BMW Rod Bearing Failure

We are a BMW specialty shop and BMW owners often ask us about rod bearing failure and how worried they should be about this happening to them. This is catastrophic for an engine and we have seen it many times. Below is a brief overview of the contributing factors for premature bearing failure and some preventative steps you can take.

Known BMW Rod Bearing Issue

BMW is infamous for engine bearing failure on their line of M3 and M5 engines. In 2019 BMW acknowledged this failure by publishing rod bearing clearance specifications. Engine builder experts have said that BMW engines have been built with a bearing clearance under the recommendation from the performance industry. BMWs also have an issue called “tolerance stacking” which reduces the bearing clearance to below acceptable dimensions. Lack of proper clearance limits oil lubrication between the crank journal and the rod bearings. This causes premature wearing of the rod bearings. This rubbing also creates debris which can damage other engine parts. Because of this, we see BMW engines wearing through their bearings early. In some cases when the tolerance stack was a factor, there have been massive engine failures on cars with very low miles, some even as low as 60,000 miles. In this case, the vehicle is in need of a complete replacement engine. This is why many S54/S65/S85 BMW owners will change their rod bearings before they have an issue.

Catching the problem early

new rod bearings BMW
One way you can identify early rod bearing wear is with an oil analysis. This is worth checking if you have an older BMW (2010 or older). This is not a perfect method to identify a rod bearing issue, but it could lead to a diagnosis before a catastrophe happens. The only sure way to know would include disassembling the engine.

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Preventing Rod Bearing Failure

BMW owners should consider replacing their rod bearings as preventative maintenance to reduce the risk of serious engine damage in the event of rod bearing failure.

  • Owners of S54/S65/S85 engines should change their oil every 10,000 miles on cars driven daily.
  • The original rod bearings should be replaced by 70,000 miles.
  • Consistent BMW maintenance with a BMW safe oil from a BMW specialty shop is crucial.

The correct oil must be used in your BMW. 

Rod Bearing Replacement on 2013 BMW M3

We received this 2013 M3 to install a VF595 supercharger kit. After discussing the fatal rod bearing issue with the owner, we decided to first replace them with a set of bearings and ARP bolts. This corrects the overly tight rod bearing clearance for use with factory 10W60 oil. At 40k miles, the factory rod bearings were showing significant wear!

If you are concerned about rod bearing failure on your BMW give us a call to get it checked out!

SL Autoworks


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Or Call: 501-214-1091

501 West 8th Street
North Little Rock, AR 72114