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      07-31-2019, 03:52 PM   #1
Residentj3553
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S54 Rebuild Issues

Hey all,

I recently rebuilt my top end of my Z4M (including VANOS) and I'm experiencing an issue.
Started the car fine and it idled smooth. Took it outside my neighborhood in low RPM and it feels a bit sluggish and hesitant but the minute I give it aggressive throttle it goes into limp mode and throws me the code P1644 and P1554

Clearing the codes only gives me P1554 until I push it into limp mode again... then P1644 shows up again.
Gonna double check my Cam timing but wanted to get all of your opinions so I know what to look for when I open it up again. Maybe someone had this happen before? Any advice appreciated!

Thanks!
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      07-31-2019, 07:40 PM   #2
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When you timed the cams, how did you make sure the vanos pistons were fully retracted?

The Biesan procedure doesn't mention this, but just pulling on the cams to push the pistons didn't get them all the way in for me. My car ran fine but eventually threw a cam timing code (no limp mode). I cracked it open to check and both were about 6 degrees retarded.

The way it was explained to me is that the pistons have some air pressure in them after you do the full rebuild. One should loosen the piston caps and allow air to escape when you do the initial cam timing. Also us the OEM timing tool. The various cheap ones are sloppy and can also give inaccurate results.
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      07-31-2019, 08:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael9218 View Post
When you timed the cams, how did you make sure the vanos pistons were fully retracted?

The Biesan procedure doesn't mention this, but just pulling on the cams to push the pistons didn't get them all the way in for me. My car ran fine but eventually threw a cam timing code (no limp mode). I cracked it open to check and both were about 6 degrees retarded.

The way it was explained to me is that the pistons have some air pressure in them after you do the full rebuild. One should loosen the piston caps and allow air to escape when you do the initial cam timing. Also us the OEM timing tool. The various cheap ones are sloppy and can also give inaccurate results.
Definitely didn’t know about the piston caps! Thank you, and yeah I’ll double check the timing.
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      08-01-2019, 10:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael9218 View Post
When you timed the cams, how did you make sure the vanos pistons were fully retracted?

The Biesan procedure doesn't mention this, but just pulling on the cams to push the pistons didn't get them all the way in for me. My car ran fine but eventually threw a cam timing code (no limp mode). I cracked it open to check and both were about 6 degrees retarded.

The way it was explained to me is that the pistons have some air pressure in them after you do the full rebuild. One should loosen the piston caps and allow air to escape when you do the initial cam timing. Also us the OEM timing tool. The various cheap ones are sloppy and can also give inaccurate results.
You are absolutely right! My exhaust piston was not fully in and exhaust cam was a bit off. Will report back when valve cover is put back on.
Thanks a ton michael.
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      08-02-2019, 01:25 AM   #5
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Put the car back together after noticing the exhaust cam was a bit off.
But the same code came back immediately. P1554
So the exhaust cam is probably unaligned again...
I’m putting the splines in the first available slot rotating and using the alignment bridge but the exhaust cam keeps getting unaligned?
I even rotate the assembly by hand a couple of rotations and the cams are fine before assembling the valve cover. But the minute I turn the car on the code comes back and my cam is off.
I must be missing something.
Do the pistons need to be fully inserted into the vanos before rotating the splines into the cams? Or vice versa?
I don’t understand why the intake cam seems fine though if I’m doing it wrong.
Any more advice?
Thanks!
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      08-02-2019, 03:32 PM   #6
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Well, it's very odd that the intake cam was not also out of alignment. Something else is amiss. Finding the optimal spline gear will give max cam advance when Vanos is fully engaged, but I don't believe it will affect cam alignment.

Assuming you're using the Beisan kit and procedure, I would say read back through it and see if you omitted a step or misunderstood a step. If you still can't figure it out, call Beisan. I've talked to him before and he's very willing to give advise.
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      08-03-2019, 03:08 AM   #7
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Here's how I did mine, but I can only vouch for the exhaust if you're using a C300 hub.

Keep in mind it's a closed-loop system that will "adapt" as long as you're within ±10°.
If you're just a few degrees off and you get a code, something else is wrong.
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      08-05-2019, 02:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StickMon View Post
Here's how I did mine, but I can only vouch for the exhaust if you're using a C300 hub.

Keep in mind it's a closed-loop system that will "adapt" as long as you're within ±10°.
If you're just a few degrees off and you get a code, something else is wrong.
Are you sure it's within ±10°?

Update: I went and bought a much better OBD II reader and was given the 2A98 code for cam to crankshaft correlation and a code for a throttle actuator error which probably explains the limp mode.

Talking to Raj over at Beisan Systems. Very, VERY kind and Informative guy. He explained that the exhaust cam actually advances after every shutoff so the cam not being lined up after starting the car is normal and nothing to worry about... instead he says the code is for the intake cam so I redid the process AGAIN and sure enough my intake cam was the one not lined up correctly. He walked me through how to adjust the cams without removing Vanos completely and put it back together. Drove it around all night. No codes came up!
The next morning I start up and the same code comes back and car doesn't run as smooth.

Gonna give it another go and remove the Vanos this time and take my time with the timing. Very strange.
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      08-05-2019, 05:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Residentj3553 View Post
Are you sure it's within ±10°?...

Pretty much. If you look at the picture from INPA in my first post in the other thread, the green zone is ±10°.
Not that it's definitive proof, but I can attest to being 14° off on my exhaust after an indie "mechanic" worked on it, and the car still ran fine.
I was blissfully ignorant until I got INPA running.

Edit:
Found my original INPA measurement. This actually ran fine with no codes, but took several turns to start, since the range was restricted and it couldn't get the exhaust camshaft where it wanted to be for optimum starting.
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      08-05-2019, 05:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StickMon View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Residentj3553 View Post
Are you sure it's within ±10°?...

Pretty much. If you look at the picture from INPA in my first post in the other thread, the green zone is ±10°.
Not that it's definitive proof, but I can attest to being 14° off on my exhaust after an indie "mechanic" worked on it, and the car still ran fine.
I was blissfully ignorant until I got INPA running.

Edit:
Found my original INPA measurement. This actually ran fine with no codes, but took several turns to start, since the range was restricted and it couldn't get the exhaust camshaft where it wanted to be for optimum starting.
If 10 degrees is the tolerance then it might be the fact that I swapped low mileage cams in.
My intake cam might be warped or damaged? Anyone have any experience with 2A98 code?
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      08-07-2019, 09:20 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Residentj3553 View Post
He explained that the exhaust cam actually advances after every shutoff so the cam not being lined up after starting the car is normal and nothing to worry about... instead he says the code is for the intake cam so I redid the process AGAIN and sure enough my intake cam was the one not lined up correctly. He walked me through how to adjust the cams without removing Vanos completely and put it back together.
This statement tells me you're not following the procedure. It is VERY clear in the procedure that you must pull the cam to full retard before you check the alignment and when aligning. Go back through the procedure and see what other steps you omitted.
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      08-07-2019, 09:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael9218 View Post
This statement tells me you're not following the procedure. It is VERY clear in the procedure that you must pull the cam to full retard before you check the alignment and when aligning. Go back through the procedure and see what other steps you omitted.
I swear i'm doing twice the work because i'm rushing everything.
Will report when I find the fix.
Code is still there and my intake is still lined up after.
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      09-17-2019, 12:59 PM   #13
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So update...
I couldn’t figure out the problem myself so I took the Z to Ghery at the very reputable Garage 54 shop here in the Los Angeles area. Ghery works on the S54 multiple times a week and owns an 850hp Z3M. Very honest and friendly guy.

He took apart the vanos and gave it a good polish... had to swap the seals of the pistons. The lack of pressure wasn’t allowing the vanos to adjust for rpm which was causing the hesitation and limp mode.
But after start up, the hesitation and limp mode is gone but the correlation code is still present.
Intake to crank timing code upon wide open throttle.
He’s swapped cam intake sensor, crank sensor, tore down my vanos a second time to see if he missed anything but still isn’t sure what is causing the problem.
At this point I’m really thinking it’s the used cam since there’s no where else to look? He’s swapping the intake cam this week as a final guess...
wondering what anyone’s thoughts are on the potential problem?
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      09-26-2019, 12:23 PM   #14
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Solution

Update: Swapping the intake cam fixed the car! Extremely rare but it worked. The intake cam was faulty somehow... visually looked great and synchro gear looked good too. (was even swapped out to test)
What a pain... Just in case any has this problem in the future.
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      09-26-2019, 06:19 PM   #15
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Great news!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Residentj3553 View Post
Update: Swapping the intake cam fixed the car! Extremely rare but it worked. The intake cam was faulty somehow... visually looked great and synchro gear looked good too. (was even swapped out to test)
What a pain... Just in case any has this problem in the future.
Congrats!
This must have been painful and expensive; any visual or tolerance measurements that provide a reason why the cam was defective??
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      09-29-2019, 05:49 PM   #16
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Thanks for sharing, these kind of things can be extremely frustrating. Glad you got it sorted in the end. I gotta ask, why did you swap in a different cam set? (Assuming they were the same setup as before?)
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      09-30-2019, 01:13 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racerbruce View Post
Congrats!
This must have been painful and expensive; any visual or tolerance measurements that provide a reason why the cam was defective??
Visually they look exactly the same!
I havent put them both on V blocks to see actual measurements but im guessing they wont be the same down to .001 of an inch.
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      09-30-2019, 07:48 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanne View Post
Thanks for sharing, these kind of things can be extremely frustrating. Glad you got it sorted in the end. I gotta ask, why did you swap in a different cam set? (Assuming they were the same setup as before?)
Same setup. Long story short I trusted the dealership when they said valve clearance was performed already
Continued to drive the car until I started hearing funky clicking noises coming from the motor and coolant disappearing...
Had to tear down the engine to find the clearances off by almost .050 in some points and extreme wear due to coolant in the oil I'm assuming.
So I had to get a head gasket and swap rocker arms and cams.
Bought used cams to save money from a used S54 and those turned out to be faulty as well.

Lesson learned. Don't trust dealerships and buy new for less of a headache.

P.S. The amount of wear on the rocker arms and cams was insane... rocker arms were actually inverted due to wear...
Would bad clearances accelerate the wear? Anyone savvy in that department?
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