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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 02-15-2008, 08:02 AM
vinitmurthy vinitmurthy is offline
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Angry Mechanic says replace secondary air pump

Good fellas,
Three days back my SES light comes on unexpectedly. So, I drive down to Autozone and get the codes read (P0491 and P0492) to find out that there is a problem with the secondary air system. I took it to a local European car mechanic in Albany, NY (Bavarian Rocket Scientist) and he hooked it to some equipment of his own and saw that vacuum pump was not working. He quoted me $325 for replacing the part and $95 for 1 hr labor. He also mentioned that the the air valve seems to be working fine, however, their might be a problem with the circuitry, which might be leading to the apparent vacuum pump problem. So my question to you guys is:

1. Is the $ for part+labor unusually high?
2. Is there a cheaper way to solve this problem?
3. Can I look for something else to narrow down on the problem?
4. Someone on this forum suggested that valve needs to be changed too, with the pump. Is that necessary?
5. Has anyone experienced this mechanic before (Bavarian Rocket Scientist, Albany, NY)?

Any other advice on this issue would be real helpful.

FYI: My car is 2003 330XI with 55K miles on it. The car runs just fine without any startup or continuous operation problems.

Thank you very much, in advance.
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  #2  
Old 02-15-2008, 10:31 AM
oembimmerparts oembimmerparts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinitmurthy View Post
Good fellas,
Three days back my SES light comes on unexpectedly. So, I drive down to Autozone and get the codes read (P0491 and P0492) to find out that there is a problem with the secondary air system. I took it to a local European car mechanic in Albany, NY (Bavarian Rocket Scientist) and he hooked it to some equipment of his own and saw that vacuum pump was not working. He quoted me $325 for replacing the part and $95 for 1 hr labor. He also mentioned that the the air valve seems to be working fine, however, their might be a problem with the circuitry, which might be leading to the apparent vacuum pump problem. So my question to you guys is:

1. Is the $ for part+labor unusually high?
2. Is there a cheaper way to solve this problem?
3. Can I look for something else to narrow down on the problem?
4. Someone on this forum suggested that valve needs to be changed too, with the pump. Is that necessary?
5. Has anyone experienced this mechanic before (Bavarian Rocket Scientist, Albany, NY)?

Any other advice on this issue would be real helpful.

FYI: My car is 2003 330XI with 55K miles on it. The car runs just fine without any startup or continuous operation problems.

Thank you very much, in advance.

It is common practice to do the valve at the same time, The oem pump is $231.00 so if the $325.00 above is not including labor then it is to high for just the part.
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  #3  
Old 02-15-2008, 10:33 AM
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G. P. Burdell G. P. Burdell is offline
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The failure of the valve is usually what causes the pump to break down. When the valve sticks open, it allows moisture-laden exhaust gases into the pump. The pump doesn't like water.

~$300 for the pump and valve, plus an hour of labor, sounds about average. You can replace the parts yourself if you are so inclined. If you're a BMW CCA member, you may qualify for a discount at your local BMW dealer parts department.

Last edited by G. P. Burdell; 02-15-2008 at 10:42 AM.
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  #4  
Old 02-15-2008, 12:21 PM
vinitmurthy vinitmurthy is offline
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Thanks folks, for your replies. The quote from the mechanic includes only the pump...no valve. How much do I expect for the valve in addition? Also, this one is a little tricky for DIY. I don't have the right tools nor the time for it. I am not a member of the BMW CCA club, either. In fact, I am planing to fix this problem and sell the car...but that's worth another thread.

Any one else has had this experience? Please please let me know.
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  #5  
Old 02-15-2008, 03:25 PM
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G. P. Burdell G. P. Burdell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinitmurthy View Post
The quote from the mechanic includes only the pump...no valve. How much do I expect for the valve in addition?
The valve costs about $100.
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  #6  
Old 07-02-2009, 08:19 AM
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I know this thread is old, but I searched, so my question is: what are the symptoms of a secondary air pump failure? Is this pump the same as the auxialliary air pump or are they different? The reason I ask is I have this growling sound above 4500rpms only in 2nd gear and sometimes 3rd. Various inspections at the dealership and indies have left the 'it's normal sound' but I don't buy it....

Any ideas would be appreciated!
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Old 07-02-2009, 08:27 AM
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The secondary air pump comes on only when you turn on the car (always when it's cold outside) and it helps heat up the O2 sensors and turns off after a minute.

You would get codes if it is failing/failed.

I doubt that it would make any sound if you're driving. The growling is probably something else, maybe a catalytic converter.
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Old 07-02-2009, 08:31 AM
jcourcoul jcourcoul is offline
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While we're on this resuscitated thread, could someone explain what the secondary pump you guys have on your Bimmers is for? Mine doesn't have one, never has, and none of the local ones I've seen at the dealer do either. So? Does it do something useful, besides keeping the ecologists happy? Or just another failure point (as if we didn't have enough already...)?
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  #9  
Old 07-02-2009, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jcourcoul View Post
While we're on this resuscitated thread, could someone explain what the secondary pump you guys have on your Bimmers is for? Mine doesn't have one, never has, and none of the local ones I've seen at the dealer do either. So? Does it do something useful, besides keeping the ecologists happy? Or just another failure point (as if we didn't have enough already...)?
You don't have an air pump? Well, I'm just guessing, but it's function is for cold climates and aids in pre-heating the O2 sensors like I stated. Maybe because you are in Mexico where it is always warm, pre-heating is irrelevant.


But what would happen if global warming went crazy and it starting to snow in Mexico? Would your car start properly? Idk, HAHA
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Old 07-02-2009, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Solidjake View Post
The secondary air pump comes on only when you turn on the car (always when it's cold outside) and it helps heat up the O2 sensors and turns off after a minute.

You would get codes if it is failing/failed.

I doubt that it would make any sound if you're driving. The growling is probably something else, maybe a catalytic converter.
... thanx, does a failing catalytic convertor make or contribute to this growling sound. At firts I thought it was the trans, but the dealer dismissed that after spending sometime with the car. When I reproduced the sound to them, they said 'these engines are not supposed to be revved that much', rather I need to up-shift around 3-3.5k always..
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  #11  
Old 07-02-2009, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by mawana View Post
... thanx, does a failing catalytic convertor make or contribute to this growling sound. At firts I thought it was the trans, but the dealer dismissed that after spending sometime with the car. When I reproduced the sound to them, they said 'these engines are not supposed to be revved that much', rather I need to up-shift around 3-3.5k always..
HAHAHA, what a lie. Our cars love high RPM's, but lets not get started on that as we have already discussed that numerous times.


Does the car make any growling sound when you have it in park and rev it a bit?
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Old 07-02-2009, 09:03 AM
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It's a manual, and no growling sound while revving in neutral. Last week I did the ATF clean-up procedure that Fast-Bob recommends and revved it big-time but no growling sound at all. The moment I'm driving, when in 2nd after 4k rpms, the sound starts building-up and gets really annoying the more I push the car before up-shifting...

I thought of wheel bearings, but one indy I paid $40 to inspect, said they are okay..
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  #13  
Old 07-02-2009, 09:09 AM
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Hmm, how are your brakes?
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  #14  
Old 07-02-2009, 09:24 AM
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The brakes were last checked 3 months ago before my 100k mile warranty expired and the tech said I still have lots of pad to go... However, I now have over 50k miles on those pads and rotors. I sometimes get a slight shake over 85mph...I'm not the type that brakes a lot - I usually just change lanes when the driver in front starts braking or brakes when there is room on the other lane.

The rotors though could be the originals since I picked up the car used, but I'm not sure!
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  #15  
Old 07-02-2009, 09:37 AM
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Idk, I would say cats, but that would be all the time.

ZHP owners, any help?
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  #16  
Old 07-02-2009, 09:37 AM
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Idk, I would say cats, but that would be all the time.

ZHP owners, any help?
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  #17  
Old 07-02-2009, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcourcoul View Post
While we're on this resuscitated thread, could someone explain what the secondary pump you guys have on your Bimmers is for? Mine doesn't have one, never has, and none of the local ones I've seen at the dealer do either. So? Does it do something useful, besides keeping the ecologists happy? Or just another failure point (as if we didn't have enough already...)?
Nope, that's exactly what it's for.

I feel sorry for the guy who posted this if he paid for the repair. I'm sorry I missed the post back then.

This problem is probably covered under the federal emissions warranty, which is 8 years/80,000 miles.

My SES light came on one day while I was out driving so I just drove straight to the dealership to get them to check it. They must keep a lot of air pumps on hand, 'cause it took them about a minute to diagnose the problem and they did the repair immediately. I nearly fell over. I've never seen a dealership work so fast.
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  #18  
Old 07-02-2009, 11:54 AM
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G. P. Burdell G. P. Burdell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mawana View Post
I know this thread is old, but I searched, so my question is: what are the symptoms of a secondary air pump failure? Is this pump the same as the auxialliary air pump or are they different? The reason I ask is I have this growling sound above 4500rpms only in 2nd gear and sometimes 3rd. Various inspections at the dealership and indies have left the 'it's normal sound' but I don't buy it...
If you have a failing secondary air pump, you may hear a whistling/growling/screeching noise, or no noise at all, from the pump during the first couple of minutes after a cold start. The bearings can make a racket if water gets into them. An undamaged pump makes a gentle whirring noise, sort of like a muffled vacuum cleaner, under the hood.
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I doubt that it would make any sound if you're driving.
See above. If the growling sound persists more than a few minutes after a cold start, then it's not the secondary air pump.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solidjake View Post
You don't have an air pump? Well, I'm just guessing, but it's function is for cold climates and aids in pre-heating the O2 sensors like I stated. Maybe because you are in Mexico where it is always warm, pre-heating is irrelevant.
It isn't only for cold climates. The purpose of the pump is to inject extra air (specifically, oxygen) into the catalytic converters to get them up to their operating temperature faster. They have a very high operating temperature (think several hundred degrees Fahrenheit), and getting up to temperature faster lets them treat the engine exhaust gases faster.

Mexico's emissions regulations probably don't require BMW to install the pump on cars sold there.
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Old 07-02-2009, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by G. P. Burdell View Post
If the growling sound persists more than a few minutes after a cold start, then it's not the secondary air pump..
I guess I don't have a secondary air pump problem - ah well, maybe time to start a new thread!
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Old 07-02-2009, 02:56 PM
jcourcoul jcourcoul is offline
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Thanks for the air pump explanation. I'm also quite thankful we don't have to have that, one less doodad to fail. At least there was something good to compensate for the fact that I have to bake my headlamps to install angel eyes!
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Old 07-03-2009, 12:05 AM
akhbhaat akhbhaat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcourcoul View Post
While we're on this resuscitated thread, could someone explain what the secondary pump you guys have on your Bimmers is for? Mine doesn't have one, never has, and none of the local ones I've seen at the dealer do either. So? Does it do something useful, besides keeping the ecologists happy? Or just another failure point (as if we didn't have enough already...)?
That's just it - it warms up the cats and such to reduce emissions a bit on a cold start. That's all it does, and that's the only time it functions. It's a US market thing that goes along with the vacuous orange reflector requirement.

The car will function just fine without it.

P.S. it's not a cold weather issue; European markets don't have a secondary air pump, either.
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Old 07-03-2009, 06:46 AM
K.I.M.POSSIBLE K.I.M.POSSIBLE is offline
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Exclamation

I'd also lke to add that if your thermostat sensor has failed ( stuck in the cold Position ), the Secondary Air Pump will run all the time and you will get a SES ligh because the car will run too lean when its warm.
This pump is only supposed to come on temporarily when the car is cold an only for a breif peroid of time during warmup. Otherwise it's just sitting there doing nothing.

Just had the same issue with my 02 and after the thermostat replacement the pump started working when it was supposed to.
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Old 07-03-2009, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mawana View Post
I know this thread is old, but I searched, so my question is: what are the symptoms of a secondary air pump failure? Is this pump the same as the auxialliary air pump or are they different? The reason I ask is I have this growling sound above 4500rpms only in 2nd gear and sometimes 3rd. Various inspections at the dealership and indies have left the 'it's normal sound' but I don't buy it....

Any ideas would be appreciated!
Sounds like a classic case of the infamous ZHP VANOS rattle to me.
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  #24  
Old 07-03-2009, 09:27 AM
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Sounds like a classic case of the infamous ZHP VANOS rattle to me.
VANOS rattle is most noticeable between 2 and 3 grand, especially on the down-rev....
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Old 07-03-2009, 11:14 AM
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VANOS rattle is most noticeable between 2 and 3 grand, especially on the down-rev....
I had an appointment with my indy this morning - he was suspecting the idler pulley. Upon inspection, he said there is some 'insignificant play' which he highly doubts could cause such a noise. His suggestion is since I haven't done the cooling overhaul, maybe this is the opportunity and include all the pulleys..

He did mention the vanos as well, and is aware of the a/m vanos 'fixes' out there but he said that's a job he is not willing to undertake.

Fast Bob, it's not the vanos, what do you suggest could have failed or is about to fail given this sound and other symptoms I have highlighted?
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