• What is the E9X M3 S65 V8 bearing issue and how is it resolved? S65 Rod bearing DIY (do it yourself)

      BMW does not exactly have a great track record delivering M3 engines without issues. The E46, E9X, and F80 generation M3's all have engine problems from the factory. We are going to discuss the S65 V8 from the E90, E92, and E93 specifically in this article.

      What is the problem? This:

      • BMW M5 (2005-2010), BMW M3 (2008-2013) can suffer early bearing failure due to inadequate rod bearing clearance.
      • Insufficient clearance means insufficient oil flow, excessive bearing surface heat, and premature wear.
      • These symptoms can lead to early bearing failure and a very expensive engine rebuild.
      • Problem can be addressed during engine rebuild, but it's expensive.
      • Some people switched to thinner oils -- as a stopgap measure.
      • Other stopgap measures include anti-friction teflon coated factory bearings, WPC anti-friction treated factory bearings, and custom bearings with same clearance as stock.
      • "Coated" factory bearings decreased clearance. This is not a good idea.
      • WPC treated bearings slightly increase clearance, but are a stopgap.
      • Custom bearings keeping factory clearance doesn't fix the problem, but allows you to track lead and copper in Blackstone oil analysis.
      • Newer factory bearings (2010.5 and later) are made from tin-aluminum, not lead-copper. Tin-aluminum bearings are 4-times harder on the surface than lead-copper bearings. This extra hardness shows signs of doing more damage to motors as there seems to be more bearing failures with 2010.5 and later vehicles. Tin-aluminum bearings also don't show the same signs of premature wear in Blackstone oil analysis due to lack of lead and copper.
      • A better solution was needed.

      If you have insufficient oil flow and premature wear you will eventually lose the motor. When it will happen depends on use but it will happen. So what is the solution? New bearings that are made to the proper clearance of course and for those who truly want peace of mind when tracking a dry sump oil system is recommended. BMW skimped in this area which is no surprise.

      Quote Originally Posted by BEBearings
      BMW designed the S65 and S85 with approximately half the industry standard oil clearance. This is a trendy move among some auto manufacturers to increase gas mileage and increase horsepower. But when they do it, like in the Toyota Prius, the auto manufacturer also specifies a very thin oil to match the very small oil clearance. BMW dropped the ball here and is using very small oil clearance and very thick 10W60 oil. Many consider this its own recipe for disaster. But here's what is believed to be happening in the S65 and S85 engines.

      Engines with clearance too small, couple with oil too thick, leads to premature rod-bearing related engine failures. With clearance too small and oil too thick, the lubrication around the bearing is marginal. Some metal-to-metal contact is made between the bearings and rod journal. The oil and rod bearings overheat. Some bearings seize on the crankshaft, while others will "spin" and cause a crankshaft failure.
      If you replace the bearings with properly sized units and run the proper oil, you will not have problems.

      So how do you replace the bearings? Well, this DIY from SYT_Shadow covers it. For those not comfortable doing this yourselves, shops such as GermanAutoWerks or @alex@ABRhouston can do it for you.


      Special tools used
      3/8Ē 12 point socket to install the BE-ARP bolts
      6 inch T30. I had a 4 inch one and it doesnít work, so I lost an hour driving around looking for one. Do not start the work without one!

      Special hardware used
      BW street/track (Group N) engine mounts. If yours is a street car, I suggest replacing them with OEM items
      BE Bearings. I donít understand why anyone would use something else
      BE-ARP bolts. Again, these should be the default choice for everyone. Besides being the best bolts for these engines, you do not want to be angle torqueing stuff in this tight a space. Somewhere, someone is thinking Ď$500 is a lot for boltsí. Well good luck with that...
      Plastigauge. You need the green one. You can buy some at
      Two different Computorq3 electronic torque wrenches. I have the ĹĒ one as well as the ľĒ, which covers the range of required torque. To do this with a crappy/inaccurate torque wrench is a waste of time.
      Harbor Freight Engine hoist. I used this on my E46M3 rod bearing DIY. Itís a cheap piece of hardware that works exactly as designed!
      Snap-on 3/8 electric ratchet. This makes everything a lot easier. There are a TON of bolts you have to remove to do this job, I highly suggest either this or the Milwaukee one

      Time taken
      This took 12h, first time doing it. We usually are slow workers. It was 10h one day and 2h the next. There is no doubt that if we were not doing a DIY - which requires you to spend lots of time pausing to take pictures, etc and renders one of the two people working useless - it would have taken significantly less. There was also one snag with the 4Ē T30 and subsequent easter egg hunt which took time, but you get the idea.

      Torque specs (courtesy of E92love)
      oil pan bolts (30 qt) and all other M6 bolts inside/outside engine: 10 Nm
      steering rack bolt on step 6 (1 qt) (M8): 21 Nm
      E12 transmission to oil pan bolts (4 qt) (M10): 38 Nm
      engine mount nuts. 1 top, 1 bottom on each side: 56 Nm
      the 6 front subframe bolts (M12): 108 Nm
      rear 2 most subframe bolts (M10): 56 Nm + 90 degree
      re-enforcement plate bolts (7 qt) (M10): 56 Nm + 90 degree
      4 water pump pulley bolts (M6): 10 Nm
      pulley tensioning system on both sides. 2 for each side (M8): 19 Nm

      Part numbers (courtesy of ///Mobbin)
      11137841085 - e92 m3 oil pan gasket
      Oil pickup tube/system parts that I also ordered (just in case):
      11417839832 - pickup tube o-ring
      11417839833 - pickup tube o-ring
      11417838534 - suction pipe gasket
      11427837997 - oil filter kit (oil filter, o-rings, crush washers)
      07119904550 x 2 - oil pan drain plug (includes crush washer also)
      07-12-9-905-537 - 16 x oil pan screws
      07-12-9-905-599 - 12 x oil pan screws
      07-12-9-905-600 - 2 x oil pan screws
      12611744292 - oil level sensor o-ring
      11812283798 - engine mounts (might include nuts, not sure)
      07119904025 x 4 - engine mount nuts

      Note 1
      As you will drain the oil you will need to refill it. A typical oil change in this car is 8 quarts/liters and a little more. While changing rod bearings you remove a massive amount of oil which would typically never leave the engine, which means you will need 9.5 bottles to fill it back up so the car is happy. Protip: have more than that just in case!

      Note 2
      At times the DIY pics will show something I havenít explained yet, so it may seem out of order. That is because at times you try different things. You should follow the order of instructions explained here

      Note 3
      Rod bearings do not require break in. If you used assembly lube, you should change the oil after a few thousand miles. Both BE Bearings and Bimmerworld were contacted to weigh in on this. When you think of it, a rod bearing should never have contact with the crank. Regular break in is more about seating the rings and walls than anything else

      Note 4
      I am told this can be done without removing the fan. Next time I do the job I'll take pics and update the thread accordingly. Doing this without removing the fan will cut out several step and save quite a bit of time, I definitely suggest you try that first

      The patient

      Putting the DCT into neutral. The 6MT guys can skip this part
      Lift the shift boot from the front by pressing rearwards and unclipping it

      There is a black guard which you can see in this pic. With a screwdriver, move to forward and it will slide out of the way

      Here you can see the white lever that hides behind the black guard. You put a screwdriver in there and move it. The car will go into neutral and complain about it

      Starting from the top, we remove part of the air intake ducting. There are two push pins that go down into the black brace-like bar and two screws which go into the car

      When all four are removed you can pull the front part of the duct towards you

      This releases the rear part of the duct

      Install your engine support brace. Here are some pics of mine. You need to slightly tension it Ďupwardsí so that it is trying to pull the engine up, just a little bit. Remember the engine mounts are still installed so the engine cannot move much

      I try to minimize potential energy, so I put a cushioned mat on top of the sharp parts of the engine support bar and then rest the hood on it

      Remove the front wheels

      We remove all the black felt underbody panels. There are many, many little screws

      Note the three rear ones of the front felt part are different than the rest

      When you remove the side front Ďwingsí you can see the cable structure that supports the front felt part. You slide the top sideways and then out so it falls freely. Note you don't need to remove the two screws that hold the bottom of those cables.

      Continue removing the bottom felt pieces

      More felt pieces

      This is what youíre left with. Note the clips on the bottom of the fan which hold piping. Remove all the pipes from the clips


      Remove the aluminum chassis brace. There are 7 bolts, one of them is conveniently hidden inside the front center jack support

      Remove the tranny felt underbody

      A leaky DCT panÖ wonderfulÖ Iíll get to that sucker later

      Go back to the top of the car
      We now move onto the fan. I did the removal and reinstallation without removing any more of the air intake. Itís easier if you remove the air box, but it can be done like this

      The radiator is held on by a single torx bolt on the passenger side. You can see it here. Remove it

      Unclip the large connector right by the torx bolt

      You can try sliding the fan upwards but it faces resistance. This is because thereís a clip that has to be undone on the driver side and the bottom of the fan has pipes clipped onto it
      Lets go for the clip on the driver side, on the edge of the fan. You can just about put your arm in there and unclip it while you move the fan up. Itís a really tight, PITA fit but eventually you will release the whole fan after a lot of wiggling.



      Go back to the bottom of the car
      Right by all the pipes you disconnected from the fan you have another ĎUí pipe which is bolted onto the subframe. It has 3 bolts and one nut. One of the 3 bolts is shorter, that one goes on the passenger side of the rack

      In the wheel well, remove the ABS/Brake lines from where theyíre connected to the strut

      Drain the oil. Remember there are two drain holes in the S65

      Remove the front sway bar links. I see BMW learned from the bad design of the E46M and now you can use two regular open ended wrenches

      The next thing in the way of lowering the subframe is the belt tensioner. It is half attached to the engine and the oil pan, so we need to loosen it.
      As itís the tensioner itís very hard to move and we must remove the belt first
      Start by taking off the cap to access the bolt underneath. This is what weíll use to release tension and remove the belt

      You then use a wrench to release the tension on the belt and slide the belt off. Once the belt is off, release the tension slowly until the tensioner reaches the end of its travel

      Here you see the base of the tensioner which is still out of our reach because the subframe prevents us from reaching the bolts. Once we lower the subframe a bit weíll return

      Prepare to start undoing lowering the subframe.
      First we unclip different wires. Here you can see two different cables that must be disconnected. One is to the lower left and goes to the arm which controls the xenon position, the other is a white connector

      Remove the ground from the engine block

      There is a bracket on the front driverís side of the car. Itís held on with two bolts. Remove them

      Notice the wrench Iím holding

      Rotate the steering rack towards the passenger. Do it slowly and youíll be able to peek at the steering rack bolt that has to be removed. You see this looking from the driverís side of the wheel well

      You need a E10 for the steering rack. Before touching this, draw a couple of lines between both parts you will uncouple. This allows you to mate it up exactly as it was. This is not poke-yoke, so itís possible to set it back up with a crooked steering wheel. If that were to happen to me, Iíd just get the car aligned, it is not the end of the world. I drew two lines and was able to reattach it perfectly

      Here you can see the two lines

      You need an extension to get there

      Itís out!

      Now we are ready to loosen then lower the subframe. Lets get the 6 bolts first. Note at this point I unscrew the 6 bolts but without removing them. You could also just remove them, the subframe weighs nothing and will happily hang from the suspension

      After making sure no cable is about to snap, I release the bolts completely

      We can revisit the tensioner now that the subframe is a bit lower. Remove the three bolts

      Go to the back of the oil pan where thereís a surprising amount of cables. Unclip them and release the harnesses

      Itís time for the oil pan bolts! Please take note of how long the T30 needed is. I used a 6 inch one because the 4 inch 'extra long' one I had bought for this job was insufficient

      Remove all the oil pan bolts. There are many of them. The ones you need the extra long T30 are in the back of the oil pan

      I followed smart peopleís advice and inserted the oil pan bolts into the cardboard part that comes with the new oil pan gasket. There are a few diagrams I made. Left is the front of the engine, right is the rear. I put the car behind some pictures to make it extra clear. Note the two different lengths of bolts that are used, so take note!

      Just like in the E46M, the back of the oil pan/tranny interface has 4 long bolts that go into the oil pan. I used an open ended wrench on 3 of them as a regular socket doesnít fit

      After that, the oil pan just falls down a bit. An oil pipe and the subframe avoids it from going far

      Here you can see the fat pipe in the front which is avoiding our progress

      Time to remove that pipe. Itís held on with two screws and has a mini gasket. Remove the short fat pipe. Note that this pipe has threadlocker on it, so be sure to reapply blue threadlocker when reassembling

      Now you can drop the oil pan further

      Next up are the two remaining oil pipes plus the supports. Remove them all. Note that all this hardware has threadlocker on it, so be sure to reapply blue threadlocker when reassembling

      Finally, we can start accessing the rod bearings!

      Cylinder 1 (most to the front of the car) is in the perfect position. You can do rods 1 and 2 without rotating the engine.

      I went cylinder by cylinder completing the work

      After loosening the two bolts that hold a cap, sometimes you need to give it a little nudge with a rubber mallet

      Note these are cracked forged rods which, besides being awesome, are cylinder and side specific. That means cylinder oneís cap only mates to cylinder one and the left side must go with the left side. I guess enough people screwed this up with the E46M3 that they started numbering the sides, so now one side of each rod and cap has numbers are the other doesnít.

      Once you have a cap in your hand, you remove the old bearing. Easiest way I've found to do that is rotating it from the belly sideways, if need be one way and the other, and it'll slide right out.

      Next get a new bearing, insert it into the cap (it is a bit springy, but it does fit), note that top and bottom bearings are identical in my case. Some BE Bearing sets will be marked 'top' and 'bottom' shells, so if that is the case be sure to put the 'top' shell into the rod, the bottom into the cap. The ones I received were undesignated tops and bottoms and could be installed interchangeably

      Then, get some clean oil or assembly lube and cover the surface of the bearing. I misplaced my assembly lube but apparently oil works just fine according to technical folks, so I used that. I used a clean glove to spread the oil on, replacing it every time it got dirty because I touched another surface

      First insert the bearing on the cap (where you can see what you're doing, and practice doing it by feel only), then the rod. To access the upper bearing just push the piston up by the rod and then nudge the old bearing sideways to get it out, just like you did on the cap.

      Cap 1 removed!

      Journal looks happy

      Here are my new goodies

      This is a pic of the socket you need for the ARP bolts

      These are torqued to 50ft-lb. Note this entire DIY is in Nm except the rod bolts, which are made by ARP so they use an imperial fastener and imperial torque specs. First I torqued both sides to 30ft-lb, then to 50. I wanted to ensure they were well settled

      BE-ARP bolts come with lube. Thereís like 20x the amount needed even though at the beginning I thought there was too little. You are supposed to cover the threads and head with lube as seen below


      I wanted to write this up because Iíve always been curious. As luck would have it, the massive box of plastigauge I had bought sometime in the past had every size known to man except the one I wanted. Nonetheless, I went through the procedure even though the numbers here donít mean anything

      You are supposed to use the new bearings here, but I used the old ones as the measurements in my case are worthless as I donít have the right material

      Note that the desired range when using green plastigage I linked above which is in inches is:

      You should see anything from 0.0022 - 0.0028. Even the upper end of 0.0030 isn't the end of the world. The connecting rod bores seem to wear bigger over time.

      For those that are on the upper end of the clearance spectrum that you'd like to bring down, get some 600-grit wet sandpaper, and sand the parting lines (with the paper wet). Go 6-8 swipes in each direction with light-to-medium pressure (5lbs - 10lbs pressure). Clean the dust thorougly, re-install, and re-measure. If it's still not where you want it, do it one more time. I don't think I'd do it more than twice though.

      First you lay a little piece of plastigauge across the belly of the rod bearing

      Then, you torque it down to whatever the fastener you use takes. Again, I used the old fasteners and tightened to 30ft-lb because my sizes were wrong

      Finally, you remove the cap again and then compare against the piece of paper that comes with the plastigauge
      According to this, I have 0.0076mm of clearance

      After the first two rods youíll have to move to the third and fourth. You need to rotate the engine. You do this with a 32mm socket at the front of the engine and turn clockwise

      Eventually the third and fourth rods with be right in the middle and you can work on those. Repeat the process until youíre done

      Lets see what the bearings look like!

      I also removed the engine mounts and swapped them for BW units. Note that after only 36k miles mine were not looking too hot

      When reinstalling, you bolt the engine mount to the subframe instead of to the engine cradle where it just was

      Installation is the reverse of disassembly, but just in case I show the steering rack which is the hardest part. Start raising the subframe slowly and the parts will more or less mate up
      Note you should reapply green loctite to the steering rack bolt before reassembling

      Donít forget to fill up with oil and change the oil filter before turning the engine on!

      As the engine is completely emptied of oil, someone suggested to pull fuse 39 so the engine doesnít start. You can see that below. I did this, but the engine still fires and then wonít start, which I donít think is an advantage. If it just cranked then yes, but by pulling this fuse it cranks, then fires, then dies. After a few tries I reinstalled the fuse and turned the engine on, leaving it alone for a while so it heated up. I recommend you do that from the beginning

      This article was originally published in forum thread: What is the E9X M3 S65 V8 bearing issue and how is it resolved? S65 Rod bearing DIY (do it yourself) started by Sticky View original post
      Comments 15 Comments
      1. playskool1's Avatar
        playskool1 -
        This is a great DIY by Danny. I was able to complete my first S65 rod bearing change a couple weeks ago. I'm going to be doing another S65 BE Bearing job on Monday. Click here to enlarge
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by playskool1 Click here to enlarge
        I was able to complete my first S65 rod bearing change a couple weeks ago.
        How difficult would you say it was?
      1. playskool1's Avatar
        playskool1 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        How difficult would you say it was?
        With the right tools and a mechanic background (I've done 10 S54 rod bearings in the past and several S65 rod bearing jobs lined up this month), its not hard at all, just a lot of time and a lot of oil mess on your floor from the constant dripping of oil.
      1. 5soko's Avatar
        5soko -
        702/703 alum bearings would show a high rise in alum or tin in blackstone reports.. Any type of wear would show a sharp increase in material in blackstone reports that is out of the ordinary from average levels.
      1. alex@ABRhouston's Avatar
        alex@ABRhouston -
        What kills these bearings is connecting rod side clearance. The engine I put together this week had .008 clearance! A performance engine should be more like .018! We fixed that Click here to enlarge
      1. SVH's Avatar
        SVH -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by alex@ABRhouston Click here to enlarge
        What kills these bearings is connecting rod side clearance. The engine I put together this week had .008 clearance! A performance engine should be more like .018! We fixed that Click here to enlarge
        Curious what evidence you have for bearings getting "killed" by rod side clearance. While I've heard of the side clearance issue I've never heard of any evidence of bearings wear.
      1. maxnix's Avatar
        maxnix -
        Very well documented! One reason I went for a 335is instead of the M3 for street use.

        Must be nice to know now your engine will not seize.
      1. terryd5150's Avatar
        terryd5150 -
        Outstanding DIY.
      1. alex@ABRhouston's Avatar
        alex@ABRhouston -
        that seems to be a rhetorical question.

        Rod side bearing clearance is what lets the oil get out and off the crank. the rods heat up/clearance gets REAL tight and the oil breaks down between the bearing and journal.
      1. SVH's Avatar
        SVH -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by alex@ABRhouston Click here to enlarge
        that seems to be a rhetorical question.

        Rod side bearing clearance is what lets the oil get out and off the crank. the rods heat up/clearance gets REAL tight and the oil breaks down between the bearing and journal.
        I'm under the impression that the tight bearing clearance is primarily the cause of premature bearing wear and failure. I've never heard of rod side clearance as the primary cause of bearing failure, let alone being the real "killer". Its entirely secondary from everything I've read.
      1. alex@ABRhouston's Avatar
        alex@ABRhouston -
        I won't try to sway your mind on it, but if the oil can't get out, it's not going to get the heat off the bearing face.
      1. Faulal's Avatar
        Faulal -
        I see you used the BMW 10W60 to put back in. Do you recommend any other oil weight then that?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by maxnix Click here to enlarge
        One reason I went for a 335is instead of the M3 for street use.
        Uh huh, sure.

        Because HPFP pumps dying, codes, and limp mode issues are fun.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Faulal Click here to enlarge
        I see you used the BMW 10W60 to put back in. Do you recommend any other oil weight then that?
        What weight oil do people recommend with upgraded bearings?
      1. alex@ABRhouston's Avatar
        alex@ABRhouston -
        10w60 is perfectly fine.

        When rod side bearing clearance is correct Click here to enlarge