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Ninja59

N57 timing chain....my experience

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I know everyone hates this topic, mainly around the 57's little brother, but I wanted to highlight my experience (to note I won't be mentioning dealership groups, names or locations for obvious reasons stated below)

 

A couple of points to note first though:

Mine is a 640D GC, but either way for the sake of this consider it a 535D!

It has fully comp BMW extended warranty

I could have gone to a specialist agreed, but take into account point 2

My car only today has just clocked over 66k

I have owned this car since it had just over 2k on the clock

I have history in previous cars of them going in for the same issue multiple times and ultimately destroying my enjoyment and ownership of the vehicle from DMF failing/failures (9 times) to an engine needing replacement (4 times).

 

My car before lockdown, and maybe even earlier in the lifespan of it, had the odd moment "shh" on startup in varying state of cold or warm, this was not the classic rattle as some would expect of a TC!

 

That being said during lockdown and post lockdown it had begun to critically become more frequent and more regular, and overall more frustrating. Combine this with me occassionally noticing the engine sounding more "clattery" more so in the warm up phase and overall just not quite itself (I would hope I know my car considering I have driven it for 64,000 miles!).

 

Taking advantage of BMW assist it went in 6 times to one BMW dealer with a suggestion I go visit another dealer for a 2nd opinion or wait for component failure after the final time. I have also had 2 BMW roadside assist guys all of whom could not fault the car in anyway, one eventually just saying drive it down there and I will meet you there! But, for me the car was simply not right, somehow, I stopped going for drives just for the sake of it, I would simply avoid going out in it, because I almost knew I would just come back hating the car for this "issue". 

 

The car got returned on a Wednesday, by the following Monday the car had done it regularly 4 times in a row that day, that morning I also noticed the car seemed "lethargic", not lacking a huge amount of go, but for someone who has driven it regularly it was not quite "there", not the rocketship it once was. Also I had noticed, worringly, that sitting still if revved the TC was noiser (not flapping!) and also was noiser at lower RPM (if before the TC was slightly audible at 1700 - 1800rpm, I could hear it at 1300 - 1500rpm now). Time for another call, but this time the car was going to another dealer still localish, but lets get that 2nd opinion!

 

Either way the car spent just over 1 week at the second dealer, with 3 technicians and 1 master tech. Only the master tech picked up on the noise and RPM's, after multiple starts and a fair few drives, and one YT video of a similar sounding (but worse N57), I got a call to say that the cam cover was coming off and the top chain was being checked after them comparing it against 3 other 640's with similar mileages, one TC sounded noiser than mine! Thank god someone was actually listening and they had something to compare it against.

 

So the fix for my car well, it has only had the top chain and tensioner replaced, so yes there is still the lower chain, tensioner and guides potentially in the future. I won't lie that makes me feel a tiny bit nervous, but I cannot complain as the car drives like my 640D "did" and should. It also starts without any undue noise I was hearing, the clatter in the warm up phase has gone, the car warms up faster (at similar air temperatures and traffic conditions) and to top it all my MPG has improved. The final nail in the coffin so to speak, the car is not making any TC noise until 1800 RPM.

 

The sad bit: my car only has 66k on, oil changed every 10k and the TC stretch was still actually within BMW specifications (yes what I am saying is that I had a very understanding workshop foreman look after my car, who wanted to obviously earn some coin, but satisfy a customer)

 

If you are concerned in anyway then do listen to them on startup, warm up and occassionally when stationary by listening by the driver's door under the sill (ideally record it on your phone, although not 100% conclusive all the time)

 

After speaking with their master tech a few things came to light:

  • He has now done a few N57 chains, and is aware even outside the network there is a few more appearing as they age. Most have been police ones as you can imagine within the dealer network!
  • It is always the top chain that is stretched based on his experience, and even my research would point to this
  • An N57 TC should only make any audible noise continously between 1800 RPM and be gone by 2500 RPM, this might be more difficult for the single turbo guys having listened to a few
  • Even he "off the record" said get the oil swapped out every 10k if you want them to last!
  • If it is rattling or flapping, well it is buggered and needs changing, stop driving it

 

Any questions let me know, but I wanted to highlight my experience! For the record yes I am back to loving mine, again, it also passed the MOT for another year, first time. I am keeping an eye on the shocks though as one of the 640's mentioned above had shagged shocks all round by 70k!

Edited by Ninja59

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Glad you've persevered with getting your car diagnosed and sorted before anything terminal happened.

 

Just out of curiosity, do you use Auto Stop/Start at all regularly? I've read some comments on how this can contribute to excess wear in the chains so just wondering if that might have played a part in your chains untimely demise.

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Good question which I have not addressed in my original post simple answer it is always turned off when I drive it. That being said I don't know how it was driven, used on test drives or during that initial few thousand miles! 

 

Forgot to add as well my hire and courtesy car list during this time:

BMW 218i manual - loved it, oddly, gearing was massively long (as I have experienced previously) and the 3 pot is not without issues. 

BMW 420D GC (the same car twice, ironically) - 15k on the clock second time round whilst it was in the 2nd dealer, the handbrake was sticking/squeaking after clearly having new pads, B47 is definitely quieter chain wise, but my god the noise under accleration (sorry 2.0 boys and girls)

BMW 520D G30 - clearly this car had been abused and bluntly it felt it, the B47 was the quieter than the 420D definitely, but still yeah I will just leave that there! Not a good example though, with 13k on the clock

Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage - same car essentially, one petrol, one diesel - hmm, I hate SUV's and a windy day across the M2/A2 was enough to put me off with ankle pain, minus the brown trouser moment of the car being pushed toward the central reservation!

There is another car somewhere, I think it was an F30 330D, with a squeaking aux system, probably waterpump or tensioner.

 

Edited by Ninja59

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As a driver of an n47 (little brother!) I never heard any noises from my engine, it’s an 61 plate 520d with at the time 88k on the clock, a small leak from the cam cover gasket meant I had the cover off, and as I was cleaning the oil from the mating surfaces, I noticed the top chain incredibly loose! So loose I could lift it up of the pulley and could have easily moved it over tooth! 
I put the engine back together, I needed to get it 1/4 mile down the road to my dads to use his spacious garage! I winced as I hit the start button! It fired up - silently as ever and drive the 1/4 mile no problem, engine out, chain cover off, - chain was tight! Found the chain tensioner was sticking - one minute it was loose, next minute it was fine and the chain was tight! But all the time it never made a sound! You must have to have a really good ear to hear them! 
I replaced all 3 chains, guides both tensioners and rear crank oil seal, oil changes yearly ( I only really do about 6k a year) hopefully that’ll be the last time the engine leaves the car!! 

EBC927EB-EC03-4D35-905B-9A279E9BDD9F.jpeg

AC64AB56-425B-4ACA-9A2E-FAC4B8F77A1E.jpeg

Edited by Sam76
Add pics

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Ouch! Lucky you noticed it and I can understand the nerves around starting it.

 

In regards to listening to them I think there is a lot of factors to take into account:

1) Most people probably rarely get to hear the same engine type in quick succession, in different vehicles critically at similar mileages

2) The sound itself BMW admit in certain documents will change as the car ages, the critical bit is it getting louder, developing, rougher, rattling or simply snapped

3) The location of the chain does not help, but blame the EU over BMW, pedestrain regulations are to blame (JLR, Mercedes and a few others have all moved to rear mounted, single row chains now in their latest engines)

4) For me personally owning the car the length of time I have means I have experience of how it used to sound, with multiple owners etc. I think that becomes harder to "clarify" if you have limited car interest or knowledge

5) More frequent oil changes and not using start/stop is probably something that enters few minds, beyond initially saving a few quid, but point 4 might be a factor as well!

6) BMW tolerances and specification if you are into your cars and listened to it previously, develop etc. then I think it can be harder (more so, ironically, under warranty) getting it identified and actually covered under warranty. You are to some degree at the mercy of a) the techs b) the dealership mentality (and aftersales) c) Allianz who oversee the BMW warranty (or another provider)

7) I think the knowledge on certain engines is far more scarce than many would like to admit in certain dealerships, walk in with a B47 or N47 I doubt you have as much issue walk in with even to a degree an N57 let alone something like an N63 then the knowledge of how they should sound, run etc. is harder to clarify unless it is so obvious 

8 Investigating at least in my initial visits very intermittent noises is something many will struggle with and unfortunately blame easily whilst it is there!

9) BMW UK  well the less said the better sometimes.

10) All the sodding chains will stretch I think we have to accept (even if you look at the B57 technical breakdown it is in black and white that the chain is subject to eloongation for a variety of reasons!

11) I think the attitude of manufacturers, dealers etc. has now changed so much that cars are generally not owned and hatefully, disposable goods, in some cases similar to smartphones and white goods. Or put another way a race to the bottom of shitness and the only thing they look for is profit and ensuring shareholders get a dividend. 

Edited by Ninja59

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I religiously switch the bloody start/stop off! It’s my most loathed feature on all modern cars! Going to invest in a Carly so I can switch to default off! 
glad you managed to get yours sorted, interesting how they only wanted to do the top chain though? 

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42 minutes ago, Sam76 said:

I religiously switch the bloody start/stop off! It’s my most loathed feature on all modern cars! Going to invest in a Carly so I can switch to default off! 
glad you managed to get yours sorted, interesting how they only wanted to do the top chain though? 

I strongly suspect as they could not "identify" any other fault beyond the top chain being stretched. I suspect if it had been flapping about they would have done the whole lot. 

 

It is like anything though I just gave them a point blank choice would you prefer to do the chain now or when the engine is potentially lunched because the timing chain has had it? 

 

I think from a personal perspective this is what I don't like about BMW they prefer to wait until a component has completely "failed" rather than attend to something more preventatiively in many cases if the noise is there. That being said based on my experience with the second dealer in question am I not now more likely to use their services, chances are highly likely (I might be giving away something here, but they are part of the same bloody group that is what truly baffles me).

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8 hours ago, Sam76 said:

As a driver of an n47 (little brother!) I never heard any noises from my engine, it’s an 61 plate 520d with at the time 88k on the clock, a small leak from the cam cover gasket meant I had the cover off, and as I was cleaning the oil from the mating surfaces, I noticed the top chain incredibly loose! So loose I could lift it up of the pulley and could have easily moved it over tooth! 
I put the engine back together, I needed to get it 1/4 mile down the road to my dads to use his spacious garage! I winced as I hit the start button! It fired up - silently as ever and drive the 1/4 mile no problem, engine out, chain cover off, - chain was tight! Found the chain tensioner was sticking - one minute it was loose, next minute it was fine and the chain was tight! But all the time it never made a sound! You must have to have a really good ear to hear them! 
I replaced all 3 chains, guides both tensioners and rear crank oil seal, oil changes yearly ( I only really do about 6k a year) hopefully that’ll be the last time the engine leaves the car!! 

EBC927EB-EC03-4D35-905B-9A279E9BDD9F.jpeg

AC64AB56-425B-4ACA-9A2E-FAC4B8F77A1E.jpeg

IMG_1254.MOV

 

I think this is the only way to do a DIY chain change without a lift.  Disconnect the GB from underneath and disconnect/remove engine ancillaries and hoist it out from above.   

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I was told by some engine builders that ideally oil change should be done between 6-7k and disconnect the start stop thing. 

 

For those doing oil changes at home it's not problem. Buy a 20litre drum of castrol ll04 off eBay and off you go. 

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10 hours ago, Jimbo07g41 said:

 

 

I think this is the only way to do a DIY chain change without a lift.  Disconnect the GB from underneath and disconnect/remove engine ancillaries and hoist it out from above.   

Its actually Not a terrible job! Seems a lot of work but with the n47, there’s so much room around it all! To be honest, if I had a lift, I would have done it the same way 

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On 09/09/2020 at 22:47, sams255 said:

Buy a 20litre drum of castrol ll04 off eBay and off you go. 

I was thinking this but oil has a shelf life once opened apparently.

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