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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I have been reading this forum for a while now, and I have to say that the collective knowledge available here is unmatched.

I bought a 2001 330i with sports package (mfd. 06/2000) in Apr 2007. Initially the car lost maybe a quart of oil every 3500 miles or so, so I wasnt too worried about it. But a few months ago, it got pretty bad, I started losing a quart every 1200 miles.

So I did a ton of research and found that either my Oil Filter Housing gasket was bad, or the CCV Valve was bad. So first I got the gasket replaced, and initially it seemed to fix the problem, didnt lose any oil for about 1000 miles, but then started losing oil again. So I decided to have the CCV valve looked at, and was told that it was indeed bad, so I had that replaced.

After that, the problem is still not resolved, and after talking to a tech at Curry's, I was told that because my CCV Valve was bad, it would have ruined the Oil Filter Housing Gasket again, even if I had it replaced. He said that since the CCV valve was not functioning correctly, my crank case had a pressure buildup, which probably led to the Oil Filter Housing Gasket failure in the first place.

All the work and diagnosis was done at two indy shops. For those who are in Northern VA, you must be familiar with Curry's and Fairfax Service Center. They are pretty good about the work and prices.

Since I still had the problem, I decided to take a look myself, and found a leak underneath.

I have posted the pics, it would be great if I could get your opinions about where this might be coming from. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Also, forgot to mention. I cleaned up the leak underneath the oil pan, and it came back 3 days after, so its not residue from an older leak.

Also, I pulled out my spark plugs and they were completely clean, no oil on them. So I dont think I am burning it up in my cylinders.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I saw it and that's what I feared. But then I looked up the DIY for replacing it and the possible amount of money that a shop would charge to replace it, so I just want to rule everything else out before pointing to the oil pan gasket. This weekend I plan on cleaning up the leak as much as possible and trying to trace where all the oild might be coming from.
 

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My guess would be a oil pan gasket leak. I doubt it would be the oil filter housing because of the location and where it seems to be seeping from.
 

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OP- I feel your pain as I am going to have to replace my pan and gasket sooner than later.. but I would say that you REALLY need to shop this around. My Indie's labor to change my pan and gasket (which is essentially the same job as just replacing the gasket) is only $220... so you don't have to let yourself get raped on this... just saying.
 

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OP, it's most definitely your oil pan gasket (about 1% chance it could be the rear main though, but once you get the pan off, you'll be able to tell without a doubt)...the leak is coming from the back of the oil pan. There are 4 bolts total, you can see one of the bolts at the bottom of your first pic near the exposed flywheel. The passenger side of the engine towards the back in your second picture is because of gravity and the leak will run towards that side.

The PO before me, had a VCG leak and replaced that but since they failed to replace the CCV the pressure blew the oil pan gasket. I also had a oil filter housing gasket leak but that's because of BMW's flaw in design of the rubber for that.

In any case, the oil pan was badly designed too...the space between those two bolts (center most) that you can immediately see on the bottom of the bell housing there, had the widest gap out of all twenty something bolts used in the pan.

It's a real PITA to replace this. Did you make sure you replaced all your CCV hoses? Also, make sure you clean that dipstick tube, since if it was never replaced the double walls in the tube on the bottom going into the pan can get clogged up.

I'l see if I can post some pictures tonight.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
When I had the CCV Valve replaced, I had it done at the indy shop here. I believe they replaced all the proper hoses.

From all the DIYs I have read about replacing the Oil Pan Gasket, its seems like I will need a lot of equipment. I would have to buy Jack Stand, Floor Jack, and an Engine Crane, etc. For something that I only have to do once, and especially since its very complicated fix I was contemplating taking it to an indy shop. But before all that, I want to be 200% sure that it is the Oil Pan Gasket.

I would take it to a shop, but all the shops around here are quite expensive. Their labor rate is $110/hr, and the dealer charges $125/hr.

If maybe a local forum member was willing to help me with this, I would perhaps attempt it myself.
 

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Very few E46's have oil pan leaks it looks like the leak is higher up. Did you have a crank sensor replaced ?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
No I didn't have a Crank Sensor replaced.

I did find some oil/sludge on the front bottom of the block. I think that is what remains from the older oil leak from the Oil Filter Housing Gasket, but I cleaned it up, so will check again over the weekend.

It also seems like the oil is traveling along the seam of the block/oil pan joint. So I guess you might be right about the leak being higher up.

I am not sure how relevant this is, but if I am on the highway, and get a little aggressive with the engine revs, it kinda smells a bit. I don't know if revving it more makes it leak more and then it burns off because it drips onto something hot, and that's what I smell.
 

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Does the first two pictures look familiar? This picture was taken after a couple months of having the oil already drained and it has been power washed too. Even after power washing the engine bay (under and all around but not up inside the bell housing--I don't think you want to do that), I still had oil seep out of where the pan meets the block on that passenger side as well as from the bell housing. I also still had oil come down those bolt holes at the bottom of the bell housing. In the first pic, you can see oil on that bolt at the very bottom center of the bell housing.

If you look at the three last pictures, you see the design of the bell housing. It can hold oil in those pockets and that was where the oil "reserves" came from even after I had drained the engine of the oil. There is also about an ounce or two that is still in the pan--I discovered that after removing the pan.

I was able to confirm 100% that it was not the rear main seal by sticking a Q-tip right below where the crank comes out of the rear main and observed that there was no wet oil--it was bone dry. It is really difficult to look since there is about a millimeter or so of gap between the block and the flywheel, so unless you really have a small camera--the type that they use in surgery, then forget trying to look.
 

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In the first picture (left), on the driver side, this is the second largest gap in between the bolts at ~75.80 mm. All the other gaps between the bolts is less than this. Now examine the gap in the rear of the oil pan (right). 79.52 mm of a retarded design. I guarantee that this was where my leak originated. :tsk:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
@genuity

I did a lot of research today, the lowest estimate I got for the gasket replacement was $425.

So did you end up replacing your gasket yourself? If so, did you use the strut tower engine brace to hold it up or did you support it from the bottom, near the tranny? Also, did you already own all the equipment, floor jack, jack stands, air tools, etc?

Thanks for all the help.
 

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@genuity

I did a lot of research today, the lowest estimate I got for the gasket replacement was $425.

So did you end up replacing your gasket yourself? If so, did you use the strut tower engine brace to hold it up or did you support it from the bottom, near the tranny? Also, did you already own all the equipment, floor jack, jack stands, air tools, etc?

Thanks for all the help.
I would say that is a good price considering all the equipment I had to buy, but mostly I would have said the only thing that really was a requirement for this was some type of engine support. I initially bought the engine support brace:

http://www.harborfreight.com/1000-lb-capacity-engine-support-bar-96524.html

However, earlier during black Friday I spotted a cherry picker for under $200, so I bought it. During this overhaul, I also upgraded to 3 ton jackstands and two 3.5 ton floor jacks. When it comes to safety, I take no chances and I would rather overkill then be killed.

During my research phase, spoke with a few and one did use the harbor freight engine support.

As you see in my pictures, I have taken much more off than one needs to simply because I was replacing other items. This really helped free up some space but I must say one thing that was not mentioned in both the Bentley and TIS was that you have to take off the sway bar too, otherwise the pan will not clear. I left my trans oil cooler on and from hindsight, I would have still left it on and tied it to the side, since it was getting in my way as I was drying to drop the pan. On top of that, the sway bar got in the way. Granted I removed the end links, but that was not good enough since the pan just sits on it as one tries to remove it. In one of my pics above this post, you'll see a partially dropped oil pan...this was the shot before I removed the sway bar to drop it completely.

I really did this entire job for the thrill and challenge since I never tackled mechanic work to this depth before. I also did it to familiarize myself with the mechanics and engineering of a BMW (first time owner, but long time dream). I don't think I'll ever want to do this twice though! We'll see if there are still any leaks by the time I fire her up. I still have yet to do that. I'm stuck on brakes now. Just got my order of rotors from tirerack, and upon inspecting the items, I got one that was chipped...somehow, I knew something like this would happen. I'll have to send it back and probably wait another week. :bawling:
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Damn man, sorry to hear about your brake situation. Lemme know how it turns out when you put everything together. The paint on your car looks gorgeous BTW.

I was just calculating, between the floor jacks, the jack stands, cherry picker, air tools and compressor etc, I need to spend almost $700 for tools alone if I want to attempt this myself.

I spoke with a non BMW mechanic yesterday, by accident (I went to the wrong auto shop, lol. There were three in the same plaza). He told me to try one of the stop leak products and see if it helps. I am really skeptical about adding additives. I did a lot of research on that as well. Seems like most people haven't had major issues with additives, but then again, not a lot of those people had BMWs. I tried to make a deal with him, he said he would replace my rear main seal and oil pan gasket and only charge me 6 hours of labor, at about $92/hr.

If I can get a similar deal at a more reputable place, I would get the Oil Pan Gasket, Rear Main Seal, Input Shaft Seal, Output Shaft Seal, and the driveshaft center mount with bearing if possible all for around $600 in labor + parts. That would be awesome.

I really wish if I could either borrow the tools or get help from a local forum member and do it myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Sorry I can't post updates. I was sick and didn't get a chance to clean up the oil pan. I did buy some oil dye, will clean and put in the dye and try and trace it myself.
 

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Hey guys, sorry for the late update.

It seems it was the oil pan gasket. Found a shop to do it for me. Didn't pay too much, they only charged $80/hr. The bottom of the engine looks dry.

Thanks for all the help.
 

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sorry to jack this thread, but i recently noticed oil in 5 of the 6 spark plug bays. Has anyone experienced this? Thanks in advance for any information passed along. Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Check the inner gaskets that run under the valvecover that isolate the spark plug holes from the valvetrain. Maybe those are leaky. Its hard to think of another thing that would cause oil to get there.
 
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