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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW Lower Chain
Tensioner Replacement

Difficulty Level: 3
Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one
Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten

 This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series.  The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts.   With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.
Need to buy parts for this project? Click here to order!

[click to enlarge]

     The BMW inline engines are driven by a chain that links the timing of the camshafts to the rotation of the crankshaft. Sometimes, the tensioner grows weak and begins to fail, causing the engine to give off an annoying rattle on deceleration. This rattle grows louder as time passes and may become more noticeable at slow speeds. While many people misdiagnose this problem as a failing VANOS unit (see our article on Camshaft Timing and Vanos Unit Installation), it’s more likely to be a failing lower chain tensioner. This may occur in high-mileage or even some low-mileage engines; it doesn’t seem to be uniformly related to the total number of miles driven.

     BMW redesigned the tensioner in later years of the E36 and offers an upgraded tensioner that can be used in place of the older one on 325/328 six-cylinder models. Thus, replacing the chain tensioner, which is a very easy process, typically solves the problem of the noisy chain.

     Using a 32-millimeter deep socket, carefully remove the chain tensioner from the lower front of the cylinder head. Place a rag or paper towel under the tensioner to catch any excess oil that may leak from the engine. When removing the tensioner, proceed slowly, as it is under tension when you release it.

     Installation is as simple as removal. Place a new sealing ring on the tensioner, and insert the tensioner into its hole in the cylinder head. At this point, the two small fingers on the tensioner should line up with a mating ridge on the chain guide inside the cylinder head. If this doesn’t happen, you will have a very noisy, rattling engine when you start it up. To guide the installation of the chain tensioner, stick your finger in the hole in the cylinder head so you can feel the ridge on the chain guide. Hand tighten the tensioner to start, and then use a torque wrench to tighten the tensioner to 50 N-m (37 ft-lbs) for the early-style tensioner and 40 N-m (30 ft-lbs) for the new-style tensioner. Use a new aluminum sealing ring between the tensioner and the engine block when reinstalling the tensioner.

     When you start up your engine, listen carefully—it should run very quietly. If the noise is worse, however, then you probably didn’t align the tensioner properly with the chain guide. If that’s the case, remove the tensioner and reposition it. If the engine still makes noise, the problem may lie with the upper chain tensioner (also known as the VANOS chain tensioner) or the VANOS unit itself. In that case, see Project 13.

     If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs.  If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one.  Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one.  As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

Figure 1
Shown here is the chain tensioner removal from the bottom of the E36 six-cylinder engines. This early-style tensioner has an inner piece and an outer shell (still attached to the cylinder head—orange arrow). When you reinstall the chain tensioner, make sure the groove in the tensioner fits precisely into the mating groove on the inside chain guide. If these two parts don’t line up, you will have a lot of chain noise when you first start up the engine.
Figure 2
The upgraded one-piece tensioner (part number BW-11-31-1-405-081). This is a good upgrade, as the early units had a tendency to wear out. The inset photo shows the older-style chain tensioner for the E36 six-cylinder engines.
  Looking for more photos?  Click to see bonus pictures for this project.
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Comments and Suggestions:
omarComments: is the chain tensioner on a 97 740il e38 put tension on the oil pump chain and does it affect the chain deflection at bottom of the oil pump or is the deflection of the the oil pump chain at the bottom of the oil pump caused by the chain tensioner ,should i check the deflection after putting a new tensioner,i already have oil pan out to check the bolts on the oil pump advice torque on the oil pump bolts and srocket
thaning you
April 7, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: What are you trying to fix?

If installing a new oil pump chain, you should not have to check deflection. - Nick at Pelican Parts
AndyComments: Hi I have a knock when I start my 99 5 series v8 I was told it's my timing gear so I had the whole lot replaced but the knock is still there I was just wondering if there was any ideas about this I have heard that it could be an oil pump problem
March 30, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Where is the knock resonating from? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
PhilComments: Does this upgrade fit an E30 M3 ?
February 23, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The article states it applies to E36 models. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
RobertComments: I just completed timing chain guides and tensioner replacement all put back together now I have a fairly loud noise like ticking the water pump is leaking and I have to correct that but most things I have read after startup the engine will quite down and this one has not any ideas
February 2, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the ticking wasn't there before, I would double check your work. Something could be hitting within the timing chain area. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bimaedComments: Hi There.
Should I also use the 1 peace lower cam tentioner, part number BW-11-31-1-405-081 on my 1994 2ltr 520i? It doesn't seam to be mentioned 520 in the list. Thanks.
February 1, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you figure out what tensioner to use.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
bimaedComments: I have 1994 520i. It was missing on acceleration between 2 & 3k. I went through the process of replacing the spark plug coils and sparkplugs and resolved the problem however it now has a flat spot between 2 & about 3500rmp. Could this be related to the VANOS or should I look else where, fuel, air??
January 31, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check engine basics before chasing the VANOS system. Perform a fuel delivery test and check the exhaust system is not restricted. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bernyComments: great article but I would like a little more information if you could please Pelican Staff. I have a 98' M3 and think this tensioner needs replaced. The Vanos has been rebuilt just recently but I still have some rattling noises from the tensioner area. Is there a way to test to see if the tensioner needs replaced once it's removed from the engine?
January 27, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can fill the tensioner with oil, then seal the holes, once sealed attempt to compress tensioner. Tensioner should resist movement and remain sealed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
chrisComments: Hi I own a 04 plate 316ti se iv had problems with cold starts an a lot of rattling noise at around 2 to 3000 revs an hardly any compression till car is warmed up then runs sweet but the noise is gettin worse an startin to sound like a dieselwould you advise not to drive it till fixed as I need it for gettin to work please help? Many thanks ...chris ;-
January 8, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: This could be a bad VANOS unit, timing chanin or valve train issue. I would suggest trying to pinpoint the noise. Start with the VANOS as your description leads me to believe that may be your issue. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Joro_PavetoComments: I pulled out my tensioner and that is how it looked like
There was a strange round object stuck between the chain tensioner and the cylinder head outer wall that I couldn't get out.
December 25, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you share a photo of the object? You didn't mention what type of vehicle you have. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ayshaComments: My M3 E36 has this chain chanking noise when I accelarate and the car is sluggish, please advise what the problem could be.
December 18, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Where is the noise coming from? Then engine, transmission, drivetrain? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
kurt2002e30Comments: Hi i have a 1991 e30 318is M42 with 235k miles. When i start the engine i get a rattling sound that goes away after a few minutes. I am thinking it is timing chain related. At what milage is it recommended to change the timing chain and related components?
November 19, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: There isn't necessarily an interval for replacing the chain. I would replace them once they make noise due to worn guides or tensioners. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ChrisComments: Hi I have a 318is, it has been miss firing and not running well but when the ignition is turned off and on again it runs ok for a few minutes then starts playing up again. I've changed the cam shaft sensor but no joy what do you think it could be ? Chris
November 18, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If there is a misfire, the DME may shut off an injector and leave it off until you restart the vehicle. I would start by checking the DME for fault codes. A fault code may be stored that will identify the misfire. There should be one stored if it is bad enough to shut off the injector. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Pep357Comments: I had someone start while I listened and the metal on metal sound is coming from the front of the motor could it be I need to replace the tensioner it only does it on start up the rough idle before it warms up a little has me lost once it warms up a little it idles ok could it be a vacuum leak I've sprayed everywhere I can see but no change in revs please advise
November 16, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Remove the belt that you think is making noise and start the car and see if the noise is gone. See if you can find a smoke machine to use to check for a vacuum leak.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Pep357Comments: Hi thanks for responding, yes it's only when cranking that it makes that metal on metal sound, the starter is new could it still be that ?
November 15, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, if it is not installed correctly or there is an issue with the ring gear, as mentioned in my earlier reply. Let us know what you find. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Pep 357Comments: I got a 93 325i automatic with a metal on metal sound on start up changed the starter but sound is back car struggles to start when cold and after several tries it starts rough until it warms up then fine could that be chain
November 14, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the sound during cranking? Does it sound like the starter grinding? It's possible the ring gear for the starter is worn. If you have it, inspect the old start motor drive gear, if it is worn, the ring gear may be worn. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DanComments: Hi I have a 318i E36 series, 98 model and I'm not sure where to find the lower tensioner bolt... is this it as pictured?
November 5, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Are you talking about the tensioner for the a/c? If so there are two bolts, and you have to install a pin to hold the tensioner in place to get them out.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
eliasComments: Thank you for the replay sir. I did identify the noise as being the chain. It is suggested to me putting the High performance tensioner will give me a quick fix. Do you think that will do or am I better or doing an overhaul.
October 28, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can try the tensioner first and se if it gets quieter, if not you will have to pull it apart.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
EliasComments: Please help??? I have a 1996 328i. Its has started making a rattling noise very faint and is the same at all time. Do I need to change the chain or is tge tensioner enough to solve this issue. How long is the chain suppose to last.
October 24, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: First I would try to identify where the noise is coming from. Is it coming from the chain or one of the belt tensioner pulleys.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Georgie-boyComments: Hi. I asked a question about my timing chain a few days ago and Nick replied to me.
I have another question. How do you check your fuel trim?
October 18, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You have to use a factory scanner to check the fuel trim. It is a long and short term measure of how rich or lean the engine is running.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Georgie-boyComments: My 318is 98 e36 has just had it's engine redone and but has not had the timing chain replacedit's making a loud sound on startup and rattles when I drive and IM having it replaced. My fuel consumption is 7.5km per liter driving mostly under 3000rpm.
Will the new timing chain and tensioner improve consumption.
What else can i do to check consumption?
October 14, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the timing chain is faulty, the resulted mistiming of the engine will lower fuel economy. Once it is repaired, a look at fuel trim data will give you an idea of how the engine is using fuel. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
PhilComments: Hi, I have a 2003 318i N42 2 litre 110,000km station wagon that is going very well, no noises, no high fuel consumption, all is fine. But I've heard the water pumps are not good but there is an upgrade pump available. Is that true, how do I tell if mine has already been replaced and if not, where can I get one if I need it?
October 1, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are companies that make high performance water pumps for the 6 and 8 cylinder motors, but I couldn't find any for the 4 cylinder motor. Usually the pump will look different on the inside but the same on the outside. Some might have stainless steel impellers and heavy duty bearings.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
AnonnnComments: "engine to give off an annoying rattle on deceleration." I have that but only during cold start. Once it temp. needle passed the blue region it goes away? Is it still the lower chain tensioner?

my car also makes a rapid ra ta ta ta noise on ignition that last about 1 second... is this the same or diff. problem?
September 8, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Noise are tough to tell what they are without hearing them myself, it could be the tensioner, or the chain guides, if you are unsure have it checked by a pro before damage is done.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
DheeComments: Another thing is my fuel consumption.From all the people who own the M52's they say the fuel consumption is fantastic,and that it should be returning very good figures.My consumption is really bad though,on a full tank i got only about 320km,with very relaxed and slow driving.Engine runs perfectly,no rough idle,no fuel leaks,filters all new plugs all new.Any possible suggestions on why its so bad?
July 5, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you suspect your fuel consumption is bad, check the fuel trim using a BMW scan tool. This will indicate if the DME is adding fuel to the mixture due to a problem. If it is not and fuel trim is normal, your MPG is normal. .- Nick at Pelican Parts  
DheeComments: Hi there. I have a 1995 328i, when i start there is a sound like the chain hitting something,its just once and only happens when i start not all the time though.A friend said probably the timing chain tensioner or Vanos unit.Any comments?The sound is just once,doesnt occur at any other time

Also my fuel consumption is very high,only about 320km on a full tank,very slow driving.Engine is smooth at idling,power is great,filters, plugs,oils all new.No other symptoms of any sort, car runs perfect
July 4, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Noises are tough without hearing them for myself. But if the problem happens mainly when cold and is at the front of the engine, it could be the VANOS unit or the timing chain. If you are unsure, take it to a prefessional before further damage occurs. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
raviComments: Need diagram for timing chain setting on 325i vanos engine 24 val ve
June 27, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would grab a repair manual. It will list the special tools and each step of the procedure. Give our parts specialists a call: 1-888-280-7799 They will help you find what you need. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
WillComments: Would the single-piece tensioner referred to above be suitable for a european-spec M52 engine in a 1998 323i? Many thanks in advance.
June 23, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Good questions. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.

I also opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.- Nick at Pelican Parts
SRH88Comments: I have a 2000 BMW X5 4.4i and it started making a ticking noise in the engine, so we drove it to the nearest shop to put it on diagnostic test. The person told us that all codes were timing chain problems, can an engine still start even with timing chain problems?
June 12, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. The timing chain and or guides could be worn, causing a noise. Not necessarily throwing the timing off, allowing them engine ot run. You may experience rough running eventually, then complete failure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
knockComments: Hi, brilliant feed back here,Brilliant forum really interesting,I have a x5 3ltr petrol 02 reg,i have a problem with a ticking/knocking noise,Got quote for parts before finding this forum,Engine noisy at 1700 revs noise changes at different revs,But does changehigher up the revs, hear it when parked but not on road, comes up with quite a few fault codes,sensors etc would timing chain or tensioners cause this diagnoses,look forward to hearing from you, before going to costly extremes thanks.
May 18, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Timing chains will cause a rattle, not usually a tick. if the noise has been diagnosed, offering that info here would be helpful. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
HellzbellzComments: Timing Chain tensioner failure has caused chain to stretch, AA said cant hear anything wrong with BMW Compact Sport. BMW diagnosed timing chain tensioner problem but AA wont pay out my AA garage warranty cover!!! Help, is the tensioner not supposed to last past 35,000 miles?!
January 9, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Life of your timing chain componenets depends on the maintenance on your lubrication system. If you do not service your engineoil frequently, or allow it to runlow, timing chain components wear faster than normal. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
moeComments: Hi, I have a 325tds e36 1997 model. I have replaced the belts, the water pump and the thermostat however I still have the same problem whereby the vehicle over heats on a heavy foot. Please advise as to the possible solution.
October 30, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check that your radiator and cooling system has good flow. If it is OK, check for a faulty headgasket. A faulty headgasket can create the engine to overheat under load. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
CathyComments: Hi we have a 525i 12/88 model E34 WBAHC220202078722 is the vin number, build date oct88. Sounds very rattly at idle we think its a timing chain but have been told it is a belt for that model. We don't want to pull it apart before getting the correct parts for it as it's our only transport and we live in the bush. Can you advise us which timing kit to buy. Thank you
May 9, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call: 1-888-280-7799 They will help you locate the right parts. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Robin1Comments: Is this something I need to worry about on my 1993 535i?
May 4, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not necessarily. This tech article refers to BMW E36 models.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
lukeComments: hey, i had a leak coming from mine, i replaced the seal with a new one from bmw, the leak has persisted though. i might of torqued it up a little more by accident. would this damage the new seal and cause it to leak still?
March 14, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The seal being a washer, you can crush it is over-tightened. But it is unliekly. I be sure the leak is coming from the sealing surface of the tensioner and not somewhere else. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JayComments: '98 320i makes intermittent knocking noise only when warm and at idle, noise disappears when reved. Could it be the timing chain tensioner even if it's the newer one-piece design. Car has on 29500kms, not really used much. Thanks.
March 3, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Timing chain rattle are usually worse during start up and appear to get quieter when the RPM is raised. However, some noise is almost always present. You could have an issue with the tensioner, but it is less likely if you already have the new design.

Make sure the noise is coming from your timing chain area before tearing into it. - Nick at Pelican Parts
JasonComments: HELP! Somehow the timing chain tensioner guide p/n 11311726503snapped in half while I had the head removed. Is it possible to remove and replace the guide without removing the timing chain cover on a 94 M50 engine?
January 14, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's been a while. But if I remember correctly, you will have to disassemble the timing cover to get it out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
RussellComments: Wayne, can you please confirm if the new chain tensioner no 11-31-1-405-081 for E36 M3 is a suitable replacement into an M42 engined E30 318iS vin EE47509? Thanks
December 29, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'll have sales check on this for you and email you back. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
DONIComments: I have a 1999 and a 1995 bmw m3, both of them are making a slight rattling sound. could it be a timing chain tensioner? if so, do the 1995 and 1999 have the same timing chain tensioner eg.fork style,flat style piston.
October 24, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the rattle is worse at start up and in the front of the engine it could the timing chain components. The engines in your M3 models are different. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ironbeef7Comments: Excellent site. My first time viewing,Ifound your advice very helpful. BMW645ci.England.
September 17, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
HHComments: You mentioned that "BMW redesigned the tensioner in later years ..." I was told that the original tensioners somehow damage the belts. Is it true? We have a 2004 bmw 325.
August 23, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: These engines utilize a timing chain, not a belt. Timing chains are pretty robust. The numer one killer of timing chains if lack of lubrication. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
frankComments: my 94 325is sounds like a diesel only at idle, no drivability problems it just annoying to hear that. it sound like something is wrong although it is coming from the timing chain. i was told this tensioner is internal by my mechanic. is this correct?
August 17, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The timing chain tensioner is exteranl and mounted to the right side of your engine. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
EricComments: Is there a one-piece upgraded tensioner for the E36 318i. I notice several part #s for a cylinder and a spring... Do I need both, or is there a one-piece tensioner I can purchase?
August 15, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I believe what you are looking at is the tensioner assembly, and the tensioner parts that are available separately.

Give our parts specialists a call: 1-888-280-7799 They will help you find the right part. - Nick at Pelican Parts
EricComments: I have a problem which may or may not be timing chain tensioner related. I have a Euro-spec 95 BMW 520 with the 2.0L IL6 and manual trans. For me, when I start the car it's nice and quiet. After the engine warms up, though, it starts "ticking" or making a noise that sounds like lifter chatter. Gets worse as the engine/outside temps get higher. The previous owner said it started happening right after he was forced to run a tank of E10 fuel because he was in a place that didn't have regular Super. The car has non-adjustable valves. Changing oil doesn't seem to play a factor either. I've heard things like carbon buildup in the valves and lifters. Just wondering if the E10 fuel did some damage somehow? The engine seems to run strong regardless.
August 5, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like an oil pressure problem. I would check your oil level abd quality, then check your engine oil pressure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bimpowerComments: When replacing the chain tensioner should I take the valve cover off to make sure the chain doesn't move? Or am I ok just removing and reinstalling?
June 21, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you remove the tensioner slowly and work carefully, you should be OK and should not have to remove the valve cover. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
May 31, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could be the tensioner or an oiling problem. Once oil pressure is built, the noise goes away. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
geo528Comments: How to replace the lower chain guides on 528i, 2000?
May 22, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would grab a repair manual. There are many advanced steps and special tools required. The manual will have torque specs and all the tools needed. This way you know what you are getting into before you begin. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
3PKComments: I have a 1994 325, and I'm not sure which style I should get - the forked style or the flat piston? How do I know without pulling the original tensioner?
April 4, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The best way to know is to pull the tensioner and look at it. I'm not sure if the VIN information provided by BMW would be accurate for this fix. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
EComments: I have a problem and I've been told to change the guides and tensioner. It makes the rattling sound and it makes a loud knock car drives perfectly fine but as it revs higher it's clearly louder and faster. Could it be the tensioner and guides?
February 9, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's nearly impossible to diagnose something like this over the Internet. It could be the chain and tensioners, or it may be the VANOS unit, which sometimes sounds like marbles rattling around in the front of the engine. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
jasminesdadComments: Wayne, thanks for responding to my inquiry. You are spot on! I did exactly as you suggested and the culprit turned out to be the belt tensioner hitting the alternator. I'm not sure why that was happening, but since I have reinstalled the tensioner and belts, the car is purring. Thanks again.
December 14, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Cool, glad to have been a help! - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
JazzdadComments: Is it possible that the timing chain can make a drumming or loud ticking noise that goes away after driving about 10 miles? This clip shows what's happening.
December 7, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like something on the front of the engine is hitting something, like the fan is tapping against something, or the water pump is failing. I would try running the engine without the main belt for about 30 seconds or so when the engine is cold and see if the noise continues. If it does, then take a closer look at the water pump. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
DanComments: I replaced my vanos on 99 m3 because of rattle ,and asked the guy to change the upper tensioner at same time ,but he forgot ...the eng has a rattle now at idle when warm , can it be the tensioner or faulty new vanos ,or is that normal for these engines?thats what the mechanic says .I bought a upper tensioner and seems like vanos has to come out to get tensioner out ,am I correct ,but I wont bother if its not tensioner ,but faulty vanos ,thanx
October 19, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check out the article on the VANOS replacement - yes the chain tensioner that is located between the two camshafts requires the VANOS unit to be removed in order to replace it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
pastorComments: Thanks for your reply re 2003 7 series timing chain rattling. I bit the bullet and got BMW to change the hydraulic chain tensioner total cost £56. That sorted it for me. It must have got weak over time. But thanks for the info anyway, great forum.
July 1, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
RobComments: I have a 323i couple 2.5 1997 auto, she ticks over fine, revs fine when sat still, the problem is when you pull away and hit about 2500rpm she loose's all power and makes a noise like the timing chain is eating itself, let your foot off return back to idle and sounds fine again, it only makes the noise and loose's power when driving. i have replaced the seals in the vanos. made no difference, was thinking it may be the tensioner
June 20, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: At about 2500 rpm, the VANOS unit is supposed to kick in. The rattling marbles sound that you describe is indeed an indicator that the VANOS unit may have failed. I would look closer at it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
pastorComments: Hi,my 2003 7 Series 3 litre petrol makes a lot of 'chain' rattling noise behind the lower fan belt pully. it only does this when warmed up, its quiet when cold. does this engine have a chain tentioner that i could replace please?
June 6, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure about that - usually chain tensioners make more noise when cold, and then quiet down when hot. Yours is backwards, which makes me think it may not be the chain tensioner... - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
CristiComments: Hi!
I cannot find the chain tensioner on an E36 with M43B16 engine.
Any ideea about where can it be?
Thank you!
May 28, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: That's an E30 motor, in a 316 Euro car, I believe. I don't think that has the tensioner that is described in the article. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
yungtingComments: i have a E36 320i 1998 @ 075000 on the clock, i have a snaped guide rail but before it snapped it was a quiet engine, i need to find out the best way to replace this and what damage it may have caused and what may have caused this to happen, the engine trys to turn and diag machine reads no errors. bare in mind this car has been imported from japan and is an automatic, sports box version.
March 5, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the chain jumped timing you could have damaged the valves. I would retime the engine and check compression. At the minimum, repair what is currently broken, this way you can check the engines integrity. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
vicComments: I have noise in my top end. Checked the bearings and they are good, Have about 35psi oil pressure. Could it be my tensioner making noise? Could the timing guides be off?
February 6, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Make sure the engine oil level is full. Then check oil pressure at different engine speeds. If the noise is coming from the timing chain area, it could be the timing chain components. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JohnComments: i have a 97 328i sedan m52 block,,,there is a oil leak on the tensioner,,it drips down on to the AC compressor,ever so slowly,,i can put my finger under the tensioner end and feel a drop of oil there,,every few days,,,does the sealing ring on the tensioner have a tendency to leak140,000miles on car,,it's the new style tensionerone-piece type,,is the sealing ring replacement the same size for old and new type of tensioner?.
December 4, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: This uses a 50 cent sealing ring, and replacement can be done relatively quickly (if you can reach it). Just pull the tensioner out and replace the sealing ring and you should be good to go! - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
MattComments: Is it common to make knocking noise in tensioner when the engine is cold? My engine stop complete to make noise after hot.. only make the noise when cold..
I´m doubt if are the pistons skirts weared that expand when hot or if can be the tensioner my hope!.
October 22, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not typically, the tensioner shouldn't make any noise. However, engines all make interesting noises when they are warming up - what typically matters is how they are when they have been running for a few minutes and are mostly warmed up. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
BigglesComments: What about the m52 engine in a 1996 728i would this upgrade apply to this unit as well?
October 19, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes it should, although I'm not too familiar with that car, as they didn't sell it here in the states. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
PaulComments: The 'bonus pictures' suggest there's more to the replacement than simply screwing in the replacement and torquing. Is there an adjustment for setting the proper tension, or is this something no longer needed with the upgraded design?
September 6, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It is an automatic tensioner. No adjustment is required. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
LouisComments: will this tensioner fit on a '95 525is:
The upgraded one-piece tensioner part number BW-11-31-1-405-081?
June 15, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I believe so, as they are the same engine as this one. The one-piece part number is an M3, higher performance part. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 

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