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What is the N52 engine's track record with VANOS problems?

If I understand correctly, the 328i's N52 engine has the VANOS system. While visiting the parents over the holidays, my dad made an offhand comment to the effect that the VANOS system is fraught with problems. I am assuming his comment was based upon his experience with his 1994 540i. Not much turns up on a search, so I was just wondering where the N52 lands regarding problems if any with the VANOS.
 

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I had my 328xi in the shop twice for a vanos solenoid issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ESub,

What were the symptoms?
 

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ESub,

What were the symptoms?
Sorry for being brief. I had noticed poor gas mileage. I think it was around 23 on the highway. Other than that, the car seemed to run perfectly
 

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What is the N52 engine's track record with VANOS problems?

If I understand correctly, the 328i's N52 engine has the VANOS system. While visiting the parents over the holidays, my dad made an offhand comment to the effect that the VANOS system is fraught with problems. I am assuming his comment was based upon his experience with his 1994 540i. Not much turns up on a search, so I was just wondering where the N52 lands regarding problems if any with the VANOS.
Just going by the number of posts about VANOS problems versus posts about N54 engine's HPFP problems, I would say the HPFP problems win hands-down. If peace-of-mind is the objective, an extended warranty policy would seem to be a consideration.
 

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I believe the N52 Vanos problem involved occaisionally sticky (and somewhat noisy) lifters. But if yours aren't making noise, don't worry about it.

The 90's 540i engine issue had to do with the Nikasil cylinder liners not playing nice with the high sulphur levels in US gas. BMW has since changed the cylinder lining material.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just going by the number of posts about VANOS problems versus posts about N54 engine's HPFP problems, I would say the HPFP problems win hands-down. If peace-of-mind is the objective, an extended warranty policy would seem to be a consideration.
I believe the N52 Vanos problem involved occaisionally sticky (and somewhat noisy) lifters. But if yours aren't making noise, don't worry about it.

The 90's 540i engine issue had to do with the Nikasil cylinder liners not playing nice with the high sulphur levels in US gas. BMW has since changed the cylinder lining material.

Tom
Just a curiosity question, no problems at 17 months/ 9K miles. I was just taking a pulse check to determine if his warning was just "doom and gloom", or something I should really pay attention to.
 

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Nordic Kat, thanks for starting this thread.

Sorry for being brief. I had noticed poor gas mileage. I think it was around 23 on the highway. Other than that, the car seemed to run perfectly
E92Submarine, is this the typical downside of a VANOS issue? IOW, if I failed to diagnose a VANOS issue because the car seems to run just fine, the only thing I lose on is MPG? I ask because I'm pretty certain I have lower MPG than most here, but I attributed that to somewhat spirited driving, with highway miles only driven every other tank refill, and usually not many highway miles at that (depending). But, now I just wonder.

I know most questions that a noob might ask can be considered as loaded questions, but still I am curious: how much would one expect to pay for a VANOS repair at a BMW specialty indy shop once out of warranty? For that matter, if I kept my car past the decade mark, how much would the HPFP cost at the same place? Thanks for any replies.
 

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Kat, are you are certain about your terminology? It was Vanos and not Valvetronic? (The 52 has both, the 54 doesn't need Valvetronic because it being turbocharged it doesn't have the pumping losses which the Valvetronic is designed to reduce.) Both systems are involved in controlling valve lift and duration. The N52 valve train is more complex than the N54 due to having both systems.
 

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Just curious...were there codes stored when you had the vanos issue?
I'm not sure. I'd check the invoice in my files but I'm not at home.

E92Submarine, is this the typical downside of a VANOS issue? IOW, if I failed to diagnose a VANOS issue because the car seems to run just fine, the only thing I lose on is MPG? I ask because I'm pretty certain I have lower MPG than most here, but I attributed that to somewhat spirited driving, with highway miles only driven every other tank refill, and usually not many highway miles at that (depending). But, now I just wonder.

I know most questions that a noob might ask can be considered as loaded questions, but still I am curious: how much would one expect to pay for a VANOS repair at a BMW specialty indy shop once out of warranty? For that matter, if I kept my car past the decade mark, how much would the HPFP cost at the same place? Thanks for any replies.
I don't think my issue was normal. The only reason I brought the car in was when I noticed a change in gas mileage. I had been getting 30+ on the highway and the one day poof.... 24mpg. This was well over a year ago, so I'd have to check my files to see what exactly the problem was and what the techs did to the car.

There is maybe a single thread every two months related to VANOS. Kat, if you're trying to find a systemic reliability issue with the 328i and the N52, I think you're going to have some trouble. It's a well engineered system.
 

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Fun tidbit: VANOS is short for the German phrase "variable Nockenwellensteuerung" which is almost as epic of a phrase as Porsche's PDK (Dual Clutch Transmission) "Doppelkupplungsgetriebe"
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Kat, are you are certain about your terminology? It was Vanos and not Valvetronic? (The 52 has both, the 54 doesn't need Valvetronic because it being turbocharged it doesn't have the pumping losses which the Valvetronic is designed to reduce.) Both systems are involved in controlling valve lift and duration. The N52 valve train is more complex than the N54 due to having both systems.
:dunno: I think I am. He was the one who mentioned Vanos, but he may have meant valvetronic. I also presumed his comment was coming from his experiences with the E34's M60 engine, but a quick check on wiki seems to nullify that presumption.

You bring up another point, though. Is it the valvetronic system that is problematic?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Kat, if you're trying to find a systemic reliability issue with the 328i and the N52, I think you're going to have some trouble. It's a well engineered system.
LOL. No, I'm not looking for trouble, just educating myself. My understanding of the MT 328i is that it's probably as close as one can get to bullet-proof within the BMW family.

From what I understand, Dad had a bad experience, both with the car and the dealership and it's now coloring his objectivity about my E93. :rolleyes:
 

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LOL. No, I'm not looking for trouble, just educating myself. My understanding of the MT 328i is that it's probably as close as one can get to bullet-proof within the BMW family.

From what I understand, Dad had a bad experience, both with the car and the dealership and it's now coloring his objectivity about my E93. :rolleyes:
I did some research for my recent 328i purchase and the only thing I repeatedly found was the "Intermittent Lifter Noise" which, ironically enough, I had my first display of it yesterday..

The Bentley manual mentions it as not being a problem as long as it goes away(and they describe a method to make it go away). And for me it did quickly. And the book was dead on when it described it, since it describes it as appearing when you use the car for multiple short trips or cold engine starts.

I had just moved my car out of the garage, let it cool a couple hours, then moved it back in, let it cool, then a few hours later went for a drive and click...click...click go the lifters when I started it.. It was the first time I heard that, and after it warmed up (a minute or two), it was fine.

Other notes of interest having to do with the VANOS: "Sticky VANOS solenoid sets cam position (CMP) sensor codes (N52,N52KP,N54)", and "Faulty Valvetronic motor linked to DME failure (N52,N51)". The first one may not affect you since they don't list N51, which is a California engine, IIRC..
 

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I have an '07 328xi coupe. I heard some noises when it was new and mentioned it to my SA saying it sounded like lifter noise. They looked at it did some adjustment and it has been fine. The car is one week and 230 miles from the end of the warranty, and has been fine.
 

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The first one may not affect you since they don't list N51, which is a California engine, IIRC..
The N51 is an SULEV Engine opposed to a N52 which is a ULEV. Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle, just take off the Super for the other acronym. N51's are also not only California engines they are Northeastern United States engines. It is my understanding that if you order a car in the Northeast and DON'T specify you want the N52, chances are extremely great you will receive a BMW with the N51.
 

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Thanks for the thread, I too have wondered about what potential weaknesses might be in the N52 and may cause concern after the warranty period. As a whole though, we seem to hear few people complain about drivetrain related issues on the N52 on here. However, most people in this forum do own the N54/55, so perhaps we are just not getting enough data points? In any case, my lifters have never made any noise that I could tell, but I do not have the fuel-saving minded AT and like to get the RPMs past 4k every day I drive to work. :angel:

Also, with us having later model N52s, is there a good chance changes have been made to both systems to alleviate earlier issues with the engine? Let's hope...
 

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Hi, I'm just replying to this thread b/c my wife's X3 has the N52 engine and we just had it serviced at the dealer due to (in the service advisor's words) "sticking VANOS". I don't know exactly what that means but he said that they removed, cleaned, and replaced the valves - and also replaced the oil.

I'm still waiting for my wife to come home with the printout work order so that I can get a clearer explanation, but I decided to do a little searching online because I was curious.

Her car is a 2008 CPO X3 with 36k miles and so I'm not too worried b/c of the warranty.
 
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