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N52 Lifter Tick Causes and Solutions

BMWs are outstanding pieces of machinery, and performance-wise, they’re virtually unbeatable. However, automobile engineering is not without its faults, and therefore all vehicles come with their unique quirks and issues. Part of the responsibility of owning a BMW is being able to recognize the problems that are typical of your model vehicle, as well as finding specialized professionals in your area of Texas who are experts at addressing such issues. The N52 engine tick is a prevalent concern for many BMW drivers—one that we see in our shop frequently. Here is a short explanation of the problem including possible causes and solutions, and how we can help.

BMW Car on Road

The N52 Engine Tick

The N52 engine was used in many of the BMW models from the years 2004-2015, making its original presentation in E90 330i and E63 630i models. The N52 engine was world-renowned for its more advanced technology and engineering over previous BMW models. Despite its highly reviewed performance capabilities, the N52 engine began displaying some noticeable symptoms of malfunction. Drivers began detecting rattling or ticking noises at specific times on the road. During colder weather or while running short errands, and especially after the 50,000-mile mark, symptoms were at their worst. While it is not atypical for vehicles to encounter faults and issues over time, this N52 quirk is especially concerning for BMW drivers who take particularly good care of their vehicles; so, what could cause this to occur, and how do we fix it?

Potential Causes

After many determined BMW engineers and automotive specialists worked on the N52 engine to determine the cause of the issue, the ticking and rattling noises were linked to a fault with the hydraulic valve adjuster (HVA). The HVA, also referred to as a hydraulic valve lifter, is responsible for creating essential space between critical engine parts that tend to expand and contract with outside temperatures. As time went on, the N52 engine was unable to provide adequate lubrication for the HVA, causing the part to tick and rattle under certain conditions, such as colder outdoor temperatures and frequent on-and-off short-distance drives (such as running errands). This should not indicate to fellow BMW enthusiasts that every ticking or rattling noise coming from your vehicle’s engine is a result of an issue with the HVA, but it does give us a good diagnostic route to take when similar symptoms are expressed, specifically in an N52 engine.

Potential Solutions

Typically when the same, widespread, consistent issue arises with a BMW engine, the manufacturers offer solutions to help fix it. For a period of time, BMW provided HVA procedures designed to remedy the lubrication problem, including replacing old cylinder heads with a newer, updated design—all but the latter were vastly unsuccessful. Other independent shops have found temporary solutions that act as Band-Aids for a period of time, such as switching to lighter-weight oil or using an engine warmer. Although it has been said that the N52 lifter tick does not seem to have any extensive effects on other engine parts, that claim is utterly without certainty; rattling and ticking noises could be attributed to any number of issues with your BMW’s engine, and could render your vehicle dangerous to drive. Therefore, it is imperative to have any rattling or ticking symptoms checked out by a BMW specialist immediately.

BMW 328i

Our Solution

For a time, BMWs under warranty were given replacement N52 cylinder heads to solve the tick completely; however, even if currently under warranty, many drivers are finding it impossible to receive the replacement part and installation free-of-charge. The experts here at Ultimate Bimmer Service located in Carrolton, Texas pride ourselves on our extensive knowledge of and training with BMWs, affording us the opportunity to help clients address these typical issues with honesty and accuracy. Additionally, we offer highly competitive pricing and serve as an independent, dealership alternative for BMW drivers who want the same level of care, at a more reasonable cost. Every day we are inspired and motivated to restore our beloved German-engineered cars to their former glory; in fact, our obvious passion often exceeds even that of our clients, and we are delighted to pass our love of these cars on to others.

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