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Well, I thought I was dealing with a Power Steering leak. Researching the forum, many have stated that a leaking oil filter housing can be confused for a power steering leak... glad I bought the housing gasket for $6!

There are other DIYs out there, I've tried including more pictures and tips for this one.

Replacing the Oil Filter Housing gasket took me about 4 hours. I also chose to replace the Power steering resevoir and low pressure hoses at the same time since it was already out of the way. Not a very difficult process at all. Figuring out the alternator and what to do w/ the PS pump took me the most time.

1a. jack the car up. It'll help
1b. disconnect positive batter lead
1c. remove air filter housing and MAF.
2. remove fan and fan shroud. (you don't have to do this step, but it makes finding the lower alternator bolt easy)
3. unbolt Power steering resevoir and lay over by the strut tower
4. remove the alternator. This step was a pain. Bentleys says to remove plastic cover and then remove main battery lead. On my car, the main battery lead nut IS made out of plastic. I think it was 17mm and was torqued on pretty tight. Don't forget to remove the electrical plug as well.
-The top bolt is hidden by the idler pulley cover. Just pry off cover w/ screw driver and remove 16mm bolt. The bottom bolt is just below the tensioner pully. 16mm as well. With both bolts removed, the alternator didn't want to come out. I had to wiggle it and pry for a good 10 minutes to work it loose. The alternator bottom bracket 'pinches' the oil filter housing.
5. remove the Power Steering pump from the oil filter housing. There are 3 13mm bolts. The top 2 are easy. You have to get beneath the car to get to the bottom one. It mounts an angle bracket from the PS pump to the oil filter housing.
6. remove the oil filter housing. I read one DIY where they left the PS pump attached and just pried the pump from the engine block. I tried this at 1st and couldn't even begin to get the gasket off.
-there are 6 13mm bolts. easy to get at. The VANOS oil banjo fitting on the back of the oil housing was 17mm I think. Not too hard to get to. remove 2 electrical connectors from the housing (you might want to label these, I was guessing when I put them back on).
-a soft wrap w/ a rubber mallet seperated the oil filter housing from the engine block
7. remove housing gasket. This was pretty tough. I used an ExactO knife to pry part of the gasket out to start it. The gasket was very hard and getting brittle. You'll see from the pic that I broke it in a couple places, but SLOWLY pulled all of it out in one piece.
8. Install everything in reverse. Torque for the filter housing bolts is something of a mystery. I went w/ one source and torqued mine to 22Nm.
-New banjo nut and aluminum washers are a good idea

-If you have a leak in the Power Steering system, NOW is the time to do something about it.

Pictures to follow....
Brian
 

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Discussion Starter #2
1st picture: fan, shroud, air filter housing/MAF removed
2nd: Nylon alternator nut on back for main battery lead
3rd: alternator removed
4th: alternator w/ air intake still attached. It all comes out in one piece pretty easily.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
1st Picture: view of Oil Filter Housing. Alternator is removed. You can see the Power Steering pump attached at the bottom.
2nd: Oil banjo nut for VANOS at the back top of the oil housing
3rd: Housing bolts in the same pattern as they were removed. They're different lengths, so remember where they go!
4th: The dreaded gasket. Don't scratch the almuminum surface getting it out
5th: What the housing looked like just seperated from the block w/ the PS pump still attached. Not much room to get the gasket.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
1st Pic: The gasket was a pain to get out. There was residue on the engine block as well. I scraped that off w/ a fingernail.
2nd: What a mess
3rd: Any doubt the housing was leaking??

The Power Steering resevoir may have been leaking from an old seal on the cap, but the Oil Housing was the prime culprit in my case.
 

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I did this last year.

It was definitely hard getting the alternator out. Even trying to get it back in with the bolt. Not much room to play with.

I have to agree, my 2001 with 160k KM, that gasket has hard as a rock.
The gasket cost $10 but it took me about 6 hours to get there.
 

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Great post, thanks. I just had my engine underbody cleaned yesterday so I can trace an oil leak.

Thought at first it was the power steering but the leak started high. After the thorough cleaning it was much easier to trace the leak and found it near the rear of the oil filter housing. I wasn't sure at first until I saw this post and finding out others had the same problem. Misery loves company.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Luckily, it's one of the easier and cheaper fixes for a common problem. I'm taking the car to a car wash today to try and clean up the engine bay. I love a clean engine! :bow:
 

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Just got the gasket (11-42-1-719-855) today and a couple of crush washers (32-41-1-093-596) for the VANOS oil line. Looks like I'm going to have a greasy Saturday morning. Been actually putting off flushing the power steering fluid so I guess I have no reason to delay it anymore. Might as well.

Thanks again beberle for the thorough process.
 

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Once the engine and splash guard gets messy with oil, usually it's quite difficult to pinpoint the source of an oil leak since it tends to creep everywhere.

So a tip below for figuring out if the oil filter housing gasket is the source of your oil leak.

Take out the air filter box (5 min), and point a strong flashlight into the area of the block circled below -- the waffled part of the block with 2 unused bolt holes. If it's wet with oil, then for sure the gasket is leaking. It's virtually impossible for a power steering leak to get there.


Photo reused from beberle.
 

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Quick question, is it possible to change this out, without removing the fan (auto) and the radiator hose?
 

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It's virtually impossible for a power steering leak to get there.

[SIZE="1"][I]Photo reused from beberle.[/I][/SIZE][/QUOTE]

Great tip! I was told by the dealer my oil pan gasket was leaking .. but after doing the CCV (suspecting that as the leak) .. I was able to see it could DEFINITELY not be my oil pan gasket, as the oil was pooling above the oil pan gasket, where you indicate in the photo. It was either my intake manifold or valve cover (both of which were not leaking when the CCV Was out and I had a clear view) .. so that leaves this oil filter housing gasket!

Great tip sir. I'm ecstatic is only $7 and 4 hours of my time to fix :)
 

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Hi everyone,

I'm getting set up to do this DIY and have one question. Somewhere on here or on another DIY like this they mention "crush washers" for the VANOS. I've called BMW and for my car (2000 323i 4 dr) they don't show any washers for the VANOS. They say there's a rubber gasket, but that's it. What am I missing? I don't want to start this and have to stop just for this item. Can anyone help me with an explanation about the VANOS and the "crush washer"?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Tom
 

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yes. #10 is the part on my car: (see part #s here. Do a search for your own car to make sure its the same.. it should be)


When you told them vanos, they are probably thinking the rubber gasket mating the actual vanos unit to the valve cover or head. That is rubber and its a gasket.

The one referred to in this DIY is for the banjo connection on the oil hose that comes off the oil filter housing (and goes up to the vanos unit).
 

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p.s. dont bother asking them for part numbers. always use RealOEM and show up at the dealership with a list of parts numbers to put on order. in my experience that always nets me the exact part I need, and I know it will fit my car
 

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For those scared of the alternator, it isn't hard at all, I'm not sure why others are complaining. Once the belt is removed, it's two bolts, remove the positive battery cable and disconnect the vent hose, and it can be wiggled out.
 
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