Valve adjustment


Cost: $10


Time: 1-2 hours


Valve adjustment Bmw E34/E32 (M20 - M30) is pretty simple but takes some time. Be patient... The valve clearance is the same for the exhaust and the intake.

Adjustment sequence: 1-5-3-6-2-4.


  • Piece of metal wire hanger, allen wrench or valve adjusting tool.
  • M20: 0.25mm (0.010") angled feeler gauge.
  • M30: 0.30mm (0.012") angled feeler gauge.
  • New head cover gasket.

1. Place the car on ramps or stands the night before. Work on the engine when cold, do not start it in the morning

525i (M20)
2. Remove the intake manifold bracket, disconnect the breather hose from the cover then remove the 8 nuts holding the cover and remove it.

535i (M30)
2. Remove the air filter housing, remove the idle control valve, disconnect the connector from the air flow sensor then remove it (careful the clips can be lost easily). Remove the ignition harness out of the way. Disconnect the breather hose from the cover. Remove the nuts and the cover.
IMPORTANT: M30 (535i-735i-635i) you have to tighten the oil spray bar bolts! And oil pan bolts.
There is an improved version of the camshaft oiler bar banjo bolts which incorporates locking compound on the threads: p/n 11 42 1 738 621 (must be installed in clean dry threads). Two special seal washers are required for each banjo bolt, p/n 11 42 1 252 343. The new style bolts identified by a circular groove cut into the bolt head require no retorquing after initial installation (11-13Nm or 8-10 ft-lb of torque). One time sue only.

3. Remove all the spark plugs (good time to change or re-gap them).
4. The work out starts: turn the crankshaft until the no 1 cylinder's camshaft lobes are pointing downward, valve fully closed (cylinder 1 is the closest to the radiator).

5. Measure the valve clearance of the intake and exhaust valves with the feeler gauge. If the value is correct, don't touch it. To adjust it, loosen the 10mm nut with an open wrench and rotate the eccentric until you reach the value, tighten the nut and check the value again.
Trick: use the size below the feeler gauge it should be easy to pull through and the size above shouldn't fit at all.
6. Turn the crankshaft 1/3 of a turn and move to the next set of valve.

7. When you have finish all the valves, recheck the adjustment of all the valves again (I am not joking...)
8. Now you can clean the ICV, the throttle body with throttle body cleaner and the head cover.
9. Installation is the reverse of removal, don't forget to change the head cover gasket.

A trick from Brent Berger:
There is no need to use a 36mm socket on the counter balancer to rotate the camshaft, which first requires removing the radiator fan and housing to gain access. All that is needed is a 32mm open end wrench on the radiator fan nut. With all the spark plugs removed, and the fan belt tight, it was very easy to turn the counter balancer and camshaft via the fan nut (clockwise) to set all the valves. This would have helped me greatly if I would have known ahead of time ( I spent a couple days rounding up the very large socket I thought was needed). I hope others will benifit from my experience.

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