BMW VANOS and timing codes

What is a BMW VANOS?

Put simply, a VANOS is a mechanism that allows for the adjustment of the camshafts for the intake and exhaust valves. This allows for better gas mileage, smoother idling increased power/torque.

Vanos solenoids control the flow of oil to the VANOS. When oil flow is restricted to the VANOS problems will occur i.e check engine light, reduced power, low gas mileage, rough idling.


It is common for the solenoids to clog up and fail. This can may be due to

  1. Electrical failure of VANOS Solenoid

  2. Dirty Oil

  3. Low oil pressure

  4. Clogged up solenoid/solenoid screen

  5. Aftermarket/defective oil filter

An experienced BMW Technician will properly assess the condition of the VANOS solenoid on your BMW first to ensure they are in proper working order and the oil is in good condition as a first step in addressing any VANOS engine codes on your BMW.

Common symptoms of VANOS issues are

  1. Check Engine Light

  2. Loss of Power

  3. Rough Idle, engine hesitation

  4. Engine falling into limp mode

  5. Reduced gas mileage

Engine codes frequently associated with BMW VANOS solenoid issues are

  • P1520: Camshaft position actuator, exhaust.

  • P1523: Camshaft position actuator is jammed, exhaust.

  • P1397: Camshaft position sensor B.

  • 2A82: VANOS intake solenoid

  • 2A87: VANOS exhaust solenoid

When replacing the VANOS Solenoids it is vitally important to use genuine BMW parts. There are a variety of aftermarket companies that offer these solenoids at a significant discount to the price of genuine solenoids, however they often fail within a few months of installation and are simply not worth it.

Here at L&M Foreign Cars we have significant expertise in correctly  diagnosing and repairing VANOS issues.

If you have timing codes or have questions regarding a possible VANOS issue on your BMW give us a call.  Our advice is free and we are always happy to help and ready to get your BMW back on the road!


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