S54 Vanos

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Tilly
Joined: Wed 26 May, 2004 20:45
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  M roadster S50
Location: Sussex

S54 Vanos

Post by Tilly » Thu 01 Jan, 2015 15:49

Firstly, a happy new year to all Zedders.
I bought the new BMW car magazine to read the Buying guide article on the Z3 M Coupe. One comment that alarmed me was in the section on engines.

“A few years ago it was the S54 engine that was generally regarded as the least susceptible to Vanos issues but recently it’s become apparent that it actually suffers worse than the S50.”


The article states that although the older engine did suffer problems, don’t I know that, these rarely got worse.
Not in my experience.
With the S54 Vanos, issues need to be dealt with quickly before more damage occurs. These problems can be expensive to fix.

I wonder where the evidence concerning these statements about the Vanos reliability in the S54 engine, originates from.

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Gazza
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Gazza » Thu 01 Jan, 2015 18:05

Send an email to the magazine Editor
Gazza

"Understeer is when you hit the wall with the front of the car, oversteer is when you hit the wall with the rear of the car. Horsepower is how fast you hit the wall and torque is how far you take the wall with you"

S54 M roadster Image Mustang Fastback, BMW Z1, BMW M3 CSL.

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Tilly
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  M roadster S50
Location: Sussex

Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Tilly » Thu 01 Jan, 2015 18:25

Gazza wrote:Send an email to the magazine Editor
Great idea.

E-mail sent.

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pingu
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  M roadster S50

Re: S54 Vanos

Post by pingu » Fri 02 Jan, 2015 01:14

I think that the "problem" with the S54 is the bolts are the weak point, whereas the S50's weak point is the seals. Seals leak and cause a loss in performance, but don't usually get so bad that they catastrophically fail as the noise before failure would be horrendous. When bolts fail it is catastrophic and with very little (if any) warning.
Pingu

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Jonttt
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Jonttt » Fri 02 Jan, 2015 12:27

From memory the bolts on the S54 where a free recall fix so any S54 owner should check it's been done on the warranty history, any dealer can check for you as all warranty work is shared across the dealership network.

I'm not aware of any other S54 vanos issues :?:
Happiness is not around the corner........happiness is the corner
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gookah
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by gookah » Fri 02 Jan, 2015 14:55

S54 owners tend to suffer more from 'Vanity' issues.......... :devil: :wink:
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I have an element of 'M-styling' on my car, If that's a good enough reason for the manufacturers to adorn a 320 with the M badge, then its certainly a good enough reason for me..

Tilly
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  M roadster S50
Location: Sussex

Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Tilly » Fri 02 Jan, 2015 16:42

pingu wrote:I think that the "problem" with the S54 is the bolts are the weak point, whereas the S50's weak point is the seals. Seals leak and cause a loss in performance, but don't usually get so bad that they catastrophically fail as the noise before failure would be horrendous. When bolts fail it is catastrophic and with very little (if any) warning.
Although my S50 bolts were renewed they failed. Luckily I was driving the car out of the garage so although the floor was covered in oil the engine survived.

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Jonttt
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Jonttt » Sat 03 Jan, 2015 00:25

I may be getting mixed between S50 and S54 requiring the updated bolts (I've had both and am easily confused these days)
Happiness is not around the corner........happiness is the corner
Image Video or Journal Garage: 2015 FFRR Black Edition, Porsche Boxster GTS, 1997 Porsche Carrara C4S, Ex 2001 BMW S54 Z3m Roadster

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Jonttt
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  M roadster S54
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Jonttt » Sat 03 Jan, 2015 00:27

gookah wrote:S54 owners tend to suffer more from 'Vanity' issues.......... :devil: :wink:
As the old saying goes, if you've got it, flaunt it :squeeze: :twisted:
Happiness is not around the corner........happiness is the corner
Image Video or Journal Garage: 2015 FFRR Black Edition, Porsche Boxster GTS, 1997 Porsche Carrara C4S, Ex 2001 BMW S54 Z3m Roadster

siwilson
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  M roadster S54
Location: Horley

Re: S54 Vanos

Post by siwilson » Sat 03 Jan, 2015 09:21

I think the central point to this is that the claims in the article have to be taken with a pinch of salt. I read a lot of BMW boards and if there was a real issue with S54 VANOS then it would come up a lot more than it does. I went back an did a search as well and could not find anything to suggest a course for concern. The failures (snapped bolts on the sprocket) are certainly more deadly, but are so rare it's not something I will worry about.
2001 M roadster S54 Laguna Seca Blue

Tilly
Joined: Wed 26 May, 2004 20:45
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  M roadster S50
Location: Sussex

Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Tilly » Sat 03 Jan, 2015 12:11

siwilson wrote:I think the central point to this is that the claims in the article have to be taken with a pinch of salt. I read a lot of BMW boards and if there was a real issue with S54 VANOS then it would come up a lot more than it does. I went back an did a search as well and could not find anything to suggest a course for concern. The failures (snapped bolts on the sprocket) are certainly more deadly, but are so rare it's not something I will worry about.
I have written to the editorial team and asked if they can shed any light on the statements in the article. Mr Vanos and Dr Vanos websites do list issues which can occur with the S54 engine but these appear to be the same as found with the S50 unit. They do also list issues which could be specific to the S54 with the high pressure oil pump. Although my S50 unit has not been affected with pump failure, the exhaust camshaft, Vanos oil pump spline did shear off after about 75,000 miles. So again no difference between the units.

When I get any more information I will post it.

Tilly
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  M roadster S50
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Tilly » Mon 23 Feb, 2015 14:29

Received a response.

My e-mail and reply has just been published in the March edition of BMW Car magazine.

Editors comments: " We feel sorry for you, you've certainly had a rough time of it when it comes to Vanos! We've heard the S54 has Vanos issues from speaking to BMW specialists, mechanics, Vanos repair specialists and owners. It's definitely a very real and increasingly common issue, which isn't good news.

So there you have it. Can they all be wrong or is it media hype?

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pingu
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by pingu » Mon 23 Feb, 2015 14:55

Tilly wrote:Received a response.

My e-mail and reply has just been published in the March edition of BMW Car magazine.

Editors comments: " We feel sorry for you, you've certainly had a rough time of it when it comes to Vanos! We've heard the S54 has Vanos issues from speaking to BMW specialists, mechanics, Vanos repair specialists and owners. It's definitely a very real and increasingly common issue, which isn't good news.

So there you have it. Can they all be wrong or is it media hype?
A point to note, which may or may not be relevant is that the S54 is only fitted to a few ZMs, but it is fitted to many E46 M3s. The E46 M3 engine is more powerful and revs higher. The relevant question is "How many S54 ZMs have had the problem?"
Pingu

Tilly
Joined: Wed 26 May, 2004 20:45
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  M roadster S50
Location: Sussex

Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Tilly » Mon 23 Feb, 2015 15:08

pingu wrote:
A point to note, which may or may not be relevant is that the S54 is only fitted to a few ZMs, but it is fitted to many E46 M3s. The E46 M3 engine is more powerful and revs higher. The relevant question is "How many S54 ZMs have had the problem?"
Good point. Less than 300 roadsters and coupes so maybe the slightly different engine characteristics with the E46 units may have a significant impact. I personally think, although the timing of any problems may be affected, the overall S54 incidence of problems comparing the E36/7/8 engines and the E46 will be similar.

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Southernboy
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Southernboy » Mon 23 Feb, 2015 15:21

.......... It's possible that the driving habits of owners of M3 E46 cars should be considered as well as the greater numbers of those built. Also the mileage covered at the time of failure. It would be nice if we lived in a world where nothing ever degraded, but this isn't the case. As with any high performance motor, the possibility of stress related failure is increased. The compromise between performance durability and weight is always going to collapse somewhere.... F1 cars being largely composite structures don't survive impacts very well - does that mean they should be classified as prone to faulty body or chassis design /manufacture.... Personally, the writer of the article had nothing more interesting in his repertoire, and probably drives a Honda Civic or such... :wink:
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Tilly
Joined: Wed 26 May, 2004 20:45
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  M roadster S50
Location: Sussex

Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Tilly » Mon 23 Feb, 2015 16:05

Southernboy wrote:.......... It's possible that the driving habits of owners of M3 E46 cars should be considered as well as the greater numbers of those built. Also the mileage covered at the time of failure. It would be nice if we lived in a world where nothing ever degraded, but this isn't the case. As with any high performance motor, the possibility of stress related failure is increased. The compromise between performance durability and weight is always going to collapse somewhere.... F1 cars being largely composite structures don't survive impacts very well - does that mean they should be classified as prone to faulty body or chassis design /manufacture.... Personally, the writer of the article had nothing more interesting in his repertoire, and probably drives a Honda Civic or such... :wink:
Again some very valid points. However, I believe the simple fact is Vanos has issues of reliability irrespective of the engine. The types of problems may vary as well as incidence but it does happen and will cost to rectify. The very fact that independent companies such as Dr Vanos and Mr Vanos can apparently survive and prosper is in itself indicative that there is a healthy business in repairing faulty Vanos units.

Phil
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  M roadster S54
Location: Solihull

Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Phil » Mon 23 Feb, 2015 16:35

Without trawling through numerous threads over the years and to keep things simple and as a generalisation the S50 has the vanos issues and the S54 had the bolts issue. The E46 M3s were recalled but the M Roadsters weren't. The faulty bolts were traced to a batch of engines made in a 6 week period which was identified and a couple of S54 Roadsters did have catastrophic failures which were remedied under warranty or as a gesture of goodwill.
Sapphire black/Imola red and black interior/ red roof/ S54 - the only RHD one made.

"The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire."

Tilly
Joined: Wed 26 May, 2004 20:45
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  M roadster S50
Location: Sussex

Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Tilly » Mon 23 Feb, 2015 18:15

Phil wrote:Without trawling through numerous threads over the years and to keep things simple and as a generalisation the S50 has the vanos issues and the S54 had the bolts issue. The E46 M3s were recalled but the M Roadsters weren't. The faulty bolts were traced to a batch of engines made in a 6 week period which was identified and a couple of S54 Roadsters did have catastrophic failures which were remedied under warranty or as a gesture of goodwill.
In the original article it stated that the cost to put an S50 right is about £1000. The S54 costs between £700 and £1500. By inference that would indicate more than just bolt replacement. Unfortunately claims made but no specifics given in either the original article of their comment.

Phil
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Location: Solihull

Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Phil » Mon 23 Feb, 2015 19:43

The bolts issue wasn't vanos. It was to do with the cylinders and if one went it would more than likely blow a hole in the engine. It was about £7500 to replace/repair from memory. The phoenix yellow one owned by the dearly departed Neil had one go. He took some photos of the destroyed engine - interesting.
Sapphire black/Imola red and black interior/ red roof/ S54 - the only RHD one made.

"The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire."

shantybeater
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by shantybeater » Thu 19 Mar, 2015 13:51

Phil wrote:Without trawling through numerous threads over the years and to keep things simple and as a generalisation the S50 has the vanos issues and the S54 had the bolts issue. The E46 M3s were recalled but the M Roadsters weren't. The faulty bolts were traced to a batch of engines made in a 6 week period which was identified and a couple of S54 Roadsters did have catastrophic failures which were remedied under warranty or as a gesture of goodwill.
I don't think it was traced to as little as a 6 week period but rather cars produced up until 2003. The s54 M roadsters were all built within this period and so are susceptible to failure. As mentioned in this thread BMW's excuse for not recalling the M roaster was the lower redline and they got away with it because of the low production numbers. Unfortunately several M roadsters have had bearing shell failure causing catastrophic engine doom proving they are not immune. The bearing shell recall kit is readily available from BMW and is colour coded differently, I had it fitted to my old S54 as a precautionary measure, personally I'd be doing it as preventative maintenance if you have no history of the work being carried out.

I did also hear of a problem with VANOS bolts coming loose and causing all sorts of mahem, I don't believe BMW ever owned up to this issue though and it was far less common than the bearing shell failures.
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offyourmarks
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by offyourmarks » Thu 19 Mar, 2015 21:16

The biggest worry with the s54 vanos is its ability to shear the locating tangs that interface between the vanos sprocket and the oil pump.

I've had 7 e46 M3 now and have done numerous valve clearance setups and Ive seen two pump units with the problem - Ive actually got a stripped vanos with this issue in a cupboard at work. The issue is that the tang is quite large and can either drop to bottom of engine or jam in the timing chain and grenade the engine.

siwilson
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by siwilson » Fri 20 Mar, 2015 11:34

Here is what the bulletin actually says.
2001 M roadster S54 Laguna Seca Blue

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Gazza
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by Gazza » Fri 20 Mar, 2015 17:17

I see the bullitin does contain reference to the M Roadster and M Coupe
Gazza

"Understeer is when you hit the wall with the front of the car, oversteer is when you hit the wall with the rear of the car. Horsepower is how fast you hit the wall and torque is how far you take the wall with you"

S54 M roadster Image Mustang Fastback, BMW Z1, BMW M3 CSL.

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shantybeater
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by shantybeater » Fri 20 Mar, 2015 22:53

It does but you try getting any BMW dealer to recognise that..That is why I bought the recall kit and had it fitted. To be honest if you guys are at high mileage now I doubt its anything to worry about. My car hadn't even hit the 45k mark at the time - wasn't worth the risk
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shantybeater
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Re: S54 Vanos

Post by shantybeater » Fri 20 Mar, 2015 22:57

For anyone interested the state of my bearing shells/rod bearings can be seen here:

http://www.zroadster.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=27468
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