N20 timing chain noise

image Ok I know you have seen this picture before of a N20 engine,,,,well here another N20 with a internal engine noise,,,,this time the noise was coming from the front of the engine,,,,,not like the lower end like the last one I did,,,,this time we took off the valve cover and checked out the timing chain and found the timing chain rails coming apartimage I hope you can see the problem,,,,I took two differs pictures hoping you can see the problem,,,,,if you look right in the middle where the orange color plastic piece is,,,,right under the vanos unit,,,,you can see a little knob,,,the plastic piece should be around the knob,,,that would snap the two plastic timing rails snap together,,,,but since that little piece is broken,,,now that little knob is not locked in place,,,causing it to separate.image Here’s another picture,,,this one might be better

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47 Responses to N20 timing chain noise

  1. Rob Wilds says:

    How many miles on this engine and what model?


  2. dAw says:

    Was it making a noise like this guy : https://youtu.be/cT6ToHc0Pgk


  3. magas says:

    Can you comment on this post from your experience?
    Nice website btw…


  4. BMW says:

    have you seen this issue yet in a 2014?


  5. F30ed says:

    1) how often do you see timing chain issues? You have an imression how many N20 are around you(coming for service, oil changes, sales, leases..), and how many of them had this problem. What procentage? approximately
    2) when is starts to whine, any indication/estimate when it may completely fail?
    3) what is the best strategy (in your opinion) on how to act if whining started?
    4) any extended warranty company you know (besides BMW) that would reliably covered this problem?



    • I thinks it’s about 10 to 15 percent of the cars I see with N20 and N26 engines,,,,,about 50% of the cars I see have the N20 engine,,,,when it starts to whine it that start of the problem,,,,when it whines it doesn’t mean that it failed,,,,it just the start of a problem.


    • If you are still cover under warranty or if you have CPO coverage,,,,just tell the dealer your engine has a abnormal engine whine,,,,we haven’t seen any extended warranty company deal with the timing chain noise yet.


  6. F30ed says:

    I read several cases about timing chain failures when oil turned to sludge . Did you see anything like that? Thanks


  7. F30ed says:

    Just an observation: looks like the plastic chain cassette in you case broke in the place where 2 parts lock near under intake VANOS. If a flexible laparoscope is used thru oil neck, this could be discovered in literally 1 minute, without opening the engine.


  8. Bruce says:

    My 2013 X3 just experienced seized engine due to plastic timing chain guide breaking apart and falling into oil pan and blocking oil pump pickup … Quoted $25 K to replace engine. BMW Canada / North America must step up and repair this. (N20 4 cyl 2 litre with 58000 km – out of warranty by 4 months!!)


    • That really sucks,,,,I hate to hear stuff like that,,,,all I know right now is BMW has been talking about extending the warranty on the timing chains on N20 and N26 engines,,,,,BMW knows there is a problem,,,,good luck


    • Rob Wilds says:

      Hi, I have a 2013 X1 with the same engine. it has 87k miles and seems to be doing very well. I’ve inspected the chain and guides and that seems fine too. The car was driven all highway and I bought it for my wife for grocery getting….so I’m curious: what was your diving style? highway? stop/go? did you use start/stop often? or anything else you can share. Thanks!


  9. I’ve got a BMW 320 from ’12 with a rough running engine, scanning revealed a fault code 118002 mixture bank 1 to rich. Checked the fuel trims and is was at -30.5%. After ivestigation I thought it was the Valve cover internal pcv system. When I removed the valve cover I saw the Chain Guides had the same problem as above. Now going to change the Chain and see if my mixture problem is also solved.


    • Did you remove the spark plugs,,,,see if they are fuel soaked


      • forgot to mention a already replaced four injectors.Spark plug look good. That didn’t change anything. Timed the engine today. Exhaust camshaft is out. Going to replace the chain en guides tommorow and see if it is also the solution for the rich running.


      • Ok,,,,sounds good


      • Changing the timing chain didn’t solve the problem. Replaced kat and oxygen sensor with a different working car. Made nog difference. Also changed LMM this also didn’t solve the problem. Car keeps running rich. The car is now at the BMW dealer to see if they can find the problem.


      • I would really like to here what the dealer finds out.


      • Kevin Brammer says:

        So after being at the bmw dealer for 3 times problem still wasn’t solved. I asked them to check the fuel pressures. Low fuel pressure doesn’t have a real sensor it is calculated by the ecu. So it was difficult to check. High fuel pressure was right according to the dealer. I still had my doubts if the fuel pressure regulator in the high fuel pressure pump was working correctly. Because the rich fuel mixture was the worst when the engine was iddeling. So I replaced the HPFP with one from a different car when I had the chance. And guess what car is running great again fuel trims are spot on and the car has more power.


      • The dealer probably didn’t check the spark plugs,,,just checking the fuel pressure is not only the best way,,,,what happen is the fuel pressure changes a lot,,,,it’s not a steady fuel pressure,,,,so that’s why I like to remove the spark plugs and get a reading on them,,,,it is a old school trick,,,,you can tell if the car is running rich or lean,,,,I’m glad you figured it out


  10. Charles Gharamti says:

    I’m looking at buying this one, does it sound like the timing chain whine?


    By my ear, it does. Any indication on how long these have when they start whining, or is the preferred method to replace all timing chain components and oil pump asap to prevent a failure on the road?


  11. Jay says:

    What about having a whining sound in the cabin during WOT or heavy loading. My car started developing this whine post 3k rpm after I swapped out to a new set of custom exhaust


  12. Hello, I have a very close problem with this one. My car started to make that noise, but after I raced hard the next day the noise changed a lot, to another like a tek tek tek. The impression it gives, is that it really is hitting valve or other engine component. But the car is normal, has not lost power and does not blame any mistakes. I have the car stopped in the workshop without a light, because I am very afraid that something in the engine has been compromised due to this strong acceleration I made.


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