Here is our do-it-yourself guide on how to replace your BMW N54 vanos solenoids when they fail (not if).
For a quick recap, the vanos system is responsible for opening and closing the intake and exhaust valves. Bad solenoids will result in poor performance, rough idling, limp mode, loss of power, inability to accelerate....it basically kills everything that makes having twin turbos fun.
If you are unsure if your vanos solenoids are failing, you can read our guide on how to diagnose failing vanos solenoids here. We assume you wouldn't be here reading this DIY if you weren't sure your solenoids were bad, so we'll just dive right into it.
This DIY is applicable for both N54 and N52 engines!
OEM Replacement Parts
2A82 and 2A87 are the fault codes, below are the corresponding parts for those codes. Both parts are identical, so just order two from one of the links below:
- 2A82: Vanos intake solenoid (Part #: 11 36 7 585 425)
- 2A87: Vanos exhaust solenoid (Part #: 11 36 7 585 425)
N55 and N63 owners need to use these Vanos solenoids: N55/N63 Vanos Solenoid (Part #11-36-8-605-123)
Our readers get 5% off the solenoids above by using code "N54TUNERS" at checkout!
DIY Time Requirement: approximately 1 hour. If you know what you're doing you can probably do it in 30 minutes.
Steps to Replace your Vanos Solenoids:
Step 1: Remove Engine Cowl and Filter Panel
Start by removing the engine cowl and filter panel. If you are unsure how to do this, you can take a look at the JB4 install guide out on the internet. We will work on a YouTube video for this and get it posted here once done.
NOTE: wait at least 30 minutes after you last ran your engine as the area where the solenoids are is extremely hot! Wait longer than 30 minutes if you gave it a long drive prior to doing the install.
Step 2: Remove Engine Cover
Remove the engine cover if you have an N54, if you have an N52 then you can ignore this step. There are 4 screws to remove, which you should be able to see in the picture below. Two are in the front, one is in the back center, and the last one and hardest to see/find is in the back left, on the side.
Step 3: Remove the Intake Snorkel
Removing the intake snorkel will require a Torx T-20 tool. Remove the 2 screws shown in pictures 2 and 3 below and the snorkel should pull right out. The first picture is what your engine should look like with the cowl and engine cover removed.
NOTE: cars that don't have OEM oil coolers do not need to remove the snorkel. If you aren't sure if your car does or not, watch this quick video on how to find out: https://youtu.be/eENGybPe0c0
Pic 1: what your engine should look like without the engine cover or cowl.
Pic 2: the left side snorkel screw
Pic 3: the right side snorkel screw
Step 4: Find the Solenoids
The solenoids are small and don't pop right out at you, so use the picture below to help locate where the vanos solenoids are. The vanos solenoids are located right where the brown rag is in the picture - right underneath where the left side of the snorkel used to be.
Here is an up-close picture of the solenoids location. Note the solenoids have been removed in this picture but you shouldn't remove them yet! This is just to make it easier to see.
The top hole is for the intake solenoid.
The bottom hole is for the exhaust solenoid.
As we mentioned earlier, the solenoids are exactly the same, so you don't need to worry about inserting one into the wrong hole.
Step 5: Removing the Connector Wires
Each vanos solenoid has a connector wire attached to it. You will need to remove both of them - to do so push down on the silver clip (pictured below) while pulling out. The connector in the pictures is for the intake solenoid. While the solenoids are interchangeable between holes, the connector wires aren't, so make sure you reconnect them properly when you install your new solenoids. The intake connector cable goes to the left, and the exhaust cable goes downwards - this is how you can easily remember when you are reinstalling.
Here is the silver clip that needs to be pressed down to remove the connector wires. Make sure you push this down and then release when you are reconnecting them later on the ensure it is fully connected.
Step 6: Remove the Vanos Solenoids
To remove the solenoid you will first need to remove the retaining screw that is attached to the solenoid. The retaining clip is part of the solenoid so don't try to remove it! It pulls out while the whole solenoid. Once the screw has been removed, turn the solenoid clockwise about 1/8 of a turn and pull. The solenoid should pop out.
Some people recommend replacing one solenoid at a time. If you have one solenoid out it is possible to drop the screw from the other solenoid into the open hole. You would then have a metal screw in the casing of your camshaft. So either don't drop a screw or replace one at a time.
Once you have the solenoids out you should have a pretty easy time wrapping up the DIY. To save any confusion, here are the steps:
- Insert the new solenoids. To do this, try positioning it a 1/8 clockwise turn to the mounting hole. Push it in until you feel the pop, and then line the mounting holes up.
- Screw the mounting screws back into the solenoids.
- Reconnect the solenoid connecting wires. Remember the cable that goes to the left is for the intake solenoid, and the one that goes down is for the exhaust solenoid.
- Reattach the snorkel.
- Put the engine cover back on.
- Put the cowl and panel filter back on.
And that should do it!