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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 10-03-2013, 01:54 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Dedham, Maine
Posts: 26
My Ride: 2003 330xi
Angry Still have a burnt oil smell...suggestions please?

I have a 2003 330XI with about 106K miles on it. Bought it new and babied it all along. Does not get driven in the winter and is stored in a ehated garage. Anyway.....at about 101K miles I replaced the valve cover gasket and spark plugs, mostly to get rid of the burnt oil smell. Prior to replacement, there was definitely some oil residue on the exhaust manifold side...most obvious on the top of the aluminum heat deflectors. After replacing the VCG, I wiped the aluminum covers off. After 5K miles I still have a burnt oil smell....especially after driving longer distances....and there is no obvious oil film on the aluminum covers. When I look down the side of that part of the engine with a flashlight, I can seem to see some damp areas UNDER the exhaust manifold. My local shop has replaced the front axles on more than one occasion. I think this shop is pretty good....but I don't want to take it to them and expect they are going to immediately know where the problem lies and fix it the first time. And....I wouldn't mind fixing it myself if possible.

Does anyone have some suggestions as to what the problem is?

Thanks in advance for your help....
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:04 PM   #2
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My Ride: 04 325XI
Improperly installed VCG, replace
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:35 AM   #3
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Did you cull the spark plugs back out? If there is oil on the coil boots, and the plugs, where the oil is present, the gasket isn't working. When you replaced the valve cover gasket and plugs, was there any oil on any of the coil boots or plugs? If so, did you take rags and soak all the oil out of the plug/coil hole(s)? Sure sounds as though you still have a leak and may well have to do the job over again.
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Old 10-07-2013, 01:29 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies! I guess my next step is to go back and make sure the valve cover bolts are all tight....then if it still smells, I guess I have to do the job again...grrrr....and, no....I don't recall any oil around the coils or plugs....I'm pretty anal, so I'm sure if there was I would have noticed. I have also noticed several comments about Victor Reinz gaskets being a potential problem....and that may have been the brand I installed. Is this still a current concern? If so, is there a better brand to use? Thanks!!
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Old 10-07-2013, 02:54 PM   #5
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Just reach back on the passenger side rear of the valve cover and see if there is any fresh oil. What about your oil filter housing gasket? That was the source of the burning in my car.
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Old 10-07-2013, 02:57 PM   #6
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I will check it out....thank you!
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Old 10-07-2013, 03:03 PM   #7
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I have used those gaskets plenty of times on multipal peoples cars when working for a shop, and we would put a little dab of gasket sealer on the cornners of the half circles in the back and where the VANOS meets the head. And I'm assuming that you took the time to clean the valve cover where the gasket fits in, and wiped down the head where they come togeather... also after you get everything properly back togeather I would always check with my finger or a mirror that the lip that is on the half circles was also not pinched or out of place.
I don't know how bad you let it get but depending on how bad it was it could be still burning off of the exhaust. You could also get some simple green and spray it down let it soak in and then prince it down with the hose.
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Old 10-09-2013, 10:24 AM   #8
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I think I have narrowed it down....I am pretty convinced my valve cover gasket replacement went OK....I used the instructions in the DIY section of this web site....and I can't seem to find any leakage from that project. I am now fairly certain the problem is the oil filter housing gasket....so that is next on the replacement agenda. Hopefully, that will take care of it. Thanks for your help, everyone!
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Old 10-14-2013, 11:09 PM   #9
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I have a similar issue and I haven't gotten around t fix it yet. I get the smell of burned oil when I press the pedal to the metal. But it is because my valve cover has a crack(a couple of centimeters wide) on the rear right end screw of the cover. The part is too expensive at the moment for me to replace and I am just getting a cylinder 6 misfire code once in a while which may be due to this. So I would suggest inspecting your valve cover under good light to make sure there aren't any cracks.
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Old 10-14-2013, 11:15 PM   #10
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^ JB weld it, it might actually work
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Old 10-28-2013, 12:44 PM   #11
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I just discovered an oil leak from my exhaust cam sensor.
(Changed them a few years ago but didn't replace the o-rings )
It's leaking down on to the big cooling hose there and also maybe on to the exhaust manifold!?
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Old 10-28-2013, 01:14 PM   #12
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Since you mentioned axles, make sure you don't have a pinhole in your cv boots. Check inside of wheels and fenders for any sign of grease. Leaking grease can get everywhere and will definately smell when it burns off.
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Old 10-28-2013, 01:48 PM   #13
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I recently had the oil filter housing gasket replaced....now I have to give it some time to see if the smell goes away. If it doesn't...I'll have to keep looking. I don't think it's CV boot grease....my mechanic keeps a pretty close eye on those....but the exhaust cam sensor is a new one for me....I will have to keep that in mind as I go forward....thanks for all the input....I learn new things from this web site almost every day....
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Old 11-03-2013, 10:56 PM   #14
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Remember those VGC nuts have a specific torque value. It's a "gently tighten" thing and they all need to be even. Good Luck!
Steve in the foothills of the Rockies
2002 325xiT (have 2)
1967 Jaguar 420G
1945 Dodge WC52 Weapons Carrier (snowplow now)
2003 Harley Dyna Super Glide
1989 Honda XR600r
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Old 11-12-2013, 11:54 AM   #15
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I too have had this issue with my wife's car. I could also see that the oil was dripping down on the exhaust manifold heat shields and sometimes onto the manifold itself. As she drives, it pisses out, and when she stops at a light or stop sign for awhile, that's when the burning oil smell came into the cabin. Just this past weekend, I replaced her cats because both were gone, and had a REALLY good look at that side of the valve cover. There it was, ever ever ever so small, but I am pretty sure it is there, a tiny, about 1cm long crack above the bolt in the middle of the rear manifold, not on the actual ring area where the bolt goes into, but on the curved ridge right above that. it was very hard to see, but you can get a fingernail to snag on it and almost shove the fingernail in there.

So a new Valve cover from Tisch ( best price I could find) is $308 with shipping. I am thinking I either remove the valve cover and clean it thoroughly and use the gasket sealant I got that was high temp and O2 sensor safe, and squeeze it from the inside so it smushes through to the outside, or maybe try the JB weld fix. I should be able to re-use the gasket as I just got replaced it maybe in June of this year.

Or I could clean it up as best as I could from the outside, I've heard you can squirt some brakeclean into that crack and it should be OK then JB weld it from the outside hoping that some gets into the crack. F me, this blows.
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Old 11-14-2013, 12:45 AM   #16
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Long shot but, my wife complained for a couple weeks of burnt oil smell,I could never find any evidence of leak, then one day kaplueee CCV went. Had a lovely battle with that job, but in a week burnt oil smell was gone altogether. with 106k if ya haven't done already, ya might as well give it a whirl, make sure not to run out of beer.
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