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Droverunner

Buying a 2009 520D - Advice inc N47 Timing Chain Isues.

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Been a forum member for almost 5yrs since I bought a E39 525D Tourer (manual). This has been a brilliant car over that period but fancy a change and logic says a newer 5-series.

 

Going to look at a Sept 2009 reg 520D (manual) which I assume has the N47 engine, about 170k recorded.

 

Any quick check list of the most common things to look for?

 

Also re the engine I've read a little of the N47 timing chain problems but would a 2009 be better than say a 2006 because of any changes that might have made? And does it seem to be you are either lucky or not or is it a case of more miles more wear and eventually it will go on them all?

 

BTW I'm a lifetime DIYer re service/repairs but have no facility to lift an engine or drop a gearbox.

 

Any thoughts appreciated.

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My neighbour had an f10 520d. chain went just over 100k. More or less scrapped the car on economic grounds. They got an offer on it as it stood and chopped it in.


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E60s and F10s suffer from the same timing chain issues. I have an E60 520d since new, and decided to go for the chain replacement, just to be on the safe side. It cost 2500 euro for 2 chains, 1 sprocket, tensioner and 4 guides. I did that outside UK so it cost me more. In the UK it's cheaper, usually less than 1000 pounds. I've had no other issues with the car (touch wood) and I'm pretty happy with it. M47 engines have other issues and not as powerful as N47. The LCI car is better overall. If you can do that however, go for a 6-pot (525 or 530d). Much much better, more extras, lots of power.

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Most sellers with the N47 are aware of the chain issues, and many have had it changed as a precaution. Look for one that has the documentation proving chain was done. 

 

Keliuss 

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Don't 

 

A manual 520d is only fit for motorway work. I.e. Getting to 70 mph and staying there for as many miles as possible.

 

The very short useful power range of this engine makes driving a manual version very tiring. You have to stir the gear-lever like you are making porridge. Miss a gear from the lights and Doris in her Fiesta will sail past.

 

I had a manual N47 for nine weeks and these nine weeks were mostly spent on twisty Scottish B roads. I was constantly changing gear, made driving no fun at all. Motorway driving I saw 47mpg. That was the only positive.

 

If you want a 520d get an auto or you will end up with a massive left leg and left arm from the constant gear changing. It would be a different much better beast with an autobox.

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Thanks but current car manual. Auto not an option... dislike them and not likely to change that attitude anytime soon. Just my preference.  I am used to the low revs diesels peak at and happy to drive to that ceiling.

Edited by Droverunner

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2 minutes ago, Droverunner said:

Thanks. I see you list your car as a 2008 LCI. What changes does it have over a 2007... trim, styling, mechanical??

 

I think LCI's are from production dates 09/2007. N47 engine was the biggest change I think. Some very subtle interior and exterior styling changes, you can Google it. 

I considered getting the pre-LCI due to the chain issues, but car tax in Ireland changed in 2008 to a CO2 based scale which made the later models much cheaper to tax. Hence my LCI with BMW documents showing the chain work done. 

 

Keliuss 

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Understood thanks. I guess even if this car had documents to show chain change at 100k then at 170k it may be due another... or did they modify the chain/sprockets?

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6 hours ago, euclid said:

...The LCI car is better overall. If you can do that however, go for a 6-pot (525 or 530d). Much much better, more extras, lots of power. 

 

+1 Agreed.

 

 

8 hours ago, Droverunner said:

Going to look at a Sept 2009 reg 520D (manual) which I assume has the N47 engine, about 170k recorded.

Should be pretty cheap then ;).
Take your time, try a few and get the one that's best for you. A few LCI (+March 2007) models out there but less manuals though.

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4 hours ago, Droverunner said:

Thanks but current car manual. Auto not an option... dislike them and not likely to change that attitude anytime soon. Just my preference.  I am used to the low revs diesels peak at and happy to drive to that ceiling.

 

Unless, it's spent most of it's life on the motorway the dual mass flywheel and clutch should have been replaced.

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Thanks all. Idea on hold until I've researched more about the N47 timing chain life and if there were any mods made when replaced (if done) to extend the life in excess of the original. I.e. don't want to buy at 170k when original was changed at say 90K only to find it snaps at 180K. Not had a breakdown in over 35yrs and I'd trust my 150K E39 2.5D to make 250K+ with just oil/filter changes so don't want to go 7yrs newer for possibly less reliability.

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I was also looking at an N47 5 series a few months ago, but the timing chain stuff was enough to put me off. It's a couple of grand if you catch it before it snaps, and nearer £6k (depending on how much damage it caused) if it has snapped - hence why so many of them are written off when it goes.

 

I got the rarest of beasts instead: a 2007 520d LCI with the M47 (TU2) engine, that doesn't have timing chain problems. Between March 2007 and (roughly) August 2007, BMW were selling the facelifted 520d, but with the old engine rather than the new one. It's the last and best of the old engine (no problems with swirl flaps either - they were fixed by then), combined with the updated looks.

 

And it's a manual gearbox...

 

And I absolutely love it. It has enough power to be fun, but also enough fuel economy (absolutely critical for me) that I can live with it. Over a 600 mile trip last week I averaged 57.8mpg on the clock (which will be nearer 55 in reality, measured by the brim-to-brim method). I'll be keeping this car until I can afford a late 2015 5 series with the B47 engine, thus skipping the N47 completely. BMW did make changes to the N47 in later life (2011 onwards - for the most part a longer chain tensioner!), but there's still plenty of them that snap their chains to keep me worried.

 

To end on a constructive note, for anyone reading that already has one of these engines, there's a couple of things you can do that might help:

  • Change the oil twice as often as recommended - a lifetime of doing so is nowhere near as expensive as changing the timing chain
  • Disable STOP/START (biggest stress on the timing chain is starting the engine)
  • Take it to a garage as soon as you hear a mechanical tinkering from the back of the engine (might be best to tow it there...)
  • Take out BMW extended warranty (which will be more expensive than on other BMW diesels....I wonder why)

 

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A good friend of mine has one and i have spent quite  a lot of time in it. My view is that it is vastly underpowered. It is far too heavy for a 2 litre 4 cylinder. The engine/chassis are a mismatch. A manual gearbox is a mistake due to the narrow and inadequate powerband

 

Go auto, or go 6 cylinder auto 

 

 

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On 08/02/2019 at 12:46, Stevenrl said:

I was also looking at an N47 5 series a few months ago, but the timing chain stuff was enough to put me off. It's a couple of grand if you catch it before it snaps, and nearer £6k (depending on how much damage it caused) if it has snapped - hence why so many of them are written off when it goes.

 

I got the rarest of beasts instead: a 2007 520d LCI with the M47 (TU2) engine, that doesn't have timing chain problems. Between March 2007 and (roughly) August 2007, BMW were selling the facelifted 520d, but with the old engine rather than the new one. It's the last and best of the old engine (no problems with swirl flaps either - they were fixed by then), combined with the updated looks.

 

And it's a manual gearbox...

 

And I absolutely love it. It has enough power to be fun, but also enough fuel economy (absolutely critical for me) that I can live with it. Over a 600 mile trip last week I averaged 57.8mpg on the clock (which will be nearer 55 in reality, measured by the brim-to-brim method). I'll be keeping this car until I can afford a late 2015 5 series with the B47 engine, thus skipping the N47 completely. BMW did make changes to the N47 in later life (2011 onwards - for the most part a longer chain tensioner!), but there's still plenty of them that snap their chains to keep me worried.

 

To end on a constructive note, for anyone reading that already has one of these engines, there's a couple of things you can do that might help:

  • Change the oil twice as often as recommended - a lifetime of doing so is nowhere near as expensive as changing the timing chain
  • Disable STOP/START (biggest stress on the timing chain is starting the engine)
  • Take it to a garage as soon as you hear a mechanical tinkering from the back of the engine (might be best to tow it there...)
  • Take out BMW extended warranty (which will be more expensive than on other BMW diesels....I wonder why)

 

^^^

my brother had one of these! E61 520d SE 6spd manual in black 07 plate LCI with the 163bhp engine. Overall pretty reliable other than the fact the dpf kept getting clogged and wasn’t regenerating properly despite the stats being ok and it being driven long journeys etc. Only way to get it to regen was to use inpa while it was being driven and that would clear the limp mode for a while. Always came back though. Clutch only lasted about 100k miles. His mpg was never near the hig 50s though :lol: mid to high 40s mostly and low 50s on his France tips fully loaded. That’s the one thing he felt let it down, although he did have a an A4 130pd tdi sport previous to the e61 and that was tremendous on fuel. 

Edited by GStarrr

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Appreciate all the advice... particularly the detail from Stevenrl. I didn't go to view the car in question or I'd probably have struggled to resist buying it... just to sit in on my drive if nothing else. Happened to be my favourite colour and interior trim colour which is a huge draw... plus a good spec. Idea on hold while I research more (such as finding you can get the "safer" versions of the engine in a slightly older car).

 

Regarding power and manual vs auto... It seems the E61 520D has about 10-15hp more than my E39 525D and the same torque albeit higher up the rev range. So ultimate power is the same as I have now and even if the revs at which max torque is developed needs more gear changing no problem. I am lucky to perhaps drive in very different circumstances to many here. Cover less than 8k/yr in my car and being early retired never have to drive at commuter time... live in an area of rural main roads where I rarely need to overtake and our longer journeys are on motorways where gear changing isn't an issue. When my manual 525D was in for repairs I borrowed an auto version and the gearbox ruined the feel of the car for what I like. Also wife has an auto Mercedes and I really dislike the feel the gearbox gives the car.

 

It's just a personal thing.

Edited by Droverunner

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i've got the E61 LCI but with the older engine, 07 plate. So its one of the last older engines but with the LCI facelifted exterior and interior.  I drove some newer ones which had the timing chain issues but did not want to take the risk. 

I drive mine on varied roads for commuting and 400+ mile road trips. Averaged 20k miles a year or so, and maintain the car myself. For me this has the best balance of power, performance, reliability & cost of ownership. One of the perks being its light on its feet and can get 30k from a set of tyres . . .

On average i get just over 40MPG (calculated correctly, not via trip computer) and my driving style is more spirited than fuel saver. on a long motorway journey at 'motorway' speeds it gets to the mid/high 40's.

 

it took me about 6 months to find the one i wanted and eventually got. They are out there but need to be patient!

 

Edited by dj1233

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Appreciate all the info and opinion above. Appreciate too there are many out there with the N47 engines doing OK but personally just don't want the risk so if a 2.0 would stick to a 2006/7 car with the older engine. However the extra costs of 2.5 and 3.0 are of no consequence and as it seems they kept the older and more reliable timing chain arrangement for many more years that might be what I end up with. I am very particular re colour/trim so will keep a search on the usual places for a few months and when one comes up drop on it.

 

Just started a new thread re the aspects other than the engine... 

Edited by Droverunner

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