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SF Bay Area Vanos, Rod Bearing, Inspection II, etc. Services by Dan Avon

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    SF Bay Area Vanos, Rod Bearing, Inspection II, etc. Services by Dan Avon

    I have been an active member in the BMW community for 15+ years and have owned an E46 M3 since 2009. This car has progressed from a once daily driver, to a dual duty street/track car, and now to a dedicated track car that I regularly attend HPDE, Time Trails, and other events with. Over the years I have met a ton of enthusiasts whether it’s through the forums or at track days and made a lot of great friends along the way. This passion for E46 M3’s has also led me to creating a business out of my home garage in which I regularly service local E46 M3’s. On M3Forum.net there was an 8-page appreciation thread in which many members had left feedback of the work I performed. Unfortunately, this thread was lost when the forum crashed but I was able to retrieve 3 of the pages from google cache. These pages can be seen in the following .pdf files showcasing reviews members posted on the old forum.

    DanAvoN7 appreciation thread - Page 3 - BMW M3 Forum.com.pdf
    DanAvoN7 appreciation thread - Page 7 - BMW M3 Forum.com.pdf
    DanAvoN7 appreciation thread - Page 8 - BMW M3 Forum.com.pdf

    With the end of M3Forum.net and the creation of NAM3Forum, I wanted to mention the services that I offer in case others are new to this community and need help servicing their cars. Common services that I offer are vanos overhauls, rod bearing services, inspection II services, suspension overhauls, cooling system overhauls, etc. I will go in to more detail in subsequent posts to describe the process of the work and pictures showing the level of work that I perform on cars. My philosophy for working on these cars is to never to rush a car in/out in order to complete a “job” but to instead really take the time to repair and fix the issue we are working on and improve the car overall. This is shown in my communication with customers, quality of parts that I source for the work, documentation of the work being performed, cleaning of parts in the area that I’m working on, etc.

    Please feel free to message me on this forum and or email me at dan.avon@gmail.com if you have any questions about the services that I provide.
    SF Bay Area Vanos, Rod Bearings, Inspection II, etc. Services : Member Feedback
    E46 M3 Track Videos : https://www.youtube.com/c/DanAvon

    #2
    Vanos Overhaul Service

    I am often asked “how much for vanos bulletproofing”. This is a loaded question as everyone has a different opinion on what items are to be addressed within the vanos overhaul service, the quality of parts to be used in the work, and the amount of actual work being done. Below are a few technical articles from Beisan Systems outlining the issues in the vanos system and the fixes/procedures that are to be performed at a minimum to address these issues. Following the links below, I have also included some notes/pictures from a recent vanos overhaul service I performed on a customer car to share the parts I use, the process, and the level of work that I perform.

    Outline of the vanos procedures performed
    http://www.beisansystems.com/procedu..._procedure.htm
    http://www.beisansystems.com/procedu..._procedure.htm
    http://www.beisansystems.com/procedu..._procedure.htm


    The work begins with an inventory of parts. For this customer and the majority of services I perform, I sourced all of the parts ahead of the planned work. This eases in the process as you just have to show up and not worry about sourcing each and every small bolt/crush washer. I primarily source Genuine OE BMW parts unless there is an OEM part available that is the same as the Genuine OE BMW part. For example, the company Lemforder manufactures the majority of suspension parts for the E46 M3. Lemforder parts can be purchased for less than the Genuine OE BMW part and it’s an identical part just in a different box and with the BMW logo grounded off. The same with filters, I will source MAHLE engine oil, engine air, etc. as they are the same as Genuine OE BMW but cheaper in the manufacture box and no BMW logo. For parts that aren’t available direct from the manufacture I will only source Genuine OE BMW to ensure the best quality part is used.

    Going through the parts for the vanos overhaul the majority of parts will be Genuine OE BMW as the available OEM parts are not the same part/quality as the Genuine OE BMW. We first have a Genuine OE BMW valve cover gasket set. I often work on cars that come to me for the first time with valve cover leaks and 9/10 times these cars have cheaper Elring/Victor Reinz gasket sets installed during previous work. It’s been mentioned time and time again on this forum but I can’t stress it enough that you should only use a Genuine OE BMW gasket set as the others are prone to leaking. This is also where we see the first price discrepancy in “vanos bulletproofing” quotes and why it’s so important to ask which parts/brands are being used when asking for a quote. Current ECS Tuning pricing for a complete Genuine OE BMW set is $173.52 vs Elring OEM at $54.09. It’s tempting to go with the less expensive part but they are not the same part/quality and the Elring/Victor Reinz brand valve cover gasket sets are prone to leaking not long after install. The vanos gasket, various crush washers, cam gear bolts, etc. are also all Genuine OE BMW parts.
    Another price discrepancy in vanos bulletproofing quotes comes from the choice to replace the vanos high pressure oil line. I often see this part skipped and or not even mentioned in vanos work but I do feel it’s important to replace as this line is holding oil at 1400+ psi of pressure and can potentially fatigue spraying oil everywhere when it does. BMW revised this part by adding an additional mounting tab and despite it currently costing ~$116 I do recommend it in all of my vanos services. Another part often overlooked in quotes are the stiffer S62 diaphragm springs. These are recommended in the Beisan Systems anti-rattle procedure and add an additional $79.46 to the parts pricing but I do advise installing them. The last part I often see skipped in quotes is the vanos oil filter. This customer was also in for a full inspection II service in which we replaced his spark plugs as well. These are NGK OEM plugs which are the same as the Genuine OE BMW part that came on the car from the factory and are one of those items that I can install at no additional labor as part of the vanos overhaul service as I remove the spark plugs for this service. Similarly, I also discount valve adjustment rates when done at the same time as a vanos overhaul service as there is shared labor in removing the valve cover.

    The remaining parts are the star of the show and these are the Beisan Systems parts. Beisan Systems is the pioneer in BMW vanos solutions and they have developed parts to fix the inherent issues within the S54 vanos system. I have worked with Raj@Beisan Systems for years now and solely use Beisan Systems parts in all of my vanos overhaul services.


    A before engine bay picture of this early 2001 e46 m3 that is at 215K miles! An initial topside inspection is performed to document anything that is worn, different from factory, etc. Pictures are taken of each individual item up close but some of these include worn hood struts, non-factory clips on the intake cowl, aftermarket K&N intake from previous owner, cracked and upside-down oil cap, intake manifold to throttle body clamps backwards showing previous removal, etc. Many other items were identified on the full car/underbody inspection but for this posting we will strictly talk about the vanos related work.


    Up close before of the vanos area. All original and no signs of ever being worked on. Front shows signs of a vanos oil leak from the vanos sealing plate which is a very common oil leak on cars ~80K+ miles.


    Valve cover removed and vanos unit now off of the car. Vanos exhaust hub tabs both intact which is always a sigh of relief! Previous vanos oil leaks now more evident with the vanos removed showing dirty/grime on the cylinder head area.


    Exhaust and intake hubs removed. Despite being all original another sigh of relief is that the cam gear bolts are all solidly in place. One of the potential issues within the vanos system is these bolts coming loose and shearing.


    Further disassembly and to be expected at this mileage, a broken upper timing chain guide. While not catastrophic, this part commonly wears and is broken in two by ~80-90K miles. The fix is to install an upgraded Beisan Systems upper timing chain guide. And I hate to have to say it but I have seen this overlooked on other vanos overhauls... New crush washers are used in all locations.


    Cylinder head area now cleaned of old vanos oil leaks. This is standard in all of the vanos overhauls I perform. As mentioned earlier in this thread, I like to ensure we are really fixing the issue and at the same time improving the car to like new condition. To really ensure that you are fixing a previous leak (or to help identify other leaks in the area) the area needs to be cleaned of old oil residue/grime. The revised Genuine OE BMW cam gear bolts are also installed with thread locker and Beisan Systems upper chain guide installed as well.


    Vanos unit off the car and prior to disassembly/cleaning.



    Vanos unit fully disassembled and ultrasonic cleaned. The vanos unit and each of the parts are cleaned in a heated solution of distilled water and a chemical specifically made for ultrasonic cleaners that is aluminum safe. This is the most effective way to clean the vanos unit as there are many internal oil passages that cannot be thoroughly cleaned by simply spraying brake cleaner. I also hate to mention this but I’ve seen other “ultrasonic cleaned vanos units” in which an off the shelf degreaser is used as the cleaning agent and it damages the aluminum.


    Vanos unit fully rebuilt with Beisan Systems vanos seals and Beisan Systems vanos oil pump disk.


    Rebuilt vanos unit installed and engine timed using the BMW TIS / Beisan Systems installation method in which the vanos splines/vanos unit are installed as an assembly and the first spline is engaged so as to correctly set the spline depth and make sure the engine is timed correctly. There are many “DIY” threads, videos, etc. which show incorrect vanos install in which the vanos spline depth is marked prior to disassembly and then you are instructed to put the splines back in this exact position. I’ve seen other installers use this method and it’s incorrect as you are guessing the vanos spline depth and risk improper engine timing.


    Cylinder head perimeter thoroughly cleaned of oil, old RTV, etc. prior to installing the new valve cover gasket. Valve cover cleaned and installed. Securing hardware installed in multiple passes to ensure even tightening for a leak free valve cover.


    Revised vanos high pressure oil line installed with new crush washers and the cleaned “M” beauty cover installed. After pictures of the completed mechanical work.



    Once the mechanical work is completed the vanos adaptations are reset and then the car is test driven and warmed up so the vanos diagnostic test can be performed. The test shows quick response times even with a fresh set of seals that only have ~6-7 miles of driving and not fully broken in yet. And most importantly the test shows a functioning vanos system and verifies the engine is timed correctly. Resetting vanos adaptations and running the vanos test is a step I often see overlooked by other installers or those who DIY this job and don’t have access to BMW DIS software. Not long ago I had a car come to me for the first time for an Inspection II service in which I carried out the vanos test and it failed as a result of an improperly timed engine (the car had a vanos service elsewhere and luckily there was no mechanical damage). The car was a bit sluggish down low and had a stored engine code but didn’t have a check engine light on and the new owner was unaware of anything wrong!

    Last edited by DanAvoN7; 10-14-2020, 04:27 PM. Reason: Changing image links to remote host
    SF Bay Area Vanos, Rod Bearings, Inspection II, etc. Services : Member Feedback
    E46 M3 Track Videos : https://www.youtube.com/c/DanAvon

    Comment


      #3
      Rod Bearing Service

      I am often asked “how much for rod bearings”. Like I noted in the previous vanos post, this is also a loaded question as everyone has a different opinion on what items are to be addressed during the rod bearing service, the quality of parts to be used in the work, and the amount of actual work being done. When I perform a rod bearing service, I am not just replacing the rod bearings and bolting the car back together. I am also replacing engine mounts/steering coupler, cleaning the associated parts, flushing the power steering system, etc. Below I have included some notes/pictures from a recent rod bearing service I performed on a customer car to show the process and the level of work that I perform.

      The work begins with an inventory of parts. This customer sourced the majority of the parts but each and every part was still gone through prior to the work to ensure everything was accounted for. We were addressing other areas/issues with the car along with the rod bearing service. Projects like this are always a lot of fun as the car is completely transformed, especially with the addition of some engine and suspension performance parts!


      A before engine bay picture of this 2005 E46 M3 Competition Package with 96K miles. This was my first time seeing this car and having a chance to work on it after some previous talks with the customer in which he had identified some issues himself. An initial topside inspection is performed to document anything that is worn, different from factory, etc. Pictures are taken of each individual item up close but some of these include worn hood struts, excessive RTV used for the valve cover, huge valve cover gasket leak, “M” beauty cover not fully seated on exhaust side corner (corner stud cross threaded which was the cause of this leak along with a poor-quality valve cover gasket), etc. Many other items were identified on the full car/underbody inspection but for this posting we will strictly talk about the rod bearing related work.


      With the front subframe removed we get a clear picture of the engine underside and oil pan. This car had a very bad valve cover gasket leak that was left unfixed for a long time. It had coated the entire side and bottom of the engine in engine oil/grime. This was a fairly extreme example but most cars do have previous oil leaks/grime on the underside from previous vanos area oil leaks when cars get passed ~80K miles.




      Oil pan and accessories removed and ready for rod bearing replacement.


      Rod bearings replaced and old rod bearings displayed to show wear. This wear is fairly typical for an engine with ~100K miles. The rod side bearing on cylinder #4 was showing the most wear and was worn in to the copper layer so it was a good thing we were addressing the rod bearings now and not waiting too much longer!


      Not common but every now and then I do encounter a car that has stripped oil pan drain threads.


      If I encounter this issue, I am fully prepared and capable of repairing the oil pan so it won’t be a problem ever again. To perform this repair, I use an oil pan specific Time-Sert kit which has the correct depth insert and allows for full normal draining. Over the years I’ve seen all types of incorrect repairs ranging from drilling/tapping a larger thread with no insert, Heli-Coil, Time-Sert w/ too long of an insert that doesn’t allow the pan to fully drain, etc. and these are not the correct way to do the repair!


      Cleaned oil pan, accessories, etc. installed. Oil pan and pan accessories bolts are tightened in multiple passes before final torque spec to ensure even tightening for a leak free oil pan.




      Front subframe as it was when removed from the car.



      A comparison of old vs new engine mounts. It is highly recommended to replace engine mounts and steering coupler at the same time as the rod bearing service as they are always worn by this mileage/age. I install these items free of labor charge if done at the same time as the rod bearing service.


      Front subframe fully cleaned prior to reinstall back on the car along with the new engine mounts and steering coupler installed.



      Front subframe reinstalled along with a new high-pressure power steering line installed (common for this line to weep so it was replaced during the service) and system filled prior to bleeding.


      It’s also common to see underbody panels covered in oil/grime from previous leaks. Most notably they are usually dirty from a previous CPV oil leak where the oil wasn’t cleaned up after the repair and then it hardens making it very difficult to clean. I like to clean these panels prior to reinstall to match with the rest of the engine cleaning as it allows customers/myself to monitor the car in the future in case any other areas of the car begin to leak and then we can identify the leaks easier.




      An after shot of the engine once this rather extensive project was completed.
      Last edited by DanAvoN7; 10-14-2020, 04:43 PM. Reason: Changing image links to remote host
      SF Bay Area Vanos, Rod Bearings, Inspection II, etc. Services : Member Feedback
      E46 M3 Track Videos : https://www.youtube.com/c/DanAvon

      Comment


        #4
        Cooling System Overhaul

        The E46 M3 cooling system is pretty stout. Many of these cars are now well over 100K+ miles though. Combined with the old age of the original parts and many of the parts can begin to wear/tear. It’s often a good idea to overhaul the cooling system as preventative maintenance; especially if you drive in a hot climate or plan to track the car. Below are some notes/pictures from a recent cooling system overhaul I performed on a customer car to share the parts I use, the process, and the level of work that I perform.

        The work begins with an inventory of parts. For this customer and the majority of services I perform, I sourced all of the parts ahead of the planned work. For cooling system parts I source Genuine OE BMW as the majority of these parts aren’t available as an OEM part direct from the manufacture that makes the part for BMW. I have seen cars with other “OEM” parts that aren’t the same as the genuine part and they’ve often had issues. The most prevalent issue I’ve seen is with OEM hoses in which the O-rings used to seal the hoses to the radiator compression set shortly after install and then leak.


        Original radiator with 88K miles compared to a new radiator. It is very common to see this much debris accumulating between the radiator and AC condenser and this car has fairly low mileage!


        The AC condenser has the majority of the debris as it sits directly in front of the radiator. With the radiator removed I can safely use compressed air to blow the majority of the debris out of the AC condenser from the backside forward. This is often overlooked/not performed when replacing a radiator and if not cleaned it can really hinder airflow to the radiator!





        New radiator installed


        Another step often overlooked is fully draining the cooling system. The radiator only holds part of the cooling systems overall coolant. The majority of the coolant is held in the block and if not drained you are only replacing some of the coolant in the system. As part of all coolant services, whether in a cooling system overhaul or just an Inspection II service, the engine block drain is removed to allow for draining.


        New water pump, thermostat, O-rings, and cleaned thermostat housing installed.


        To verify that the system is not only water tight but also air tight and free of any leaks, I use a vacuum bleeder to check and then fill the system. This tool pulls a vacuum on the entire cooling system and if vacuum is held it verifies that the system is leak free. It then sucks coolant in to the system under vacuum ensuring no air is trapped within the system.


        The car is test driven to ensure the cooling system is functioning properly prior to return to the customer.
        Last edited by DanAvoN7; 10-14-2020, 04:55 PM. Reason: Changing image links to remote host
        SF Bay Area Vanos, Rod Bearings, Inspection II, etc. Services : Member Feedback
        E46 M3 Track Videos : https://www.youtube.com/c/DanAvon

        Comment


          #5
          Performance Modifications

          I mainly perform vanos overhauls, rod bearing services, Inspection II services, etc. but I also enjoy taking on projects where I work with customers to develop a plan for their car if they are looking to improve the overall performance beyond how it came from the factory. Below I have included some notes/pictures from a service I performed on a customer car to show the process and the level of work that I perform.

          I had previously worked on this car to perform a rod bearing service, valve adjustment, and some other maintenance items. After this initial work to make sure the car was mechanically sound, we later talked at length about his plans/goals for the car. His car is an occasional weekend car that he also wants to take to track days. We came up with a list of modifications to improve engine performance as well as some suspension modifications to compliment his existing coil over setup while still keeping the car street-able. I sourced all of the parts ahead of the planned work and took inventory of them as they arrived.


          With the section1 removed for the planned header install, a set of Rogue Engineering transmission mounts were installed. These help to keep the transmission in place during spirited driving and they don’t add a lot of NVH so it’s perfect for a dual duty car.


          Removal of the factory headers was next. This car is an early 2001 that came with the rubber hose/hose clamped oil return line. We timed this work for when the car was due for an oil change so that we could install the revised BMW oil return line that uses a stainless-steel hose and a AN connection at the oil pan. This revision was made early on in the E46 M3 production and is a good part to install as the rubber line/hose clamp is a potential failure item.


          A set of Euro headers installed with new primary o2 sensors. Factory heat shields reinstalled along with an SAP block off plate. Valve cover leak free and clean a few thousand miles after we performed a valve adjustment!



          A set of Turner Motorsport underdrive pullies installed along with new belt drive components.


          An AFE Stage 2 intake installed. Their dry filter was selected to avoid fouling the MAF which is a common issue with oiled filters.


          Next up were the suspension items starting with a Hotchkis front sway bar. Adjustable end links were also installed and later adjusted on a set of leveling pads to ensure no pre-load on the front bar.


          The previous owner had replaced the RTAB’s with the revised version prior to my customer purchasing the car. These were not installed correctly as shown with the “splits” not at the correct 12/6 o’clock position.


          Old bushings removed with proper bushing tools so as to not damage the rear trailing arm. A set of Turner Motorsport sealed moonball RTAB’s were installed.



          The new tune file calibrated for the new modifications arrived from Epic Motorsports and was flashed.


          Work completed and car ready to hit the track!
          Last edited by DanAvoN7; 10-14-2020, 05:01 PM. Reason: Changing image links to remote host
          SF Bay Area Vanos, Rod Bearings, Inspection II, etc. Services : Member Feedback
          E46 M3 Track Videos : https://www.youtube.com/c/DanAvon

          Comment


            #6
            Having moved over from Seattle 3 years ago, I turned to M3F to look for someone who could continue all the work done on my 02 Steel Gray M3. Dan's attention to detail is second to none - when he's working on the task, he's constantly on the look-out, taking pictures and reporting back on adjacent areas or potential problems that you may want to address in the future. He helps prioritize it in a pragmatic and cost effective way - no BS and straight to the point. He takes the effort to clean stuff up on the internals in order to make easier future diagnoses, and remembers stuff about my car from repairs I've shared from way back. He really makes the M3 ownership is so much easier.

            He is very detail oriented, works very efficiently and clearly knows what he's doing. Dan's name keeps popping up in the multiple groups of m3 enthusiasts in the Bay Area I've met over the years, testament to the longstanding reputation he's developed for himself.

            He's also a huge track nut, and cranks out some crazy lap times so he's totally qualified when it comes to track prep

            Despite living an hour away from him, I've never had to think about going anywhere else. Dan's work is top notch, pricing competitive, and to top it off, he's a super responsive, detailed, and all-round stand up guy. My car continues to run great, and will keep coming back to him.


            Thank you Dan!

            Comment


              #7
              I’ve had Dan work on my car several times and I cannot speak highly enough of him and his work.

              He will always take the time to offer advice/recommendations if needed and just generally make sure you have the right parts for the job.

              If you are within any semi-reasonable distance of him and need help with pretty much anything on your car, get a hold of Dan and make the damn drive. His work is worth it.
              2003.5 Carbon Black ///M3 @_weaponM
              MCS | Supersprint | CAE | TC Design | Momo | Schroth | Rogue | Turner | Bimmerworld | Vorshlag | Hyperco | AKG

              Comment


                #8
                Dan goes beyond anyone I ever met in the mechanic field. He thoroughly documents, gives great advice, is honest, and very reasonable for his services. I dont think you can find better in CA, actually I'm damn near positive you can't..

                Comment


                  #9
                  I have been taking my car to Dan for a few years now. Its no secret his attention to detail is arguably better than most any dealership or BMW Indy shop around. I can attest to this. He is very meticulous with everything he notices, even if its not the focus of what he's working on. I've never had any issues with his work whatsoever. Everything is buttoned up and ready to go. He provides a detailed rundown of his work photos and all of his progress, so you will never come away unclear that the work was done and done right.
                  His costs obviously undercut any indy shop, and is beyond reasonable for the quality of work you're getting. I wouldn't hesitate to refer him to anyone with an E46. He knows his stuff and is a cool guy to boot!
                  PM me if you have any questions about my personal experiences with Dan. I'd be happy to give you more insight!

                  Comment

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