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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-03-2012, 03:59 AM
Tiko530 Tiko530 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2003 530i
Post Vanos Seal Replacement

I recently ordered a new set of double Vanos seals from you for my 2003 530i from Beisan Systems. Shipped very quickly and I was very eager to change the seals considering all the glowing testimonials I read from you guys.

To give you a bit of background, I purchased my car about one month ago, did not have a complete service history but assumed the seals had not been changed even though my car did NOT have any of the characteristics described as symptoms of seal failure ( rough idle, sluggishness below 3,000 RPM etc...).

Yesterday I decided to change the seals, I am by no means an expert DIY-er but since the instructions on the site were so good and I so much positive feedback I figured I would do the job myself. Took me quite a bit of time, also replaced my spark plugs and pre-cat oxygen sensors in the process.

Immediately after the replacement I noticed that my car was significantly more sluggish, it was as if the Vanos seal replacement had worked in reverse. I attributed it initially to the break in period but since then have read that it should never be worse off than prior to the replacement and since the replacement I have driven the car for close to 100 miles with no noticeable improvement.

Here are some possible issues that may have had an effect: (like i said I am a novice at mechanical work and made some mistakes in the process)


1. When I first lifted the Vanos unit out of it's spot I noticed what looked like black flat seal or o-ring of some sort, it was broken and pretty much flattened out into its lenght, half was underneath the lower part of the timing belt and the other half was sticking out when I took the Vanos out. It was flat, about 3 mm wide and seemed like hardened rubber, not much different than the teflon seals on the Vanos pistons but significantly wider. I am only giving this description because I looked in the area but could not figure out where this had come from and till now have no idea what purpose it served. I removed it.

2. During the removal of the bolts holding down the Vanos exhaust piston and spring the piston flew out under the pressure of the spring and fell about 3 feet down to a concrete floor. I inspected the piston and did not find any significant damage though.

3. One of the Vanos piston caps was slightly damaged during removal. A small section of the side wall of the piston cap (less than 1/4 of the circumference) broke off, I reinstalled as it was and it went back in its place normally.


I don't know if any of these 3 issues may have played a role but I am hoping one of you guys might have heard some sort of similar complaint in the past or had a similar issue yourselves and might have some info to help me diagnose what I might have done wrong or what issue/issues I need to address to improve the performance of the car at least back to pre-seal replacement levels.

P.S. when I say sluggishness, it doesn't feel horrible, if I hadn't driven the car before I might not have realized that something was wrong, but I really have to step hard on the gas to make the car move
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  #2  
Old 10-03-2012, 06:57 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Your experiences are somewhat unique as I have never seen nor experienced them before (and I have done multiple Vanos seal replacements). I would recommend you go to the Vanos forum and repost this there or contact Raj directly. He is the one best suited to respond to your issues with any level of accuracy or validity.
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  #3  
Old 10-03-2012, 07:01 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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You need to review this again and mentally go over all steps to see if you miss any:

http://www.beisansystems.com/procedu..._procedure.htm
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  #4  
Old 10-03-2012, 08:50 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiko530 View Post

1. When I first lifted the Vanos unit out of it's spot I noticed what looked like black flat seal or o-ring of some sort, it was broken and pretty much flattened out into its lenght, half was underneath the lower part of the timing belt and the other half was sticking out when I took the Vanos out. It was flat, about 3 mm wide and seemed like hardened rubber, not much different than the teflon seals on the Vanos pistons but significantly wider. I am only giving this description because I looked in the area but could not figure out where this had come from and till now have no idea what purpose it served. I removed it.

2. During the removal of the bolts holding down the Vanos exhaust piston and spring the piston flew out under the pressure of the spring and fell about 3 feet down to a concrete floor. I inspected the piston and did not find any significant damage though.

3. One of the Vanos piston caps was slightly damaged during removal. A small section of the side wall of the piston cap (less than 1/4 of the circumference) broke off, I reinstalled as it was and it went back in its place normally.
1. Do you have a picture of this? This sounds like your teflon Vanos piston ring although there is no way it could get into the the timing chain area. It was probably a section of your valve cover gasket. These get plasticized and very brittle and crack apart during VC removal.

2. When you say "no significant damage", how bad was the piston "damage"? Pictures? The pistons are aluminum and dent and scratch very easily. Any compromise to the surface can affect the seal, which can then affect engine timing.

3. Lastly, if the slot that the O-ring sits in, on the Vanos piston cap was damaged, that would cause a possible leak in the system. Pictures?

Last edited by Fudman; 10-03-2012 at 08:52 AM.
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  #5  
Old 10-03-2012, 09:16 AM
fortunateson fortunateson is offline
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I also did the Vanos seal replacement nand haven't noticed too much extra zip but I've been told autotragic trannys. The little rattly noise on start up is less but still persists after approx. 500 miles. I wonder if that noise is something else?
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  #6  
Old 10-03-2012, 09:36 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fortunateson View Post
I also did the Vanos seal replacement nand haven't noticed too much extra zip but I've been told autotragic trannys. The little rattly noise on start up is less but still persists after approx. 500 miles. I wonder if that noise is something else?
The noise is due to your Vanos bearings failing. Did you also replace the Vanos bearings?
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  #7  
Old 10-03-2012, 10:09 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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What brand/model of pre-cat O2 sensors did you use?

Did you also replace the valve cover gasket and spark plug seals? These are "must replace" items because valve-cover removal will ruin them if they aren't already toast.

Is your car throwing any codes?

----

1. There's a flat gasket that fits between the vanos unit and cylinder head. It's pretty obvious and I think documented. Should be replaced when you do this job. Did you re-install the unit without a new gasket?

2. If you dropped a piston on a concrete floor, very possibly it has dented or warped and is out-of-round. Reading your description, it sounds like you didn't know about the piston with the loaded spring. It's not so hard that you can't hold the backplate down while removing or tightening the bolts.

3. When you say piston "caps" do you mean the small plastic caps with small O-rings that cover the piston bolts? If yes, I'm not clear on how one of those would be damaged.

There are various gotchas in this job but most have to do with trying to keep things well-aligned or torqued properly.

If your car isn't throwing any codes, you might still have vacuum leaks if you didn't replace the valve-cover gasket or plug seals.

Last edited by pleiades; 10-03-2012 at 10:10 AM.
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  #8  
Old 10-03-2012, 12:23 PM
Tiko530 Tiko530 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pleiades View Post
What brand/model of pre-cat O2 sensors did you use?

Did you also replace the valve cover gasket and spark plug seals? These are "must replace" items because valve-cover removal will ruin them if they aren't already toast.

Is your car throwing any codes?

----

1. There's a flat gasket that fits between the vanos unit and cylinder head. It's pretty obvious and I think documented. Should be replaced when you do this job. Did you re-install the unit without a new gasket?

2. If you dropped a piston on a concrete floor, very possibly it has dented or warped and is out-of-round. Reading your description, it sounds like you didn't know about the piston with the loaded spring. It's not so hard that you can't hold the backplate down while removing or tightening the bolts.

3. When you say piston "caps" do you mean the small plastic caps with small O-rings that cover the piston bolts? If yes, I'm not clear on how one of those would be damaged.

There are various gotchas in this job but most have to do with trying to keep things well-aligned or torqued properly.

If your car isn't throwing any codes, you might still have vacuum leaks if you didn't replace the valve-cover gasket or plug seals.
I used Bosch O2 sensors, I also replaced the valve cover gasket and spark plug seals as well as the Vanos gasket.

Yea by piston caps i meant the two orange caps with the small O-rings. As far as I can remember the break was in the wall of the piston cap above where the O-ring sat so it didnt affect the o-ring at all.

I completely forgot to mention this earlier but another horrible mistake I made was overtorqueing one of the 6 mounting nuts when putting the Vanos back, as a result the 3rd engine head stud from the right snapped off with the nut while I was overtightening it. I assumed the new vanos gasket and the other 5 mounting nuts would be plenty to seal off the unit. Could the break in that one have compromised the seal? And if so is there any easy way to replace the broken engine head stud?

P.S. I wrote to Support@beisan and Rajaie was kind enough to contact me back very quickly and offer some possible solutions, I've responded to him with some clarifications, will post back with updates.
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  #9  
Old 10-03-2012, 12:29 PM
Tiko530 Tiko530 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
1. Do you have a picture of this? This sounds like your teflon Vanos piston ring although there is no way it could get into the the timing chain area. It was probably a section of your valve cover gasket. These get plasticized and very brittle and crack apart during VC removal.

2. When you say "no significant damage", how bad was the piston "damage"? Pictures? The pistons are aluminum and dent and scratch very easily. Any compromise to the surface can affect the seal, which can then affect engine timing.

3. Lastly, if the slot that the O-ring sits in, on the Vanos piston cap was damaged, that would cause a possible leak in the system. Pictures?
1. Don't have a picture now but I saved a piece of it to take a picture of later. It was not one of the teflon Vanos piston rings because both pistons had all 4 teflon rings still intact. I'm almost positive it was not a section of the valve cover gasket because it's width was perfectly uniform over the entire lenght and the edges were perfectly straight, in other words seemed to have been manufactured with that shape in mind, not just a piece that ripped off some bigger gasket.

2. I was in quite a rush to get the job done since the shop whose tools and space I was borrowing were closing soon so I didnt get a picture but i would describe the damage as a few scratches that your finger nail most likely wouldn't catch on.

3. I'm pretty sure the slot that the o-ring sits on at the bottom of the cap wasn't damaged, just the upper part.
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  #10  
Old 10-03-2012, 04:52 PM
poolman poolman is online now
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I bet you have a vacuum leak from where you removed the hose that hooks the valve cover to the CCV--this happens more often than not when doing this job. Most often the car will have many miles on them by now and when removing that hose it can easily crack and one not know it until later--you might now need to repair that hos and that will mean doing a CCV job and the 4 hoses with it.
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  #11  
Old 10-03-2012, 05:03 PM
Tiko530 Tiko530 is offline
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That hose seemed pretty pliable and not too brittle when i removed it. Sounds like I should take it in to someone knowledgeable to give it a quick test drive and a look over. Does anyone here know a good e39 mechanic in the new York city area who might be able to help me diagnose the issue without emptying my bank account?

By the way thanks to everyone whose been helping and giving input thus far, it is really appreciated and a great learning experience for a rookie wrencher.
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  #12  
Old 10-03-2012, 09:46 PM
fortunateson fortunateson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
The noise is due to your Vanos bearings failing. Did you also replace the Vanos bearings?
No I just replaced the seals. Is the bearing replacement rather straight forward? Is the a DIY on this site? Anytime a start a service of something new I'm a little intimidated but they've all been fairly simple due to the excellent tutorials available. (Bluebee now is the time to inject your EXCELLENT research and compilations!) The noise does go away after a couple of minutes but I was led to believe it was a symptom of seal failure and would disappear when the seals were replaced.

Last edited by fortunateson; 10-03-2012 at 09:58 PM.
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  #13  
Old 10-04-2012, 04:25 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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The Vanos bearings are a separate issue to the seals. Go to the Beisan website. On the Procedures, they explain how to replace the bearings. A very good DIY. Your symptoms are classic bearing symptoms, where you get the rattle on a cold start but it goes away as the car warms up. Too bad you didn't do it the first time you replaced the seals. But at least this time, it will be a lot easier!
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  #14  
Old 10-04-2012, 06:00 PM
fortunateson fortunateson is offline
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Thanks Fudman. Yeah too bad but what the heck, the gaskets for the vc and the spark plugs are still fresh so shouldn't need replacing. Just a vanos gasket, a couple of crush washers, and whatever is needed re: the bearings. I'll check out Besian again.

Last edited by fortunateson; 10-04-2012 at 10:28 PM.
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