How to Replace timing chain on BMW 318i E46


Special tools

  • Exhaust camshaft alignment tool – BMW No.11 9 291/3.
  • Inlet camshaft alignment tool – BMW No.11 9 292.
  • Flywheel timing pin – BMW No.11 9 190.
  • Sensor gear alignment tool – BMW No.11 9 350.
  • Timing chain pre-tensioning tool – BMW No.11 9 340.

General precautions

  • Disconnect battery earth lead.
  • Remove spark plugs to ease turning engine.
  • Turn engine in normal direction of rotation (unless otherwise stated).
  • Observe tightening torques.
  • If fitted: Mark position of crankshaft position (CKP) sensor before removal.
  • Do NOT turn crankshaft via camshaft or other sprockets.
  • Do NOT turn crankshaft or camshaft with timing chain removed.

Valve timing procedures

  • Removal/installation of timing chain requires:
      • Sump removal.

    NOTE: Refer to Autodata Technical Data for tightening torques.

    NOTE: Refer to Technical Data module for tightening torques.

  • Engine at TDC on No.1 cylinder.
  • Remove blanking plug from cylinder block.
  • Insert flywheel timing pin [1] . Tool No.11 9 190.
  • Ensure rear of camshafts correctly aligned [2] .NOTE: Curved profile at rear of camshaft points upwards [3] .
  • Install inlet camshaft alignment tool [4] . Tool No.11 9 292.
  • Install exhaust camshaft alignment tool [5] . Tool No.11 9 291.
  • Timing correct when inlet camshaft alignment tool abuts cylinder head or is raised up to a maximum of 0,5 mm on inlet side. Timing correct when exhaust camshaft alignment tool abuts cylinder head or is raised up to a maximum of 1 mm on inlet side.
  • If not, adjust camshafts as follows:
        • Slacken bolt on each camshaft adjuster and then re-tighten by hand [6] .
        • Install inlet camshaft alignment tool [4] . Tool No.11 9 292.
        • Align inlet camshaft. Ensure inlet camshaft alignment tool abuts cylinder head.
        • Install exhaust camshaft alignment tool [5] . Tool No.11 9 291.
        • Tighten exhaust camshaft alignment tool to cylinder head.
        • Tighten bolt on exhaust camshaft alignment tool until it rests on inlet camshaft alignment tool [7] .
        • Tighten inlet camshaft alignment tool to cylinder head [4] .

    NOTE: Tensioner plunger is spring loaded.

        • Remove tensioner [8] .

    NOTE: If chain tensioner is to be reused it must be drained of oil. Compress plunger slowly twice.

        • Install timing chain pre-tensioning tool [9] . Tool No.11 9 340.
        • Tighten adjusting screw until in contact with guide rail. DO NOT overtighten screw.
        • Replace bolt on each camshaft adjuster and re-tighten by hand [6] .
        • Install sensor gear alignment tool and secure to cylinder head [10] . Tool No.11 9 350.
        • Slacken bolt of each camshaft adjuster by half a turn [6] .
        • Pre-load timing chain with tensioning tool to 0,6 Nm [9] . Tool No.11 9 340.

    NOTE: Bolt for camshaft adjusters MUST only be used once.

  • Tighten bolt of each camshaft adjuster [6] .
  • Tightening sequence:
      • First stage – 20 Nm.
      • Second stage – 90°.
      • Third stage – 90°.
  • Remove flywheel timing pin [1] .
  • Remove sensor gear alignment tool [10] .
  • Remove camshaft alignment tools [4] [5] .
  • Remove timing chain pre-tensioning tool [9] .
  • Install tensioner assembly [8] . Tightening torque: 65 Nm.
  • Turn crankshaft two turns clockwise.
  • Ensure flywheel timing pin and camshaft alignment tools can be refitted [1] [4] [5] [10] .
  • Timing correct when camshaft alignment tools abut cylinder head [4] [5] .NOTE: Crankshaft pulley central bolt MUST only be used once.
Bent Valves
Timing Tools?
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Bent Valves

What happens when your chain or belt breaks. 

The timing of course becomes way off. Your crankshaft will always spin making the pistons move up and down. However the valves will remain in the position they were in when the belt or chain stopped working. 

Half of the valves will be stuck open and in the way of the pistons. Not all engines, but most. The piston out of valve time will smash right into the open valve and bend the, The only way to fix that is to remove the head and place those valves. 

If you think your valves might have been damaged.

Remove all the spark plugs, valve covers. With both valves in the closed position insert a compression tester hose in place of the spark plug and inject air into the hose and see if the cylinder can hold air. If both valve are closed and air can not be held, chances are you have bent valves.   


Timing Tools?

Do you need special tools to time your engine? Not always, on all my post I'll indicate that in each post if you do or not. 

But what are these special tools? Normally you would just line up some marks on the cam and crank gears and simply be done with it. However when these tools are needed they are very very important. 

The last one I did was a 2013 Range Rover 2.0 Turbo with dual cams. There were not timing marks at all. 

There is a small threaded plug on the back of the engine that I removed to insert a special threaded pin that would rest up against the weight of the crankshaft to prevent for DTC of the #1 piston. No further clockwise rotation would be possible. At that point I installed the supplied crankshaft lock by removing the starter. 

Then you line up the back of both camshafts to a notch in each camshafts to each other that a flat tool connects to each cam so they are in line with each other. But first you would make sure both intake and exhaust valves are closed DTC of the cams. 

And the last tool was to lineup the crankshaft position sensor. 



The most important thing in any major engine work is to rotate the engine by hand at least two complete rotations. And do it easy and slow and with the spark plugs removed. 

Why remove the spark plugs? you may ask. Simple, with the plugs in place you'll be creating compression, making the engine harder to turn by hand and perhaps giving you the misconception of valves hitting the pistons or is it compression.  

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One Thought on How to Replace timing chain on BMW 318i E46
    27 Oct 2020

    Very easy to understand and clear

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