Variable Nockenwellensteuerung – try saying that three times!

No, it isn’t an ancient pagan curse or a comic book supervillain. Variable Nockenwellensteuerung – VANOS for short – is a crucial part of many modern BMW vehicles. There’s a good chance that includes yours as well.

Vanos is a part of the engine management system that varies the valve timing which it does by adjusting the relative position of the camshafts. Should something go wrong with this all important system, you may notice a range of different symptoms in your BMW:

  • A decrease in power and torque
  • Rough idling
  • Poor fuel economy and efficiency

But what exactly does VANOS do, anyway?

Luckily for you, our BMW mechanics in Melbourne are here to explain it all. You’d best get comfortable, however – we might be here for a while!

BMW VANOS, explained

As we all know, your engine generates power by igniting fuel-air mixture in the cylinder chamber, before evacuating exhaust gasses. Key to this process is the timing between your intake and exhaust valves.

The problem is that your BMW requires a different amount of air and evacuates exhaust at different rates depending on the engine’s RPM and speed. The intake and exhaust valves may need to be open for longer or shorter to ensure that your engine is performing optimally.

Needless to say, having fixed valve timing this can lead to worse fuel economy at low speeds, or insufficient power at high speeds.

Like the name suggests, variable valve timing is all about modifying the timing of the intake and exhaust valves depending on your requirements. By changing the intake and exhaust for different engine speeds, it can improve your car’s performance while also maximising fuel economy and reducing emissions.

Present in most BMW models from the early 1990’s onwards, BMW VANOS is part of your vehicle’s variable timing system.

The VANOS system is able to precisely release the flow of oil to the cam gears, allowing for precise timing adjustments.

As the engine’s RPM starts climbing, your valve timing increases and vice-versa. By adjusting to meet demand, your engine is able to maximise fuel economy, performance and overall drive-ability.

The key to the whole operation? Your VANOS solenoids.

Needless to say, when these solenoids fail, you can find yourself suffering from a range of different issues.

How it works

BMW VANOS equipped engines have a cam gear separate from the intake and exhaust cam.

At low RPM, this extra cam gear is disengaged and the engine runs at fixed timing – once you hit the throttle however, the computer will automatically calculate the proper valve timing needed for maximum efficiency at the given RPM and air intake.

Like other systems in your BMW, the VANOS system in your engine uses oil pressure to control the position of the intake and exhaust camshafts. Once the appropriate timing is calculated, the VANOS solenoids activate, applying the appropriate amount of oil pressure to the cam gear.

By doing this, the solenoid controls the movement of the camshaft gear outward or inward, changing the camshaft positioning and effectively controlling the timing of the valves.

As the system that’s responsible for your engine’s valve timing, issues with your VANOS system can have a dramatic impact on your vehicle’s performance, such as:

  • Compromised power delivery
  • Reduced engine performance
  • Lowered fuel economy
  • Rough idling
  • Your BMW entering limp mode

The difference between double and single VANOS systems: does it matter at all?

Like other parts of your BMW, the VANOS system has seen constant upgrades over the years to improve its functionality and to keep up with increasing demands for engine performance and efficiency.

Depending on the age of your BMW, it may be equipped with single or double VANOS.

  • Single VANOS: uses a single solenoid that only changes the timing of the intake camshaft
  • Double VANOS: uses two solenoids together that change both the intake and exhaust camshafts

Recent models have even taken the double VANOS system even further, combining it with Valvetronic, BMW’s unique valve lift system.

We won’t get into too much detail about how each of these different systems work – what you do need to know is that different models use different VANOS systems, and may experience different issues.

That’s why it’s so important that you choose a BMW specialist to look after your vehicle, and not just any old general mechanic!

A BMW mechanic in Melbourne describes the most common VANOS issues

Issues with BMW VANOS seals

Inside the VANOS system, you’ll find a range of different parts – this includes piston seals, or O-rings.

When your engine runs, these seals expand and contract. Over time, this causes them to wear out and fail, leading to a range of different issues, including many of the problems listed above.

Unfortunately, some BMW owners have found that the BMW VANOS seals in their engines simply aren’t up for the heat, pressure and chemical exposure of their engine.

Debris and sludge

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: debris and sludge are some of the worst things that can happen to your engine!

What you may not know is that in many cases, engine sludge can throw up a VANOS code. Oftentimes, sludge and debris can clog or damage your VANOS system, impacting its performance or stopping it from moving altogether.

A good clean can resolve the issue – however, if there’s sludge in your engine at all, you may have an even deeper (and more important) issue to address.

Luckily for you, our BMW specialists in Melbourne can get to the root of the problem for you!

Component failure

As with any part in your BMW’s engine, it isn’t unheard of for parts of the VANOS system to wear-out with time, or simply fail altogether. In these cases, the only fix is to replace the affected component.

Some of these items can be expensive to replace, so getting the diagnosis right the first time is of the utmost importance!

Why you need a BMW specialist in Melbourne

Given how much work they do while you drive, it’s no surprise that VANOS components are  common replacement items in BMW vehicles.

Unlike other common replacement items however, it’s best to leave VANOS replacements to someone who works with BMWs day-in, day-out.

With our connections to original parts suppliers and carefully-selected aftermarket manufacturers, we can replace the affected part, bring your VANOS system back into spec and ensure that your BMW continues to perform.

A case study: why you wouldn’t go to a generalist for BMW 540i VANOS issues

Introduced in 2015, the B58 is currently one of BMW’s flagship engines, found in a range of models, with variants found in sedans, tourers, SUVs and more.

Today, we’ll be focusing on how it’s used in the most recent generation incarnation of the 540i.

Recent versions of the 540i are powered by a variant of the B58 engine that uses double VANOS coupled with Valvetronic for optimal efficiency at high speeds.

This particular engine has some quirks – namely, the timing chain and the solenoids that are responsible for timing (including the VANOS solenoid) are located at the back of the engine. Naturally, this can make them more difficult to reach compared to other engines!

Don’t worry just yet – in most cases, our BMW specialists don’t need to lift the engine to reach these parts. Using specialised tools and equipment, we can remove the two solenoids – while not as straightforward as a front-mounted system, it isn’t quite as costly as many assume.

Thanks to this, we’re able to bring down your BMW service cost, solve your BMW 540i VANOS issues and allow you to get your BMW back sooner.

Unfortunately, a general mechanic may not know about this!

Since the B58 engine is a relatively new model (and since car manufacturers have come under fire for not sharing technical data), a lot of generalists may not have realised this yet, leading to a more expensive and time-consuming BMW service.

Entrust your BMW to a BMW specialist in Melbourne

Your BMW is full of complicated, proprietary systems designed to maximise efficiency and performance – VANOS is just one of them.

Systems such as these are the key to your BMW’s performance – they’re also incredibly complex and often require specialist knowledge.

You won’t get these from a general mechanic, and the dealership charges an arm and a leg for even the simplest service – no, what you need a BMW specialist in Melbourne.

At Ammstar Exclusive, our mission is simple: to give BMW owners like you the best possible value when it comes to BMW servicing.

We’re genuine specialists. Not only have we worked on BMWs for a long time – we’ve also developed our own unique systems and tools that allow us to speed up your BMW service even further, without affecting our ability to look after your vehicle.

And it isn’t just Bavarian cars, either – our BMW mechanics in Melbourne also service:

Start the drive towards better service today – get in touch with Ammstar Autohaus today:

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