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Discussion Starter #1
Hope everyone is having a happy new year.

Should start by saying the car has ~113,500 miles on it, original bearings, has been with me for a bit over 4 years now, and I have stuck to oil change intervals of 4500-5500 miles, using Liqui-Moly and some occasional zinc additive. Has had clean blackstone tests until the last one at the end of August during the last oil change. Copper and lead had ticked up a bit, and I assumed it was time to start thinking about the bearings. Has been in and out of shops for other things most of the time, and between parts being back-ordered, catching the virus and the holidays, I simply hadn’t gotten around to it. Was on the agenda for the first few weeks of the year, what incredible luck.

Over the Christmas weekend, seemingly overnight, the engine developed what could almost be described as a “resonance” at lower revs, almost not noticeable unless HVAC and stereo were off. Driveability hadn’t changed at all, and the car has developed a few minor squeaks and rattles inside over the years so I assumed it was yet another one of those. In fact over the course of the weekend, I put nearly 300 miles on the car with seemingly no change in the sound/vibration, which caused me probably to fall a bit further into denial. I drove from Chicago to Milwaukee on Christmas Eve and did not notice a thing that night or the next day, only started to notice it while driving around during the day on Saturday. Had been driving extremely sensibly the entire time, which makes it all the more frustrating.

This past Monday, I went to run a short errand, and I thought perhaps it was a bit more noticeable but couldn’t quite say. Still concerned but had planned on getting into a shop during the week to get the rod bearings changed immediately. Only drove a few miles in total, without issue until right as I was pulling up to my building. Suddenly went into limp mode, 4,500 rev limit, slight misfire. Pulled into the garage, tried scanning codes and restarting, and immediately it started misfiring again and could barely idle. Like someone flipped a switch. Apart from standard misfire codes for the full bank, also saw 271C for bank 2 intake VANOS. Tried clearing codes twice, came back immediately each time. Car is almost unable to idle at all, cleans up a bit with some revs, but obvious is misfiring quite badly on that side. Have never had a VANOS code ever before in the history of my ownership with the car.

Inside the parking garage, windows down, everything off, finally getting a listen at the sound, and it does have just a bit of a knock or a tick. Not bad, but I can hear that something isn’t quite right. Now, in my experience, a rod knock is very loud and impossible to avoid, but I could be entirely wrong...is it possible that it’s spun a bearing and that it’s only making a slight bit of noise? Or is it more likely that heavily worn bearings have leaked metal bits into the VANOS pump and chewed that up, causing it to make the noise? Not quite sure what a bad VANOS pump sounds like.

I know this is all speculation, but just trying to get a sense of what I’m getting into here. At some point, I have to question how much money to dump into a car with this sort of mileage on it. Finally values seem to have bounced off the bottom, but it is in need of several other things beyond this that make it hard to see the value in spending well into the 5 figures just to get it back to square 0.

Essentially what I’m hoping for is that if it is the rod bearings, the crank won’t have been damaged and there’s no need to junk the engine entirely. However, I know that’s unlikely most of the time. Also, if it has damaged the VANOS pump, I assume there’s metal throughout the engine as well. So it seems more likely than not a new engine is needed.

Will try to get a recording of what it sounds like and upload when I can, perhaps someone with more failed engine experience than I might have some insight. Also wondering if anyone knows of the best shops in the Midwest, especially the Chicago area, that can be trusted with this level of work. The few places I’ve taken it thus far for smaller jobs have not inspired a lot of confidence.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Seems you're well aware of what the possibilities are so nothing to add. For someone who's clearly read about bearings and such I'm baffled why you trusted blackstone plus 5k oil changes (and I bet careful warmups) instead of just replacing them.

Post a clip to see how it sounds.

Also I would not use german auto werks. While their work was ok their billing practices were not. Fb groups like ep3 but I've no experience with them. Try asking over on fb windycity or chitown groups for shop recommendations.
 

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The thing is with recurring fault conditions it’s basically un-sellable as is.

So you need to at least look into what’s wrong and if you were planning bearings anyway they best course may be to order up the parts for the rod bearings/vanos line job, drop the sump and then you’ll know what’s what.

If it’s spun a bearing and damaged the crank and spread metal through the system then maybe you call it a day and part it out.

If it’s something less expensive then you can do the fb job, fix this other issue (whatever it is) and move on.

Either way the only clear way forward is to get it properly diagnosed and it sounds like in this case that means sump off.

If it’s s
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Seems you're well aware of what the possibilities are so nothing to add. For someone who's clearly read about bearings and such I'm baffled why you trusted blackstone plus 5k oil changes (and I bet careful warmups) instead of just replacing them.

Post a clip to see how it sounds.

Also I would not use german auto werks. While their work was ok their billing practices were not. Fb groups like ep3 but I've no experience with them. Try asking over on fb windycity or chitown groups for shop recommendations.
Well, yes, I am at least to the best of my knowledge, fairly well-read (if not well-experienced) in this topic, however I suppose we all end up making poor decisions once in a while. The car never saw more than 3k revs until it was at least mostly warmed up, depending on temps I even may let the engine warm fully before even moving. Given that I knew they were “at risk” I also drove it sensibly most of the time. I was hoping it would buy some time, and I suppose it did.

I don’t really want to get into the absolutely ridiculous story of my life over the last few years, and why it’s been mostly impossible to get this handled until, as I mentioned, recently. Suffice to say, while there was perhaps a time or two when I could have really pushed to make the effort, it’s vacuumed many thousand dollars out of my wallet several times over the last few years at the worst possible times, and between that and the fact that I no longer live in a place that really allows me to do much work on the car, it’s been essentially impossible to really get this done especially this past year. Cost is not really the issue per se now, but of course I’m not going to throw money away needlessly.

Thanks for the tip, will avoid them. Have used Bimmer Car Care here in the city, several times in fact, but they have a new policy of “no non-OEM parts under any circumstances“ so they’re out. The second shop I used, Bimmer Werkshop, seems fairly competent but re-used a bunch of fasteners on a full front end refresh I did this year when I specifically bought all new ones for the job, so that didn’t inspire confidence. I know many here have had their differences with him but I’m half-tempted to ship it out to Troy Jeup because I don’t need it on a daily basis.

Have been too busy to go out to the parking garage and get a solid clip + do some more code scanning, but hoping to do that tomorrow afternoon.
 

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If your engine is shot, (seems highly likely it is and makes sense given the mileage), the lowest cost route is to sell it (to Troy or someone else) for a few grand and move on. Not to rub salt in the wound but all of the metal that has eroded away went somewhere. The smaller pieces made it to the filter, the rest are chilling in other parts of your engine. It’s like panning for gold. It was pumped through the pumps
circulated around your engine.

If you have the means to part the car out, that would net you more, but there is a time and space matter that it sounds like you don’t have. Ppl that think they are going to part the car out often haven’t thought about how they can move the thing around once the front subframe and rear subframe is out.

hopefully it’s something that can still be saved but it may be throwing good money after bad. Even if you upload a video you still have to drop the pan to know what is going on.

seems like you had a good 4 years with the car though and you survived COVID so things aren’t so bad after all.
 

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Pretty much the only sensible step forward (apart from selling it ‘as is’ with unknown damage to someone like Troy) is to get the sump off. Diving deep into codes or doing vanos bleeds etc is still going to leave you wondering about the rod bearings and you have an indication from your UOA that they are giving away their metal.

Once you get the sump off maybe you’ll find nothing worse than the common worn, but not yet fatal bearings, and you can do the rod bearing job (which needs doing anyway) and then move on to checking vanos system including the pump.

If you take it off and find a bearing(s) has spun and damaged the crank at least you then know where to go next.
 

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I second flac, check the oil filter for any sparkles/glitter. If no, then you need to decide if you want to put the money and time into going further with the car.

If yes, then I think the most financially prudent decision is to dump the car for the most money as best you can. Trying to rehab a S85 that had metal gone through all of the oil passages/vanos not to mention the near guarantee of other damage is the definition of throwing good money after bad.
 

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My rod knock was minor at first, when I took a colleague for a ride and heard a minor knock knock knock. At the time I didn't know what it was. I was barely able to make it home from work that day. Called the wife "move your Armada out of the garage I'm coming in!" :love:
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Finally had a chance to get down to the garage and spend some time with the car again just now, after over a week. Some thoughts -

- Immediate startup was fine, but within 5-7 seconds, VANOS became a problem and it started to misfire once again.

- Once again, bank 2 intake is the one that’s causing the fault. Interestingly, after the initial batch of misfire error codes, once cleared, they do not re-appear. Only the VANOS code and the “engine emergency program” re-occur repeatedly. Even though it’s quite obviously misfiring and struggles to idle.

- At first, I was not even able to hear the tick/knock that I had been hearing...but after the car had warmed up and settled into sort of a “pattern” I was able to hear it while revving. Once again, it’s very light, but it is there. Has not changed from when I initially heard it.

- I am unable to even hear the sound outside the car in the parking garage, perhaps too much of an echo but I was not able to hear it while simply sitting outside previously either. Not even with my head buried under the hood. Only sitting inside, dead slight, in the driver’s seat with the door closed or mostly closed. Then, below 4k it’s audible, above that the engine is loud enough to drown it out. Mostly convinced it’s not a rod, more convinced now that it’s the VANOS pump.

- I unfortunately only have INPA right now and not ISTA, and my german is now almost non-existent, but from some of the monitoring and testing I’m able to do, it seems the bank 2 intake solenoid is basically non-responsive. Prior to the sudden limp mode last week, I’ve never had a single VANOS issue and it passed all tests fine not that long ago. Now, it seems that solenoid essentially doesn’t move at all, like someone flipped a switch.

- Unless anyone has experience with a rod knock that starts out nearly inaudible and then doesn’t change even a bit after even a couple hundred miles of driving, I am leaning heavily towards the VANOS pump dying and that being the cause of the non-functional solenoid. However, any reason that 3 of the 4 would be essentially functioning normally and that one would be almost completely non-functional? Seems all 4 should be impacted somewhat.

Have reached out to a few places, seems like The Werkshop in Libertyville is probably the best shop anywhere near Chicago. So, I may take it there and have them take a look. I’m sure the bearings are nearly at EOL, but if it hasn’t spun one yet, I am hoping that the engine is still more than salvageable. Seems like possibly a VANOS pump + full rod bearing job may possibly do the trick.

Working on uploading the video I’ve taken that captures the sound the “best” however it requires headphones to hear or very good speakers. Only so much you can grab with the built-in mic on the phone I suppose, plus my exhaust is a bit loud.
 

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Finally had a chance to get down to the garage and spend some time with the car again just now, after over a week. Some thoughts -

- Immediate startup was fine, but within 5-7 seconds, VANOS became a problem and it started to misfire once again.

- Once again, bank 2 intake is the one that’s causing the fault. Interestingly, after the initial batch of misfire error codes, once cleared, they do not re-appear. Only the VANOS code and the “engine emergency program” re-occur repeatedly. Even though it’s quite obviously misfiring and struggles to idle.

- At first, I was not even able to hear the tick/knock that I had been hearing...but after the car had warmed up and settled into sort of a “pattern” I was able to hear it while revving. Once again, it’s very light, but it is there. Has not changed from when I initially heard it.

- I am unable to even hear the sound outside the car in the parking garage, perhaps too much of an echo but I was not able to hear it while simply sitting outside previously either. Not even with my head buried under the hood. Only sitting inside, dead slight, in the driver’s seat with the door closed or mostly closed. Then, below 4k it’s audible, above that the engine is loud enough to drown it out. Mostly convinced it’s not a rod, more convinced now that it’s the VANOS pump.

- I unfortunately only have INPA right now and not ISTA, and my german is now almost non-existent, but from some of the monitoring and testing I’m able to do, it seems the bank 2 intake solenoid is basically non-responsive. Prior to the sudden limp mode last week, I’ve never had a single VANOS issue and it passed all tests fine not that long ago. Now, it seems that solenoid essentially doesn’t move at all, like someone flipped a switch.

- Unless anyone has experience with a rod knock that starts out nearly inaudible and then doesn’t change even a bit after even a couple hundred miles of driving, I am leaning heavily towards the VANOS pump dying and that being the cause of the non-functional solenoid. However, any reason that 3 of the 4 would be essentially functioning normally and that one would be almost completely non-functional? Seems all 4 should be impacted somewhat.

Have reached out to a few places, seems like The Werkshop in Libertyville is probably the best shop anywhere near Chicago. So, I may take it there and have them take a look. I’m sure the bearings are nearly at EOL, but if it hasn’t spun one yet, I am hoping that the engine is still more than salvageable. Seems like possibly a VANOS pump + full rod bearing job may possibly do the trick.

Working on uploading the video I’ve taken that captures the sound the “best” however it requires headphones to hear or very good speakers. Only so much you can grab with the built-in mic on the phone I suppose, plus my exhaust is a bit loud.
I would look in to used engine, instead of spending that money on a pump and rod baring plus labor. Outcome is not certain.
RB job should be around 2500-3000$ plus vanos pump plus solenoids plus line gaskets and labor will exceed 5000$
Used engines start at 6500$ with warranty from junk yards.
Get used engine, change RB while engine is out and sell your original engine, you still will get 2000-3000$ for it.
Best of luck
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Following up with a video link, it’s still very hard to hear but if you use headphones or have some fairly resolving speakers it’s audible. Took some other videos where IMO it doesn’t show up as much, but if no one can hear it, I will try to upload another.


If I could go after the solenoid, I would, but currently living in a high rise apartment in Chicago + very little time to tackle things like this means I will have to take it to a shop to get any actual work done. I hate doing it, but unfortunately I cannot really get much done in the parking garage. It absolutely will need rod bearings anyway, so I assume at this point, a VANOS pump issue is more than likely.

Does anyone have experience with the refurb VANOS pumps from Dr. VANOS? They seem fairly priced given what good, low-mileage used units sell for on ebay and certainly compared to a new part.

Also wondering what people’s opinions on his aftermarket solenoids are, for that matter. At that price, may be worth just replacing all 4 just because.
 

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Do you mean vanos solenoids? Why? That'd be throwing money without first diagnosing what's knocking. I can hear knocking btw. Noise must be obvious if you record under the hood. Could be bearings for sure.

Vanos pump would be throwing more money for the same reason above. They are not a common failure item unless bearings are gone, and at that point replacing just the pump is again a waste of money. Drain the filter oil, takes 10 minutes and you can do it in your garage. Should be obvious if bearings are toast.
 

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I’m also not sure why you’re convinced it’s the vanos pump. But if you’re thinking of going down that path at least do the vanos bleed a couple of times and check the pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I’m just going off what I’m seeing, hearing and what’s coming up in software. I’m not 100% convinced of anything, at all, just yet. Just trying to build as much of a mental model of what’s going on before I have a shop dive into this, since I cannot do it myself unfortunately. If I still lived in the suburbs, it would be a different story. I am absolutely not the type to just drop my car off at the shop and say “car make bad noise, you fix” - hence why I’m trying to get as much of a handle on this as possible before it gets stuck at a shop where I cannot hear/see/touch it for a long period of time. Unfortunately, any number of people here are much stronger S85 experts than seemingly any shop within a couple hundred miles of here, so I’m trying to avoid measuring once and cutting twice.

To be clear - again - I have not personally heard a spun rod bearing that didn’t sound like someone smacking the oil pan with a larger hammer. This sounds nothing like that. However, if anyone has experience with a spun rod bearing that started out as a nearly imperceptible tick/resonance, then I’m all ears.

Especially on LCI cars, a VANOS blowing up out of the blue is quite rare/never happens. What I’m suggesting, which seems entirely reasoanble IMO, is that excessive bearing wear has worn the pump and caused it to make the sound in the video, and possibly caused a solenoid to fail. Again - if this seems wrong, feel free to tell me. I can’t say for sure I know what a failing or heavily worn VANOS pump sounds like, but again - given the fact that the sound has not changed after 200 miles of driving and another hour of idling the other night, and the fact that it hasn’t put a rod through the block...I’m leaning away from spun rod bearing. Again - if this is wrong/dumb, open to that thought.

Thanks for all the input. Am trying to arrange getting it to a shop this week, where of course more will become clear. Will update with any further developments.
 

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Filter housing holds half a quart of oil, maybe. That's the first thing I checked when mine was knocking. Easiest thing to do, no need for a shop.

Anyway since you want to go down the conspiracy theory road, other than bearings my next bet would be a leaking hp hose. That's if you're reaaally lucky. One report of this occuring that I know of.

If bearing material plugged the vanos circuit then the pump is the least of your concerns. At that point you need a new (or fix) crank, con rod, flush the heck out of everything, etc. Full engine out rebuild.

Even true failed vanos pumps (cracked bearing race) don't cause codes like yours. They just keep pumping...
 

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Fair enough. I totally get it. Having had my own workshop in the past and now living in a house with a smallish garage with pretty low ceiling there’s some things I just don’t want to tackle at home. Like you I want to figure out as much as I can about any issue before taking it to a shop. The problem is, in my experience, shops seem to almost universally reject whatever the owner thinks is the problem (and the possible solution path) and come up with their own theory. In bad cases you could go in with a nail in your tire and say ‘I have a flat tire, I think it’s that nail’, and they’ll say ‘nah, we don’t really get nails in these types of tire, more likely the wheel is out of round and it’s leaking air, we’ll need to check the wheel on our special machine...’.

I also agree finding a shop that truly knows how to diagnose and work on an s85 is near impossible.

I do think it’s wlrth checking the oil filter.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for all the input...greatly appreciate it, truly.

Still too busy to get it into a shop this week, will see what happens this weekend. Haven't drained the oil yet because it's very difficult to do more than minor work in a parking garage in downtown Chicago. Car needs to be able to drive out under it's own power of course, really trying to avoid getting it stuck inside. I'm quite capable of doing the work in the right space, but I do not have that, or the time to do much with it right now, hence why it's got to get to a shop unfortunately. Have built race cars, engines, transmissions before...I've got more than a bit of mechanical know-how and experience. Which is why this is so frustrating, if I could tear the thing apart right now myself, I totally would.

Anyone have a chance to listen to the video posted? Any input on that? Not a sound I've heard one of these make before.

Also wondering if anyone has experience with The Workshop, seems like possibly the best BMW shop within a couple hundred miles, that's likely where it's headed as soon as I can get it there.
 
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