BMW 5 Series Timing Belt Change Interval

BMW 5 series timing belts should be replaced every 80,000 to 160,000 kilometers on average. Only three generations of the BMW 5 series (1972 to 1996) are equipped with timing belts. Regular maintenance of the timing belts ensures optimal performance.

To enjoy the ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure,’ BMW recommends changing your vehicle’s timing belt after a certain period of timing. It will ensure no disruption to your driving.

So, today, I’ll discuss the BMW 5 Series Timing Belt Change Interval.

Let’s discuss the BMW 5 series timing belt change interval in detail.

BMW 5 Series Models With Timing Belts: Quick Overview

Here is a quick overview of the three generations of the BMW 5 series that are equipped with timing belts instead of chains. Below is a table with additional information. 

Models and GenerationsEngine SpecificationsCamshaft Drive SystemTiming Belt Change Interval
1972-1981 (E12)1.8-2.0 L M10 I42.0-3.5 L M20Timing belt80k to 160k Kilometers
1981 – 1988 (E28)2.0-2.7 L M20 I6 (520i, 525e, 528e)2.4 L M21 I6 (524d, 524td)Timing belt80k to 160k Kilometers
1988 – 1996 (E34)2.0-2.7 L M20 I6 (520i, 525e, 528e)2.4 L M21 I6 (524d, 524td) 1.8 L M40 I4 (518i) 2.0-2.5 L M20 I6 (520i, 525i) 2.4 L M21 turbo I6 (524td)Timing belt80k to 160k Kilometers

So from here we see the three generations, E12, E24, and E34 have engines that support timing belts. All the other models from 1996 to 2023 are equipped with timing chains instead of belts. Now let’s find out why you should replace the timing belts. 

Should I Replace The BMW 5 Series Timing Belt?

Yes, timing belts are essential components of an engine, responsible for ensuring that the valves open and close at the right time. Therefore, changing timing belts after the recommended changing interval is important to ensure that the engine runs smoothly. 

Why Should I Replace the Timing Belt?

It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommended changing interval because over time, rubber timing belts can deteriorate. This can cause the belt to become loose, resulting in engine misfiring or damage to the valves.

A worn timing belt can also cause the engine to run less efficiently, resulting in lower fuel economy. It can also cause rough idling, squealing, squeaking noises, etc. As a result, it’s necessary to change the timing belt after its ideal lifespan.

Additionally, If the timing belt breaks while the engine is running, serious damage can be done to the engine, leading to costly repairs. In interference engines, if the timing belts break, the pistons will hit the valves, which could bend or even break them.

For these reasons, it is important to change the timing belt after the recommended changing interval to ensure that the engine runs smoothly and efficiently.

If you ride a Jaguar XF and want to know whether it comes with a timing belt or a chain, have a look at this page.

When Should I Replace BMW 5 Series Timing Belt?

On average, you should replace the BMW 5 series timing belt every 80,000 to 160,000 kilometers. The replacement interval may vary based on the vehicle model and engine type. Check the user manual or consult an expert in this case.

The timing belt needs to be changed after a certain period of time, as I discussed in the previous segment. Using a worn-out or bad-timing belt can lead to many problems.

What are the Consequences of a Bad Timing Belt?

Here are some specific consequences of a bad timing belt:

Engine failure

During engine operation, a broken timing belt can cause the pistons to collide with the valves, resulting in serious engine damage. This repair can be costly and may require a complete engine rebuild.

Loss of power

A worn or damaged timing belt can also cause reduced power or decreased performance. You’ll occasionally face sudden power loss, misfiring, rough idling, unable to start the engine, and engine stalling issues.

Reduced Fuel Economy

When a timing belt is worn, misaligned or stretched, the engine may run less efficiently because improper combustion can occur. As a result, fuel economy decreases.

Difficulty Starting

Timing belts ensure an engine’s components are responsible for ensuring that the valves open and close at the right time. If your engine timing belt is bad or damaged, it will be difficult to start the engine due to improper timing. 

4 Consequences of a Bad Timing Belt Infographic

How to Change the Timing Belt of the BMW 5 Series?

Changing the timing belt on a BMW 5 Series can be a complex task, and it is important to follow the proper steps to ensure the job is done correctly. Following is a general outline of how to change a BMW 5 Series timing belt:

Step 1: Get the Required Tools and Parts

You will need a new timing belt, a timing belt tensioner, a timing belt tensioner spring, and various other tools such as a wrench, a socket set, and a torque wrench.

Step 2: Remove The Timing Belt Cover

The timing belt cover is located on the front of the engine and is held in place with bolts. Use the appropriate size wrench or socket to remove the bolts and lift the cover off the engine.

Step 3: Loosen The Timing Belt Tensioner

Timing belt tensioners are located on the front of engines that maintain the timing belt tension. Use a wrench to loosen the tensioner, but do not remove it altogether.

Step 4: Remove The Timing Belt

You can carefully remove the timing belt from the engine once the tensioner has been loosened. Remember to note the order in which the belt was installed. It’s because you will have to reinstall it in the same order in which it was initially installed.

Step 5: Install The New Timing Belt

Install the new timing belt in reverse by following the same steps. Be sure to tension the belt using the timing belt tensioner properly, and double-check your work before starting the engine. Here’s a quick guide on how to properly tension a timing belt with a timing belt tensioner:

Tools required : Wrench/Ratchet

  • Locate the timing belt tensioner. This is usually located on the front of the engine, near the timing belt itself.
  • Rotate the tensioner clockwise using a tensioner wrench or a ratchet. This will loosen the tension on the timing belt.
  • Slip the timing belt onto the pulleys and around the tensioner. Make sure that the timing belt is properly aligned on all of the pulleys.
  • Once the timing belt is in place, release the tensioner by rotating it counterclockwise. This will apply tension to the timing belt.
  • Check the tension of the timing belt by pressing down on it with your finger. It should have a moderate amount of tension, but should not be too tight or too loose. Rotate the tensioners accordingly like before to adjust the correct tension.
  • After the tension is correct, double-check the alignment of the timing belt on all of the pulleys. Make any necessary adjustments, and then tighten all of the bolts that hold the tensioner in place.
  • Start the engine and listen for any unusual noises. If the timing belt is properly tensioned, the engine should run smoothly.

By following these steps correctly, you can successfully change the timing belt on your BMW 5 series vehicle. If you are not comfortable with this type of work, it is recommended that you seek the assistance of a professional mechanic.

If you’d like to know whether a BMW 328i is equipped with a timing belt or a chain, visit here.

[Note: These steps are a general guideline for changing timing belts. The process may vary based on your car model. In some models. additional steps or changes may be required, so follow the manual’s instructions.] 

Here you’ll find the digital owner’s manual for your specific BMW 5 series model.


Can I Change The Timing Belt On My BMW 5 Series Myself?

You can change the timing belt on your BMW 5 Series yourself, but hiring a professional is generally recommended. The timing belt is a critical component of the engine and replacing it requires specialized tools and knowledge. As a result, it can lead to serious engine damage if the timing belt is not properly installed.

Is It Normal For The Timing Belt to Make Noise?

It is not normal for the timing belt to make noise in a vehicle. If you hear noise coming from the timing belt, it could be a sign of a problem and should be checked by a mechanic as soon as possible. Noise from the timing belt could indicate that the belt is stretched or damaged and needs to be replaced.

Can a BMW 5 Series Timing Belt Be Tightened?

Yes, the timing belt can be tightened to acquire proper tension between the belt and the pulleys. However, Tightening the timing belt beyond the ideal amount can cause further damage and require more extensive repairs. Make sure the tension adjustment matches the manufacturer’s recommended value.


So that’s all I had to say about the BMW 5 series timing belt change interval. I hope all your questions have been answered. 

Always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance guide no matter what brand you drive. All vehicles are subject to that general rule. Goodbye for now, until next time.

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Aaron Byrne

Hi, Aaron Byrne here. I'm an expert automotive mechanic with 10 years of experience. I work on engine parts especially timing belts for their repair, maintenance, and replacement.

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Talha Atta

Talha Atta, a Mechanical Engineer and experienced technical content writer and editor at with a passion for the automotive industry.