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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58 Responses to N20 vanos unit broken

  1. kr4va says:

    are vanos bolts T T Y bolts?

    Like

  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.

    Like

  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

    Like

  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!

    Like

    • 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.

      Like

  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?

    Like

    • 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.

      Like

      • 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 …

        Like

      • 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

        Like

  6. bmwlover says:

    Hi, I have N20 with rough idle. ISTA says these errors:
    Charging pressure control: Switch-off as consequence
    Intake Camshaft: Installation faulty.
    Exhaust Camshaft: Installation faulty.
    Also after cold start also misfire error pops up. Tried test with ista for vanos solenoid test removed – solenoid stiff does not move when activated. Tried to read live camshaft sensors read – ista says that currenty no data is sent from them to DME. All wiring lines are good. What could be the problem?

    Like

  7. bmwlover says:

    Yes it does not say no signal. But when I try to test VANOS data via ISTA it gives no data, only 0. Also camshaft sensors also does not give any data to DME. It should show something like incorrect angle/position. I dont know if failing VANOS system should give any data to computer and should show somekind bad data or shouldnt show anything. Also can sparkplugs have any influence to this situation? Maybe I should replace them?

    Like

    • The spark plug have nothing to do with this problem,,,,they would cause misfires,,,I would think you should get some kind of signal from camshaft angle,,,,are you sure everything is plugged in correctly

      Like

  8. Dino says:

    Hello, My exhaust cam is retarding to the most far point , I time the engine with kit, locking crank, cam shaft and vanos. When engine starts cam shaft on exhaust goes all the way to the end. and cam shaft are not in alignment any more. I manually crank engine over few time but after start it always goes retarded on exhaust cam shaft. reference point is the same? What me be causing this? Thanks Regards

    Like

    • After you time the engine you should only turn it over by hand one time and the blocks should lock down,,,,if you turn it over a few times it will never align again that is normal.,,,my question is does the the engine run and are there any faults

      Like

  9. Merl says:

    Hello there, loving your info. Just replaced timing chain and oil pump module on n20 13 528i xdrive. Now im getting vanos inlet, outlet codes, along with vanos camshaft jammed for both intake and exhaust. Would you suspect this is more related to the software reprogram or is the timing off? I used my scope when inserting the crank pin holder and i assumed the hole in the flywheel closest to cams at tdc was the locking point, Is this correct? Thanks for any input.

    Like

    • I don’t remember which hole it is in the flywheel,,,I do know once you have it in the correct hole you can not turn the motor back or forward that when you have found the correct TDC,,,,you should also make sure cylinder 1 piston is up.

      Like

      • Merl says:

        The crank pin to hold at TDC goes through the tiny hole pointing to the rear of the car by the catalytic converter, the only thing this would be able to hold onto would be the flex plate/flywheel. And yes the crank wouldnt rotate after being inserted. Im more concerned with the multiple vanos codes which happened after the fact. There are no timing codes.

        Like

      • I would check the timing again

        Like

  10. Siddiq says:

    Hi. I bought a BMW F20 118i with N13 1.6 engine. The engine was low water damaged. Cleaned spark plugs and as the mileage was 65000 so I changed the timing chain with a TOOL also. The engine start ok. no misfiring. no hesitation. but after 3-4 minutes these fault codes with a message -Drivetrain problem – comes in the display. three fault codes are
    1; 120408 Charging pressure control: switch-off as consequence
    2: 12A701 Catalytic converter downstream oxygen sensor, electrical fault: circuit short to battery (+)
    3: 130304 VANOS (Variable camshaft timing) exhaust: control fault, camshaft stuck
    Changed the solenoid valves. Changed the exhaust VANOS. Changed the oil filter and OIL. Opened oil pan and checked pick up screen. still the same problem.
    Please advice. Thanks

    Like

    • The charge pressure fault is probably due to the the vanos fault,,,,it looks like you replaced all the general stuff already and you are sure the timing is correct,,,,,you said the engine had low water damage what does that mean,,,is it possible the exhaust camshaft is binding,,,,you might want to check the exhaust camshaft journal caps

      Like

  11. NIC says:

    Hi bmw technician.
    I’m wondering if I can just replace those bolts with new steel ones , my car is out of warranty and it has not develop any issues yet , but as precautionary measure I was wondering if this is possible?
    This way I don’t have to set up any timing if I do it one at the time.

    also by any chance would you know the torque specs for this bolts? and any advice to eliminate galvanic corrosion since I think they bolt onto aluminum casing correct?
    if you can direct me in the right path I will really appreciated .
    Nic.

    Like

  12. Ledrew says:

    Hi bmw technician,

    Recently purchased 2104 BMW X1 28i x drive. What symptoms and codes might you get if your timing chain had failed?

    My engine shut of while idle in park. Won’t restart. Everything works, radio, windows, Locks. No turnover on start at all. Tried new battery. Same. Had mechanic put on Autel code reader diagnostics and got 10 or so codes relating to things such as the dinamic stability control, fuel pump. Dash lights up with transmission gear exclamation point and lift ramp both in yellow.

    Could this be the timing chain? or ground from chassis to engine? as suggested by dealer over phone or something else?

    Thanks

    Like

    • Symptoms when timing chain fails is engine won’t start,,,engine won’t turn over,,,,have your mechanics see if he can turn the motor over by hand with a breaker bar on the front crank bolt.

      Like

      • Ledrew says:

        Ok I’ll do that. What codes would come up when the timing chain fails?

        Thanks

        Like

      • killedjas . says:

        Here is a video of what’s happening today.
        I checked the timing chain, it looks fine.

        I appreciate any input. The starter and engine appear to make no attempt to start. New battery installed.

        Sent from my iPhone

        Like

      • Sorry I don’t see any video,,,,ok when you say the starter and engine don’t appear to make attempt to start,,,,,question does the engine turn over when you are trying to start the car,,,,,question does the engine make any sound when trying to start the car,,,if the engine does not turn over when trying to start car,,,,try and turn the engine by hand from the front lower crankshaft bolt and see if the engine will turn.

        Like

      • Ledrew says:

        Brought it to a second mechanic. He discovered it was the engine to chassis ground strap. It had deteriorated and failed. Cost for the strap $7.49.
        Just need to clear the check engine light. I learned that if you touch the neg and positive battery cable together while the battery is disconnected it clears the light. Is this true?

        Thank you.

        Like

      • Yes it should,,,,but sometimes some random faults might still be their

        Like

      • LeDrew says:

        The service engine light has not cleared. I called the mechanic he said it was a fault related to the emissions. Not sure if he meant evap leak. I’ll check my gas cap but I need to clear this code. I’d rather not pay more money. I’m going to trade. Is there a or way trick to clear the code without seeing a mechanic or using a code reader?ledrew

        Thanks.

        Like

      • No there is no way to trick it,,,you would have to scan it and clear it with a diagnostic scanner,,,it will clear as long as it is not a permanent fault then it won’t clear

        Like

  13. Nguyen says:

    Hi bmw technician,

    My 320i with N20 engine have problem with light accelerator or cruise on hightway, about 1.100-1450 rpm.Engine noise u u u like we’ve a drone around and with little vibration on steering.
    I’ve search, alot of people have it problem but no solution.It don’t like bmw :). Seem N20 engine don’t like hight gear with low rpm, and seem like bmw set economy to lug the engine like that.

    My car have no error code, product 4/2012 with no tune.

    Coul it be timming change or leak some where? I’ve change engine mount, spark plug, coil but problem is the same.

    Thanks alot.

    Like

    • It’s hard to say what the problem is with out hearing and driving the car,,,,I don’t think the noise is timing chain because that makes a whining noise,,,the only leak could be a exhaust leak but you said the steering also shakes,,,have you had the tires and rims checked make sure rims are not bent,,,also check the rear transmission mount make sure they are not cracked or broken,,,also check the drive belt tensioner could be a problem.

      Like

  14. chetan says:

    hi,
    i am getting the following error codes on my 2013 BMW X3 (107k miles):
    133E10 -permanent – valvetronic system: deactivated, adjustment fault too frequent
    131401 – Intermittent – VANOS (variable cam shaft timing) exhaust cold start not controllable
    120408 – Intermittent – Charging pressure control: switch-off as consequence
    130304 – Intermittent – VANOS (variable cam shaft timing) exhaust: control fault, camshaft stuck
    131808 – Intermittent – Exhaust variable camshaft timing control (VANOS) cost start position not reached.

    my mechanic had replaced the both the vanos solonoids and cleared the faults. when he took a test drive, the codes again cam back. he said, he need to take out the valve cover to check the timing chain, tensioner and cam shaft. Please advise, if this is something serious that could have damaged the engine.

    Like

    • I don’t know how serious this is,,,but your mechanic is right to remove the valve cover and inspect the timing chain and guide rails,,,,if that is ok the check the exhaust vanos unit and intake vanos units,,,,your faults are for the exhaust side,,,the boost charge fault is due to the exhaust vanos faults.

      Like

  15. chetan says:

    Hi, thank you for the reply. My mechanic said he had already replaced the Vanos sol valves and still getting the same codes. Do you think is this something related to eccentric shaft sensor? Or turbo charger

    Like

  16. Mirena says:

    Do you guys fix the issue ?! I have changed timing chain on 2013 BMW 328i xdrive this is the codes Im getting 131501 120408 131908 . thanks for the input

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Mirena says:

    131908-VANOS inlet: cold start, Position not reached.
    131501-VANOS inlet, cold start not consolable.
    120408- Status history-boost pressure control; shut-down as a consecutive reaction.

    Thanks For your help

    Like

    • Ok the charge boost pressure fault is related to the vanos faults,,,,the vanos faults could be a couple of things but since you just replaced the timing chain maybe the timing is not correct on the intake vanos unit?

      Like

      • Brandon Mirena says:

        Thank You very much for the reply !! I have checked timing multiple times, I found this article online and this is what Im thinking right now!!

        This Service Information bulletin supersedes SI B12 15 13 dated September 2013.
        designates changes to this revision
        SUBJECT
        N20 and N26 Engine: Various VANOS System Faults Stored in DME
        MODEL
        E84
        E89
        F10
        F25
        F30
        F31
        F34
        SITUATION
        The Service Engine Soon lamp and Engine Malfunction warning are illuminated, and the vehicle
        has reduced power output. This situation can occur as a customer complaint, or after performing
        repairs to the engine valve train assembly. One or more of the following faults is stored in the
        DME.
        F10, F25, F30, F31 and F34:
        131401 VANOS, exhaust, starting from cold: Non-adjustable
        131501 VANOS, intake, starting from cold: Non-adjustable
        131808 VANOS, exhaust, starting from cold: Position not reached
        131908 VANOS, intake, starting from cold: Position not reached
        130104 VANOS, intake, control fault, camshaft jammed
        130304 VANOS, exhaust, control fault, camshaft jammed
        130308 VANOS, exhaust, control fault, position not reached
        130108 VANOS, intake, control fault, position not reached
        SI B12 15 13
        Engine
        December 2013
        Technical Service
        Page 1 of 4
        https://www.bmwtis.net/tiscode/cgi-bin/bulletin.aspx?sie_path=/tsb/bulletins/htm_store/158… 1/6/2014
        SB-10053485-8362
        E84 and E89:
        2D54 VANOS, exhaust, starting from cold: Non-adjustable
        2D55 VANOS, intake, starting from cold: Non-adjustable
        2D56 VANOS, exhaust, starting from cold: Position not reached
        2D57 VANOS, intake, starting from cold: Position not reached
        2D60 VANOS, exhaust, control fault, camshaft jammed
        2D5A VANOS, intake, control fault, camshaft jammed
        2D5B VANOS, intake, control fault, position not reached
        2D61 VANOS, exhaust, control fault, position not reached
        If one of the applicable faults listed above is not stored in the DME fault memory then continue
        troubleshooting with the applicable test plan for the fault(s) stored.
        CAUSE
        This is due to a diagnostic programming error in the DME.
        PROCEDURE
        If one of the applicable faults listed above is stored in the DME then continue with the
        procedure outlined below.
        Do not replace any parts.
        Perform a vehicle test.
        F10, F25, F30, F31 and F34:
        Reprogram the vehicle ISTA/P 2.50.4 or higher. The improved DME software was introduced
        with the following integration levels:
        F010-13-07-506 for the F10
        F020-13-07-506 for the F3x
        F025-13-07-506 for the F25
        E84 and E89:
        Reprogram the vehicle ISTA/P 2.51.0 or higher. The improved DME software was introduced
        with the following integration levels:
        E89X-13 -11-505 for the E84 and E89
        Page 2 of 4
        https://www.bmwtis.net/tiscode/cgi-bin/bulletin.aspx?sie_path=/tsb/bulletins/htm_store/158… 1/6/2014
        Note that ISTA/P will automatically reprogram and code all programmable control modules that do
        not have the latest software. For information on programming and coding with ISTA/P, refer to
        CenterNet / Aftersales Portal / Service / Workshop Technology / Vehicle Programming.
        Note: When the ISTA system message displays: Battery voltage only “XX.XX” V. Please connect
        charger. Please note the displayed battery voltage reading in the repair order comments section.
        This documentation is not necessary when part of an approved Technical Service repair procedure;
        the battery charger is required to be attached before performing the Vehicle Test.
        WARRANTY INFORMATION
        Covered under the terms of the BMW New Car/SAV Limited Warranty or the BMW Certified Pre-
        Owned Program.
        Specific eligible repairs may also be covered by the terms of the Federal, State or BMW Emissions
        Warranty.
        To determine if any applicable Federal, State or BMW Emissions Warranty coverage applies prior
        to performing repairs, please see SI B01 02 11 for “Emissions Warranty Coverage” and refer to the
        “Glossary of Emission Coverage” attachment for more information.
        The BMW Certified Pre-Owned Limited Warranty applies to BMW CPO vehicles that are still
        within the BMW Certified Pre-Owned Limited Warranty and this coverage extends beyond the
        Emissions Warranty coverage that applies.
        Labor operation code 00 00 006 is a Main labor operation. If you are using a Main labor code for
        another repair, use the Plus code labor operation 00 00 556 instead.
        Even though work time labor operation code 61 00 006 ends in “006,” it is not considered a Main
        labor operation.
        Work time (WT) labor operation 61 00 006 requires an individual punch time.
        and
        Defect Code: 11 36 01 96 00
        Labor Operation: Labor Allowance: Description:
        00 00 006 Refer to KSD2 Performing “vehicle test” (with vehicle
        diagnosis system – checking faults)
        and if necessary, also
        61 21 528 Refer to KSD2 Charging battery
        and as necessary
        61 00 006 WT Performing vehicle diagnosis – test
        module.
        Page 3 of 4
        https://www.bmwtis.net/tiscode/cgi-bin/bulletin.aspx?sie_path=/tsb/bulletins/htm_store/158… 1/6/2014
        E84 and E89
        or
        F10, F25, F30, F31 and F34
        Refer to KSD2 for the corresponding flat rate unit (FRU) allowance. Enter the Chassis Number,
        which consists of the last 7 digits of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Click on the
        “Search” button, and then enter the applicable flat rate labor operation in the FR code field.
        If a control module was working properly and/or had no related faults stored prior to vehicle
        programming and it fails to program correctly or requires initialization, this additional work must
        be claimed with separate labor operations under the defect code listed above; refer to KSD2.
        Other Repairs
        If performing other ISTA diagnostics and related test plans results with eligible and covered
        work, claim this work with the applicable defect code and labor operations listed in KSD2.
        Labor Operation: Labor Allowance: Description:
        61 00 710 Refer to KSD2 Programming / encoding control unit(s)
        (not including CAS)
        or
        61 00 720 Refer to KSD2 Programming / encoding control unit(s)
        (with CAS)
        Labor Operation: Labor Allowance: Description:
        61 00 730 Refer to KSD2 Programming/encoding control unit(s)
        [ Copyright ©2013 BMW of North America, Inc. ]
        Page 4 of 4
        https://www.bmwtis.net/tiscode/cgi-bin/bulletin.aspx?sie_path=/tsb/bulletins/htm_store/158… 1/6/2014

        Like

      • Boy that’s a old bulletin,,,,but yes this could be your issue,,,,you just need to check your integration level and make sure it’s below what is required

        Like

      • Brandon says:

        Hello again, hope you having great day!! Is there possible timing not to be correct on the intake vanos unit?! I know impulse sending wheels and camshaft they need to be lined up using a special tool. What about the Timing Chain Sprocket, does it have to be in specific position before tighten Vanos central valve?!
        if I have used the tool how it is possible no to be on timing ?! Car start very well but no power and check engine light on code po52b.
        Thank You very much for your help.

        Like

      • Ok,,,,no the sprocket does not have to be in a special position,,,,you have to lock down both camshaft with special tool,,,engine on TDC,,,,you have to tighten the chain tensioner and then you can tighten both vanos unit,,,you should be able to hand turn over the engine to TDC and lock down the camshafts again with the tool and you should be fine after that.

        Like

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