• 4 cyl. 6 cyl. V8 & V12
  • 318 and 318ti E46 N42 Facelift
  • 118 and 120i
  • 320i E90 N46
  • 5series E60

Symptoms of failure:

  • EML light on – yellow light and car warns to drive moderately and have engine checked
  • Car loses power – in limp mode
  • Heavy on fuel
  • Symptoms occur intermittently until car cuts off or refuses to start
  • “valvetronic servo motor” faults
  • “eccentric shaft sensor” faults – in more extreme conditions and usually cancels out once the VVT motor is fitted


What it looks like:

How it works:

The little electric VVT motor sits at the top of this intricate system and is situated above the cylinder head

This motor turns the eccentric shaft, which pushes the intermediate rocker arms and in turn pushes the valve to open deeper to allow for more power.

Because the lift of each valve per cylinder is controlled or varied continuously according to the revs, the engine will perform at optimum efficiency and hence balance will occur with power, fueling and engine breathing. Note this motor has replaced the conventional throttle butterfly but the latter is still fitted as a back up or safety.

“Be-Em state a saving on fuel of up to 10%, cold start behaviour, reduces emissions and smoother more responsive power.” It however does not advance top end power.

The VVT Motor and the vanos units usually fail because of sludge. See article on sludge.



1 Day job

VVT motor + Tappet Cover Gasket + Tappet Cover Flange + Software and Labour

We do not recommend fitting used VVT Motors as it is bound to fail and there is no guarantee.



In the 2nd diagram you will see some of the parts that make up the complete Valve Timing system.

  • Eccentric shaft sensor (similar symptoms when it fails – will be explained in next article)
  • VVT Sensor
  • VVT control unit ( not in pic – seldom problematic)

Vanos Unit/Gears – Inlet and Outlet Adjustment Units (not in pic – if the car has single or double vanos variable timing – will be explained in another article)

There are 23 Comments

  1. Maphs says:

    I just got this replaced on my 118 which has 68000kms on the clock, thank goodness its still under motorplan. What causes the VVT to fail?

  2. Tune-Tech says:

    It fails because of age (wear and tear) and sometimes because of sludge build up.

  3. Dewald says:

    Good day, how do I obtain a quote to replace the motor and the sensor ?

  4. BoB says:

    Hi there, Can the failure of “eccentric shaft sensor” result in failure of a newly replaced VVM to the extent that you need a new

  5. Tune-Tech says:

    These parts are available at BMW

    If the eccentric shaft sensor has failed it will throw the same fault but it does not mean you will need a new VVT Motor. Car must be booked in for me to diagnose accurately.

  6. bechego says:

    Hi Tune Tech:

    How much about does this job cost? Thanks!

  7. Ashley says:

    Hi Tune-Tech! thanks for this informative article! my car ahs all the symptoms listed above, it is with the dealership currently as it is still under m/plan. hoping to have the car back this weekend cause i have a wedding which the car needs to be present for. Once again, thanks for your brilliant articles and service!

    Ash (BMWFanatics Member)

  8. Tune-Tech says:

    VVT motor Quote +/- R5998.00incl.VAT

  9. noxie says:

    what happens if u keep on driving a car with a vvt motor 4 a long time after the diagnosis

  10. sandra says:

    Hi, with my 2005 320i the yellow light came on, they told me it can be the VVT motor that will cost me R2 829 or the sensor for R3 700 so if my car doesn’t lose power at this point and I don’t want to buy both which one will be the problem, the guy told me it’s 9 out of 10 the motor.

  11. Tune-Tech says:

    Needs to be booked in.

    Most likely VVT motor

  12. farid says:

    hi, i have 320i (e90). for the last two months it has got oil leaks on engine and have smoke from tail pipe. and sometime it remians very weak, speed can’t go beyond 60km/h

  13. Alberto alondo says:

    Hi i got probable causes
    1 open or short circuit condition
    2 poor electrical conection
    Vvt motor
    Check the vvt for mechanical stiction and seizure

  14. Alberto alondo says:

    P 1030

  15. Mehdi says:

    i get 2731 code. camshaft control inlet

  16. Sumaya says:

    Hi, I have a 320i and at 130 000 k`s have just been quoted a relacement of a vvt motor.
    About 2 months ago i also had the valves replaced due to oil leaks, which cost me around R6500.00 My concern is that I`ve always been a very big fan of BMW’s and this is honestly the first bmw that I`ve had, that`s had so many issues. I’m starting to wonder if the issues I`’ve had is just normal wear and tear or whether bmw is no longer made to last. I bought the car brand new, its a 2006 model. I love the car, its economical, but becoming expensive to maintain.

  17. Hellz says:

    Help, I’ve had timing chain, guides & tensioner replaced as BMW dealer said that’s why I had ticking noise. Nouse still there only after about 1 minute start up & more so at between 1800-2000 revs. Took me getting stethoscope to isolate location of noise – at stepper motor. Had another garage look under rocker cover & they say timing gear worn – only 35,000 miles on clock 7 years old 316ti compact. Drives just fine no other issues or fault codes etc. what do I do they want £1500 to replace timing gear & can’t guarantee will fix!! Help!!

  18. Majozi says:

    2002 318i has an EML light and wont start, engine turns a bit as if battery has low power

  19. sheldon says:

    Hi. I have the 2003 BMW e46 318. It was driving but with less power.struggled to get over 120 and had a rough idle.
    The ems light is on. Yesterday the car couldnt rev passes 2000rpm and could get more than 20kmph. Today it swings and shows sings it want to start but doenst. Any idea what it could be?
    The triangle also flashes when swing.

  20. Schalk says:

    Hi, I had my valve tronic motor replaced a few days ago on my 118i. Since I got my car back, I just don’t get the same power from my car, and it also doesn’t sound right… Could this be due to the valve tronic motor, and should the mechanic be able t sort it out?

    This was not done at BMW, but with a renowned workshop that works on BMWs.

    For those interested, i paid R7000 incl Vat for the whole job ( valve tronic motor, tapped cover gasket and 3 hours labour ).


  21. Douglas says:

    Engine light on, EML light on, limited power on my 2004 BMW 318i. I now understand this to caused by the VVT motor. How much would the VVT motor cost. can I replace it DIY

  22. Synoden Mwale says:

    my mechanic told me that that my car (bmw 318i 2002 facelift) needs a new VVT motor. How much does it cost to nuy one?

  23. Ruben says:

    EML light comes on , and car doesn’t rev up more than 2000rpm , if car in neutral car wants to still take off – is the a gearbox problem or VVT … a mac came and stated that car “could” be in safe mode ??

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