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M54 6-Cylinder Engine Head Gasket Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

M54 6-Cylinder Engine Head Gasket Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

12 hours12 hrs

Tab:

$1500

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Set of sockets hex, Allen, Torx, wrenches (19mm, 32mm), screwdrivers, camshaft timing tools.

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i Sedan (2004-05)
BMW 530i Sedan (2004-05)

Parts Required:

Head gasket kit, coolant pipe and O-rings, engine oil, filter, engine coolant

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine.

Performance Gain:

Repair oil and coolant leaks

Complementary Modification:

Replace VANOS oil line

The cylinder head gasket is responsible for sealing the cylinders and the oil and coolant that pass from the top to the bottom of the engine. When this gasket fails you could have engine overheating, oil and coolant mixing along with a poor running engine. If your engine is overheating and there is white smoke coming out of your exhaust, you will need to confirm the head gasket is faulty. One way is to use a co2 tester to check the cooling system for combustion gas. Another way is to pressure test the cooling system, if there are no external leaks but it doesn't hold pressure the head gasket may be faulty. Remove spark plugs and inspect each cylinder for signs of coolant.

On BMW E60 models equipped with an M54 6-cylinder engine the head gasket is usually unrepairable due to faulty threads in the block. Before repairing a faulty head gasket, attempt to re-torque the cylinder head bolts. If the bolts will not tighten, the block is faulty as well. Not all hope is lost as you can repair the holes with Time Serts, which work quite well. However, most times it is better to go with a used lower mileage engine. You will need a handful of special tools for this job, not limited to but including: camshaft timing tools, torque wrench, angle finder, plastic clean up tool, and standard hand tools. Be sure to have your cylinder head professionally cleaned and pressure tested before reinstalling.

Remember your car may have been serviced before and parts replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below.

Read through entire procedure before beginning. Be sure this is not above your skill level, as engine damage can occur if engine timing is not correct.

The majority of the procedure will be shown on an engine that is not installed in a vehicle. The steps are the same as if it was installed.

Drain engine oil and coolant.

Disconnect negative (-) battery cable. See our tech article on Battery Replacing for connection notes.

In order to remove the engine cover(s) (green arrows), you first have to remove the cabin microfilter housing (green arrow).
Figure 1

In order to remove the engine cover(s) (green arrows), you first have to remove the cabin microfilter housing (green arrow). This photo shows an early 6-cylinder model. The cabin microfilter housing remains the same throughout all years. I will note the different engine types once we begin removing the engine covers. First, we will remove the cabin microfilter housing. Remove engine covers. See our tech article on Removing Engine Covers.

Open all six ignition coil electrical connectors by rotating connector (red arrow) up 90°.
Figure 2

Open all six ignition coil electrical connectors by rotating connector (red arrow) up 90°. Then remove the electrical connectors from the ignition coils. Remove the ignition coils from cylinder head by pulling straight up. If coil resists, twist when pulling up to break free from spark plug. The ignition coil rubber boot can become stuck to the spark plug over time. Do this for all six ignition coils. Remove valve cover. See our tech article on valve cover gasket replacing.

Remove engine cooling fan and shroud.
Figure 3

Remove engine cooling fan and shroud. See our tech article on engine cooling fan replacing.

Working at front of exhaust system, remove nuts that connect exhaust system to exhaust manifold (green arrows).
Figure 4

Working at front of exhaust system, remove nuts that connect exhaust system to exhaust manifold (green arrows). Be careful when loosening these nuts. I like to spray studs with penetrating oil and clean the end of stud with wire brush before removing. Depending on your region, these can seize up. If they break, don't worry. You can remove the studs by hammering them out and replace with new. Support engine from below using a hydraulic floor jack with a block of wood between jack and engine. Next, working at right front of cylinder head, remove secondary air valve from engine. See our tech article on secondary air components replacing. Support engine from below using a jack or jack stand. Use a wood block between jack and engine. Working in engine bay, locate top of right engine mount. Photo shows mount looking down past exhaust manifold. Remove nut from motor mount. Remove right side engine mount bracket fasteners, then remove bracket from engine. The bracket has four fasteners and bolts to the side of the engine block. You can access it from below the vehicle.

Remove exhaust manifold fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 5

Remove exhaust manifold fasteners (green arrows). There are eight fasteners on each manifold. Remove the front manifold fasteners first, then rear manifold fasteners. This photo shows the manifolds with engine removed for clarity. Remove exhaust manifold. Remove the intake manifold. See our tech article on intake manifold replacing.

With intake manifold removed, you now have to remove the coolant pipe (green arrow) from the crankcase.
Figure 6

With intake manifold removed, you now have to remove the coolant pipe (green arrow) from the crankcase. These pipes almost always break, have a new on hand with new O-rings.

Using a 19mm wrench, remove VANOS oil line, (below oil filter housing).
Figure 7

Using a 19mm wrench, remove VANOS oil line, (below oil filter housing). Cover line and opening to prevent dirt from entering VANOS system (purple arrow). This line has to be moved out of the way to remove the coolant pipe.

Using a flathead screwdriver, level up the hose clamp until it reaches the stop (green arrow).
Figure 8

Using a flathead screwdriver, level up the hose clamp until it reaches the stop (green arrow). Then pull the hose straight off the coolant pipe.

Working at front and rear of coolant pipe, remove two 10mm fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 9

Working at front and rear of coolant pipe, remove two 10mm fasteners (green arrows). Photo shows fasteners already removed.

Remove the coolant pie from the cylinder head.
Figure 10

Remove the coolant pie from the cylinder head. If needed, gently lever between the cylinder head the coolant pipe flange (green arrow). The pipe usually gets stuck and breaks. If it does, be sure to get all the pieces out of the engine.

Remove plastic camshaft cover from cylinder head by pulling up and off cylinder head.
Figure 11

Remove plastic camshaft cover from cylinder head by pulling up and off cylinder head.

Using a 22mm socket on the crankshaft pulley fastener to rotate engine.
Figure 12

Using a 22mm socket on the crankshaft pulley fastener to rotate engine.

Rotate engine clockwise until the first camshaft lobes point toward each other (green arrows).
Figure 13

Rotate engine clockwise until the first camshaft lobes point toward each other (green arrows). This brings engine to cylinder #1 TDC position. This is the first step in locking the engine timing position.

Next you are going to remove the dust plug from crankcase.
Figure 14

Next you are going to remove the dust plug from crankcase. It is located below engine, inside of mounting reinforcement. This photo shows the plug (green arrow) on an engine removed from vehicle for clarity. Purple arrow points to engine oil pan.

Remove plug from crankcase.
Figure 15

Remove plug from crankcase. The dust plug can become stuck over time. If needed, pry out using a flathead screwdriver. Green arrow points to dust plug. Purple arrow points to throttle housing.

Next, install crankshaft locking pin tool (11 2 300) into the hole dust plug was removed from.
Figure 16

Next, install crankshaft locking pin tool (11 2 300) into the hole dust plug was removed from. When installing tool, push in until it bottoms out. Slowly rotate engine until pin drops in about 12mm further. Once the tool is installed, confirm the crankshaft can no longer be rotated. Follow the instructions that came along with your special tool kit to ensure proper use.

Remove the studs at rear of cylinder head using a 10mm deep socket (green arrows).
Figure 17

Remove the studs at rear of cylinder head using a 10mm deep socket (green arrows).

Install camshaft locking jig (11 3 240) at rear of camshafts (green arrow).
Figure 18

Install camshaft locking jig (11 3 240) at rear of camshafts (green arrow). Jig should slide down onto square bosses on end of camshafts, then secure together. Follow the instructions that came along with your special tool kit to ensure proper use.

Working at front of VANOS actuator, remove upper 8mm Allen plug.
Figure 19

Working at front of VANOS actuator, remove upper 8mm Allen plug.

Next, remove lower 8mm Allen plug.
Figure 20

Next, remove lower 8mm Allen plug. When you remove the lower plug, be prepared to catch a small amount of oil in a container.

Using needle nose vise grips, pull plastic plugs out of VANOS actuator (green arrow).
Figure 21

Using needle nose vise grips, pull plastic plugs out of VANOS actuator (green arrow). There is one plug for each camshaft.

Next you are going to remove the VANOS fasteners.
Figure 22

Next you are going to remove the VANOS fasteners. The fasteners are T30 Torx and left hand thread. To remove, rotate in clockwise direction.

Remove engine hoisting hook fasteners then remove hook from engine (green arrows).
Figure 23

Remove engine hoisting hook fasteners then remove hook from engine (green arrows).

Remove seven 10mm VANOS actuator fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 24

Remove seven 10mm VANOS actuator fasteners (green arrows).

Slide VANOS actuator off cylinder head and remove.
Figure 25

Slide VANOS actuator off cylinder head and remove. Be prepared to catch excess oil in a rag.

Using a 32mm deep socket or wrench, remove the primary timing chain tensioner.
Figure 26

Using a 32mm deep socket or wrench, remove the primary timing chain tensioner. Located at the right side of the engine.

Next you have to compress the secondary timing chain tensioner and lock it into the compressed position.
Figure 27

Next you have to compress the secondary timing chain tensioner and lock it into the compressed position. It is located at the top front of the cylinder head. Push down on the top guide, then insert a pin (green arrow) into the hole in tensioner (yellow arrow).

Working at the exhaust camshaft, remove the three 10mm impulse wheel fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 28

Working at the exhaust camshaft, remove the three 10mm impulse wheel fasteners (green arrows).

Next remove the impulse wheel from the camshaft.
Figure 29

Next remove the impulse wheel from the camshaft.

Then remove the spring plate.
Figure 30

Then remove the spring plate. As you remove these items, note the installation orientation. I like to lay them down in the order they came off.

Then remove the intake camshaft sprocket 10mm nuts (green arrows).
Figure 31

Then remove the intake camshaft sprocket 10mm nuts (green arrows). Then remove the spring plate, it is labeled "front".

Now back at the exhaust camshaft, remove the three E8 inverted Torx bolts.
Figure 32

Now back at the exhaust camshaft, remove the three E8 inverted Torx bolts. (green arrows). Only two shown, one is blocked by my hand.

A few mechanics I know like to zip tie the camshaft timing chain onto the sprockets before removing it.
Figure 33

A few mechanics I know like to zip tie the camshaft timing chain onto the sprockets before removing it. This helps to keep them is the right order and prepped for reinstallation in the case you don't have the special tool.

Lift camshaft timing chain with sprockets off camshafts.
Figure 34

Lift camshaft timing chain with sprockets off camshafts. The intake camshaft splined shaft (green arrow) will come off with them.

Remove four 10mm timing chain tensioner fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 35

Remove four 10mm timing chain tensioner fasteners (green arrows). Then remove timing chain tensioner from cylinder head.

Pull splined shaft out of exhaust camshaft and store with other exhaust camshaft components.
Figure 36

Pull splined shaft out of exhaust camshaft and store with other exhaust camshaft components.

Next, remove the exhaust camshaft sprocket from the timing chain.
Figure 37

Next, remove the exhaust camshaft sprocket from the timing chain. Then store the sprocket with the other exhaust camshaft components. For now, loop the timing chain on top of the exhaust camshaft end to temporarily store it.

Now you have to remove the four E8 inverted Torx timing chain cover fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 38

Now you have to remove the four E8 inverted Torx timing chain cover fasteners (green arrows). Be sure to note the location of each fastener as they are different lengths. Then remove the timing chain guide (yellow arrow) from the cylinder head.

We are now at the part where the cylinder head bolts can be removed (green arrows).
Figure 39

We are now at the part where the cylinder head bolts can be removed (green arrows). There are two ways to do this; you can remove the camshafts first or leave the camshafts installed. I prefer to leave the camshafts installed as this means less time the job will take. There are notches in the camshafts that allow access to the bolts. Remove all fourteen E12 inverted Torx bolts from the cylinder head. Start in the center of the cylinder head and work your outward.

Once the bolts are lose, I remove them with a magnet.
Figure 40

Once the bolts are lose, I remove them with a magnet.

Then I remove the washer from the below the camshafts using a magnet.
Figure 41

Then I remove the washer from the below the camshafts using a magnet.

Now you can remove the cylinder head from the engine.
Figure 42

Now you can remove the cylinder head from the engine. Have a friend to help you lift it off. Especially if the engine is installed, as it is long and awkward when lifting.

Next remove the cylinder head gasket from the cylinder head.
Figure 43

Next remove the cylinder head gasket from the cylinder head. Once the head is removed, send it to a machine shop to be cleaned and pressure checked for cracks and warping.

Remove all of the old head gasket material from the block.
Figure 44

Remove all of the old head gasket material from the block. I like to use the green 3M clean up tool. (green arrow) it is safe to use on engines and does a great job of cleaning it up. Do not mar or scratch the surface while cleaning.

Check the block deck for warping.
Figure 45

Check the block deck for warping. A maximum of 0.05mm is allowed. Use a straight edge bar designed for checking engine straightness and a feeler gauge. If your head had to be machined, be sure you ordered the thicker head gasket to make up for the material that was removed. Working at the front of the block where the timing cover joins, apply the sealing compound 3 Bond 1209 over the joints.

Place new cylinder head gasket on the block.
Figure 46

Place new cylinder head gasket on the block. Be sure both alignment dowels are in good shape (green arrows) Lower head back onto engine, as you guide timing chain up through timing cover area.

Check that cylinder 1 intake and exhaust camshaft lobes are pointing toward each other (yellow arrows) before installing head onto block.
Figure 47

Check that cylinder 1 intake and exhaust camshaft lobes are pointing toward each other (yellow arrows) before installing head onto block. If you have to move the camshafts once the head is installed, rotate the crankshaft to 30° before TDC. Install new cylinder head bolts into the cylinder head. Lightly coat the threads with clean engine oil and install finger tight. Do not reuse old cylinder head bolts.

My head gasket came with the torque specs along with the tightening sequence.
Figure 48

My head gasket came with the torque specs along with the tightening sequence. This was quite handy. The cylinder head bolts are torqued in three stages.

Stage 1: Start by torqueing the head bolts to 40 Nm (30 ft-lb).
Figure 49

Stage 1: Start by torqueing the head bolts to 40 Nm (30 ft-lb). Start in the center and work your way outward, alternating side to side. Use the previous photo as a reference. After the initial torqueing, you will have to torque the bolts a total of two more times. Each time rotating the head bolt an additional 90°.

Stage 2, use an angle finder and tighten the head bolts an additional 90°.
Figure 50

Stage 2, use an angle finder and tighten the head bolts an additional 90°. Start in the center and work your way outward, alternating side to side. Stage 3, use an angle finder and tighten the head bolts an additional 90°. Start in the center and work your way outward, alternating side to side.

Reinstall the timing chain guide onto the cylinder head (yellow arrow).
Figure 51

Reinstall the timing chain guide onto the cylinder head (yellow arrow). Then install and tighten the four E8 inverted Torx timing chain cover fasteners (green arrows). Be sure to use earlier noted location of each fastener as they are different lengths. Tighten fasteners to 10 Nm (89 in-lb)

Lock camshafts in place.
Figure 52

Lock camshafts in place. Install camshaft locking jig (11 3 240) at rear of camshafts. (green arrow) Jig should slide down onto square bosses on end of camshafts, then secure together. Follow the instructions that came along with your special tool kit to ensure proper use. If needed, rotate camshafts slightly to properly engage tool.

Next, install crankshaft locking pin tool (11 2 300) into the hole dust plug was removed from.
Figure 53

Next, install crankshaft locking pin tool (11 2 300) into the hole dust plug was removed from. When installing tool, push in until it bottoms out. Slowly rotate engine until pin drops in about 12mm further. Once the tool is installed, confirm the crankshaft can no longer be rotated. Follow the instructions that came along with your special tool kit to ensure proper use. While doing this, be sure to keep some tension on the timing chain. Just hold it in the air, help from an assistant may be needed.

Install the exhaust camshaft sprocket with the timing chain onto the exhaust camshaft.
Figure 54

Install the exhaust camshaft sprocket with the timing chain onto the exhaust camshaft. Be sure that the arrow on the sprocket (yellow arrow) points to the cylinder head sealing surface. Install sprocket fasteners (green arrows) a few turns, do not tighten them yet.

Next, screw in the timing chain pretension tool 11 4 220 into the main timing chain tensioner hole.
Figure 55

Next, screw in the timing chain pretension tool 11 4 220 into the main timing chain tensioner hole. Do not tighten it yet. Just screw it in until it comes in contact with the timing chain guide.

Check that the arrow (yellow arrow) on the exhaust sprocket is still aligned with the cylinder head sealing surface.
Figure 56

Check that the arrow (yellow arrow) on the exhaust sprocket is still aligned with the cylinder head sealing surface. Adjust if needed. Then tighten the three 11mm studs (green arrows) on the camshaft sprocket that we installed finger tight earlier. Tighten to 20 Nm (15 ft-lb).

Install timing chain tensioner to cylinder head.
Figure 57

Install timing chain tensioner to cylinder head. Then tighten the four 10mm timing chain tensioner fasteners (green arrows). Be sure tensioner is still compressed with pin.

Install the exhaust camshaft splined spacer (green arrow) so that the gap in the splines aligns with the gap in the camshaft splines (red arrows).
Figure 58

Install the exhaust camshaft splined spacer (green arrow) so that the gap in the splines aligns with the gap in the camshaft splines (red arrows).

Slide exhaust camshaft splined shaft into camshaft sprocket.
Figure 59

Slide exhaust camshaft splined shaft into camshaft sprocket. Slide it in until the three threaded holes on the camshaft sprocket are centered in the slots of the splined spacer (yellow arrow).

Place the intake and exhaust camshaft sprocket with the secondary timing chain into BMW special tool 11 6 180.
Figure 60

Place the intake and exhaust camshaft sprocket with the secondary timing chain into BMW special tool 11 6 180. Align the intake sprocket so the splined gap is in the position shown (green arrow).

Remove the secondary timing chain and camshaft sprockets from the tool, then install them on the engine in the same way they were orientated in the tool.
Figure 61

Remove the secondary timing chain and camshaft sprockets from the tool, then install them on the engine in the same way they were orientated in the tool. The gap in the splines should align (green arrow).

Slide the splined shaft onto the intake camshaft until you can only see 1mm of the splines (green arrow).
Figure 62

Slide the splined shaft onto the intake camshaft until you can only see 1mm of the splines (green arrow).

Install the intake camshaft spring plate so that you can read FRONT.
Figure 63

Install the intake camshaft spring plate so that you can read FRONT. Then tighten the three 10mm nuts (green arrows) finger tight.

Now back at the exhaust camshaft, install the three E8 inverted Torx bolts (green arrows).
Figure 64

Now back at the exhaust camshaft, install the three E8 inverted Torx bolts (green arrows). Only two shown, one is blocked by my hand. Tighten to 5 Nm (44 in-lb) then back off half a turn. Then install the thrust plate (yellow arrow).

Then install the spring plate.
Figure 65

Then install the spring plate. Make sure the marking F is facing outward.

Then install camshaft impulse wheel (yellow arrow) and tighten the 10mm mounting nuts (green arrows) finger tight.
Figure 66

Then install camshaft impulse wheel (yellow arrow) and tighten the 10mm mounting nuts (green arrows) finger tight.

Then pull the exhaust camshaft splined shaft out (green arrow) until it reaches the stop.
Figure 67

Then pull the exhaust camshaft splined shaft out (green arrow) until it reaches the stop.

Preload timing chain tensioner tool 11 4 220center bolt to 0.
Figure 68

Preload timing chain tensioner tool 11 4 220center bolt to 0.7 Nm (6 in-lb).

Preload the exhaust camshaft impulse wheel (yellow arrow) by hand and tighten the 10mm nuts finger tight (green arrows).
Figure 69

Preload the exhaust camshaft impulse wheel (yellow arrow) by hand and tighten the 10mm nuts finger tight (green arrows).

Place VANOS set up bracket 11 6 150 onto cylinder head and evenly tighten fasteners (green arrows) until it is flush with cylinder head.
Figure 70

Place VANOS set up bracket 11 6 150 onto cylinder head and evenly tighten fasteners (green arrows) until it is flush with cylinder head.

Now you can lock the camshaft adjustment fasteners down (green arrows).
Figure 71

Now you can lock the camshaft adjustment fasteners down (green arrows). First torque them all to 5 Nm. Then tighten the 10mm fasteners to 10 Nm (8 ft-lb). Then tighten the E8 inverted Torx fasteners to 20 Nm (15 ft-lb).

Remove the crankshaft locking pin and the camshaft locking tools.
Figure 72

Remove the crankshaft locking pin and the camshaft locking tools. Rotate the engine one full rotation and confirm that the first camshaft lobes point toward each other (green arrows). Reinstall crankshaft locking tool then install camshaft locking tool. Confirm proper alignment. The camshaft locking tool should be flush or almost flush with intake side of cylinder head sealing surface. 1mm is allowed if using a feller gauge to check. Once you have confirmed the camshafts are timed correctly, remove the special tool from the front of the cylinder head (11 6 150). Clean VANOS unit sealing surface, then install new VANOS actuator gasket. Install VANOS actuator on cylinder head. Install VANOS actuator fasteners and tighten. Install engine hoisting hook and tighten. Next you will install the left hand thread VANOS fasteners and tighten, be sure to use the correct amount of torque, this connection is very important. Install the plastic plugs, they just push back into place. Then install the VANOS actuator metal plugs. Next remove the camshaft and crankshaft locking tools. Reinstall the studs at rear of cylinder head and reassemble valve cover and other items removed. Hydraulic VANOS piston to the camshaft splined shaft torque is 10 Nm (89 in-lb). VANOS sealing plug torque is 50 Nm (37 ft-lb). Remove the crankshaft and camshaft locking tools. Install new coolant pipe. Then install VANOS line with seal. Install the intake manifold. See our tech article on intake manifold replacing. Install the exhaust manifold. See our tech article on exhaust manifold replacing. Install the valve cover. See our tech article on valve cover gasket replacing. Install the engine cooling fan and shroud. See our tech article on engine cooling fan replacing. The remainder of the reassembly steps are reverse of removing. Be sure to replace engine oil and engine coolant when done. Bleed cooling system and check for leaks.


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Comments and Suggestions:
concerned Comments: "Nick at Pelican Parts" - when do you plan on fixing this article?? the only two comments on it are both over a year old, commenting on the pictures and steps not matching up.
September 3, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I answer tech questions. Article edits and corrections I pass onto the web team. Thanks for keeping on us. We appreciate it. I will have the article updated. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jr Comments: The Steps don't match up with pictures for this article
"M54 6-Cylinder Engine Head Gasket Replacement"
August 15, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for catching that, I will have the article fixed - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Todd Comments: Captions don't match up with the illustrations on this one, guys.
March 28, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for catching that, I will have the article fixed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:48:31 AM