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      09-19-2018, 04:23 AM   #1
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Question 2009 320i (N43b20) Engine at 100k. Concerns!

Hi All,

Hoping to tap into your wealth of knowledge.

Looking at an 2009 '59 LCI E91 320i as a workhorse. The car I've found needs a little bodywork TLC, nothing I can't handle, but the engine is what scares me - nothing to do with experience - it's all just the horror stories I''ve read about this generation on BMW 4-pots.

I know they are a bit gutless, but that is of no concern for it's intended use.

I also expect to be warned that the 6-pot diesels (and petrols) are better units... But respectfully, that is not the question here.

Should I be concerned with a 100k example? I think timing chains, guides, crank sprockets and tensioners are about due (if not already done) at this age. Were there any BMW recalls done on these I can check for? Or were the recalls only done on the early 20d engines?

Also here stories about coils and nox sensors being a weak point...

Can anyone arm me with some facts about this engine, and/or dispel some myths? Are they are as bad as the internet would make out? Any guide you can point me in the direction of?

The car otherwise seems a good option for a daily workhorse and whether I pull the trigger does depend on what you guys can tell me!

Thanks in advance
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      09-19-2018, 06:33 AM   #2
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I had a bmw e81 118i with the n43 engine, 249k miles when I sold it!, in that time it only needed 1 injector, 1 coil, 1 thermostat and 2 fuel pumps!. (The 2nd pump was only due to the specialist incorrectly fitting it and cracking the plastic rim) . Was still also running the original clutch!

I used to do 25-30k a year in it and was still running sweet when I sold it ....

Also have an E91 with the n43, thatís up to 90k with just regular servicing being required.

Last edited by Bmw330; 09-19-2018 at 06:39 AM.
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      09-19-2018, 07:21 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Bmw330 View Post
I had a bmw e81 118i with the n43 engine, 249k miles when I sold it!, in that time it only needed 1 injector, 1 coil, 1 thermostat and 2 fuel pumps!. (The 2nd pump was only due to the specialist incorrectly fitting it and cracking the plastic rim) . Was still also running the original clutch!

I used to do 25-30k a year in it and was still running sweet when I sold it ....

Also have an E91 with the n43, that’s up to 90k with just regular servicing being required.
Well that's a resounding positive!

Thank you for taking the time. I know too much reading on the internet magnifies any problem (apparently the shells on my M3 are about to imminently write the engine off) but on the other hand I only really know about M3s, so I'm completely green looking at the 4-pot petrols and diesels models.

Thanks for your input.
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      09-19-2018, 07:41 AM   #4
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For future reference, if anybody else in a similar position finds this thread on a search, I've just got off the phone to my local specialists, and they advise the replacement N43 timing chain kit (chain, sprocket, guides etc) will cost in the region of £700+VAT. So not all that cost prohibitive, should the issue be a concern and you wish to sleep better at night
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      09-19-2018, 12:29 PM   #5
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Bmw suggested to me it only needed changing if becoming noisy, mine at 249k was pretty much silent, our e91 is a little noisier I think.

I try not to read too much into internet problems (or otherwise youíll not buy anything).
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      09-20-2018, 03:35 AM   #6
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Bmw suggested to me it only needed changing if becoming noisy, mine at 249k was pretty much silent, our e91 is a little noisier I think.

I try not to read too much into internet problems (or otherwise youíll not buy anything).
Wow, 249k! That's another great vote of confidence. I guess regular servicing, knowing and listening to your engine, are all you need to manage and the N43 can last for a really long time.



As it happens, and in part thanks to this thread, I have just closed a deal on a 100k mile N43 320i E91 Sport in Space Grey with fully documented history, silent engine, and running sweet . I partly choose the petrol 4-pot due to the whole ULEZ/LEZ zone plans, and stricter MOT standards incoming, I think this may effect (older) diesels the worst, possibly even hit their residuals too.

I have a contact at BMW who kindly rattled off all previous warranty work for me to see, and it did have a multiple coil pack and Nox sensors issues between 20-40k, but has been good as gold ever since. So I guess there were some early teething issues, but the fact the car has been running sweet since, suggests it could be fairly trouble free, aside from routine and age-related maintenance.

The car has nice options too: MV3s, business nav, electric seats, heated leather, xenons, integrated window blinds etc. Needs few minor things sorting, which I'm happy to do (I like a few bits to crack on with in truth), but I got a really great price, so very happy.

Looking forward to it earning my respect as the perfect (?) economical, handsome and practical daily (even if it is a bit gutless ).
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      09-20-2018, 06:20 AM   #7
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I stuck to the Bmw service schedule, so about every 17k for oil etc, I never bothered with a specialist for servicing as main dealer was always around the same price. (I only used specialist for the repairs)

Sounds like a good spec, our e91 is space grey, I think the colour suits it well (until you need to any paintwork then itís a pain to match !)

I had to make sure my e92 was original paint for that very reason ....
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      09-20-2018, 07:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -Keith- View Post
Wow, 249k! That's another great vote of confidence. I guess regular servicing, knowing and listening to your engine, are all you need to manage and the N43 can last for a really long time.



As it happens, and in part thanks to this thread, I have just closed a deal on a 100k mile N43 320i E91 Sport in Space Grey with fully documented history, silent engine, and running sweet . I partly choose the petrol 4-pot due to the whole ULEZ/LEZ zone plans, and stricter MOT standards incoming, I think this may effect (older) diesels the worst, possibly even hit their residuals too.

I have a contact at BMW who kindly rattled off all previous warranty work for me to see, and it did have a multiple coil pack and Nox sensors issues between 20-40k, but has been good as gold ever since. So I guess there were some early teething issues, but the fact the car has been running sweet since, suggests it could be fairly trouble free, aside from routine and age-related maintenance.

The car has nice options too: MV3s, business nav, electric seats, heated leather, xenons, integrated window blinds etc. Needs few minor things sorting, which I'm happy to do (I like a few bits to crack on with in truth), but I got a really great price, so very happy.

Looking forward to it earning my respect as the perfect (?) economical, handsome and practical daily (even if it is a bit gutless ).
Congrats, hope it goes well for you.

My experiance with the N43 has been very bad in the past and would avoid. Problems with injectors, sensors, coil packs, etc.

Did you scan the car with ISTA, NCS, etc? I would reccomend to do this first. Any fault codes here will be an indication of upcomming issues.
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      09-20-2018, 09:56 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by E60525d View Post
Congrats, hope it goes well for you.

My experiance with the N43 has been very bad in the past and would avoid. Problems with injectors, sensors, coil packs, etc.

Did you scan the car with ISTA, NCS, etc? I would reccomend to do this first. Any fault codes here will be an indication of upcomming issues.
Ouch, not so good by your book then. I suppose it really comes down to luck in many cases! When you had bad experiences, how old/miles covered was the car?

Didn't mention before, but this car also had injectors issues early on its life, all covered under warranty. Again, nothing since.

I didn't check for codes no, I don't have those tools.

I just go with my gut, and my read on the integrity of the seller (these guys were lovely couple, pregnant with 3rd child, moderately affluent, new matching Michelins all around, even have garages do the wiper blades etc)... All good signs for my money.

Hasn't lead me wrong once so far (touch wood)!
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      09-20-2018, 11:36 AM   #10
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Yes some of it is luck but ultimately the root causes are due to the engine is fundamentally flawed in its design. Even the revised parts that we had fitted still went wrong.

Bit like the N54 and most BMW petrol engines in the 2000's. How many revisions did it take for to BMW to finally sort out the injectors and turbo's?

But saying that, hope yours is one of the better examples.
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      09-20-2018, 11:38 AM   #11
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BTW, well worth investing in some diagnostic kit. Lead is around £15 and ISTA software is a free download.
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      09-21-2018, 03:11 PM   #12
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Admittedly injectors are expensive to buy (seem to recal 160 quid each plus fitting/coding), actually quite easy to change yourself if handy with a spanner.

As I said Iíve had two and both have been spot on!, but whatever make/model you buy there are horror stories, enjoy the car!

(You could get the bmw warranty cover, if your that worried and still under 100k!)
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      09-22-2018, 06:12 AM   #13
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As E60525d has stated perhaps overall this particular engine design is somewhat flawed, we've seen from my records easily getting on for 100 of these engines with almost identical issues which tells you something the design of many of the components(be it the guide bolts the guides themselves and the chain tensioner have evolved over time which tells you all you need to know)

The other thing to take in to consideration is that most dealers will have the majority of the parts on the shelf or can order what's needed very quickly kind of tells you that the parts are fast moving items.

Re Keith's estimate of £700 for carrying out a timing chain job, for may sound about right but for me sounds a wee bit low and I'll tell you why.

A lot of garages will remove replace the chain and guides remove clean the vanos solenoids and simply re fit them along with replacing the rocker cover gasket after the works done. We've seen vanos solenoids compromised due to carbonisation issues cleaning them is a fix but sometimes issues can arise later on causing certain knock on effects to take place, the solution we always adopt is to replace these units (however they cost just over £84+VAT each and not clean them).

The other thing to ask yourselves is this when you see or get an issue re the chain/chain guide area its not unusual for the guides to fragment and drop in to the sump(seen loads of these engines with this fault) when this usually takes place its more than likely that you will see a 30C1 oil pressure static fault if this is the case the sump needs to come off to clean out the debris(and ideally thoroughly clean the sump out of sludge at the same time)at the side of the block there is a hydraulic valve(this can get either contaminated with sludge/chain guide debris or can when removed and inspected separate plus the oil pressure switch at the side of the block can again get contaminated and again should really be replaced)plus its not unheard of to see issues re the suction pipe(which takes oil to the oil pump being contaminated with debris as well 90%+ of the time out of precaution we replace this as well)

When we've seen these cars come to us with issues we've been told on several occasions that the guides and chain have been replaced yet issues have returned I think what I am trying to say is most places repair what they see in front of them(remove replace the chain perhaps the guides-even when the guides are damaged/fragments/separated they venture no further than simply replacing them)so the car goes out with debris still in the sump(draining oil won't get rid of the most of the debris as most of it sits in the sludge left in the sump in most cases)

If you look at say the parts side of things you are rought plus VAT looking at the following figures

chain £46.00+VAT main chain guide £35.00+VAT top slide chain guide £20.00+VAT bottom chain sprocket £12.00 main chain tensioner £41.00+VAT bearing bolt for the chain guide assembly £9.45+VAT torx bolt for guide assembly(2 required) £.77 each +VAT bolts for the vanos adjusters (2 again required) £2.70 each +VAT rocker cover gasket £27.00+VAt ideally 2 fuel pump gaskets £6.60 _VAT each ideally 4 spark plug ali tubes (should replace these when replacing a rocker cover £2.12 each +VAT the parts bill starts to add up if you were dropping the sump £27.00+VAT for the gasket 22 bolts for the sump ideally required(£1.05 each +VAT) if the hydraulic valve which I talked about earlier is compromised they are £85.00+VAT a go plus the oil pressure unit is some £32.00+VAT it all adds up and the suction pipe for the oil pump if needed is another £55.00+VAT a go.

Add 2 vanos solenoids in the mix £84.17 + VAT each suddenly £700 seems to me too little money wise to do a thorough one stop complete fix.

May sound to many to be OTT but with these engines along to a lesser degree the N46's and N45's it seems doing everything is the best way forward to ensure no come back is seen/felt observed. And yes they are/can be financially expensive to own where the idea of buying a4 cylinder BMW was to run it with lower overall costs than the 6 cylinder set ups.

Add to the mix possibilities of injector issues, which are not unheard of(never IMO replace 1 injector due to compatibility issues seems the only way forward is to go for 4) and on the subject of diagnostic worth an investment for sure but don't overall base your conclusions on the results seen, we've seen a few of these with good smooth running results only to pull the plugs see they are black wet smell of fuel and when injectors are scoped we see injector issues yet diagnostic doesn't show these symptoms so you move on. So beware

Its sad really that this is the case but it seems to be a story with these engines that as Google seems to back up will not go away
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      09-22-2018, 02:51 PM   #14
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Steve, you are a legend and an absolute asset to this forum. When I last had a non-M (N54 335i) you then too were incredibly insightful and helpful. So thank you, first of all.

To be fair my Indyís 700+Vat was also issued with the advice that there may also be extra sump costs and service cost on top.

However Iím buoyed by the fact the engine currently runs sweet, and has no warranty work done for the last 60k, and stories of 200k+ cars also fills me with confidence the engines are not completely or terminally flawed, and can/do run trouble free when early issues have been addressed.

As with anything, itís a lottery, but Iím happen to buy a ticket and roll the dice, at least with advice my eyes are open.

Thanks again for your input - amazing info! I assume you run your own garage? Where are you based?
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      09-23-2018, 08:09 AM   #15
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I assume you run your own garage? Where are you based?
OGS is based here:

http://www.independentbmwgarage.co.uk/
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      09-24-2018, 10:43 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -Keith- View Post
Steve, you are a legend and an absolute asset to this forum. When I last had a non-M (N54 335i) you then too were incredibly insightful and helpful. So thank you, first of all.

To be fair my Indyís 700+Vat was also issued with the advice that there may also be extra sump costs and service cost on top.

However Iím buoyed by the fact the engine currently runs sweet, and has no warranty work done for the last 60k, and stories of 200k+ cars also fills me with confidence the engines are not completely or terminally flawed, and can/do run trouble free when early issues have been addressed.

As with anything, itís a lottery, but Iím happen to buy a ticket and roll the dice, at least with advice my eyes are open.

Thanks again for your input - amazing info! I assume you run your own garage? Where are you based?
Hi thanks for the kind words Keith.

Re where we are, we are based in Stevenage Herts as per link on Phil 325i's replied post, me personally I am no mechanic, trust me I run front of house and day to day things for the owner of this busy establishment and have shall we say a good memory for issues that have occurred in the past and usually remember the required solutions required to get things sorted which its my job to relay over to customers.

What you kind of have to take in to account is cars like people have familiar habits and to be honest all I do is look at what the customer is trying to describe, go back in to my memory archive and pull out the pull out the answer we saw when faced with a problem, sadly with these engines I don't have to remember back that far to give answers to possible issues

Same goes for the 335i side of things as well, the more you see the more people have issues the more fixes you manage to create to solve problems people have encountered the better long term you are to see a future customer and assist them to getting things right quickly as you have plenty of candidates in the past that have gone through similar issues.

Its also good reading on forums like this what people have done themselves to rectify issues as well though sometimes you read and wonder plus later on you see the same people back on after more help but its good experience for all I guess to see these sort of things taking place
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      09-24-2018, 10:54 AM   #17
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Yep that me
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      10-15-2018, 05:00 AM   #18
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Something else to look out for on the N43 is the chain tensioner failing - at 75k miles I started to get engine rattling when cold, but I don't think I heard it initially due it being drowned out by the radio/CD player. It soon sounded terrible and I thought I had chain and guide problems. A new genuine tensioner fixed the problem completely, the old one didn't appear worn or sticky, but the part has been through several revisions so there has been an issue with the design, hopefully this latest revision will last now.

If you like to do a few preventative jobs, another good one on the four pots is to check the rear ABS reluctor rings for corrosion/distortion - they have a different setup than the 6-pots / M3 , what happens is that the rings bulge and start to wear away the ABS sensors - which on my car first showed itself on the motorway with a flashing DSC light, power loss and unwanted braking! It's easy to pull the sensors out, check that the end of the sensor is still flat, and peer down the hole and check for any rubbing (shiny patches) on the metal reluctor rings, and for corrosion of the driveshaft underneath.


Sounds like a nice spec car - enjoy!


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      10-15-2018, 10:01 AM   #19
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Something else to look out for on the N43 is the chain tensioner failing - at 75k miles I started to get engine rattling when cold, but I don't think I heard it initially due it being drowned out by the radio/CD player. It soon sounded terrible and I thought I had chain and guide problems. A new genuine tensioner fixed the problem completely, the old one didn't appear worn or sticky, but the part has been through several revisions so there has been an issue with the design, hopefully this latest revision will last now.

If you like to do a few preventative jobs, another good one on the four pots is to check the rear ABS reluctor rings for corrosion/distortion - they have a different setup than the 6-pots / M3 , what happens is that the rings bulge and start to wear away the ABS sensors - which on my car first showed itself on the motorway with a flashing DSC light, power loss and unwanted braking! It's easy to pull the sensors out, check that the end of the sensor is still flat, and peer down the hole and check for any rubbing (shiny patches) on the metal reluctor rings, and for corrosion of the driveshaft underneath.


Sounds like a nice spec car - enjoy!


Andy
E91 320i MSport
Cheers for the tips Andy, appreciated!

I intend to keep a keen ear on the timing chain and tensioners - fortunately the engine is quiet as a mouse despite the miles, it really runs very quiet, even on cold start up. So I'm happy with that.

Will check the ABS sensors when I get a chance, I'll get the chance soon, as I intend to do a full brake hub refurb / caliper paint... Despite plenty of life they are looking a bit crusty down there, as is typical with discs made of pig iron!

I did the same on my old 335i E91 which had the same. Nothing a bit of time spent wire brushing, scotch pad action and caliper spray paint won't solve!

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