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Valve replacement and timing the 1998-2001

740i M62tu (technical update) Vanos engine


Many omitted steps are covered already at www.e38.org , the instructional section for the e38 provided by
www.bimmerboard.com .
Many tips should apply to other models, perhaps the V12, probably the X5 engine, which is mostly the same but for greater
displacement, as I understand it.

Gentlemen, we have met the Vanos, and she is ours. Two nights ago, I finished rebuilding after a blown
exhaust valve. By doing all labor myself, buying the parts mostly from AutohausAz.com , working
around most specialty tools, buying the necessary specialty tools from the cheapest suppliers online,
and cramming the TIS into my head during all spare moments when not in the garage, I was able to
complete the job for just under $1000.
Two weeks ago I tore down. It took me about 8 hours to get the head off. I took some pictures along
the way, though my camera died both nights that I actually remembered to bring it, so I don't have all I
wanted.
Basically, I checked all the valves, and they were
all good, sans the blown one and one other
exhaust valve, which allowed a slow seep of WD40 to pass through it. To check valve sealing, I
put the head between two benches and sprayed
WD-40 down over every valve to make a puddle
in the head over each valve. None leaked at all,
except the one mentioned, and after hand
lapping it in with some valve grinding
compound, it sealed up beautifully. I lapped in
two valves total, both from the same cylinder;
one a new replacement and the other the slowly
Figure 1: The culprit causing all my shaking and noise. $28. You
can also see the valve spring, half of a two-piece keeper and
the washer-like collar that holds the keepers against the valve.
The shiny round piece is the big steel button that the lobes of
the cam push down on.

leaking one.

Putting the head back on was a bear because there's a cast-aluminum coolant manifold across the back
of the engine that is basically always in
your way, especially because it needs a
new gasket between it and the head, but
there's almost no room to do it once the
head is on, and you can't put it on in
advance because setting the head down
will tear it off. The exhaust manifold
gaskets went on without complaint. I had
sense enough to soak the exhaust bolts in
WD for a few hours before I did that
process, and I spared a lot of knuckle skin
that way.

The new valve was about $28; new oil seals for all valves in that head were about $14; new valve
keepers for two valves were about $5; I used a full can of intake manifold cleaner and at least a can of
WD for about $13; hand lapping tool was about $8, and valve compound about $8. All gaskets plus new
head bolts for one head were about $180 from AutohausAz plus maybe $57 for the head gasket proper.
Make sure you also buy new gaskets for the undamaged valve cover side and front timing cover on the
undamaged side, since these must come off during timing.

GENERAL Tips:
* You NEED a 1/4-inch drive ratchet. Weird, yes, but it got me into so many tight spaces that I easily
used this ratchet with a 10mm socket more than any other tool.
* suspend the fuel rail with bungee cords, leaving the wiring harnesses attached. This tip (thanks Phil!)
keeps you from removing those danged tiny clips that hook the wiring harness to the injectors).

Figure 2: suspend the fuel rail with attached wiring harness using bungee cords.

* write down where every wire and hose goes as you remove them. Maybe use masking tape and label,
though writing it down was sufficient for me.
* Ball-joint adapter for a 3/8-inch drive socket for removing exhaust manifold, which is tight working and
needs some torque.
* DO NOT BUY specialty tools for swapping out valves. I used a big c-clamp, some needle-nose pliers,
some short dowels to push by hand, a tiny chisel to destroy the old oil seals on each valve in order to
remove them ($130 specialty tool avoided).
* two short wood dowels gave me a place to set the head down on the engine without metal-to-metal
contact (new head gasket already in place, of course; it's coated metal). Then I lined up the head by
sinking 3 old head bolts, removed the dowels, then put in the new head bolts (stretch bolts; yes you
MUST purchase new ones).
* Torquing Head Bolts: I bought a cheap $8 attachment on ebay for my 1/2-inch drive breaking bar
(which is, by the way, crucial for breaking torque on cams, head bolts, etc.) that allowed me to measure
torque angle instead of foot pounds. The TIS uses the following 3 stages (from memory here: check the
dang TIS before doing it): 1) torque in specific pattern each bolt to about 20 lbs; 2) torque in same
pattern to 80 degrees 3) torque in same pattern an additional 80 degrees.

Figure 3: the torque angle guage can be cheap. Buy an attachment for your 1/2inch drive ratchet or breaking bar.

* DO NOT BUY the specialty headbolt tool. This is the first of several
you can get around. Use the money to buy a nice, quality, maybe
Craftsman set of exterior torque sockets, making sure the e12 size
(from memory here!) is included and uses a 3/8-inch drive for that
socket. I used a short 3/8-inch drive extension, maybe 3 inches long
to turn the socket, and an adaptor above the extension to fit the trusty 1/2-inch drive on my breaking
bar and that removed the old headbolts with no trouble. With the $8 ebay angle torque tool affixed to
my "specialty" tool, I had no trouble torquing
the headbolts down either. Just buy good
quality tools and you won't need the singleuse specialty tool.
Figure 4: Another specialized way to waste your money. Buy a
Snap-on or Craftsman external torx socket set that includes the
e12 size on a 3/8-inch drive, add a 3-inch extension, then an
adaptor to use a 1/2-inch drive breaking bar to turn it. Magic.
And now you have a nice socket set where you would have had a
strange tool haunting your toolbox, never to be used again.

* Rubber mallet helped loosen valve


covers and head without damaging
aluminum surfaces by prying. I also used
some small pieces of 2x4 to protect the
head from blows with a ball-peen
hammer. It was stuck fast.
Figure 5: Tap valve covers and cylinder head with
a rubber mallet to loosen old or sticking gaskets.

* Bag of 40 gallon ziplocks and a sharpie to


label contents as you bag nuts, bolts, small
parts during tear down. Kept in a large
cardboard box with valve cover and
radiator hoses. If doing both heads, you'll
want two big boxes clearly labeled.
* dont buy the special oil
solenoid removal socket. Just
crack open the timing cover,
then reach in with a big endwrench or crescent and pop it
loose, then hand turn it out.
Works for re-installation, too.
Figure 6: How to loosen / tighten the oil
solenoid without the special tool.
Elsewhere, look closely and you can see
one of the pins on the vanos used during
the ohmeter test.

* Peppermint Schnapps kept the 5-degree temps


outside the garage at bay. Big ass Nipco dieselburning heater didn't hurt either.
* If you really want to do it proper, hire a
machinist to go through your head. Theyll clean it,
pressure test it, and repair or replace anything not
up to spec.
Figure 7: I only wish this was my heater.
If you're going to do this job in South
Dakota in December, you need one of
these. And to have your head examined.
And the Schnapps, pictured next.

* reassembly is pretty straightforward. Your only

Figure 8: Instant heat.


Just add human.

nemesis is the Vanos, unless your 7-series is pre-Vanos, in which case, congrats. For once, youre happy
about that. Enjoy your significantly reduced torque and rougher ride smugly.
TIMING TIPS
Yes, you have to buy the cam locks (tool set 11 2
440). But note that both the Bentley manual and the TIS
show the locks being used as if the cams lock in only as far
down as the first groove (there are two grooves). This is
a mistake, at least if you have the ZDMak cam locks ($115

plus shipping was the best price out there, but they accept no returns, so be sure of your order). The
cam squares fit into the rearmost, smaller groove. At least one other person who is also rebuilding two
heads right now and whose tools are from El Paso tools, reports the same inconsistency between the
tools and instruction images.

Yes, you have to buy the camshaft locking fixture specialty tool 11 6 450 for positioning the
cam sensor wheels that the cam position sensor watches. I
extracted the angles from the images, set the wheels with a
protractor, and it STILL wasnt good enough. It wouldnt run
unless I feathered the accelerator, so I had to go back in. This
sucks.

Everyone on the web was sold out or backordered except


Baum for $289, who charges more than the dealer, I think, but
my local dealer was stumped by the tool numbers from their own
TIS and didnt know how to order the tools. Goddamn Vassar graduates cant even run a parts counter.

You need a small torque wrench and a big one. Try to borrow or rent if you dont own, because
theyre spendy. But be sure the big one can measure torque on left handed threads, because
youre going to need it to set the cam bolts to 92 on each exhaust cam and 81 on each intake
cam.
You dont need the dumbass chain tensioner tools. I used a wood dowel (all hail rod!) with a
hose clamp on it simply to give a bungee cord a stopping point. The dowel took the slack out of
the chain by lifting the internal tensioner, then where I was supposed to add .7 Nm force to
the specialty tool, I hooked the short bungee cord on and attached it to something near the
middle of the engine. Im sure it was precisely .7 Nm, because I bought a .7 Nm bungee cord
from Walmart for $3 for a package of them. Or maybe it was lying on a bucket in the garage.
Either way, dead on.

Dont waste money or time finding a multimeter that has the acoustic mode. Maybe yours
does. Great. Go and have a Coke. But if not, just set the meter to the X1k setting or anything
that will pass a current into things. After rotating the vanos to left stop (easily done with firm
pressure using two small allen wrenches to turn, and no tool needed; see full description
below), check for metal-to-metal contact (meaning youre really and truly and fully at full left
stop) by sending current from, say, the nearest point on the oil rail behind the vanos, to any of
the three pins on the vanos put there just for the purpose of testing for full-left stop. Just watch
the meter and itll jump when you have contact.
Dont buy the fan clutch specialty
tools. Just use a #5 allen wrench and
remove the three bolts holding the plastic
assembly onto the fan clutch. Youre after
visibility here, not to remove the clutch.
You need to see the Top Dead Center
markings on the front of the engine so you
can set a bolt (or the crankshaft pin
specialty tool if you get one with your
cam locks like I did) into the flywheel
underneath back by the flywheel.

So do it like this instead:

I dont think you need the


Top Dead Center pin (11 2 300). I
used a bolt of perfect size until I
ordered the cam locks from ZDMak,
which came with the TDC pin, so I
swapped it out. If you grind the
threads off your bolt so it fits the
hole in the flywheel, youd be okay, I
should think. I would have done it
that way.
Figure 9: Use a #5 Allen wrench to remove the nuts holding the fan
onto the clutch.

Dont buy this (11 4 230) (see explanation


above for using a dowel and bungee cord):

Figure 10: Pay your cell phone bill instead.

Or this (11 7 380) (see explanation


above for using a
dowel and bungee cord):

Figure 11: Buy the synthetic oil, filter, and


coolant you're going to need upon
reassembly instead of this.

Or this (11 3 310) because, well, you wont


need it. At all. Seriously. Just tug a little,
you wuss.
Figure 12: Pay someone to rub your back
from all the straining and heavy lifting this
job involves.

Or this, (11 3 430) because you can slip two allen


wrenches into the vanos holes that correspond to
where the 3 (2 on some companies tools) posts stick
into the vanos piston for grip. This tool is NOT
threaded; all it does is help you turn the interior of
the Vanos, the piston, leftward. Cant do it? Youre
probably already at left stop (I was; this stumped me

Figure 13: $100 part you don't need. Buy a


bottle of Lagavulin 16 year single malt
scotch and send it to Justin Blessinger, 1009
N. Josephine, Madison, SD 57042 as a
thank-you for saving you all this money.
Use the remaining $30 to buy something
pretty for the Missus.

for a long time!). Can you turn it clockwise? Ah. Now you know. Now turn it back left and
check for continuity.

If your vanos piston is somehow unbelievably tight, try this:

Figure 14: I bought a huge ass nut for like 35 cents, and some roll pins for 99 cents. I made a paper template of the vanos
piston face by punching through the paper into the Vanos piston holes so I had the distance exactly right. Then I used a
sharpie to mark the nut. I drilled two holes in the nut, hammered in the roll pins, and used a Dremel to cut the roll pins to
size, then set them again with a hammer. I ended up not even needing my beautiful custom tool, but if you need it, make
one.

In short, follow the Bentley or TIS closely, but save yourself some serious cash by working around most
of those specialty tools. If you can get away with my specialty tool workarounds, I figure youll save
between $400 and $600 in tools. Which is good, because youll need it for the specialty tools you DO
need. But when its all done, youll be terribly proud. Probably your nuts will actually have grown by
several ounces. Mine gained a pound total. Have to hire a little person to carry them now. Real
nuisance.
Props to Phil out in PA and Roup who wrote the non-vanos cylinder head rebuild on e38.org and who
corresponded with me, too. Also, a huge thanks to Nick down in MS. What an amazing guy whom I'm
privileged to have met through this effort.