Skip to content

How to Pre Bleed BMW Hydraulic Lifters Before Installation, Install Tappets

November 16, 2016

Most BMW DOHC (Double OverHead Camshaft) engines (except some ///M engines) use hydraulic valve lifters (or tappets) in order to eliminate the service requirement of periodic valve clearance adjustments. The hydraulic lifters fill with oil and are pressurized by the oil pump. A hydraulic piston in the lifter is then able to make full contact with the camshaft and the valve stem and, in effect, vary the “thickness” of the lifter. As the parts (valves, lifters and camshaft) heat up and the distance between the valve stem and the camshaft decreases, the hydraulic lifter is able to keep full contact yet not bind and prevent the valve from fully closing against its seat, as a mechanical lifter or rocker arm would do if there were no clearance adjustment.

It’s not uncommon for the hydraulic lifters to begin to fail as they age. Oil varnish build-up in the oil feed holes, worn/weak pre-load springs and worn lifter pistons can contribute to lifters that will not stay “pumped-up” with oil pressure. This causes valve tapping, just like a mechanical valve lifter or rocker arm that is out of adjustment. The cure is to replace the lifters.

Prior to installation, the lifters should be pre-bled in order to remove air from the lifter and fill it with oil. This makes the final bleeding of the lifters, after installation, much quicker.  Here are the basic steps to pre-bleeding the hydraulic lifters.  In this case, we are using a Mityvac vacuum pump to pre-bleed the lifters.  In this example we will be bleeding the flat tappet style lifters as used in the BMW M50, M52, M54, M56, S50 and S52 6-cylinder, M24 & M44 4-cylinder and the M60, M62 and S62 V8 engines.  Other style hydraulic lifters, such as those used in the later BMW Valvetronic engines, can be bled using this method as well.


* New replacement hydraulic lifters (ID vehicle and search “lifter”):

* Motor oil; type being used in the engine or any compatible type:

* Magnetic pick-up tool:

* Vinyl or Nitrile mechanics’ gloves:

* Dymon Scrubs-in-a-Bucket hand wipes:

* Mityvac vacuum pump kit

* Container to hold the bled lifters, fully submerged in oil

* Small washer to place in Mityvac cup

* Paper towel or clean rags


1) Fill the lifter holding container with enough fresh motor oil to fully submerge the quantity of lifters that will be bled prior to installation.  In the case shown, we will bleed 12 lifters at a time and install them in either the intake or exhaust lifter cages (cam carriers).

2) Place the washer in the bottom of the Mityvac vacuum cup.  This will keep the lifter from “sticking” to the bottom of the cup after the vacuum process, making it easier to remove the lower lifter with the magnet tool.

3) Place two or three lifters in the Mityvac vacuum cup and cover with fresh oil.

4) Connect the vacuum pump and apply as much vacuum as it will generate. You will see air bubbles being drawn from the lifters’ oil feed holes.

5) Release the vacuum and repeat, until there are no more bubbles being pulled from the lifters’ feed holes or until only a few small bubbles continue to show.  Note that the vacuum will actually cause the oil to aerate, generating air bubbles within the oil itself.

6) Remove the lifters, using a magnet pick-up tool, and place the lifters in an oil bath that fully covers the lifters.

7) Once the full set is pre-bled, they are ready to install.

318i, 318is, 318ic, 323i, 323is, 323ci, 325i, 325is, 325ic, 325ci, 328i, 328is, 328ic, 328ci, 330i, 330ci, M3, 525i, 525it, 528i, 530i, 540i, M5, 740i, 740il, 840i, 840ci, E30, E36, E46, E34, E39, E32, E38, E31, Z3, Z4, X5, X3

Bavarian Autosport

Tags → , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories → 1 Series Conv - E88, 1 Series Coupe - E82, 2 Series Conv - F23, 2 Series Coupe 14 on - F22, 3 Series 92-98 - E36, 3 Series 99-05 - E46, 3 Series Conv 07-13 - E93, 3 Series Coupe 06-13 - E92, 3 Series GT 14 on - F34, 3 Series M3 Sedan 15 on - F80, 3 Series Sedan 06-13 - E90, 3 Series Sedan 12 on - F30, 3 Series Wagon 06-13 - E91, 3 Series Wagon 14 on - F31, 4 Series Conv 14 on - F33, 4 Series Coupe 14 on - f32, 4 Series Gran Coupe 14 on - F36, 4 Series M4 Conv 15 on - F83, 4 Series M4 Coupe 15 on - F82, 5 Series 89-95 - E34, 5 Series 97-03 - E39, 5 Series GT 2010 on - F07, 5 Series Sedan 04-10 - E60, 5 Series Sedan 11 on - F10, 5 Series Wagon 04-10 - E61, 5 Series Wagon 11 on - F11, 6 Series Conv 04-10 - E64, 6 Series Conv 10 on - F12, 6 Series Coupe, 6 Series Coupe 03-10 - E63, 6 Series Coupe 11 on - F13, 6 Series Gran Coupe 13 on - F06, 7 Series 02-09 - E65, 7 Series 06 on - G11, 7 Series 10-15 - F01, 7 Series 88-94 - E32, 7 Series 95-01 - E38, 7 Series Hybrid 11-15 - F04, 7 Series Li 02-08 - E66, 7 Series Li 09-15 - F02, 8 Series 89-99 - E31, i3 14-on - I01, i8 14 on - I12, Instructions, MINI Clubman 08 on - R55, MINI Cooper & S Clubman 08 on - R55, MINI Cooper & S Conv 05-07 - R52, MINI Cooper & S Conv 09 on - R57, MINI Cooper & S Coupe 12 on - R58, MINI Cooper & S Hardtop 14 on - F56, MINI Cooper & S Hatchback 07-13 - R56, MINI Cooper & S Paceman 13 on - R61, MINI Cooper & S Roadster 12 on - R59, MINI Cooper S 02-06 - R53, MINI Countryman & S 11 on - R60, Tech Tips, Uncategorized, X1 13-15 - E84, X1 16-on - F48, X3 04-10 - E83, X3 11 on - F25, X4 14 on - F26, X5 07-13 - E70, X5 14 on - F15, X5 99-06 - E53, X5M 15-on - F85, X6 07-13 - E71, X6 14 on - F16, X6 Hybrid 11 on - E72, X6M 15-on - F86, Z3 Coupe 98-03 - E36/8, Z3 Roadster 96-03 - E36/7, Z4 09 on - E89, Z4 Coupe 06-08 - E86, Z4 Roadster 02-08 - E85, Z8 - E52

Comments are closed.