Here’s a hot topic with a lot of BMW owners,,,,this car came in with check engine light on and engine whine and rattle noise,,,,check engine light was low oil pressure and jammed oil pressure ,,,,,I noticed the timing chain whine but the engine was also rattling,,,,I removed the valve cover to inspect the timing chain,,,,you can see the chain rail missing and jammed under the vanos unit. So I removed the oil pan to see what’s going on inside and this is what I found at the bottom of the oil pan,,,,there was so much plastic from the timing chain rail,,,there was also a broken bolt and metal shavings in the pan. There was so much plastic in the oil pan that the oil pump was sucking up pieces of plastic causing a oil pressure issue and causing more damage.
vic san on N20 vanos unit broken Mark on N55 intake camshaft beari… JC on F30 A/C noise Jordan on New B engine mechanical water… jmiddle204 on X3 4×4 transfer case
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Hi Andraes, has BMW field engineers offer any explanation how this whole mechanism failed? Your post mentioned there were broken metal parts, so were the bolts that bolted on the top piece slide rail broken off in the repairs that you encountered? Or the failure started at the two snap-on tabs that connect top slide rail to the right-side guard rail?
Most of the failures I have seen start with the two snap tabs for the timing chain rail breaks
The N55 timing chain rails have similar snap tab design too, and N55 timing chain has not quiet made the news all these days ….
From the N20 parts diagram, the top slide rail is bolted on by two bolts, the right guard rail also has 2 bolts. So the two snap tabs should not bear weight/force, correct? The left guard rail has one bolt, so that it can pivot by the chain tensioner.
Did most of the failures result in shattered top slide rail? One speculation is that the factory torque spec of the 2 bolts for top slide rail are incorrect, leading to the failure. Is that possible?
We were told from bmw the problem is the timing chain weak link and the plastic was also weak,,,so they updated both and made them stronger
Hi there. I’ve just gone through this painful experience myself. BMW offered me 20% off a brand new engine. Still $17,000 for an x1 thatvisnt even worth that. Anyways I spend 20 hours replacing the chain. Big job. Went well and all seemed good. The car ran for a mile or so then seized. There was junk trapped I’ve been told in the oil passages blocking lubrication of the crank etc
Found a low mileage used engine for $4800. You suspect these class action lawsuits will come to fruition? BMW must be accountable for this. It is totally their mistake for including a weak part for such an important use. I will never buy another BMW as they have not helped me financially and refuse to take responsibility.
You never know about these class action suits,,,I totally understand you leaving BMW
So BMW knows all along the early N20/N26 has weak chain link and weak plastic …. BMW better makes things right for their customers.
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That why they did that 7/70 for certain models and years
A dealer foreman listened to my N26(almost 7 years and 60k+ miles) and said there was no whine. He also opened engine oil cap and checked that the timing chain + slide rail(engine just turned off) was tight with no snag. My trusted mechanic also listened to the engine and said it sounded quieter than other N20/N26 timing chains that he fixed. The cold chain + slide rail has a slight play, maybe 1-2mm.
My 7 yr/70k will expire end of this Oct(in a couple of weeks). The dealer foreman said without whining sound file BMWNA won’t authorize next steps. He did suggest to authorize diagnostics($200) so that the shop can dump car data to BMW headquarter to further evaluate. Do you think it is worth paying $200 to do this?
Nope,,,,I have never heard of car data for further evaluation,,,if they took a look and said everything looks ok,,,,I would hold on to my $200 dollars
Thanks for saving me $200!
I have told the SAs and foremen to check timing chain in the past dealer oil changes, they just informally listened and looked, and said all was good. None of my complaints was on paperwork, the SA said to get the complaint on record, I had to pay $200 diagnostics before they will put anything on paper. Oh well.
Hi, This is a great site!! I have an april 2013 f30 320i m sport this is an N20 engine I believe. I’m a little concerned about an underlying knocking. The more you drive it the less you hear it but it’s mostly present on idle. Not sure if it could be chain issue or rod bearing or just the way the car is to be honest. The car has done just over 30K Motorway driving is absolutely fine and after a long drive you can’t usually hear anything. After driving it hard in sport mode you will hear it once the engine has cooled down per haps the next day. Interested in your thoughts. Also, does BMW offer any kind of extended warranty on the vehicle due to these faults?
Ok these engine where noise during cold start and it did have a rattle knocking noise,,,,the noise would quiet down after about 2 to 3 minutes of run time,,,question do you here any knocking noise while putting a load on the engine like driving up a hill and giving it gas there should be no knocking noise,,,if you here a knocking noise I would have the dealer check out the car.,,,BMW does sell a extended warranty it is not cheap.
Thanks.. I’ll check this but whilst driving it’s fine I don’t think there is any knocking going on when i’m driving but only on idle Sometimes mostly after a decent drive say 45mins you can hardly hear anything.. I checked the chain from the oil filler cap and was able to move the chain side to side on the chain guide about 3-4mm it doesn’t seem overly loose. Is that slack normal? Can’t see any signs of metal filings in the oil either.
Yes that slight movement in the timing chain is normal
We recently purchased a 2014 X3 with 58,000 miles – at idle engine sounds great but did notice when we drive up our steep driveway (20 ft long) we notice the gas engine now sounds like it has a diesel clatter or knock. Going to have dealer check it out. Could this be the timing chain issue? Should we be concerned about the timing chain anyway?
It’s hard to say what the noise is without hearing it,,,yes I would be worried about the timing chain.
I’ve got exactly the same issue with mine, yet to be found by several mechanics, I’m unsure what it is
Let me know if you find out… is yours a manual xdrive?
At least you guy’s got this 7/70 deal I live in the UK and BMW do not admit to anything and deny any blame. We do not have any 7/70 come back at all. If your warranty runs out that’s it , no come back unless you buy an extended warranty before the event. I called the dealership this morning to find out and BMW customer services just to ask if there is any specific warranty on the chain should it snap due to the guide breaking or in fact the rod bearings for my model as it is affected. They denied that there was any such problem and also told me that the chain and guide is not part of any service schedule at or before 70K I guess we should all wait until it snaps and destroy our engines before we have it done….. very surprised at their reply I must say.not sympathetic in any way.
That’s very sad,,,,I wonder why only certain countries have coverage and some don’t.
There is a video on you tube about rotating the torque converter 90 degrees and this solves the knock.
This guy puts it down to crankshaft noise oscilation. Could this be?
Hello I have a 2013 328i xdrive(72k) that I just had the timing chain, guides etc. Replaced proactively by BMW(was not having any issues), and I think they put 0w30 oil in my engine instead of the 5w30 I’ve been using, do you think that’s better for the engine, I live in upstate ny, thanks alot
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0w30 is recommended for that engine,,,,I would stay with what BMW recommends
I’m wondering if this thumping could be the clutch or flywheel. It sounds like that’s where it’s coming from. Is it possible at this mileage?
It could be ,,,but if it was the flywheel or clutch it should do it all the time and not go away
Yes, tricky to work out. But it sounds just like that kind of ping. Clutch seems fine no vibration or variation in noise with clutch engaged or disengaged . I was thinking play in the flywheel. Strange also noticed if the car is parked on a upward gradient the noise is slight. If it’s level then it’s likely to be a bit louder. But the more you drive it the less you gear it.
Does the noise go away when you depress the clutch pedal,,,,because that would put pressure on the flywheel.
No, depressing the clutch has no effect at all. I think i’m Barking up the wrong tree . I took the car out yesterday and couldn’t hear a thing. I am wondering if fuel pressure has anything to do with it. When the fuel tank is full it seems to dissapear.
I could hardly hear it even when the engine was cold. Could it be the high pressure pump on the head?
It could be,,,they do make a knocking noise normally.
I actually think that’s causing the noise. You can here that soft kind of cam noise at the same frequency on all the N20’s for some reason on mine there are times when it’s harder and louder when i’m lower on fuel.
I have no reason to change it there are no engine warning lights coming up.
Wasn’t there a re-call on these?
If you replace one does it need pluging into for a valvetronic re-learn update or is it just a like for like mechanical replacement including the relating fuel lines?
Apart from warning lights how can you tell if this is running propert? Can this make acceleration less smooth?
Would be interested to know. Thanks…
No there was no recall on the high pressure fuel pump on a N20,,,the only way to know if it is going bad would be because of a check engine light coming on for the high pressure fuel pump,,,replacing it is just straight replacement no programming.
Thanks, i’ll keep my eye on it . Think this is causing the pinging i was concerned about
1- i have a 2016 n20 320 turbo. am i SAFE for the timing chain issues. didnt see any date for he changes
2- i donated TO YOU but didnt see it go thru
3- oil- my hood says 0-20. i like -0-30. just curious about the 0-20 spec.. Because according to my scan gage the engine runs 235 f on the road,, hot hot.
Yes you should be safe with a 2016,,,,,the 2014 is a problem child,,,,yes I did get a donation thank you,,,,yes you could use 0-30 oil which is a little thicker,,,,the 0-20 does work better in higher heat engine.
Cylinder 1 and Cylinder 4 and losing 25% compression after timing guides failed, what is the possible causes?
Sounds like more damage happened when the timing chain failed,,,like no oil pressure for awhile and that caused some engine damage to number 1 and 4 cylinders
Hi,I just bought the parts for change and discovered some dirt pieces inside the chain plastic rail. They are just inside of the plastic and one is melted on surface (outside). Is it normal or the parts are defective?
They are the photos:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RszUHEY3puQeb9HziF_Ke5CNnHnTHzV2/view?usp=sharing, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RvUT8xGJjlndf3-fRBawT5P9OLM-8N1_/view?usp=sharing, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S8SX_DUAEJsZGepHXwck8GHQPlYEg2Ni/view?usp=sharing
I don’t remember the dirt pieces inside,,,can you go to your dealership and compare your parts from some new dealer pieces
I have a 2012 F30 320i auto. Mileage 116000km. The car moves fine except for 1 issue – at low revs on higher gears, a clanking noise is heard from the engine when load is added by pressing accelerator or upon approaching a hill. As the revs increase, the noise disappears. Any idea what could be the issue
It’s hard to say what the problem is,,,,one thing that comes to mind is good gasoline,,,,next time you fill up put the highest octane gasoline in your car and see if the noise goes away.
Sorry if this is an unrelated topic to the thread, but I need to replace the high pressure fuel pump on my N20.
Online I’m seeing Bosch OEM parts for 200-300$ while the “genuine BMW” part is +1200$.
What is the difference between these two parts? Is it safe to go with the Bosch OEM pump or will this create issues?
Thanks in advance for your advice,
That’s crazy in price difference,,,,you should be fine with the Bosch pump
Hey I have a 2012 528i xdrive, I’m getting misfires on all 4 cylinders and also a p1339 code. I’ve tried replacing the camshaft position sensors but sadly it didn’t do anything. Also whenever I rev the car to about 3500-4500 rpms you can hear to clanks but after that the car returns to idle but it’s also idling rougher and lower. Any ideas what could be causing this problem?
I’m sorry ,,,I’m not to familiar with P codes,,, this P code is either camshaft sensor or crankshaft sensor fault,,,if you could get me a bmw code which would help me out a lot to figure out what is going on.
Timing chain problems have been an issue with BMW for quite some time. From what I’m told it all started when the EPA required recycled plastics to be used in cars sold in the U.S. BMW decided to use recycled plastic for timing chain guides. The M62 V-8 (1995-2005) was notorious for failed timing chain guides. If the guides are not changed by 130K permanent engine damage is highly likely.
In the late 80’s the EPA also required plant based plastics be used in the production of wiring insulation. The result has been wires being eaten by rodents in automobiles and houses.
I don’t know about this M62 V8 timing chain guide issue,,,I have never seen any timing chain guide issue on that engine,,,I have seen guide crack but it never caused the timing chain to jump and cause more damage,,,,I’m not saying it never happen,,,I’m saying I have never seen it happen in my 35yrs working for BMW,,,,now the rodent issue we see it almost everyday when it gets cold outside,,,,I understand the use soy in the harness which the rodent can smell and like to chew on.
Hi I have a 2013 bmw x1 with a N20 engine. I did an oil change because the red indicator light came up with a p052b code which is the camshaft position sensor. I replaced botttboth sensors but the car still wont start. Is it possible I should use genuine bmw parts. Also is it possible the timing had jump and it’s not building oil pressure to start the car. Is my engine seized because of this scenario. Thanks for your reply.
Yes it’s possible the timing has jumped and that’s why it won’t start,,,now is your engine damage it’s hard to say without finding out what exactly is wrong with it.
Thanks for your instant reply. Just want to follow up what should I check next. Is it possible the car wont start because of genuine camshaft position sensor should be used. How about the scenario for the code p052b.
Is it related with oil pressure sensor or electrical problem that is why the car wont start. I really appreciate if you can have an input on it. How could I tell the time to open the engine is my best option. Thanks again.
I don’t think genuine camshaft sensor will solve your problem,,,I think the timing chain might have jumped causing the camshaft to be retarded
Hi Andreas, I have the N20 in a 2014 X1 x28i at 86k miles. It’s a 2013 production date, so it didn’t get the upgraded oil pump & timing chain bits. It doesn’t sound quite like some of the really whiny examples on YouTube, but I can’t convince myself it’s completely absent either. Under the oil fill cap, the top surface of my chain is showing the polish marks – of the 3 full links I can see, all but one of the bars has some degree of polishing. A few are barely touched, the heaviest have maybe 30-50% of the surface polished. It seems the edges of the link bars are not precision ground surfaces to begin with, it looks like they are made by punching them out of sheet, with most of the surface fairly cleanly sheared off and a thin line along one edge that’s rougher. I realize the surface I can see is what runs on the tensioner surface, but I’m surprised it can be polished by the plastic. The orange plastic I can see does not appear damaged. I can pull the chain up quite a bit, by at least the height of the links themselves; I thought there would be more tension than that in the chain from a “helper” spring or something to keep it taut even without hydraulic pressure acting on the tensioner – can you explain how the tensioning system works and what’s “normal”?
I was hopeful that the Gelis settlement would include some consideration for owners of affected vehicles to proactively upgrade at reduced cost, but last week’s final settlement statement doesn’t read like that. Or maybe I don’t understand lawyer-speak. Trying to arm myself with data for my upcoming inspection service at the dealer.
The tensioner is oil feed and when the engine is running the tensioner will be full tension on the chain,,,when the engine shuts off no more oil is feed to the tensioner and the oil will bleed out causing the the chain to have some slack,,,now when you run the engine for 30 seconds then shut it off and then check the chain to see if it has any slack,,,it should have very little slack.
Thanks. Reading the lawsuit docs, it describes the tensioner as having been redesigned with a stronger internal spring. But not sure if the spring is strong enough by itself to keep the chain taut without oil pressure. Would have thought yes, but your description indicates no. I’ll try what you suggest. Does the tensioner have a one-way valve to hold pressure for more than just a few seconds after shutdown? Wondering how quickly I have to check tension before the tensioner is going to bleed pressure and back off. And I can understand a little slack (like 1/16″ or 1/8″), but it feels like I could get my pinky finger under the chain – that seems excessive, regardless of what the tensioner does…
I don’t believe it has a one way valve,,,it does have a o-ring inside.
Thx Andreas, that makes sense now that I think about it. Basically a simple piston with an oring, preloaded by a spring, inside a glorified hex head cap screw, with an oil feed hole for the oil pressure to push on the piston in addition to the spring. BTW I checked my primary chain slack again last night; I had driven it since the first time I checked it, but as before the engine was fully cold. The chain was definitely tighter – very little slack to speak of. But I realized that the part of the chain I’m touching is between the two camshafts, so the slack could also depend on where each camshaft stops rotating on the lobes in addition to what the tensioner is or isn’t doing to the slack side of the chain before the first camshaft. But that means the camshafts can come to rest slightly out of timing, and only are properly timed when there’s hydraulic pressure! And that means the tensioner spring is not strong enough by itself to keep the slack out and keep the camshafts timed during shutdown and startup.
I can appreciate the design challenge of getting the tensioner force just right – too much and it prematurely wears out the guides, chain, sprockets, bearings, etc. Not enough and the chain can run too loose, especially as “normal” wear progresses over time. The double whammy is that not only did they not put enough spring force into it at first, they also didn’t have enough travel to take up additional slack. That much is obvious from the redesign. I also wonder if they changed the diameter of the piston… I assume you’ve seen both old and new tensioners, are the pistons the same diameter?
Very good,,,are you sure you aren’t a engineer,,,,lol
Interesting side note – I watched a YouTube video of an N20 engine assembly in the BWM factory, published by eurocarnews in March 2012, long before any redesigns I know of. The chain guides in the video are white plastic. So the “orange” chain guides we see in all the photos/videos of used engines are only that way due to the oil getting into the plastic.
what, me? an engineer? how’d you guess? I live for failure analyses, just not on my own car engine!
BTW what can you tell me about the chain stretch check procedure? I went to look it up online only to find the site got shut down last October.
When I get my oil changed next week, I’m asking for the used oil to be strained, and borescope through the drain hole and fill cap hole, to look for evidence of failure (plastic bits primarily). Maybe a chain stretch check (if it’s for real) can be useful too. Any other things to ask for/look at, short of pulling the valve cover? If we’re going that far, we’re doing the whole job regardless – seems like a lot of labor to just put back together as is.
There not much to tell you about chain stretch,,,,I think a lot has to do with the timing chain rail getting worn out or start to come apart and then the chain starts to loose tension because of the rails coming apart,,,then when we have a loose chain then we have timing issue.
Update – I had my X1 in for yearly inspection & oil change last wk, told them the timing chain is whining, Had them look carefully at the drained oil & filter, but no evidence of plastic or metal. They also listened to it, said it sounds great, no problems. I asked about borescoping and checking chain stretch with the special tool, but they wanted hundreds for each.
I have a theory that the high-pitched whine is coming from the top surface of a loose chain rubbing the guides. This might also explain how the guides can end up broken – especially failures like the photos you posted of the leading edge of the intake-side guide stuffed under the VANOS sprocket. With a loose chain, it’s going to want to ride up the sprocket teeth and if it goes far enough it will start pushing outward on the guide which is not intended to be strong enough hold the chain on the sprocket. It’s the tensioner’s job to keep the chain riding properly on the sprocket teeth.
So I strongly suspect a poor tensioner design is the root cause, and other weak links hasten the system to failure.
I am thinking about buying the chain stretch tool myself, and presuming the chain runs within spec, just upgrading the tensioner and keep my ears open in case the whine becomes pronounced. That seems like a pretty quick DIY job, do you agree?
Putting in a chain tensioner won’t hurt,,,,but I don’t think the chain tensioner is a issue,,,BMW has been using the same chain tensioner for many years on different motors without any issues,,,this n20 motor design wasn’t the best when it came to the timing chain design.
my mechanic told me there is a whining noise and I can hear it too. Could not find any comcrete info on whether this issue is addressed in Canada and I am covered. I will call a bmw dealership to get info.
Took some pictures;
My vehicle is 2012 bmw 328i at 108,000km. Got quoted 3.2k cad$ by a mechanic to get it fixed.
Let’s hope you are covered
So I contacted to two dealers and got negative response about the extended warranty in Canada. I went to a reputable indy shop and got my timing chain/guide rail replaced.
My car feels a lot more responsive and overall better. Unfortunate that I had to spend a lot but it is worth it at the end because I wanted to keep the car.
Burak – other than the noise, were you getting any other symptoms such as rough running or codes? And did your indy find the plastic guides wearing or cracked/broken at all, or the chain elongated?
Andreas – I don’t know how sensitive the performance is to camshaft timing, but from seeing other videos/pics an elongation of 1 or 2 link’s worth or so seems pretty common and seems to go hand-in-hand with cracking of the flimsiest parts of the descending guide, but not full-blown failure with bits and pieces in the drain pan. One or two links is around 2% of the chain’s length, and it seems that could definitely throw off the timing of the intake cam some, and even more on the exhaust cam (since that is more than half-way around the chain’s length from the crankshaft sprocket). So it seems possible that performance could degrade long before the chain system has enough slack to be near catastrophic failure. How much “out-of-timing” will the system allow before it throws a code?
Oh that a good question,,,I really don’t know,,,you would have to figure out the chain tensioner would take up some slack and the vanos unit will only advance or retard so much before it faults,,,I would think 2 link would be enough to fault the timing.
I have a 2013 528i xdrive. 67k. Recently serviced for oil change and spark plugs last month. Have no timing chain issues as of yet? What do you recommend? Preventative maintenance suggestions? What should I do to monitor this? Would I be covered under the 7/70k extended warranty ?
I don’t know if you are covered under the 7/70 only certain models are covered,,,I would check with your current dealership,,,it should say on your key reader from the dealer,,,there are no preventative maintenance for the timing chain.