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      06-11-2018, 08:33 AM   #1
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Replace valve cover bolts or not?

Hi,

I have a bit of a conundrum here. I need to know whether I need to replace the valve cover bolts when replacing the gasket or not.

It's a 2011 E90 (328i) with an N52 engine (I'm fairly sure it's not N51 - at least when I enter the last seven digits of the VIN on realoem.com, it says N52).

Some sources say that with the N52, I definitely need to replace the bolts as they're made of aluminum. Some sources, however, say that after 2007, BMW switched back to steel bolts.

Now, is there any surefire way to figure out whether I need new bolts or not BEFORE taking the engine apart and checking the bolts with a magnet? If I need to replace the bolts, I would need to order them online and it would be great to order them beforehand, not when I've taken the engine apart and already have all other parts, and then wait for a week for the bolts to arrive.

Thank you!
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      06-11-2018, 08:51 AM   #2
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N52k or n51 has steel bolts. The n52 is from 06 which are alum.
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      06-11-2018, 09:00 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 335dlci View Post
N52k or n51 has steel bolts. The n52 is from 06 which are alum.
Thank you.

But how do I know which engine I have? According to Wikipedia, this model should have the N52B30 engine. What exactly is N52k?
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      06-11-2018, 09:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Rothstein View Post
Thank you.

But how do I know which engine I have? According to Wikipedia, this model should have the N52B30 engine. What exactly is N52k?
If yours is a 2011, you will have the plastic valve cover. Only the early engines from 2006 with the magnesium valve cover have the aluminum valve cover bolts, since the magnesium cover would react with steel bolts.
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      06-11-2018, 09:51 AM   #5
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Inside your door you can find a the date of production of your car. Once you know the production date you can figure out which engine you've got. Although, if I was you, I would just order the bolts to be safe.
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      06-11-2018, 09:58 AM   #6
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2011 328i with N52B30 engine has plastic valve cover with steel bolts that do not need to be replaced.

However you may wish to replace the metal park plug hole liners, I had a tough time getting them out without damaging them. In the end I did get them back in and everything it was just a hassle.

If I had to do it again, I would take out the valve cover bolts, pop the cover loose to get the metal liners popped out of the head and then take the liners out. That would have been easiest.
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      06-11-2018, 10:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CTinline-six View Post
If yours is a 2011, you will have the plastic valve cover. Only the early engines from 2006 with the magnesium valve cover have the aluminum valve cover bolts, since the magnesium cover would react with steel bolts.
Yes, it does have a plastic cover. So the rule of thumb is, plastic cover=steel bolts, i.e. I don't need to replace them?
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      06-11-2018, 10:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joester View Post
2011 328i with N52B30 engine has plastic valve cover with steel bolts that do not need to be replaced.

However you may wish to replace the metal park plug hole liners, I had a tough time getting them out without damaging them. In the end I did get them back in and everything it was just a hassle.

If I had to do it again, I would take out the valve cover bolts, pop the cover loose to get the metal liners popped out of the head and then take the liners out. That would have been easiest.
All right, thank you very much!
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      06-11-2018, 11:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Rothstein View Post
Hi,

I have a bit of a conundrum here. I need to know whether I need to replace the valve cover bolts when replacing the gasket or not.

It's a 2011 E90 (328i) with an N52 engine (I'm fairly sure it's not N51 - at least when I enter the last seven digits of the VIN on realoem.com, it says N52).

Some sources say that with the N52, I definitely need to replace the bolts as they're made of aluminum. Some sources, however, say that after 2007, BMW switched back to steel bolts.

Now, is there any surefire way to figure out whether I need new bolts or not BEFORE taking the engine apart and checking the bolts with a magnet? If I need to replace the bolts, I would need to order them online and it would be great to order them beforehand, not when I've taken the engine apart and already have all other parts, and then wait for a week for the bolts to arrive.

Thank you!
Make sure to couple your new OEM gasket with Ultra Black. Put a bead of ultra black in the grooves where the gasket goes, press the gasket into place, and then put another bead of ultra black on top of the pressed in gasket. Then place the valve cover on top of the head. Make sure the follow the specific pattern they need to be tightened and use the recommended torque for each bolt.
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      06-11-2018, 11:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mweisdorfer View Post
Make sure to couple your new OEM gasket with Ultra Black. Put a bead of ultra black in the grooves where the gasket goes, press the gasket into place, and then put another bead of ultra black on top of the pressed in gasket. Then place the valve cover on top of the head. Make sure the follow the specific pattern they need to be tightened and use the recommended torque for each bolt.
By Ultra Black you mean this? https://www.permatex.com/products/ga...asket-maker-4/

And I didn't order an OEM gasket, I ordered a genuine BMW gasket. Do I still need the Ultra Black?
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      06-11-2018, 11:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Rothstein View Post
And I didn't order an OEM gasket, I ordered a genuine BMW gasket. Do I still need the Ultra Black?
The RTV is to hold the gaskets in place when you reinstall the cover. It's not needed for sealing. Without it you run the risk of the gaskets falling out of the grooves. You then roll/fold the gaskets therefore resulting in a leak. You probably won't need it if you are experienced and being extra careful.
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      06-11-2018, 11:40 AM   #12
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Though I did not replace the bolts when I did my VCG job I would advise you to replace them.
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      06-11-2018, 11:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mweisdorfer View Post
Make sure to couple your new OEM gasket with Ultra Black. Put a bead of ultra black in the grooves where the gasket goes, press the gasket into place, and then put another bead of ultra black on top of the pressed in gasket. Then place the valve cover on top of the head. Make sure the follow the specific pattern they need to be tightened and use the recommended torque for each bolt.

The service manual makes no mention of doing this, the service manual just says to "cover the gaskets and gasket grooves in a small amount of anti-friction compound, such as glycerin".

In my experience (and yes I actually do have experience in this on my old VW golf lol) in using ultra-black to seal valve cover gaskets is that it doesn't really work that great, its the preload in the rubber seal that actually makes the seal work. If you put ultra black on there you may just make a mess to clean up at the next replacement without actually making it last any longer. Ultra-black is great at making metal-metal seals like on gasketless oil pans, but on a flexible part like a rubber gasket I dont think it does much.

Important to note that I'm not saying it makes it worse, but rather that I don't personally think there's any good evidence that it makes the seal better or last longer... but it definitely creates a mess for the next person to replace the VCG to clean up! YMMV. Ultra-black in the groove will definitely help hold the gasket in place though there is no arguing that.



Also somewhat concerning that multiple people are suggesting blindly replacing all the bolts backed by no reasoning. I suggest that instead you take that money you don't want and I can give you my paypal address.
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      06-11-2018, 11:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joester View Post
2011 328i with N52B30 engine has plastic valve cover with steel bolts that do not need to be replaced.

However you may wish to replace the metal park plug hole liners, I had a tough time getting them out without damaging them. In the end I did get them back in and everything it was just a hassle.

If I had to do it again, I would take out the valve cover bolts, pop the cover loose to get the metal liners popped out of the head and then take the liners out. That would have been easiest.
Why pull out the metal sleeves?
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      06-11-2018, 11:53 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joester View Post
The service manual makes no mention of doing this, the service manual just says to "cover the gaskets and gasket grooves in a small amount of anti-friction compound, such as glycerin".

In my experience (and yes I actually do have experience in this on my old VW golf lol) in using ultra-black to seal valve cover gaskets is that it doesn't really work that great, its the preload in the rubber seal that actually makes the seal work. If you put ultra black on there you may just make a mess to clean up at the next replacement without actually making it last any longer. Ultra-black is great at making metal-metal seals like on gasketless oil pans, but on a flexible part like a rubber gasket I dont think it does much.

Important to note that I'm not saying it makes it worse, but rather that I don't personally think there's any good evidence that it makes the seal better or last longer... but it definitely creates a mess for the next person to replace the VCG to clean up! YMMV. Ultra-black in the groove will definitely help hold the gasket in place though there is no arguing that.



Also somewhat concerning that multiple people are suggesting blindly replacing all the bolts backed by no reasoning. I suggest that instead you take that money you don't want and I can give you my paypal address.
Thanks for this, very helpful.

Can you please explain to me, what does "starting with inside fasteners" mean? Is "inside" the passenger side?
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      06-11-2018, 11:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mweisdorfer View Post
Make sure to couple your new OEM gasket with Ultra Black. Put a bead of ultra black in the grooves where the gasket goes, press the gasket into place, and then put another bead of ultra black on top of the pressed in gasket. Then place the valve cover on top of the head. Make sure the follow the specific pattern they need to be tightened and use the recommended torque for each bolt.
That is overkill. You only need some to help hold the gasket
Dont put it on top of the gasket
Sigh. People messing up their cars and wonder why
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      06-11-2018, 11:56 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Rothstein View Post
Thanks for this, very helpful.

Can you please explain to me, what does "starting with inside fasteners" mean? Is "inside" the passenger side?
It means the "middle" ones. Start at the bolts in the middle of the engine and then work towards the front and the back as you go. So theres three bolts in the middle of the valve cover and then maybe 20 around the outside (i dont know the exact number).... Anyways, tighten the three hand tight, then tighten the 20 hand tight in a criss-cross, then go back using the same pattern with your torque wrench or if youre ghetto just your hand socket wrench and tighten to torque.

Really just DONT start at one bolt and then go around in a circle. Thats how you cause problems.
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Last edited by Joester; 06-11-2018 at 12:01 PM.
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      06-11-2018, 11:57 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 335dlci View Post
Why pull out the metal sleeves?
I felt as though it made pulling the cover out easier although I know many people replace the cover without ever removing the sleeves.

I had a hard enough time getting the thing back in without worrying about the fragile sleeves lol
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      06-11-2018, 12:05 PM   #19
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Quote:
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I felt as though it made pulling the cover out easier although I know many people replace the cover without ever removing the sleeves.

I had a hard enough time getting the thing back in without worrying about the fragile sleeves lol
Easy. The less you touch them. The less they get deformed.
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      06-11-2018, 12:07 PM   #20
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Easy. The less you touch them. The less they get deformed.
Maybe I'll try it without taking them out next time I do a VCG then (hopefully in another 100k miles lol)
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      06-11-2018, 12:20 PM   #21
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I have probably done over a 1000 of those VCG
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      06-11-2018, 12:29 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joester View Post
It means the "middle" ones. Start at the bolts in the middle of the engine and then work towards the front and the back as you go. So theres three bolts in the middle of the valve cover and then maybe 20 around the outside (i dont know the exact number).... Anyways, tighten the three hand tight, then tighten the 20 hand tight in a criss-cross, then go back using the same pattern with your torque wrench or if youre ghetto just your hand socket wrench and tighten to torque.

Really just DONT start at one bolt and then go around in a circle. Thats how you cause problems.
All right, thank you so much, this is really helpful.
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