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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 03-29-2012, 06:11 AM   #1
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Project M54 Engine: Timing Chain Cover

Timing chain cover

Link to other parts of the project

The timing chain cover sits at the front of the engine behind the vibration damper. In it is housed the coolant pump at the top, and at the bottom is where the crankshaft pokes though to connect to the vibration damper.

To remove the timing chain cover, it is an easy task if the engine is removed, and both the head and the oil pan are removed. The cover is jammed between the head and the oil pan. If the engine is in the car, it is possible to remove the cover without removing the head. It requires the oil pan to be off, and hence the engine supported from above. The three bolts that hold the head to the cover can be removed from above after the valve cover is removed. The vanos and timing assembly can stay in place.

Why would you need to remove the cover? If you need to get the crankshaft out, or there is something wrong with the timing/oil pump chains then you would need to have it off.

Removing it is a simple process once the head, oil pan, and vibration damper have been removed. Initially, the coolant pipe that goes into the back of the timing cover needs to be removed. There are two there. The top one goes into the head, and should already be gone. The bottom one goes into the timing chain cover. They are both a pain to get out. They both have two O Rings that are really jammed in there.

At the front on the cover there are a load of small bolts that need removing. Remove all of these, but leave the top two in there loosely. The cover is still held on by the two dowels. These are not like others on the engine, they are like a nail that has been hammered in there. You can't just pull the cover off. The Bentley manual talks about tapping them out from the front. This has the issue of you then having to fit them into the cover again prior to installation. It's much easier to tap them out from behind. They stay in the cover ready for installation.

When the cover has been removed, this is what it looks like from inside.

The chain guides can be easily removed, however, if they are like the guides on this car, the tabs that hold them on will break when you try to remove them.

Once the guides are off, the chains can be easily removed. Also the sprocket that drives both chains can slide off the crankshaft. The sprocket is one unit. It is reversible, and can be put on the other way around no problems. When the vibration damper is fitted, the sprocket is held between the crankshaft and the vibration damper.

Here is another picture just for information. I had said in a previous post that there was no requirement to hold the timing chain up when the timing sprockets (up the top connected to the vanos) are removed. This is the reason why. There is a lip on the timing chain cover that doesn't allow the chain to fall of if it is loose at the top.

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Last edited by jjrichar; 06-12-2012 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 01-13-2013, 12:04 AM   #2
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Nice job mate, you've been so helpful thus far.
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:50 PM   #3
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Thank you for the detailed steps! This really helps a lot right now. Need to replace the chain guide. Broke it while replacing the head gasket

Quick question though, is it necessary to remove the oil seal in order to remove the timing cover?
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:33 PM   #4
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No, the seal can stay in place. The vibration damper is what is running on the seal, so when the vibration damper is removed, the seal isn't touching anything. That being said, if you had the cover off, replacing the seal is dead easy. The seal is inexpensive, so it might be worthwhile doing while you are there.
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:45 PM   #5
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I would never put a used one back on especially given the BMW history of weak rubber bits.. Just my personnel paranoia..
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:53 PM   #6
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Really nice tutorial, and excellent pics. Well done.

2002 BMW 325i sedan
Manual gearbox, but of course!
Tasteful mods
127K miles and counting
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:31 AM   #7
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when I remove the*crankshaft pulley*nut do the*crankshaft pulley*come right off and the crankshaft sprocket do it come off easy. When I take off your oil pan can i have it halfway off. Im doing it with the engine in
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Old 04-09-2014, 03:56 AM   #8
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As soon as you remove the large bolt that holds on the vibration damper (the crankshaft pulley) the vibration damper and the sprocket pull straight off. Because there is a seal around the vibration damper, it will be a bit tight, and might require a bit of jiggling. Note the chains needs to be off the sprocket if you want it to come off. ie the oil pump needs to be removed, and also the vanos and all connected components in the head need to be removed. To get just the cover off, the sprocket doesn't need to be removed. It just depends on what you need to do

With the oil pan removed, the cover can come off as long as the:
-vibration damper is removed.
-all nuts are removed around the perimeter of the cover.
-the two dowels are hammered out.

Last edited by jjrichar; 04-09-2014 at 03:56 AM.
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