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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a 2003 BMW 540i M-Sport (AT) that is approaching 106k. Bought it 3 years ago with 59k. In that time I have performed a number of common maintenance items- cooling system replaced, thrust arm bushings, front struts to name a few.

A few weeks ago, I decided to go after a few more common DIY projects: VCG, new plugs, trans fluid change, rear diff change, TC tensioner, lower oil pan gasket (no fragments down there) and a new fuel filter. During the VCG replacement, I got a good look at the guides and they did not show any scoring or missing pieces. At 105k, that is what I expected to see. Buttoned everything up and started the car about seven days ago for a test drive. At first, the car ran a little rough at idle but smoothed out after it warmed up. Drove it around the block and checked the trans for shifting. The car ran as expected.

However, after driving the car yesterday and today it again started to run rough off of a cold start and put out the following codes- P0011 (CAM TIMING ADVANCED), P1341, P1343, P1345, P1347 (MISFIRES IN CYL 1,2,3,4 bank 1). I have spent all day researching these codes and found numerous posts that describe guide failure is imminent or the timing is off (advanced). These things do not makes sense to me. Once the car is warmed up, it runs perfectly. No hesitation, no misses, no codes, no abnormal sounds, quiet and smooth as can be.

Yesterday, I switched the coils from bank 1 to bank 2 to see if there were bad coils and the codes came up the same today. Actually, there was only P1341, P1343 yesterday. Today the other two showed up on the same bank.

I just returned from driving the car about 25 miles and it was flawless. My expectation now is that this issue arises when it starts first thing in the morning. I have read quite a few posts on these codes and not one person has actually provided a solution other than to day "change the timing chain guides and/or VANOS, and/or get the timing reset".

Would the car run normal intermittently if these things were actually the root cause? Any ideas or suggestions are welcome. I am a big DIY guy but not sure I want to just rip into the guides after already seeing them in good shape just a week ago.
 

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2001 BMW E39 540i Automatic Sedan, 192 K miles
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I'll take a swag at your problems.

Codes P1341, P1343, P1345, P1347 : misfires, with possible cut-offs. You said you replaced the spark plugs. Did you install the right spark plugs ? Did you inspect or replace the ignition coils ? Are you sure the valve cover gaskets has been done right, with no leak ?

Code P0011: Have you done the VANOS or the timing chain guides, and mistimed the engine ? If not, I would replace the camshaft position sensor on bank-1, and test again.

And of course, always make sure your battery is fully charged, before retesting. You can't over emphasize the importance of a fully charged battery on these old cars.
 

Older than old school
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To help increase your response rate, you might want to list the definitions of those P-codes. Most of us don't know them by heart, and we are less likely than you to have the motivation to look them up.

As for your visual inspection of the timing chain guides, it was essentially worthless. The only guide that wears significantly is the U-shaped reversing rail that sits between the cylinder banks, just above the crankshaft sprocket. There's no way to see this without taking off the timing chain, because the wear occurs on the plastic surface beneath the chain. When I replaced my timing chain guides at 175,000 miles, that guide was almost completely worn through. The others were barely scored. I documented the teardown (Around the M62 TU in 80 Hours More or Less), and I posted a picture of the rail here (scroll down to post 134).

I've been off the forum for a couple of years, but your comment about codes supposedly warning of impending timing chain guide failure is news to me. Incorrect timing codes more frequently result from bad cam position sensors or VANOS solenoid failures.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'll take a swag at your problems.

Codes P1341, P1343, P1345, P1347 : misfires, with possible cut-offs. You said you replaced the spark plugs. Did you install the right spark plugs ? Did you inspect or replace the ignition coils ? Are you sure the valve cover gaskets has been done right, with no leak ?

Code P0011: Have you done the VANOS or the timing chain guides, and mistimed the engine ? If not, I would replace the camshaft position sensor on bank-1, and test again.

And of course, always make sure your battery is fully charged, before retesting. You can't over emphasize the importance of a fully charged battery on these old cars.
I put in the OEM plugs, same ones that came out. I did inspect the coils because they were all a bit oily from the VCG leaking. I had to clean them all off. I did not replace them as they were all running fine before. There are no leaks in the VCG. I took off the dust covers this weekend and everything looked great in the spark plug wells. No leaks from what I was able to observe

I have not done anything to the VANOS or TCG. Nothing that I did affected the timing from what I understand about the engine itself. That is why this is perplexing. No codes before the work, only after it was all completed. Battery voltage reads 13.0 at idle and 14.1 while driving per my scan gauge. The battery is about a year old.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
To help increase your response rate, you might want to list the definitions of those P-codes. Most of us don't know them by heart, and we are less likely than you to have the motivation to look them up.

As for your visual inspection of the timing chain guides, it was essentially worthless. The only guide that wears significantly is the U-shaped reversing rail that sits between the cylinder banks, just above the crankshaft sprocket. There's no way to see this without taking off the timing chain, because the wear occurs on the plastic surface beneath the chain. When I replaced my timing chain guides at 175,000 miles, that guide was almost completely worn through. The others were barely scored. I documented the teardown (Around the M62 TU in 80 Hours More or Less), and I posted a picture of the rail here (scroll down to post 134).

I've been off the forum for a couple of years, but your comment about codes supposedly warning of impending timing chain guide failure is news to me. Incorrect timing codes more frequently result from bad cam position sensors or VANOS solenoid failures.
Thank you for the suggestion, I did add the code definitions. I was wondering about the U-shaped guide, it was not visible from the valve cover area. However, with no bits or chunks in the lower oil pan (replaced the gasket), it appears as if the guides had not broken apart at all. I have read your thread on the TCG project you performed. it is an amazing write up. It helped me navigate some of my work on the VCG project. Thank you for that DIY write up. Yeah, I am not sure if people actually know what the P0011 source is or not. It is a mysterious fix if you read enough posts.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
It just seems to me that there is a more simplified answer to this issue on my car based on the mileage, the car running so smoothly outside of the codes, and the absence of guide material in the pan. The VANOS solenoids can create timing issues if they are dirty or failing. That is my next target to fix this issue.
 

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Check your smooth running values and trims and see what Timm鈥檚 page says http://www.meeknet.co.uk/E38/Diagnostics.htm
Seems to me like the intake manifold gaskets on bank 1 could have misset allowing leakage while cold but sealing when hot. Possibly just a torque issue but could have to reseat them. While there, check your electrical connections and grounds to ensure you didn鈥檛 overlook something.
For the p0011 code, swap sensors left and right, then swap VANOS solenoids left and right. See if anything changes.
Edit: agree with Jim (below) but want to eliminate variables before delving in.

2001 750iL DD74441
Stock

RIP: 2003 540iA Sport GS56111
H&R front springs, Ultimate Cup Holder, Euro Dash & Armrest, Grom, BavSound Stage1
 

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Don't bother replacing the cam sensor, if it was bad you'd get a different code.
You really can't see much of the guides from looking down from the top.
From a week ago to now some of your guide could have started to fail.
Your misfire codes could be a vacuum leak, might want to check all of the air intake from the MAF to the intake manifold.
 

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2001 BMW E39 540i Automatic Sedan, 192 K miles
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Yes, but before suspecting the VANOS, I would first replace the camshaft position sensor with an oem sensor.
Also, do you have a BMW specific code reader, such as INPA ?
 

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You could swap cam sensors and vanos solenoids like Bear suggested just for piece of mind and so your not throwing parts at it.
All 4 of those parts would not throw a P0011 code.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Don't bother replacing the cam sensor, if it was bad you'd get a different code.
You really can't see much of the guides from looking down from the top.
From a week ago to now some of your guide could have started to fail.
Your misfire codes could be a vacuum leak, might want to check all of the air intake from the MAF to the intake manifold.
Agreed, there could be TCG failure beginning. I have read people saying it happened after replacing the tensioner (which I did).... or just coincidental to work I had just completed.

Not going to replace the cam sensor. Those codes are not showing up. I have checked for vacuum leaks but will look in the areas you describe. I did have a loose hose on the air intake coming from the driver side but fixed that. Those leaks can be maddening to find, so I may take it to a local shop that can smoke test for them.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You could swap cam sensors and vanos solenoids like Bear suggested just for piece of mind and so your not throwing parts at it.
All 4 of those parts would not throw a P0011 code.
I plan to do that. Those sensors are not cheap!! Would be tough to swallow a purchase like that for no reason.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yes, but before suspecting the VANOS, I would first replace the camshaft position sensor with an oem sensor.
Also, do you have a BMW specific code reader, such as INPA ?
I do not have a BMW specific reader. I bought a generic one online (Scan Gauge) for about $125.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Check your smooth running values and trims and see what Timm鈥檚 page says http://www.meeknet.co.uk/E38/Diagnostics.htm
Seems to me like the intake manifold gaskets on bank 1 could have misset allowing leakage while cold but sealing when hot. Possibly just a torque issue but could have to reseat them. While there, check your electrical connections and grounds to ensure you didn鈥檛 overlook something.
For the p0011 code, swap sensors left and right, then swap VANOS solenoids left and right. See if anything changes.
Edit: agree with Jim (below) but want to eliminate variables before delving in.

2001 750iL DD74441
Stock

RIP: 2003 540iA Sport GS56111
H&R front springs, Ultimate Cup Holder, Euro Dash & Armrest, Grom, BavSound Stage1
What type of tool do I need to check these values?
 

Older than old school
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Good, you added the code readouts. Those are all bank 1 gather, the same as the inlet timing code. I doubt there's a problem with the coils. It's unlikely that you'd get four simultaneous coil failures, all on one bank. The misfires on one side are probably caused by the ECU, which shuts down the ignition to cylinders that aren't getting proper air/fuel mixture. Ostensibly, it does this to protect the catalytic converters. I agree with switching the cam sensors to see if the misfires change to the other bank. If they do, then you've found the problem. If they don't, and if that doesn't help, then try switching the VANOS solenoids, looking for the same thing. What stands out to me is that all these faults are in bank 1.

As for the lack of plastic bits, I never found any in my oil changes either, even though I removed the pan on two successive oil changes. I don't know where the bits went--maybe into the oil filter, but there were no big pieces taken out of the rail, just deeply worn grooves.

I see jimLev chimed in, and ordinarily I'd defer to him. However, I'm not sure what he thinks would cause the camshaft inlet timing error. I doubt it would relate to a vacuum leak. For now, I'd start with the two swap steps, sensors and solenoids, that others have also suggested. For the future, you'd be wise to investigate a BMW-specific code reader. I don't know what the INPA system costs, but some years ago, I bought a $55 Creator C-110, which can show and graph fuel trims and other live data, such as inlet timing.
 

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What type of tool do I need to check these values?


Ideally INPA, but in theory any decent reader with the capability. Not sure if yours has it.
Also just sent you a PM re:INPA.


2001 750iL DD74441
Stock

RIP: 2003 540iA Sport GS56111
H&R front springs, Ultimate Cup Holder, Euro Dash & Armrest, Grom, BavSound Stage1
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Good, you added the code readouts. Those are all bank 1 gather, the same as the inlet timing code. I doubt there's a problem with the coils. It's unlikely that you'd get four simultaneous coil failures, all on one bank. The misfires on one side are probably caused by the ECU, which shuts down the ignition to cylinders that aren't getting proper air/fuel mixture. Ostensibly, it does this to protect the catalytic converters. Have you swapped the cam position sensors? Switch them and see if the misfires change to the other bank. If they do, then you've found the problem. If they don't, you might try switching the VANOS solenoids, looking for the same thing. What stands out to me is that all these faults are in bank 1.

As for the lack of plastic bits, I never found any in my oil changes either, even though I replaced the pan gasket on two successive oil changes. I don't know where the bits went--maybe into the oil filter, but there were no big pieces taken out of the rail, just deeply worn grooves.
I do plan to swap out the solenoids and see if anything changes. I did swap out coils yesterday from bank 1 & 2 but nothing changed. Were you getting codes other than the ones I described to pinpoint guide failure?
 

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I just re-edited my previous post, so you might read it again. I think I've answered your question. My mileage prompted me to do the timing chain guides. I had no codes at the time.
 

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2001 BMW E39 540i Automatic Sedan, 192 K miles
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I do plan to swap out the solenoids and see if anything changes. I did swap out coils yesterday from bank 1 & 2 but nothing changed. Were you getting codes other than the ones I described to pinpoint guide failure?
As suggested above, I'd swap the camshaft position sensors first, and see if the error code reappears on bank-2 (then , it would be P0012). I suspect a failing camshaft position sensor on Bank-1. Maybe not a bad sensor yet, but about to fail, sending incorrect data to the ECU. :dunno:

As to mileage prompting you to replace the timing chain guides, I'd refrain from doing it.
I have 182,000 miles on my car, and I am not about to do it yet. Unless and until you find solid evidence of broken plastic bits in the oil pan. :D
 
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