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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been struggling with trying to find an oil leak at my valve cover and took it off again today as prep for some other service. Saw some oil seep at the top and took a picture to put up but then noticed the real problem as I was turning it over:
926006

Problem should jump right out if you know this engine...

So my question is really about sourcing another valve cover. The cost of the FCP AM version really isn't that bad and I see others that are even less. Also not against just going to LKQ and pulling a used one.
 

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I pulled a used one from LKQ and it worked fine, no leaks and that was about 2 years ago.
 

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Easiest way to check if its warped and where the warp is, is to make sure its clean; then sit it on a flat surface, like a countertop. Lift up one edge, slide a dollar bill under and slowly pull if out from under the edge. If you feel resistance its, fine, if it slides out with not much, or no resistance its warped at that spot. Check all the way around
 

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the people’s mod
2004 330Ci 115k miles
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15,894 Posts
Many have used the Vaico from FCPEuro with no issues.
There is even a cheap Chinese made VC for around $100 that some have used.
All depends on if it fits well and doesn't crack.
 

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E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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It's in the other guys oil pan! :eek:
 

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M54 valve covers are rather well known for warping... Get a new one (BMW) that is guaranteed not warped.
 

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2001 325ci
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1,100 Posts
OP, are u using some white sealant for VC replacement?

your mechanic getting it for u, or just fine if u provide the "bmw one"?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
A. The white sealant came with the car.
B. That’s a good point about the missing piece. No idea where it might be but I suspect it was this way when I bought it.
C. Ended up ordering the AM version from FCP.
Thanks for the input.
 

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The cost of the FCP AM version really isn't that bad and I see others that are even less. Also not against just going to LKQ and pulling a used one.
I literally just went through this, concluding with an entirely new cover and gaskets from FCP two weeks ago. I was no longer in the mood to chase gremlins and basically did a "fuck it". And while I was in there, figured I'd change out the cabin blower because it sorta failed. I'll tell you, the valve cover was easy, just alternately torquing to 10 newton/meters. The blower, that was a pain - and let's not talk about the "hedgehog"...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So the new Vaico valve cover came in and I only had a few minutes to look it over but I plan on giving it a closer inspection this weekend. Initially, my impression is this thing either came off OE tooling (sometimes the OE mfr ceases production and sells the tool) or it is first class reverse engineering. The only detail I've found different is the roundel missing from the insert/ID plate. Even the mold nibs are in the same locations. I'll take some calipers to it this weekend to see if some of the non-essential locations are the same, like position of the ID plate, part lines, letter fonts, and non-functional geometries.
Impressed so far with what I see on this piece.
 

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Super Moderator
2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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I literally just went through this, concluding with an entirely new cover and gaskets from FCP two weeks ago. I was no longer in the mood to chase gremlins and basically did a "fuck it". And while I was in there, figured I'd change out the cabin blower because it sorta failed. I'll tell you, the valve cover was easy, just alternately torquing to 10 newton/meters. The blower, that was a pain - and let's not talk about the "hedgehog"...
We don't speak of the hedgehog. Too much pain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This job is finally done. Must have been a vacuum leak somewhere as the very slight flutter I had at idle is gone. Also gone is the occasional drip of oil down onto the exhaust manifold from the hole in the valve cover.
After looking at the Vaico valve cover in some detail, there are enough subtle differences to tell it's not the same tooling as the OE paint. First rate copy though.
 

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E46 F10 W204 W212
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I'm certainly very interested in this. More the story, really. Like how does a ~$100 copy of a plastic part from a car from 20 years ago justify retooling a plant? And from the accounts so far a quality copy at that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well, since it’s my job to reverse engineer car parts for the aftermarket, I can explain it in fairly simple terms. If a company is selling a particular OE part for a given price, they are making x% margin on it. If an aftermarket version can be tooled up, the usual calculation is a two year return on the investment. In this case, the mold tool was probably Chinese and around $50k for the stamp tooling, inserts, etc. All that really means is the retailer is expecting to make an additional $25k every year in existing sales for two years to pay off the tooling. It makes a lot of sense for a molded, glass fiber reinforced intake because the Chinese are very good at plastic injection molding. Beyond that, all you’re really down to is how high the quality standards are for the product produced. In this case, it’s pretty good.
 
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