What BMW Engines Have Timing Chain Problems?

The N20 engine (turbo 4 cylinder engine), which was utilized in the X3 28i for some X3s from 2012 to 2014, is said to be the most prone to timing chain guide failure. For this engine, the timing chain guide was apparently modified in January 2015, and it is anticipated that this may lessen or resolve the issue.

The N55 I6 engine used in the X5 35i is not known to have a timing chain issue, however it may develop cooling pump issues after 50,000 miles. Before the N20 engine was introduced, the F25 X3 used the N52 I6 engine without the turbocharger, and some people think it is more dependable.

BMW Vehicles 2008–2014 Timing Chain Problem

The issue: It has been discovered that timing chains on N63 engines stretch and wear out early, leading to early valvetrain wear and decreased engine performance.

BMW has developed a test process to detect the level of timing chain wear. With the N63 Customer Care Package, which is intended to guarantee proper long-term engine running, dealers will do this test. Dealers will replace the chain and any necessary auxiliary hardware, such as the chain tensioner and auxiliary hardware as well as the chain sprocket, as a result of this test. The oil and oil filter will be replaced, and technicians will update the onboard computer to notify drivers when it’s time for a reduced oil change interval.

Information regarding the warranty: If applicable, the certified pre-owned warranty or the new car limited warranty will cover this repair. The repair may be covered by an extended warranty in cases when the factory warranty has already run out.

Owners should call their local dealer and provide the VIN to find out if their car qualifies for repairs under this service bulletin. Call NHTSA at 888-327-4236 or BMW directly at 800-831-1117. Please refer to TSB No. 111614.

Editor’s note: Each month, manufacturers release dozens of service bulletins; this is only one of them. To see if there are any pending service bulletins for your vehicle, please visit the website of your car manufacturer.

What Leads to Timing Chain Issues?

If your timing chain breaks and you have to get it changed, you might be curious as to why it broke and how to make the new one last as long as possible. The following are the reasons for timing chain issues:

  • Wrong oil: Your BMW may experience a number of issues if you use the incorrect engine oil. However, one of the crucial components that will be impacted is the timing chain. The incorrect oil will probably cause it to wear out more quickly.
  • Problems with the chain’s guides or tensioners: For the chain to function properly and stay in place, these components are essential. The timing chain is likely to stop functioning properly, sustain damage, and possibly break entirely if there is a problem with various components of the car.
  • Timing chains are not intended to persist indefinitely. They are put under a lot of strain by the crankshaft and camshaft. You will eventually need to replace it; the only question is when.

Your car’s timing chain is a crucial component. Contact us if you’re unsure about whether you need to replace yours.

The infamous N20 timing chain problem

The timing chain failure that most frequently affects BMW N20 engines is caused by guides breaking from chain oscillations. In most circumstances, the timing chain will jangle, oscillate erratically, and break parts off the chain guide as a result. These fragments will be scooped up or sucked up by the oil pump, which will then abruptly ruin the engine.

The engine components may seize or be destroyed as a result of a sudden shortage of lubrication if the damaged guide parts block the complete pick-up screen for the engine oil pump.

The ECO mode, which is the default option in the transmission after each and every start of the vehicle, is the true culprit, in my opinion. The transmission’s decision to improve engine efficiency by using the highest gear at the lowest engine rpm, as required by the CAFE, results in chain oscillations (corporate average fuel economy in short). The CAFE’s first phase was legislated in 2016, and the second phase is scheduled to begin in 2025. Unfortunately, the 8-speed automatic transmission, which is set up to get the highest possible gas mileage, is the true problem here since it will lag the engine at very low rpm in order to reduce fuel consumption and increase engine efficiency.

The N20 will fire every 180-degree half turn, which presents a challenge for the single row timing chain because it takes two complete spins to fire all four cylinders. I can tell you from experience that the last generation of four-cylinder vehicles to be sold in this region of the world was the M44 (the M42 came before it), which included a twin row chain to stop this problem from occurring. You could wonder why they changed to a single row timing chain system.

All of this is done to increase effectiveness and lessen the internal drag of the engine and its parts. Because there were no CAFE rules back then, producers could create whatever they thought was appropriate for the job.

Which BMW gasoline engines are prone to timing chain issues?

For many BMW owners, premature timing chain breakdown has turned into a severe concern. The subject has been covered by BBC Watchdog and is frequently discussed in BMW forums and on other media websites.

We often rebuild broken engines in the 3.0 litre diesel range, BMW petrol engines, and BMW Minis, with the 2.0 liter diesel with the N47 engine being the most commonly affected.

A design flaw that may be impacting the timing chain or tensioner may be present in a variety of BMW petrol engines found in vehicles registered between 2001 and 2015. The engine timing chain is exceedingly fragile; over time, it stretches and eventually snaps.

What model year BMW engines are prone to timing chain issues?

The BMW 1-Series, 3-Series, and 5-Series vehicles manufactured between 2007 and 2009 have seen multiple instances of complete engine failure in the past year, according to Watchdog. The engine came to a complete stop as a result of the timing chains snapping, which was the cause of the problem.

Posted on June 12, 2013:

All of the moving components of an engine that cooperate to propel a car forward are connected by the timing chain. They must all function flawlessly together.

The N47 engine has a secret timing chain link at the back that engineers claim is a component of the engine that is meant to endure the lifetime of the vehicle and is thus never maintained.

However, if the timing chain malfunctions, a catastrophic engine failure might occur suddenly.

It’s difficult to correct. Drivers must at the absolute least replace the chain, but it’s more likely that a completely new engine, which may cost anywhere from PS500 and PS8,000, needs to be installed.

In 2011, Dan Greenwood purchased a pre-owned BMW 3-Series 320D. Despite having traveled almost 100,000 kilometers, it had a complete service history. The BMW name and the knowledge of the car’s past offered him assurance that he was making a reliable purchase.

The engine abruptly shut off while he and his young girls were traveling in slow traffic. He was informed that he would require a complete engine rebuild that would cost more than PS2,000 after being transported to a local mechanic where they looked at his car.

The automobile is no longer under warranty because it is five years old, so Mr. Greenwood said, “I was just surprised. I was looking at something that would cost thousands of pounds from what appeared like a simple mistake.”

Does BMW offer timing chain repairs?

A service bulletin from BMW is released for vehicles equipped with the N63’s 4.4-liter V8. According to BMW, the timing chains on the N63 have been discovered to stretch and wear out early, leading to early valvetrain wear and decreased engine performance.

A visit to the dealership is required to find the problem. BMW technicians will do a test procedure to see if the problem is specific to that engine. The dealers will exchange the chains and all related gear if necessary.

To find out if your automobile qualifies for repairs, contact the NHTSA at 888-327-4236, the local dealership, or BMW directly at 800-831-1117.

Timing chains—do all BMWs have them?

Almost all of the engine models made by BMW use timing chains. It is advised to replace your timing chain before it breaks since internal engine damage could result in very expensive repair costs if you wait. These timing chains typically last nine years or 90,000 kilometers.

When was the N20 timing chain problem resolved by BMW?

The timing chain appears to be the most common N20 fault, but this problem largely affects engines and vehicles built before 2015. BMW revised the timing chain parts in January 2015, and it appears that this greatly decreased the likelihood of failure. BMW provided an additional guarantee on the timing chain and components for seven years and 70,000 miles for those vehicles manufactured prior to 2015.

Timing chain replacement can be expensive if your N20 was not given the option of an extended warranty or if it has exceeded the warranty’s maximum age or mileage. A complete timing chain failure could, in the worst case, result in engine failure. A BMW dealership may charge nearly twice as much for parts and repairs as independent repair businesses, which typically average $1500 or more. Although it is a somewhat difficult DIY project, the timing chain and other materials cost about $500.