BMW M3 (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)

BMW M3 (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X) (
-   Faults, Fixes and DIY (
-   -   DIY: E46 M3 (S54) detailed valve adjustment (

bimmerfan08 Wed, Jul-17-2013 02:02:18 AM

DIY: E46 M3 (S54) detailed valve adjustment
This DIY is for the most part, straightforward and not too complex. Depending on how many valves need to be adjusted, the total time for this DIY is 3-4 hours start to finish. Valve adjustments are recommended at least every 30k miles by BMW. I credit the forum and the videos in this DIY for a lot of the information I used to perform my own valve adjustments as well as source the proper materials.

Tools needed:
3/8" drive ratchet
1/2" drive ratchet
8mm hex socket
10mm deep well hex socket
13mm hex socket
17mm hex socket
19mm hex socket
5/8" deep well hex socket (16mm deep well hex socket can also be used)
T30 torx bit drive socket
3/8" ratchet extensions
3/8" drive torque wrench
Needle nose pliers
Straight head screwdriver
10mm open end wrench (the OEM one in the toolkit works just great)
Telescopic magnet stick
Feeler gauges (as diverse as you can find)
32mm open end fan wrench
Fan clutch tool
32mm hex socket or BMW crankshaft torx socket (PN: 83300491056) or 36mm 12-point socket - see step 44 for details

Parts and supplies needed:
6 x spark plug gaskets (PN: 11127831271)
1 x valve cover gasket (PN: 11127832034)
2 x valve cover bolt grommets (PN: 11121437395)
13 x valve cover nut grommets (PN: 11127830972)
2 x copper crush gaskets (PN: 07119963129)
1 x shim kit (PN: 11340031525)
1 x shim magnetic tool (PN: 90886114400)
6 x Castrol 10W-60 TWS synthentic motor oil liters (PN: 07510009420) - needed if oil change is due at same as valve adjustment
1 x engine oil filter (PN: 11427833769)
High temperature gasket sealer
Lint free rags to clean valve cover if oil is present and to plug open cavities
Small plastic bags to contain screws and bolts
E46 3 series Bentley manual for reference if you have it

Also now is a good time to order any parts that require the engine cover to be disassembled. Parts such as microfilter and any sensors/cables that may be faulty under the engine cover. Spark plugs and ignition coils if they are due for replacement. Belts and pulleys may be replaced as well.

These 2 videos are a great aid to this DIY. Feel free to watch them beforehand before attempting the DIY. Credit to BMP Designs.

Part 1: BMW S54 Valve Adjustment

Part 2: BMW S54 Valve Adjustment

Step 1: Park car on level surface and pop open hood. Allow the engine bay to cool at least 8 hours. The engine needs to be cold to ensure proper valve clearance check (metal expands and contracts depending on temperature like most materials). It's usually best to let the car cool overnight if it has been driven during the day. The Bentley manual states no higher than 95F for checking valve clearances. Optimal temperature would be ambient (room) temperature (~68-75F). ***Do not neglect this step***

Step 2: Gather all tools needed for the fix. Up above are the tools you will need to perform this DIY. Also gather all your parts needed for the fix. Its easier to perform a car fix when everything is organized and within reach.

Parts you will need for this DIY.

Step 3: If your M3 has a strut tower brace, you'll need to remove the middle section of the brace first before continuing. Unclip the plastic wire harness above the engine that's connected to the front of the microfilter. There are 4 clips on this harness. Simply, but gently pry apart the plastic ears. Set the black harness cover to the side. Allow the positive terminal cable and black PVC cable to fall out of clips from inside the harness. You may have to gently pull down on them to remove them. I've circled the 4 clips in red.

Step 4: Locate the microfilter towards the back of the engine bay and directly above the engine itself. There are 3 retaining clips that are spring-loaded holding the top of the microfilter cover closed. Simply twist 90 degrees to relieve the tension on the spring and push the clips upward. Leave the clips in the cover itself. Remove the cover by pulling up and out. I've circled their locations in red.

The clips in their "open" position after they have been twisted.

Step 5: The microfilter is now exposed. Remove it by simply pulling up and out. The two faces of the microfilter are different because of the orientation that they sit within the microfilter housing, but I went ahead and marked the bottom side to note the clean side of the filter.

I simply took a Sharpie marker and wrote bottom on the bottom of the filter even though the filter has one orientation it will fit in. This just makes for quicker reinstallation for first timers.

Step 6: Locate the 4 screws that hold the microfilter housing to the car body. After removing the microfilter, they are quite present. These have T30 hex drive bit heads so take out your wrench and extension if you need one, and slip the drive bit on. Unscrew all 4 screws and bag them. I've circled their locations in red.

Bag those screws! This will help prevent loss of valuable and much needed bolts, screws, nuts, etc. It also allows for better organization and will prevent mixing of parts.

Step 7: If you have angel eyes and have hidden the angel eye power wire underneath the rubber seal around the microfilter housing, you'll need to remove it. Simply lift up on the rubber seal and pull the wire out. For those that don't have angel eyes, you can skip this step.

Place all your parts that have been removed off to the side and in a neat location.

Your engine bay should look like this by now.

Step 8: Push angel eye power wire up and out of the way. I simply placed mine up and over the cowl to keep it off the engine.

Step 9: Locate and remove the PVC vent tube on top of the engine. It spans from the engine cover over to the intake cover. There are small release clips around the base of each inlet on the hose. Squeeze these tight (youll notice the grip locations for your fingers) and pull up on the hose. I've circled the grips in red. Set aside for now (you can replace it after the engine cover has been removed).

The vent hose removed and the grips circled in red.

Step 10: As a safety precaution when working with anything electrical, I went ahead and disconnected the negative terminal from the battery. The battery is located in the truck to the right. Lift up on the trunk floor and expose the two plastic rivets holding the battery cover in place. Remove the plastic rivets with a straight head screwdriver. Just a note, if you are going to do a ignition coil test, you'll need to have the battery hooked up with power supply to the car.

Step 11: Place a small 10mm open end wrench over the nut holding down the negative battery terminal. Twist off and bag the nut. Simply, but gently pull up on the negative terminal to stop the flow of power to the car. Push terminal down and to the side of the battery. Do not let the two terminals touch (positive and negative).

Placing the negative terminal cable down and to the side of the battery.

Step 12: Locate and remove the positive terminal in the engine bay. It is a small black box with a release clip above the strut tower in front of the DSC module bin. Pop the clip and flip back the cover. There is a large nut holding down the positive power cable. Using the 19mm socket and wrench, remove the nut and bag it. Pull the cable off of the threaded stud and place aside in the engine bay. Be sure to note mentally where you place it.

Placing cable off to the side out of the way.

Step 13: Remove the left engine shroud piece. There are 2 plastic rivets. Using needle nose pliers, pull up on the center pins and bag them. Place the shroud aside. This will give you more room to work. I've circled their locations in red.

The second plastic rivet is directly in front of the VANOS.

The left engine shroud off and out of the way.

Step 14: Remove the oil filler cap on top of the engine cover.

Step 14: Locate the six chrome nuts that hold the engine cover in place. Using a 10mm deep well hex socket and wrench, remove them. I've circled them in red.

The sixth nut is in the lower corner of the VANOS area. Removing the engine shroud in the previous steps will expose it and provide more space to work.

Step 15: Pull up on the engine cover after removing the 6 nuts and remove it. Carefully place engine cover out of the way where it won't get stepped on.

This is how the engine should look now. You are now looking at the top of the valve cover where the ignition coils sit.

Step 16: Be sure to replace the oil filler cap to prevent dust and contaminants from getting into the engine as well as the black PVC vent hose.

Step 17: The black plastic wire harness on the low side of the valve cover has two release clips. Simply pinch them together and pull the harness up slightly. Pull up and slide the harness down a little ways towards the side of engine block (nearest headers) to provide more space to reach the ignition coil connections. Don't push the harness too far as this will put stress on the cables clamped to the harness. I've circled the clips in red.

Step 18: Locate the first ignition coil for the first cylinder. There is a release clip on the head of the coil. Flip this clip up. When the clip is flipped, you'll notice the cable pushes slightly outward for easier removal.

Step 19: Gripping the head of the ignition cable with one hand and holding the top of the ignition cable still with the other, gently pull the cable out of the ignition coil.

Step 20: Notice the hole in the ignition coil clip. This is used for removal of the ignition coil. You can use your finger to try and pull the coil out, but I found it easier to use a screwdriver to pull it out. Insert the screwdriver through one side of the coil and grip both sides of the screwdriver with your hands. Pull straight up on the coil. It will take some force because of the suction the coil has. Set the coil off to the side.

Here is the ignition coil removed.

Step 21: Now that the first ignition coil is removed, the process is the same for the remaining coils. Run down the cylinder line and flip the clips on the ignition coil heads. Then repeat the previous step and remove each ignition coil. There are 6 total.

All six ignition coils removed.

The valve train cover should look like this now after the coils have been removed.

Step 22: Locate the 6 spark plugs at the bottom of the ignition coil cylinders. Using the 5/8" deep well socket, 3/8" ratchet extension, and 3/8" ratchet, loosen each spark plug one at a time. Be sure the socket slips completely over the spark plug to prevent stripping of the head. It will take some force to break the spark plugs loose.

A spark plug located at the bottom of an ignition coil cylinder.

Inserting ratchet and socket over the spark plug.

A closer view of the socket in the cylinder.

Step 23: Use the telescopic magnet stick to remove each spark plug from the cylinders.

All 6 spark plugs layed out with cylinders 1-6 corresponding left to right.

The cylinders are completely empty. This is a chance to clean out any oil or contaminants that may be in the cylinders.

Clean cylinder.

Step 24: Locate O2 sensors near the back of the valve cover. Mark one to make them easier to reassemble. Both the female and male ends.

Step 25: Unclip both O2 sensors.

Step 26: Remove ignition coil cable bracket. If memory serves me correct, the 2 screws are 8mm.

Step 27: Locate ignition coil ground wire bolt on side of engine nearest headers. The bolt head uses a 13mm hex socket. Remove it carefully.

Ground wire removed and free.

Step 28: Move ignition coil cable bracket and ground wire to opposite side of engine. I gently placed them on the air intake.

Step 29: Grip rear O2 cables and cable bundle and tuck away behind engine.

Tucking cables behind engine towards the firewall.

The valve cover should now look like this.

The engine bay should look similar to this.

Step 30: Plug the spark plug cylinders with lint free rags to prevent foreign objects and debris from entering cylinders.

Step 31: Locate and remove banjo bolt on side of engine just above headers. This will need to be removed to remove the valve cover. There are 2 small copper crush gaskets on the bolt. One of the gaskets is between the oil line and engine block. A small screwdriver or pick is recommended to catch it so is does not fall out of reach. The bolt head uses a 17mm hex socket.

Banjo bolt removed. Notice one of the copper gaskets on the bolt.

Step 32: Insert small screwdriver or pick into hole. Gently pull oil line away from engine. The copper gasket should be on the end of whatever tool you are using. Gently grip the gasket with your fingers and slowly pull away the tool to free the gasket.

Step 33: Remove all valve cover caps. There are 15 total. 3 caps are at the front of the engine near the VANOS unit and 12 down the sides of the valve cover. Each head is a 10mm hex.

The valve cover caps removed. Remove all of the grommets now left in the holes. I've circled the grommets that will need to be removed.

Step 34: Ensure nothing is covering the valve cover. Remove engine oil cap. Gently pull up on the valve cover to remove. If the valve cover gasket is not heavily degraded, it should be fairly simple to remove.

The valve cover exposed. Mine is a little more amber in color than some, but I can assure you that there is no sludge or buildup. As long as regular oil change intervals and quality oil is used, this color is fine.

Step 35: Working from the right side of the engine (again, if facing it) locate the plastic expansion rivet for the right side engine shroud. It is right beneath the upper radiator coolant hose that comes off the radiator. Leave this engine shroud loose for now as the hose has to be disconnected to remove it completely.

Step 36: While on the right side of the engine, locate and remove the upper fan shroud retaining bolt. It uses a T25 torx driver bit socket. I've circled the location in red. Also notice the right engine shroud piece hanging loosely on the upper radiator hose in the background. This is okay.

Step 37: Locate and remove the lower fan shroud retaining bolt on the right side of the engine. It is directly below the upper retaining bolt. The area gets a little tight but it is still accessible. I've circled the bolt in red and again this is a T25 torx driver bit socket.

Step 38: Working from the left side of engine if facing it, locate and unclip the sensor connection on top of the radiator. Like all BMW sensors, it simply unclips and pulls out. Tuck away to the left side near the secondary air pump area. I've circled the clip in red.

Step 39: While looking at top of radiator, locate the upper fan shroud retaining bolt for the left side if facing the engine. This bolt should be a few inches down and to the left of the sensor connection that was unclipped in step 24. The head is again a T25 torx driver bit socket. I've circled the location in red.

Step 40: Unclip the connection that sits in the left fan shroud support. It is gray in color and has large clips. Remove top portion of connection and set aside to the left. Remove the lower portion by pulling up and to then towards the engine. Set this portion to the left side as well near the secondary air pump.

Step 41: Locate and remove the last fan shroud retaining bolt. It it is easier to remove this bolt from under the car. It is directly below the lower radiator hose. Again, the head uses a T25 torx bit drive socket. I've circled the location in red.

Remember to bag those retaining bolts!

Step 42: Here comes the tricky part. Place your 32mm wrench around the fan nut. Next, place the fan tool around 2 of the bolt heads on the water pump pulley. The water pump pulley bolts are in a rectangular pattern, not square, so you may need to adjust the end of the fan tool youre using. The fan nut is reverse threaded, so to loosen it, you need to twist to the right. With the fan tool in your left hand and the 32mm wrench in your right hand, pull in opposite directions, i.e. outward. Make sure the 32mm wrench is being pulled to your right. It will take some force, but the fan nut should come lose. The fan nut is circled in red.

Step 43: Remove the fan and fan shroud by pulling up and out. The shroud needs to be completely loose for this step, so make sure it is pulled up first. Unthread the remainder of the fan nut if you haven't already done so. Be careful to not let the fan fall off the end of the water pump threads. Hold fan in one hand and spin to the right with the other. Pull fan up with the fan shroud together. You may be able to wedge the fan out first once half of the fan shroud is above the engine. Again be careful here. Set the fan and fan shroud aside in a location where they wont get damaged. The oil cooler can be relocated on the bottom and moved so that the fan can be taken out from the bottom but I chose to remove it from the top.

You now have the clear working space you need to continue on with this fix.

Step 44: Locate crankshaft pulley turning bolt. It's either going to require a 32mm hex socket or on earlier models, special BMW crankshaft torx socket (PN: 83300491056). The crankshaft torx socket can be substituted with a 36mm 12-point socket. Determine which socket your car will need and affix it to a 1/2" ratchet. Place the socket over the bolt head and leave alone for now.

Socket affixed to ratchet over crankshaft bolt head.

Step 45: Turn the 1/2" drive ratchet on the crankshaft bolt clockwise. You'll notice that the camshafts will begin to rotate. Keep rotating the camshafts until the first pair of cam lobes of any cylinder, exhaust or intake side, are pointing directly vertical. The smaller section of the cam lobe needs to be pointing directly vertical to the plane of the valve train.

Step 46: On the intake side use feeler gauges that range from 0.007"-0.009", no more, no less. The exhaust side gaps will require feeler gauges that range from 0.011"-0.013", no more, no less. Measure the gap between the bottom of the cam lobe and top of the rocker. Ideally the gap measurement would be 0.008" intake side and 0.012" exhaust side. Remember to measure underneath both cam lobes. There are 24 valves total in the S54.

Step 47: If a valve needs adjustment, begin by removing the retainer clip on the backside of the cam lobes. This piece prevents the rockers from sliding while the engine is in operation. Gently pull up towards you to remove the clip.

Step 48: Place a paper towel or shop rag down below the camshaft to cover the plastic screen (early 2001 cars do not have a screen, just an open hole). You do not want shims falling into the engine or any other tools you may be working with. It's probably good measure to cover all holes beneath the cam lobes. Slide the rocker over exposing the top of the valve where the shim sits.

Step 49: Using the magnetic shim tool, gently place magnetic side down in over the top of the shim. Again, the shim is on top of the valve. Remove the shim carefully and slowly. Too quick and the shim may get hung up and fall.

Step 50: Measure shim thickness using a micrometer. Determine whether the gap needs to be decreased or increased. If the gap needs to be increased, decrease the shim size. If it needs to be decreased, use a thicker shim size. It can be beneficial to use a spreadsheet to record and track which valves were adjusted, the size of the shim removed/replaced, and the clearance.

Step 51: Once new shim is determined, place the shim on the magnetic end of the magnetic shim tool. Install is reverse of removal. Gently seat shim on top of the valve. Do this slowly as it is done by feel. Once the shim feels like it is seated, slowly pull back the tool to keep the shim from popping up and out. I've circled a newly seated shim in red.

Step 52: Slide the rocker back over the shim. There should not be any resistance. If the rocker feels like it is getting hung up, then the shim is not fully seated. Once the rocker is back in place, replace the retainer clip.

Step 53: Continue to rotate camshafts and measure valve clearances. Adjust gaps as needed keeping in mind there are differences in gaps for the intake and exhaust side.

Step 54: After all valves have been measured and adjusted and all retainer clips put back into place, remove and replace the 6 spark plug gaskets (PN: 11127831271). They are located around the spark plug cylinders. Remove the valve cover gasket as well and replace with new valve cover gasket (PN: 11127832034). A small amount of gasket sealer may be needed to seat the valve cover gasket.

Step 55: At this point it's reverse of removal putting the engine bay back together. Be sure to replace the 13 valve cover grommets with new grommets (PN: 11127830972). Replace the 2 front corner bolt grommets with new grommets as well (PN: 11121437395). Replace the 2 copper gaskets that were removed from the banjo bolt (PN: 07119963129).

Torque all bolts and nuts to manufacturer's specifications. Photo credits from for the nice labels.

Step 56: This step is optional depending on last oil change. Replace engine oil and oil filter. Chances are an oil change was due during the same time the valve adjustment needed to be done. If not, check oil level and top off.

bimmerfan08 Wed, Jul-17-2013 02:05:45 AM

Re: DIY: E46 M3 (S54) detailed valve adjustment
DIY should be finished. If there are any errors or typos, please let me know. I know some of the grammar may have a typo here or there, so just point out where in the DIY so I can correct the issue. Thanks

snikwad Wed, Jul-17-2013 02:34:10 AM

Re: DIY: E46 M3 (S54) detailed valve adjustment
who takes these awesome pics for you while you work?

bimmerfan08 Wed, Jul-17-2013 02:37:12 AM

Re: DIY: E46 M3 (S54) detailed valve adjustment

Originally Posted by snikwad (Post 1066241045)
who takes these awesome pics for you while you work?

Camera in one hand, tool in the other Rhon. :thumbsup2:

///M_Achilles Wed, Jul-17-2013 02:41:29 AM

Re: DIY: E46 M3 (S54) detailed valve adjustment
good stuff brotha :thumbsup2:

snikwad Wed, Jul-17-2013 12:38:04 PM

I can never remember to take pics.
Good on you. Always a good write up from you man.

bimmerfan08 Wed, Jul-17-2013 01:37:50 PM

Re: DIY: E46 M3 (S54) detailed valve adjustment

Originally Posted by snikwad (Post 1066241403)
I can never remember to take pics.
Good on you. Always a good write up from you man.

Thanks man. Just trying to do the community and myself favors. I'll finish up where I left off tonight. These DIYs usually take a few hours to piece together but the information is golden. :thumbsup2:

cheu_f50 Wed, Jul-17-2013 02:06:04 PM

Re: DIY: E46 M3 (S54) detailed valve adjustment
good pics and nice write up. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

bimmerfan08 Wed, Jul-17-2013 11:49:05 PM

Re: DIY: E46 M3 (S54) detailed valve adjustment

Originally Posted by cheu_f50 (Post 1066241477)
good pics and nice write up. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

No problem, you're welcome. DIY should be pretty much finished at this point. If you see something that needs to be changed, let me know.

andrewboi Wed, Aug-14-2013 03:21:56 AM

Re: DIY: E46 M3 (S54) detailed valve adjustment
I followed this valve adjustment DIY to the T. You did a great job compiling everything and I felt that all steps were explained in sufficient detail that I did not really need to rely on anything else.

Thanks for your contribution!

All times are GMT. The time now is 12:54:46 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 1999-2017