N20 timing chain issue

ok I’m getting a lot of questions about the N20 timing chain noise and replacement,,,,here are 2 short audio clips,,,,you can here a high pitched whine in both videos. one video is at 3000rpms,,,,and the other is reving the engine up and down,,,I sent both videos to BMW to get approval on the timing chain repairs.image Here I removed the valve cover and inspected from the top of the engine for any visual problem,,,I don’t know if you can see it in the picture,,,,on top of the chain you can see shiney marks,,,that is an indication the chain is rubbing on something,,,,those marks are not normally there.image Here the old timing chain and guide reins,,,the guide rails were broken.image Here you can see where they broke,,,,the two rails would normally be snapped together.image Here the old  oil pump timing chain module,,,,this comes complete as you see it,,,,did not find anything wrong with this,,,but BMW wants us to replace it at the same time as the timing chain.image Here are the new timing chain guides and rails,,,the new ones are white in color and made of a better plastic we hope,,,,lol.image This is the new oil pump timing chain module complete just bolt in,,,,this job is not one of the best to do,,,,this was on a X3 so I had to deal with the front axles and front differential,,,,,this job only pays about 9.5 hours,,,so you pretty much have one day to complete the job to make any money.,,,I hope this helps some of you guys about the timing chain issues.

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234 Responses to N20 timing chain issue

  1. joe266 says:

    no, i do not have a Lawyer on my case, because i hope BMW will accept the costs. my dealer said i have good chances, because my car has low kilometers and is only 3 years old.
    if i have to pay for it, this will be my last BMW in my life. the n54, i owned before, was a problem child aswell. high pressure pump, turbos, injectors……

    Like

    • This is the case number from puma,,,,,so puma is looking into your problem

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      • joe266 says:

        oh ok, thx Andreas. a misunderstanding. hopefully i get a answer soon. 9 ours left, no response from my dealer.

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      • It takes some time

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      • Dennis herrera says:

        Please fill me in what’s PUMA ?

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      • Ok how do I explain Puma,,,,there are certain parts that we need authorization from BMW to replace and that when we make a Puma case and send all the information to them and they review it,,,,now they give us authorization to to replace the part or maybe they see something on there side that we can not see,,,,and they will tell us what the problem is and what to fix and replace,,,,also when we have transmission problem ,,,,we scan the car and they can see all the information and data from the transmission and tell us what is wrong,,,,,so when we submit a case it goes to puma

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      • Dennis herrera says:

        You think my timing chain failure which damaged my engine can be submitted to puma for review?

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      • Good question,,,,I really don’t know,,,,you might have to ask your dealer if they want to submit a claim to puma about your engine,

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  2. Tossaporn Buddhaporn says:

    Dear Sir i have some problem on my car 2011 F07 535 gt N55

    I start engine on morning then engine stop by them self and wont start anymore i try so hard to researh every common problems that found on internet hope your can help me i found some screw on timming chain slot my question is Does it make engine wont start or not ?

    Here a link to see what happen i already check fuel pump , Ignition Coil , Spark Plug everything fine
    hope you can help me car stuck for 2 week now

    Like

    • Yes that bolt will make it not start,,,,that bolt looks like a vanos unit bolt,,,,,look at the back side of both vanos units and there should be 4 bolt going though each vanos units,,,,,some time the head of the bolt come off causing problems,,,,,I should have some pictures on my blog for replacing vanos gear bolts,,,,,I hope this helps

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      • Tossaporn says:

        Now i cant find that bolt when i used magnet it dropping

        In this case what should i do for engine replace timing chain ?

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      • You first have to find the problem,,,,and decide what to fix,,,,you might have to replace the timing chain,,,,the bolt probably dropped in to oil pan,,,

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  3. joe266 says:

    lol. 4th day @bmw dealer. the mechanic said , they changed several parts like timing chain, camshafter, oil pump and what ever . tomorrow he will do some test drive, to be sure everything works fine. the good news, all of that is paid by BMW.
    hopefully my well known BMW engineer can take a look in the BMW PuMa to inform me, what was done at all.
    on top my horn has a malfunction, i hope on goodwill by BMW. Unbelievable how much trouble i do have with this car.

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  4. bavrider says:

    A non-dealer mechanic said that the N20/N26 has the timing chain tensioner on the side of the engine, and he suggested that when the tensioner is uninstalled, a special BMW tool can be used to measure the play/slack of the timing chain and check against BMW factory spec. Does such a diagnostics tool and diagnostic procedure exist for the N20/N26 engine?

    Like

    • Yes the tensioner is on the side of the engine,,,no there is no special tool for checking the timing chain slack,,,,the timing chain tensioner is oil feed making sure the tensioner is always giving tension on the chain.,,,,the problem is the chain and timing chain rails and oil pump chain.

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      • Dennis herrera says:

        Absolutely correct.. the timing chain guides Crack and allows the chain to jump,which results in pistons meeting valves .. so sad that this DEFECT, BMW is pulling on all thier customers.. blaming them for a flaw design .. shame on you BMW!

        Liked by 1 person

      • bavrider says:

        Thanks for the info. How can oil pump chain be checked, before it breaks?!? The timing chain seems to be accessible through the oil cap opening, but the oil pump chain is totally hidden from sight …. How does stretched/ready-to-break oil pump chain sound like?!?

        Like

      • There no way to check it before it breaks,,,,some guys are lucky and they hear a strange sound before it breaks or a whine noise inside the engine.

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  5. Joe266 says:

    Finaly it is done. They only changed the chain itself, not the rails. Hope they will Keep working next 34000km lol.

    Sounds Good like it should be. Crossing Fingers.
    Another thing they found was the transmission which oils. Maybe i should sell this 1 who knows what comes next.

    Like

    • bavrider says:

      Wow all that work but no guide rail replacement? That is insane!

      Like

      • joe266 says:

        hi bavrider, the problem is that i can’t estimate, if the guide rail replacement was necessary. i’m not a car technican, so i hope my dealer did anything to solve that problem and so it is, the howling noise is gone. seems to be everything is ok with my guide rails. a preventive change would be on my own costs and i’m not ok with that.
        most of all i should have say to my dealer “change every mounting parts of my N20 preventive, they might have a problem” lol.

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      • That’s kind of interesting,,,,lol

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    • I think that sounds like a good idea,,,,lol

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      • bavrider says:

        So does replacing just the timing chain without putting in new guide rail save on labor costs, e.g. no need to drop oil pan? From the videos it looks like removing the timing chain already needs to remove the guide rail, so the additional cost($60?) to swap in a guide rail should be pretty minimal, right?

        Like

      • Yes you are correct ,,,,for $60 doesn’t make any sense

        Like

    • bavrider says:

      There is no reply button on your other post, so I will reply to this one instead. That’s very interesting the guide rail is still OK(hence not replaced) while the timing chain was not. That means the timing chain(in your case) failed first(by stretching), but those flimsy plastic holes on the guide rail attachment piece actually has not been broken. That answers the question whether the chain fails first, or the guide rail fails first.

      Like

      • Good question,,,,I guess we will never know the answer to that problem,,,,unless BMW ever tells us why this happens,,,,lol

        Like

      • joe266 says:

        my thougt was, when they change the chain, the rails and guides would be replaced to, because BMW knows the issue of this lousy plastic. now i know i was wrong 🙂
        hope my friend from munich will look into the Puma next week and can give me some more information.

        Like

      • Let’s hope so,,,,,,I tried to see your puma case,,,but was unable to see it because it wasn’t from my dealer

        Like

  6. James says:

    Hi Andreas. Very interesting thread. Thanks for providing it to us! I read through it entirely.

    Sounds like the issue pertains mainly to 2013 N20’s? But you’ve seen at least one 2014. I also saw something about the problem being resolved with a new chain guide part in 2015/01 (using a stronger plastic). Sometimes there is a whining noise indicating a problem?

    Very confusing for us 2014 owners… Is there any way to know if this could affect mine? It’s a 2014 X3 xDrive28i F25 (245 HP) – 2.0 L with the N20B20O engine.

    And if no particular problems are evident… is replacing the chain guard/ chain recommended preventative thing to just take care?

    Thanks!

    Like

    • It kind hit or miss,,,,the problem doesn’t happen to every N20,,,,the problem is that this problem should not happen at all,,,,so should you update the timing chain and guide rails so you don’t have this problem,,,,oh that’s a tuff question,,,,how long do you plan on keeping the car,,,,,if you plan on keeping the car for a long time and you drive a lot of miles,,,,then yes replace the timing chain and guide rails and oil pump chain.

      Like

      • cenkozkan says:

        Hi, What’s the approximate cost for preventative maintenance on this ? I have a 2014 320i that I want to keep for a while. Is there a way of making sure this doesn’t happen ?
        Thanks.

        Like

      • No there no way of stopping this from happening,,,,it’s just the timing chain was strong enough,,,,,I don’t know the cost of the parts,,,,,the labor should be about 10 to 12 hours of labor time.

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  7. bavrider says:

    It is disappointing that BMW has not stepped up yet to provide some kind of extended limited warranty, especially when other engines(e.g. N52 N/A, N55 turbo) have similar slide rail and guide rail setups, and the timing chains for those also loop around the two VANOS. Those other I6 engines do not have broken guide rails, so why should this N20/N26 I4 turbo have this kind of issue? This is totally unacceptable!!!

    Like

    • I think the timing chain was not strong enough on the N20 engine.

      Like

    • joe266 says:

      i’m with you, but i think they want damage their image. only a few drivers with that chain problem is easier to handle then shout out in the world “here we got a warranty for your N20,cause the timing chain is crap”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bavrider says:

        Just curious, what is the oil change interval of your car? And is the car tracked and/or driven hard(e.g. turbo is kicked in frequently)? My hope is that my mellow daily driving style will reduce my odds of timing chain failures. It does sound like “Ultimate Driving Machine” these days is just a misnomer. 😦

        Like

      • I have several cars,,,my daily driver Mini clubman is on employ lease so I don’t worry about that car,,,my wife’s Toyota 5k,,,,my project car in garage custom built VW turbo Karmann Ghia about 1k some times drag race,,,,,the ultimate driving is still there just in a different way,,,there still nice cars to drive,,,handle good,,,brake good,,,designed nice.

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      • Joe266 says:

        When i drive out of my garage i enable sport+ and push the pedal to Metal. After i arrive at Work i put some donats on street. After work first thing i have to do is a bournout cause i wanna come home quickly.
        Since i left my 135i, i drive like a granpa for real.
        My car has no Oil change yet, it will be next month the first Time since roll of Band in 05/2014 After 34000km.
        @Andreas. Nice 1 the karmann.
        What i prefer next is a lease too. Minimized having those trouble

        Like

  8. Jesse says:

    Do you have the part numbers for the new white color timing chain guide and rail?

    Like

    • No sorry I don’t,,,the dealer should have the new updated timing chain rail part numbers

      Like

    • bavrider says:

      My local part department said there is no updated guide rail, and they said the brand new white color will age into dark brown with miles and high temperature environment. Do check out the factory N20 engine assembly video on youtube, it shows that those 2012/2013 engines also have white guide rails.

      Like

  9. Jesse says:

    Checking on the web referencing BMW Catalog http://bmwfans.info/parts-catalog
    there was no indication of new part numbers. Maybe they just replacing it with better materials while no changes of part number.. possible?

    Like

  10. Jim says:

    Anyone know about the 5 series F10 2010 models, heard the timing chain is breaking on these also.

    Like

  11. T.Gus says:

    I’m dealing with that same noise on a N20 powered X3, customer brought it in because of the whine and loss of power, pulled a BMW specific underboost code (not P0299) and replaced the electric diverter valve. No underboost code, but still getting the whine.

    Is there a chance I can get assistance from BMW in resolving this since there is a PUMA case?

    Like

  12. T.Gus says:

    When you say you had to deal with the axles and diff, does that mean you had to remove them to drop the oil pan?
    Or is there a way to drop the pan without dropping the entire front drive?

    Like

    • I’m sorry I mean you have to drop the diff and axles to do the work

      Like

      • T.Gus says:

        I kind of found that out.
        Good news is, all that’s left is dropping the pan and actually swapping in the new timing kit.
        If this job flags 9.5, what’s a realistic time for an experienced tech?
        This is my first time, and being an independent, I don’t have a whole lot of factory support.

        Like

      • Let put it this way 9.5 isn’t enough for a traded BMW tech,,,,,I have done that job several times and it’s hard to do it in 9.5 hours,,,,,I did it once in 8 hours but everything went perfect

        Like

  13. Buying aBMW says:

    Would a 2015 X3 28i have the new part (or old one) if it was manufactured in 2014? Looking at purchasing a car that was originally sold as new in June 2014 (but a 2015 model). Looks like Manufacturing date is 06/14 from inside door label.

    Like

    • It hard to say if it has the updated timing chain,,,,that’s to close to call,,,,I would say it doesn’t because who knows when the engine was built,,,,the engine could have been with the old timing chain design.

      Like

  14. Omar Calderon says:

    Would this be the sound?

    Like

  15. Omar Calderon says:

    Guess I’m out of luck will need to start purchasing the parts for the work to be done asap

    Like

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