Are you getting fault codes for your VANOS? Don’t freak out just yet, it might just need a replacement solenoid. The problem with the VANOS solenoid pack is that the soldering connections on the printed circuit board (PCB) are really weak and overtime they will crack resulting in loss of function of the solenoid valves. The solution is to replace your VANOS solenoid pack with a new or rebuilt one. We recommend purchasing the solenoid pack at Beisan Systems as well as all the supporting parts to replace your o-rings, etc.

Below are the possible fault codes that can trigger with a faulty VANOS solenoid pack on your E46 M3 (Rajie from M3Forums). Although in some cases, these fault codes can trigger bigger problems which I hope you don’t have. There are two major issues that can result in engine failure. Those are broken oil pump driver tabs and/or a loose sprocket mounting bolt. Please consult a professional mechanic to diagnose your exact issue before you replace parts.

VANOS Intake Fault Codes

P0011 (BMW 67, 0x43): Vanos intake timing over advanced
P0012 (BMW 72, 0x48): Vanos intake timing over retarded
Pxxxx (BMW 184, 0xB8): Vanos intake position control
P1525 (BMW xxx, 0xxx): Vanos intake solenoid open circuit

VANOS Exhaust Fault Codes

P0014 (BMW 22, 0x16): Vanos exhaust timing over advanced
P0015 (BMW 21, 015): Vanos exhaust timing over retarded
Pxxxx (BMW 185, 0xB9): Vanos exhaust position control
P1531 (BMW xxx, 0xxx): Vanos exhaust solenoid open circuit

Tools Required

E46 M3 VANOS Solenoid DIY

VANOS Solenoid Replacement Instructions

⚠️ The VANOS solenoid unit consists of two (2) parts. One is the VANOS solenoid pack (black) and the VANOS solenoid valve body (silver).

1. Remove intake duct using needle nose pliers to remove all 4 clips.

2. Remove radiator fan shroud and fan.

2.2 Remove the 3 push pins holding the shield. There is one on top directly center, one driver and one passenger. Remove using pliers. I don’t have pictures of the passenger side of the shield because I don’t run that. This is a picture of the driver side shield.

2.3 There are a total of four T25 torx screws (one on each corner) and 2 plugs on the passenger side of the radiator/shroud. Unplug cables first, then remove the four screws. The passenger side top torx screw (pictured below) is longer than the others. Tape up plugs and set aside.

2.4 Remove passenger side lower screw.

2.5 Remove fan using the E46 M3 BMW Water Pump Pulley Locking Tool and a 32mm wrench. The fan clutch nut is reverse threaded. Lock in the water pump pulley and unscrew using the 32mm wrench. Spin the fan to unscrew a little faster, but make sure you don’t let the fan drop.

3. Remove the VANOS solenoid unit.

3.1 Loosen the 22mm oil restrictor valve on the VANOS solenoid valve body. We’re not removing it, but just loosening it so it’s easier when it comes to removing the unit.

3.2 Unplug the electrical connector pin located on the passenger side of the VANOS solenoid pack.

E46 M3 VANOS Solenoid DIY

3.3 Remove the five 5mm hex bolts on top of the VANOS unit. Once these bolts are out, you can slide out the entire unit. Make sure to use a drip towel to catch some of the oil.

E46 M3 VANOS Solenoid DIY

4. Remove VANOS solenoid pack from valve body.

4.1 Remove the four 4mm external torx socket bolts located on top of the VANOS solenoid pack.

E46 M3 VANOS Solenoid DIY

5. Clean VANOS solenoid restrictor valve.

5.1 Remove the 22mm restrictor valve entirely.

5.2 Clean/replace oil filter (11-36-1-401-971).

5.3 Replace both o-rings on valve. The new o-rings will come with the Beisan replacement solenoid.

E46 M3 VANOS Solenoid DIY

Reference: ShopLifeTV

6. Clean VANOS solenoid valve body.

6.1 Use brake cleaner to wash the valve body thoroughly.

6.2 Use magnets on the solenoid valves to open the internals for cleaning.

E46 M3 VANOS Solenoid DIY

Reference: ShopLifeTV

7. Clean sealing plate.

7.1 Remove the old o-rings on the sealing plate. Use razor or sharp knife to cut away as much of the old material as you can. It will be baked on there.

7.2 Clean plate with brake cleaner.

7.3 Install new o-rings.

E46 M3 VANOS Solenoid DIY

Reference: ShopLifeTV

8. Reinstall the VANOS solenoid unit.

8.1 Install the oil restrictor valve back into the valve body, but do not tighten all the way.

8.2 Install the solenoid pack on the valve body using the four torx bolts. Tighten to 3 ft-lbs.

8.3 Add the sealing plate back on the VANOS unit and install back on car. Make sure the plate is installed smoothly without dislodging any of the four o-rings.

8.4 Tighten the restrictor valve (hand tight).

8.5 Install the 5 bolts back on to the VANOS unit. Torque each bolt to 7 ft-lbs.

8.6 Install fan shroud elements and check for leaks.

E46 M3 VANOS Solenoid DIY