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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
this is my first time posting a thread on this forum even though I have been reading for years. I recently noticed an oil leak coming from the right side of the engine block, where the oil filter housing is located. I made sure it was oil and not power steering fluid. I read all the DIY's i could find for a housing gasket replacement and decided that i needed to replace the Oil Filter Housing gasket. I have done this job 3 times because oil kept on leaking from the same area. I would also clean the engine block thoroughly to make it easy to identify future leaks. I thought maybe i somehow screwed up the job. However the third time i replaced the gasket i made 100% sure the gasket is in its correct place and i tightened all 6 bolts really tight, maybe too tight?idk . The last time i replaced the gasket (2 weeks ago) I checked for leaks on daily basis for about a week. It never leaked so i stopped checking and was very happy. Then yesterday i checked for leaks and it was STILL leaking (this was after i drove kinda hard reaching higher rpms) . I checked the freeze plugs, those are good......no power steering leaks. What am i doing wrong? Is it possible the housing is warped?
She has 118xxx and is 2001 model.
Thanks for all ur help
 

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Did you check the Valve Cover Gasket (VCG)? That usually leaks on or towards the right side/passenger side of the engine bay.

The Oil Filter Housing Gasket (OFHG) leaks towards the center front (or center center) of the engine bay. In my car that is where it leaks and splashes around onto everything at the bottom of the engine bay.

Power Steering Fluid on the other hand leaks on the driver's side of the engine bay.


This system of leak location and diagnosis ONLY works assuming you have removed the splash shield and left the car parked over night or for a couple of days to see where the spots are accumulating.

If the splash shield is still on the car then everything leaks onto the shield where it mixes together and drain thru the shield holes at the rear center (or rear left/right sides) of the engine bay.

Also power steering fluid leaks RED BROWN and has a strong odor to it!

Oil leaking from the Oil FIlter Housing Gasket (OFHG) is always BLACK BROWN, dirty and odorless.
 

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The housing could be cracked...

The VANOS oil line has fittings that leak if you twist them. The leak from the oil line looks like the housing gasket. If you pulled the housing clear of the block without disconnecting the oil line, then you probably broke the fittings, and the line is a leaker now.

When you replace the line, also replace the 4 washers for the banjo bolts (two washers at each end of the oil line).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thanks. I meant right side, if you were facing the car. In other words the drivers side. The leak appears on the engine block where it looks like a waffle. All i do is remove the air filter box and i can clearly see the leak coming from there, as seen in the attached photo
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This fitting leaks if you did not use new washers, OR twisted it ...

Sorry, I screwed up the picture, it does not open very well.
I'm hoping that this is the problem and not the actual housing. However when i would replace the gasket, i would remove the oil line that the other end, near the VANOS. Thanks for all ur help. I will check to see if the oil line is leaking after work today and let you all know.
 

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...and then there's also the chance that it's as simple as the way you installed your o-ring on the oil filter cap. It often is incorrectly placed on the bottom of the flange and not in the groove about 1/4" down. Sometimes there are two o-rings installed.

I'd frankly check that first before doing anything. A lot of oil can leak from there and often it's behind the cap where you can't otherwise see it dripping.

Only other thing I'm thinking, but think you would have noticed is that there are different length bolts on that housing; most diys mention that so I assume you put bolts back in the same holes...you'd notice them sticking out if you mixed them up.

Also, have to add to JD's guess about the crush washers on vanos line...it could also be the line itself. The crimp can leak itself too. Check above or below the crimps.

Use inspection mirror, xl50, and clean things up again...maybe higher up this time, and really nail this particular sucker once and for all!

HTH
 

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I bet it wasn't leaking before you replaced it 3 times. It's been tampered so much, a new engine would be in order. But dmax has learnt something new: this is what happened when incorrect torque is used.
 

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You could use hight temp rtv silicone around the gasket, this might allow for the slightly uneven mating surfaces thats causing the leak. I used this copper stuff on my pops range rover oil pan and it holds up nicely, no leaks, and those brit cars usually leak like hell. Another option is to make your own cork gasket, it would seal up better in your case.

If you hold up a flat metal bar stock beside the surfaces you can check for warpage.

when you tightened the OFH nuts/bolts did you get them all sorta finger tight before you torqued them down evenly in stages? or did you just start with the first one, torque down hard then fit the next one, and so on. If you did, then thats probably the problem right there...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
...and then there's also the chance that it's as simple as the way you installed your o-ring on the oil filter cap. It often is incorrectly placed on the bottom of the flange and not in the groove about 1/4" down. Sometimes there are two o-rings installed.

I'd frankly check that first before doing anything. A lot of oil can leak from there and often it's behind the cap where you can't otherwise see it dripping.

Only other thing I'm thinking, but think you would have noticed is that there are different length bolts on that housing; most diys mention that so I assume you put bolts back in the same holes...you'd notice them sticking out if you mixed them up.

Also, have to add to JD's guess about the crush washers on vanos line...it could also be the line itself. The crimp can leak itself too. Check above or below the crimps.

Use inspection mirror, xl50, and clean things up again...maybe higher up this time, and really nail this particular sucker once and for all!

HTH
Will do, hopefully that solves the problem. It gets really frustrating!


I bet it wasn't leaking before you replaced it 3 times. It's been tampered so much, a new engine would be in order. But dmax has learnt something new: this is what happened when incorrect torque is used.
It was leaking pretty badly before the 3x replacement, lol. Do you think i screwed it up that badly that i may actually need a new engine? hope ur joking man :(

You could use hight temp rtv silicone around the gasket, this might allow for the slightly uneven mating surfaces thats causing the leak. I used this copper stuff on my pops range rover oil pan and it holds up nicely, no leaks, and those brit cars usually leak like hell. Another option is to make your own cork gasket, it would seal up better in your case.

If you hold up a flat metal bar stock beside the surfaces you can check for warpage.

when you tightened the OFH nuts/bolts did you get them all sorta finger tight before you torqued them down evenly in stages? or did you just start with the first one, torque down hard then fit the next one, and so on. If you did, then thats probably the problem right there...
I would use rtv silicone as my last resort...but i'd hate to do that. I did finger tighten all the bolts at first, then i tightened them evenly in stages.....
 

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did you thoroughly clean the oil gasket out? mine was hardened and bits of pieces stuck on the surfaces so hard I had to use razor and needle nose pillars to clean it off.
 

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The things that come to my mind are:

- I've heard a few BMW techs say that they will normally replace the OFH itself when they replace the gasket, because history shows that when the gasket leaks and they fix it, the customer will often come back in saying it's leaking again...this happens until they replace the housing as well...just what I've heard, no experience on my part.

- Sock Mod. Would explain fluid in that area if it is PS fluid and not oil. See video below for an easy tip to try to see what happens.

http://youtu.be/_1pzRJMwRx0
 

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sock mod is not necessary.
PS reservoir cap has an oring on it and over time it gets old and starts leaking.
I replaced mine, no more wet reservoir.
 

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I just did this and my car is still leaking like a siv. Upon further inspection before the car was driven heavily I saw that my vanos oil line had a leak so bad that it was dripping oil. I cleaned the line while the ofh was off the car and was going to replace this line next spring when I rebuilt my vanos and did a vcg. I wouldn't be suprised if this was the cause of the oil leak all along. But none the less I'm glad I did the the ofhg and other parts while I was in their.

Also, are you using an oem BMW gasket? or a cheapie mtc or no name gasket to save $0.50?

Here would be my suggestion for doing this, but I am also over cautious for fear of having to redo it.

1.Before you take the ofh off crack open and remove the filter to relieve pressure and let an oil drian out of the housing while your taking apart the rest of the car. (I'm not sure if this actually does drain the majority of the oil out, but it can't hurt.)

2.try to get all of the oil out of the housing once its removed and make sure both mating surfaces are absolutely dry get as much oil out of that housing before reinstalling.

3.Once the mating surfaces are dry and you are ready to reassemble, I suggest gettign some copper rtv and squeeing a small bead in the tracks where the gasket gets placed. I then put another small bead of rtv on the gasket itself and smooth over with a finger. I tried to make sure their wasn't excesive rtv that could squish inward near the moving parts of the ofh.

4.Now finger tighten all the bolts and use some sort of crossing pattern for the top four bolts then do the bottom two(middle left-top right-middle right-top left-bottom right-bottom left). Once finger tight USE A TORQUE WRENCE TO FINISH TIGHTENING THEM DOWN in the same criss cross patern. I used 17ftlbs but I beleive everyone talks about 22nm. 17ftlbs is 23nm.

5. Now before intalling the filter or starting your car and letting any oil come in contact with your fresh gasket and rtv, let it dry and set for at least 24 hours. If its below 60 degrees then I would recomend 36-48 hours. It upper 40's lower 50's and I gave mine two days.

6. After everything is dry then reassemble the rest of the car and check for any oil leaks in the area before driving. check oil level add as needed and keep looking for leaks.

this is how I installed mine. It may have been a little over kill with the rtv and waiting 2 days before oil touched the seal, but thats just how I roll.


here is a great thread for info on ofhg diy.
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=657887

here is a great thread for common leaks on our cars.
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=882732&highlight=oil+leaks
 

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2.try to get all of the oil out of the housing once its removed and make sure both mating surfaces are absolutely dry get as much oil out of that housing before reinstalling.

3.Once the mating surfaces are dry and you are ready to reassemble, I suggest gettign some copper rtv and squeeing a small bead in the tracks where the gasket gets placed. I then put another small bead of rtv on the gasket itself and smooth over with a finger. I tried to make sure their wasn't excesive rtv that could squish inward near the moving parts of the ofh.
2 is not necessary since its sealed by rubber seals not two surfaces. just make sure the old seal completely came out.

3 I found the seal stay in the grove very tight if installed properly. I even lubed the seal before push it in the grove. there is no way it would fall out during installation.
 

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I would also check the oil line on that side. I once replace the valve cover gaskef 3 times with no luck. The reason was because the valve cover itself was cracked. Inspect the OFH very closely, or just get a new one. The leaking during high rpm also leads me to believe this.
 

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There are a couple of people in here who really should be banned forever... this board has become a joke because of their bs.

I had a leak when I did mine this spring. A couple of thoughts.

First, make sure the track where the o-ring seats is COMPLETELY clean. It takes almost nothing (old gasket) to cause a leak.

Second, use a liberal amount of RTV. I did. Probably shouldn't have, but I was tired of talking it apart.

Lastly, recognize that it probably takes a few days for all of the oil that HAD leaked to drip off all of the places it can hide in the block. You may have actually fixed it, but it will continue to drip the old oil for a couple of days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey all. I checked the vanos oil line, the o- ring, and the are both dry! The gasket I used is from the stealer, so I'm sure the gasket is good.

rkreimer10-- I will follow ur instructions and put small beads of rtv on the gasket and on the tracks where it gets placed. This will be my last attempt of fixing this leak before I buy a new housing.

Thanks for all your help guys
 

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take it to the dealer.. so someone can diagnose the vehicle properly... obvioulsy your not diagnosing it right. After skimming the posts, what else can leak oil in the same area? Crank case vent valve... inspect it for leaks. Ive never ever heard of a BMW TECH replace a oil filter housing and gasket to reapair an oil leak...ever untill i read someones post here... recommendaion would be dont take your car to that dealership.
 

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take it to the dealer.. so someone can diagnose the vehicle properly... obvioulsy your not diagnosing it right. After skimming the posts, what else can leak oil in the same area? Crank case vent valve... inspect it for leaks. Ive never ever heard of a BMW TECH replace a oil filter housing and gasket to reapair an oil leak...ever untill i read someones post here... recommendaion would be dont take your car to that dealership.
youve never worked on your car have you?
probably never took your airbox off either.
 
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