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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW 3-Series E30
Valve Adjustment

Jared Fenton

Difficulty Level: 4
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.
 
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[click to enlarge]


     In this article we will discuss adjusting the valves for the E30 BMW. In this case we will be using my 325is. It also applies to the 325i, iX and iC (cabriolet) as well as the earlier 325, e, and es models. This article will also apply to BMW 5 Series models with the M20 2.7 and 2.5 engines. Keep in mind that this article does not apply to the E30 318i or the M3, (articles coming soon).

     Why adjust the valves? You want to keep your valves adjusted as a regular part of your vehicle’s maintenance. Often times, a poorly running engine can purr like new simply by adjusting the valves. When valves do go out of adjustment, they can cause a variety of problems, such as poor fuel economy, loss of power, and even overheating. Many times, failure to adjust valves can result in the valve actually breaking off and causing major damage to the engine. An example can be seen here.

     The Bentley manual says the valve clearances can be adjusted with the engine cold or hot. Personally I prefer to do the adjustment with the engine cold, with the metal cold, the valves have not expanded due to heat and this, I believe will yield a truer clearance reading. However, that’s just my two cents. All the Porsches need to have their valves adjusted when the engine is stone cold.

     You’ll want to begin by disconnecting the battery. This is just common sense, as you will be working around fuel lines and electrical components, and you can cause serious damage to both you and your car by failing to do this. The battery is located in the rear trunk, on the passenger side under a small access cover.


Figure 1


Figure 2


Figure 3


Figure 4


Figure 5

     The next step in adjusting your valves is to open the hood, and look on the passenger side of the engine (Figure 1).  You will notice the spark plug wires and the valve cover. It’s recommended that you remove the spark plugs in order to make rotating the engine easier. Start by disconnecting the spark plug leads from the spark plugs. You will want to grab the leads by the protective boots, then slowly twist them and pull, they should come right off (Figure 2).   Now remove the spark plugs. You will probably need a U-joint ratchet extension to reach the plug furthest to the rear due to clearance between the block and the firewall. It’s also a good idea to stick rags or paper in the empty holes to prevent dirt or debris from entering the cylinders.

     The reason you will want to remove the plugs is that in order to adjust the valve clearances, you will need to rotate each cylinder of the engine to Top Dead Center (TDC). Having the piston at TDC ensures that both the intake and exhaust valves are both closed, and there will be no tension on the valves from the valve springs. With the spark plugs in the engine, the compression of the engine will make rotating the engine very difficult. With the spark plugs removed, you have no compression inside the cylinders, and the engine will rotate much easier.

     Once the plugs are removed, the next step is to remove the valve cover. The first step is to remove the vacuum hose that runs from the intake to the valve cover. Loosen the hose clamp, and carefully remove the hose from its fitting on the valve cover. This hose is part of the vehicle’s emission system, and it allows vapor from the crankcase to circulate back into the intake manifold.

     Next, remove the bracket that secures the valve cover to the intake manifold. Four 10mm bolts hold it on. Two of the bolts hold the bracket to the valve cover; the other two secure the bracket to the intake manifold. This is shown in Figure 3 and Figure 4.

     Now you will want to remove the 10mm nuts that secure the valve cover to the cylinder head. It’s a good idea to stagger the sequence in which you remove the nuts, to keep the valve cover from warping (Figure 5).  The center two nuts on the exhaust side also hold the spark plug loom bracket. Once they are removed, move the bracket out of the way.


Figure 6


Figure 7


Figure 8

     Once the valve cover nuts have been removed, pull the valve cover off. You may find that the valve cover seems stuck or is not moving. In this case, carefully place a flat-head screwdriver along the seam where the valve cover mounts to the head and very lightly tap it with a hammer until you have broken the seal around the valve cover. The valve cover now should simply pull off. Also remove the old valve cover gasket (Figure 6).

     Once the valve cover is removed, you will now see the valvetrain (Figure 7).  In the center is the camshaft, and you can easily see the lobes of the cam. It is these lobes we are looking for. Look at the cam lobes at the very front of the engine, and then look at the rockers that run along these lobes. When the cam lobe hits a rocker, it pushes the rocker down, opening a valve. When the lobe rotates down, it closes the valve. You will need to have these lobes completely flat before you can adjust the valves. The way I do it is put the car in 5th gear, take off the parking brake and push the car forward. You will see the rocker arms move back and forth very slowly.   Another trick is to jack up one side of the car, leaving at least one of the rear wheels on the ground, and one up in the air.  With one wheel on the ground, and the car in fifth gear, you can rotate the engine by simply turning one of the wheels.  This works on all cars without a limited slip differential (LSD).

     The idea is to look at where the rockers contact the cam lobes. When the rocker arms have stopped moving, and the cam lobes reach the lowest point on each rocker, you are at TDC. This is where you want to be (Figure 8).  Now you can adjust the valve clearances on this cylinder.


Figure 9


Figure 10

 

     Look at the rocker arm; at the very end you will see where it contacts the valve. You might also notice a small space in between these two parts. This space is what we are adjusting (Figure 9).

     The Bentley Manual lists the correct valve clearance at 0.30mm (0.012in) with the engine hot, or 0.25mm (0.010in) with the engine cold. In this case, the engine is cold, so I adjust using a 0.25mm feeler gauge.

     Now, to adjust the valve clearance, you will want to find a small piece of stiff wire, such as a coat hanger or a 3mm Allen wrench. Place the stiff wire or Allen wrench in the small hole on top of the valve eccentric. In this case, I used a small screwdriver. Next, loosen the 10mm locknut on the side of the valve eccentric. This will free up the valve eccentric. Place the feeler gauge in between the valve eccentric and the valve. Now, using the stiff wire or wrench, rotate the valve eccentric til it makes contact with the feeler gauge. You want the feeler gauge to have a slight drag on it when you move it in between the eccentric and the valve. When you feel such a drag on the feeler gauge, STOP rotating the eccentric and hold it exactly where it is, and tighten the 10mm locknut on the side. Once the nut is tight, re-check the feeler gauge, does it still have a slight drag on it? If not, loosen the locknut, and re-adjust it til it is correct (Figure 10).

     Once you have adjusted both the exhaust and intake sides of the cylinder, you will want to take the parking brake off, and push the car in 5th gear until the cam lobes are in the proper position to adjust the second cylinder. Then repeat the process listed above for the remaining cylinders. Be sure that on every cylinder, the rocker arms are in the correct position.

Figure 11
     Once the valves have all been re-adjusted, you will need to re-install the valve cover. It’s a good idea to clean the mating surfaces of both the cover and the cylinder head. This will ensure a good seal and prevent both oil and vacuum leaks. It’s a good idea to use a new valve cover gasket. To install, just place it over the studs on the cylinder head (Figure 11).

     Next, re-install and tighten the 10mm nuts that hold the cover to the head. Tighten them down snug, but not super tight, you could strip the nuts or threads. Next, re-install the bracket that secures the intake manifold to the valve cover and tighten the four 10mm bolts that hold it in place.

     Now re-install the spark plugs. It’s a good idea to put a small swipe of anti-seize compound on one side of the threads prior to installation. This will prevent stripping out the spark plugs the next time you have to remove them. Once all the plugs have been reinstalled, tighten them down, but use caution to avoid stripping threads.

     Next, re-install the spark plug wires, It’s a good idea to put a small dab of dielectric grease on the insides of the boots, to ease installation and provide a good seal between the spark plug and the boot.

     The last step is to re-connect the battery. Once everything is re-installed, start the vehicle. You should now hear a smooth running engine.

And that’s it, you’re done!  As always, if anyone has any questions, feel free to email me at

The Pelican Parts Message Center

Cheers,

Jared

     This technical article is made possible solely through the support of Pelican Parts.  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.

   
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Comments and Suggestions:
benjetp@aol.com Comments: Is there any forum about locked door and trunk problem. I have to open door on my e30 325ic by opening the trunk with key.. The only way to unlock my side doors. Help. Ben
December 11, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Does the passenger lock not work as well? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Eva Comments: Regarding the 325i, the car will not start unless I push on the gas pedal first. Initially a gas odour releases and dissipates after a few min. My starter is fixed however. What could the problem be?
August 16, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the vehicle is flooding, it could be a leaking fuel injector or too high of fuel pressure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Eva Comments: I have 325i 2004. Car won't start unless I pump gas first. Starter was fixed. I can smell gas first and it goes away. Could be a leak somewhere in the system or fuel pump?
August 16, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 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
 
Dmarsh Comments: Hi, I have a 90' 325i and the idle is a little rough and seems to run rich. Also, it seams to be sluggish at times. I think it might be the ECU, as it's not stock, but what else should I check?
August 15, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the check engine light on? Sounds like an engine misfire. I would check spark, fuel and compression on all cylinders.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
violet Comments: hi i have a problem with a Bmw e30 320 1991. i dont know whats wrong but it just wont start.
July 4, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 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
 
Chris Comments: Should I CHECK MY valves on MY 1987 325is BMW if I'm hearing tapping nosie from the engine? Plus, it dies out when I STOP IT at FIRST. WHEN I GET IT STARTED AGAIN IT runs FINE. ITS when I START IT UP the FIRST time. THEN IT dies OUT SOMETIMES. Get a NEWER engine MAYBE? :-
June 25, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check your engine oil, if OK, the valves may need to be adjusted. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BMW Comments: Hi ther, I have a BMW e30 320 auto. The car doesn't wanna start due to the fuel not coming Thru. I took out the fuel pump then tested it and it works perfectly. Bt wen I put it back I'm not sure if it pushes the fuel thru, wat may be the cause?
June 12, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a faulty pump or bad signal to the pump. I would perform a fuel delivery system test. Check fuel pressure, volume and quality.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Drop top Comments: Hi I have a BMW e30 320 auto , it's a 89 model. The car is very lazy. Wat will give me more power: 325 manual gearbox with 325 diff OR 320 manual gearbox with 316 diff ?
June 12, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff:
The 325 set up would be best. Unless you can find the 323 sport parts.

I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
boncuk Comments: I have 1990 year Bmw 320ÝS,I have my car changed spark plugs,motoroil and other filters,also I have arranged my car's valve setting.Eveything shoud be okey but I can not take the fabric standarts,please advice me what I can do for taking standart degrees.Thank you
April 30, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't understand your question. Are you trying to set timing? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
droptop Comments: I drive a BMW e30 325i cabriolet 87 model, my refs comes down too slow, what may be the cause?
March 30, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a vacuum leak. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
M40B18 Comments: can a leaking valve cover on an M40B18 cause warm start issues? Because after driving and parking for 20mins i'l hev to crank for a longtime..
March 17, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not likely. You could have a fuel delivery issue. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mti Comments: hi i have a 323i 1985 model,is it normal for me to get around 40km with 7 litres of fuel.i dont have black smoke coming out and I have tested each cylinder to check for a malfunctioning injector that could be making the others to overwork , do you have any idea what could be wrong?
March 1, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The fuel economy sounds low. Can be a number of things, leaking fuel injectors to a restricted exhaust. I would start b checking the DME for fault codes. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
E30styles Comments: I have a 1987 325is e30 and I want to put the heads on my 1986 325es. Do you have a walk through for this or maybe some pointers.
February 24, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try this tech article: http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/101-Projects-17-Head-Gasket/101-Projects-17-Head-Gasket.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Stonyford Comments: I have an 91 325i it has 200k on the engine it taps in the morning for a little bit and it surges are the valves adjustable and what could be the surging thanx
February 23, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This tech article applies to your vehicle: http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/E30-Valve_Adjust/E30-Valve_Adjust.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts  
GHUFFY Comments: HI IM GAVIN,GOT A 320 CROME BUMPER ANOTHER GUY DID MY ENGINE LAST YEAR.THE CYLINDER HEAD TO THE ENGINEERS ,ENGINE SOUNDS STILL QUIETAND GOOD,GOT A PROBLEM THE OTHER NIGHT TOUGH.FUEL PUMPS PUMPING GOOD BUT INJECTORS DONT SPRAY FUEL.WHAT MAKES INJECTORS INJECT FUEL,THEY ARE WORKING WHEN I APPLY POWER FROM BATTERY
February 4, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The engine speed or cylinder ID sensor may be faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mti Comments: hi I have a bmw 323i e30 1985 model.i want to get my 323i engine swaped for a 318 engine from an e30 can this swap work without me having to modify anything on the car.
January 28, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would need to know the year range of the donor motor to offer any insight. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
chezzy Comments: Hi there..I did my E30 m10 motor over nd now it starts nd just dies out like after 3-4 seconds..what could be the problem?
December 19, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: First confirm engine timing is correct. If so, you could be losing fuel pressure or spark. Check the fuel pump and ignition spark. if spark is missing, check the crank sensors. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
blue Comments: hi guys can anyone help i have a 1989 e 30 325i cabriolet i have owned it for 3 years .
when i got it it was already lowerd and i am looking at getting a h and r cup kit but need to know the factory ride height before i can go a head with it.
as to know how low the car will be on new kit as a pposed to what it is now.
so can any one tell me the original ride height many thanks blue
August 14, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would grab a repair manual. It will have the specs you are looking for. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right book.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
AMX Comments: Can someone help, please? I swapped a motors, dropped in a 325es into my 325i convertible. A few adjustments were made for the 325es to work. It turns over and stays on for about 1-2 seconds and then shuts off. It won't stay idle. I changed the idle control module and it's doing the same thing. Does anyone know what other adjustments need to be for it to idle right? Thanks
August 6, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you step on the gas can you keep it running? What were the few adjustments? The ES and the I are different motors not to mention different fuel injection systems. The crank sensors and cam sensors are in different spots. Also, doesn't the old ES motor have a two wire idle air motor and the I have a 3 wire idle air motor. You are going to need to get a repair manual for the ES and the I models and match the I components to the ES, or you can get an I computer and harness and change that. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
Shantan Naidoo Comments: Hi Nick

Thanks for the prompt response, I am posting all the way from Johannesburg, South Africa, I am looking to change the rockers as I have just purchased second hand another 2.7 head for spares, thanks for the advice.
July 3, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Shantan Comments: Good day,

I have adjusted my valves and still on a few rockers, the eccentric rotates all the way around, I purchased new eccentrics from BMW and yet the same problem occurs, the eccentric has to much play when adjusting and I followed the correct procedure of the came lobe facing in the opposite direction to the rocker, could my cam shaft be worn, rockers need to be replaced? please advise

Thanks
July 2, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: if you cannot get it into spec, I would assume something is worn. Check the camshaft lobe to see if it is worn, check for a difference in height across the lobe. The rockers should also be free from wear. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
quintin Comments: Hi,I just got a 325i but there's no spark at the crank and cam sensor we've put direct power to the coil but still nothing. What can it be?
March 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The camshaft and crankshaft sensors do not produce spark. The send an electronic signal to the DME for ignition and fuel timing. Putting direcrt voltage to the coil will not produce any spark either. Try testing or replacing your crankshaft sensor. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
PIETER Comments: HI I AM HAVING A PROBLEM WITH AN 320I BMW 1991 MODEL I OVERHAULED THE ENGINE AND FITTED AN NEW CRANK SENSOR BUT IT WILL NOT START IT SPAYS FUEL OUT ALL INJECTORS AND HAS SPARK I WANT TO KNOW IF THE COMPUTER NEEDS TO BE RESET AS THIS CARS ENGINE JUST STOPPED ONE DAY AND I CAN NOT GET IT STARTED MUST I FIT AN ENGINE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM PLEASE I NEED HELP WITH THIS FAULT AS I HAVE NOW RUN OUT OF WAYS TO TRY AND START THIS CAR
February 20, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you have spark and fuel, I would check engine compression next. There is no reset that needs to be performed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
CarGuyBig Comments: How would you turn the engine with an automatic transmission? Your very good article says to out it in fifth gear and roll it, but that won't do anything with an auto trans.
February 7, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You're right the fifth year Roland trick only works on manual transmission cars. However you can just take a big socket and put it on the front harmonizer pulley on the crankshaft of the engine to turn it as well check out the E30 timing belt article and instructions are in there. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Scorpio Comments: Hi, Wayne have a 1990 BMW 325i. problem, i have spark on all cylinders but fuel only on cylinders 2 4 6. no fuel on 1 3 5.computer has been checked twice by two auto computer companys with the same no problems found,all engine sensors have been changed, also fuel pump and relay, is it possible to be a injector relay fault thanks.John.
January 29, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: All six injectors share a power supply splice. You can inspect it to be sure the circuit for injectors 1, 3 and 5 is not faulty. However, the DME controls each set of injectors on a separate driver circuit. 1, 3, 5 are bank fired together as well as 2, 4, 6. I would inspect the circuit to the DME and besure the connection is not fault. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Salteedog Comments: After deciding that I needed to adjust the valives on my '87 325, 6cyl, 2.7 the first time I ever did it. The valves still seemed noisey to me. I took a long phillips screwdriver and started to investigate the noises. I placed the point of the screwdriver at each location on the valve cover above each cylinder and the other end to my ear, and I really didn't hear any loud ticking. However, I checked out each Bosch injector in the same manner and the loud clicking sound was really coming from each of them. So, just be sure you are not confusing your ticking noise of the valves with the clicking noise of the injectors. My injectors are rebuilt Bosch, and they sound that way.
November 30, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the tip on confusing injector clicking with valve tap - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Salteedog Comments: I have an '87 325 with the 6 cyl., 2.7 and an automatic transmission. Keep in mind that jacking the right rear of the car with an automatic transmission and turning the wheel in order to rotate the camshaft does not work with an automatic transmision even if it is gear. I was not able to get a wrench or socket on the crankshaft in order to rotate the engine to top dead center for each cylinder. There is just too much interference with the fan, belts, etc. The cylinders can be adjusted in any order. So, I looked for one at TDC or close. With the parking brake on and the transmission in neutral, I placed the ignition key in the starter and rather quickly engaged bumped the starter, and each time I bumped it, the camshaft rotated about one quarter turn. Just make sure on a single cam, like my car, that the camshaft lobes are pointed down for the valves of the cylinder you are adjusting. This is the point where there is zero lift on the camshaft for that set of valves/ cylinder. At this point, you can then adjust the intake and exhaust clearances for that cylinder. After you adjust one set of valves, bump the starter once or twice and find the next set of valves/ cylinder to adjust. I did not remove the spark plugs because as I said I used the starter to bump the camshaft. I also found that a 2.5mm allen wrench vs. a stiff wire works nicely on the valve adjustment eccentric.
Note: I removed the fuel pump relay by the driver side shock tower and unplugged the ignition coil wire from the ignition coil before I used the starter to bump. Also, it makes a difference whether you adjust the valves when the engine is cold or not. If you adjust the 6 cyl., 2.7 when the engine is cold, coolant temp. below 95 degrees F, as I do, according to Bentley, use a .010"/.25mm feeler. If you adjust when the engine is hot, coolant temp. above 176 degrees F, according to Bentley use a .012"/.30mm feeler.
November 30, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the detailed explanation. Remember a tight valve will lead to a burned valve. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
reggie Comments: I have a 323 1987,@ first was to fast then it become slower.when I step on petrol pedlle it makes a lot of noice running on same place then start to pull faster and it brings fire on the tail pipe.
October 26, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your timing belt may have jumped and now the valve timing is not correct or your catalytic converter (if you have one)/exhaust may be clogged. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Nas Comments: I adjusted my valves on cold start 0.10 n but the ticking has got louder now, wat should i do? Go for 0.80?? And wats the firing order on a 6 cylinder??
September 17, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You mean .10mm, right? Maybe it's injector noise? 1-5-3-6-2-4 is the firing order - Nick at Pelican Parts  
lostwhy Comments: i replaced timing belt 1991 bwm 325 e sounded like water pump noise then my cam shaft broke right were the belt goes on the head??????
March 9, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Was the noise there before you replaced the belt? If so, it was likely a bearing surface in the camshaft failing. It may have finally failed when the camshaft broke.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
A.Mac Comments: When you hear a ticking afterwards you have obviously not adjust one or two of the valves properly. Would that most likely be caused by over tightening or under tightening?

Thanks!
December 20, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Typically under tightening. The valve clearance then becomes too large, and the rocker / valve make a clacking noise when they meet. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Shawn Comments: Are the valve setting the same for all the valves?
November 15, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes they are .010 for the intake and exhaust valves.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Shaun Comments: Hi,is the tappet clearance 0.25mm the same for all 6 cylinder engines,I have the bmw e30 320i and need to set the tappets,what is the correct clearance?
November 9, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What year is your 320i?
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Super Worker Comments: to pstarkey921: This is not a fuel delivery problem, First the car does not have a carburetor, it is fuel injected. Second this is an Interference engine, if the timing belt breaks the pistons bend, in my experience, every valve in the cylinder head preventing any compression. you can try doing a compression test, but having much experience with these engines, I would tell you to start looking for a re manufactured cylinder head, or a low mileage used one out of a wreak, If you have any further questions you can email me at ofsporttours@aol.com, I have a small shop in upstate NY, and am very knowledgeable with pretty much all areas of mechanics
November 1, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the input on this one. We appreciate the help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
BenzBimmer Comments: This is a very good write up but I'm wondering. What would be the good way to rotate the engine if ya happen to have an automatic. *sarcasm*GASP!!! I know, unheard of.*end sarcasm*
I heard that taking a large socket wrench on the harmonic balancer works while the car is in neutral.
Is this truely good way? or is there another way?
October 19, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Using a socket wrench is fine. you can leave the car in park. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
pstarkey921 Comments: My timing belt had snapped, breaking one of the rocker arms. We replaced it, put on a new head gasket and thermal shields. Timed the belts, reassembled the water pump, carburetor, radiator, air filter, and hooked all the lines up and tried to start the car. It turns over, but it wont fire. The injectors are ticking. We replaced the fuel relay, check the fuel pressure 44PSIbut there is still no gas getting to the spark plugs. We cleaned the carburetor, still didn't work. We took the tube off the carburetor and sprayed the start spray in there and it still didn't start. We have now taken the manifold off? The silver thing that looks like bent metal tubes, we tried to see if we could smell any gas from where the injectors supply to the spark plugs and I could not. We will be checking the rectangular tube that supplies the fuel to the injectors to see if there is blockage tomorrow, but does anyone know what else it could be? My husband is getting a little flustered. Everyone keeps telling him he did the repair correctly. Does the 89 have an anti theft mechanism that may be stopping us from starting the car? Oh, It has been off the road for 4 months now, so could the fuel be bad? Please help!!
September 3, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the compression and make sure the inside of the engine is tight, If there is fuel pressure but no fuel getting to the injectors, maybe a line is clamped off or pinched.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Phantom619 Comments: Im having some issues timing my e30 325i 2.5L the pic isnt too clear where the lobes are when the cam is at TDC .... My head wass rebuilt and the cam was turned.....im wondering if the lobs would be up or down on number 1 piston.....thank you
August 31, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: both lobes are up on the number one piston for the compression stroke - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
Dr. Paul Comments: thanks for the article.. i have an 87' 325is, it has 250,000miles!! I used a 2.5mm hex key to hold the eccentric down while i tightened the lock nut. If one valve is open the other valve is definatly closed, so i skipped around and just marked each one with a red marker when i was done.
August 23, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
agust Comments: hi all,
i have an e30m40 1991, but the engine is very noisy,
i thought from HVA but it teh same noise after i changed it.
is the problem from rocker arm, camshaft or oil pump?
please advise....thx
August 10, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Low oil pressure could make it loud, you could also have a problem with the timing chain, guides, or tensioner being worn. Try to pinpoint where the noise is coming from.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
cc Comments: Do all cylinder head valves rotate?
June 24, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It depends on the design of the cam.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
firstbeemer Comments: Hey, there don't if any1 could help me , I have a 89 e30 318i, n the ticking is very loud, now some poeple told that the Hydraulic Lifters need to be replaced, just wanted to know if it could adjusted or is there anything else could be done. Need a second opinion, does the valve adjustment work on 318 m40 heads to.
June 24, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There should be no valve adjustment on that engine, it has hydraulic lifters, if it is tapping, make sure it is full of oil and the oil pressure is good.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
JPTL Comments: After adjusting the valves to .25mm cold the valves quieted down substantially. It starts right up and runs well at normal speed.
However now it idles rougher and at a lower rpm about 600 or so. It hunts a bit at idle and there's a slight hesitation when I blip the gas. The rough idle wasn't present before the valve adjustment.
I took care in adjusting each rocker at the lowest part of the lobe, but the amount of 'drag' that was on the gauge was pretty significant after tightening each nut. As a reference to how snug I did the rockers, I wouldn't be able to get the gauge back in the gap after pulling it out.
Did I adjust these too tight? Should I lessen the drag? Anyone else experience this?
I also replaced plugs NGK gapped at .028"
Thanks.
Great article, BTW.
May 18, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You should be able to slide the feeler gauge back in after the nut is tight. If not the air gap is too small and the valves will be too tight. Recheck the valve lash and readjust.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
E30lover Comments: I'm 16 and will be doing this soon on my 87 325i convertible I picked up for 800. Definately time for a valve adjustment at 200k and valves ticking. Now as for TDC can I tell if the engine is at that when there's no pressure on the valve spring? Thanks!
May 4, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You are going to want to see the piston at TDC of the cylinder you are adjusting. You can see it through the spark plug hole. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ariel Comments: I want to Know the running mate of four cylinder: and theres 8 rocker arm....Please....show me an image to know about it...or....please ....show the the right form of 8 rocker....
November 25, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What kind of car?/engine? 4 or 6 cylinder or talk to one of our parts specailist at 888 280 7799 - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
myfirst325 Comments: I'll be replacing the timing belt this weekend on my 90 325ic. I was told its also a good time to adjust the valves. Can I use a thin 32mm spanner wrench on the crankshaft pulley to get the above accomplished?
October 20, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sure, that sounds like it would work well. See this article on the timing belt replacement: http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/101-Projects-20-E30-Timing-Belt/101-Projects-20-E30-Timing-Belt.htm - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Benji Comments: Hello thier Wayne,I was just wondering if this article and method is possible to undertake on my 97, R-reg 316i BMW. Or is it a different procedure on my 316i BMW.
October 2, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The 316 is a Euro car not available here in the states, so I'm not familiar with it. But, almost all of the late-model BMWs have hydraulic lifters, so the valves don't need to be adjusted. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Tito Comments: I presume the top row in the exhaust and the bottom inlet.
When the bottom cam is pointing away and is in position to have the valave adjusted, the cam for the top of the same cylinder is not completely turned away. Is it in position in that cylinder to adjust or do i need to turn the cam farther in order to to set the exhaust side after having adjusted the bottom. Thanks.
September 6, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The top row (closest to the intake) are the intake valves. At Top Dead Center (TDC) for each cylinder, both intake and exhaust valves should be closed, and you should set the gap at that point. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Wolf Comments: I purchased an '89 325ix with about 170K, which had noisey valves from the start. I tried adjusting them 2x, and couldn't get them to quiet down. recently the #2 intake rocker snapped off at the eccentric end. I bought all new valvetrain components including cam, rockers, adjusters, and shafts. Upon disassembling the head, I found that all the intake rockers had grooves worn in the pads, which would make it nearly impossible to gap correctly,and could probably have only be done by ear. Cam wear looked normal. Is this normal or common, or should I suspect an oil path blockage?
August 22, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, that is a tremendous amount of wear, and indicates that there indeed may be an oil blockage somewhere in there. The lifters are hardened, and when they wear past that hardened top surface, then they wear pretty quickly beyond that. I would say that they all need to be replaced at this point. Also, it's not normal for them to snap like that - it's probably related to off-angles created by that wear pattern. Check your oiling system, and also make sure that you run an oil with lots of anti-wear additives like Zinc, etc. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
hammer_e30 Comments: I just did a valve adjustment on my '89 325is. I found that all of my exhaust valves have mushroomed stems. They all still offer some range of adjustment except cylinder 2. I did get it into spec, but I am worried about the next valve adjustment. Is there lash caps available, or am I just going to have to a valve job? And what would cause the valve stems to mushroom? Lack of oil?
August 19, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmm, that's not normal. That type of wear can be caused by incorrectly installed valves (wrong height), which causes too much back and forth scrubbing. Lack of oil can also cause this too - check to make sure all your oil passages are clean and clear. Use an oil with lots of anti-wear additives in it too, that should help stop the damage. Improper valve stem grinding can also cause this too. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Si Comments: hi,Drag lever and thrust adapter on my 318i M40 E30 have been replaced with the new one due to noisy problem,once I start the engine on trial , I found 1 from 4 cylinder have missed fire ,I check for the problem one of them have no compression and the other just have 90 pressure
before I change the above part ,only when the engine cold it feel like have missed fire from one of the cylinder and once the engine warm everything go normal and I still able to run with 185Kph.
due to above problem,I just take out the cylinder head and check the part and found one of the piston ring have a big gap on it once I just simply put the ring in to the cylinder,is it due to above problem I lost the Compression ? why so suddenly after I replace the drag lever and thrust adapter?any Advice
August 8, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No clue, it's probably just coincidence? - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
gibby Comments: Thanks for the great write up...
I am in the midst of a few large repairs and I did the valve adjustment tonight - I found that the previous mechanic/owner tightened the heck out of the lock nuts on the eccentrics and getting them off was difficult. On the 1st and 5th cylinders, I was turning w/ enough force to depress the valves. Then I smartened up, thinking I might be making contact with cylinders down in there...for the rest I used a screwdriver across the head bolt towers as a fulcrum to keep the valves from moving. My question is - could I have done damage to the valves or cylinders, since I depressed the 1 and 5 valves at TDC?
Thanks!
July 10, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not likely. You'd really have to crank the heck out of them in order to damage them. If you're still concerned, just run a simple compression check on the engine and see what the numbers look like for #1 and #5 compared to the other cylinders. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
SEXECUTIONER Comments: JUST FINISHED WITH MY VALVE ADJ. PURRS LIKE A KITTEN! THANKS!
June 4, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
318Paul Comments: Very nice write up on the E30 valve adjustment, but something is not right here:
"Next, re-install the spark plug wires, It’s a good idea to put a small dab of conductive grease on the insides of the boots, to ease installation and provide a good seal between the spark plug and the boot."


You want dielectric grease that has a good thermal transfer ideally. This could be white silicone heat sink compound. Most people will think you are recommending electrically conductive grease such as copper or zinc rich paste. This would not be good as you would form a conductor to the edge of the boot.
May 10, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
The Rice Burner. Comments: Thanks, it helped a lot.
April 21, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
josh Comments: This is my first lash adj, on a BMW engine. I was asking around, and everyone seems to describe it as the "mount Everest" of mechanics.I have adjusted a lot of valves, but I have to admit, I was a bit scared.Now, after reading your detailed and straightforward approach, I feel much better, and I'm going to do it right now
April 7, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
steveMc Comments: Great article! The hardest thing was just leaning over the car to do it-my lower back is killing me! First time for me and it took under two hoursand that was being careful and slow and re-checking every valve. Question; the mechanic told me i needed a valve adjustment and it seemed like my power and fuel mileage was down so i thought i'd DIY it but it still doesn't sound much better. Doesn't Purr like it did two years ago after a valve job. what gives?
thanks!
March 22, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Maybe the valves were adjusted to tight at one point and now they are burnt, check the engine vacuum to see if you have a damaged valve.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
justboughtanIS Comments: How do you get them TDS on an IS since it has an LSD?
February 5, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What year is your car?
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
James Comments: For automatics you can't use the method outlined here. Apparently in the "Service Socket" jumper pins 11 and 14 to activate the starter. A paper clip works fine. Doing this doesn't power the fuel pump or spark, so there is no risk of starting the engine. Either that or use one of those switch gizmos that attach to the starter and bump the engine a bit at a time until the valve is in the correct spot off the lobe.
December 24, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Willie Comments: Can somebody please explain to me in detail how to adjust the valves with an automatic transmission, i'm confused. The valves are really noisy on my recently acquired 1989 Bmw 325i
December 23, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check out the tech page for the instructions, they are going to be the same for an auto trans.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
zinger Comments: i've done this job twice over two days...the question i have is how much valve noise should there be when properly adjusted? I did both times, stone cold overnight at .25 and it still sounds louder than i expected, but my expectations may have been too high. very noticeable "tick" at idle. thanks
December 20, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: .25 is a little loose, I would recheck your adjustment, it should be around .010 cold on the intake and exhaust valves.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
BZ Comments: I bought a 89 e30 and have a problem with take off. When you hit the gas pedal it doesnt want to go, it takes a few second for it to actually get moving and get up there. Once the car is moving at higher speeds theres no problem with power. lot worse when engine is cold. changed plugs, oil changed and added fuel injector cleaner so far any Ideas on what it can be.
December 17, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Very difficult to diagnose over the Internet. Number one problem may be vacuum leaks - these tend to be muted somewhat when the car is running at higher RPMs. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Merv Comments: Very helpful guide and easy to follow, thanks for making it so easy. E30 owners are a unique bunch who care for their rides, and your articles help this to happen. Great work.
November 28, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
James Comments: Any time3 I've adjusted valves on another car I have used a switch that hooks up to the starter in order to advance the motor to the correct position. Just tapping the remote switch a bit at a time puts the cam in the right spot. Also it isn't necessary to get the engine in exactly TDC is it? The CAM is "off" most of the time and it's pretty easy to see when the tappet is hitting the lobe. Why do you suggest disconnecting the battery?
November 22, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Disconnecting the battery is for safety, and when you adjust the valves on a cylinder it should be a TDC.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
jetpilot718 Comments: Great articles Pelican Staff! One question, must you adjust the valves in order of the firing pattern, or can you just work your way down the cylinders? Thanks!

Here's a video I found of someone doing a valve adjustment on an E30.

http://video.aol.de/video-detail/e30-valve-adjustment/1030771027

September 23, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can work in any order you like as long as the cam is off of the valves and they are closed when you are adjusting them. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
vadkr Comments: thanx for the reply. i finished adjusting the valves last june. i dont know if it's normal but the ticking seems loud you could hear it from the inside of the car when idle. i set the clearance to .010" tight & engine cold. thanx..
August 10, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would double check your valve adjustment, .010 cold is the correct measurement.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
evil_e30 Comments: i have looked on nearly every website there is to look at this is by far the best on the web! great explaination, dont think about doing this...DO IT!!!! i dont think my 325 ran this well in the showroom. keep up the good work.
August 2, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
TeamStowell Comments: Wow.... thank you for the great info! We adjusted the valves on my 1983 635CSi Euro and then adjusted those on a 1975 2002 all within four hours. Next project will be a 1989 325ix we picked up last weekend! Your concise informative article really helped out. I just purchased the project book to see what else we can do for the E30 and our '97 M3. Thank you!
July 25, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Callum Comments: Great article. Just finished adjusting the valves on my 1987 325e. Finding TDC was the tricky bit so here's what I did. I jacked up the rear right of the car and in 5th, rotated the wheel until the cam lobes of cyl 1 were at the top. I then rotated the wheel until the lobes had done a whole rev and were back at the top. I noted how many revolutions of the wheel about 1 and 3/4 it took to rotate the cam completely. So half of this rotation about 7/8 is what it takes to get the lobes from top to bottom at which point you are at TDC. I marked the tyre with masking tape to make each measurement. Now it ticks like a swiss watch.
July 20, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The wheel trick is a good one, but it also does depend upon what gear you're in and what ratio your final drive (differential) has. It may not be the same for everyone. Still a good suggestion for easily turning the engine over. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
fe30 Comments: For an automatic, do I put it is 2nd gear since I can't get it in 5th?
July 17, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can't use the 'turn the wheels' method with an automatic unfortunately, since the wheels are not locked to the engine when it's off. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
oscillloscope Comments: Just finished this one this evening. I tried to do the adjustments by sticking an allen wrench in the eccentric to set the gaps and quickly learned that this is more trouble than it is worth. Doing it in this manner pretty much requires three hands: one on the tightening nut, one on the allen wrench in the eccentric, and one on the feeler gauge.

I ditched the small allen wrench and just used the thumb of the hand holding the feeler gauge to push and hold the eccentric into position with the feeler gauge already in the the gap. A quick tightening of the nut and everything is all set and nothing will move. Using an allen wrench in the eccentric is just making more work for yourself and you will quickly find that it is impossible to hold the eccentric in position this way as you tighten everything up.

Took me 30 minutes to do the first pair using the allen wrench method and about 15 to do all the rest using my thumb. Seems obvious to me. And the car sounds great. No valve train noise at all anymore. Best $800 car I've ever bought!
June 25, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
vadkr Comments: what's the sequence to adjust each cylinder, firing order or 123456..? thanx
June 17, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I typically use the firing order, and crank the engine over about 120 degrees to do each one. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Jr Comments: can you do this adjustment on an automatice as well?
June 13, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sure, this is an engine adjustment, independent of the type of transmission you have. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
MrNiceGUy Comments: Thanks a lot! Great article and very helpful for me to understand it more. I'll be doing a valve adjustment on my 85 528e soon.
June 7, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
rickaz Comments: I don't have room to push the car to get the valves closed, would turning the crank shaft due?
May 30, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sure, it's just a bit difficult sometimes to get leverage on the crankshaft. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Andres_JB Comments: Hi, great DIY as usual, extremely helpful. I bought an 86 325es and the valves were knocking, I adjusted them to .010 and they were still knocking, so today I did the valve adjustment to .008 and they are still knocking, any idea why?? thanks!
May 10, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Usually, valve noise is more of a ticking, rather than a knocking. I'm guessing that the noise that you're hearing is probably not valve noise if adjusting them didn't produce any noticeable difference. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Magnus Comments: Tnx, it worked real sweet. U guys r the best!
April 27, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Magnus Comments: How do I best find TDC on a automatic gearbox.
Tnx for a gr8 manual.
April 18, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hi there. The method described in the article works fine for a manual or an automatic car. Just make sure that the valves are completely closed when you adjust them (the engine does not even have to be at absolute TDC for that cylinder). - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
bengalsrule Comments: thanks for the always helpful tips im working on my 90 325is right now
April 18, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
MistaFisha Comments: Very Helpful, nice job with the write up and pictures mate! I'll be doing it to my 89 this weekend!
April 16, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
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