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Older than old school
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today I finally took advantage of some good weather and swapped out my timing chain tensioner. I followed the link "Timing Chain Tensioner Replacement (M62TU)" from Bluebee's handy-dandy DIY compendium in the "Best Links" sticky, and it took me to a pretty well documented DIY on Bimmerforums.com.

The only addition I'd make to that DIY is that the replacement Febi tensioner has a much longer spring and generates a lot more internal tension than my worn out original with 156,000 miles on it. The DIY mentions that it's under "a bit of spring pressure" and takes "a bit of deterity/coordination," but this is an understatement. It took me darn near a half hour, fooling around with different height sockets, the "wobble joint" connector, and 3/8" extensions to finally get the new tensioner seated in the threads, keep the tension on it, and figure out how to tighten it at the same time. I had to stop several times to take a breath, count slowly, and reassess the situation. What should have been a straightforward, simple procedure probably took about an hour, instead of the 15 minutes it would have warranted otherwise.

I finally managed to put together a combination that went (in order): tensioner, 19mm socket, "wobble joint," ratchet, and socket, with the last socket wedged between the ratchet head and the fender well to keep the tensioner pressed in.

I lost track of how many things went wrong in the course of the repair, but it got off to a rocky start when I put the socket over the new tensioner, preparing to put it into the hole, and I took my eye off it for second, inadvertently tilting it, and I heard the piston and internal spring fall out into the engine compartment.

Once the air cleared, I cleaned it off meticulously and started in. Somehow, I managed to avoid getting overwrought with frustration and got it done. When I started it up, I was surprised at how much quieter my engine was, but I didn't really take it out and drive it. Maybe after a drive the oil will be thin enough that it's noisier again. I wish I had before and after vids for comparison, but to me the difference seemed surprising.
 

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wannabe DIY'er
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332 Posts
I found it a bit awkward getting the new tensioner to catch the threads while pushing on it also (especially since it was slippery from oil), however I'd say it took me 10 minutes total to do the job which I thought was quite easy.
However, it has not made any difference in engine noise and my cold morning start ups still have the clicking/clattering occasionally. The old tensioner was compressed and not springing back so it appears it was "stuck" and failing..... I hope that noise I'm hearing is actually the a/c compressor (my a/c doesn't work) and not my timing chain slapping. It sounds like a plastic click so I'm hopeful but I can't keep worrying about this crap all the time....
 

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2003 540 mtech
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23 Posts
I did the same repair several weeks ago but it went a little smoother. It probably took me about 10-15 minutes once I removed the airbox to actually replace the tensioner. It did take some munipulation to install the new one . I had a hard time removing my airbox . I guess it had never been out before and it put up little fight. I lost one of the metal clips that holds the top of the air cleaner on. It dropped down to the bottom of the the engine bay and sat on the plastic undercover. When I changed the oil last weekend I opened the access panel to the drain plug and presto !!!! the clip fell out .
 

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Older than old school
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
What got to me was that I knew darned well that it should've been a short and sweet repair, but the oil on my rubber gloves might have made things more complicated. I ended up taking them off, which helped with my dexterity.
 

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For the v8 guys this is one of the most important things to do.
A weak tensioner will lead to a lose/rattling chain, which in turn will break the chain guide.
The latter is a tedious job (in case it's caught in time), that can be avoided by replacing the tensioner.
Driving with a busted tensioner and a busted chain guide rail will kill the engine.
 

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For the v8 guys this is one of the most important things to do.
A weak tensioner will lead to a lose/rattling chain, which in turn will break the chain guide.
The latter is a tedious job (in case it's caught in time), that can be avoided by replacing the tensioner.
Driving with a busted tensioner and a busted chain guide rail will kill the engine.
What are the symptoms of a weak tensioner?
 

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Older than old school
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4,461 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
For the v8 guys this is one of the most important things to do.
A weak tensioner will lead to a lose/rattling chain, which in turn will break the chain guide.
The latter is a tedious job (in case it's caught in time), that can be avoided by replacing the tensioner.
Driving with a busted tensioner and a busted chain guide rail will kill the engine.
That's what motivated me to do it. My car has 156,000 miles on it, and when I saw the thread about disintegrating timing chain guides, which showed the extent of the work involved in fixing the resultant damage (as I recall, bits of the guides ended up embedded in the piston crowns), it was an eay decision to buy a $45 tensioner and put it in.
 

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I found it a bit awkward getting the new tensioner to catch the threads while pushing on it also (especially since it was slippery from oil), however I'd say it took me 10 minutes total to do the job which I thought was quite easy.
However, it has not made any difference in engine noise and my cold morning start ups still have the clicking/clattering occasionally. The old tensioner was compressed and not springing back so it appears it was "stuck" and failing..... I hope that noise I'm hearing is actually the a/c compressor (my a/c doesn't work) and not my timing chain slapping. It sounds like a plastic click so I'm hopeful but I can't keep worrying about this crap all the time....
Is the clutch of your A/C compressor melted together? Mine was broken and it was making a ton of borderline scary noises. I ended up clipping the A/C belt and just leaving it there. Now my car still sounds a little bit like a Diesel at idle, but it is not nearly as bad as before.

I'm planning on replacing the tensioner sometime soon, hopefully it goes well.

Sorry for the necro (even though it's only three weeks).
 

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Is the clutch of your A/C compressor melted together? Mine was broken and it was making a ton of borderline scary noises. I ended up clipping the A/C belt and just leaving it there. Now my car still sounds a little bit like a Diesel at idle, but it is not nearly as bad as before.

I'm planning on replacing the tensioner sometime soon, hopefully it goes well.

Sorry for the necro (even though it's only three weeks).
Hes not talking about the belt tensioner. The tensioner he's talking about is for the timing chain.
 
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