod knock or rod bearing failure on the N52s?


  7. Learner says:

    Hi. the car (320i with N20 engine) is in the garage, and from cold there is a very loud noise coming from the turbo, I think it’s related to the linkage from turbo, is this normal or is there a fault here? What is the likely cause and solution to this turbo fault if it is a fault?


    • That’s normal operations during cold start.


      • Learner says:

        Thank you for responding appreciate it, the sound lasts about 30 seconds and then goes away. I think the vehicle engineer was even able to replicate the sound even with the engine off (by doing something physical to the relevant part), I was wondering could it be loose bolt inside the turbo causing that noise or is this normal ?


      • I would really have to hear the noise to make sure,,,,but all N20 rattle during first cold start,,,that’s a common thing,,,you said the noise goes away after 30 seconds,,,,that’s normal,,,they all rattled


  8. ryan says:

    hi, Lately I Have Been Hearing this rattle coming from the exhaust

    i checked the car in many places and no errors at all , engine is running perfect nothing is effected by this issue and you can hear it only when i’m revving and after driving it minimum 20 minutes so at cold start when i rev the engine i cant hear anything

    it’s very wired cause when i’m revving the engine after 20 minutes of driving you can hear it

    but if i wait 5 minutes the rattle goes away and on cold start everything is just perfect also when driving i never hear anything

    i will be so glad if you can help on this

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mark Kamner says:

    Is there a reason why newest n20’s are much quieter than older ones. My friend has a 14 428i and I have a 13 328i and they sound completely different. Both at 50k miles

    Thanks for your time


  10. Ntinos says:

    Hello and thank you for this the questions and especially answers provided. I was looking today to buy a F34 328i N20 (production Apr’2013 with 55k km) and the sound was indeed like a diesel car at the beginning and then went -nearly- silent.

    My question which is on potential oil leakage.

    The car was parked in a dealer’s shop for about 3 months and when he started the car for a quick test drive there was a lot of (white) smoke coming out from the exhaust. I asked and he told me that this is normal as after some months of inactivity there may be oil leakage which is evident immediately when you start the car. As I said, i took the car for a short drive and no smoke was coming out anymore but I am a bit puzzled….have you ever heard or seen this? Would you advise to take it through some specific tests in a BMW partner before committing?

    Thanks in advance for your time!


  11. James says:

    Is there a Service Bulletin or other document for the N20 X3 28i 2013 engine noise?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Serg says:

    Is the whine noise on this original video normal ? I feel like my 13 x3 is making a bit of a whine noise… the timing chain was replaced before I bought it it has the new white plastic piece and I have checked it under oil cap no slack it’s on there tight… I have not serviced the engine since I got the car idrive says 3000km… it’s also cold here but noticed it a lot more lately when I rev with a bit of a rattle too


  13. Tim says:


    I am wondering whether my N20 is starting to get rod knock. I have some silver in my oil filter housing, but I’ve had the timing chains recently replaced, less than 2k miles and it’s had one oil change since. BMW did the chains and they checked the oil and pan and advised it all looked okay.

    The knocking can be heard in this video early on and there’s a clang at 50 seconds as the revs come down – https://youtu.be/CWwesQU9DO0

    It is coming from the underside rear of the engine. Difficult to hear from up top. My knock is only present once the engine has warmed up and strangely the noise is less apparent as the oil has aged, it was more noticeable when the oil was new. The knock is not present when cold, it really only comes in when the car has started to warm up and the dial is halfway to operating temp to normal temp.

    The knock can be heard under light load in N/P and drive at low speed once warmed up.

    Video of the oil – https://youtu.be/7fqap1fZFBk

    This video shows some shiny tiny specs in the oil and a slight trail of shine on the right hand side.

    Be great to have your thoughts.

    Thanks in advance


    • Thanks for the videos,,,yes that does sound like rod knock coming from the engine area,,,,and seeing metal in the oil is never good.


      • Tim says:

        Thanks for the quick reply.

        I’ll drop the oil and check it out. From your experience, do you think because it’s early on, I may be able to get away with new bearings and using plastiguage – just have to hope they’re in spec still.

        Thoughts on race bearings over using BMW coloured rated ones?



      • If you catch it early enough and the crankshaft journals are not damage I would just put factory bearings in again.


  14. Zephyr says:

    Hi Andreas, since a couple days ago i started having this weird knocking sound while stationary between 1500-2500 rpm with my 2013 328i xdrive. Under load it doesn’t happen unless the accelerator pedal is like 5% pressed in and at low speed, between 1500-2500 rpm. For short bursts of acceleration there is no noise. Under normal driving conditions there is no noise. Timing chain has been replaced 1 month ago alongside the oil pump chain kit. As for me and 5 other people, the sound comes from the top side of the engine, a friend of mine listened with a stethoscope and it seems to come from the intake vanos. I tested everything, disconnected intake vanos actuator, it bogged down and revved up to 1500 then bogged down again and the situation repeats, so vanos is ruled out at least from my perspective. Suspected lifters, kept engine at >3000rpm for 2-3 minutes, still same sound. Unplugged turbo actuator, still same sound. I put it in D while stationary, pressed the brake pedal and accelerated to 2000-2500rpm, the sound is not there. So it doesn’t really happen under load. I don’t understand what could it be. Below is a video of the sound:
    Thanks in advance for your reply!


    • Thanks for the video,,, it sounds like a rod knock,,,,have your friend with the stethoscope and listen under neath the car on the oil pan and see if the noise is coming from the oil pan area


      • Zephyr says:

        Thanks a lot! I’ll check with him next days. If it is not audible from the oil pan area, what else could it be? Have a happy new year!


      • What happens when you drive the car,,, is the knocking noise there when you drive up a hill with a load on the engine


      • Zephyr says:

        While driving it is not audible in almost all conditions, hill, descent, etc, unless I switch gearbox to
        manual, keep the revs between 1500-2500 and press the gas pedal very slightly, like 5%, just touching it


      • Ok,,,,I hate to say it but listening to the video again it sound like a rod knock


      • Zephyr says:

        Finally made it to my friend’s shop. He definitely says it can’t be rod bearings as it doesn’t happen under load, it’s audible only while stationery and warm, we drove it a couple km down and up a hill he can’t hear it. He opened the cam cover, a couple bolts from the cover were not very well tightened but nothing major in his opinion. As he checked both of the vanos adjuster units, he could see the intake vanos central valve (spring tab, in the middle of the central valve) is very easy to push compared to the exhaust one. He also found residue from the sticker that was glued to the timing chain guides on the vanos actuators. He will continue investigation today, until then here is a test with a load on it: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/TRbAW7VrWPk


      • Thanks for the video,,,let us know what you find


  15. Vintage Racer says:

    BMW tech: could a well versed airplane mechanic and years of auto mechanics/racing experience replace the N20 timing chain, etc. with the use of Utube videos, appropriate manuals and basic tools? Especially without using the bmw locking tool to lock the dual overhead cams and just not turning over the engine?


    • Yes you sound qualified to do the repairs,,,but you will need the timing tools and lock out pin to perform the job,,,,check on Amazon for the N20 timing tool,,, I think you can find it for $70


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