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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2004 m3. I’m in the army. I’m ets’ing soon and the army will ship my car back home (4300 miles away). There’s just one problem. The vehicle processing center the military uses is extremely strict about the cars condition before being shipped. Like they literally require it to be in showroom condition or they’ll reject it. I do not want to pay over $4k out of pocket to ship it back home. My car has an oil pan gasket leak. They do not ship cars with leaks. Is there any way to temporarily mask this leak during the inspection so I can get my car shipped for free? I was thinking of putting it on the lift and degreasing it really good a couple hours before I took it for inspection. If anyone has any ideas I’d be all ears.
 

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I don't know if the oil pan on an M3 is easily removed..On other E46's and other BMW's you need to lower the subframe..

If it is easy, replace the oil pan gasket...If not degrease it.
 

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OP is saying the US Army will ship it home for free if it doesn't leak.

And for you folks, like myself, who are unfamiliar with military acronyms, ETS stands for Expired - Term of Service..
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just fix the leak properly.
Not that simple. I live in a very remote area and I don’t trust a single shop here to work on my car. Not only that but there’s only one shop here that works on bmws and they’re booked out with appointments several months. I am getting it fixed but I’m waiting until I’m back home so I can have the rod bearings replaced while I’m at it at the same time with a shop I know is gonna repair my car properly.
 

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I would degrease the area first and go for a drive and check it afterwards. Hopefully the leak isn't too bad and the car will pass the vehicle processing center inspection. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Is it a dripping leak or just a weep? If latter might be able to degrease it.
Seems to leak around the entire gasket however I barely lose any oil. Never have to too the car off and I just pulled it out of storage after it being there for about 8 months and there was only about a tablespoon worth of oil under it. I’m talking right now with the nearest bmw dealer that’s 400 miles away to get a quote on replacing my rod bearings and replacing the gasket since I have to drive down there soon to get a recall fixed anyways. If it’s not a completely unreasonable quote I’m gonna go ahead and do it since I plan on doing that soon anyways with the cars current mileage.
 

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Good call on the O ring and that it "looks like it's leaking the entire perimeter" may indicate this or a dipstick O ring, etc. I'd hose it down with brake cleaner, wipe it clean, then take it for a drive and look when you get home. To help in your favor, of the crank case is pressurized, you might drive it there with the oil cap loose to avoid that internal leak-encouraging pressure. Then tighten it when you arrive to maintain a vacuum as it cools. Or even intentionally rig up something that pulls a crankcase vacuum just to drive there for the inspection - that would not be rocket science.
 

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while your there you can check CCV tubes and dip stick clogging and o-ring at bottom of dip stick. all cheap easy fixes
If no lean codes CCV is working an a nominal vac at oil filler tested by a price of suran rape, those check might get you through
 

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I have a 2004 m3. I’m in the army. I’m ets’ing soon and the army will ship my car back home (4300 miles away). There’s just one problem. The vehicle processing center the military uses is extremely strict about the cars condition before being shipped. Like they literally require it to be in showroom condition or they’ll reject it. I do not want to pay over $4k out of pocket to ship it back home. My car has an oil pan gasket leak. They do not ship cars with leaks. Is there any way to temporarily mask this leak during the inspection so I can get my car shipped for free? I was thinking of putting it on the lift and degreasing it really good a couple hours before I took it for inspection. If anyone has any ideas I’d be all ears.
Where are you shipping to/from? Germany to SC? Japan to WA?

I'm kind of assuming it's not Germany (or even Europe) because there's a BMW mechanic behind every tree. You're right that the VPCs will not ship cars with leaks but you can do what was mentioned earlier and get the underside cleaned up real good then drive it to see where the leak is actually coming from.

If, as you said, it's not actually a leak and it is drips coagulating over time, I would clean it up real good again about a week before you have to ship it (don't drive it any more than you absolutely have to) and deal with it when you have time and money when you're back in CONUS.

If you do find a leak, you'll be able to know where it's actually coming from so you don't waste time and money fixing a problem that didn't exist only to still have the problem.


"A friend" had a similar issue when "they" left Germany a few years ago. Their vehicle had a very small leak (not even enough for the normal vehicle inspection place to flag it as an issue). Not a problem for driving but a problem for the ship. Cleaned it up and shipped it about two months early. Borrowed a friend's car to get around. Shipped it early so if they flagged it again, we'd still have time to dig into it and fix it.
 

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I have a 2004 m3. I’m in the army. I’m ets’ing soon and the army will ship my car back home (4300 miles away). There’s just one problem. The vehicle processing center the military uses is extremely strict about the cars condition before being shipped. Like they literally require it to be in showroom condition or they’ll reject it. I do not want to pay over $4k out of pocket to ship it back home. My car has an oil pan gasket leak. They do not ship cars with leaks. Is there any way to temporarily mask this leak during the inspection so I can get my car shipped for free? I was thinking of putting it on the lift and degreasing it really good a couple hours before I took it for inspection. If anyone has any ideas I’d be all ears.
1. As others have said, clean/degrease the area just before you drop off the car. Maybe even toss in some absorbent spongy towels in the belly pan to absorb any drips.
2. This is NOT advice, just what came to mind - just before you drop off the car, drain the oil and fill with thicker oil (20W-50?). Then clean/degrease as above. Change the oil as soon as you can after the trip.

OFHG is a likely culprit of the actual leak
 

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Take it to the MWR automotive craft shop and degrease the bottom of the car. Clean the belly pan in the solvent tank and ship it. The inspectors won't know any better if its clean.

I dealt with shipping cars and wheels from Germany, the customs inspector made me clean off the light coating of brake dust on the inside of the wheels because of "environmental" reasons. I even asked if there was a difference between German brake dust and American brake dust.
 
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