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Discussion Starter #1
I usually just lurk here but I need some help.

About two weeks ago my 2001 330Ci started making this knocking/ticking sound on the way back to work from lunch. At first I thought it was my clutch throwout bearing as it's been making a little noise lately...then it got louder. My drive home is about 14 miles and I believe the noise got a little louder before I got home. I popped the hood and the sound seems to be coming from the front of the engine around the VANOS but it's really hard to tell exactly.

I've researched and researched as much as I can for the past two weeks, watched videos and read forums. I still feel like I'm no closer to figuring out what it is.

The noise: sounds like a very quiet version of a spun rod bearing but more of a hollow sound and with sort of a "whish" or "whoosh" in there. I honestly don't think it's a rod bearing...it would be much louder.

When it happens: it's loudest when the engine is under load accelerating. It doesn't seem to follow engine RPM but the frequency does increase as RPMs rise as does the volume of the noise. When I close the throttle and engine brake it seems to all but go away until RPMs drop to ~1500 then I hear it again but not as loud as when accelerating. Also it seems related to throttle position. At cruising speed with light throttle the noise is loud enough to be heard in the cabin still. Close the throttle and it goes away, barely crack it open and it comes back, give it a little more and the pitch of the noise changes. Modulating the throttle while cruising changes the pitch of the noise even when RPMs do not change.

As far as feel the car never felt like it lost power or hiccuped or any of that. When I got it home I parked it in the garage until I can figure out what this is.

I installed new VANOS seals from Beisan about two months ago. Other than that and regular maintenance nothing has been done to the car. It gets an oil change every 7500 miles.

Here's a video of the car at idle:

https://youtu.be/xWYZrE-h29E_a_
 

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I usually just lurk here but I need some help.

About two weeks ago my 2001 330Ci started making this knocking/ticking sound on the way back to work from lunch. At first I thought it was my clutch throwout bearing as it's been making a little noise lately...then it got louder. My drive home is about 14 miles and I believe the noise got a little louder before I got home. I popped the hood and the sound seems to be coming from the front of the engine around the VANOS but it's really hard to tell exactly.

I've researched and researched as much as I can for the past two weeks, watched videos and read forums. I still feel like I'm no closer to figuring out what it is.

The noise: sounds like a very quiet version of a spun rod bearing but more of a hollow sound and with sort of a "whish" or "whoosh" in there. I honestly don't think it's a rod bearing...it would be much louder.

When it happens: it's loudest when the engine is under load accelerating. It doesn't seem to follow engine RPM but the frequency does increase as RPMs rise as does the volume of the noise. When I close the throttle and engine brake it seems to all but go away until RPMs drop to ~1500 then I hear it again but not as loud as when accelerating. Also it seems related to throttle position. At cruising speed with light throttle the noise is loud enough to be heard in the cabin still. Close the throttle and it goes away, barely crack it open and it comes back, give it a little more and the pitch of the noise changes. Modulating the throttle while cruising changes the pitch of the noise even when RPMs do not change.

As far as feel the car never felt like it lost power or hiccuped or any of that. When I got it home I parked it in the garage until I can figure out what this is.

I installed new VANOS seals from Beisan about two months ago. Other than that and regular maintenance nothing has been done to the car. It gets an oil change every 7500 miles.

Here's a video of the car at idle:

https://youtu.be/xWYZrE-h29E_a_
Loose spark plug is my guess. The sound seemed loudest right above the head.
 

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My ticking sound came from the fan clutch. Couldn't find it until it got pretty bad. Drove me nuts for a month. You don't have one of those so it's obviously not that.

Humans have no ear for harmonics. It doesn't sound like a rod knock to me. That's a ticking sound that sounds like a super fast clock. You messed with the vanos. I'd start there
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It's not a loose spark plug. All the plugs were torqued to spec. I pulled out the old screwdriver stethoscope and it sounds like it's VANOS. I got the most volume from the solenoid on the right side of the VANOS.

Now...what am I to be looking for/expecting to find when I get into the VANOS? What are the chances it's fixable? Is Dr. VANOS in my future?
 

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I'm at work otherwise I would watch the vid. If it is the vanos don't get DR.VANOS get beisan, dr.vanos ripped beisan off. He is also a e46 member.

http://www.beisansystems.com
10-4. I've used Beisan for VANOS seals but I wasn't aware they sold VANOS units. Thanks for the tip! If you get a chance to watch the video I'd appreciate your input.
 

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10-4. I've used Beisan for VANOS seals but I wasn't aware they sold VANOS units. Thanks for the tip! If you get a chance to watch the video I'd appreciate your input.
they don't for the m54 , full unit is dr vanos , read

i don't think dr vanos ripped anyone off, they just expanded on the product avail

i would rec dr vanos to anyone , i have one , and they were helpful and prompt
 

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Discussion Starter #10
they don't for the m54 , full unit is dr vanos , read

i don't think dr vanos ripped anyone off, they just expanded on the product avail

i would rec dr vanos to anyone , i have one , and they were helpful and prompt
Ah. No wonder I wasn't aware they didn't sell a unit. Thought it may have been a new product they were doing now or something.
 

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I hope this does not to out to be a big problem for you. Maybe dump your oil through a large coffee filter to make sure that there's no metal particles in it. Oh, stop running the motor at this point.
 

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I went with besian seals and bearings. Wouldn't go anywhere else.
The bearings can be tricky as far as tightening them to feel but so far so good. Rattle is gone and its one more thing fixed and sealed better.
BMW went cheaper on this area than some others
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I trust Beisan and they're products so it's good to hear Dr. VANOS uses them. I haven't ran the motor since I got it home except for about 2 minutes at idle to try and figure out where the sound is coming from. I'm pretty confident at this point it is something in the VANOS. Hopefully I can find time to tear into it this weekend if not before. For now I'm daily driving my back road toy. An NA Miata! I'll keep you guys up to date on my progress. Suggestions are still welcome as always.
 

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Update: Took the valve cover off when I got home from work tonight. Nothing appears unusual in the valve train. No unusual wear marks or broken pieces. It amazes me how well these engines age when taken care of. 212k miles and the valve train looks better than a lot of cars I've seen after 50k.

Next up: pull the VANOS to see if there's anything amiss inside.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well...I got the VANOS off and apart tonight. There doesn't appear to be anything wrong with it. If it is the VANOS it has to be a solenoid at this point. Anyone ever heard a solenoid make that type of/that much noise?

What's my next move? I need guidance...
 

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Check the pulley bolts and what not.

I once had an e30 that had a bolt back out from the water pump, made it sound like diesel and drove me crazy for a week. I though I had blown the engine, turned out to be real simple. Hope that's the same case for you.
 

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the vanos bearings are what make it rattle, could you see this apart? i dunno, i just swapped the old unit off, put a dr vanos on and sent my old to dr vanos for a core

was nothing wrong with mine but i did this and the water pump as a prev maint way b4 any issues arose

f that taking it apart , easy peasy
 

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Finally found a video last night of someone's car making the exact same sound. In his case it was alone spark plug. I double checked the torque on mine and they're all good. Could a bad spark plug cause this? I may replace them while I'm in there.

Check the pulley bolts and what not.

I once had an e30 that had a bolt back out from the water pump, made it sound like diesel and drove me crazy for a week. I though I had blown the engine, turned out to be real simple. Hope that's the same case for you.
I'll check that tonight. It's gotta be something simple like that...I hope.

the vanos bearings are what make it rattle, could you see this apart? i dunno, i just swapped the old unit off, put a dr vanos on and sent my old to dr vanos for a core

was nothing wrong with mine but i did this and the water pump as a prev maint way b4 any issues arose

f that taking it apart , easy peasy
I didn't go that far into the VANOS. I have everything out of it but you have to take the actual pistons apart to see the bearings. I don't have any composite vise jaws at home so I didn't want to risk damaging the pistons. It could be the bearings though.
 

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if not a bad plug, maybe it could be a bad coil? not sure, my car has misfired many times on a bad coil, but I've always been inside the car. If it is a bad coil, once you drive the car, you will feel a serious and immediate degradation in power. I'd think if you had a plug that was not firing, the same thing would happen.
 
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