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2003 e46 325i Touring, 1986 e30 320i 2-door
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I was just curious if anyone can relate to burnt oil smell from engine bay. I am experiencing this in my 2003 325i m54. There are no visible oil leaks on the engine. Smell is quite significant and sometimes goes into cabin. It probably has something to do with oil consumption which is present on my m54.

Is this normal on your m54 cars? Thanks
 

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1999 bmw 328i
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110 Posts
Hello, I was just curious if anyone can relate to burnt oil smell from engine bay. I am experiencing this in my 2003 325i m54. There are no visible oil leaks on the engine. Smell is quite significant and sometimes goes into cabin. It probably has something to do with oil consumption which is present on my m54.

Is this normal on your m54 cars? Thanks
I havent been in the bmw game very long and I have a m52tu engine but through my many forums and reading alot the m54 comes with the burning oil and smell but I still could be wrong but ive read it on many different forums and guids and youtube videos

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2002 330Ci convertible, MT, 118,000 miles
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172 Posts
There are a lot of potential leaks that can cause this. Look first at the valve cover, oil filter gasket, and the sensor and VANOS seals.
 

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2004 325i automagic
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2,523 Posts
If no obvious leaks are present, remove the cabin air filter housing and check toward the rear of the valve cover. Also look on the exhaust manifold heat shields for signs of oil.
 

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E46 '04 330Ci convertible 745K km
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758 Posts
Any smell of burining oil indicates leaking oil reaches exhaust manifold, cats of exhaust pipes. pretty common leak is sweating valve cover gasket. some major leaks like oil pan or oil filter housing gasket contaminates engine but doesn't reach exhaust therefore doesnt burn. Valve gasket replace is less than 1 hour job.
 

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1999 bmw 328i
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Any smell of burining oil indicates leaking oil reaches exhaust manifold, cats of exhaust pipes. pretty common leak is sweating valve cover gasket. some major leaks like oil pan or oil filter housing gasket contaminates engine but doesn't reach exhaust therefore doesnt burn. Valve gasket replace is less than 1 hour job.
True i did my valve cover gasket in about 35-40 minutes but my gasket wasnt baked to the valve cover like ive read they can do which can make the job take longer because you can accidentally break the valve cover trying to get it off but if thats the case I read soaking the old gasket with engine degeaser or dawn dish soap to loosen it up

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You are describing a valve cover gasket that's leaking onto the exhaust.

The engine is raised on the front and tilted to the right (exhaust side) and the oil gets pumped to the top and it flows by gravity back to the oil pan to start the journey again. The oil flows to the back of the engine to the #6 cylinder area. There are drain holes at each cylinder, but any oil that misses the drain holes at the top (#1 cylinder) flows to the next and so on until the oil pools over #6 as it prepares to drain to the oil pan. If the valve cover gasket is a fail, oil will drip onto the exhaust manifold, typically at #4, #5, & #6, or down the back of the engine between the engine and the firewall. All of the stuff that the oil can drip onto is hot and the smell of burning oil is a common complaint. The oil can actually burn off and you do not observe wet oil but you might see the stains that result. Occasionally you can put a turn or two on the valve cover bolts if they have backed out, but replacing the gasket is the thing that smart money would do. When the gasket is replaced, there are 15 or 16 screws that hold the cover on. You must replace the rubber grommets on these screws else the dry rubber will give you leaks again. The valve cover gasket is a rectangular item then there are two gaskets that have the spark plug holes molded in, and the 15 or so grommets.
 

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2003 e46 325i Touring, 1986 e30 320i 2-door
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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks everyone for the tips, I will check it all.
 

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You are describing a valve cover gasket that's leaking onto the exhaust.

The engine is raised on the front and tilted to the right (exhaust side) and the oil gets pumped to the top and it flows by gravity back to the oil pan to start the journey again. The oil flows to the back of the engine to the #6 cylinder area. There are drain holes at each cylinder, but any oil that misses the drain holes at the top (#1 cylinder) flows to the next and so on until the oil pools over #6 as it prepares to drain to the oil pan. If the valve cover gasket is a fail, oil will drip onto the exhaust manifold, typically at #4, #5, & #6, or down the back of the engine between the engine and the firewall. All of the stuff that the oil can drip onto is hot and the smell of burning oil is a common complaint. The oil can actually burn off and you do not observe wet oil but you might see the stains that result. Occasionally you can put a turn or two on the valve cover bolts if they have backed out, but replacing the gasket is the thing that smart money would do. When the gasket is replaced, there are 15 or 16 screws that hold the cover on. You must replace the rubber grommets on these screws else the dry rubber will give you leaks again. The valve cover gasket is a rectangular item then there are two gaskets that have the spark plug holes molded in, and the 15 or so grommets.
Thanks for the explanation. I had the same problem a few years back. Replacing the valve cover gasket solved the problem.
 

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E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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True i did my valve cover gasket in about 35-40 minutes but my gasket wasnt baked to the valve cover like ive read they can do which can make the job take longer because you can accidentally break the valve cover trying to get it off but if thats the case I read soaking the old gasket with engine degeaser or dawn dish soap to loosen it up

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I'll mention it again.
By FAR the easiest way to remove a valve cover gasket is on a slightly warm engine. Pulls right off. No chips or breakage.
 

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2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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4,560 Posts
Hello, I was just curious if anyone can relate to a burnt oil smell from the engine bay. I am experiencing this in my 2003 325i m54. There are no visible oil leaks on the engine. The smell is quite significant and sometimes goes into the cabin. It probably has something to do with oil consumption which is present on my m54.

Is this normal on your m54 cars? Thanks
How many miles are on the car?
Have you replaced the valve cover gasket or old filter housing gasket (OFHG)?
How old is your CCV system (original?)?
 

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2004 325i automagic
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2,523 Posts
I'll mention it again.
By FAR the easiest way to remove a valve cover gasket is on a slightly warm engine. Pulls right off. No chips or breakage.
Also always pull the valve cover straight upwards to remove, do not push it sideways to loosen it because that risks chipping or cracking a piece off.
 

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2003 330cic, 2003 325iT
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Also always pull the valve cover straight upwards to remove, do not push it sideways to loosen it because that risks chipping or cracking a piece off.
This is why I went M56 cover!
 

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Mine also gulps some through the CCV system. Most noticeable at a stop from freeway speeds...

t
smoky
 
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2003 e46 325i Touring, 1986 e30 320i 2-door
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Discussion Starter #18
How many miles are on the car?
Have you replaced the valve cover gasket or old filter housing gasket (OFHG)?
How old is your CCV system (original?)?
Car has currently 164k miles. Valve cover gasket seems to be replaced before by previous owner, not sure when. Oil filter housing the same. CCV system is new, done at 163k miles.
 

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2003 e46 325i Touring, 1986 e30 320i 2-door
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Discussion Starter #19
Mine also gulps some through the CCV system. Most noticeable at a stop from freeway speeds...

t
smoky
Yes the same case here, after a stop from a longer distance at higher rpm, the oil smell is very noticable.
 
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