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Discussion Starter #1
I am very new to the world of a BMW so bare with me. I just picked up a 2002 325xi with 118,000 miles. The car runs and drives good. The first issue I have is a service engine soon light coming on. When I test drove the car, the light was on. After I drove the car for a few minutes, the light went off. The dealer said it was from having new O2 sensors installed and it needs to have a drive cycle performed. Today, I went and had 4 new tires put on the car. After I get the car back, the SES light is back on. Would lifting the car cause the SES light to come on? Do trouble codes appear in a scanner when the SES light is on or the EML? Can autozone scan the codes?

Next issue:
I have put about 75 miles on the car since purchasing it. Last night, I didn't notice any oil dripping from the car. Today, I noticed oil dripping from somewhere on the passenger side of the car. The dealer said that the valve cover gasket had just been replaced. Could this be residual oil trapped in the cover? Are there any other components in that area that need gaskets/seals?
 

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I suggest you bring your car to the local Consumer Auto Parts, AutoZone, PepBoys, Advanced Auto Parts, etc. and have them plug their scan tool in (for free) and provide you the OBDII codes. Then, you can research the codes and better pinpoint the problem.

A common item on these cars with that type of mileage is the rubber intake boots that are conneceted to the Mass Air Flow sensor. These dry out and develop cracks over time and cause a lean condition (bad) that triggers the SES light. This not always easy to visually spot.

Often times, replaced VCG's can still leak due to various reasons, such as a warped valve cover, improper torque of cover, improper or lack of RTV sealant in the leak prone areas. Is the oil leak making its way to the ground, past the plastic under carriage trays?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the quick response.
I'll take the car to autozone and have it scanned. Didn't know if they could do it or if I had to take it to BMW.

Yes oil has made it through the carriage trays and onto the ground.
 

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Today, I noticed oil dripping from somewhere on the passenger side of the car.
Yes oil has made it through the carriage trays and onto the ground.
See if you can visually see oil leaking from the valve cover, especially the front part (VANOS area) or the rear (not very easy to see). If you don't see any visible leaks from the VCG, I would put the car up on ramps and remove the undercarriage trays to see if you can determine where the leak is coming from. A main seal, leaking/weaping front differential, axle seal or transmission could also be the culprit.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
can u elaborate on the vanos area? I do see somewhat of a residue of oil on the front of the valve cover but i don't know if it would be enough to cause the amount i see.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
yea thats the area that i see the oil. fresh oil is around that area but in a very small amount. is the valve cover a 2 piece unit? does the vanos have a separate gasket/seal?
 

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yea thats the area that i see the oil. fresh oil is around that area but in a very small amount. is the valve cover a 2 piece unit? does the vanos have a separate gasket/seal?
The VANOS is underneath the 1 piece valve cover. It is usually recommended to use a small amount of RTV sealant on the front right part between the gasket and valve cover:

(the picture below is from an older 3-series (E36) but the principle also applies to the E46’s)
http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/E36-valve-cover/pic9.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #9
looks like that could be the culprit. i'll pull the valve cover and do that little repair and see that helps it. thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
thanks for the input and the video. i won't be able to tackle the vcg today since it has been raining for the last 4 hours. i did however get the trouble code: p1445 Diagnostic Module Tank Leakage (DM-TL) Pump Control Circuit Signal Low. what steps do i need to do to fix this? i really appreciate the help with this.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
pulled the carriage trays off this morning and the oil seems to be coming from the front of the valve cover and pooling in the carriage trays and then find its way out at the joints. haven't pulled the valve cover yet. waiting on the a replacement valve cover just in case the current one is bad. the dealership said it had recently been changed but hey, its a used car salesman. some of them will tell you whatever you want to hear.
 

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Usually vcg leaks are minor, unless there was installation error.

Dont usually get pools of oil. This is all on the passenger side, correct?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yea I meant to say a valve cover gasket replacement, not a valve cover replacement. The oil is on the passenger side. Their is a decent leak somewhere on the passenger side and what I can determine it's the vcg.
 
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