The BMW E90 engine utilizes two VANOS (variable camshaft timing) solenoids. One for the intake camshaft and one for the exhaust camshaft, mounted to the front of cylinder head. They are responsible for direct oil flow to the VANOS actuator and can become restricted over time on high mileage engines. You can clean or replace the solenoids quite easily if needed. My suggestion is if you have determined you need a VANOS solenoid by cleaning or swapping side to side, replace both solenoids. They are fairly economical and you’re always better off replacing a degrading part. The sealing O-ring for the VANOS solenoid can also leak. If you have an oil leak down the front of cylinder head, inspect solenoid area for fresh oil.
Inspecting VANOS solenoids once removed: Check VANOS solenoid for cleanliness and or debris. Clean both solenoids and reinstall. If the fault code for camshaft position sensor goes away or swaps position from intake to exhaust (or vice versa), the fault code is being caused by the VANOS solenoid. Replace the solenoid that the code followed. Here are fault codes you may have if a VANOS solenoid is causing your problem, 2A9A Cam sensor, inlet signal invalid for synchronization, 2A98 (P0016) Crankshaft intake correlation value outside ref range, 2A82 intake VANOS jammed mechanically, 2A9B exhaust camshaft sensor signal invalid for synchronization, 2A99 (P0017) Crankshaft position sensor and exhaust camshaft, correlation value outside reference range, 2A87 exhaust VANOS jammed mechanically.
In this article, I’ll go over the steps involved with replacing the VANOS solenoids on BMW E90 models. Be sure to work with a cool engine. Replacing the VANOS solenoids is similar for both. I will highlight how to replace and clean the exhaust VANOS solenoid.
Working at intake air duct connection on air filter housing, using a small flathead screwdriver, release retaining tabs on each side and pull duct off. Normally-aspirated engine shown. For turbocharged engines, the duct on the radiator support unscrews the same as the previous step, the duct for the air filter housing is also removed the same way, the air filter housing is in a different spot. Follow duct and release tabs to remove duct.
The VANOS solenoids are located at the front of the cylinder head. The intake VANOS solenoid is mounted on the top front of the cylinder head (yellow arrow) and the exhaust VANOS solenoid is mounted on the bottom front of the cylinder head (green arrow).
Install VANOS solenoid in reverse order of removing. Replace the fastener and O-ring every time sensor is removed from cylinder head. Slide O-ring (green arrow) onto solenoid until it is against spacer (yellow arrow). Lubricate O-ring with clean engine oil to facilitate installation.
Comments: Thanks for your great howtos and help! I did plugs and coils a few weeks ago on my '06 325xi to troubleshoot a seeking cold idle issue and now I discovered this writeup for VANOS solenoids which was probably my issue to begin with!
So I'll clean these solenoids this weekend but wanted to ask, is it OK to use throttle body cleaner or some other product to clean the solenoids more completely, or is compressed air the only thing I should use on these things?
August 12, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would not use any harsh cleaners. If you need to, use warm soapy water. Just be sure they are dry when reinstalling. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: 2006 530i N52 made in 04/2005 with 161xxx miles
I keep getting a 2a87 fault showing up through DIS only, telling me there is a Exhaust Solenoid issue. Other symptoms include:
-adding a quart of oil every 450 miles but no smoke produced and no leaks
-very rarely a misfire-like symptom new coils/plugs are in
No other codes. I cleared the code and then swapped the VANOS solenoids, but the fault still comes up in the 2a87 Exhaust not the intake, so I am now leaning to the bearing ledge...? Before I dive into taking this bad boy apart, am I missing anything else? Would this issue take care of the oil consumption too? Can it still be the VANOS solenoid?
July 29, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I haven't seen the bearing journals cause oil consumption, when bleeding off VANOS pressure. Likely two issues. I would check the timing of the engine before jumping in too deep. The chain guides may be worn from the oil consumption issue. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a X5 2009, every morning l have hard time to start it, sometimes three to four try before it start and sometimes it start one shot
July 29, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Does the engine crank? 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
Comments: I have a 2009 e93 with a p0015 fault code. Everything I find points toward the vanos, but it sounds like a vacuum leak. Before the engine is warmed up, it runs smoothly. After it warms up,about 10 minutes of driving, it will not idle correctly and I hear a whining/whistling noise. When I give it throttle, the noise goes away and it runs smoothly. Can a vacuum leak through a p0015 code? Or does this have to be something with the VANOS? Thanks!
July 18, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would lean more toward VANOS or engine timing. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: is there any special tools I will need to keep the timing at its correct degree since it deals with timing?
July 17, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not when replacing the solenoid. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, I purchased new BMW 750 LI X Drive, after only 450 miles on it, it flashed drive train malfunction. Technician at the dealership ran some tests and said VANOS Solenoid needs to be replaced, and he replaced that yesterday. I am very disappointed, as such an expensive car with only 450 miles on it it should not happen. From your blog I thought VANOS Solenoid problem happens only after long mileage. Can it happen only after 450 miles on it? How big is the problem? Will it reoccur in the future? I was wondering do I need to hire a lawyer or something to replace this car with a new car.
July 15, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: COuld be a defective parts, things happen. I would say enjoy the car. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I don't see 2008 328xi in the model list???
July 14, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your model should be the same. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi my last seven number of the vin are: KY60342, the code fault is P0012, and i change already everything, vans solenoid, camshaft sensor, engine oil 4th times etc...and i still have a problem and engine light come up sometimes, then it disappear.
So i notice that the car has rough start, vibration, and hesitate when accelerate.
This is the fault report:
Engine / Motor:
- Fault: Activate secondary air valve / Ubat outside ULF / Fuel trim bank 1 limit values / engine failure
- Code: BMW 2A82
- Fault: :Supply voltage
- Code: BMW 3100
I think there is something wrong in the air system, like MAP sensor, intake manifold or i don't know....
Can you tell me the right thing, please! thanks
July 12, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: P0012 indicates a cam timing issue. I would inspect the mechanical timing of the engine. There may be a worn chain guide or timing may have jumped. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi so I changed both solenoids and the problem seems to have gotten worse, the rattle sound when starting engine now happens always, it was going away after cold starts but now it seems that it remains, Any ideas what maybe causing this
July 11, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check engine oil level, condition and pressure. Then, I would inspect the mechanical timing of the engine. There may be a worn chain guide or timing may have jumped. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: And would it mess up my engine if I left it in there
July 11, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, it could restrict oil flow. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thanks nick for ur quick response if I can not get it out using tools how hard would it be for me to take the cover off to access it is there a DIY for this thank u
July 11, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: That is part of the cylinder head, not a cover. You should be able to fish it out. Also try mechanics wire, fashion it into a hook. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: My o ring fell in my cam chain drive while changing my vanos solonoids what can I do to get it out thanks
July 11, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Use a hook tool or flexible grabbing finger tool to get it out. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, if you remember me... I'm the guy with bmw 335i n54
I still have problem and I check the car with another software and comes up the code:: engine motor:
Fault: Activate secondary air valve/ Ubat outside ulf/ fuel trim bank 1 limit values/ engine failure
Code: bmw 2a82
Fault: supply voltage
Code: bmw 3100
So, I do some research on website and I found that the problem is the tmap air sensor, can be that?
I already change everything spark, vanos solenoid, camshaft sensor etc!
Let me know bye
July 10, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The fault codes are not complete. I would need the last seven of your vehicle;s VIN and the BMW ot P-codes for your vehicle. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Just changed the vanos solenoids on an 05 e90. I still have the check engine light on. How long until it goes away. I changed both as the car was going into limp mode after driving and parking for a while wouldn't happen after engine had totally cooled down. Any ideas on how long until the check engine light goes away
July 8, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The fault will have to be gone for two consecutive trips, then it will go away on the next drive cycle. A total of three. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Does anyone know if it's resonable for the camshaft bearning ledges & vanos solenoid valves to fail on a 2008 335xi that has 86k miles?
July 3, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would say so. Especially if the engine wasn't maintained well. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi. I have an e87 with VIN PS32733. I have a P0012 code. I just changed the VANOS solenoid for the intake. The code is stil there. My questions are: 1. what is the difference between solenoid and actuator, 2. Is it possible that a leak in the oil filter housing is the cause, 3. If it is a mechanical timing issue, how do I go about fixing it?
June 24, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Solenoid is the electrical component. The actuator is the mechanical component.
Unlikely the leaky oil filter housing is to blame
By checking if the problem with the timing is due to a faulty actuator or to timing being incorrect. You will need to monitor desired and actual VANOS actuation. You will need to install timing jigs o confirm timing is set correctly. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, I have an 06 325i that has an intermittent no start condition but only when the car is at operating temp.Could this be due to a bad Vanos solenoid? The lower solenoid is oily like its been leaking for a while & when looking in the oil fill hole you can see caked up engine oil like the prior owner seriously neglected changing the oil. Anyway just wondering If a Vanos solenoid may be what I need. Thanks
June 22, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't think so. Sounds more like a sensor failing once it gets hot. 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
Comments: Hi Guys, Kindly assist me with this fault on my 2005 BMW 745i, there is no acceralation , Engine fault! reduced Power
1-Vanos;Monitoring Actuator, Row1
2-Vanos;Power Supply output stage, row2
i will appreciate for your assistance.
June 1, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like a fault for a circuit or wiring to the VANOS actuator solenoid. I would check that the wiring isn't broken or shorted. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: G'day fellas I was wondering if you have the photo step by step guide for the VANOS o-ring replacment for a 2005 2.5 E85 Z4
May 20, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: We currently do not. If we get the chance to perform the repair, we will be sure to document the process. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hello there, great article. Just yesterday by 07 328i started to have trouble starting and is idling rough. Power curve seems ok and the care is driving well. No stalling... yet. My OBD read 2A9A. I am trying to figure if I should start with replacing solenoids or cam sensor. I did have the sensor replaced due to a broken gasket just under 1 yr ago by BMW dealer. Any suggestions?
May 15, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would start by removing and cleaning the solenoids. That may remedy the fault, if not, you may need to replace them. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I checkd DME fault code and comes the code 2a82 Inlet-Vanos variable cam control test! Now what can I do?
May 7, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like the intake VANOS is failing a test. Using your scan tool. check actual verse desired VANOS angles. If off, the actuator may be faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thanks for the answer! So, now after change the booth vanos solenoid and booth camshaft position sensor the engine light it just come 2 times and then it disappear again, what about the rpm? It's normal that when the car is already warm and I turn it on the rpm go up to 900/1000 and after 20 second they go down normaly around 650/670, and it's normal that the engine oil comes black? Let me know I really appreciated!
May 6, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The fault code being set will help direct you to the problem. The idle issue can be cause by many things. You can have worn or faulty VANOS parts. I would start by checking the DME for fault codes. If the system is not working properly, a fault code will be set. This will be your best bet when diagnosing.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, may I ask you a question?
I just replaced on my BMW 335i 2007 both vanos solenoids and camshaft sensors, because the engine light went on with the only code P0012 "A" camshaft position timing over retarded bank 1. I also changed the oil and the filter many times in a row and it was always really black and dirty.
Even if I did all these adjustments I still notice that the RPM go down slowly when I start the car that is already warm and the engine light has gone on again once. So my question is: is it possible that i need to replace also the sparks plug? I don't know the last time they were changed because i bought the car last september!
April 28, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Spark plugs usually won't cause an idle dip. Is the check engine light ON? Have you check for vacuum leaks? I would start by checking the DME for fault codes. If the system is not working properly, a fault code will be set. This will be your best bet when diagnosing.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: What is coming out of the solenoids when you clean them? How is the engine oil? - Nick at Pelican Parts
The oil is good, using, mobilone changed every 4 months, much more frequently than the BMW requirements specify. There does not seem to be much coming from the solenoids when I clean them. The gasoline I use as a solvent turns dark and very little if anything comes out when I use compressed air to clean and dry them.
April 23, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: If there is no debris, I wouldn't think it's cleaning that is helping. You may have a faulty solenoid. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I'm not getting any check engine light or other dash lights, but there seems to be a kind of flat spot in acceleration around 3k-4k rpm with mildly degraded gas mileage. If I take the solenoids out and soak them in gasoline overnight, blow them out the next morning and re-install, performance improves for a few days. Sound like they're shot to you guys?
April 22, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could also be debris in the VANOS system. What is coming out of the solenoids when you clean them? How is the engine oil? - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Im having issues with my 335I im getting the 2A82 & 3100 code i have replaced both solenoids with brand new ones and i still recieved the check engine light, next i recplaced the sprocket and the sensor and still the recieved the same codes i dont know what to do any help weill be appreciated. thank you
April 22, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You could have a mechanical engine timing issue. I would check desired and actual camshaft position using a BMW scan tool. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi,I got in the car this morning and as I drove off the engine sounded a little different, I turned off radio and the big engine light came on and car lost power. Kept foot on clutch and it kept trying to auto restart. Plugged in OBD and got P1553. Managed to get it to run and get to work, but thinking it sounds like these solenoids? BMW 320 cabriolet 07. Is changing the best course of action?
April 4, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the solenoids did cause the fault, I prefer to replace them... over cleaning them. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: could a sticky solenoid be the cause of a P0012 intake camshaft position timing order retarded?
April 2, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could be. So could a faulty VANOS actuator. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: why can't we reuse the fastener?
April 2, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Single use aluminum bolt. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: HI I have a 2008 BMW 328i.I have a check engine light on the code is P1777 can u please help me.....
March 29, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The code description is P1777 Ignition Retard Request Circuit Fault
I would run a full scan using a BMW scan tool, to be sure it has been displayed correctly. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: i have bmw e90 328i i did not drive it for 10 days and after that whn i try to drive it bad sound come from the engine after 20 seconds of the starting and when i turn it of and start it again the sound come again from the valves after 20 seconds i change the oil and it was bad and the sound still come after 20 seconds , is the problem from the vanos solenoids
March 4, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure, I would have to hear the noise. You may have a mechanical engine failure. Start by checking the oil level, then oil pressure. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi my 2007 335i keeps throwing engine fault reduced power after starting and moving off. It started doing it every couple of days now it does it every time the car is started. When it first starts it searches for the idle point then throws the code and sits at the correct idle. I've also noticed when it does this the fan comes on and stays on all the time whilst driving. Any advice would be appreciated!
February 20, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would start by checking the DME for fault codes. If the system is not working properly, a fault code will be set. This will be your best bet when diagnosing. Could be an air or fuel issue. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Sorry i thought I was ina bmw specific forum. I have a 2006 BMW 325 xi
February 19, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It is, however without knowing what vehicle you have it is difficult to offer advice.
The C prefixed fault code designates a chassis fault. I would have the vehicle scanned using a BMW scan tool, as this will give the BMW specific fault code. The code appears to describe a describe a short or open in a solenoid for the front axle or all wheel drive system. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I am getting error code C1303 on car-ii-codes.com says "Right Front Axle Solenoid Valve Hold Open/Shortened?
Is this the VANOS solenoid ? Can you tell from the error code if is the exhaust or the intake I should try to clean?
February 16, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure what vehicle you have. but a code referring an axle, sounds like a drivetrain code. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Why do you need to discard the 10mm bolt and use a new one?
Comments: Thank you Pelican Staff for writing such a good article! I did the repair successfully. Engine light no longer comes on and the car accelerates VERY smoothly. The only issue is now the MPG has dropped about 20% from pre-fixing. Any thoughts why?
January 30, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure. Has the weather changed? Are you idling the vehicle longer? - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, guys excellent work with all this tech articles.
In regard to this one, I just did the job today 2006 325i and found particles of oil solidified inside the tube, impeding the spring to open properly, with some carb cleaner it got clean and you know it is free, hitting it against your hand palm and listening the valve open free.
You can also with a pair of alligator ended jump cables test with 12 VDC no polarity neededthe solenoid open and close of the valve. Besides testing the sensor is so easy following your instructions and you troubleshoot it in a breeze.
THANKS AGAIN GREAT JOB
January 28, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback and additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: You mention replacing the fasteners. I need to clean mine to see if that resolves my P1553/4 codes. Do you have a kit that includes the orings and fasteners?
January 16, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 07 328i, previous owner let it sit for a while, drove it for 5k. Car was due for oil change. service light came on and off a couple times. Got oil change and received codes 2a99, 2a98, 2a87, 2aa5. planning to replace both solenoids. can the cam lifters and rollers also be affected? it has only 45k miles. slight ticking noise coming from engine when idle...what can it be?
December 30, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Noises are hard to give advice on, but first be sure your oil level is correct.
I would start by replacing the solenoids and seeing where that gets you. if the faults return you will have to dig deeper. IE: VANOS actuators, lifter parts, etc. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: E90 325 2006 service engine soon
The fault code: 2A2E mixture control
I replace: air mass, Intake manifold, Oil separator.
I also cheque the oil cap, fuel cap.
Again the light will come again after 10 mile of driving
Pls if you have any idea about thi issue
December 29, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would smoke the engine for vacuum leaks. Once you are sure there are none, check operation of the air/fuel ratio sensors. If one is faulty it could cause an erroneous code. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: My Scanner says its the same two codes, P1553 and P1554. Although it really shows that I have four codes P1553, P1554, P1553 PD and P1554 PD. These PD codes according to my scanner means that they have been stored in the system. So far, I have not seen any other codes than these two types.
December 17, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try swapping the VANOS solenoids bank to bank. If the fault codes change with the solenoids, replace them. If that doesn't do it, the VANOS actuator may be dirty. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I got Service engine soon light in my 330 xi 2006. The OBD II scanner I have read as P1554. I took it to my mechanic and he cleaned the vanos solenoids for me. He did not have the right tool to delete the codes. Then his scanner detected P1553 and P1554 after the cleaning. I drove it home since he said it might go away. The light comes on and goes off by itself. It stays on and after a few times of starting the car and turning it off it goes away. Can you please help? The oil level on the dashboard computer says its perfect. I don't know what else to check.
December 13, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: if the MIL is coming on and off, the fault code is likely returning, or a new one. Have you checked to see what code is stored? - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I just changed the oil.. no check engine lught anymore.. maybe the dirty oil made it tough for the solenoid to get a reading
November 13, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Dirty oil is bad for VANOS components. Thanks for the update. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 2008 bmw 328i coupe with p0015 thrown. was thinking of doing this myself first before spending 400+ bux at the dealer. im guessing its just one of the two solenoids maybe that should be cleaned/replaced.
November 11, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would go for it. Try swapping the solenoids first and seeing if the fault follows the solenoid. if it does, replace it. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have the same problem as e92pprwght and my 08 bmw328 xi is doing the sae thing replace vanos seloineds ,camshaft position sensor ad the carr cranks but no start,any advice
October 4, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could be a number of things, check for fault codes first.
If your engine doesn't start you’ll want to check the basics. Check spark, fuel injector pulse and pressure fuel, volume and quality. Once you figure out what is missing, it will be easier to diagnose. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I need some help. I had the No. 2 Cylinder fault at 100k all mineI did a complete tune up, Coils, Plugs, Cam position sensors, the Vanos solenoids, and air filters. My 2008 e92 now wont start, it cranks and it sounds like it wants to but wont. I have a fully charged battery, my fuel pump is working, I am not getting any codes, no burnt fuses and was running fine before hand.... other than the no.2 cylinder. Please Help.
September 29, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check all of the connections for the coils and sensors that you replaced. Make sure everything is plugged in tight and the ground cables are connected.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: IAM DRIVING E90 320I AUTO, MOST OF TIME WHEN I BRAKE IT TURN-OF, I HAVE TO START AGAIN. SOMEONE HAS TOLD ME IT IS THE VENOS. HOW IS POSSIBLE?
September 17, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the VANOS unit is jamming it can cause an engine stall. Especially with a drop in engine vacuum. I would start by checking the DME for fault codes. If the system is not working properly, a fault code will be set. This will be your best bet when diagnosing.- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I will be very thankful if you provide instruction how to replace camshaft hook ring seals Thank you
August 15, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: If we get the chance to perform the procedure we will definitely document it. Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: theres 2 solenoids valves,are iqual or diferent from each other?
August 10, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: On E90 models, the solenoids are the same. I would double check the part numbers of your vehicle. But when I suspect one is faulty, I swap sides, if the fault follows the solenoids, I know the solenoid is faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts
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