Parts Catalog Accessories Catalog Tech Info Tech Forums
 
Follow Pelican Parts on Facebook Follow Pelican Parts on Twitter Follow Pelican Parts on Instagram Follow Pelican Parts on YouTube Follow Pelican Parts on Pinterest Follow Pelican Parts on Tumblr
  Search our site:    
View Recent Cars  |   Cart  | Project List | Order Status | Help    
 >  >
VANOS Actuator Replacement
 
Bookmark and Share

Pelican Technical Article:

VANOS Actuator Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

5 hours5 hrs

Tab:

$400

Talent:

****

Tools:

Set of sockets and wrenches, camshaft locking tools

Applicable Models:

BMW E46 M3 Coupe/Conv (2001-06)
BMW Z4 Coupe/Conv (2006-08)

Parts Required:

Valve cover gasket, valve cover grommets, VANOS actuator

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine

Performance Gain:

Repair oil leaks, remedy rough running engine

Complementary Modification:

Replace VANOS pressure accumulator

To improve engine breathing at a variety of rpms, thus improving fuel efficiency, emissions and power, BMW engines are designed with VANOS, an acronym based on the German words VAriable NOckenwellenSteuerung or variable camshaft timing. Though a number of VANOS systems have been designed and implemented, the basic principle behind all of them is the need to change the relative timing between intake and exhaust valve opening. The VANOS actuator on each camshaft is supplied with engine oil under pressure; a solenoid controlled by the engine control module (ECM) retards or advances camshaft timing by modifying the supply of pressurized oil to the VANOS actuator.

Intake valves:

  • Retarded during idle, improves smoothness of idle.
  • Advanced during part-throttle acceleration, improves torque and emissions.
  • Retarded at full-throttle, improves high power production.

Exhaust valves:

  • Retarded during deceleration so that more exhaust can stay and mix with the cylinder charge, thus diluting the mixture, lowering combustion temperature and reducing NOx in the exhaust. This is similar to the effect of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR).
  • Advanced during warm-up phase in order to allow rapid warm-up and more efficient operation of catalytic converters.

BMW S54 engines utilize one main VANOS (variable camshaft timing) solenoid, mounted to the front of cylinder head. They are responsible for direct oil flow to the VANOS actuator. The VANOS oil pressure accumulator provides a constant pressure for start-up and when pressure assistance may be needed. You can check pressure using a BMW scan tool, should be in the 29 to 43 Bar range, if not the accumulator is likely faulty.

The VANOS actuator is responsible for adjusting the camshaft timing to achieve the highest engine efficiency. Over time oil sludge can build up and the seals can fail, which leads to a malfunctioning VANOS actuator. You may experience an engine with low power, rough idle or stalling when coming to a stop. If these symptoms occur and are worse when cold, your VANOS actuator may be faulty. Use a BMW scan tool and check for any fault codes relating to camshaft timing deviations or camshaft timing reference signal - double check that your camshaft sensors are operating normally and replace if questionable. If problem persists, replace the VANOS actuator.

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.

Read through this entire procedure before beginning. Be sure this is not above your skill level, as engine damage can occur if the engine timing is not correct. To begin, disconnect the negative (-) battery cable. Remove the valve cover. See our Pelican Parts Technical Article on Removing Your BMW Z4M valve cover. Remove the radiator and hoses. See our tech article on radiator removing.

With the radiator and valve cover removed, rotate the crankshaft using 32mm socket (red arrow) or the BMW special crankshaft tool (inset) supplied with engine timing lock kit.
Figure 1

With the radiator and valve cover removed, rotate the crankshaft using 32mm socket (red arrow) or the BMW special crankshaft tool (inset) supplied with engine timing lock kit.

Rotate the engine until the center line in the O|T marking (red arrows) is in the center of the timing window as shown.
Figure 2

Rotate the engine until the center line in the O|T marking (red arrows) is in the center of the timing window as shown.

To confirm you are at TDC and not 180° out, both camshafts cylinder 1 lobes should point inward (blue arrows), the timing bores in the camshaft will also be up (red arrows).
Figure 3

To confirm you are at TDC and not 180 degrees out, both camshafts cylinder 1 lobes should point inward (blue arrows), the timing bores in the camshaft will also be up (red arrows).

Insert the crankshaft locking pin (red arrows) from your tool kit (11 2 300).
Figure 4

Insert the crankshaft locking pin (red arrows) from your tool kit (11 2 300).

Place a drain pan under the front of the engine.
Figure 5

Place a drain pan under the front of the engine. Then, remove the 10mm VANOS line fastener (red arrows). Next, remove the 14mm VANOS banjo bolt (blue arrow). Be prepared to catch any dripping oil. Remove the fastener slowly and cover it with a rag while unscrewing.

Remove the VANOS line (red arrow).
Figure 6

Remove the VANOS line (red arrow). Then reinstall the banjo bolt with a sealing sleeve (blue arrow) to prevent debris from entering the VANOS unit. Then seal the VANOS line with a cap. I use rubber caps and make the sleeve out of a rubber cap, cutting the top off.

Working at the top of the cylinder head, remove the two 6mm Allen (blue arrows) and the two 10mm fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 7

Working at the top of the cylinder head, remove the two 6mm Allen (blue arrows) and the two 10mm fasteners (red arrows).

Remove the timing chain guide (red arrow) and bracket (blue arrow) from the cylinder head.
Figure 8

Remove the timing chain guide (red arrow) and bracket (blue arrow) from the cylinder head.

Next up it is time to begin unbolting the VANOS actuator.
Figure 9

Next up it is time to begin unbolting the VANOS actuator. Start by disconnecting the electrical connector, squeeze the release tabs and pull it straight off. Be sure to remove the tie strap from the connector as well. Next, remove the three 7mm Allen fasteners (red arrows). You will need a 3" Allen bit to reach the center fastener. If you can't get to it, remove the VANOS solenoid from the actuator. See the following step.

Remove the final 10mm fastener (red arrow).
Figure 10

Remove the final 10mm fastener (red arrow). If you had trouble accessing the lower fasteners, remove the VANOS solenoid Allen fasteners (blue arrows). For more detailed info see our tech article on VANOS solenoid replacing.

If you chose to remove the VANOS solenoid (red arrow), support it as the final fastener is removed and remove it downward with the sealing gasket.
Figure 11

If you chose to remove the VANOS solenoid (red arrow), support it as the final fastener is removed and remove it downward with the sealing gasket. If not removing, skip this step.

This photo shows the lower fastener holes for the VANOS actuator, with the solenoid removed (red arrows).
Figure 12

This photo shows the lower fastener holes for the VANOS actuator, with the solenoid removed (red arrows).

Next, the VANOS actuator has to be pulled away from the cylinder head (blue arrow) to expose two fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 13

Next, the VANOS actuator has to be pulled away from the cylinder head (blue arrow) to expose two fasteners (red arrows).

The hydraulic pressure will fight you as you try to remove the actuator, use a 32mm wrench to slightly move the camshaft back and forth to break the hydraulic bond.
Figure 14

The hydraulic pressure will fight you as you try to remove the actuator, use a 32mm wrench to slightly move the camshaft back and forth to break the hydraulic bond. Use the hex bosses on each camshaft (red arrows).

As you pull the actuator away install a plastic lever in the gap to hold it if necessary (red arrow).
Figure 15

As you pull the actuator away install a plastic lever in the gap to hold it if necessary (red arrow). Remember to move the oil line (blue arrow) out of the way to allow the actuator to come off.

As you pull the actuator away install a plastic lever in the gap to hold it if necessary (blue arrow).
Figure 16

As you pull the actuator away install a plastic lever in the gap to hold it if necessary (blue arrow). Keep pulling until both fastening points are exposed (red arrows).

Once pulled apart, you can unscrew the fasteners.
Figure 17

Once pulled apart, you can unscrew the fasteners. There is a small 7mm flat sectioned shaft (blue arrow) that is counterheld and a 10mm nut that is loosened. These are reverse thread (left handed thread), so loosening them is opposite of a normal fastener.

If you don't have a 7mm wrench, use a small pair of needle nose vise grips with flat jaws (red arrows) while you loosen the 10mm nut.
Figure 18

If you don't have a 7mm wrench, use a small pair of needle nose vise grips with flat jaws (red arrows) while you loosen the 10mm nut. Right side shown, repeat for the left side.

Once the fasteners have been removed, pull the actuator down and out through the bottom of the radiator support (red arrow).
Figure 19

Once the fasteners have been removed, pull the actuator down and out through the bottom of the radiator support (red arrow).

I flip the actuator upside down then feed it out, the banjo bolt for the oil line with ne orientated as shown (red arrow).
Figure 20

I flip the actuator upside down then feed it out, the banjo bolt for the oil line with ne orientated as shown (red arrow).

Do not remove the splined ends (red arrows) from the camshaft sprockets, these can stay in place.
Figure 21

Do not remove the splined ends (red arrows) from the camshaft sprockets, these can stay in place. The inset shows the VANOS actuator removed. You will be replacing this entire part.

If you need to check the camshaft timing before reinstalling, use the timing check tool.
Figure 22

If you need to check the camshaft timing before reinstalling, use the timing check tool. It is different than the tool used for aligning and comes with most S54 engine timing kits. The tool is a bridge with one pin that when installed tells immediately if the engine is timed. I always install it before and after replacing the actuator (red arrow). Check timing on both camshafts by flipping it 180 degrees, shown checking exhaust camshaft.

To install the new actuator, feed the actuator into the engine compartment through the radiator support opening as you removed it.
Figure 23

To install the new actuator, feed the actuator into the engine compartment through the radiator support opening as you removed it. Then, pull the hex nuts out and hold them out using two pair of needle nose vise grips with flat jaws (red arrows). Doing this stops them from receding into the actuator, making installing much easier. Align the actuator fasteners with the camshaft fasteners and tighten (blue arrow). Remember these are left hand threads, so they will tighten reverse of what you are used to.

Once the nuts are tight, slide the new VANOS actuator (red arrow) into place, leave a small gap.
Figure 24

Once the nuts are tight, slide the new VANOS actuator (red arrow) into place, leave a small gap. Install the new gasket and then install the VANOS actuator fasteners. Install solenoid in it was removed, then confirm the engine timing is still OK. Install valve cover, radiator and other removed components. Replacing the engine would also be a good idea.

Bookmark and Share

  Search our site:    

View Cart & CheckOut | Project List | Order Status |  Help    

 

[Home] [Customer Service] [Shopping Cart] [Privacy Statement]
 [Contact Us] [About Us] [Shipping] [Map to our Location] [Careers]

Copyright © Pelican Parts Inc.

Page last updated: Fri 12/2/2016 03:05:08 AM