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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:
Mzola Comments: Hi I have a BMW 320i e90 2010 model, I drive about 10km and it started leaking oil. It dripped the whole oil until the engine was empty. As soon as the oil light flushed I pulled over to a garage and the car was towed to BMW. BMW told me it was the Chain Tensioner they replace but the car had no power, so they did the engine timing which after that there is now a strange noise. So they have suggested to trip the engine and check the block. Is this right? Is my Engine gone? I have done 140000km and to my surprise this is the second time replacing the chain tensioner.
February 26, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the engine was run low on oil, it is likely internal damage occured. I would allow then to inspect the engine to assess the damage. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jimmy Comments: Hey, i have a 316i the engine management light came on and the car starting getting a slight loss of power. Then it started leaking oil, after filling it up, the oil light started coming on when putting my foot down. I took it a mechanic and he said the leak was coming from timing chain tensioner bolt. He said it can be repaired but it looks like the bolt is stripped and oil is leaking from behind the bolt and that it could be any where from £200 to £1000 does this sound right to you?
February 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would need to see a photo of the are of the leak. The source, etc. Hard to say without seeing it. However, if your mechanic has pinpointed the course, I would trust their diagnosis. Have them show and explain the issue to you. If you are still uncomfortable, get a second opinion. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mina Comments: Have a 2002 Bmw that will not start. It cut off while driving. Two mechanics have looked at it. One says its not getting gas and the other Mechanic checked compression and it was low 60 for each cylinder. He changed spark plugs and put oil in cylinders and it came up a little but still wont start. He says need new motor. Is there anything that can cause an all that will cause this problem?
February 12, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Low compression can be caused by faulty mechanical components, or fuel washed rings. A leak down test should pinpoint the source of the compression loss. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Scotty Comments: hello, so my 1995 5 speed 325is has a rattle coming from somewhere inside the timing box.. its worse at an idle, and I can feel a slight mistiming you could say while letting out the clutch.. but dont notice it as much while driving if not at all..

I'm thinking it's just the tensioner.. any thoughts?

January 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: COuld be a tensioner or worn guides. I would remove the tensioner and inspect it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ikemzbmw Comments: there is a rattling sound that i hear when the engine is idling. its audible from inside the cabin. when you rev the engine up to 1200 rpm the sound disappears. i am lost as to what this sound can be. it appears to be coming from the rear of the engine given that its audible from inside the cabin at idle. other than that the engine run perfectly okay. my car has 49,000kms on it. its a 2009 bmw e90 320i LCI
December 8, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be an exhaust rattle. Inspect the exhaust system, especially the front pipe and mounts. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Josh Comments: I'm currently doing a head gasket replacement on my '96 328i, and whilst taking the head off accidentally snapped the top of the lower tensioner guide rail off. So now I need to replace it, is it necessary for me to take the Timing Cover off to replace this plastic guide? I couldn't find a project for this and was expecting it to be a part of this one. Thanks!
October 20, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's been a while, but I recall the timing cover having to be removed.

I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
David Comments: Hi, I have a '99 E39 with the M52 I6. It is approaching 100,000 miles and I am wondering if I should replace the timing chain tensioner as preventative maintenance it doesn't appear to be making any noise as of right now. I am unsure as most of the issues seem to be from the v8s. Thanks.
October 8, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your engine should be OK, the timing chain issue aren't as common. If you kept current with oil changes, the guides should be OK. I would wait until it is an issue, if it ever is. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jit10 Comments: Hi Nick,

I have bmw 316 54 Plate.. I had issue where the car drove perfectly fine for 1 day, then the following day the engine would not start. I manage to call me local mechanic to have look he managed to get the engine on however the accelerator was very light like no power was going through.

According to my mechanic his informed me that the timing chain and tensioner are loose, however the car cpu pointed its to with part of the engine I believe he called it fuel injector not to sure. Can you advice what the best course of action. As the mechanic as informed better to get a new engine then to replace it
October 1, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the timing chain is suspected, you can check the mechanical engine timing by lining up the timing marks with locking tools or test engine compression. I would guess the chain is retarded, which would result in low engine compression. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
rosser Comments: poor acceleration :- comment below
September 3, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: OK, got it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
rosser Comments: my bmw 316ti 2002 seems to have acceleration when the car is cold but when its warm it seem to have a loss of power. changed the maff sensor and still the same, any ideas, cheers
September 3, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would perform a fuel delivery system test. Check fuel pressure, volume and quality.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
W-29 Comments: Hey Nick...I have a 2001 BMW 740il. About a month ago, my car failed emissions twice. Finally pinpointed the problem and changed the timing chain tensioner. Check engine light dissapeared. Tried to go back and have the car pass emissions, but 5 miles after, the car started to rattle and sounds like a diesel engine. Took it to a BMW dealership bad ideawas told that they found metal particles in the oil filter and that my engine was blown!!! The car still starts and still drives although, I don't want to drive it. This is the first time it did this and the car has 217,000 miles on her. Please I really need your help on this one Nick. The car still has a lot of potential. Thank you so much.
August 29, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What part of them engine failed? Generally, if there is metal in the oil the lubrication system has been compromised. You may need a rebuild. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jose moran Comments: i found the same hard plastic cap in my s52 as Joro_Paveto posted. does any one know what it is?
August 25, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't recognize it. I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Anthony Comments: Hi - The oil pump chain just broke on my m52. It looks like I need to pull vanos off so I can slip new chain behind the cam chain.

Any helpful advice

July 26, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You'll have to pull the timing chain completely off. Be sure to torque everything to spec and use camshaft alignment tools. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Joro_Paveto Comments: Some months ago I found this object stuck between the chain guide and the tensioner. The engine is M52B28. Yesterday a guy PM me in Bimmerfoeumsthat he found the same object in hid S52 engine. What could it be? Is it a part of the engine?
It looks like a plastic cap here are pictures
July 19, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is it soft rubber or hard plastic? - Nick at Pelican Parts
bheki Comments: 2009 e90 bmw 320i, oil drops are leaking on the tension srew when you have driven distance of more than 20 km at about 100 km/h, car has already done 187000 km.
July 14, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What do you mean by tension screw? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Charlton Comments: It is a grey - engine oil, smell oil,
July 14, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If there is an engine noise, the smoke could e a broken ring. I would perform a compression test on each cylinder. Then a leak down test. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
broadsword Comments: I have European BMW 316ti SE Compact 2002 Model engine management light came on, was diagnosed a slipped timing chain due to design fault with bolt tensioner, and not being upgraded will replacing timing chain fix the problem or could engine be damaged, I have all the usual faults with this problem like rocker cover and other gasket leaks and an ackred burnt oil smell but mostly in first gear...
July 10, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There could be engine damage. I would reset engine timing. Then perform a compression and leak down test. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Charlton Comments: I change the timing change and guid, the oil presure is fine, the noise is still there and my car start to smoke, I clean the Catalytic convertor,What can it be, is the timing out or?
July 9, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff:
It depends on what color the smoke is. White smoke - coolant, black smoke - fuel , grey - engine oil. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Sbu Comments: Hi I have BMW 318is E36 1994 model,it has no power on steep hills,always when starting it gives loud noise, possble from the crank shafs,and when it is running or idling it has a rattling noise from a timing chain,when I remove and put back the same tensioner the rattling noise goes away for about I minute and come back
July 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check if your cam timing is off. Especially if you have chain rattle. If the chain jumped, you could have low power. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Charlton Comments: Hi Nick! I clean the vino sensors and it was very dirty, and put a new tensioner in on top because the tensioner was fuck, when you press it back you can see the spring true the whole ,maybe I must clean the oil pickup in the sump? because the noise is still there?
June 29, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Have you checked oil pressure? If oil pressure is good and the noise is present, you could have a faulty component, for example, VANOS actuator, timing chain guide worn, valvetrain component. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Charlton Comments: I put a new tensioner on top in but it still give me the noise, I dont no must I change the bottom tentioner?Bmw 320i 2006 model
June 27, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Are you sure it is timing chain noise? Have you inspected the timing chain guides for wear? If the guides are worn, it will not be possible to remove the slack with a new tensioner. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DanDaMan Comments: I have a 318ti compact on a T reg I want to know if its cam belt or chain driven. HELP!!!
June 27, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure about your vehicle, but US 318ti models have a timing chain. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
saneesh8 Comments: Hi Nick - Please see Also
June 20, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The second video did not work.

I would remove the drive belt and see if the noise goes away. It's hard for to tell if it is coming from the engine or an accessory. Onbviously because I am not there to pinpoint the source. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Kris Comments: My 03 x5 e53 4.4i makes a knocking sound on idle when motor is warmed up there is no problem on start up or whilst driving only on idler theres a knocking sound wat could it be?
June 19, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be low engine oil or low engine oil pressure. I would stat by checking and topping up then oil level then checking oil pressure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
saneesh8 Comments:

Does this sound related to this tensioner? Car is 2000 Z3 2.3 M52TU engine with double vanos. As you can see in the video, when i touch there, i can feel it there.
June 15, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your link doesn't work for me. Can you upload it to a public video sharing site? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rmuncey Comments: I have a 1998 z3 with the 1.9 four cylinder that I think might be making a noise similar to the timing chain tensioner.

The noise seems to be coming from the top of the engine, however so I am not sure. After the car sits for a few days it is hard to start and very rough once it does start. It smooths out after pressing down on the accelerator.

Here is a video of the noise

June 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like an oiling issue to me. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Lynne Comments: My 91 318i has a fairly loud rattling sound, like metal on metal, heard at the upper intake manifold for 1 and 2 when the engine is idling. The chain guides and tensioner were replaced about 30K miles ago; it got a new tensioner about 3K miles ago. When the rattle started, the idle also got rough. I looked at the timing chain/upper guides by pulling the upper cover--looked fine. Also dropped the oil pan and checked the oil filter. No bits of chain guides in the pan or the filter, no bolts rolling around in the pan. I changed the air filter, cleaned the ICV and throttle body. The throttle body was not tightened down in the lower left corner--someone had cross-threaded the nut to the point where it wouldn't tighten, but wouldn't come off, either duh!. Had to cut the nut off and then was able to dress the threads on the stud--so at least that wasn't ruined. Did the vacuum hose delete and throttle body heater plate delete; replaced a few vacuum hoses that were hardened and cracked. Now the idle is smooth as silk, but that worrisome rattle is still there! I didn't remove the lower intake manifold time constraints. Kicking myself now because maybe I would have found something in the lower manifold. Or could the sound be coming from the throttle body and just amplifying through the manifold?
June 5, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would have to hear the sound to have a better idea. However, I would inspect the camshaft. I have seen worn or poorly lubricated camshafts make a metallic sound before failure. Usually due to a failed cylinder head surface. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Riaan Comments: Hi i have a 97 328i m3 there is a loud tick noise when I start up and getting worse when engin is hot first they say its the lifters did oil change everything soud still there can it be a tensonor desperate help pls.
May 28, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will have to isolate the area of the noise. If it coming from the front of the engine (timing chain) or the top? Once you locate the area it will be easier to identify the source. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Asanka Comments: I have e46 4 cly engind petrol 1.8 When I accelerate there is a rattling noice comming from the engine someone said it's the timming chain tennsinnor today I remove the valve cover and I seen the chain was a bit loose can you tell me where is the tensioner and how to replace it please help thanks Asanka
May 10, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: we don't have your engine here in the US, so I can't be 100% sure. I think it is on the right side of the engine above the A/C compressor. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
MAC99 Comments: 99 M3 S52 On start up and at idle i have zero noises. When throttle is applied while sitting i get a very loud rattle from the front right of the valve cover between 2800rpm and 3200 rpm. I just replaced the vanos with a rebuilt unit from DR vanos that fixed most of the rattling. But im thinking the timing chain tensioner is bad also. Any advice? If the chain was wore out it would rattle at an idle would it not? Just a little stumped on this one guys. Thanks!!
May 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Id the timing chain is loose from a faulty tensioner or worn guides, it would make noise. Now it could be making noise at idle, just not as pronounced as it is off idle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Chad Comments: i have a 97 M3 i have ticking like a lifter after it warms ups it does do it during acel or decel only at crusing not really certian rpm could this be tensioner?
May 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Usually the tensioners make more of a chirp. Does is sound like valvetrain noise? Have you checked your engine oil level? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dave Comments: I have a 1997 328i. When I took off my tensioner, 4 pieces ended up in my hand. The piston, the spring, the body/main part, and a small black plastic thimble. The thimble is approx 1 inch long and the same diameter as the spring. My best guess is that it goes inside the piston to increase the spring tension. Have you seen this set up before? I'm afraid to leave it out and have too little tension and I'm afraid to put it in and have too much tension. If I reach in the cylinder head and feel the chain guide, it just feels flat. It doesn't have a hole for the thimble to fit in so I don't think it came from there. My tensioner is flat on the end of the piston, it doesn't have the 'grooves' on the end. Thanks.
April 28, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you share a photo of the parts? Which belt is the tensioner for?- Nick at Pelican Parts  
JoeD Comments: I have a 2007 525xi that won't start. The dealership said a need a New Chain Tensioner. I just don't see how this would stop the car for starting/running. Is it possible? Just don't want an uncessary repair that doesn't fix the problem. The car was running fine then just died. Cranks but no hit and it is not a fuel issue.
April 16, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the timing chain tensioner failed and timing has jumped, the engine will not start. I can't help without knowing what is missing from the system when you are trying to start it. When your engine doesn’t start you’ll want to check the basics. Check spark, fuel injector pulse and pressure fuel, volume and quality. Are there any fault codes? Once you figure out what is missing, it will be easier to diagnose.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
omar Comments: 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
Andy Comments: 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  
Phil Comments: 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  
Robert Comments: 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  
bimaed Comments: 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
bimaed Comments: 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  
berny Comments: 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  
chris Comments: 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_Paveto Comments: 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  
aysha Comments: 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  
kurt2002e30 Comments: 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  
Chris Comments: 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  
Pep357 Comments: 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
Pep357 Comments: 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 357 Comments: 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  
Dan Comments: 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
elias Comments: 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
Elias Comments: 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-boy Comments: 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-boy Comments: 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  
Phil Comments: 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
Anonnn Comments: "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
Dhee Comments: 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  
Dhee Comments: 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  
ravi Comments: 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  
Will Comments: 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
SRH88 Comments: 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  
knock Comments: 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  
Hellzbellz Comments: 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  
moe Comments: 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  
Cathy Comments: 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  
Robin1 Comments: 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  
luke Comments: 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  
Jay Comments: '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
Jason Comments: 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  
Russell Comments: 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  
DONI Comments: 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  
ironbeef7 Comments: 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  
HH Comments: 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  
frank Comments: 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  
Eric Comments: 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
Eric Comments: 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  
bimpower Comments: 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  
geo528 Comments: 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  
3PK Comments: 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  
E Comments: 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  
jasminesdad Comments: 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  
Jazzdad Comments: 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  
Dan Comments: 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  
pastor Comments: 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  
Rob Comments: 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  
pastor Comments: 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  
Cristi Comments: 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  
yungting Comments: 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  
vic Comments: 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  
John Comments: 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  
Matt Comments: 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  
Biggles Comments: 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  
Paul Comments: 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  
Louis Comments: 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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