BMW’s Botched-Up Belt

It sounds incredulous for sure, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you thought we were lying, but in recent times something rather extraordinary has come to light in regards to the serpentine belt on some of BMW’s vehicles; when given the correct conditions, the serpentine belt can be sucked up into the vehicle’s engine.

You read that right. The belt does not simply get entwined. It quite literally ends up inside the engine.

Believe it or not, as crazy as these sounds, it’s not an entirely uncommon occurrence. It only seems to occur to vehicles fitted with a 3.0-litre l6 N5X engine. These engines are thankfully not included in all of BMW’s vehicles, but the following models may be at risk of suffering this grisly fate:

  • 2004-2013 E9X 3-Series
  • 2004-2010 E61 5-Series
  • 2004-2010 E62 5-Series
  • F10 5-Series made before 2015
  • F11 5-Series made before 2015

So, what’s actually going wrong beneath the bonnet? Let’s have a look.
In normal vehicles, the serpentine belt is driven by a pulley which protrudes from the crankshaft, which in turn protrudes from the front of the engine block. The crankshaft is surrounded at one end by the front main seal (commonly referred to as the crank seal) which serves to keep oil inside the system and external substances out.

Now, the N5X engines still have all of these features—but with one notable difference. In the N5X, the pulley is located just a little closer to the engine block than normal, which in turn means that the gap between the engine and the pulley is smaller than usual. One would think that this would make the engine less of a risk—but in reality, it means that if the belt slips and gets caught, it can get stuck. The force applied by the crankshaft then forces the belt through the tiny gap and directly into the engine itself.

Naturally, the entire process chews up the serpentine belt and leaves it strewn throughout the engine in shreds. This can cause many of the engine’s functions to fail, including the essential ones, leaving the BMW effectively useless until the engine is completely cleaned.

BMW Engine

Stopping Your BMW From Going Wrong

There is, sadly, no way to guarantee that this error won’t occur in your vehicle. However, you can minimize the risk by ensuring that you have a BMW-qualified mechanic who will know about this issue and be able to spot any potential warning signs. It most often occurs when the belt tensioner pulley slackens off or there is a leak in the oil filter stand, so if these problems are addressed in advance then you may never have to contend with a rogue serpentine belt.



N52/N54 Belt Tensioner

BMW Engine Repair: The Troubleshooting You Need

Power Steering Issues & Why They Shouldn’t Be Ignored

Back in the day, many cars weren’t equipped with power steering, and driving was, let’s just say a little more challenging. With its growing popularity, power steering became a standard on vehicles. Once your car has power steering problems, you will know it. There are all sorts of causes that a power steering system can fail, including, leaks, pump failure, and a broken belt. If a power steering issue is present should you just keep driving or fix it? Let’s take a look at the four reasons why you shouldn’t ignore a power steering issue.

1. Difficulty Steering

Perhaps the most common reason to not ignore a power steering problem is potential safety hazards. If you haven’t had the pleasure of running a car without it, it is undoubtedly more difficult. The problematic driving conditions can make things unsafe for you and other drivers on the road.

2. Could Indicate A Broken Serpentine Belt

The second you feel the loss of power steering, could be an indication of a serpentine belt that has broken or come off the pulleys. When a serpentine belt snaps your accessories under the hood will stop working this includes the water pump, alternator, and power steering pump. A quick check under the hood will tell you if a failed belt is the cause. Running a vehicle without its belt can result in loss of power while driving and overheating problems.

3. Could Indicate An Issue With The Steering Rack

The power steering rack is one of the critical components of your power steering system. It is part of the frame and pinion. One way to tell if the power steering rack is the culprit is that when you first start driving the steering wheel feels stiff. As you keep driving the steering wheel will get easier to turn. While it might be tempting to just deal through the rough steering till your car gets warmed up, the steering rack should be replaced. Otherwise, you might have to replace the rack and pinion.

4. Running A Power Steering Pump Dry Might Lead To Failure Of Unit

While it might take a while for the actual power steering pump to fail entirely if ran dry, it is indeed a possibility. As a simple fix, adding more power steering fluid can solve this problem. If the power steering pump fails, it will require replacement, and this can be somewhat expensive. A common symptom of a dry power steering pump is it will make a whining noise. This sound can be slightly annoying for daily driving.