N20 vanos unit broken

image Ok here’s another vanos unit off a 2011 328 N51 engine,,,,this is the intake vanos unit that is now in several pieces,,,,the customer was just driving on the highway when the engine just lost power.image As you can see there’s is nothing special about these vanos unit,,,,when I was checking out the engine I also found the exhaust vanos unit,,,,one of the bolt were broken,,,,so I replaced both vanos unit and had to find TDC on the engine and time the engine,,,,while performing this job,,,,,I also removed the  oil pan and removed all the broken pieces from the vanos units,,,,,so they don’t roll around in the oil pan.,,,,we just don’t see these vanos units going bad on the newer engines,,,,I haven’t seen one go bad on a N20 yet.,,,,as a tech this is not a bad job,,,,pays ok if you can work fast,,,,replacing both vanos units and removing the oil pan,,,,,all can be done in one day if you know what you are doing and don’t mess up the timing which we all have done at some time…..lol

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15 Responses to N20 vanos unit broken

  1. kr4va says:

    are vanos bolts T T Y bolts?


  2. Said Turgutalp says:

    Andrea, I just found your blog looking for answers for my used/ new to me 2013 328i with N20 engine.
    Im getting error codes 120408 Charging Pressure Control: Switched off.
    130304 Vanos exhaust control fault camshaft jammed
    131401 vanos exhaust cold start not controllable
    1d2404 Map thermostat, activation, line disconnection
    CDA904 No message Status of trailer, 0X2e4 DME receiver AHM transmitter.

    I would like the tackle the Vanos issue first and go from there. I know I might be looking at replacing Vanos Actuator, central valve or the whole vanos unit. My question is, when I remove the central valve, will the timing chain or sprockets will slip their position? should I buy timing lock kit to lock the cams and cranksshaft in place?

    or can I slowly unscrew the center valve and insert a new one?

    Any input will be greatly appreciated.


  3. Ronnie says:

    Andreas first and foremost thank you for sharing your knowledge. now I have a question for you and hoping to get a direction. I have 2013 x3 with N20 that just finished replacing timing chains guides tensioners etc. due to a low oil pressure and chain noise.now iam having inlet and outlet vanos dtc . I tried to reset vanos with no success. also it has a start stall initially. unfortunately info on this N20 is almost none exist at best. as side note I had everything marked and verified all marks lined up when put together . dtc are 131401 and 131501 . your input is much apreciated


  4. Blake Ward says:

    No one knows what this CDA904 code means. 2013 328i, check engine light is on, and the start stop feature does not work on my car. When I go to accelerate now, the engine lags. Today my engine shut off while I was driving. The head mechanics at BMW Santa Monica have no idea either. Please help!


    • Ok you have a couple of things going on here,,,,that fault code just ignore,,,that fault code is a bogus fault some kind of software bug,,,,,ok you start stop function not working I don’t know without looking at the car,,,,now the car shutting off while driving sound like the fuel pump and the fuel pump relay EKPS module is going bad,,,,I would have those checked out next time.


  5. Tomelino says:

    Hi bmwtechnician,
    I want to reset the timing on my N55 but I can’t lock the Vanos units in it’s default position.
    Seems like the locking pins are stuck. Do you replace the units in such case, or do you know a trick to lose them?


    • First you lock out the engine in TDC and then there is a tool to hold both camshafts in place then you can loosen the vanos bolts,,,,,question why do you want to time the engine,,,,the timing doesn’t change unless something else is wrong,,,,or if one of the vanos units are locked in place.


      • Tomelino says:

        I had to replace the valve lifters. I have the alignment tool to lock the crankshaft, camshafts and impulse sending wheel. Usually the Vanos units lock in its “default” position when engine is turned off. There are locking pins integrated inside the units. They unlock only when oil pressure is applied. To set the timing properly you have to be sure the Vanos units are locked its end position, so it’s moving 1:1 with the camshaft. Problem is, mine aren’t locked. Seems like the locking pins inside the units are jammed …


      • I know that’s what BMW wants you to do for repairs,,,,but we never use the vanos lock out default,,,,we just lock out the flywheel,lock out both camshafts and sensor wheels on the vanos unit,,,,we tighten the chain tensioner then torque down both vanos units,,,we then turn the motor over by hand and pin the motor and vanos again to make sure everything is at TDC again.,,,I hope this helps


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