Which Variable Valve Timing Technology Is Used By BMW?

Since 1992, BMW engines have used VANOS variable valve timing.

Finding a Working, Modern Solution

But how can you guarantee optimum performance at both the low and high RPM ranges? Variable valve timing is the only solution.

Systems used by different brands vary. Honda has V-TEC, BMW has VANOS, etc. The concept is still the same. As the engine runs through its RPM range, the valve timing can be gradually adjusted to improve performance, efficiency, and fuel usage. One of the innovations that has significantly increased fuel efficiency in contemporary cars is VVT.

What are VANOS and variable valve timing?

Variable valve timing is used in the majority of modern German vehicle engines, including those from BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen. This makes it possible to balance and adjust a car’s engine for both efficiency and performance (fuel mileage). The engine control module (ECU/DME) in your BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Porsche, or Volkswagen has programming that adjusts the engine valve timing (when the valves open and close) based on driving conditions. Depending on how the vehicle’s ECU/DME is designed, this optimization automatically and continually modifies the valve timing to fit operating conditions (rpm/load). It can either improve fuel efficiency or engine performance.

Depending on the manufacturer and engine, several implementations are used. The continuously variable cam controls used by today’s modern systems typically control an oil solenoid valve from the ECU/DME while detecting and adjusting the cam position using actuators and sensors. In contrast to earlier implementations of variable valve timing, modern systems manage both the position of the intake and exhaust camshafts, allowing for separate control over when air enters the combustion chamber and when exhaust is released.

BMW’s VANOS system, which stands for variable Nockenwellensteuerung in German and controls both the intake and exhaust camshaft timing, is one of the most complicated systems currently supported. BMW originally made the single VANOS system that controls the intake valves available in 1999. In today’s technology, the intake and exhaust valves are both controlled by a double VANOS system.

Although variable valve and camshaft timing technology is used by all manufacturers to provide greater and more efficient performance, it does have a cost. You must periodically change your oil and keep the recommended engine oil. The timing control actuators will develop oil and dirt deposits, which will lead to check engine lights and subpar operation. This is frequently followed by a “rattle” sound coming from the front of the engine on the BMW VANOS system. It’s crucial that the car professionals you select for Austin BMW repair or servicing are familiar with the VANOS system. You may be confident that our automotive staff is informed about VANOS and variable valve timing if you choose German Auto Center.

Remember that modern German performance vehicles, whether you drive a Porsche, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, or Audi, will only operate to their best capabilities if they are properly maintained and serviced. Every 7,500 miles, don’t forget to maintain your engine and have the oil changed by the pros at German Auto Center (5,000 for turbo charged and super charged engines).

To make sure that your engine management system is functioning properly, get routine Porsche, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, and Audi service in Austin. Simply stop by German Auto Center in Austin, Texas, where we are specialists in German auto repair, and we will be pleased to help you.

VTEC (cue the memes) (cue the memes)

Honda’s solution was cam altering, which offered two distinct camshaft profiles from which to choose based on engine speed. When the engine is spinning slowly, low-lift lobes are used, and high-lift lobes are used when the engine is working hard in the upper rpm range, thanks to VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control). The Honda engine is very adaptable as a result of this technology, which enables one cam profile to offer excellent fuel efficiency at low engine speeds and another to produce a higher power output at high engine speeds.

The ECU, which collects data on oil pressure, engine temperature, vehicle speed, engine temperature, and engine speed, controls the hydraulic switch. Then, using a solenoid that delivers oil pressure from a certain valve and causes a locking pin to finally transfer to the high-lift lobes, it is programmed to choose between the two cam profiles.

Once the technology had “kicked in,” the shift between cam profiles allowed Honda VTEC engines to deliver their peak power extremely early in the rpm range. Many Honda aficionados will always have something to say about the last-second surge from a VTEC engine near the high end of the engine’s capabilities, even though it doesn’t produce a power lump similar to a turbocharger.


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Since 1992, BMW has utilized the variable valve timing (VVT) system on a variety of gasoline-powered automobiles. The name is an acronym for variable camshaft timing in German (German: variable Nockenwellensteuerung).

The latter “double VANOS” systems are used on both the intake and exhaust camshafts, in contrast to the earlier version, which was retroactively called “single VANOS,” which was only used on the intake camshaft. Since 2001, VANOS and the valvetronic variable valve lift system have frequently been utilized together.

What Makes ShiftCam VVT So Unique?

A relatively simple design by BMW Motorrad had an intake camshaft with two lobes for each valve. Additionally, it contains a sliding actuator that controls when the lobes are active. When necessary, this enables the engine to switch between a moderate load and a heavy load. The engine is energy- and fuel-efficient when running at a partial load. The full load cams adapt to provide an unequaled performance when the driver requires more.

The bigger engine and ShiftCam technologies are what make the 2019 range so interesting. The arrangement’s staggered order of the intake valves is what makes it genuinely distinctive. By generating a whirling mixture of air and fuel, this results in a more effective burn.

The new motorcycles generate 105.5 lb.-ft of torque and 134 horsepower. This is a significant improvement over the previous arrangement, which produced 123 horsepower and 92.2 lb.-ft of torque. The models for this year also brag of a lower idle, improved fuel efficiency, and decreased pollutants.

BMW still using Valvetronic?

The intake valve timing and duration can be infinitely adjusted using the BMW Valvetronic technology, which combines variable valve lift and variable valve timing. The method obviates the need for a throttle body when used frequently and promises to increase fuel economy and pollutants.

Valvetronic was first used by BMW in 2001 on the 316ti small and has subsequently been incorporated into many of the company’s engines. The N55 engine was the first turbocharged engine to use this technology.

Which BMW engine models include Valvetronic?

On the N62 (V8) and N73 (V12) engines, the first iteration of the Valvetronic system* was launched in 2002. The second-generation Valvetronic system was installed on the revised N52 inline six-cylinder engine, which was debuted in 2006, while the third and most recent version of Valvetronic systems is in use on nearly all BMW engines across the range of BMW cars.

No matter how old the Valvetronic technology is on a specific BMW model, BMW claims that all incarnations of the system result in a phenomenon known as “throttle-free” load control. This is sometimes referred to as a “engine control mode” in some BMW literature, which is distinct from a control mode in which the throttle opening regulates the engine load. It may be difficult to understand the difference between the two, but the best course of action is to keep in mind that when a BMW engine is running at idle, the DME holds the throttle opening to an opening of between 3% and 4% while the amount of commanded intake valve lift controls the volume of air that enters the cylinders.

To maintain and enhance idle speed and quality, the DME can change the intake valve lift without expanding the throttle opening. The principle of engine management by valve lift, as opposed to regulating the engine by making changes to the throttle opening, is well illustrated, despite the fact that the range of valve lift adjustment while idle is relatively limited. It is questionable whether this qualifies as actual engine control, although that is relatively unimportant.

The point is that, depending on the operating circumstances, the amount of valve lift does certainly affect how much air enters the cylinders. This has significant effects on:

BMW employs VVT?

The BMW version of VVT is called Vanos (or variable Nockenwellensteuerung), and it was initially made available on the M50 engine in the 5-series of the 1990s. It likewise employs cam phasing but modifies the lobe angle by moving a helical gear within the cam gear either in the same direction as or in opposition to the camshaft. The DME (Digital Motor Electronics) manages this actuation, which increases oil pressure to move the helical gear in and out.

Similar to the previous systems, this helical gear will travel inwards to open the valves a little bit sooner, allowing for more air to enter the cylinder and a greater output of power. In the beginning, BMW merely changed the intake camshaft in specific stages throughout the engine RPM range. The German business later created double Vanos, a considerably more sophisticated system that adjusted the intake and exhaust camshafts while also taking throttle position into consideration. For the S50B32 engine in Alex’s E36 M3 and the incredibly stylish Z3 M Coupe and Roadster, double VANOS was developed in time.

Almost every automaker has created its own moniker for a VVT system; Rover used VVC, Nissan VVL, and Ford VCT. Given that it is one of engineering’s win-win scenarios, it makes sense. Automakers no longer had to choose between a low-lift and high-lift cam in order to produce the most power while also maximizing fuel efficiency and emissions.

The era of the camshaft may be coming to an end in the next years due to the possibilities for pneumatic valve control. However, until that time, fanboys will continue to gloat about the power output of Vanos, V-TEC, and VVT-i at every car show you go to.

What does BMW VANOS stand for?

The acronym VANOS stands for a German-made engine part that was created to improve the effectiveness of BMW intake performance. By changing the location of the camshaft and drive gears and opening the intake valves more effectively, this technological advancement streamlines the timing of the engine.

Are VANOS present in all BMW engines?

Variable valve timing (VANOS), one of BMW’s features and options, is not offered on all makes and models. The DME engine management system of the car controls the combination of mechanical and hydraulic camshaft control methods used by VANOS.

What model BMW features VANOS?

The BMW VANOS engine with a valve timing system is most likely found in any BMW vehicle built in 1993 or later. The effectiveness, power, and efficiency of an engine are determined by valve timing. You must learn how VANOS engines operate, what they are made of, and how to spot failure symptoms if you want to drive your BMW safely and keep it in top shape. These specifics are listed below.