Thursday, June 2, 2011

E36 BMW: Timing Belt or Chain?

I have a 98 328is, does it have a timing belt or a chain? How do I know when it should be changed? My car has 132,000 miles, and I'm not sure when or if it has been changed. Is there any way to check? I've heard that the timing belts in Audis can wreck the engines if they break...

ThanksE36 BMW: Timing Belt or Chain?
You have a timing chain. Chains are obviosuly much more reliable then belts. Your chain can become loose over time but it is rare that these break. I would start thinking about having the timing chain inspected and maybe changed within the next 10-15kmi. Normally there is around 3-4 degrees of slop around 110kmi, anything after that you will start hearing noises and your performance will suffer.E36 BMW: Timing Belt or Chain?
Well thank you for saying you have a 328is BECAUSE it COULD be a belt or a chain if you just say E36. Don't bother doing anything with the chains now at that mileage its coming due for its next head and gasket. AT ABOUT 5 THOUSAND dollars (done right) All the 328s of your cars time blow gaskets almost on a regular basis. Sure don't believe me now but next week or 2 years from now you will see, its as certain as the sun will come up tomorrow.

I just can't stand it when people use %26quot;E%26quot; terms. Its so vague. While I have no interest in the new junk built from the late 80's to next years models and so on. People talk about stying power performance, and what not EXCEPT over all reliability.E36 BMW: Timing Belt or Chain?
As stated by other, you have a chain. If you hear a rattling sound coming from the front of the engine, particuarly at start up, then be suspect of the chains tension and after some wear and tear it's very unlikely, but not impossible, that the tensioners can fail.E36 BMW: Timing Belt or Chain?
a should be more worried about nicosil borewear if you have a m52 engine fitted wit single vanos.E36 BMW: Timing Belt or Chain?
You have a timing chain. The reason they switched to chains, was due to the high temps making the belts wear quickly. The chain produced better performance. Check this link to see more. There are several dealerships that are willing to do a check for you with out cost. They view this as a way of earning your business. Also, if your car was serviced by an authorized BMW service center, they will have a record of if and/or when your chain was replaced. They can look it up by your VIN.E36 BMW: Timing Belt or Chain?

You've cited the M43 engine, which is not used in the asker's 328is. The 328is uses the M52B28 engine, which evolved from the old belt driven M20 engines from the 70s and 80s. The belts lasted as long in those in any other automotive brands, however rather than heat deteriorating them, it was typically oils leaking from the cylinder head near the valve cover gasket that typically caused the damage. It was never an issue for owners that replaced the belts before the scheduled interval of 60,000 miles or 4 years.

Back to the original poster: Your 328is uses a chain, as did all of the M50 based engines.

There is no reason to expect the chain to fail in the M50 engine under normal driving conditions. The chain may wear and get noisy, which can be solved by replacing tensioners or the chain itself. If you hear rattling noises though, it is far more likely to be caused by wear in the vanos unit.

EDIT: No Nikasil bore in US M52. Also, the general opinion in the automotive world is that if the engines have survived this long, they are fine. The fuels that were high in sulphur have been eradicated from the market.

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