BMW N55 Engine Rebuild Project Part 6 – Valve Cover Gasket & Oil Pan Gasket

Hello and welcome back to Part 6 of my BMW N55 engine rebuild project that I have been working on for a few weeks now. By the end of this video, this engine is finally starting to look like a real engine and not just a pile of parts around a block. I can almost hear this engine start up for the first time and purrrr with all its new parts, or at least I hope it will! In today’s video I’m replacing the valve cover gasket and installing the valve cover itself as well as replacing the oil pan gasket and installing a new-to-me oil pan. More on that later.

If you’d like this project to succeed, don’t forget to hit that like button for me and of course the YouTube algorithm. Now, back to the project!

I won’t be going into details on how to get to this stage as I’ve shown the steps in my engine removal video. I suggest you watch that video for more details on which parts to remove to get to the valve cover. Basically, you’ll remove the intake housing, fan cowl and move the coolant expansion tank to the side. No need to disconnect it. Then remove the air duct that feeds the turbocharger and now most of the stuff is now out of the way, so you’ll just have to remove the gas pressure lines after disconnecting the battery; of course, and any vacuum and electrical connections. Now the valve cover can be unbolted. If you will be reusing it, make sure to unbolt all 26 bolts in the correct sequence and remember that these bolts are attached to the cover itself and will not peacefully come out past the plastic part.

With the valve cover removed, we can inspect the surfaces on the cylinder head and remove any bigger debris with a plastic razor and use a scotch brite pad for anything remaining. The valve cover itself has 4 different gaskets that should be replaced each time the cover is removed to avoid any oil leaks. Replacing them is very easy, remove the old stuff, clean out the channels of any dirt, insert new gaskets and we are ready to go back on the cylinder head. In my case, I had to install the spark plug housing which came off during the rebuild. With everything ready to go, the cover simple can be lowered making sure everything is aligned and torqued to spec.


Torquing these bolts to spec and in the correct order is probably the most important step as this plastic cover can easily warp or even crack if not done correctly. Refer to the diagram for the correct sequence and then  hand tight or use a power drill on the lowest setting on all of the screws. For round two, each one gets 8.5 Nm in the same order. DO NOT go back to the first ones to check torque or retorque them again. They have to be done in that order and left alone.

If all went well, simply re-assemble whatever you have taken a part to get here and enjoy your new valve cover gasket!

Now onto the Oil Pan gasket and install. As I mentioned earlier, I had to get a new oil pan as the engine I’m rebuilding is from a BMW X5 and the oil pan and pick up tube are different on that car. This one is a lot more complicated to do at home if you don’t have your engine out, but it is possible if you drop the front axle support and remove the front differential and power steering pump. With correct access, this is a simple job just like the valve cover. Just as before, cleaning all of the surfaces is very important to prevent leaks and then we can drop the gasket on the engine block. In this case, there are no guides, so you have to be very careful when installing the new gasket as it will move around if you’re not careful. It took me 2 tries before I got it perfect and I had perfect access, so I imagine it’s a little bit harder while working under the car. With the gasket aligned and the oil pan sitting on top, we can insert new aluminum bolts in a couple of spots and screw them in a few threads. Now comes the important part. If the engine is out, you’re supposed to use an alignment tool to make sure the oil pan is perfectly aligned with the block. If the transmission is still attached, you don’t have to worry about it as it will align itself to the bellhousing. Here is what I did. Then hand tight a few screws to keep it from moving around. All screws on the oil pan are torqued to 8 Nm and then 90-degree rotation for the short ones and 180 degree of rotation on the long ones.

Well, look at my engine looking all spiffy now with the new gaskets and ready for more parts. Thank you so much for watching part 6 of the N55 engine rebuild project and I’m looking forward to seeing you in the next parts where we install the front and rear crankshaft seals, install the injectors, the exhaust manifold and drop the engine in the car. Leave a comment down below and let me know what you think of the progress so far and if you’d like to follow the project, don’t forget to subscribe. See ya next time!

Test and Clean VANOS Solenoids – BMW VANOS Symptoms

Hey guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. In this video we will discuss common symptoms of a bad solenoid, see how we can test one at home and how to clean it.

Ever since the early 90s, a lot of BMW engines have been using the VANOS system to adjust the valve timing on the fly. This gives the engine more power over the rev-range and for that reason in general, we like variable timing on engines. We get low end torque and high end horse power, very similar to VTEC on Honda engines. The design has changed over the years, starting with single VANOS system used in the 90s, dual VANOS system used in early to mid 2000s as well as the famous n54 engine that was in production until 2010 and of course Dual-VANOS with VALVETRONIC that I have in my N55 engine that was released in 2009 and is still used today.

Now that we know a little bit of history, let’s take a look at how to actually diagnose a bad VANOS solenoid. A lot of the times, the symptoms are not drastic, so it can be difficult to tell, but usually you’d look for things like loss of low-end torque or power in high revs, slow response or inconsistent idle or even poor fuel economy. Some of the more noticeable items could be rough idling; especially, on cold starts as well as long cranking. Of course, if it’s bad enough, the car will go into limp home mode and you’ll normally get codes related to Camshaft Position or VANOS specific codes. If you suspect the solenoid might be fault on your car, there are ways of testing it. This isn’t something you’d see a dealer do, but it may help you troubleshoot your engine issue. Of course, if the issue is intermittent, this method does not guarantee that it will always work, but it’s an easy way to detect a bad one.

BMW N55 Engine Rebuild Project Part 2 – Piston, Crankshaft and Main Bearings Replacement

Hey guys and welcome back to Part 2 of the BMW N55 Engine Rebuild Project. In this video we install a piston, new main bearings, new crankshaft and seal the bedplate. Since the original engine had chunks the size of my fist, yet still somehow ran, I bought another engine on Facebook marketplace and that’s the engine we are working on today. Check out the playlist to see the teardown video and more info on how I got it. If you’d like to see what the original engine actually sounded like despite having chunks of metal and a hole at the bottom, click the links in the description below and before we start, hit that like button like the piston hit the cylinder head on my engine for the YouTube algorithm and to make me feel a little better for spending so much money on bolts and gaskets!


Now, back to this engine that I got for cheap off of Facebook. In the last video, I disassembled it to see if it was worth saving and decided that it’s actually a rebuildable engine. Since then, I have been ordering parts and cleaning all the parts I could clean. I’ve tried a few different degreasers, but ultimately the regular brake cleaner and even the cheaper AutoZone brake cleaner seem to have been working best. I’ve also learned that using a ScotchBrite pad helped get rid of the tougher, built up stuff and smooth out the contracting surfaces. Even though this looks easy and fast on video, it took hours to do, but I WAS being careful not to damage anything as I’m fairly new at this.

Removing and installing a piston

Since this engine spun the bearing on piston 6, I decided it would be best to replace it for a couple of reasons. The most important reason was that there was damage on the connecting rod where the new rod bearing would go, which of course would not last very long even with a new bearing in pl ace. I was also worried that the connecting rod itself could have been slightly bent, internally damaged or no longer perfectly round and since I have 4 perfectly good pistons from the original engine, I decided to swap one in. I picked the best out of the bunch, gave it a good clean and then went to adjust the piston rings.

Now, it’s a little difficult to see this on camera, but the M-Flex ring is made from 3 different parts. Bearing spring being the middle and two steel band rings that go on top and bottom. The idea is to get the M-flex ring and the two steel bands to be 120 degree apart at the opening or separation point. It’s also important to make sure that the contact point is not arranged over what’s called a pin boss or basically avoid the area where the piston is connected to the connecting rod.

Once you have to bottom ring properly adjusted, you need to also adjust the middle and the top ring to be 120 degree from each other. The instructions on this aren’t super clear, but I went with 120 for the 3 parts of the M-flex ring and then again 120 degree separation between the 3 rings.

Now that I had my piston ready to go, I cleaned up the cylinder wall to make sure it was perfectly clean, oiled it and then oiled the piston as well. I don’t have any fancy tools for installing pistons, but honestly, it was much easier than I expected. I used this $13 tool from amazon and it worked perfectly. It’s a little fiddly, so if you do this a lot, spend more money on something more solid, but for me it worked exactly as I need it to. I oiled up the inside of the tool to make sure nothing got scratched and tightened it around the piston. Inserted the tool with the piston into the cylinder and gently pushed it in with my fingers. You do not want to use any tools here or force it in. The new piston is now installed… woohoo!

Installing Crankshaft

Having actually accomplished SOMETHING, I decided it was time for a little bit more cleaning.. I’ve definitely learned that a big part of engine rebuilding is getting rid of all the old muck and gaskets and all kinds of buildup. If I ever do this again, I might get a parts cleaner or maybe a Dremel with a soft pad or something like that. At least getting it to look new again DOES make you feel like some progress is being done, so that’s a plus.

Now that I felt better about how it looked, I removed the connecting rod bolts and the connecting rod bearing caps on the big end. It’s VERY important that these rod bearing caps do not get mixed up and go to the correct connecting rod when reused or you’ll have another knocking engine very soon. I marked them and put aside until they are needed again when we replace the rod bearings in the next video. The bolts will also be used before the final install for testing, so I’m keeping them for now. Subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss that video! Now that the crankshaft is not held in by anything, it can be simply removed from the engine. Do be careful as it weighs about 50 pounds and you don’t want to drop that on your foot.

I wanted to show you the difference between a good crankshaft and onethat has been abused. Let’s compare the crankshaft from the original engine to the one I’m installing shortly. You can see how much shinier and smoother journals are on the good part. Of course, the old one is not going to waste, it can be resurfaced and used again with oversized bearings.

Back at the engine, I removed all of the old crankshaft bearings, cleaned the area with some ScotchBrite and removed the residue with brake cleaner and a lint free paper towel. We are now ready to install the new stuff!

Installing Main Bearings

WHY am I going with aftermarket main bearings? Well, that’s a very good question with a few answers. First, these seem to have a better reputation with people that have rebuilt their N54 and N55 engines. Second, these King bearings have an improved crankshaft finish for reducing microscopic ferrite peaks if your crankshaft isn’t perfect and since I’m not installing a brand new one, it isn’t perfect. They also have improved oil clearances which should reduce wear on the engine and increase its life. Other than all of those reason, the price was also a factor as these much less expensive compared to OEM.

Installing these is actually fairly simple, put the grooved side in first, squeeze the bearing just a little and push it down with your fingers. They pop in and seat themselves when done correctly. At least they did in my case. The set with a little oil hole goes on the engine block and the solid ones are installed on the bedplate. Of course, I cleaned all surfaces to make sure there was nothing there before installing.

Now that everything is ready, we can temporarily install the crankshaft so that we can check the crankshaft bearing clearance. If it didn’t go in perfectly on the first try, don’t spin it, lift it out a little bit and put it back down where it’s not in the way of anything.

To make sure the bearings have seated correctly and are not over or undersized, it’s important to check the crankshaft bearing radial clearance. For this BMW recommends using plastigauge. I have a full video on how to use plastigauge if you’d like to see the entire process. The basic process is to cut a piece of plastigauge the width of the journal, place it on top of each journal you’d like to test and then install the bedplate back on the engine block.

We then follow the correct sequence to install the bolts and torque them to spec! I left mine for a couple of minutes and then removed the bolts and the bedplate.

Now that I’m confident with the fitment of my new crankshaft, it is time to do the final assembly. Of course, I have cleaned all of the areas again and removed the plastigauge from the crankshaft as well as the bed plate. With all the surfaces clean, I then installed some assembly lube as this will be the only oil between the journals and the bearings when the engine runs for the first time. After the oil pressure is build up, regular oil will go in through the holes in the bearings and lubricate, but we have to protect the engine for those first few rotations. I put some assembly lube on the bedplate bearings as well and even rub a little on the journals directly. This stuff isn’t going to hurt anything and it still much better to the surfaces compared to regular oil.

Since there is no gasket between the bedplate and the engine block, it has to be sealed with a special sealant. The one I got is recommended by BMW and is specified in the service manual. I applied a good bead into the groove as specified.

I really hope you enjoyed this video or at the very least learned something new. If you enjoy this type of content or just like cars, check out the rest of the channel for many more car related videos. Most aren’t nearly as technical. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you in part 3 where we install the rod bearings.

BMW N55 Engine Rebuild Project Part 1 – I Bought A Broken BMW N55

Hey guys and welcome back to another video on the SimpleCarGuy channel. It has been a few months since I have started working on the e92 project and I know I haven’t posted an update in a long while. So, in this video, I will go over why it took so long, what’s happening now and the plan for the future. After taking the engine out of the car and tearing it down to see what it looked like, I found that it was not rebuildable at all and I had to find another engine. Unfortunately, that’s where I ran into some issues. At the time of buying the car, a BMW N55 engine could have been had for under $3000 with less than 100,000 miles minus the turbo and some accessories, which I would gladly pay. However, whether it was due to pandemic or winter being right around the corner, the engines just disappeared from the market and the pickings were slim. The best engine I could find was over $4000 with 135,000 miles out of a wracked car with no warranty or guarantee. Now, I could have risked it and went for it, but it felt like such a step back. I waited and waited and nothing came on the market.

Then one day I was on Facebook market looking for random car stuff as I normally do and I searched for a BMW N55. To my surprise, there was one for sale and it was only 5 miles away from me. What was more surprising was the asking price – $350. I figured, for $350, it can’t hurt to at least go look at it. I had a good look at it and it was a clear case of spun rod bearing. I realized that this engine in a rebuildable condition, so I pulled a trigger on it and bought another knocking BMW N55 engine. Of course, it’s not in a perfect condition by any stretch of imagination, but it’s decent enough to attempt rebuilding.

I brought the engine home, put it on a stand and started taking it apart to inspect it closer. So, how good of shape is it really in? Well, let’s find out!

Even though the guy that sold me the engine swore that the only damage to the engine is the spun rod bearing, I have seen what a spun rod bearing can do, so I had my doubts. My biggest worry was damage to the cylinder head and the cylinder walls which would make the engine not worth rebuilding. I used a small camera to go through the sparkplug hole and what I saw scared me a little bit. It looked like it was all cracked and black and not like it’s supposed to look. However, once I removed the cylinder head, I was pleasantly surprised, everything was intact and in good enough shape! Who would have thought!? This game me the go ahead to start ordering parts and proceed with the teardown.

I didn’t include the tear down footage on this engine up until this point as it’s pretty much exactly the same as I did on the original engine. Check out those videos for detail on how I got to this state of the engine.

While I do some research and wait on parts to start arriving, I’m continuing to take apart the bottom end. To remove the bed plate, I had to first remove the main crankshaft bolt, which turned out to be a not-so-easy task once the engine is on an engine stand. I ended up using a wrench to hold it in place and a very long pipe to break it lose. Now that the main bolt was out, I was able to remove the crank hub which then allowed me to remove the sprockets and the chains. A few screws and bolts later, the oil pump was ready to be removed as well.

The last step in disassembly was to remove the bed plate bolts in the correct sequences as well as all of the outside aluminum bolts. It’s mandatory to replace all aluminum bolts when re-assembling the engine, so lots of ordering a head of me. I then removed the bed plate from the engine block to expose access to the crankshaft. This is why I did so much work disassembling this engine. It’s to replace this big ol chunk of metal. I won’t be releasing those rod bolts until I’m ready to put the new one in as I’m afraid of accidentally pushing the piston out and it falling on the floor.

At this point I’m pretty much done with the disassembly of the engine and it’s rebuild time! I have ordered most of the parts I will need to get started, but first I will have to clean all of the parts I will re-use and set up a better work space for myself. The plan after is to replace one of the pistons, put all new main bearings in and replace the crankshaft. Put the bed plate back on, seal it with the correct sealant, install gaskets and seals back in and reassemble the rest of the bottom end. This of course will be in another video, so don’t forget to subscribe to follow this rebuild project.