BMW is a luxury car manufacturer that is always ahead of the curve. When it comes to intelligent innovations, BMW designs its features to improve the performance and driveability of their vehicles. This means that BMW drivers are always leagues above their competitors in terms of use of vehicular technology. They benefit greatly from this with excellent driving experiences.

One such innovation is the BMW’s VANOS system. In this article, we will find out what this is as well as some common problems with the VANOS system.

What is the VANOS System?

VANOS is an abbreviation of the German words “VAriable NOckenwellen Steuerung.” It is BMW’s answer to the engine variable valve timing unit. Introduced in the 90’s, the VANOS system is designed to improve engine performance through the modification of the engine intake and exhaust valve so that both parts can open and close dynamically as you drive. This provides greatly-improved engine performance.

The VANOS system is able to give your BMW smoother idle and increased torque. The VANOS system also has solenoids which are able to precisely release the flow of oil to the cam gears. This allows for precise timing adjustments.

Types of VANOS System

There are three types of VANOS system that your BMW may have:

Single VANOS

1992-2000 in 6-cylinder M50, M52, & S52 engines
1999-2002 in V8 M62TU engines

Double VANOS

1999-2005 in 6-cylinder M52 TU, M54, & S54 engines
2004-2010 in 6-cylinder N54

Double VANOS with Valvetronic

2004-2010 in 6-cylinder N52 & N55
2004-2010 in V8 N62 & N62 TU engines
2005-2015 in V12 N73 & N74 engines

Common Symptoms of a Faulty VANOS System

The VANOS system concerns itself with keeping your engine performance on point, in regards to power, efficiency, and economy. When the system starts to fail, you are most likely going to begin to notice issues in those three areas such as:

  • Loss of power in the lower RPM ranges
  • An engine that hesitates and bogs at lower RPM
  • Rough idling/ increase in engine misfires
  • Increase in fuel consumption
  • Reduced fuel economy
  • Issues with cold starts
  • Stalling in cold weather
  • Check engine light may illuminate
  • Engine may have less power after a burst of acceleration

It’s not hard to see how the issues listed above can completely ruin your driving experience, making driving your BMW frustrating and potentially hazardous. It is best to address VANOS failure as quickly as possible for the safety of you and your passengers.


If you’re a mechanically-minded individual and suspect your BMW is suffering from VANOS-related issues, then you can perform your own diagnostic tests. Listed below are some of the VANOS-specific fault codes you should look out for:

  • P1520: Camshaft position actuator, exhaust
  • P1523: Camshaft position actuator is jammed, exhaust
  • P1397: Camshaft position sensor B
  • 2A82: Vanos intake solenoid (Part #: 11 36 7 585 425)
  • 2A87: Vanos exhaust solenoid (Part #: 11 36 7 585 425)

Repairing the VANOS System

When it comes to repairing the VANOS system, it is best to let the professionals take the reins, unless you have prior mechanical experience. The VANOS system is integral to proper engine function. With the engine being the most expensive part of your entire car to replace, taking a risk of causing more damage or making things worse with your repairs is just not worth it. Instead, you should take your car to BMW specialists who will know the VANOS system inside out and will be sure to have it running like new.

Replacing the VANOS System

It is recommended that you replace the seals on your VANOS system every 50,000 miles, or sooner if you start to notice some of the issues listed above. The entire unit should be replaced or refurbished every 70,000 miles to ensure supreme engine function.

Cerrone’s European: European Car Specialists

If you are a BMW driver looking for an auto BMW VANOS System Issue Check repair shop that has specialized knowledge of the VANOS system, look no further than Cerrone’s European. We service those living in and around Redwood City, CA. The team at Cerrone’s are specialists in European cars. We will expertly service your VANOS system and your entire BMW to have you safely on the road with that new car feeling.