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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am well aware that these cars are notorious for oil leaks around the valve cover. The valve cover gasket was replaced about 20k miles ago by the previous owner (as I was told). I have recently noticed some oil leakage on one of the top valve cover bolts near the engine lift hook (images attached). Are the bolts a place where oil can leak out from???
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I have also noticed the car was dripping oil on the ground. I took a look under and I found more oil on the bottom of the motor
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Could this be oil from the valve cover dripping down the engine or could this be oil leaking from a different place?? i’m worried now lol.
 

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2004 BMW E46-M3 S54 3.2L
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Well, the previous owner could of used a bad quality gasket or did a really poor job. (Or no job at all lol)
But if i were you id start by de-greasing the areas that you suspect a leak is coming from and wait for anything new to appear. also take that bolt out and look for cracks or damage on the valve cover.
 

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Are the bolts a place where oil can leak out from???
It might. There is a rubber grommet between the bolt and the VC hole to seal the oil (it is not a bolt but a capped nut as it is a female and not a male bolt). See, a capped nut to hold the VC down and so oil only can get out between the nut and the VC, and so the rubber grommet is needed.
Remove the cap nut and grommet, clean they in gasoline really good, and clean the VC hole wall too (the 3 sealing surfaces must be perfect cleaned), then lube the nut OD, both sides of the grommet, and the VC hole wall with grease, install back and snug the nut but do not over tighten. Guarantee no leak or money back.
The problem is that people didn't lube the cap nut OD and the grommet, so when screw the nut in, it scratch the grommet ID and leak.
 

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2005 330xi Auto, 2006 330ci Vert Auto
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I think you have more than 1 issues. Here's what I see:

1) As you pointed out, there's oil residue on the valve cover gasket bolt. It's possible the previous owner who replaced the valve cover gasket did not replace the gasket around the bolts.
2) You have a fairly significant oil leak as evident by the oil residue on your sway bar. Since there doesn't look like an oil trail from the valve cover gasket bolt down the front of the engine, I'm thinking the oil leak you have below is either from a ruptured CCV system or oil filter housing gasket leak. This oil residue is likely not from a leaking valve cover gasket as it's on the wrong side of the engine.
3) As pointed out previously, you have a cracked oil filler cap.
4) Looks like someone may have replaced your oil pan gasket previously. Whoever did it liberally smeared RTV (?) during the installation. I would keep on eye on this as this tells me the person who did the work was sloppy. OR perhaps your oil pan gasket was NOT replaced but the previous owner smeared RTV in an attempt to seal an oil leak. Do you know if the previous owner replaced the oil pan gasket?

I suggest you check for vacuum leaks using a smoke testing to see if the cracked oil filler cap is leaking vacuum and to ascertain the health of your CCV system. As noted previously, remove the valve cover gasket nut and if the gaskets are hard, then just replace them assuming the previous owner did not replace them. I would check around the oil filter housing to see if the oil filter housing gasket is leaking or not. I suggest you find out the health/status of your oil pan gasket.

Good luck.
 

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2005 330xi, Jet Black w Black Interior
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It might. There is a rubber grommet between the bolt and the VC hole to seal the oil (it is not a bolt but a capped nut as it is a female and not a male bolt). See, a capped nut to hold the VC down and so oil only can get out between the nut and the VC, and so the rubber grommet is needed.
Remove the cap nut and grommet, clean they in gasoline really good, and clean the VC hole wall too (the 3 sealing surfaces must be perfect cleaned), then lube the nut OD, both sides of the grommet, and the VC hole wall with grease, install back and snug the nut but do not over tighten. Guarantee no leak or money back.
The problem is that people didn't lube the cap nut OD and the grommet, so when screw the nut in, it scratch the grommet ID and leak.
Do you happen to have a part number for those rubber grommets? I have a slight leak showing on the top of the valve cover in the same area as the OP.

ETA: Never mind. I see they come with the VCG kit. How about this: Anyone know the ID/OD of those washers. I should be able to get them in most hardware store plumbing departments.
 

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2005 330xi Auto, 2006 330ci Vert Auto
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Do you happen to have a part number for those rubber grommets? I have a slight leak showing on the top of the valve cover in the same area as the OP.

ETA: Never mind. I see they come with the VCG kit. How about this: Anyone know the ID/OD of those washers. I should be able to get them in most hardware store plumbing departments.
Those washers are shaped and not flat so not easy to buy from common auto parts store. They are 39 cents each from FCP Euro........
 

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They are also a pretty specific size and hardness.
They're what clamps the valve cover gasket against
the head.

I'm on an Elring kick these days.
t
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think you have more than 1 issues. Here's what I see:

1) As you pointed out, there's oil residue on the valve cover gasket bolt. It's possible the previous owner who replaced the valve cover gasket did not replace the gasket around the bolts.
2) You have a fairly significant oil leak as evident by the oil residue on your sway bar. Since there doesn't look like an oil trail from the valve cover gasket bolt down the front of the engine, I'm thinking the oil leak you have below is either from a ruptured CCV system or oil filter housing gasket leak. This oil residue is likely not from a leaking valve cover gasket as it's on the wrong side of the engine.
3) As pointed out previously, you have a cracked oil filler cap.
4) Looks like someone may have replaced your oil pan gasket previously. Whoever did it liberally smeared RTV (?) during the installation. I would keep on eye on this as this tells me the person who did the work was sloppy. OR perhaps your oil pan gasket was NOT replaced but the previous owner smeared RTV in an attempt to seal an oil leak. Do you know if the previous owner replaced the oil pan gasket?

I suggest you check for vacuum leaks using a smoke testing to see if the cracked oil filler cap is leaking vacuum and to ascertain the health of your CCV system. As noted previously, remove the valve cover gasket nut and if the gaskets are hard, then just replace them assuming the previous owner did not replace them. I would check around the oil filter housing to see if the oil filter housing gasket is leaking or not. I suggest you find out the health/status of your oil pan gasket.

Good luck.
[Update]
It does appear that I have multiple disasters and not just one.

I did take of that valve cover bolt and there was oil underneath it. I cleaned it up and put it back in. The valve cover is the least of my concerns now since I don't visibility see any oil leaking down the block.

The oil on the bottom of the engine appears to be a leak from a different area.

  • I have replaced my oil filter housing gasket and vanos feed line so oil is not leaking from there.
  • I haven’t checked my CCV system so that could be the culprit
  • I have noticed that gunk on my oil pan and previously thought that it was just some burnt gunked up oil that has made it to the bottom of the engine from other leaks. I am not sure if the previous owner replaced the oil pan gasket but now that you mention it, it does seem like someone smeared RTV to stop a leak which is lovely. This is my first car so a job like replacing the oil pan gasket seems a little intimidating.
  • I have smoke tested the car and everything appears to be fine with the oil cap doing its job no leaks.

NEW CONCERN
I noticed the car leaking oil towards the back of the engine (behind the oil drain plug). This fluid doesn’t smell like motor oil and looks slightly redish (i’ll include a video)video. I am worried that my transmission is also leaking fluid. Are these cars known for transmission leaks?
 

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2005 330xi Auto, 2006 330ci Vert Auto
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[Update]
It does appear that I have multiple disasters and not just one.

I did take of that valve cover bolt and there was oil underneath it. I cleaned it up and put it back in. The valve cover is the least of my concerns now since I don't visibility see any oil leaking down the block.

The oil on the bottom of the engine appears to be a leak from a different area.

  • I have replaced my oil filter housing gasket and vanos feed line so oil is not leaking from there.
  • I haven’t checked my CCV system so that could be the culprit
  • I have noticed that gunk on my oil pan and previously thought that it was just some burnt gunked up oil that has made it to the bottom of the engine from other leaks. I am not sure if the previous owner replaced the oil pan gasket but now that you mention it, it does seem like someone smeared RTV to stop a leak which is lovely. This is my first car so a job like replacing the oil pan gasket seems a little intimidating.
  • I have smoke tested the car and everything appears to be fine with the oil cap doing its job no leaks.

NEW CONCERN
I noticed the car leaking oil towards the back of the engine (behind the oil drain plug). This fluid doesn’t smell like motor oil and looks slightly redish (i’ll include a video)video. I am worried that my transmission is also leaking fluid. Are these cars known for transmission leaks?
How did you perform the smoke test?

Assuming for the moment that your smoke test was done with adequate equipment and you didn't see smoke out of your CCV parts, then your CCV is probably ok. What's your confidence level with the smoke test and your inspection of smoke coming out of your CCV parts? Did you look hard for smoke around your CCV parts?

Looking at your video, the leak is too far forward of the transmission. Typically fluid leaks end up further back of the car since wind and air flow under the car tend to push the leaks further back when the car is moving. My suspicion that your oil pan gasket is leaking or you have a power steering fluid leak. I think the RTV on the oil pan is an alarming indication.

What year/model/transmission is your car? If you have an automatic transmission, from the factory, the power steering system is filled with Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF). If you think the leak in your video smells like ATF, then inspect your power steering system for leaks also.
 

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The steering seems to make it a life goal to always
leak, no matter what you fix, seal, or replace.

I wouldn't panic too much over that...

t
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
How did you perform the smoke test?

Assuming for the moment that your smoke test was done with adequate equipment and you didn't see smoke out of your CCV parts, then your CCV is probably ok. What's your confidence level with the smoke test and your inspection of smoke coming out of your CCV parts? Did you look hard for smoke around your CCV parts?

Looking at your video, the leak is too far forward of the transmission. Typically fluid leaks end up further back of the car since wind and air flow under the car tend to push the leaks further back when the car is moving. My suspicion that your oil pan gasket is leaking or you have a power steering fluid leak. I think the RTV on the oil pan is an alarming indication.

What year/model/transmission is your car? If you have an automatic transmission, from the factory, the power steering system is filled with Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF). If you think the leak in your video smells like ATF, then inspect your power steering system for leaks also.
It was my first time ever smoke testing a car. with a DIY smoke tester I saw one of the guys create on these forums. I mean I did the test twice and the intake system seemed to be holding pressure well and no visible smoke leaking from anywhere. I will recheck my CCV system just to be safe tho.
It is most likely my oil pan that is leaking. I will be attempting to change the gasket on that.
My car is a 2003 330ci Auto. I took a look at my power steering reservoir, levels seem fine and the fluid was brown with a slight burnt smell to it. The fluid that is leaking under the car seems more viscus and doesn’t really have a smell? again I don’t really know what transmission fluid smells like but all i'm worried about is transmission leaks.
 

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It was my first time ever smoke testing a car. with a DIY smoke tester I saw one of the guys create on these forums. I mean I did the test twice and the intake system seemed to be holding pressure well and no visible smoke leaking from anywhere. I will recheck my CCV system just to be safe tho.
It is most likely my oil pan that is leaking. I will be attempting to change the gasket on that.
My car is a 2003 330ci Auto. I took a look at my power steering reservoir, levels seem fine and the fluid was brown with a slight burnt smell to it. The fluid that is leaking under the car seems more viscus and doesn’t really have a smell? again I don’t really know what transmission fluid smells like but all i'm worried about is transmission leaks.
Can you briefly describe your smoke tester and your procedure?

What you can do is clean up under the car as best as possible, then add some dye to your engine oil and check to see if where the leak may be coming from. If I were you, I would be prepared to replace the oil pan gasket as the evident is strong that you have a leaking oil pan gasket.

For your power steering, you should check the two hose connections under the reservoir and where they connect on the other end. The high pressure hose from the pump is known to weep. Check all connections to the power steering pump and rack.

The power steering fluid in your car is actually ATF. Clean ATF is reddish in color and has a different smell than motor oil. However, it's harder to differentiate used ATF from used motor oil by color. It's still usually possible to differentiate by smell though.

I can understand your worries about a transmission leak. Why don't you check the transmission fluid level? It's a pain in the butt, but if it would make you feel better, go for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Can you briefly describe your smoke tester and your procedure?

What you can do is clean up under the car as best as possible, then add some dye to your engine oil and check to see if where the leak may be coming from. If I were you, I would be prepared to replace the oil pan gasket as the evident is strong that you have a leaking oil pan gasket.

For your power steering, you should check the two hose connections under the reservoir and where they connect on the other end. The high pressure hose from the pump is known to weep. Check all connections to the power steering pump and rack.

The power steering fluid in your car is actually ATF. Clean ATF is reddish in color and has a different smell than motor oil. However, it's harder to differentiate used ATF from used motor oil by color. It's still usually possible to differentiate by smell though.

I can understand your worries about a transmission leak. Why don't you check the transmission fluid level? It's a pain in the butt, but if it would make you feel better, go for it.
This video shows the method i used to smoke test my car: Click here

I will definitely use the dye to see where the leaks are coming from.

yeah power steering fluid in my reservoir is brown but it definitely smells different than motor oil. The confusing part is that the oil leaking under the car has no smell at all which is making it difficult to pinpoint what is leaking.
 

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Each one of those bolts has its own little sealer/rubber washer that goes on them. On top of that, the bolt itself could be so corroded it could allow seapage that way too. Change them both and let me know! I don't know if you've already done that or not don't have time to read every reply right now.

I would bet my last dollar he didn't replace them. Probably put same bolt with same seal right back on. They are little black rubber washers basically. You can buy them cheap. I would start with that boss. Before going nuts and thinking the world is falling. You can also buy the bolts too. I did. They were a little expensive each one but shop around. I paid about 3 bucks each. I can't remember. The rubber washers for those bolts are very cheap.

I did valve cover gasket recently and all is great. Then, my dam battery went down. Before that, the dam oxygen sensor was smoking like hell. I can't even get it off and will start a thread about that.

So, bro, start with those little rubber washers. There is a likelihood those were put on at the same time as the valve cover gasket way back when, and when he had this done recently he didn't change them. Good chance those have a similar lifespan as the valve cover gasket.

Buy some, put them on, and see if it still leaks. I don't know the exact term of what they are called just find out. If you can't I will link you some okay. Check back with me and let me know if that stops the problem.
 

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Buy new rubber seal, a gasket kit and replace it. if your CCV is not working and clogged/blocked, the crank case pressure will push oil out of the valve cover, front main seal and rear main seal.

These cars need every rubber seal and o-ring replaced at 20+ years old.
 

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This video shows the method i used to smoke test my car: Click here

I will definitely use the dye to see where the leaks are coming from.

yeah power steering fluid in my reservoir is brown but it definitely smells different than motor oil. The confusing part is that the oil leaking under the car has no smell at all which is making it difficult to pinpoint what is leaking.
Seems lot of people use this method, but personally I'm not a big fan of the cigar/hand pump method. But if that's all you got, it's better than nothing.

Good luck.
 
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