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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 05-24-2009, 08:03 PM   #81
rmavin
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An update!

Ok, here's an example of the fragments from the old gasket:
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These things are really brittle - I can break them with my bare hands. It's hard to imagine any damage as a result from these entering the combustion chamber or the cylinder head.

I opened up the valve cover again after running the engine and driving around, and I found that some of the pieces had washed up and stuck to the top of the valve cover and on the long black cover over the second camshaft. Also there was no noticeable damage on any of the lobes/chains/etc. Again, it's hard to imagine anything getting damaged from this. And if it did get in between two moving parts, it would be pulverized.

As far as the piece that wound up in the combustion chamber, I took a look at the spark plug for that chamber, and it looks fine. My best guess is that it just got burned up and blown out. And yes, I've learned my lesson to cover p those damn holes.

Just an FYI, attached are pics of my valve cover and cylinder head. I think they look pretty clean for 80k miles. The cylinder head is just a thing of beauty - I couldn't stop staring at it in awe. It must be a guy thing...

Ok, so I'm glad nothing bad happened, and it's now time to go out and enjoy the damn car.

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Old 05-24-2009, 08:10 PM   #82
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One more thing. I have a 2003 330i and the ignition coils are different than those shown by the OP (we're just special). Our ignition coil and spark plug boot can be removed together. All you need to do is to flip up the connector to the socket and then just pull the coil out. Other than that, it was pretty much the same.

On another note, it was so much easier and quicker the second time around (obviously). I'd say the first time around took me 5 hours since I ran into a few problems - stuck gasket, pieces breaking off and flying all over. I also changed the spark plugs and air filter. But the second time around only took 2 hours round trip.
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:13 PM   #83
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One more thing. I have a 2003 330i and the ignition coils are different than those shown by the OP (we're just special). Our ignition coil and spark plug boot can be removed together. All you need to do is to flip up the connector to the socket and then just pull the coil out. Other than that, it was pretty much the same.

On another note, it was so much easier and quicker the second time around (obviously). I'd say the first time around took me 5 hours since I ran into a few problems - stuck gasket, pieces breaking off and flying all over. I also changed the spark plugs and air filter. But the second time around only took 2 hours round trip.
2002 and later BMW changed the design of the ignition coils to make them more compact and cheaper with the same performance.
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:24 PM   #84
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2002 and later BMW changed the design of the ignition coils to make them more compact and cheaper with the same performance.
Yup, I just wanted to point that out to people following your DIY. Thanks!

Also, on another note, just to comment on your milky residue on your valve cover, I came across this video and they say that milky residue is an indication of a coolant leak.

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Old 05-24-2009, 08:27 PM   #85
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Yup, I just wanted to point that out to people following your DIY. Thanks!

Also, on another note, just to comment on your milky residue on your valve cover, I came across this video and they say that milky residue is an indication of a coolant leak.
Thats what I would think on any other car but it seems to be normal with E46, when you go for short drives and dont let the engine warm up all the way condensation on the valve cover mixes with oil, mine didnt have any on it but the shortest drive I ever make is to work and thats like 6miles so its plenty for the car to warm up.
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:38 PM   #86
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Yup, I just wanted to point that out to people following your DIY. Thanks!

Also, on another note, just to comment on your milky residue on your valve cover, I came across this video and they say that milky residue is an indication of a coolant leak.
Water is what causes the residue. In my case, it was the condensation formed from starting up the car, moving it 50 feet, and then turning it off and repeating for a few months. Leaking coolant can also cause this, but is rare on an E46 unless you overheat the car.
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:53 PM   #87
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One more thing on 2002+ E46, the valve cover gaskets apparently have different part numbers.

Through 8/2002: 11-12-9-070-990
From 9/2002: 11-12-0-030-496

I made the mistake of ordering the wrong one as I have a 2003.
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:57 PM   #88
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One more thing on 2002+ E46, the valve cover gaskets apparently have different part numbers.

Through 8/2002: 11-12-9-070-990
From 9/2002: 11-12-0-030-496

I made the mistake of ordering the wrong one as I have a 2003.
Did it work anyway? I didnt know there were 2 different ones.
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Old 05-24-2009, 11:56 PM   #89
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Did it work anyway? I didnt know there were 2 different ones.
I return the wrong one before trying, so I don't know if it would have worked. I'd assume that it wouldn't since there are two different part numbers.
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Old 05-25-2009, 01:26 PM   #90
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Hey guys

Any idea why the valve cover gasket fails first over the head gasket? Since you'd think the head gasket is the one that is put through a lot more stress and wear.
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Old 05-25-2009, 01:33 PM   #91
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Hey guys

Any idea why the valve cover gasket fails first over the head gasket? Since you'd think the head gasket is the one that is put through a lot more stress and wear.
Head gasket is made of metal
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Old 05-25-2009, 05:24 PM   #92
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Thats what I would think on any other car but it seems to be normal with E46, when you go for short drives and dont let the engine warm up all the way condensation on the valve cover mixes with oil, mine didnt have any on it but the shortest drive I ever make is to work and thats like 6miles so its plenty for the car to warm up.
I'm not convinced about this condensation theory...I don't think you would get enough water vapor in the head to get that much milky stuff under the valve cover. The E46 doesn't run on magic, it can blow head gaskets too if you find that stuff, run a test...at least, that's how I see it.
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Old 05-25-2009, 05:44 PM   #93
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I'm not convinced about this condensation theory...I don't think you would get enough water vapor in the head to get that much milky stuff under the valve cover. The E46 doesn't run on magic, it can blow head gaskets too if you find that stuff, run a test...at least, that's how I see it.
Depends a lot on weather conditions. Kinda hard to test now(being summer), and not sure what your weather is like, but try leaving the car outside overnight. Then in the morning before it starts getting warm out, start up your car and let it idle. After a minute take off the oil cap and look at the underside. I would be willing to bet you have a small amount of condensation formed on the underside of the oil cap. If you drive your car around for a bit or try this on a hot day, you will not see this condensation.
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Old 05-26-2009, 09:41 AM   #94
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Depends a lot on weather conditions. Kinda hard to test now(being summer), and not sure what your weather is like, but try leaving the car outside overnight. Then in the morning before it starts getting warm out, start up your car and let it idle. After a minute take off the oil cap and look at the underside. I would be willing to bet you have a small amount of condensation formed on the underside of the oil cap. If you drive your car around for a bit or try this on a hot day, you will not see this condensation.
Maybe, but here's my issue. I drive the car when it's cold out, so I should have had the same condensation, if it's there. The milky residue comes from oil mixing with the water and getting whisked together by the engine, if I'm understanding it correctly (which I would think happens if you drive more, not less). So, perhaps condensation is on ALL of our valve covers, but a healthy engine will still not make chocolate milk. I'm still convinced this is indicative of a head gasket leak. Furthermore, I would not be surprised if there *wasn't* water condensed on the inside of the cap. For condensation to happen, there has to be water vapor inside the head (okay, maybe it's everywhere)...but then it has to come in contact with a colder surface. When you're driving, the valve cover just gets warmer, I don't know why water would stick to it now when it wasn't before? Any water that was going to condense should have done so before you started it up, any warming should just evaporate more.

We need experiments! To those of you with chocolate milk in your valve cover, go do a leak-down test And for our buddies in cold places, go look for condensation!
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Old 05-26-2009, 04:19 PM   #95
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Maybe, but here's my issue. I drive the car when it's cold out, so I should have had the same condensation, if it's there. The milky residue comes from oil mixing with the water and getting whisked together by the engine, if I'm understanding it correctly (which I would think happens if you drive more, not less). So, perhaps condensation is on ALL of our valve covers, but a healthy engine will still not make chocolate milk. I'm still convinced this is indicative of a head gasket leak. Furthermore, I would not be surprised if there *wasn't* water condensed on the inside of the cap. For condensation to happen, there has to be water vapor inside the head (okay, maybe it's everywhere)...but then it has to come in contact with a colder surface. When you're driving, the valve cover just gets warmer, I don't know why water would stick to it now when it wasn't before? Any water that was going to condense should have done so before you started it up, any warming should just evaporate more.

We need experiments! To those of you with chocolate milk in your valve cover, go do a leak-down test And for our buddies in cold places, go look for condensation!
A compression test would be helpfull as well.
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Old 05-26-2009, 10:29 PM   #96
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A compression test would be helpfull as well.
Well, a *really* bad head gasket will fail a compression test, but a slightly leaky one may not. A leak down test is the only way to know for sure, as far as I'm aware.
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Old 05-27-2009, 02:28 AM   #97
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Maybe, but here's my issue. I drive the car when it's cold out, so I should have had the same condensation, if it's there. The milky residue comes from oil mixing with the water and getting whisked together by the engine, if I'm understanding it correctly (which I would think happens if you drive more, not less). So, perhaps condensation is on ALL of our valve covers, but a healthy engine will still not make chocolate milk. I'm still convinced this is indicative of a head gasket leak. Furthermore, I would not be surprised if there *wasn't* water condensed on the inside of the cap. For condensation to happen, there has to be water vapor inside the head (okay, maybe it's everywhere)...but then it has to come in contact with a colder surface. When you're driving, the valve cover just gets warmer, I don't know why water would stick to it now when it wasn't before? Any water that was going to condense should have done so before you started it up, any warming should just evaporate more.

We need experiments! To those of you with chocolate milk in your valve cover, go do a leak-down test And for our buddies in cold places, go look for condensation!
It's not oil and water getting whisked together, it's just oil vapor and water vapor sticking there. Kinda like how if you've seen smoke from a fire rise to the ceiling and then float along the top, both oil vapor and water vapor do that. If either oil or water vapor touches the valve cover, it goes from vapor back to liquid since it cools down because the other side of the valve cover is use exposed to air and is relatively cold.

If you let the engine heat up enough, the stuff on the valve cover probably goes back to vapor and sucked into the crankcase vent or drips back down and mixes with the rest of the oil.
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Old 05-27-2009, 09:02 AM   #98
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It's not oil and water getting whisked together, it's just oil vapor and water vapor sticking there. Kinda like how if you've seen smoke from a fire rise to the ceiling and then float along the top, both oil vapor and water vapor do that. If either oil or water vapor touches the valve cover, it goes from vapor back to liquid since it cools down because the other side of the valve cover is use exposed to air and is relatively cold.

If you let the engine heat up enough, the stuff on the valve cover probably goes back to vapor and sucked into the crankcase vent or drips back down and mixes with the rest of the oil.
Hmm, okay. So in theory, wouldn't the residue disappear after one good run? Would you only find it by changing your valve cover gasket after some very short trips, as described? (And why do oil and water mix here?)
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Old 05-28-2009, 04:58 AM   #99
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Hmm, okay. So in theory, wouldn't the residue disappear after one good run? Would you only find it by changing your valve cover gasket after some very short trips, as described? (And why do oil and water mix here?)
-In theory is should disappear after a spirited drive.
-Yes, it mainly forms when the engine doesn't spend enough time running at fully warmed up temperature.
-Oil and water form here because the valve cover is relatively cold compared to the rest of the engine until everything is warmed up, and this causes oil and water vapor to condensate here.

A good example is breathing onto a window when it is cold out, the water vapor from your breath condensates on the cold glass. The window would be the valve cover and your breath would be the oil and water vapor from a warming up engine.
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Old 05-28-2009, 09:45 AM   #100
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Yes, but that doesn't explain why the oil and water wouldn't separate when they condense, if it was just pure oil and water vapor?
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