Had frequently many problems with car. I will start with the noise coming from the engine when it was cooled down(especially in the morning). Once it get warm the noise faded away. Few months ago it got really worse and I took to my garage. My mechanic suggested to change the timing chain and also found that camshaft was broken. I fixed it for nearly for 1700Euros.

After few weeks, again had that noise coming back so I took the car to garage again. He told he can't figure out clearly and called some mechanic's in BMW and they suggested him that it might because of the electric motor and its chain & camshaft. He advised me not to change it as it will cost a lot and told me to sell the car if possible. Also he told me to unplug the supply going to the electric motor in that way I hear less noise(He warned me that I might not get the usual power). After couple of days when I was driving the car in highway I lost the power and pulled over to the side. It makes squeaky noise when I try to start but it won't.

Also my oil sensor warning was there for few months(orange color) eventhough I changed the oil when I fixed the timing chain. My mechaninc told me it was only the oil sensor malfunctioning. so asked to ignore it for now. Before the car broke down in middle of the road the oil senor turned to red and blinking a lot for that two days. After investing some time in internet trying to figure out if there is any other person with similar noise and I found out it comes from the vanos. It sounds exactly as heard in this video(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5vGmVJT9tE). Some help would be really appreciated if I start with cleaning the vanos unit/replace it myself or is there some serious issue behind it?

  • 3
    So the oil light went red for 2 days prior to breaking down and you continued driving? Sounds an expensive decision - you will need to get the car checked in detail.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 11:18
  • Initially I thought the sensor was reading very low values so the orange warning has gone to red. But after your comment I realized that its oil pressure warning. Worried about how much damaged it could have been done.
    – Cedric
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 12:06

1 Answer 1


While it's possible the VANOS was the original culprit I have to say I don't think it's going to do you much good to address that now.

One of the consequences of a failing VANOS is that you steadily lose oil (and frankly the N46 has something of a reputation for leaking like a sieve to begin with) - which is the likely culprit for you ultimately ending up with the low oil pressure warning. And driving the car for a couple of days with oil pressure low enough to have triggered the light is quite likely to have done all sorts of damage (which is probably why it died and won't restart)

At this point I think trying to do anything with the VANOS is just throwing good money on a bonfire. You'd probably be better off swapping the entire engine for a refurbished unit - even that's going to be setting you back the best part of a couple of grand. Which, depending on the local second hand market could easily be more than the car is worth.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I think you've just learned two (very expensive) lessons:

  1. If you have reason to distrust the oil level sensor check the oil level yourself frequently

  2. If you get a blinking red oil light on the dash, even if you think it might be spurious verify it for yourself before continuing to drive the car.

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