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Old 11-01-2012, 03:31 PM
jared_wiesner jared_wiesner is offline
Registered User
Location: Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 76
Mein Auto: 1999 328i, 1967 Skylark,
DIY: M54/M52tu Camshaft Removal, Installation, and Timing

I typically hang around on E46Fanatics, but I figure this DIY of mine should be spread around so here it is. Oh and a shameless plug for myself: If you like heavy rock music in the vein of Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace, we'd love to get your likes on Facebook. Link - The Marked

First of all, I want to thank German Auto Solutions for the great set of timing tools they offer that made this DIY possible and affordable for me. The tools are only $100.00 for the personal grade kit and $220 for the professional grade kit and can be purchased at

My review of these kits is posted here:

This DIY was made using the DIY's for Cam removal, installation, and timing already on the GAS website. Many of the pictures and wording used in this DIY are directly from their website and were taken and used at the permission of Gary from German Auto solutions. If you have any questions or doubts throughout this procedure you should consult their website. It is the ultimate reference and this DIY is just a streamlined version of the whole procedure as performed with the engine installed in a car. (The DIY's on their website were done with the engine on a stand.) I did not have to diverge from any of their instruction so it is really no different whether the engine is in the car or not, this DIY is just trimmed down a bit and all compiled into one big procedure where their instructions are split into Removal, Install, and Timing sections. You will see pictures throughout this DIY from their website because I felt they did a perfect job of illustrating the step already and it was not necessary for me to duplicate them.

Finally a disclaimer:

**** Perform this procedure at your own risk. It is only recommended for experienced wrench turners and you will have to take your time and be very careful to follow instructions exactly. You could severely damage your engine by screwing up while doing this job and I will not be held responsible. I am not an agent or in any way affiliated with German Auto Solutions, they are not at all responsible for any damages as a result of you following this DIY. Once again, the most detailed instructions can be found in the DIY section on their website. Use it if you have any doubts. ****

If you notice anything that should be changed or edited in any way, don't hesitate to contact me. The job will likely take 6+ hours depending on how fast you move.

Required parts to be changed during replacement.

VANOS Unit Gasket - OEM Part # 11361433817
VANOS Piston Oil Plug with O-ring - 2 required - OEM Part # 11361433513
VANOS Oil Feed Fitting Sealing Washer - 2 required - OEM Part # 32411093596
Pri Chain Tensioner Sealing Washer - OEM Part # 07119963418

Here is the car sitting ready to go in for major surgery.

1. I'm not going to go through the basic steps needed to get the engine prepped to work on the cams. If you don't already know how to perform the following steps, you have no business tackling Camshaft removal and replacements. You will need to get under the car during the proceedure. Make sure if you are using ramps you drive the car on before you imobilize it. Remove the engine under-cover/shield, cabin filter housing, engine covers, electric fan, and engine drivebelts (It's as good a time as any to spin your pullies and tensioner pullies to make sure you have no excessive play or noises). When you are done the engine should look like this.

2. Next, you need to remove the valve cover. Start by removing your ignition coils. (Again, you should already know how to do this from changing spark plugs...etc.)

3. Remove all ground straps including the brown wire in the centre.

4. Next remove all bolts holding down the valve cover.

5. Disconnect the CCV hose.

7. Lift off the Valve cover pulling wires away. You don't need to remove the main power wire for the ignition coils. Just place the valve cover off the driver side of the engine bay.

8. Cover over intake cam just unclips. Pull it straight up and off.

9. Set your crankshaft to top dead center by aligning the mark on the harmonic balancer to the mark on the block. Make sure car is in neutral Takes a 22mm socket to turn it. You can see the mark on the crank by looking down just a hair left of the waterpump pulley. The mark on the harmonic balancer is the line you see in between a 0 and 1, (looks like 0|1).

10. Verify top dead center by checking for holes in the back blocks on the rear end of the camshafts. When the engine is at top dead center, these holes should be facing upwards. Apparently there are two possible locations for the crank to be at top dead center that are 360 degrees apart. Ensuring these holes on the cam are facing upwards and the mark on the balancer is at the top dead center mark on the block, tells you that you are in the right place.

11. Next, install the top dead center lock pin. The hole for this is located on the engine block down near the driver side rear of the engine where it mates to the transmission. This pin locks the flywheel so that the engine cannot move from top dead center. "This is what the end of the pin needs to slide into. Verify the pin is fully engaged into the hole by trying to rotate the crankshaft with the pin installed. If you can still rotate the crank, rock the crankshaft back and forth slowly near TDC while pushing on the pin until it drops into place and locks the crank. This will be a two person job."

12. Remove the exhaust cam position and vanos solenoid electrical connectors.

13. Remove the intake vanos solenoid electrical connector and vanos oil supply fitting.

14. Remove vanos position access plugs with an 8mm hex driver.

15. After removing access plugs, remove both plastic oil plugs behind them. Grab with pliers and pull straight out.

16. Using a T30 Torx driver, remove the intake and exhaust piston screws. These screws are what hold the Vanos pistons to the helix cups. ***THESE ARE LEFT HAND THREADED***

17. Remove the VANOS unit from the cylinder head. Remove the hardware securing the VANOS unit shown in the picture.
10, 11 and 13mm sockets will be required here.

18. Remove vanos unit from cylinder head. If it does not come loose after pulling you may need to give it some love taps with a rubber mallet to break it free. Clean all mating surfaces of atv sealant/stuck gasket material.

19. Loosen the six nuts shown in the picture. Do not remove them yet.

20. Use an E8 Torx socket to crack loose the 3 Torx head bolts pictured. Do not remove them yet.

21. Insert lock pin from kit into hole as shown. Push down on chain lower tensioner shoe enough to slide pin over it to lock it down. There is no need for pin to go further than edge of shoe to hold it down. It does not need to go under chain.

22. Remove the primary timing chain tensioner with a 32mm (1-1/4") socket or wrench.

23. Slide intake block from kit (marked with "IN") over square at rear end of cam. Ensure block sits over end of cam and sits flush agains the back of cylinder head. Rotate cam slightly if needed to square things up.

24. Repeat process with exhaust block (marked "EX") on exhaust cam.

25. Get the socket head cap screw from the kit and lightly snug it into the hole joining the two blocks together.

26. Take the lock block clamp from the kit and install it using one of the valve cover barrel nuts that your removed to lift the valve cover.

27. Remove the three nuts you already loosened on the intake sprocket spring washer.

28. Remove the spring washer

29. Remove the three already loosened hex nuts holding the exhaust cam position sensor plate.

30. Remove the exhaust cam sensor plate.

31. Remove the exhaust sprocket spring washer

32. Remove the exhaust sprocket thrust washer. You might need to rock it to get free from its tight fit over the studs (or pull it off very straight) It's definitely not critical, but you may want to mark the side that faces outward for proper reassembly. The part is symmetrical and will work properly with either side facing out. Marking it just keeps previous wear surfaces mated to their original parts.

33. Remove the three already loosened E8 Torx head bolts holding the exhaust cam sprocket in place, but do not remove the sprocket yet.

34. While holding the intake cam sprocket from sliding off the cam, remove the intake cam helix cup by pulling outward on it.
(The intake and exhaust helix cups are identical, but should be reinstalled back on the cam that they were removed from.)


Check out my band - The Marked

1999 BMW 328i (Daily Driver) - m54b30 intake manifold, ebay headers, Rebirth Motorsports CAI, Rogue Engineering underive pulleys, Epic Motorsports Software, Custom 3 inch exhaust with Burns Merge, Schrick 264/248 Cams
1967 Buick Skylark - 430 Buick Big Block Swap.

Last edited by jared_wiesner; 11-01-2012 at 03:59 PM.

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