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The BMW‘s VANOS valve timing system is used in many of the automaker’s cars. It was developed by BMW in order to adjust the camshaft for both the intake and exhaust valves. Like any other auto part, the VANOS seals are liable to break down over time. The VANOS seals are fitted to the pistons, and unfortunately the seals that BMW provides (especially with models manufactured between 1993-2006) are rather weak and cannot withstand the high temperatures under the hood for very long. The seals reside underneath the Teflon seal rings of the piston, which is meant to provide added support to the Teflon. As you can imagine, this is a highly stressful location for the VANOS seals, and their weaknesses will eventually betray them. These poorly-constructed seals are therefore a common problem with aging BMW engines, and you will need to replace them eventually. Therefore, it is helpful to know the warning signs of a failing VANOS piston seal, so you will know when to take action.


Whether or not there are any visible symptoms of a failing VANOS seal, they do need to be replaced eventually. At 50,000 miles, all of the seals should be on their last legs, and you should schedule an appointment with your mechanic to replace them. If driven further without replacement, there will be noticeable changes in how your automobile drives.

The most common of these changes is a loss of torque below 3,000 RPMS. Your automobile will oftentimes feel sluggish, almost as if the engine is hesitating at this low RPM range. You may notice that your car is not as fuel efficient as it normally is, requiring more frequent fill-ups at the gas pump. Although this may not be a common problem where you reside, cold weather could result in engine stalling, especially in the morning hours. While your car may be drivable for a short period of time, these symptoms will only get worse over time, and the quicker you deal with the issue the better. Let’s take a look at a failing VANOS piston seal in a BMW and where to go for help.


There are preventative measures that you can take in order to prolong the life of your VANOS system. Luckily, cleaning your VANOS solenoids is a relatively easy task and can be completed in under an hour.

Dirty solenoids can result in obstructed oil flow and can disrupt the timing of the VANOS system. Cleaning out the solenoids could prolong the life of the system as a whole, and will save you some money as well. If you have mechanical skills you may be able to replace the piston seals yourself. When choosing the DIY route, it is important to do your research and buy aftermarket seals instead of the stock seals that BMW uses.

The BMW seals are made of Buna rubber, which is notoriously low quality and leads to the premature failure of the VANOS seals in many of their automobiles. However, if you do not feel comfortable with handling these expensive components of your BMW, it is best to take it into the mechanic. They will provide a number of quality seals and give you good advice as to which ones to use for maximum durability and performance.


If you are looking to replace faulty VANOS seals in your BMW, you will need to look for an experienced mechanic and skip the official BMW dealerships. BMW will only offer a completely rebuilt VANOS system, which will obviously cost far more money than you may be willing to spend on a case of broken seals. What’s worse, they will provide a VANOS system with the same low quality Buna rubber seals that your original system had.

Fast Lane European is the premier BMW repair shop in the San Jose area. We have many skilled mechanics under their roof, including an ASE Master Technician. European cars of all types require careful servicing by experts familiar with their subtleties and behaviors. If you are driving a BMW, you are expecting the very best in automotive performance out of your car. Bring it to the repair shop that will bring out the very best out of your BMW. Fast Lane European will not only replace your VANOS seals, but we will also inspect your automobile carefully to ensure that your BMW will remain road-worthy for the foreseeable future.