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Cam bearing ledge wear is the most common VANOS-related performance issue on high-mileage N52 and N54 engines and the earliest series of N55s. Due to an overlook in design, there's a seal that will eventually wear and cause a myriad of issues. Although it may appear as a simple oil leak and some unrelated DME codes, the result can be incredibly costly. Save time, money, and stress by replacing your camshaft Rectangring seals.

 

BMW N52/N54/N55 Camshaft Bearing Ledge Wear

The front of the camshafts acts as an oil passage for the VANOS sprockets. If the camshaft’s rectangring seals cut into the camshaft bearing ledge, the wear could be significant enough to allow oil to bypass the seals and leak out. That will cause improper control of the VANOS sprocket, preventing the commanded camshaft position from being achieved.

FCP_EURO_BMW_N5X_Cam_Bearing_Ledge_Wear

Oil flowing through the camshafts is controlled by the VANOS solenoids located at the front of the timing cover, so any unexpected oil pressure drops can cause codes related to that issue. Camshaft over-retarded or uncontrollable fault codes will never be fixed by replacing a camshaft position sensor, either. These faults are always mechanical problems that can be misdiagnosed as the camshaft VANOS sprocket or VANOS solenoid.      

 

BMW Cam Bearing Ledge Wear Fault Codes:

  • 2A82 - VANOS intake - stiff; mechanically jammed
  • 2A7A - Outlet, Cold Start / VANOS Outlet
  • 2A7C - Intlet, Cold Start / VANOS Intlet
  • P052D - Cold Start "A" Camshaft Position Timing Over-Retarded
  • P05CD - Cold Start "A" Camshaft Position Timing Performance Bank 2
  • P0015 - 'B' Camshaft Position Timing Over-Retarded Bank 1
  • P0012 - 'A' Camshaft Position Timing Over-Retarded Bank 1
  • P1520 - Camshaft Position Actuator 'B' Bank 1
  • P1523 - Camshaft Position Actuator Tight or Jammed
  • 131501 - VANOS, intake, cold start: not controllable
  • 131401 - VANOS, exhaust, cold start: not controllable
  • 130104 - VANOS, intake, control fault, camshaft jammed
  • 3100 - Boost pressure control deactivation

On N52/N55 engines, the intake cam bearing ledges are part of the Valvetronic bridge, meaning the ledge’s lower half is part of the cylinder head casting. Excessive wear on these surfaces will result in a cylinder head replacement because it is not fixable. N54s do not use Valvetronic, so you can replace the camshaft and tray to retain the cylinder head. All three engines have a separate cam tray for the exhaust side that can be replaced separately if excessive wear is found.

This issue has become so common that BMW issued a service bulletin to help techs in the field identify the causes of VANOS faults:

https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2012/SB-10032779-8218.pdf

 

BMW N52/N54/N55 Cam Bearing Ledge Wear Fix

BMW has since updated the cam seals to a single-piece Teflon seal instead of the original metal seal with a split hook design. The change in part numbers is intended to reduce wear and prevent cam tray/cylinder head damage.

Lower interval oil changes (5K miles) and oil treatments like Ceratec or MOS2 can help reduce this type of wear and extend the service life of your engine. More frequent and regular oil changes are the single best thing you can do to extend the service life of your engine and help reduce oil and VANOS-related issues. 


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Written by :
Gareth Foley

Gareth is the BMW Make Level Marketer for FCP Euro and has been with the company since 2012. Gareth's BMW obsession started with a hand me down E39 528i when he was 17. From this car he learned how to do his own repair work while also learning more about BMW. When Gareth was at CCSU studying Marketing he had the opportunity to go to SEMA with the college car club. This is where he developed his love of the automotive industry. Since joining FCP in 2012 Gareth has sought out to develop one of the broadest and most accurate BMW replacement parts catalog. he can be reached at gareth1@fcpeuro.com


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