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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I was on my way to work yesterday (I live about 20 miles away) and about a mile away I was sitting at a red light and started smelling something burning. I knew it had to be my car because I was first at the light. I got to work and popped the hood to find the entire front passenger side of the engine bay covered in engine oil. I got the car trailered home and I am just tearing into it today.

A little bit of background: 2004 330xi 6 spd. (M54b30). Engine was rebuilt just under 3000 miles ago by myself. Every single gasket, o ring, bearing, and ring was replaced. M50 manifold converted and SAP deleted. Vanos was rebuilt as well.

Here's what I'm thinking. The only way for oil to have gotten everywhere was for it to be on the feed side of oil pressure. The only thing I can think of on the font passenger side of the engine is the exhaust vanos solenoid. I haven't heard of these going out in glorious fashion but I'm willing to give it a shot. Also, when I first inspected the engine I wanted to make sure it still had oil. The dipstick still read on the higher side of the accepted range. Engine still runs perfectly when I started it up to move into the driveway, not missing or out of time. The engine did not leak a single drop of oil before this happened. Everything I am thinking kind of leads to the solenoid, since the cam sensor in the area and the timing chain tensioner don't spray oil when they leak.
Anyone have any ideas? I am somewhat baffled by this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Your right. I wanted to clean up the area a little bit though because I figured that would be easier to figure out where it’s coming from.
 

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2002 BMW 540Ti, 2004 BMW 330i ZHP, 2001 325Ci
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I installed new VC gasket an it was so so easy to crack the plastic cover while carefully torquing down, was your rebuild including new valve cover. maybe take off the beauty plastic look under there
 

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Just make sure you add oil before attempting your fact-finding mission. Would hate to see you run it dry after all that work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I checked underneath the beauty cover and it’s bone dry. I have no clue what else it could be. I do have a catch can with a pcv valve that I am going to check to see if it stuck. But still when I just started it and I opened the oil fill cap it sucked the cap back down so it still has crankcase pressure. So I’m not really thinking it could be that.
 

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Everything I am thinking kind of leads to the solenoid, since the cam sensor in the area and the timing chain tensioner don't spray oil when they leak.
If it sprayed that much oil then you should see it repeating again with engine running, even with the already dirty oily engine. I don't think a crack VC can do this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I wasn’t when I started it after I cleaned the area up. I think that it may only spray if it is the vanos when it gets into the vanos range so I guess 2500 rpm and up. I will try that later today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
the only thing I have come up with was that since it had to have been under pressure to make that much of a mess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Okay I started it up again and let it go somewhat up to temp and as it was idling, it sort of dipped and sputtered a little bit and then caught itself again, a couple times. From what I have read, this is a symptom of a faulty exhaust vanos solenoid. I am going to get a new one but I see that Bavarian autosport makes a vanos solenoid for around $105 and I would like to know if anyone has had any luck with that or should I just go OE which is around $200?
 

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From what I have read, this is a symptom of a faulty exhaust vanos solenoid.
faulty solenoid and leaking are two different problems. If the leak cannot be verified at the solenoid then I would continue investigate instead of dive in and replace part. If the vanos not working then there should be codes popped up.
 

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Okay I started it up again and let it go somewhat up to temp and as it was idling, it sort of dipped and sputtered a little bit and then caught itself again, a couple times. From what I have read, this is a symptom of a faulty exhaust vanos solenoid. I am going to get a new one but I see that Bavarian autosport makes a vanos solenoid for around $105 and I would like to know if anyone has had any luck with that or should I just go OE which is around $200?
It does seem the EX Vanos solenoid is more prone to failing and leaking, possibly due to being near the hot exhaust.

It might pay to check your electrical connections both at the solenoid and DME, as it will actually pump oil up through the wires in some cases, all the way to the connection on the DME. I had this happen and just left the wires disconnected a couple of days with the plugs wrapped in a rag while I waited for the new solenoid to come. After I fitted the replacement part I sprayed the connectors out with contact cleaner and it was all good.

I used an original solenoid because I heard there was no reliable replacement available at the time.
 
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