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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Wed, Mar-15-2017, 12:43:54 AM   #1
nascar_acj
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Unhappy Who should I trust? Advice needed regarding M3 service (VANOS & others)

Hey guys, long post incoming, but I could really use some advice for those who have time to give it.

Took my 05 M3 (110k) miles in for an oil change today. Past few years its been going to a very, very reputable BMW dealership and I have been very pleased with my service and updates on maintenance/recommendations on what to fix next. It's been getting a "clean bill of health" each time and the only things I've had to fix lately was the power steering pressure hose exploding (it didn't even leak, just went kaboom) and I replaced the coils and plugs myself.

I have since moved away from the "stealership" I had actually very much grown to enjoy going to. Excellent guys and very quick service. They understood that I know my car and never tried to screw me over. Now I went to a BMW indy shop everyone in the area praises as the best in the business and I left with a report of thousands of dollars in work that needs to be done. The last time this happened to me, I was at another "best in the business!" indy shop in my area, who gave me lists all the time from 50k miles to hell, 80k-ish miles of stuff that needed "immediate" attention and I never fixed and the car is still in one piece. Now I get a list from this new place that are totally different items that need attention (so maaaagically the other stuff went away?)

1) TWO power steering lines leaking. I just got the pressure hose replaced about 1k miles ago at the dealership. I was standing under the car with mechanics at a ratchet Firestone I limped into and saw the one major leak (ahem, spewing fountain) but there were no other evident leaks. Car was towed to the dealership I was used to because I was in the area, they hooked me up big time, evaluated everything, ordered the hose, replaced it, good stuff. They tested the pump and everything to make sure I didn't need to replace it. Am I supposed to believe that they'd see two other hoses leaking and not suggest I replace those? This was 1k miles ago. They car has been parked for most of the past five months with driving once a week or so until just recently. This just sounds funky to me.

2) They claim I need a VANOS rebuild because they heard the VANOS rattling. I've heard many, many e46 vanos rattles. I stood by my car today for quite a while trying to hear a rattle, I couldn't hear anything except the noisy injectors. It makes a ticking noise because it needs a valve adjustment, but I don't hear a rattle. Is there any way for me to evaluate this without getting scammed? I know this isn't out of the ordinary, but how does the car go from perfectly fine to a vanos rattle that I cannot hear when I know exactly how bad the rattle can be? If it has a rattle, its the most weak rattle I've ever heard. No loss of power at any rpm and no apparent rattle at any rpm. I have videos of the car for the past five years and they all sound the same.

The list continued on with needing a left control arm and bushing, various gasket and seal replacements and so on. Which are obviously old car maintenance, but I'm focused on the two "what?" ones right now.

I never pull the "I'm a girl" card, because I think feminism is a crock of bull and I hate nothing more than walking into a service shop and dealing with women, gag, but I just feel like I keep going to these shops and a car that runs like a champ suddenly needs thousands of dollars in work done.

Anyone have a clue what you think I should do in this case? I don't want to abuse the car, but I also don't want to start throwing money at problems I can't seem to diagnose myself. Has anyone else dealt with this sort of "questionable" recommendations? I just need some advice here so that I can keep this car running, because I have no intentions on ever selling and I love it a little more than I should lol. Thanks in advance and sorry for the insanely long post.
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Old Wed, Mar-15-2017, 01:03:43 AM   #2
Kcalhoun27
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Default Re: Who should I trust? Advice needed regarding M3 service (VANOS & others)

Im new to my M, but not to bmws, so my advice is this: it sounds like your car is due/overdue for some maintenance. What exactly that could be is near impossible to say from where im sitting. Both of your issues are well known failure points and although that isnt what you want to hear, its very possible that they are failing. Maybe you can go to a cars and coffee (or similar) and see if you can get some help from a local. Maybe find a diy buddy to help you or something. I know ive always been willing to lend a hand to those in my area.
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Old Wed, Mar-15-2017, 01:16:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: Who should I trust? Advice needed regarding M3 service (VANOS & others)

I dont own an M3 (looking) but like with any car, any shop great reviews or not, is going to try to upsell you at some point or another.

I know my cars well so when I go into a shop, I ask for very specific work to be done. When the tech or shop owner hears that, they usually dont bother suggesting anything else at all. It takes a lot of time inspecting and researching but well worth it

You should get a second set of eyes to look at it so you can decide exactly what you shouldn't hold off on. If you don't have a jack or car ramps, those would be a good investment so you can do more diagnosing yourself. Good luck!
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Old Wed, Mar-15-2017, 01:16:52 AM   #4
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Default Re: Who should I trust? Advice needed regarding M3 service (VANOS & others)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kcalhoun27 View Post
Im new to my M, but not to bmws, so my advice is this: it sounds like your car is due/overdue for some maintenance. What exactly that could be is near impossible to say from where im sitting. Both of your issues are well known failure points and although that isnt what you want to hear, its very possible that they are failing. Maybe you can go to a cars and coffee (or similar) and see if you can get some help from a local. Maybe find a diy buddy to help you or something. I know ive always been willing to lend a hand to those in my area.
Thanks for chiming in. See, my problem is that the car has no evident issues. It's been maintained very regularly and thoroughly, that's why I'm slightly confused. I know vanos is a known failure point, but the fact that I hear absolutely no change in the sound (at idle or when slow revving at low or jolting to high rpms).

If anyone spots this, I was also quoted around $1500 or so for the vanos rebuild. This is parts and labor. $490-ish for the vanos rebuild+ $900-something for replacing the valve cover gasket and vanos timing cover gaskets. Does this sound oddly low? I mean, I'm all for a good deal and I know how reputable this indy shop is, but I was under the impression this was a few thousand dollar ordeal.
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Old Wed, Mar-15-2017, 01:17:41 AM   #5
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Default Re: Who should I trust? Advice needed regarding M3 service (VANOS & others)

Completely understand where you're coming from. I've had the same struggle.

I think my biggest piece of advice would be to get an opinion from someone knowledgable with the E46 M3 platform, who isn't in line to profit off of any work that you decide to do. That way there's no concern that there's any bias towards replacing items that don't need doing.

I also recommend looking here (http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=190111) if you haven't already. I've generally found that the items that have been called out in this thread are worth looking at at the intervals listed. Nothing's certain, but I think that that thread should give a good indication of what probably needs doing at what mileage.

Maybe it's worth comparing your car's mileage and what has been done to date with that list, and being realistic about what maintenance is probably needed.

My advice for this car would be to err on the side of staying on top of maintenance, rather than waiting for things to fail, especially if you're planning to keep the car for a while. Things like VANOS might not be in imminent danger of failing in your case, but it's something that will need addressing sooner or later. If you put it off too long you risk significant damage if you end up with exhaust hub tab failure, etc...

Totally up to you how you approach maintenance, but I do recommend getting a good independent assessment so that you can make an informed decision as to what you do when.

Good luck!

Matt
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Old Wed, Mar-15-2017, 01:19:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: Who should I trust? Advice needed regarding M3 service (VANOS & others)

Quote:
Originally Posted by nascar_acj View Post
Thanks for chiming in. See, my problem is that the car has no evident issues. It's been maintained very regularly and thoroughly, that's why I'm slightly confused. I know vanos is a known failure point, but the fact that I hear absolutely no change in the sound (at idle or when slow revving at low or jolting to high rpms).

If anyone spots this, I was also quoted around $1500 or so for the vanos rebuild. This is parts and labor. $490-ish for the vanos rebuild+ $900-something for replacing the valve cover gasket and vanos timing cover gaskets. Does this sound oddly low? I mean, I'm all for a good deal and I know how reputable this indy shop is, but I was under the impression this was a few thousand dollar ordeal.
Re the price for the VANOS work, I can't speak for prices in the US, but converting NZD into USD, that would be about the price you'd pay for it in NZ.

A VANOS replacement from BMW on the other hand would be running in the multiple thousands range..
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Old Wed, Mar-15-2017, 01:21:37 AM   #7
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Default Re: Who should I trust? Advice needed regarding M3 service (VANOS & others)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jay23ls View Post
I dont own an M3 (looking) but like with any car, any shop great reviews or not, is going to try to upsell you at some point or another.

I know my cars well so when I go into a shop, I ask for very specific work to be done. When the tech or shop owner hears that, they usually dont bother suggesting anything else at all. It takes a lot of time inspecting and researching but well worth it

You should get a second set of eyes to look at it so you can decide exactly what you shouldn't hold off on. If you don't have a jack or car ramps, those would be a good investment so you can do more diagnosing yourself. Good luck!
Thanks to you as well for chiming in. When I first began going to the dealership I used to go to (I was very against dealerships at the time) I was very demanding and they respected that and would give me a rundown but never pushed me on anything. If something was urgent, they'd show me the issue. The two indy shops I've gone to (today and about 3-5 years ago) have never let me see or hear the issue, they just chuck a list at me and shuffle me out the door. When I was younger, I let the first shop replace a "leaking aux house to the radiator" and never once saw it or questioned it, and I have regretted it for many years, so that's why I always like to slow down and not jump so quick.

Any idea on what my best route for confirming this vanos situation is? As I said, no change in noise in the past five years I've owned it (other than when a coil has kicked the bucket) and no SES code for anything regarding the vanos.
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Old Wed, Mar-15-2017, 01:30:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: Who should I trust? Advice needed regarding M3 service (VANOS & others)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kater16 View Post
Completely understand where you're coming from. I've had the same struggle.

I think my biggest piece of advice would be to get an opinion from someone knowledgable with the E46 M3 platform, who isn't in line to profit off of any work that you decide to do. That way there's no concern that there's any bias towards replacing items that don't need doing.

I also recommend looking here (http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=190111) if you haven't already. I've generally found that the items that have been called out in this thread are worth looking at at the intervals listed. Nothing's certain, but I think that that thread should give a good indication of what probably needs doing at what mileage.

Maybe it's worth comparing your car's mileage and what has been done to date with that list, and being realistic about what maintenance is probably needed.

My advice for this car would be to err on the side of staying on top of maintenance, rather than waiting for things to fail, especially if you're planning to keep the car for a while. Things like VANOS might not be in imminent danger of failing in your case, but it's something that will need addressing sooner or later. If you put it off too long you risk significant damage if you end up with exhaust hub tab failure, etc...

Totally up to you how you approach maintenance, but I do recommend getting a good independent assessment so that you can make an informed decision as to what you do when.

Good luck!

Matt
Thanks so much. The car has had all the major maintenance recommended by BMW up to this point except for the cooling system overhaul. I haven't been driving it very much since "retiring" it (aka when I began working from home and only drive it around town, it very rarely leaves about ten mins from home now except such as today for its service) but I was going to get a full overhaul done before summer, if I planned on driving it much. If not, it'll probably sit in the garage since its unbearably hot to drive during the summer being black on black.

My biggest thing is that I don't want to cause more issues by not jumping, but I also don't want to jump too soon, you know?
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Old Wed, Mar-15-2017, 01:59:51 AM   #9
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Default Re: Who should I trust? Advice needed regarding M3 service (VANOS & others)

If your Vanos hasn't been touched at 110K you can almost bet the chain guide is broken at a minimum. You can check for broken tabs when doing a valve adjustment or removing the valve cover. The sprocket bolts could be loose or broken which usually makes the rattling noise but not always. This shop quoted you $1500, are they using Beisan Systems parts and a redrilled pump disk? If you have the Vanos rebuilt you really should go that route to lockdown the Vanos so its reliable.

Take a look at the S54 Vanos Thread in my SIG. Good luck to ya.
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Old Wed, Mar-15-2017, 03:48:58 AM   #10
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Default Re: Who should I trust? Advice needed regarding M3 service (VANOS & others)

What exactly is the $1500 VANOS rebuild? I don't know how they can determine anything with just little noise, without open it up, and the car drive perfectly fine. Since you know you need a valve adjustment anyway, I would do a valve adjustment and Beisan VANOS refresh all together to knock down the VANOS. You can't really determine the VANOS condition without open it up to check the tabs and bolts.
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Discussing Who should I trust? Advice needed regarding M3 service (VANOS & others) in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)