T minus 2 weeks! I’m 2 weeks away from officially opening Baltimore Bimmer and the excitement is killing me. I talked to Joe today and he asked a question about his Z4 and the N52 engines having lifter issues. Now this is common on the N-generation motors and soon to be discussed here we will delve into this peculiar predicament and show you how to solve this issue on your own.
The N52 engine was BMW’s upgrade from the M54 engine. The M54 started its life as the double VANOS upgrade from the M50. I could go back and back into the history of BMW engines but I’ll be here all night and it’s already 10:45 and I need a LOT of beauty sleep. Ok so the N52 engine. Simple. Inline 6 cylinder, variable valve timing and LIFT (variable valve lift was started with the 2002 BMW 745(L)i) BMW took the M54 and decided they needed an engine that was lighter, more fuel efficient and more powerful. As always those German engineers took another technological breakthrough off of the shelf of their secret cool engine thingy’s vault and now we are truly blessed with this innovation. This puppy has a magnesium aluminum alloy block (later changed), aluminum bolts hold most of it together (preventing corrosion) and they saved an amazing 22 pounds off of their previous design.
This all sounds great but unfortunately lightweight materials don’t get along well with steel components. The lifters in this engine are steel as are the cams. The cams ride on an aluminum cam journal with a heavy dousing of oil. The lifters slide up and down in an aluminum bore. This is perfectly fine until you get your first oil change.
Upon your first oil change the oil filter housing is opened for the first time since your BMW was built at the factory. The oil filter design like most of the earlier BMW’s is upside down on top of the engine. Much like a glass in the sink when doing the dishes, if you hold the glass upside down you can pull and hold the water inside the glass even if it is above the water line as long as the open end of the glass remains under the water. If you allow air in the oil filter housing the hydraulic principal is the same. You have allowed air into your oil circuit. Once the oil starts flowing again, you have to “bleed” all the air from the system as soon as possible. If you don’t the lifters are allowed to touch the side of their bores and scratch them and wear off 5-10 microns at a time causing premature wear. My advice? After each oil change drive the wheels off of your BMW. Keep the RPM’s high but try to avoid getting pulled over. Shift around 4500-5500 rpm’s for about 10 minutes. If you are leaving Baltimore Bimmer (which you should be if you just got your oil changed) just shoot down route 40 and keep it in manual mode and don’t go above 4th gear. This should prevent any major wear.
To sum it up:
“If you own a BMW newer than 2006, don’t drive like you’re not going anywhere. Drive it really really hard and it’ll last you.”
RULE OF THUMB:
High engine rpm’s = high oil pressure = thicker pillow between moving parts = Longer lasting engine.
Again feel free to comment and ill have the 2nd part to “How to avoid getting ripped off” coming soon.