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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 Sun, Jun-26-2011, 08:25:33 PM   #1
Rajaie
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Default S54 vanos solenoid failure assessment and solution

As many of you know by now the S54 engine (E46 M3) experiences a vanos failure caused by the vanos solenoid pack. Iím the owner of Beisan Systems and we specialize in providing vanos solutions. We assessed the vanos failure as the solenoid pack a couple years back and shared our finding publically. We have since been investigating the problem and have assessed the failure cause. We have developed a solution which addresses the design problems that likely facilitate the failure. We are now providing a rebuilt vanos solenoid coil pack with the failure repaired and design changes made that will likely prevent the problem from recurring. A repair procedure is available that documents the repair and provides information on the failure, solution, symptoms, and diagnosis.

In the following discussion itís useful to reference the pictures in the vanos solenoid repair procedure.
http://www.beisansystems.com/procedu...noid_procedure

The S54 vanos solenoids are physically a pack of four solenoids. The solenoid pack is not an integral part of the vanos body and can be removed and replaced. Itís available from BMW for ~$500. The solenoid pack is made of two detachable components. There is a silver valve body which contains oil passages and pistons/cylinders to control oil flow, and a black coil pack that contains 4 coils with circuitry which generate electrical magnetic fields. The magnetic fields manipulate the positions of the pistons in the valve body and intern the flow of oil through the various oil passages.
The failure of the solenoid pack occurs in the coil pack component and is due to cracking external connector pin solder joints at the PCB (printed circuit board) (see pic in procedure).

There are three main causes of damaged solder joints: cold solder joint, heat cycling, and mechanical movement. Although all the connector pin solder joints are experiencing structural damage, the inner row of pins (intake side) almost always experience significant damage and failure while the outer row of pins (exhaust side) usually maintain the solder connection and donít experience functional failure (see pic in procedure). This position specific nature of the failure indicates the cause of the failure is likely vibration. Cold solder joint might also be involved causing weak solder structure.

The solder damage could be caused by external electrical cable connector movement. But the connector has a silicon gasket that creates a tight connection between the cable connector and the coil pack connector. The electrical cable is also strapped to the coil pack at the connector neck.
Inspection of the PCB mounting on the coil pack plastic housing shows the board in not mounted from top a relatively long distance from the connector pins (see pic in procedure). This would allow for PCB vibration at the connector pin solder joints. Inspection also shows a cavity under the PCB where the connector pins enter the housing. This cavity creates a section of unspotted (not mounted) connector pins that can allow pin vibration at the pin solder joints (see pic in procedure).
The Beisan design changes are to mount the board from top closer to the connector pins and to fill the connector pins cavity with appropriate potting epoxy (see pics in procedure). The damaged solder joints are removed and the pins are newly soldered.
The repair procedure introduction provides more details of the coil pack rebuild.

The failure Fault codes are:
P0011 (BMW 67, 0x43): Vanos intake timing over advanced
P0012 (BMW 72, 0x48): Vanos intake timing over retarded
Pxxxx (BMW 184, 0xB8): Vanos intake position control
P1525 (BMW xxx, 0xxx): Vanos intake solenoid open circuit

In some cases vanos exhaust fault codes may be present:
P0014 (BMW 22, 0x16): Vanos exhaust timing over advanced
P0015 (BMW 21, 015): Vanos exhaust timing over retarded
Pxxxx (BMW 185, 0xB9): Vanos exhaust position control
P1531 (BMW xxx, 0xxx): Vanos exhaust solenoid open circuit

If a camshaft position sensor fault code is present then the problem is caused by the failed camshaft position sensor.

Symptoms can include loss of power, rough running, and misfire fault codes.

Unfortunately these codes and symptoms can be caused by another common problem, the vanos oil pump driver tabs breaking.
A distinguishing aspect of the two failures is the solenoid failure is often intermittent while the driver tabs breakage is permanent. Thus a discerning diagnosis is to clear the fault codes and start the engine. If the driver tabs are broken the fault codes will appear at idle. If the car has to be driven some distance, in some cases hundreds of miles, before the codes appear then the problem is likely the solenoid pack.
There are unfortunately cases where the solenoid pack solder joints are so damaged the codes appear at idle. Also in some situations only one of the two driver tabs breaks and in such a case the car needs to be driven before the codes appear.
A definitive diagnosis to discern between the two failures is to remove the valve cover and inspect the driver tabs. If one or two are broken then thatís the cause of the problem. If both tabs are present then the solenoid pack is most likely the problem culprit.

The solenoid coil pack solution unfortunately necessitates having a core charge. A deposit is charged at purchase and is refunded when the original failed unit is sent in.

Beta trails have been conducted and several of the owners who participated will post on this thread.

Iím happy to answer any questions.
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Old Sun, Jun-26-2011, 08:26:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: S54 vanos solenoid failure assessment and solution

nice! Good info
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Old Sun, Jun-26-2011, 08:47:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: S54 vanos solenoid failure assessment and solution

I can recommend Rajaie's product 110% you will not be dissappointed.

Out of nowhere my car started experiencing on and off idle & poor power issues accompanied by a CEL (Check Engine Light) and the only way to get rid of them was to clear the codes, the car would not go back to running normally by itself. The codes we're cleared 3 times and the car would run fine (absolutely normal) for 500 kms or more, and then the problem would come back.

The code that kept popping up was a P0012 code on a general diagnostic machine, which made us think intake camshaft position sensor, which I replaced (I broke the bolt when tightening it, long story short, DO NOT BREAK THAT BOLT, as its not fun to drill out), after the swap the car ran fine for a ilttle longer than the previous times when the codes were cleared, so I thought my problem was fixed.

Unfortunately I was wrong, the light came back on, it ran fine for a couple of days with the light on but then went into limp mode again, bad (very rough) idle (shaking), and low power, so I took it to BMW for a full diagnostic to see if they could put it right, my codes where as follows:

B8 = Intake camshaft position and control
CD = Misfire During Warm-Up Cyl #1
CE = Misfire During Warm-Up Cyl #2
CF = Misfire During Warm-Up Cyl #3
D0 = Misfire During Warm-Up Cyl #4
D1 = Misfire During Warm-Up Cyl #5
D2 = Misfire During Warm-Up Cyl #6
D5 = Misfire During Warm-up Multiple Cyl
48 = Intake camshaft VANOS retard valve 1
95 = Misfire with empty fuel tank

They then told me the Vanos was shot, and hit me with a 2700 Euros repair estimate, so I went looking on the forum what other people did with similar codes, as I knew some people only swapped out the solenoid, in some of the result I saw people saying that Rajaie from Beisan Systems had given them advice on trying the solenoid and it worked, so I decided to contact him.

After talking to Rajaie about the codes and symptoms I had and didnt have, he said he was pretty sure it would be the solenoid, he then proposed his upcoming solution (a repaired solenoid unit) instead of buying a new complete unit from BMW, not long later I recieved the part, and I went straight into the garage for install.

The install was very easy, it took maybe around 30 mins in total (and that was taking it easy to double check Im not doing anything wrong), Rajaie's instructions made it a piece of cake, and anyone with the proper tools should be able to do this even if you have very little mechanical experience.

The car instantly felt better, the CEL light was still on and didnt go off after a couple of days of driving, so we then erased the remaining fault codes, and boy the car came alive, eventhough the car ran a lot better it came out of limp mode completely and it was a whole different animal, it was as if I just installed an SC thats how much of a difference it made. Ever since that day its been absolutley fine, not missed one beat, idles perfectly and runs strong.

Its been over 2000 kms now and the problem has not come back, so I think we can say the car is fixed as the problem would return in about 3 days before when just clearing the CEL and codes.

The solenoid unit that is installed in my car came from "vivid02", it had completely failed, but Rajaie and his team fixed it and my car is running great again without a 2700 Euros repair bill is the proof.

I would like to thank Rajaie for all his help and expert advice and everyone at Beisan Systems for providing our community with this great inexpensive fix.
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Old Sun, Jun-26-2011, 08:57:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: S54 vanos solenoid failure assessment and solution

Raj, I'm curious. I donated a pack to you a year or so ago for the cause....

Curious what if anything was wrong with it.

Hutch
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Old Sun, Jun-26-2011, 09:13:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: S54 vanos solenoid failure assessment and solution

Quote:
Originally Posted by hogger453 View Post
Raj, I'm curious. I donated a pack to you a year or so ago for the cause....

Curious what if anything was wrong with it.

Hutch
I don't know about your specific unit. But all the failed units have the same problem. In some cases we can test them and note the failure. In other cases they donít fail the test. The problem is usually intermittent.
When we open them we can sometimes see the damaged solder joints and sometimes not. In cases where we don't see it we expect it to be under the board or internal.

Weíve seen and repaired enough units that we're pretty sure this is the only failure.

Thanks for donating your failed unit to help with our development effort.
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Old Sun, Jun-26-2011, 09:59:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: S54 vanos solenoid failure assessment and solution

So what about the hardware failures of the Vanos system that seem to be more destructive and a priority to fix?
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Old Sun, Jun-26-2011, 10:15:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: S54 vanos solenoid failure assessment and solution

^^ Any idea what causes the cam bolts to shred and break off?
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Old Sun, Jun-26-2011, 11:20:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: S54 vanos solenoid failure assessment and solution

Quote:
Originally Posted by Braymond141 View Post
So what about the hardware failures of the Vanos system that seem to be more destructive and a priority to fix?
Good question.
There are two vanos related destructive hardware failures.

One is the intake sprocket mounting bolts come loose. This causes a rattle in the vanos area. The bolts need to be replaced with new bolts. I believe the new bolts from BMW have loctite on them and this will prevent the problem from recurring. Unfortunately this repair requires disturbing the timing and thus needs special tools and is more complicated. The good news is there is an audible indication when the bolts begin to loosen. Thus the problem can be assessed and resolved before any serious hardware damage occurs.

The second destructive hardware failure is the vanos oil pump driver tabs breaking.
The tabs are cast steel and thus are weaker than billet machined steel. The tabs are likely either breaking from high force opposing pump disk rotation or from the tabs hitting the sides of the disk holes.
This oil pump disk and tabs design was first implemented on the Euro S50 engine (E36 M3), which was not available in the US. It was then used on the S62 engine (E39 M5). Then lastly used of the S54 (E46 M3).
The tab breaking does not occur on the S62. It does occur but to a much lesser extent on the Euro S50. It is an epidemic on the S54.
The S62 (v8) likely does not experience the problem due to the lower upper RPM limit. The S54 has a higher upper RPM limit than the Euro S50 and that could be the differentiating factor.
The S54 oil pump disk holes are .5mm wider than the Euro S50 holes. I keep forgetting to check if the Euro S50 tabs are narrower. This would mean BMW increased the tab width to try and alleviate the problem. I will be into a Euro S50 engine in a couple weeks and will be sure to check the tab width.

We have created an S54 solution to address the loose fit of the tabs in the disk holes. Weíve manufactured a sleeve that presses into the hole reducing the hole size by 1mm. This leaves the hole size ~.1mm larger than the tab width. This space is needed for alignment and fit.
We have not yet installed this design on an engine, but I am pondering whether we would offer it as a product. The issue is not knowing whether it solves the problem or not. The only definitive way to know if to install it on 1k car and see what happens over 10 years. It would be nice if we had a better assessment of the specific cause of the failure.
This repair would not disturb the timing so it would be relatively simple and not need special tools.
This is the current state of the development of this possible solution.
Another possible solution to the tabs breaking is to machine manufacture the exhaust sprocket component with the tabs from hardened billet steel. I suggested this to another BMW vendor but I suspect it hasnít been pursued.
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Old Sun, Jun-26-2011, 11:44:54 PM   #9
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Default Re: S54 vanos solenoid failure assessment and solution

Nice write up.
So you are saying, the vanos unit replacement would not need timing tool? But on DR Vanos website has a link to BMW vanos unit replacement and it's required a this tool.
When do you guys planning to sell vanos repaired units?

Thanks
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Old Mon, Jun-27-2011, 12:16:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: S54 vanos solenoid failure assessment and solution

Great work and lots of good info.
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Discussing S54 vanos solenoid failure assessment and solution 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)