Helping to source a new car for my partner I got to speak to some dealers (which I do enjoy) and one mentioned the n47 issue as we saw a pre affected model and this was a ‘plus’ for that vehicle. He said the engines on the 320d after were awful. I was taken aback as this is my engine ! He wasn’t to know that of course. We got into a chat and he told me the issues of the timing chain.

“One noise we need to look out for is that of a swooshing noise – so if your car starts to sound like a washing machine worry..”

It’s an expensive replacement pre failure as it’s inaccessible but if it goes then your engine will need rebuilding and a local garage is specialising in this and they are doing 3-6 per week at the moment ! The latter are failures. There is clearly an issue and there s not a lot of data indicating why some low milleage cars are affected and some have NO issues it has to be said.
He said to call BMW as they had some recalls going on and it has even been highlighted on watchdog here

I recorded the sound of my engine on startup here for reference 1st April 2016

and again I took a video 7th March 2017

I called my local BMW dealer and my car had no recall going on.

She advised me to call UK headquarters and I got a scripted chat from a real person on the matter. It was a very ..I have no recollection of that recall customer.. I said it was even on the TV are you denying that – I am simply trying to get information on my car to see if it was post modification. Reasonable question I thought. I have not had such an obtuse phone call in a while and I didn’t mind saying so. I don’t have time for rudeness and apply my replies equally. Yes I find if I ask a reasonable question it is rude to not answer or answer from a statement.
I did ask for permission from BMW UK and Nicola herself since I felt this was decent editorial; to attribute the message that there is NO RECALL on these cars/engines and was given the name and extension of the operator.

0800 325600 ext 302200 it should be Nicola and she is happy to receive your calls about your N47 engine.

Just search yahoo or bing for ‘n47 timing chain’ etc and you will get a long list of worried drivers myself included with the ticking time bomb under the bonnet.

This is a great before and after video demonstrating the chain noise…

So check your car’s engine for noise. There is no good news really a metal chain is supposed to last the lifespan of a car Vs a timing belt that is cheaper and needs replacing every so often (a subject for discussion in itself is when..)

One noise we read about is a ‘swooshing sound’ likened to that of a washing machine.

The irish times story on the n47 timing chain

Timing Belts Contentious Subject – when to change ?

Back to shopping for second hand cars “has the belt been changed” question is coming up on higher mile cars. It’s a definite plus but when it should be done changes from mechanic to mechanic and that’s really confusing to the owner or potential purchaser of second hand cars. It is causing a lot of issues and in an age where manufacturers are trying really hard to differentiate themselves the timing chains and belt issues seem to go on unsolved. If I were to say what I have most commonly heard is that a new belt goes for 80k miles. So after a change that is the expected safe time to change. So buy a second hand car with this mileage then look for the belt work or factor in doing that shortly after and talk to your garage about the cost of changing that.  Warranties will often cover a water pump failure and not a belt but if the pump goes a good garage should do the belt as its often in the same area of work. Any decent garage that is.