BMW 116I Vanos Unit Issues

Got a problem with your BMW 1 Series? Post your car problems here and seek advice from fellow car owners.

Moderators: marco_polo, Producethis, Lambster, babybmwadmin, Rich196

Post Reply
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:45 pm

BMW 116I Vanos Unit Issues

Post by kit5871 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:11 pm

Hi Guys

I have got issues with my car, its idling strange adn i thought this is was missing on a cylinder. After changing the plugs it contiunes. This only happens intermittently usually when the car is warm.

Last night it showed me the oil level was low so I let it cool down, went back out and checked it and it was near the maximum limit.

I a local garage who plugged it on the diagnostics and it gave the below codes and said i would need to head to the dealer for a Vanos unit.
2A83 - Vanos Intake
2A88 - Vanos Exhaust
2B63 - Camshaft Sensor, Exhaust.

As its the easter weekend i cant take it to the local BMW garage to check it out as they are shut. Im supposed to be driving ot Newcastle tomorrow from Chesterfield and back on monday, about a 300 mile round trip. I need advice. Should it take it? And how much is a Vanos unit replacement?

Sorry for the essay and cheers in advance.


Knowledgeable Member
Knowledgeable Member
Posts: 143
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 11:29 am

Re: BMW 116I Vanos Unit Issues

Post by Bubbles » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:22 pm

don't know if this might help. Read in a magazine that he's the top man for the job, and is a hell of alot cheaper than the dealers

Knowledgeable Member
Knowledgeable Member
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 4:52 pm
Location: west sussex

Re: BMW 116I Vanos Unit Issues

Post by Higsta » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:41 pm

I was always under the impression not to take chances with the vanos as should it stop working correctly it can cause a lot of damage?

Knowledgeable Member
Knowledgeable Member
Posts: 148
Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:17 pm

Re: BMW 116I Vanos Unit Issues

Post by mike123d » Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:10 am

I would first check the camshaft timing those fault codes are normally present when the timing starts to skip on the exhaust cam. Take the rocker cover off ant turn it to TDC and check the position of the camshaft lobes and you will probably find them not in sync.

Enthusiastic Member
Enthusiastic Member
Posts: 458
Joined: Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:52 pm
Location: Scotland

Re: BMW 116I Vanos Unit Issues

Post by Bob123d » Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:45 am

My dads SAAB started kangarooing and misfiring, I plugged in my meter and read a Camshaft position sensor fault. He had the cam position sensor replaced and the MAF which also turned out to be faulty, problem solved. I recon the cam position sensor is causing your problem and may be generating the fault on the vanos because it will not be working properly due to the sensor.

In its current state i wouldn't be driving the car through fear of causing further damage.
2014 M135 3 Door
Previous 2010 BMW 520D MSport
Previous 2006 BMW Z4 3.0 SI
Previous 2002 Audi A4 1.9TDI

Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:45 pm

Re: BMW 116I Vanos Unit Issues

Post by kit5871 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:25 pm

Thanks for your help guys. Its down at the local dealer now so we will see what they say. I never took it to Newcaslte in the end, it stayed on the drive. Ive let them know I think it would be a camshaft sensor or the camshaft timing on your recommendations.

Cheers Guys, truly appreciate your help. Hope it doesnt cost too much!

Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:45 pm

Re: BMW 116I Vanos Unit Issues

Post by kit5871 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:54 pm

Another update guys, it took 4 hours to diagnose the fault, turns out the plastic guide for the timing chain has snapped and bent a few sprockets. That has then gone into the sump. It needs a new chain, new sprockets, oil flush and the sump needs clearing. Apparently a 7 hour job, parts and labour coming to a small £1360. The car is just over 6 months old and only done 71k.

I asked my dealer if this can be done on good will, they said my car was too old which i wasnt best pleased with. If a non servicable part goes at 71k it doesnt say much for BMW reliabilty (i wouldnt even expect a timing belt to have issues at this mileage never mind a chain). So i spoke to BMW UK. They said it could be doen on good will and to go back to the dealer. A few phone calls later and with BMWs backing my good will application is in place. Will see what they offer as good will. Im hoping it should cover the full cost. I wish the dealers wouldnt try it on in the first place and would save me alot of hassle!! :x

Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:29 pm

Re: BMW 116I Vanos Unit Issues

Post by andrewpillayza » Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:00 pm

hi guys...

sorry to revive a 4 year old post - this is in desperation believe me. please see below and let me know if you ever resolved the 2a88 problem. Car has a n42b20 engine. car had erratic dangerous hesitation no matter how hard i pressed accelerator when engine was hot/operating temperature. Car is now in limp mode and has NO power at all.

car is throwing repeated codes as per below most concerning one is the 2a88...

2f99 - ambient temperature, ignored as this is a common repetitive error that doesnt always come up
2f9e - thermo oil sensor - ignored as it is erratic and wouldnt cause hesitation/doesnt always appear
2a88 - Camshaft Control (Exhaust Vanos)
2b63 - exhaust cam sensor - replaced sensor, code hasnt reappeared since.

Work Done thus far,
1. Did coil test - OK
2. Replaced Exhaust cam Sensor as well as Inlet - 2b63 code no longer reappears, but is replaced with 2a88 now.
3. Cleaned MAF - did MAF test - OK
4. New Spark plugs - OK
5. Full service - OK
6. Replaced fuel pump with OEM - OK
7. Replaced fuel filter - OK
8. CCV - Mechy told me this is okay and suction is still there.
9. Replaced entire exhaust (slight rattle from CAT converter though, think loose bracket)
10. Changed OIL 3x to different brands / fully synthetic
11. Injector Cleaner (Wynns in fuel tank, didnt fill tank to maintain higher concentration)
12. Replaced air filter twice.

Then, Mechy suspected the Vanos Solenoids, or Exhaust Vanos
13. Removed, Cleaned, swapped them around - still the same,
14. Replaced Solenoids from a working normal car, still the same limp mode engine code 2a88.
15. Replaced Exhaust Vanos with second hand one, re-did timing, as the timing was found to be out, then found the plastic timing guide/thingy to be broken. So we replaced, and did timing again - no change, still getting 2a88 fault + limp mode when driving
16. Replaced chain guide tensioner - engine rattles less, but still the same 2a88 code + limp mode.
17. Cleaned throttle body - No change.

Then, Mechy said it was the exhaust that was clogged?
Took the exhaust off, think he cleaned it some how, now the exhaust is rattling not entirely sure what he did. but after all of the above,

Now the mechanic is saying he thinks it is the VVT/valvetronic that needs to be replaced. I am at my wits end with this and literally dont have any more money to carry on replacing random things one by one having already spent thousands based on speculation.

when the code 2a88 comes up the and the car is in limp mode, there is no sudden hesitation at pull off, but is very very low on power, given the car is an auto, it always shifts down much more prematurely than when not in limp mode. i.e, premature gear changes from 1st to 2nd to 3rd etc. Usually i could clear the codes, the car would drive a few kms and then the revs would sporadically dip and code reappears, car goes into limp mode with 2a88 code yet again.

Please anyone, please help??? To moderators, very sorry if i havent posted correctly - please advise?


Enthusiastic Member
Enthusiastic Member
Posts: 877
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:46 pm

Re: BMW 116I Vanos Unit Issues

Post by AP1 » Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:40 am

Is it possible the timing changed between step 15 and 16, ie if the car was timed correctly with a faulty tensioner then run the timing could be out.
Also has the timing chain stretched? Has the timing been set correctly eg preload on chain prior to tensioner being fitted etc?


We're the camshaft stretch bolts changed? I have some new ones if not.

Post Reply

Return to “BMW Problems”