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The BMW E46 ///M3 is the M version E46 and puts out an amazing 333 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque at stock specs! There are an amazing amount of modifications for both the coupe and convertible models so read up and get started modifying your cars today!

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Old 07-23-2012, 02:15 PM   #1
Bmill160
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Hole in my Valve Cover

I was driving home from work the other day and turning into the high school where I coach on the side, and I started blowing white smoke behind me and from under the hood. I popped it out of gear and pulled over immediately and shut the motor off (smoke is never good...)

When I lifted the hood, there was oil spatter all over the inside of the engine bay. I keep my engine detailed so it was very quickly obvious where the oil was coming from. A portion of the VCG was protruding from its seat and I was assuming (and hoping) that I just blew the VCG.

I had the car towed to a local high end sports car dealer and when we took the cover off, we found a large hole had been ripped in the valve cover right above the timing chain. Has anyone seen this before or have any ideas why it would have happened?

From some reasearch, I'm seeing either VANOS hub tabs being ripped off or a similar failure. We don't know the extent of the damage yet but I wanted to reach out for advice. We've owned BMW's forever and this is my second M, but this should NOT happen...
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:24 PM   #2
Bmill160
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Here is the picture..
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:31 PM   #3
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Wow ... Wish I could help you out but I don't know what would cause that. But damn...!!
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:52 PM   #4
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Exhaust cam tab(s) failed, dropped into engine, caught in timing chain, chain jumps and punches hole in valve cover.

You're most likely looking at a new engine if the chain jumped enough to bend valves and damage pistons. Regardless you've got metal bits in your engine, so even if you rebuild you could be facing a worse problem down the road.
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:53 PM   #5
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Looks like something was riding around on the chain and hit the underside of the valve cover. I suppose it could have been a vanos hub tab. Just hope it wasn't the tab stuck under the chain causing it to interfere with the valve cover.
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:57 PM   #6
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Thats crazy sorry to hear man....
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:57 PM   #7
intelone
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Broken vanos tab that got caught in the timing chain or loose intake cam bolts finally gave way.
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:03 PM   #8
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We won't have the cover off until the morning, then we'll have a better idea.. fingers crossed until then. I just don't understand how it can fail without warning. It didn't trip the engine light, didn't make any sounds before or after even.. I just coasted off the road when I saw the smoke.

I'll keep posted.
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bmill160 View Post
We won't have the cover off until the morning, then we'll have a better idea.. fingers crossed until then. I just don't understand how it can fail without warning. It didn't trip the engine light, didn't make any sounds before or after even.. I just coasted off the road when I saw the smoke.

I'll keep posted.
The bolts rattle before they finally shear.
The tabs just break, no warning signs.

I'm assuming you're not very active on e46 M3 forums. Both these issues are commonly known.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:06 AM   #10
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I understand. No, I'm not as active as I'd like to be, but I thought I'd put something out there so more people could see the documented problems in case they saw warning signs or something happened to them.

Is it not strange that a vital engine component can cause catastrophic failure without warning or without fail-safes to prevent something like this? Rule # 1 for engineers is Failure Mode Effect Analysis and something that has a reasonable likelihood of happening, low detectability, and a tremendous cost of failure should warrant an enormous factor of safety..
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:33 AM   #11
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Either the exhaust hub tab broke off or a vanos bolt sheared off and caught on the timing chain. My guess is a bolt because the tabs usually break off and sit in the vanos unit until fished out, also because that's a HUGE hole! Keep us posted on the findings, and sorry this happened to you... Incidents like this is why I had my whole vanos unit replaced as well as the bolts and exhaust hub.
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:29 AM   #12
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If the motor didn't shut off when the smoke appeared (post apocolypse) and there wasn't any noise or warning lights, what are the chances I didn't contact any valves or anything?
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:56 AM   #13
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I just read another thread on someone else's problem. If a tab went around under the chain. There shouldn't be any valve damage. Make sure whatever caught is out and check the timing. Then do leak down test just to make sure.
Then pull front cover and check sprockets, chains, guides etc. Also pull oil pan to see what is in there. Then start re assembling with new parts, vanos, exhaust hub and bolts.
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:02 AM   #14
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Its really impossible to hypothesize about the damage to the valves, VCG, pistons, timing chain etc... You need to have a mechanic look in it with a micro scope ..sorry bro but it seems like a pretty serious blow to your engine
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:24 PM   #15
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Here is the picture..
That's nasty! I've seen holed blocks before but a valve cover?!
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:46 PM   #16
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Ok... UPDATE:

We towed it over to Kelly BMW from IPS Motorsports to have the diagnosis done there. We got as far as taking the valve cover off and there is a tooth missing from the cam and broken bits from the tensioner and guide. The IPS techs are fairly certain the chain jumped and the motor lost time which would bend the valves and basically destroy the inside of the motor.

Had some calls with BMWNA and they are waiting on the diagnosis from Kelly so we can "see how they can help." Keeping my fingers crossed at the moment until they tear into it. Hopefully BMW does the right thing. :/ Sure would go a long way down the road when it's time for the next one.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:41 PM   #17
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Exhaust tab broke is my first guess.

When you say a tooth is missing from the cam? What does that mean? A whole cam lobe broke off or a tooth broke off one of the cam gears?

I'm sticking with exhaust tab. I had me entire VANOS system apart 3 days ago (to fix a broken exhaust tab) and the only thing that I can see falling out into the timing chain is an aforementioned exhaust tab.

Good luck getting your car fixed and dealing with BMWNA. Also this does not automatically mean your engine is toast. You may be able to fix everything for a +/- 2k depending on how much of the work you do yourself.

Cheers...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bmill160 View Post
Ok... UPDATE:

We towed it over to Kelly BMW from IPS Motorsports to have the diagnosis done there. We got as far as taking the valve cover off and there is a tooth missing from the cam and broken bits from the tensioner and guide. The IPS techs are fairly certain the chain jumped and the motor lost time which would bend the valves and basically destroy the inside of the motor.

Had some calls with BMWNA and they are waiting on the diagnosis from Kelly so we can "see how they can help." Keeping my fingers crossed at the moment until they tear into it. Hopefully BMW does the right thing. :/ Sure would go a long way down the road when it's time for the next one.
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:00 PM   #18
Bmill160
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Sorry, yes. Cam gear.

Hopefully you're right and it doesn't need totally replaced!

Ill get more pictures.
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:12 PM   #19
olivierE46M3
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How do you check this on your own..... I just bought M3 2003 and after reading all the threads i am afraid to drive the damn thing!!!!! can I get a list of everything that needs special attention on this car? Can you guys send me a PM ?
Thanks in advance.....
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:13 PM   #20
qualicas
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Because one tooth broke it doesn't mean that the chain skipped. Worst case if it skipped on one cam wouldn't mean it skipped on the other. Still lots of damage but maybe not bent valves. Checking the timing is reasonable easy to do. Hope it confirms chain didn't skip. Good luck.
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