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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So the reason I am asking if it is blown up or not is because I am planning on doing a road trip up to Iowa here in about a week and it'll be a total of about 670-700 miles. I bought my car at 133,900 about 3 months ago, its at 134,800 and some change. In the 900 miles I have owned it I have done RB's, subframe reinforcement plates and all the bushings, all DIY and all that being said, how worried should I be about the Vanos as I have no proof of it being done. Or any other sort of maintenance that would probably be good to do soon.
 

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I own two E46 M3s - one street, one track-only. The street one is single-owner, intensively maintained since purchase and had a VANOS failure (bolts backed out, threads damaged) at ~90K miles. The track car is 4th owner, prior owner claimed bulletproofing. I had it fully bulletproofed in Spring 2022 by the #1 guy because I like that peace of mind given I track up to 7 hours away. VANOS failures on the E46 M3 are reality.

You can do nothing and wait, or just get ahead of the known problems and have it bulletproofed with better than OE parts. Opinion: If you are waiting for something, know what specifically it is you're waiting for.
 

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2005 M3 - 90k miles before it was totaled. Half the time it was a daily driver. The other half it was a track rat. At least once a month track time. Multiple years of tracking. Never had a VANOS problem. Lots of other problems... but not VANOS.

2006 M3 - 60k miles. No issues. Purrs like a kitten.

Most people with no problems don't speak up.

Any car with a part will have a problem. I've had a SCR heater "die" on my X5 diesel. Had to tear apart the SCR active tank to replace it. VANOS, IMHO, is just like any other part that MAY fail. I don't believe it is MORE likely to fail then any other part.
 

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The consequences are just more severe vs a blown shock or ac stops blowing cold.

There are identified weak spots in vanos (BMW underengineering) and solutions for them. Most of the time it's a when and not if.

3, 4, 5 owner cars could have had these issues addressed, there were solutions out there before Beijan, with VAC, Turbotoy, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I own two E46 M3s - one street, one track-only. The street one is single-owner, intensively maintained since purchase and had a VANOS failure (bolts backed out, threads damaged) at ~90K miles. The track car is 4th owner, prior owner claimed bulletproofing. I had it fully bulletproofed in Spring 2022 by the #1 guy because I like that peace of mind given I track up to 7 hours away. VANOS failures on the E46 M3 are reality.

You can do nothing and wait, or just get ahead of the known problems and have it bulletproofed with better than OE parts. Opinion: If you are waiting for something, know what specifically it is you're waiting for.
I just wanted to know if you would be worried to drive it, because i leave in 1 week and thats obviously not enough time to do it
 

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I just wanted to know if you would be worried to drive it, because i leave in 1 week and thats obviously not enough time to do it
My 03 M3 vert has 117k on it…I would drive it 700 miles without worrying about it. I have not checked the VANOS or rod bearing issues (bearings done twice under warranty around 10-15k mi). it’s a road trip..not the Indy 500.
 

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There are identified weak spots in vanos (BMW underengineering) and solutions for them. Most of the time it's a when and not if.
Sorry, but your comment is subjective. Do you have the CAD files from BMW of the VANOS tabs? Have you performed materials analysis on the hub, bolts, or tabs? No one really knows why the tabs fail. Putting stronger tabs is seen by some as a solution when I see a bandaid instead. Sure, luckily no one with a "bulletproof" VANOS has reported a failure, but it is still a car part.
 

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Sorry, but your comment is subjective. Do you have the CAD files from BMW of the VANOS tabs? Have you performed materials analysis on the hub, bolts, or tabs? No one really knows why the tabs fail. Putting stronger tabs is seen by some as a solution when I see a bandaid instead. Sure, luckily no one with a "bulletproof" VANOS has reported a failure, but it is still a car part.
These are documented post factum.

Based on work done by Beisan and others, we now know that there is a .2mm extra clearance between the tab and the oil pump disc hole which slaps around there while vanos is sitting at 115 bar (not psi).

We also know that the bolts back out because they were not threadlocked, not because the original ones are weak (meaning you don't have to buy beefier bolts, just get oem and locktite).
 

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Putting stronger tabs is seen by some as a solution when I see a bandaid instead.
Have you done some analysis to share with us that makes you think it's a bandaid?

Although... the way you state it, it is not stronger tabs that are a solution...
You don't just put stronger tabs in, since the problem with the tabs is the extra clearance. The solution is either keeping same size tabs (reuse a hub that has both tabs intact) and get a redrilled pump disc with smaller holes (ala Beisan). Conversely, you can get a hub that is redesigned with bigger tabs (Turbotoy, VAC, etc) to take up the clearance and just reuse the same oil pump disc holes.
 

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I just wanted to know if you would be worried to drive it, because i leave in 1 week and thats obviously not enough time to do it
Dude, drive the car. Unless you're driving like a maniac or the car hasn't been cared for, I wouldn't worry about it. These are VERY stout cars.

My '05 is at about 90k, and so far I haven't worried about it -- driven it 9hrs straight each way before I knew what VANOS trouble was.

Now that I know, I might just have my guys locktite the bolts and call it a day. If I need to do more then I'll do more. If someone has something else I should do (besides Beisan) that I can just tell someone else to "go do that" then I'm all ears. I won't be doing any of it myself, so I need a clear, simple, instructable solution.

Part of the reason I bought this car is they made so many of them "anyone can fix them" or so I told myself. If that's not the case then shame on me. But until then, my working hypothesis is if it breaks down somewhere I'll be able to tow it to someone who knows how to fix it.

maw
 

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You say you have a week? At least pop the valve cover off and look at the VANOS tabs. If your tabs are intact and your VANOS isn't making rattling noises, then you should be fine to make your drive. If your valve cover gasket is in good shape, all you'll need to replace are some crush washers.

FYI: I had a broken tab at 120k. I caught it when I did a valve adjustment and have no idea how long it was broken... ¯\(ツ)
 

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No one really knows why the tabs fail.
E46 M3s have pump driving tabs beakage issue, but E36 S50 don't have the issue even with similar design but with less plays between tabs and pump disk holes. I believe the E46 Production Engineer pushed for more clearance to improve assembly time, and the consumers pay for the price of hammering with more plays.
The cam sleeve bolts backing out is just a matter of Loctite fasteners, but this can destroy the engine when they came loose.
 

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I just wanted to know if you would be worried to drive it, because i leave in 1 week and thats obviously not enough time to do it
Remove the cam sleeve bolts, clean oil off the threads, then Loctite. This can be DIY in about 3 hours. I would be more concerned of the bolts backing out than broken pump driving tabs, as the backing out bolts, then sheared off, can destroy the engine (bents valves, damaged pistons).
 

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So the reason I am asking if it is blown up or not is because I am planning on doing a road trip up to Iowa here in about a week and it'll be a total of about 670-700 miles. I bought my car at 133,900 about 3 months ago, its at 134,800 and some change. In the 900 miles I have owned it I have done RB's, subframe reinforcement plates and all the bushings, all DIY and all that being said, how worried should I be about the Vanos as I have no proof of it being done. Or any other sort of maintenance that would probably be good to do soon.
You’re Much more likely to have overheat issues at high mileage. Check your fan viscous coupling, hoses, expansion tank, serp and AC belts if not radiator. Plugs and valve lash should have been done at 120k…
You say you have a week? At least pop the valve cover off and look at the VANOS tabs. If your tabs are intact and your VANOS isn't making rattling noises, then you should be fine to make your drive. If your valve cover gasket is in good shape, all you'll need to replace are some crush washers.

FYI: I had a broken tab at 120k. I caught it when I did a valve adjustment and have no idea how long it was broken... ¯\(ツ)
Its 700 miles. it's not Indy500. I wouldn't worry about it until the next major/valve adjust.
 

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In the 900 miles I have owned it I have done RB's, subframe reinforcement plates and all the bushings, all DIY and all that being said, how worried should I be about the Vanos as I have no proof of it being done.
Its 700 miles. it's not Indy500. I wouldn't worry about it until the next major/valve adjust.
He bought 3 months ago and it seems has not opened the VC to check inside. I would open the VC, look at the disk driving tabs just to make sure no crack or missing. Also look at the front of the cam end shoulder at the 6 threaded holes to make sure the cam sleeve bolts ends are all at same level (depth or protrusion) which indicates the bolt is not backing out. He should be enjoying the 700 miles trip and not constantly worry about breaking down, and these things are easy to check.
 

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I just wanted to know if you would be worried to drive it, because i leave in 1 week and thats obviously not enough time to do it
nah I wouldn’t be worried. unlesss you were planning on drag racing it stoplight to stoplight for 700 miles lol.
if you want to feel a little better you could take valve cover off and inspect the two tabs. making sure intact. this is often done during the valve adjustment. you can peak at cam bolts too.

as a testiment to not having issues, I had 200K miles and both my hub tabs were intact as all my cam bolts. no issues. the hub disc holes were slightly ovaled, but tabs intact. i decided to just do the vanos seals overhaul at 200k while in there for my peace of mind.
 

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Unless the car sounds like loose nuts and bolts in an empty coffee can it is fine to go to Iowa. I bought a 150,000 mile M3 and took it to the track 4 times (to see where the faults were hiding) before getting a new VANOS. Afterward, a way smooother engine, better high end torque, punchy acceleration. Oooh, this is supposed to be how they run. Highest recommendation for the Dr. Vanos product and their excellent customer service on core and tool refunds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Unless the car sounds like loose nuts and bolts in an empty coffee can it is fine to go to Iowa. I bought a 150,000 mile M3 and took it to the track 4 times (to see where the faults were hiding) before getting a new VANOS. Afterward, a way smooother engine, better high end torque, punchy acceleration. Oooh, this is supposed to be how they run. Highest recommendation for the Dr. Vanos product and their excellent customer service on core and tool refunds.
With the dr vanos, if i buy the whole dr vanos rebuilt unit, does it come with the hub as well or do I need to buy that separate. And is beisan good too? its much more affordable and I am not worried about rebuilding myself.
 
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