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      02-10-2017, 03:42 PM   #1
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N47 Timing Chain

Hello!

I own a November 2012 N47N F31 320d and it is now on 132k miles. I bought it at 122k in June 2016 from Fujitsu (company car) so had full BMW service history but was being serviced every ~20k miles which I think is appalling.

Is the timing chain snapping still an issue on engines this late? Should I get mine changed before anything s***s its pants? As currently it seems okay, touch wood.

Since owning I have already done 2 oil changes (as I believe regular oil changes is the key to engine durability) however it may be too late already?

Thanks in advance
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      02-12-2017, 02:28 PM   #2
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Anybody know of any experiences of chains snapping on models this late?
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      02-12-2017, 07:01 PM   #3
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The problem is, it's a major ballache getting to the timing chain on these if you did decide to change it. Basically, the timing chain is at the back of the engine, so the engine needs to be separated from the gearbox, and then the engine lifted out partially to replace the chain and the ancillaries.

I agree with you on oil changes - I get them done every 10k miles - but then I own my cars outright, so it's in my interest to ensure longevity. All those on here that don't actually own their cars or keep them outside warranty don't care, of course.

I suppose the only thing for you to do would be to get a price for changing the chain, etc. and then judge for yourself if it's worth the risk or not.
If it's going to cost 500 or 2k to do a precautionary change will obviously make a difference to whether you judge it's worth the risk or not.
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      02-13-2017, 08:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robbiep View Post
The problem is, it's a major ballache getting to the timing chain on these if you did decide to change it. Basically, the timing chain is at the back of the engine, so the engine needs to be separated from the gearbox, and then the engine lifted out partially to replace the chain and the ancillaries.

I agree with you on oil changes - I get them done every 10k miles - but then I own my cars outright, so it's in my interest to ensure longevity. All those on here that don't actually own their cars or keep them outside warranty don't care, of course.

I suppose the only thing for you to do would be to get a price for changing the chain, etc. and then judge for yourself if it's worth the risk or not.
If it's going to cost 500 or 2k to do a precautionary change will obviously make a difference to whether you judge it's worth the risk or not.
Thanks for the reply, Robbie. Yes, I recall hearing that the chains are flywheel side now that you mention it - I can understand why it is such a pain to change then.

That is the same as me - if something goes wrong it's up to me to fix it as the car is obviously out of warranty.

Wise suggestion. Do you know if replacement parts are improved? So better than the original parts?
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      02-13-2017, 06:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mortlock7 View Post
Anybody know of any experiences of chains snapping on models this late?
I believe that there are some people in Europe/UK that believe that there are still problems, even 2013 models.

Haven't really heard of any US market ones having issues, but they really only came into service in 2014 model year (maybe 2013).
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      02-14-2017, 03:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by floydarogers View Post
I believe that there are some people in Europe/UK that believe that there are still problems, even 2013 models.

Haven't really heard of any US market ones having issues, but they really only came into service in 2014 model year (maybe 2013).
Thanks Floyd, I will definitely get it looked into then. Maybe some early signs of wear will be apparent making it a worthwhile investment
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      02-15-2017, 01:53 AM   #7
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The North American models were supposedly shipped out with the new, updated timing chains from factory. May be in part due to the fact that our engines are actually mixtures of both the 320d and the 325d. I'm sure those of us who bought first year model cars are finally getting some mileage on them, but I doubt anyone is close to the 100k mark (I'm sitting at 63k on mine without any issues outside of emissions systems)
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      02-15-2017, 08:26 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Adamr916 View Post
The North American models were supposedly shipped out with the new, updated timing chains from factory. May be in part due to the fact that our engines are actually mixtures of both the 320d and the 325d. I'm sure those of us who bought first year model cars are finally getting some mileage on them, but I doubt anyone is close to the 100k mark (I'm sitting at 63k on mine without any issues outside of emissions systems)
Your 328d is identical in terms of output and build to 'our' 320d. The 325d is substantially uprated, in comparison. Larger oil cooler, a twin-turbo unit (the 328d/320d is a 'twinpower' single turbo unit), uprated oil pump, different exhaust.

I think the US cars will also tend to be more reliable on timing chains because you've got a far shorter oil-change interval. Here the 'official' interval is usually 18-20k miles. Which is great for the fleet market that runs a car for 3 yrs/60k, but terrible a further 3-5 years down the line.
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      02-15-2017, 09:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robbiep View Post
Your 328d is identical in terms of output and build to 'our' 320d. The 325d is substantially uprated, in comparison. Larger oil cooler, a twin-turbo unit (the 328d/320d is a 'twinpower' single turbo unit), uprated oil pump, different exhaust.

I think the US cars will also tend to be more reliable on timing chains because you've got a far shorter oil-change interval. Here the 'official' interval is usually 18-20k miles. Which is great for the fleet market that runs a car for 3 yrs/60k, but terrible a further 3-5 years down the line.
Output wise, yes it's the same as the 184 hp 320d. But we got the cooling system from the 325d, both oil and water, and if I remember correctly, it has some internal tweaks as well for the US market. It's not a true 320d engine, but it's not a 325d in regards to output and turbo.
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      02-16-2017, 07:12 AM   #10
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Thanks for the replies, guys. BMW quoted 1200 for the job, I'm going to try a few specialists and independent garages to see if it's vastly different. Less than 800 and I'll probably do it for piece of mind! Worried about the engine suddenly seizing at 70mph on the motorway with my baby in the car
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      02-20-2017, 11:52 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by realcam View Post
As I just bought an F31 with an N47T myself I have trawled through a lot of information on this subject. I would recommend you do the same. You will get many different opinions on this subject. It is hard to say which ones are informed and which ones aren't.

FWIW here is what I gathered myself, but I would by no means claim to really know what's going on. I simply gathered enough information to decide for myself whether I'd buy an F31 with N47 or not. I did in the end, but you will find many who tell you they'd never buy a car with an N47 or N57 in it.

...

Apparently it was never the chain that was the problem, but the sprocket on the crank shaft driving said chain. Its teeth were 'too edgy' for want of a better word and could cause a lengthening of the chain over time. About 10% of the cars sporting that engine developed problems. BMW never actually issued a recall but decided on a case by case basis whether they applied 'good will' when repair was required. Repair required meaning bad chain noise and in the worst case scenario - if noise was ignored for long enough I suppose - chain snaps with engine bollixed obviously.

I understand over time several alterations were made to the engine regarding this problem. I believe since late 2011 the offending crank shaft sprocket is revised. The official BMW party line since then is that noise problems due to a slight lengthening of the chain may still occur, but no snaps. It is therefore considered merely a 'convenience problem' (noise). I believe an improved tensioner is also available. From what I read if you have a mid 2013 or onwards this should totally be a non issue. I haven't seen any of the above being contradicted really.
You still read about the odd freak snap but you would read that about any engine. Sometimes sh1t just happens.

Whether the lengthening causing the noise problem still occurs or not depends apparently a lot on driving pattern. The more of its running hours this engine spends under proper operating temperature the better. Which is true for any engine really. But apparently many short trips where the engine never reaches operating temperature promotes the problem.

So depending on what model/year you have and whether you get noise from the chain or not you might want it being looked at. This may lead to something like a new tensioner or even more. But would I splash €1200 on a new chain because I read on the internet 'they have problems'? Mmmhhh not so sure. I would want to make that an informed decision.


Also bear in mind the 'internet phenomenon' regarding such problems. The internet multiplies the perceived spread of such problems. Because people who don't have a problem rarely go to the internet writing 'hey I have no problem', but people who do have a problem end up on the internet a lot. Similarly when you type 'N47 timing chain problem' into google this is what you're going to get, N47 timing chain problems. From there then it is easy to think the N47 has nothing but timing chain problems and half of them have exploded by now. I'm not saying the N47 doesn't or never did have those, but you get my drift.
Brilliant reply, thank you very much for taking the time to post.

You make very good points and are right in what you say, people are much quicker to post online when they have an issue so problems always seem exaggerated.

My car is a late 2012 and a significant amount of the miles I do is dual-carriageway cruising over long distances so the engine almost always reaches operating temperature. I think I will leave it for now and if a noise starts to develop over time then I will look into this improved tensioner you speak of. Do you know if that's a PITA job to do? Or is changing that quite straight forward?

Thanks again
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      02-20-2017, 01:06 PM   #12
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As I just bought an F31 with an N47T myself I have trawled through a lot of information on this subject. I would recommend you do the same. You will get many different opinions on this subject. It is hard to say which ones are informed and which ones aren't.

FWIW here is what I gathered myself, but I would by no means claim to really know what's going on. I simply gathered enough information to decide for myself whether I'd buy an F31 with N47 or not. I did in the end, but you will find many who tell you they'd never buy a car with an N47 or N57 in it.

...

Apparently it was never the chain that was the problem, but the sprocket on the crank shaft driving said chain. Its teeth were 'too edgy' for want of a better word and could cause a lengthening of the chain over time. About 10% of the cars sporting that engine developed problems. BMW never actually issued a recall but decided on a case by case basis whether they applied 'good will' when repair was required. Repair required meaning bad chain noise and in the worst case scenario - if noise was ignored for long enough I suppose - chain snaps with engine bollixed obviously.

I understand over time several alterations were made to the engine regarding this problem. I believe since late 2011 the offending crank shaft sprocket is revised. The official BMW party line since then is that noise problems due to a slight lengthening of the chain may still occur, but no snaps. It is therefore considered merely a 'convenience problem' (noise). I believe an improved tensioner is also available. From what I read if you have a mid 2013 or onwards this should totally be a non issue. I haven't seen any of the above being contradicted really.
You still read about the odd freak snap but you would read that about any engine. Sometimes sh1t just happens.

Whether the lengthening causing the noise problem still occurs or not depends apparently a lot on driving pattern. The more of its running hours this engine spends under proper operating temperature the better. Which is true for any engine really. But apparently many short trips where the engine never reaches operating temperature promotes the problem.

So depending on what model/year you have and whether you get noise from the chain or not you might want it being looked at. This may lead to something like a new tensioner or even more. But would I splash 1200 on a new chain because I read on the internet 'they have problems'? Mmmhhh not so sure. I would want to make that an informed decision.


Also bear in mind the 'internet phenomenon' regarding such problems. The internet multiplies the perceived spread of such problems. Because people who don't have a problem rarely go to the internet writing 'hey I have no problem', but people who do have a problem end up on the internet a lot. Similarly when you type 'N47 timing chain problem' into google this is what you're going to get, N47 timing chain problems. From there then it is easy to think the N47 has nothing but timing chain problems and half of them have exploded by now. I'm not saying the N47 doesn't or never did have those, but you get my drift.
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      02-20-2017, 01:24 PM   #13
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Sorry for the confusion around my post but I accidentally deleted it. And reinserted it.

Anyway.

As you probably know by now the chain itself was supposed to be maintenance free and therefore it's located in the least accessible spot at the back of the engine. Hence the expensive quote from your garage, the engine would have to come out to swap it.
But I was told the tensioner is quite easily accessible and not expensive.

So if you want to do something to put your mind at ease I'd probably seek the advice of a BMW garage with regards to noise levels and what they think and you could mention the improved tensioner to them.

You can actually find BMW N47 owners on youtube - both 3 series and 5 series - and they demonstrate the noise in videos they uploaded. It might give you an indication or else it might make you paranoid.
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      02-20-2017, 03:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by realcam View Post
Sorry for the confusion around my post but I accidentally deleted it. And reinserted it.

Anyway.

As you probably know by now the chain itself was supposed to be maintenance free and therefore it's located in the least accessible spot at the back of the engine. Hence the expensive quote from your garage, the engine would have to come out to swap it.
But I was told the tensioner is quite easily accessible and not expensive.

So if you want to do something to put your mind at ease I'd probably seek the advice of a BMW garage with regards to noise levels and what they think and you could mention the improved tensioner to them.

You can actually find BMW N47 owners on youtube - both 3 series and 5 series - and they demonstrate the noise in videos they uploaded. It might give you an indication or else it might make you paranoid.
Yes well it should be! Never in my life have I heard of timing chain components needing replacing - BMW really got it wrong there!

That is a good idea, I'm sure they've seen a few before so they might be able to identify any noises and how severe (any) issues might be!
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      02-20-2017, 04:09 PM   #15
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Good luck with it mort. Hope it will give you peace of mind.

Hey since I have you as a fellow F31 owner...
How long do you have the car? How is she holding up for you? Are you happy with it? Is she a solid car?

Like I said I just bought a 2013 F31 myself, simply curious. You seem someone who cares about their car.

Edit: Silly me you were saying you bought it in June 2016. But anyway, whats your impression?

Last edited by realcam; 02-20-2017 at 04:15 PM.
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      02-20-2017, 05:20 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by realcam View Post
Good luck with it mort. Hope it will give you peace of mind.

Hey since I have you as a fellow F31 owner...
How long do you have the car? How is she holding up for you? Are you happy with it? Is she a solid car?

Like I said I just bought a 2013 F31 myself, simply curious. You seem someone who cares about their car.

Edit: Silly me you were saying you bought it in June 2016. But anyway, whats your impression?
Mort, haven't been called that since school

Thanks. It's been brilliant, have been clocking up some strong miles lately and it's never missed a beat. Everyone always compliments it and you would never think it's done over 130k miles now! No squeaks, rattles, knocks - she's great. Yes I am absolutely car mad, I'm in my final year of a motorsport engineering degree so I could talk about cars all day long - they're my pride and joy absolutely.

For a decent sized motor it really handles well; can throw it into corners like it's half the size it is and it just goes with no fuss. Hopefully fitting some H&R sport springs when the weather cheers up and I can be bothered to sit outside and do it, so that'll definitely be a good difference too

How are you enjoying yours so far? Did you find one with the spec you wanted?
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Last edited by mortlock7; 02-20-2017 at 05:39 PM.
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      02-20-2017, 05:31 PM   #17
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Thanks yes, I did find exactly what I wanted, but I'm not very demanding. Must haves were the auto box, leather seats and I don't like white or red. Everything after that was going to be a bonus. Went with a silver luxury trim. Looks a bit daddyish but I can live with that. Bit of class I suppose. And yes, so far I'm enjoying it very much. Feels very different to my old 5 series but not in a bad way. While the 'tank feel' of my 5er had its merits and I missed it for the first 100 miles or so, I like how the new one feels lighter, more nimble, but yet not flimsy or anything. I'm well impressed so far.
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      02-20-2017, 05:38 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Thanks yes, I did find exactly what I wanted, but I'm not very demanding. Must haves were the auto box, leather seats and I don't like white or red. Everything after that was going to be a bonus. Went with a silver luxury trim. Looks a bit daddyish but I can live with that. Bit of class I suppose. And yes, so far I'm enjoying it very much. Feels very different to my old 5 series but not in a bad way. While the 'tank feel' of my 5er had its merits and I missed it for the first 100 miles or so, I like how the new one feels lighter, more nimble, but yet not flimsy or anything. I'm well impressed so far.
Glad you're chuffed with it! Sounds lovely mate.

I wish I went for an auto, they're brilliant boxes now. My previous 335i was auto and I loved it. Not sure why I told myself I wanted a manual again, it's just extra effort
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      02-20-2017, 06:25 PM   #19
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I've had my F31 for over 3 years now - the very rare 325d, with manual box, and really high spec. Adaptive lights, adaptive suspension, pro nav, panoramic roof, and a shedload of other spec.

I got it with 3k miles on the clock at 7 months old - it had been a 'press' car.

As to the autoboxes, yes, they're very nice, but, goddamnit, this is supposed to be 'the ultimate driving machine'. Getting the gearchanges right, balancing it through the twisty stuff is what it's about. Not pulling on the steering wheel paddles and a computer deciding if it's going to give you the requested gearchange or not.
Yes, it may be a diesel estate, but it still does 0-60 in under 7 seconds and pumps out 218bhp, so it's no slouch. And in MSport spec, with adaptive suspension, it's a bit of a hooligan - which those 330d/335d owners just don't find with their autoboxes. Every time I get to play a little on open roads up in the hills, it just brings a huge grin on.
Anyway, it's going to hit 41k this week, and I honestly think it's the most complete car I've ever owned.
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      02-26-2017, 08:06 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mortlock7 View Post
Hello!

I own a November 2012 N47N F31 320d and it is now on 132k miles. I bought it at 122k in June 2016 from Fujitsu (company car) so had full BMW service history but was being serviced every ~20k miles which I think is appalling.

Is the timing chain snapping still an issue on engines this late? Should I get mine changed before anything s***s its pants? As currently it seems okay, touch wood.

Since owning I have already done 2 oil changes (as I believe regular oil changes is the key to engine durability) however it may be too late already?

Thanks in advance
Sorry for late reply.
Go to australiancar.reviews/bmw_N47.php
Hope that helps.
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      03-01-2017, 04:28 PM   #21
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Sorry for late reply.
Go to australiancar.reviews/bmw_N47.php
Hope that helps.
Thanks Tony, a good read
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