BMW Timing Chain Failure


The BMW Diesel Engine – Timing Chain Problems
Premature timing chain failure has become a serious problem for many BMW owners – regularly discussed in BMW website forums, featured on BBC Watchdog and highlighted in other media sites.

A range of BMW diesel engines produced between 2006 and 2012 appear to have a design problem affecting the timing chain. The engine timing chain is very weak – it stretches over time, and ultimately snaps.

BMW timing chains have snapped on a range of models across the 1 Series, 3 Series and 5 Series, most commonly affecting the N47 diesel, we have also rebuilt M57 diesel engines damaged by timing chain failure & also BMW petrol engines.

The tables below detail the affected BMW models and engine codes:

2.0 litre Diesel BMW engines – N47
Model No. Year Registered Engine Code
118d, 120d, 123d, 318d
320d, 520d, X3
2007, 2008, 2009 N47D20A
118d, 120d, 123d, 318d
320d, 520d, X3
2009, 2010, 2011 N47D20C
3.0 litre Diesel BMW engines – M57
Model No. Year Registered Engine Code
525d, 530d, 535d, X3
X5, 730d
2006, 2007, 2008,2009
2010, 2011, 2012

What Happens When A Timing Chain Snaps?
When a BMW engine timing chain snaps, the inlet and exhaust valves collide with the pistons, resulting in massive engine damage. At this point it will bend all 16 valves, shatter the rocker arms, snap and distort both camshafts and the camshaft housing.

The timing chain is located at the rear of the engine bay and is not intended to be a serviceable part, as described here by John Dabek, Principal of Forensic Engineering Associates.

IAAF e-Bulletin – BMW attempt to deflect blame for engine timing chain failure

Engine Rebuilds by “Prestige German Engines”
We have rebuilt over a thousand BMW engines damaged by timing chain failure, and we have developed a thorough, highly successful engine rebuild procedure.

Repairing the catastrophic engine damage is a labour intensive and expensive job. The timing chain is located at the rear of the engine, therefore we must remove the entire engine and completely strip down all components to discover and replace all damaged parts to ensure we restore the engine to perfect running order. The N47 or M57 engine is rebuilt with modified chains, guides and tensioners supplied by BMW to reduce the risk of a repeat failure.

If your timing chain has snapped then you will require the full engine rebuild procedure, which we offer from £2,500 inclusive of parts for the N47 engine. For the M57 engine rebuild, prices start at £3,500 .

Each damaged engine is individually assessed and depending on damage to engine parts, and fluctuations in BMW component pricing, the price may be higher.

Further Information on the Timing Chain Failure Issue
Early in 2013, our workshop specialist was consulted by researchers from
the BBC Watchdog programme – they were keen to acquire real-world professional
advice on this subject, and some of our engine rebuild customers had recommended
us to BBC Watchdog as experts in this subject.

BBC Watchdog were producing a feature on the BMW timing chain failure issue, having been alerted by many unhappy BMW owners. Some of the BMW owners contacting Watchdog had been quoted huge repair costs from BMW and had instead chosen Prestige to rebuild their badly damaged engines. You can view their report on the BBC website here:

BBC Watchdog Report – BMW Timing Chain Failure

About Prestige Engine Rebuild & Repair Services
We are BMW diesel engine rebuild specialists and we became aware of the broken timing chain problem several years ago.

Combined with the ‘Swirl Flap failure’ problem, we have rebuilt over 1,000 engines in recent years including the 118d, 120d, 123d, 318d, 320d, 520d, 525d, 530d, 535d, X3, X5 and the 730d.

I have personally been working on German cars for the past 27 years and I am also a fully qualified Mercedes Benz trained technician and engine assembler.

The team at Prestige have a well deserved reputation for technical excellence and superb customer care. We will collect your car from anywhere within mainland UK, rebuild the engine, replacing all damaged parts and you will be able to enjoy driving it once again.

If you need any advice or help, please call Steve Baker at Prestige German Engines on 07792 300252 to discuss your individual engine repair requirements and obtain a quote.
Many thanks for taking the time to read.

Cheaper Engine Repair Options
If you are considering other companies offering so called ‘re-manufactured’ engines at under £2,000, our advice is to steer clear or do some thorough research. The chances are, the engines are not rebuilt, nor re-manufactured, as genuine BMW replacement parts cost over £1,200 for the N47 and more for the M57.
It is more likely that the replacement engine will have been recovered from a damaged car – it’s also likely that it won’t have the modified BMW replacement timing chains, guides and tensioners – so they will just snap again…

It is a skilled and time consuming process to correctly repair an engine damaged by a broken timing chain, cheap solutions are unlikely to provide the reliability and warranty offered by Prestige.