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Thread: 318is (M42) Timing chain tensioner?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Ashland Oregon
    My Cars
    1991 E30 318is

    Post 318is (M42) Timing chain tensioner?


    My '91 318is (M42) is an absolutely amazing vehicle; still running strong at 270,000mi. Unfortunately there is a very consistent and annoying rattling, coming from inside the engine as far as I can tell. I remember reading an article talking about how the Timing-chain tensioner piston may be worn out in older engines; so my question is this:

    Has anyone here replaced a timing-chain tensioner piston in an M42 engine, and if so, did it make your engine sound/run better?

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Las Vegas
    My Cars
    00 E38, 05 Suburban
    Yes, I replaced what I believe to be an original tensioner on my M42 318i at about 193k miles, because I was hearing a spit-second's worth of chain noise at startup. That noise went away after replacement with an M44 tensioner, and I didn't have any more trouble with it through 210k miles when I sold the car.

    I would strongly recommend you remove the valve cover and inspect the timing gears and any other part of the assembly you can see at that mileage. You may very well have worn-out chain and gears.
    9/2004 Chevrolet Suburban Z71, black, purchased March 2016
    6/99 740i Cosmos with m sport suspension, shadowline. purchased May 2017 with 199k miles
    1984 MasterCraft Stars and Stripes, Blue/White, PCM Ford 351W, PowerSlot, 912 hours, purchased September 2012 (not a car )

    past BMWs: 5/1994 325isa (Arktisgrau), 3/1997 328is/5 (cosmosschwartz), 9/1990 535i/5 (calypsorot), 9/1990 318i/5 (brillantrot) 7/93 325i/5 convertible (samoablau) 2/92 325i/5 cabriolet (lagunengruen).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Holiday Inn Express
    My Cars
    1991 318iS
    It is easy to replace the tensioner piston. You might be due for a full timing case overhaul, though. Look through the diagrams on realoem to see what all you will need. Parts will run $600.

    At the least, after replacing the piston, pull the lower oil pan & look for debris. If there are chunks of timing chain, then rebuild it ASAP and don't rev it over 4000RPM until you do. The pices WILL get into the oil pump eventually, and that is a $1000 job, minimum. Also check all of the upper pan bolts that are inside the oil pan. Sometimes a couple of them come loose around the sump. This can lead to a gasket failure that basically runs air into the oiling system, and the motor won't last long like that!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Sacramento, CA
    My Cars
    Changed out at 141k miles. Slight start up rattle, all quiet now.

    1999 540it - Schwartz II/Sand Beige, style 5 rims, Conti DWS 235/45 tires, Billy HD/Sports, Stoptech S/S BL, F1 Pinacle 35% tint, Zionsville Cooling kit
    1998 318ti Cali Sport - Schwartz II/Schwartz Anthratz, staggered style 23
    1997 318ti Sport - Schwartz II/Schwartz Anthratz, staggered style 68 ,

    1995 318ti Active - Alpineweib III/Schwartz, squared style 32
    1994 325i - Bostongrau/Tan, Billy Sports, H&R springs
    1991 318ic - Schwarz/Anthratz Stoff, Bilstien HD, Z4 3.0 SS, Magnaflow, S/S Stress bar, x-brace, M20 FW, Elipsoid/HID, K&N

    BMWCCA# 160411

    1995 318ti Sport Schwartz II/Schwartz Anthratz - Sold
    1985 635CSI - Schwartz\Sand - Sold

    1984 533i "Max" - Schwarz/Schwarz, - Sold
    1984 318i - Champagne/Tan, Stock - Sold

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Brisbane, QLD, Australia
    My Cars
    E36 BMW M42 318is 92
    deffo worth doing mate for the half hour it takes to install, and as already stated the later model tensioner is also an upgrade on yours,

    i'll post a link to a brief write up i did on this subject,

    i installed mind in the extended state as i was pooping my pants about reving the car until the tensioner engaged,

    do it soon or you may regret it, i felt much happier knowing i had changed mine
    Last edited by dickie g; 03-10-2010 at 02:37 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost


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