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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 01-12-2014, 10:01 AM   #1
hlockwood
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Need advice desperately

This is my first really, really dumb act of the new year.
I've been monitoring my oil consumption regularly and adding oil as needed in my 2001 E46 wagon.

Today, Sunday morning, I lifted the hood and discovered that my oil filler cap was missing. I evidently failed to put it back on after the oil check yesterday.

The BMW dealer is ~20 miles away. Can I safely drive there tomorrow to get a new cap? Or what?

I need your advice badly.

Harry
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:22 AM   #2
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Is this your only means of transportation? This is going to set a CEL in all probability, since this is going to be seen as a major vacuum leak.
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:24 AM   #3
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Go look in the engine splash shield under the engine. It is probably there.
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:29 AM   #4
hlockwood
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Is this your only means of transportation? This is going to set a CEL in all probability, since this is going to be seen as a major vacuum leak.
No other means of transportation at this time. Does this mean I should I should have the car towed to BMW?

Harry
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:31 AM   #5
hlockwood
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Go look in the engine splash shield under the engine. It is probably there.
That was my first thought as well, but I don't see it there. Is that shield likely to retain the cap if it rolls back, or is it open at the rear?

Harry
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:36 AM   #6
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Seeing as you have to add oil periodically it sounds like you have an oil leak, not just "oil consumption." Anyway, don't have the car towed to BMW, you just need to buy a new cap if it cannot be found anywhere in the engine bay. See if you can borrow a friends, or order one online overnight and use public transportation until you get it?

And just so you know, you can drive without the oil cap on (tight anyway)....ask me how I know. I got an oil change done on my last e46, then immediately drove from the shop to palm springs which was about 100 miles away from me and got a low oil light right before I arrived. Popped the hood and found the cap was just sitting there, loose, and oil all over the engine bay. Since then, I started doing all of my own oil changes lol. I wouldn't recommend driving without the cap
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:52 AM   #7
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No other means of transportation at this time. Does this mean I should I should have the car towed to BMW?

Harry
How about taking the bus (or a cab) to the BMW dealership and buying a cap, instead of hauling your car there?
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Old 01-12-2014, 11:01 AM   #8
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Come to think of it oil caps aren't rare, even for a BMW. They've been using that same cap since the E30 (1980s)

The local Napa or whatever car parts store will probably have it. Just call ahead.
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Old 01-12-2014, 11:02 AM   #9
hlockwood
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How about taking the bus (or a cab) to the BMW dealership and buying a cap, instead of hauling your car there?
A definite alternative. Thanks.

And thanks to all for coming to the rescue; you're a great bunch.

Harry
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Old 01-12-2014, 12:46 PM   #10
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The car will be fine. Sure, your check engine light will turn on but who cares, it will go away when you put a new cap on. You've obviously been driving it already with no cap and nothing happened.
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Old 01-12-2014, 12:53 PM   #11
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That was my first thought as well, but I don't see it there. Is that shield likely to retain the cap if it rolls back, or is it open at the rear?

Harry
Drive the car up on a curb, remove splash shield and look. It very well could be there...or it dropped off to the side and it's wedged where you didn't look yet...could be stuck behind under cabin air filter housing too. Look up top and around first with good led flashlight and an inspection mirror. I suspect it 'is' in your car still.
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Old 01-12-2014, 01:09 PM   #12
hlockwood
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Come to think of it oil caps aren't rare, even for a BMW. They've been using that same cap since the E30 (1980s)

The local Napa or whatever car parts store will probably have it. Just call ahead.
First thing tomorrow (Monday) morning.

Harry
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Old 01-12-2014, 01:14 PM   #13
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Your oil cap is probably stuck on the splash shield on the bottom of the car.

It will not be a fatal event to drive the car, but it will likely be a messy event that you would rather avoid. Having said that, if you put in oil a day or two ago and drove the car, then checked the oil again today and discovered the cap is missing, then you drove it for two days already without it... how far did you go since you last checked the oil? The answer to this will tell you what the problems will be if you drive 20 miles to the dealership for a new cap.

How come you are adding oil all of the time? If the yellow oil light comes on, it means to check the oil, it does not mean to add oil. If the oil is ANYWHERE between the upper and lower marks on the stick, then it is okay and you do not need to add. AND if the light is on with the oil anywhere between the lines on the stick, then the Low Oil Sending Unit is toast and your choices are to replace it on an oil change or to ignore it. If you are not adding a full quart (or liter, depending on your market) then you are wasting your time doing stuff that is totally unnecessary.
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Old 01-12-2014, 01:20 PM   #14
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No oil will come out of the open hole unless someone removed the guard inside the valve cover.
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Old 01-12-2014, 01:26 PM   #15
hlockwood
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Drive the car up on a curb, remove splash shield and look. It very well could be there...or it dropped off to the side and it's wedged where you didn't look yet...could be stuck behind under cabin air filter housing too. Look up top and around first with good led flashlight and an inspection mirror. I suspect it 'is' in your car still.
You called it! It's under the cabin air filter.

Now I just have to get to it with some kind of makeshift tool because my hands are to big to retrieve it. Maybe a neighbor will rent me a kid with small hands. Forget I said that.

Thanks again, all.

Harry
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:28 PM   #16
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You called it! It's under the cabin air filter.

Now I just have to get to it with some kind of makeshift tool because my hands are to big to retrieve it. Maybe a neighbor will rent me a kid with small hands. Forget I said that.

Thanks again, all.

Harry
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Old 01-12-2014, 11:19 PM   #17
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Cabin air filter and holder are easy to remove with basic tools. No need to rent a kid.
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Old 01-12-2014, 11:52 PM   #18
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Cabin air filter and holder are easy to remove with basic tools. No need to rent a kid.
Either torx 25 or 30.
OP, just use a spoon or something and knock it onto the ground.


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Old 01-13-2014, 11:31 AM   #19
hlockwood
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Grand Finale: The all-American tool, the wire coat hanger, did the trick.

Harry
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:36 AM   #20
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Glad it worked out.
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