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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 08-03-2011, 11:37 AM   #1
bpray9223
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Westfield, MA
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My Ride: Volvo S60, BMW 325xi
325Xi Randomly Puffing Grey/Black Smoke

My father's car just recently developed an issue, in which has become more noticeable on his commute from work this afternoon.

He claims that when driving at a constant highway speed, constant throttle, every so often he will notice a puff of grey/blackish smoke behind him coming from the car. There have also been a couple instances where upon cold startup, the car will give off the same smoke for a second.

Any ideas on what this issue could be?
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:47 PM   #2
Gus330vrum
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smoke means.... OIL GETTING INSIDE OF YOUR INTAKE! i was told.. do not drive the car at that point....
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:00 PM   #3
mikhit
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What color is the smoke? Blueish or gray smoke indicates that oil is burning, white smoke indicates coolant and black smoke is fuel. It can be any number of things from there, but the color will help point you in the right direction...
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:02 PM   #4
scottie46
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i just took a smog class and we tested things like this. it could be ur smog or a rusted pipe, muffler or bad cat.
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Old 08-03-2011, 05:01 PM   #5
bpray9223
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Thanks for the replies guys.

Just went out in the garage and started the car (engine warm) and noticed a thin stream of grayish colored smoke coming from the exhaust but stopped after about 2 seconds. I gave the throttle a couple blips to about 3K RPM and let off and the smoke reappeared in the same fashion, but only when the engine was revving down. On a side note, this has only been noticeable in the past 2K miles or so.

Another few things to mention, the car has 92K on it and has been 12K miles since the last oil change. We checked the oil and it seems to be a little on the low side, so the oil will be changed in the next day or two. Could this be another possible cause to my issue? I'm not too familiar with these cars and I wasn't sure if the oil being low or old could cause this?
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Old 08-03-2011, 05:44 PM   #6
Fred The Puppy
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The gray smoke is very likely oil. IF that is the case, no need to panic unless it begins to run poorly, begins to burn a quart in 3k miles or somethin' silly like that. However low the oil is, that's how much the engine has burned/leaked since the last time you filled it. 92k seems WAY early, but it's possible that engine oil is simply getting past either the piston rings or the valve guides. Just keep an eye on the oil level, and down the road, you can do a cost/benefit analysis of having engine work done. At $6/quart for synthetic oil, it'd have to be smokin' like a chimney before I'd worry about it. Dunno your dad's annual mileage, but if it's burning a quart every 10k miles, that adds up to $10-$20/year for most drivers.

I had a Chevy pickup truck that smoked for the entire 9 years that I drove it. Ran fine.

Keep an eye on coolant level, also. Sometimes white smoke can appear grayish. If the coolant level is dropping, you have a whole other situation.

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Old 08-05-2011, 10:19 PM   #7
bpray9223
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Oil was changed with full synthetic on Thursday and the smoking has not been noticed yet.

My indy checked it out prior to the oil change and suggested it may be the oil separator that needs to be replaced. Does this sound like a probable cause?
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Old 08-06-2011, 12:52 AM   #8
Gus330vrum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bpray9223 View Post
Oil was changed with full synthetic on Thursday and the smoking has not been noticed yet.

My indy checked it out prior to the oil change and suggested it may be the oil separator that needs to be replaced. Does this sound like a probable cause?


E46 Models have that common Talk around 80k + oil separator <- included... so Google a way to test oil separator.. "its bad?... change it ...
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Old 08-06-2011, 12:23 PM   #9
White_Knuckles
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Fred the Pup has it above. Blow-by is most noticeable when the engine transitions from higher RPM's to idle on throttle cut. Snap the gas off and they puff a colored cloud out. Normally there's a smell you'll pick up when testing behind the car. The exhaust pipe tip may have oil wet residue as well. This can be limped along as he said but the mileage indeed seems too low for bad rings. Changing to synth is not magic and likely the puffing will come back. The Indy is also correct about the CCV. The mileage points to it as suspect and can be verified without replacing. They fail and can pull oil vapors into the intake - then the oil is combusted with the mixture. A hose can be removed and inspected for oil. Typical symptoms of a failing CCV include; excessive oil loss (burning), continuous and intermittent exhaust clouds, honking sounds and oil burning odors. If it continues after the CCV is ruled out, a compression test is in order.
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