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2004 4.4 V8 Vogue in Silver.
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks, newby here just got a Rangie with the 4.4 lump in it. I have read some disturbing things about cam chain guides going out on these cars. Mine appears to be silent but I can't help wondering how much of a prob;em this really is. I have searched extensively and seen loads of BMW threads discussing it although these seem to be mainly in the USofA. My car has done 113000 miles it's an 03, I have no idea if the guides have been done or not. Just wondering if anyone has experienced failure? Thanks in advance.
 

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2002-2005 Range Rover MkIII / L322
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Welcome to the board, thorcusmodee. And congratulations on acquiring your new-old Rover!

I bought a 2004 in 2018 for towing and researched this matter quite a bit before making the plunge. I found numerous internet references to M62 engine timing chain guide failures at everywhere from 106K to 230K miles, and recall the average was 170K if memory is correct. And since you never hear about the guides that DON'T fail, the average guide age may actually be higher. The variance has MUCH to do with oil change history. The factory calls for 15K mile oil service, but Rover mechanics generally say 10K or less is much more appropriate.

With 113K miles and I'll assume a well-maintained mill (???), you likely have many miles to go before this becomes an issue. Enjoy your ride!
 

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2004 4.4 V8 Vogue in Silver.
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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you very much for the reply. My one appears to have been really well looked after with a very full service record book. I know the gearbox had a full refurb about 8 months ago so I think it's been as well looked after as it could have been, not been able to check if it had the revised diff work done on it though - must do that next. It runs as sweet as anything, you can barely hear the engine even outside the vehicle. The box is super smooth and changes seemlessly. It has some faults - blank screen on stereo, battery drain problem, keys keep going flat, near side headlamp wiper needs sorting - I suspesct at least one of those issues is contributing to the battery drain, I will know once I get stuck in to it. I had a P38 a few years back so I am no stranger to electrical gremlins :)
 

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2002-2005 Range Rover MkIII / L322
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Other than the electrical gremlins, sounds like a nice L322! You might try some battery parasitic drain testing. And disconnect then reconnect the battery to see if that might shake a squirrel from the tree or reset something. (Start engine and turn steering wheel 100% in each direction to reset several systems after battery disconnects.) And change all the fluids that haven't been changed yet. FYI, all of the BMW engine and transmission cooling components are suspect after 100K miles, so you should have those inspected. The front air struts should fail soon if they're original, the rear air bags can last almost forever.
 

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2004 4.4 V8 Vogue in Silver.
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Discussion Starter #5
I'm pretty sure the DVD part of the sat nav is playing up. My cunning plan is to remove fuse 49 and replace it with a blown fuse to which 2 wires are attached. The other end of the wires goes to an ammeter - that way I can easily monitor the current flow through that and any other circuit. If I leave the ammeter on the dash I can see what happens when everything should be asleep. I think one front bag may be leaky, apparently it sags if left for 4 days or more. They don't seem to be that expensive or difficult to replace so I can live with that. :) I'll give it a really good going over and sort anything that needs sorting while I still have my old car. All the best and thanks again for your expertise and wisdom.
 

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2002-2005 Range Rover MkIII / L322
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One way to assess the condition of those guides is to open the upper and lower timing case covers, remove the chains and inspect them. Of course by the time you've gotten that far, you might as well change them.

So the generally accepted non-invasive best way is to open the oil cap, and insert an inspection borescope camera to see their condition (knowing what to look for).

To each their own, but if it were me, hell, Rover 1 has almost exactly 113k miles on it, the same as you, I would not trust the guides and just plan on changing them anyways.

We did the guides on Rover 2 last year and that engine, with 167k miles, is running flawlessly now.
 

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2002-2005 Range Rover MkIII / L322
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I had a stripped thread in the sump (oil pan to you Merkins) so I removed it to fit a Helicoil. While there, I checked the sump for traces of plastic from the guides. None thank goodness. I'll have to check again sometime in the future. Mine has 230,000 km (143,000 miles) on the clock.
 

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2004 4.4 V8 Vogue in Silver.
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Discussion Starter #8
OK thanks guys, I will have a trawl through the history file and see if they have been done. I watched a youtube video, it is no small job and requires a pile of specialist tools so it's going to be expensive :-(
 

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2004 4.4 V8 Vogue in Silver.
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Discussion Starter #9
Actually it's not that expensive about £80 (UK pounds) for the cam setting and vanos jigs, about 200 for a new lower chain and the three guides. I don't see the point going that far in to the engine and only replacing the u shaped guide. It's time consuming but doesn't look too bad. As long as the harmonic balancer hub comes off ok - I have heard they cab be a nightmare. Think I will do it as a matter of course unless I can find in the history that it has already been done.
 

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The guide repair for the M62 is one of those odd jobs in which the parts are quite cheap, but the labor is truly through the roof, something like 40 hours at a shop (??). The significance being that it's a cheap fix for a talented shade tree mechanic, but potentially a "scrap the truck" moment if a shop repair is required. Truly bipolar.

And to think that many of the underhood nuts and bolts on the Ford Model Ts and Model As supposedly could be removed with just one wrench, the definition of simplicity. :)
 

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2004 4.4 V8 Vogue in Silver.
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Discussion Starter #11
I hear what you are saying :) I'm ok with taking engines apart , I have a motorcycle breaking business and I also have a bit of a bike collection so I am pretty good on the wrenches. I think the right tools are essential and of course the knowledge to use them correctly. Only bit I am unsure of is the Vanos units, I need to understand them a bit better. I don't pick the car up until Sunday and I have a few other jobs I want to do first. It was a very good deal so I don't mind spending a bit on it. When it's at home I can spend a few hours on it here and there, I quite enjoy that sort of stuff. Thanks again for your continued input.
 

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2002-2005 Range Rover MkIII / L322
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The Vanos units (or "transmissions" as BMW calls them) are interesting units. They basicaly have helical gears cut which advance or retard the timing of the intake camshafts and work exclusively off of oil flow and pressure, which is routed through the Vanos distribution pieces that are bolted onto the camshafts, and controlled by Vanos solenoid valves which modulate the Vanos anywhere from 90% to like 30%, etc. depending on engine RPM.

When they are manufactured, BMW drops the O-rings and plastic retainer clips in and then uses some fancy factory press tool to roll press the edges inwards, sealing the o-rings and seals in forever. To actually remove them all, you would need to careful cut the top rolled edge off and then replace them, but how would you put it back together? There's a Russian guy on YouTube that has some interesting video showing a custom billet aluminum ring that he manufactures and screws over the Vanos transmission, that acts as a retainer ring for new seals. It's a slick setup, but I don't speak Russian and haven't attempted to reach out :(

What we ended up doing is just using pick tools to pull (and then replace) the upper teflon and o-ring seals and then using a press tool from Beisan systems to compress the rolled edges down further and tighten up the seal to the original o-rings at the bottom of the seal stack. It works, but it's not perfect.

The real fun comes when timing the engine. You basically have to use the German Auto Solutions M62TU timing kit. Do not use the cheap Chinese-made ones on ebay, or even the factory BMW one for that matter...there is enough play in the Vanos timing jig that your timing can end up off.

We had to re-time the engine 5 times to get it perfect. And now both banks are equally timed to 1/100th of a second accuracy.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Wow they sound like a royal pain. I had them on a Jaguar 4.2 that I had a while back, one of them always used to rattle loudly at start up. I never got round to doing anything about it and it never got any worse, once started it was silent. They are the one thing that concern me a bit when doing a chain and tensioner swap.
 

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Interesting write-up on the Vanos units, mjrgroup! When those units fail, is it normally oil/lubrication related... mechanical wear or breakage... electronic failure? And like the timing chain guide, is Vanos failure/longevity directly related to oil service history?
 

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As I understand it, the Vanos system is sensitive to a low engine oil level, or too thick viscosity, either of which, on a very cold start can sometimes be enough, at least on a high mileage engine, to shut down the Vanos system. You might get a really rough idle and a check engine light for timing-related codes like P0011 or similar, etc.

The Vanos system works off of the timing values that the crankshaft position sensor and camshaft position sensors report to the DME. If any of those values are too far off, then the Vanos system will be shut down for safety by the DME. On the M62TU, when you replace the upper timing case covers with new gaskets, the new gaskets will be tough and thicker than the dilapidated old onces you remove. If you don't compress those upper timing case covers down using the special BMW profile gasket tool, then that few mm of difference is enough to cause this issue. On my mjrgroup youtube channel I have a couple of videos showing the symptoms of what a simple misalignment of the upper timing case covers can cause. It drove us crazy for weeks until we finally figured it out. There are impulse sender wheels that are fastened by a nut over the Vanos transmissions. Those impulse wheels have a notch that communicate the position of the camshaft to the camshaft position sensors. I've heard of timing errors being caused by something as simple as a bent wheel. Luckily they are cheap and also plentful on the used parts supply, and something like $25 each new from BMW. The factory BMW timing tool has a jig that lets you set those wheels, but the jig has enough play that you can't get the timing precision to 1/100th of a second like we did with the German Auto Solutions M62TU timing kit. That kit is gold.

Anyways, back to your question. The system is susceptible to oil viscosity and level for sure, but as far as wear goes, I think it's just heat, time, and use that wears down the o-ring and teflon seals in the Vanos transmissions. When the seals wear, pressurized oil inside the Vanos transmission leaks out the front of the seals and then when the Vanos calls for a certain value of timing retard or advance (both are technical terms here), the transmisison cannot deliver the expected value and the engine runs a little rough. In extreme cases, if the timing gets too far off as a result of the Vanos transmission leakage, a fault code gets stored. There is a lot of movement in those transmission units on a running engine and I think the worst thing you can ever do is 1. run too thick oil (especially during the winter), and 2. run the engine with low oil level, especially on a cold start.

I personally run 10W-40 in my Rovers, full synthetic and change the oil at no more than 5000 miles. I use the Amazon Basics brand, because the YouTube user ProjectFarm tested multiple types of oils and found Amazon Basics-branded stuff to have very good, although not the best, cold-weather performance at arguably the best price. I like the performance to value and since we own 6 cars now, we go through a lot of oil. The most wear an engine will get, when always treated right and not abused, is on cold starts.

If you run the right oil, do frequent oil changes, and make **** sure that the oil is always topped off (i like to run an oil level towards the top, but not at the top, of the high level on the dipstick), you will probably prolong the life of those seals. But I don't think you can avoid having Vanos transmissions with leaky seals past 100k miles. I have one Vanos transmission that has catastrophically failed with gunk getting pasted the seals into the seal stack. I bought the Vanos transmission used on ebay, but it can't be saved with the Beisan kit. I'll have to cut it open and work on a modification solution. I can only surmise that perhaps the timing chain guides sent a bunch of tiny plastic bits and one of them somehow got past a seal and jammed up the Vanos transmission.

I could talk forever about this but I should perhaps make some videos describing what we learned from our experience with Rover 2. The Vanos system is actually not that complicated, and works well, but some of these particularities can make working on the M62TU a daunting proposition. But once you learn the engine, it's easy to work on. My wife and I are actually considering getting a 2003 BMW 540i now, purely because we have always liked the E39 body style and especially because they have the M62TU engine, exactly like our Rovers. I've been stockpiling extra parts for the M62TUs.
 

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Wow, lots of in-depth info there! Those units are definitely interesting critters. I assumed perhaps they only have metallic internals. But if they also have plastic and elastomer/rubber components within, then yes, sounds like pretty much EVERYTHING will eventually take a toll on them given enough time....wear, heat, time, compromised oil or low oil volume/pressure, and even squirrels. But if they're as generally reliable as they appear to be in spite of all that, sounds like BMW did a decent engineering job in developing the pups.
 

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Would it be a safe assumption that the Vanos units generally have a similar lifespan as the timing chain and guides? Or no such correlation at all? I have no good reason to assume that....just thought I'd throw out that beer-fueled squirrel thought.
 

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They are well machined units with incredibly tight tolerances: impressive indeed.

The Vanos transmissions have an infinitely longer lifespan than timing chain guides. You can still run the engine with leaky Vanos transmission seals, but you really shouldn't even start an engine with a compromised guide rail. Once those guide rails go, they pulverize into many pieces and get stuck everywhere, possibly even inside your Vanos transmission, which can ruin them. And brand new Vanos transmissions cost north of $500 each. And honestly, I'm really disappointed with the rebuilt options available on the market and how much they're charging for them. I really want to get a metal lathe and machine my own solution like that Russian guy. I found the video, inserted below.

Timing chain guides are the #1 thing not to risk. You can have a broken guide...for example, a piece of guide that is completely broken off, but held against the chain due to the tensioner. An abrupt start or sudden engine rev can be enough to dislodge it and then instantly mess up your engine.

BTW: After watching this video, we instantly became fans of the artist Bad Boys Blue which Russian guy is listening to. Once we got Rover 2 working again, we played the same songs and drove around the block watching our Vanos and timing values in live display mode through iLand. :p

 

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Interesting video. I now see those Vanos units are full of plastic/elastomer shims and seals after all, so it's easy to see how they'll eventually leak. But fairly sophisticated devices for sure. Your insight and advice into guide rail failure is appreciated -- it's clear how that can unleash a hoard of angry gremlins into the oil stream.
 

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So I'll make another assumption because...."reasons." Oh, and also because my German Shepherd overlord commanded me to.

With a well-maintained M62 mill, is it safe to assume that Vanos failure generally isn't a thing until higher mileages such as >150K, or better yet, >200K miles? My German Shepherd said, "It happens at precisely 203,000 miles. Don't you know that? You're such a human idiot! Why do you even ask these questions?!!"
 
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