New member, Some Q about Vanos

Hey Guys,
I just joined this group today, it seems to contain alot of useful information. My question is concerned with an 2000 E46 328ci. I would like to ask if any member here has experienced a sudden, silent stall
while driving. It happened to me while I was driving on the interstate, my car while driving (its a 5spd) suddenly stalled when I was in neutral and about to switch to 5th gear. My steering got locked, and it was extremely dangerous. Thank god I have a 5spd and my car did not choke, It just silently shut down, the only way I could tell was when I looked in the dash and my engine and oil lights came on in red, so I pressed the clutch, turned on the car while rolling on the interstate at 65 mph! I got control back, took it to a mechanic and he told me it could be my Vanos Unit going out. Has anyones "Vanos" unit gone out here or experienced the same issue, any information shared here will be highly appreciated.. Thank you.
Regards, Omair
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Bimmer328 wrote:

I extremely doubt that a vanos failure would cause a stall like this. If the steering really did lock then I guess the key fell out?! If you'd simply put the car in gear it should have come back to life and even if not you'd have got power steering and brakes back.
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It certainly is if this happened. To lock the steering you have to remove the key. Which would be stupid. If the engine stalls, you merely lose power assistance to the steering which makes it heavy but still manageable while moving.

Why did you turn it off in the first place? Most would simply engage the clutch and hope it would re-start. But you must have been changing gear very slowly if the engine had time to stall.

Most likely thing is the crank position sensor. But it should have thrown up a fault code, so get this checked first. It's unlikely to be a Vanos fault IMHO.
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Bimmer328 wrote:

I hope you didn't pay too much in initiation fees!

Go look for another mechanic. This one doesn't even know what the VANOS does. It is merely a means of mechanically advancing the valve timing. It would *never* cause the engine to stall, and especially not while the engine was still in gear.
It sounds like you had a temporary disconnection of an electrical signal. May a faulty ground connection somewhere or something like that. Not a valve timing issue.
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Some clarifications. Steering did not lock, I guess it just lost power assistance so felt very heavy. Also, the mechanic said he sent a electric signal to the Vanos and the vanos would not reply implicating that the vanos was inoperative. He said there was sludge-build-up in the Vanos system
Also, I did not turn the car off and I dont take much time to switch gears, The car silents turns off between gears very quickly. Though it does it rarely and has (so far) always turned back on, I just have to power it off, turn it back on while the car is rolling on neutral and then put it in the right gear so it does not choke.
First I took it to the BMW and they diagnosed and told me it was the Camshaft Position Sensor, whcih I paid them almost close to 400 dollars for replacement, After it was done, the light did not go away. So I took it to another mechanic, and he checked the error code and told me that this code could go on because of many faults. So thats when he went into the details and kept my car for about 4 hours and then called me to tell me that the Vanos was inoperative in the car because of sludge buildup. My engine had lots of oil sludge when I buoght it, so I had to change oils a couple of times and then do an engine flush. After that it drives very smooth, specially at higher RPM's, but it does not pick up in the 1K to 3K RPM range. The mechanic told me that is another indication of a bad Vanos as the Vanos controls the Mid and Low RPM range in these cars.
Fred W wrote:

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But yes, that day I'll agree I took some time to switch between gears because there was traffic, sometimes I let my car roll in Neutral and then switch car according to the speed of the cars ahead of me... but regardless... my car should have never turned off on me like that. Once it happened on a turn, I almost climbed on top of a curve, but I managed to pull the steering all the way to the left to miss the curb by inches.
Bimmer328 wrote:

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Such a drama queen!
I coasted my car down a mountain road from over 2500 ft elevation to just under 1300 ft elevation in 7 miles. I had suffered a cooling system failure, and the tow truck charged extra to come up the hill, so I coasted down. No vac assist to the steering or brakes, and no problems.
Sheesh!

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WHY do yo have to power off then back on?
It ought not stall as you say it is stalling, but all you have to do is let the clutch out and the spinning drive train will restart the motor. You real issue is that the car does not idle well.

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Bimmer328 wrote:

Reading between the lines here... you were rolling down the interstate in neutral, with the clutch out?? What the devil for??
If you actually keep the car in gear while driving, the engine won't stall as much.
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sunderland wrote:

What's wrong with rolling in neutral? I almost always roll to stop lights in neutral and stay out of gear while at the light. Is this bad? My car has never stalled while moving...
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It's okay to wait for the light to change while in N, but you should not shift into N until yo are very nearly at a full stop. You should allow the motor to provide braking and not rely solely on the brake pedal to haul your car to a stop.
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It's not - autos can and do stall on the over-run. Below certain revs the torque convertor doesn't work in both directions, as it were, so unless it is physically locked out the car motion doesn't turn the engine and therefore the fluid pump, pressure from which is needed to keep the car in gear.

I had similar, and it turned out to be the crank sensor. Only happened when the engine was very hot - like in a traffic jam with the AC on.

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First, your problem is not the VANOS, you can relax on that front.
The only way for the steering to lock is for the key to be off AND removed. I can switch my motor off at any time and I can still steer my car. The steerig does not lock until the key is removed. But, even if your steering locked, this is not a VANOS issue.
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I doubt that's what the OP really meant. I suspect he was referring to losing his power steering due to the stalled engine.
Eisboch
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