It’s VANOS Time; And Yes, You can Do this on an M3!

It’s funny really.  Sometimes you see a minor problem and hope that it goes away.  On a few occasions however it will linger like a bad smell. This was certainly the case for my VANOS!  It started during autumn during an oil change. Not a kiss as Hot Chocolate put it.  There I was checking away the car’s diagnostic system using the much-fabled INPA system. All was well until I checked the engine’s codes.  Two codes came back.

P0012 (BMW 72, 0x48): Vanos intake timing over retarded
Pxxxx (BMW 184, 0xB8): Vanos intake position control

Crumbs, crap! This is not a set of codes that I wanted.  After doing some research it did seem that something as simple as an iffy connection to the VANOS solenoid pack could do this!  With that in mind, I cleaned out the connection, refitted it, cleared and codes and waited to see what would happen.  To my relief, the codes did not come back after running the car. Not then anyway.

However, come a week before I put the car away again for the winter period I was greeted with a very flat feeling engine!  Sure, it was not dead slow but it was felt very flat for an M3!  On top of that I also had an EML light make an appearance!  Once again, I got my diagnostic kit out, INPA for those wondering.  If you have a BMW this software is well worth the purchase price!

Like before, the codes came back.  Also like before, I tried to clear the codes!  This time however, code 182 refused to go.  Great!

After doing some research it became apparent that these codes are common codes to get on an E46 M3, even from many years ago!  It pointed to my VANOS seals and my solenoid pack going.  With that in mind I ordered a set of Beisan Systems Viton VANOS solenoid seals in addition to their refurbished solenoid pack, all of it coming from Hack Engineering.  With those things ordered it was time to crack on with the job with the help of a trusty teaboy.  OK, I lied, I meant a friend.

How easy is it to change these seals?  Very!  With the Beisan Systems guide, this job is a doddle.  The instructions for changing the components can be found here.  But I’ll take you through it, just in case you are having your doubts,

Once I took off the all too familiar engine dressing parts with nothing more than a screwdriver and a pair of pliers.  With that done I took the opportunity to loosen the VANOS pressure regulator. I then carefully removed the solenoid connection and undid the VANOS solenoid bolts.  With rags underneath the solenoid to catch any lost oil, I put the valve block and solenoid assembly onto the bench.

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This is where the real work began!  I started by separating the solenoid pack from the valve body.  One thing the Beisan guide omits is that these solenoid bolts can get rusty; I’d purchase a set of these from BMW at the same time as getting the revised valve body bolts.  It will simply make life easier.

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While my friend cleaned out the valve block as best as he could with a can of highly pressurised carb clean in addition to a magnet (allowing the valves to open for further cleaning), I cracked on and removed the seals from the sealing plate.

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It was fair to say that my seals were shot!  You can buy a complete sealing plate from BMW for around £30. However, considering that the Beisan seals are cheaper and made of more heat resistant Viton I went ahead and installed the Viton items into place:

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With the valve body clean I attached the refurbished solenoid pack onto the now cleaned valve body.

 

With the Solenoid,Valve block and Sealing plate assembly all done it was time to put it back into place!  Not only did it brighten up the engine bay a little it also would end up cleaning the codes for good!  For £170 all in including the revised bolts from BMW it was a good result all in!  I didn’t change my VANOS filter as I previously did that almost a year ago.  I did however change the pressure regulator seals to the Viton items; the inner seal was already going square surprisingly!

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The CTEK was put onto the car since the poor car had been off the road for a month with all of the salt about on the roads!

Another job I got around to sorting was the appalling handbrake!  With the entire assembly stripped down I went ahead and cleaned everything!  Armed with some Ceramic grease I carefully applied it, reassembled the brakes and all was well again!

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I know what it sounds like! The car has broken again! I did however do some fun stuff!  But that can wait until the next installment.

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