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M54 6-Cylinder Engine Camshaft Sensor Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

M54 6-Cylinder Engine Camshaft Sensor Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

****

Tools:

Set of sockets 5mm Allen bit, wrenches 19mm, 32mm wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW X3 Sport Utility (2004-06)

Parts Required:

Intake or Exhaust camshaft sensor, sealing O-rings, fasteners, blue Loctite

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine

Performance Gain:

Car will run well

The digital motor electronics (DME) engine management system in BMW E83 X3 vehicles with an M54 engine uses the engine control module (ECM) to control fuel injection, ignition and other important drivetrain functions. The ECM sequentially triggers the fuel injectors to spray fuel into the intake ports and then, a split-second later, triggers the ignition coils to fire the spark plugs. This sequence of events is timed by using crankshaft position information. Using the signal from the crankshaft sensor, the ECM "knows" which cylinder is ready for fuel intake and then, later, for ignition.

However, in addition to the crankshaft position signal, the ECM needs a signal to distinguish the crankshaft valve-overlap top-dead-center (TDC) position from the TDC just prior to the power stroke. This signal is provided by camshaft position sensors which help synchronize fuel injection and ignition. In addition, camshaft sensors serve as feedback devices for VANOS (variable camshaft timing) control.

When a camshaft sensor fails, the check engine light will illuminate and a fault code will be stored. I have seen faulty sensors cause engine stalling and poor engine drivability. If you have a camshaft sensor fault code and your engine isn't running right, I suggest replacing the sensor before digging too deep. In this article, I'll go over the steps involved with replacing the intake and exhaust camshaft position sensors. The procedures are different, so they will be described separately. BMW suggests replacing the sensor fasteners when removing. This is due to Loctite used at the factory. If you do not want to replace the fasteners, be sure to apply a small amount of blue Loctite on the fastener threads.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been 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. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. 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. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

On E83 X3 models with an M54 6-cylinder engine, the intake (inlet) camshaft sensor is located behind the VANOS solenoid (yellow arrow).
Figure 1

On E83 X3 models with an M54 6-cylinder engine, the intake (inlet) camshaft sensor is located behind the VANOS solenoid (yellow arrow). The exhaust (outlet) camshaft sensor is located at the right front of the cylinder head (red arrow).

Start by removing the four T25 Torx fasteners (red arrows) for the fresh air intake duct.
Figure 2

Start by removing the four T25 Torx fasteners (red arrows) for the fresh air intake duct. Next you will unclip the five air filter housing retaining clips. Lift them up and unhook from the lid of the intake air housing. Start with the two near the mass air flow sensor. Then release the front clips.

Once you release all the clips, lift the intake air duct (blue arrow) and pull it out of the air filter housing lid (red arrow).
Figure 3

Once you release all the clips, lift the intake air duct (blue arrow) and pull it out of the air filter housing lid (red arrow). Remove the engine covers. See our tech article on engine cover removing.

Intake camshaft sensor: Working at the left front corner of the valve cover, disconnect the crankcase vent hose by squeezing the release collar (green arrows) and pulling it away (inset) from the valve cover.
Figure 4

Intake camshaft sensor: Working at the left front corner of the valve cover, disconnect the crankcase vent hose by squeezing the release collar (green arrows) and pulling it away (inset) from the valve cover.

Intake camshaft sensor: Disconnect the VANOS solenoid electrical connector.
Figure 5

Intake camshaft sensor: Disconnect the VANOS solenoid electrical connector. Press the metal release wire (red arrow) and pull it straight off the solenoid.

Intake camshaft sensor: Then, using a 32mm wrench, loosen the VANOS solenoid.
Figure 6

Intake camshaft sensor: Then, using a 32mm wrench, loosen the VANOS solenoid. If the VANOS oil line prevents access to the VANOS solenoid hex, remove the oil line 19mm Banjo bolt (red arrow). This will improve access to the VANOS solenoid. If you do not own a 32mm open end wrench, a medium adjustable wrench will work (inset) due to the solenoid not being secured with high torque. Remove the VANOS solenoid from the cylinder head. Be ready to catch any dripping oil in a rag.

Intake camshaft sensor: Remove the intake camshaft sensor 5mm Allen fastener (red arrow).
Figure 7

Intake camshaft sensor: Remove the intake camshaft sensor 5mm Allen fastener (red arrow). If you don't have a small enough Allen socket or wrench, use your 5mm bit and a 1/4 wrench to turn the Allen bit (yellow arrow).

Intake camshaft sensor: The camshaft sensor electrical connector (yellow arrow) is located at the electrical junction behind the alternator (red arrow).
Figure 8

Intake camshaft sensor: The camshaft sensor electrical connector (yellow arrow) is located at the electrical junction behind the alternator (red arrow). The connector can be accessed without removing the air filter housing. If you are having trouble, see our tech article on intake air ducts and housing replacing.

Intake camshaft sensor: Disconnect the camshaft sensor electrical connector by pressing the release wire (red arrow) and pulling the male (yellow arrow) end of the connector out of the electrical junction.
Figure 9

Intake camshaft sensor: Disconnect the camshaft sensor electrical connector by pressing the release wire (red arrow) and pulling the male (yellow arrow) end of the connector out of the electrical junction.

Intake camshaft sensor: Once disconnected, I like to tie a rope to the connector (red arrow) to help feed in the new sensor harness.
Figure 10

Intake camshaft sensor: Once disconnected, I like to tie a rope to the connector (red arrow) to help feed in the new sensor harness.

Intake camshaft sensor: Remove the camshaft sensor (red arrow) from the cylinder head.
Figure 11

Intake camshaft sensor: Remove the camshaft sensor (red arrow) from the cylinder head. Be ready to catch any dripping oil in a rag. Feed the sensor wiring harness up and out of the engine compartment. Attach the rope to the new sensor (yellow arrow). Feed the new sensor wiring harness into the engine compartment the same way it was previously routed. Install the sensor in the cylinder head and tighten it. Connect the camshaft sensor electrical connector. Reinstall the VANOS solenoid and tighten it. Install the air filter housing. Install the engine covers and clear the DME fault codes.

Exhaust camshaft sensor: Working at the right front of the cylinder head, disconnect the camshaft sensor electrical connector by pressing the release tabs (red arrow) and pulling it straight off in the direction of the yellow arrow.
Figure 12

Exhaust camshaft sensor: Working at the right front of the cylinder head, disconnect the camshaft sensor electrical connector by pressing the release tabs (red arrow) and pulling it straight off in the direction of the yellow arrow.

Exhaust camshaft sensor: Using a 5mm Allen bit (yellow arrow), remove the camshaft sensor fastener (red arrow).
Figure 13

Exhaust camshaft sensor: Using a 5mm Allen bit (yellow arrow), remove the camshaft sensor fastener (red arrow). This fastener tends to get dirty. Clean the Allen opening before trying to remove it. This will prevent stripping the fastener head.

Exhaust camshaft sensor: Pull the camshaft sensor (green arrow) out of the cylinder head.
Figure 14

Exhaust camshaft sensor: Pull the camshaft sensor (green arrow) out of the cylinder head. Be ready to catch any dripping oil in a rag. Install the new camshaft sensor with a new O-ring (yellow arrow) and fastener. When installing, lubricate the O-ring with new engine oil and push it into the cylinder head until the retaining flange (where bolt fastens through) is flush with the cylinder head. Install the new fastener and tighten and reconnect the electrical connector. Then install the intake air duct and clear any fault codes from the DME.

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Page last updated: Fri 8/18/2017 03:21:33 AM