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BMW S54 Vanos Problems and Repairs

The E46 M3 beauty is truly timeless and arguably the best BMW M3 ever made. The S54 high revving engine redlines at 8,000 rpm producing 343hp without the aid of forced induction. Although the S54 is a well engineered engine, it does have some flaws and Vanos is top of the list. There are several possible Vanos failures and this applies to Z3 Z4 M models equipped with S54B32 engines.

Bmw E46 M3 Red

Camshaft Sprocket Bolts

The fillister head screws that goes on the camshaft sprockets will get loose over time allowing the bolt to puncture a hole through the block or valve cover. The sheared bolts can also cause the timing chain to skip and snap resulting in permanent engine damage. The cam gear bolts have been updated by BMW to prevent this catastrophic failure and we suggest having the bolts upgraded during your Inspection II service.

E46 M3 Fillister Head Screw Upgrade

S54 Camshaft Sprocket bolts upgrade

Cam Gear Bolts

Exhaust Camshaft Hub and Vanos Oil Pump

The exhaust hub contains two tabs that drives the Vanos oil pump disk holes. The BMW stock design have excess play between the exhaust hub tabs and the Vanos oil pump holes. This results in a rattle which will cause the tabs to break over time. A check engine light may illuminate with Vanos fault codes and misfiring can occur. Once the tabs break and rattle, this would result in damage to the Vanos oil pump. The broken tab can also fall into the timing chain resulting in engine damage. A modified exhaust hub is available which is 30% stronger than stock along with new Vanos oil pump disc with smaller holes which will reduce rattle and prevent this failure from re-occurring.

E46 M3 Exhaust Hub Broken

S54 Exhaust Hub Replacement

Broken Exhaust Hub Tab

Solenoid Pack Failure

The electronic solenoid pack can fail which will disable the operation of the Vanos. The check engine light will be illuminated storing Vanos faults and the car may exhibit loss of power.

S54 Vanos Oil Pump Worn

Solenoid Pack & Worn Oil Pump Disc

It would be wise to have the Vanos inspected on any BMW equipped with S54 engines with more than 30,000 miles. We have seen Vanos failures as early as 27,000 miles. It's important not to ignore the symptoms such as engine rattle, check engine light or lack of power, to prevent catastrophic engine failure. MINHS Automotive is well experienced in repairs of BMW Vanos systems and we've been serving the Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan communities for the past two decades. Give us a call if you have questions or concerns about your BMW.

BMW S54 Engine


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BMW , E46 M3 , S54 , Vanos , Z4M
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