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  #1  
Old 19-06-2016, 02:03 PM
chagac chagac is offline
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Default S54 Shell Bearing Concerns

Hi All,

Looking for a little guidance (and hopefully reassurance!!!) in regards to risk of shell bearing failure with the S54 engine.

I've picked up on a few references made by others recently on cars for sale where there has been a concern that the shell bearings may not have been changed (low mileage cars in particular). Off the back of this I've done the usual trawling around the internet on various forums and it seems the issue was mainly with early E46 M3's, possibly due to higher rev limit, but there where some occurrences on Z3M's. I picked up that the recommended oil was changed over to the 10W60 type to reduce the risk, but also that the occurrences may be attributed to specific engine build dates. I've found loads of useful info, but nothing definitive.

I've checked my cars history and it does not appear the shell bearings have been changed. The car has low mileage at just under 23k and has very little use (sunny summer days only), I still do an annual oil change, plus I do not hit the red line continuously, always wait for oil up to temp etc. The car is the last of the line in terms of right hand drives so could assume its mid 2002 engine build, but believe the theory around build dates goes into 2003, so there is still a risk.

The question is should I take the risk (hopefully minimal) and run the car as is, or take the hit and get them changed (costly!), or is there a way of checking if there is an issue?

Thanks All.
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Old 19-06-2016, 03:07 PM
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sk8flex sk8flex is offline
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The short version: There was no recall campaign for the S54 Z3M due to the lower rev limit compared to the early E46 M3s.

You should definitely have the bearing shells changed at some point as it´s not too expensive to have this done and it gives you peace of mind. Most people that are familiar with these engines recommend to do it at a mileage between 40-50k.

The price differs a lot as the official BMW service manuals tell you the bearing shells need to be changed from above. It´s very much possible to do it from underneath the engine and this is where the major price difference between BMW and a good independent mechanic comes from.
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Old 19-06-2016, 07:39 PM
chagac chagac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sk8flex View Post
The short version: There was no recall campaign for the S54 Z3M due to the lower rev limit compared to the early E46 M3s.

You should definitely have the bearing shells changed at some point as it´s not too expensive to have this done and it gives you peace of mind. Most people that are familiar with these engines recommend to do it at a mileage between 40-50k.

The price differs a lot as the official BMW service manuals tell you the bearing shells need to be changed from above. It´s very much possible to do it from underneath the engine and this is where the major price difference between BMW and a good independent mechanic comes from.
Thanks for the info sk8flex, this is very helpful, especially the process of accessing to replace from below.

If the issue is linked to mileage rather than a latent defect on the Z3M S54 then that makes things a little less concerning as changing the shell bearing prior to hitting 40k miles as per manufacturer recommendations is something I would look to do, but I'm a long way off that mileage and its been implied the issue could also be someway induced by minimal use and servicing over time.

As outlined previously I'm completely dumb when it comes to the mechanics of cars so its great to be able to tap into the wealth of knowledge on this forum.

It may be I opt to change the shell bearings anyway to be on the safe side.
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Old 19-06-2016, 07:47 PM
btz461 btz461 is offline
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If you are unsure as to the condition of the internals in the engine get a sample of the oil analysed.

Google is your friend here and there are a few labs in the UK that carry out the tests and give you a report, and as I recall the cost is about fifty or sixty pounds.
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Old 19-06-2016, 08:20 PM
KnightsG KnightsG is offline
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The problem/subject seems is more documented on the US' forums and also includes the M3/Z4M. From my understanding and purely 'IMO' the lack of oil changes and or service gaps is the contributor. However, many a car will be just fine with service neglect and also high miles. So no exact correlation to work from.

I changed mine at 108k (1 month after I bought it) as I had planned for some engine work, plus no evidence of a recall. I am lead to believe the use of my Coupe had been sympathetic and with an excellent BMWSH but I won't ever know if it has been driven extensively with hot engine temps. The removed shells had moved and showed signs of scoring. For me it was fundamental to be safe than regretful.


A similar known problem in the Porsche world is the IMS bearing issue on the 986/987/996/997 models. Warning signs are little to nothing and result in an complete engine failure.

Personally I would outlay the cost for complete peace of mind, added confidence during ownership and in the case of the S54 Coupe, a proactive expense adding financial value. Win win!

The updated BMW bearings are up to the job, ARP are the bolts to use. A recognised BMW Specialist can do the work from the bottom end and should be around 8/9hrs of work. Time it with an oil change and the cost is less of a blow.

Last edited by KnightsG; 22-06-2016 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 19-06-2016, 08:20 PM
chagac chagac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btz461 View Post
If you are unsure as to the condition of the internals in the engine get a sample of the oil analysed.

Google is your friend here and there are a few labs in the UK that carry out the tests and give you a report, and as I recall the cost is about fifty or sixty pounds.
Great idea. Thanks for the guidance. Oil analysis seems like the sensible way forward.
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Old 19-06-2016, 10:26 PM
coupe fan coupe fan is offline
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Got mine done about 5 years ago. The 'fix' was about £1,200, from memory. Got BMW Bracknell to recommend a local BMW dealer to do it, in writing, so that if I get an engine failure in the future, I can throw it back at them.

Exdos (another forum member) and I had previously tried to get BMW to do it free using various consumer legislation but they wouldn't play ball. Bizarrely, Exdos, who didn't pay for the fix, had a complete failure on a Nordschleife trackday about 2 years later (it's a public road).

He immediately contacted BMW and they conceded and fitted a brand new S54 engine when he got it back to the UK. Result.

They do fail, totally unpredictably.
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Old 20-06-2016, 08:19 AM
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c_w c_w is offline
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Shows how daft BMW are; they refused to do the recall work on request/pressing, but Exdos managed to pre-arrange agreement of a new engine in the event that it happened. And it did. New S54 engine would be 20x the cost of the fix.
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Old 20-06-2016, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c_w View Post
Shows how daft BMW are; they refused to do the recall work on request/pressing, but Exdos managed to pre-arrange agreement of a new engine in the event that it happened. And it did. New S54 engine would be 20x the cost of the fix.
It likely makes business sense for BMW to replace a few engines rather than instigate a major recall, especially as it is probably not a safety issue.
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Old 20-06-2016, 01:16 PM
Rags Rags is offline
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Quote:
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It likely makes business sense for BMW to replace a few engines rather than instigate a major recall, especially as it is probably not a safety issue.
This reminds me of the Vanos issues on the S50 engines.

BMW would only replace vanos solenoids when they failed although they did suggest new bolts but this recall was not widespread.

Anyway, with all these things, it takes many people to have an issue for them to consider a recall - cost benefit may come into play.

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