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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 02-22-2013, 06:19 PM   #1
NJFF26
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Puff of smoke on startup

Replaced my failed ccv and hoses a few weeks ago. The last two nights leaving work on startup it lets out a puff of smoke. It doesn't smell like coolant burning more like an oil smell. Any ideas? No cel, doesn't do it in the morning. Temps have been between 35 and 40 degrees. Also it's a good half hour ride to work with like 15 mins on the highway
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:19 AM   #2
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Okay so I pulled the CCV hose from the Valve cover and it has the mayo in it again. I am going to change the oil, but I want to see if anyone has an idea of what to use to clean the hoses out.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:45 AM   #3
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New hoses when CCV changed?

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Old 02-23-2013, 09:47 AM   #4
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Did you clean your guidetube or replace with superceded part? If not, take it for a long ride...at least an hour or two. See if that does anything for you.

How long have you had the car...and do you monitor your oil/coolant level well? If not, do so, just in case.
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Old 02-23-2013, 10:24 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by NJFF26 View Post
Okay so I pulled the CCV hose from the Valve cover and it has the mayo in it again. I am going to change the oil, but I want to see if anyone has an idea of what to use to clean the hoses out.
If you didn't replace the hoses the first time, I'd just swap them and don't clean. Once the clog gets started, it's really hard to 100% clean it out and that makes it easier for the hose to clog again. Hoses are cheap, just throw out the bad ones.
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Old 02-23-2013, 01:47 PM   #6
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I'm seeing this same movie. Every cold season I pick up the emulsion goo under the oil fill cap and often get the start-up oil cloud. A hard run as mentioned does seem to help. I thought okay fine, I'll do a full CCV swap, pipes and dipstick tube replacement. I've read where other have done this even adding the "winter" kit with the insulated sleeves on the tubes and it come back. I discussed this with my Indi mechanic who smiled and said "let me show you something". He led me over to another E46 in his shop, pulled the oil cap off demonstrating the goo. He said "they all do it, it's water condensing in your crankcase and up here, (Northwest) many cars collect the goo from temperature swings. He yanked the cap off a MINI Cooper, same deal.

I think I'll swap out the system and see if there is an improvement. Some claim to beat it with an aftermarket, catch-can solution bypassing the factory cyclone system. From other sources, I've read catch cans can freeze and clog basically creating the same problem. The Indi agreed and we left the issue unresolved. this year there has been no sign of the start-up puff but as always, there is goo under the cap and on the dipstick itself. A hard freeway run followed by an April oil change is in order. This buys me 9 months of no concerns and has worked for years. I got my car with 60K on it and has always done this. Could it be just a thing we live with? I'm really going to dislike replacing the system and see it come back!

I'd like to see a post where an owner got a fix with the winter kit or newer dipstick tube. Never spotted one yet. Most are solving for a failed CCV unit not the goo blues.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:24 PM   #7
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I have never seen white goo in any of my cars and my ccv is still original.
Sounds like you fellas need to rev your engines a lot more, you will have problems if you dont. I know the AT isn't helping the situation but babying your cars is doing more harm to your engines than good.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:16 PM   #8
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Yea replaced all hoses and cleaned dipstick and used new orings.I took it on an hour trip last week. I am wondering if running a thinner oil will help. I replaced the ccv because it started with a puff of smoke for a while and then started smoking really bad while driving. Changed it and it has been good for a few weeks. Then I noticed this. Oil and coolant levels were never bad until my ccv went and it used some oil. Changed the ccv/hoses and topped off the oil. Have driven 1k+ miles since not loosing oil. I am going to change the oil tomorrow while the car is hot and see if that helps any. Any other thoughts.

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Old 02-23-2013, 04:19 PM   #9
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Also have had the car for 3 years. Did vcg when I got it and noticed mayo. Also in summer it clears away fully. I didnt think I would need the cold weather one as I live in nj, but maybe I was wrong.

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Old 02-23-2013, 06:39 PM   #10
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Cold weather unit does not prevent the goo. That is water from condensation in the oil which is a normal thing that happens in a engine. Only long trips get rid of that. The insulation just keeps the water from freezing a little longer then the naked one. Run it long and hard. These engines are made to be revved and enjoyed. There is a red line for a reason. You can run them right up to that and they like it and will actually last longer. Lugging causes more wear that revving.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:40 PM   #11
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Yeah, I'm guilty of the winter warm-up trick. They say to not let them sit and idle just hop in start it, wait a few seconds and go from a cold start. I'm too lazy to not have that car warmed up a little before scraping the glass. Seat warmers and rear defroster blazing with cabin heat near it now has idled 5-10 minutes. Sorry, will not change. They say this contributes to the goo build. I have at least a 20 minute freeway drive ahead daily and while not lugging, I'm not exactly revving her either.

Engine temp may play into this? A "hard" run means a long, higher RPM run thus building heat. With our damped gauge and strange cooling system, perhaps the engine reaches more temp burning off this dread? The most effective run I have is a 30+ minute freeway drive, on a semi-warm day, with a lower gear manually selected. Maybe this should be done more often in the cold months?
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:40 PM   #12
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Yeah I warm the car up for like 5 minutes before I leave to get the seats nice and warm. Oil change and hard drive coming up
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Old 02-24-2013, 02:16 PM   #13
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Cold weather unit does not prevent the goo. That is water from condensation in the oil which is a normal thing that happens in a engine. Only long trips get rid of that. The insulation just keeps the water from freezing a little longer then the naked one. Run it long and hard. These engines are made to be revved and enjoyed. There is a red line for a reason. You can run them right up to that and they like it and will actually last longer. Lugging causes more wear that revving.
Your post aligns with what my Indi said. The goo is emulsion of condensed water vapor - not unusual in cold climates. As some claim they never see it, perhaps they drive a manual or let's say in the higher rev range?

The OP indeed had a CCV fail when it started sucking oil. The goo would be a bugger to be greeted with after a system change out. I hoped the newer, enlarged dipstick may hold great magic? Probably not as the OP cleaned his with the same result.

Guess we'll drive'em like a stolen bicycle from now on!
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Old 02-24-2013, 08:24 PM   #14
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I've installed 2 of the redesigned dipstick tubes in my X3's. I didn't do it on my 325XI as I was too cheap and now I will go back and do it to be safe. $150.00 is cheaper than an engine failure. We always do them on customer cars.
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Old 02-22-2014, 02:37 PM   #15
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Ok, this is an older thread.

Same issue for me. Replaced the CCV for all the usual reasons. Been good for the last 2 months. Noticed last week and this week, a puff of smoke on startup after it sat in the cold. It's oil smell for sure.

The CCV and the hoses were all replaced with new. I did the valve cover gasket before the CCV and cleaned all the sludge out.

- Does it take time to work all the sludge out from the intake?
- Did I miss replacing something?
- CCV about to fail again, or just clogged?

I checked the oil fil cap and it's clean. No idle issues. No lean codes. Nothing I can see on the ODBII.

It embarrassing driving a BMW with the puff-o-smoke! (although if I ever seen someone else with the issue, I completely understand it now ... lol)

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Old 02-22-2014, 02:59 PM   #16
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Even if the CCV and its hoses are new and unclogged, you will still get some of the "white goo" clinging to the oil filler cap and within the system. As previously stated, it is moisture condensation within the engine and the engine oil. The build up will be quicker in a cold climate car that is started and left to "warm" up before driving. The best practice is to start the car and drive it at moderate speed as it warms up. The plus here is that the engine warms up quicker and the moisture content is removed quicker. IF you run a good grade of full synthetic oil and change it every 5000 miles as well as the oil filter, it will greatly reduce the amount of "white goo". You have to remember this, the engine is a "sealed unit" and with that said, even with the oil filler cap off or bad o-rings on the dip stick, there is a vacuum leak. With the sealed system, it is more prone to get and hold condensation, especially if the car isn't completely warmed up and driven for some miles, short drives in cold weather will not completely warm and remove the condensation. So, if you commute is rather short, a few times a week in the cold weather especially, take the long way home and give the car a good run, as in a drive time of an hour or so and say maybe 40 miles or more. By doing so, you will reduce or eliminate the condensation within the engine, though you may well still see some of the "white goo" when taking the dip stick out or the oil filler cap off. The cold weather CCV will help, but only too a point, the insulation helps hold warmth in the CCV to help reduce the "white goo".
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Old 02-22-2014, 03:30 PM   #17
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Well an old post indeed but looking back, I too hoped a failing CCV would clear the puff and goo. This being my first season with a complete new CCV and DISA install, I'm watching for improvements. No new dipstick guide as Indi advised it would not be needed but cold-weather CCV kit is a must. The goo came back in the same rate noticed under the oil fill cap and on the dipstick shaft as prior to the change-out. My Indi informed me this is normal and popped a cap on an X3 to demonstrate the snot devil built up on theirs.

The puff normally occurs early spring. Something to do with the temp swing from 30's to 50's. I have tried advice to run the car long and hot. Basically, a hard freeway run for 20-30 minutes at higher RPM. It seems to melt most of the goo away and does help. I've performed a complete oil change with no luck. With all the winter condensation turning to snot and collecting in various spots, I think it has to work its way out over a period of time? The puff may be hidden condensed oil/water globs that release and hit the combustion chamber via CCV piping? A clogged dip-stick drain tube creates another problem of sucking raw oil continually so it's not that. I examined mine early this winter when my CCV failed creating a thick, monster cloud behind me. The crank return tube was clear with little to no goo.

I haven't experienced my puffy friend yet but remember this is the first test year and it's still cold here. I won't be shocked should the cold start oil cloud occur. I've had the car several years and it always duplicates the same movie: puffs for a few weeks after winter and then clears for seven to eight months.
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Old 02-22-2014, 03:41 PM   #18
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the usual trip for this car (my wife's) is about a 15 mile commute from work. She parks outside. It has been in the -15 to -20 C range (about 0F).

Yesterday, she parked in the driveway as I was up to my usual projects in the garage. I go to move it in about 5 hrs later ... and -20 ... and puff (cough cough).

I'll have to check for goo on the cap and hoses and see. It's all been replaced, so seeing the smoke was unexpected. On a good note ... I have not seen the oil level light since the CCV swap! (and I put in new oil then a well 5W30 syn).

I love these cars ... and I hate these cars. :-)

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Old 02-22-2014, 03:42 PM   #19
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I haven't experienced my puffy friend yet but remember this is the first test year and it's still cold here. I won't be shocked should the cold start oil cloud occur. I've had the car several years and it always duplicates the same movie: puffs for a few weeks after winter and then clears for seven to eight months.
LMAO ... its like the car has a "cycle" it goes through. Unhappy when it's cold.
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Old 02-22-2014, 04:11 PM   #20
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LMAO ... its like the car has a "cycle" it goes through. Unhappy when it's cold.
Exactly! I think there's science to be found here. From running my air-compressor in the winter, I see the water separator (glass in-line bowl) pulls more water out of the air and fills quicker. So our engines (compressors) suck the same dense, wet air in too. The goo or emulsion occurs from simply wet, cold air condensing and collecting under warm not operating temp conditions. They mention sealed systems but I've seen the same affect on old Chevys, not what I'd term "sealed".

Back then we'd just put the cap back on and think - Yuk!
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