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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 09-29-2012, 12:17 AM   #1
JanSolo
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Montreal
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My Ride: 2005 325xi
Valve Cover Leak: How to clean up head?

Hi all,

I have an 05 325xi. Like many others, I've had a leak from my valve cover gasket on the left hand side. Oil is running down the cylinder head and making a horrible burning smell.

I've ordered a new VCG and all the grommets and will be fitting them shortly; my question is: how do I clean up all the oily goop that's built up on the left side of the engine? It's pretty tight down there and I don't think I can get my hands very far down. Any tips?

Another question: since I have the valve cover off, is it worth doing the beisan vanos seal upgrade also? My vanos doesn't rattle, but I hear that they all fail eventually.

Thanks!

Jan
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Old 09-29-2012, 04:59 AM   #2
Super Sheep
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Las Vegas
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My Ride: 2005 E46 325 CI
My 2005 325 had been driven lightly well.... until I got it... Its VANOs seal was beyond shot. Besian talks about "note loose play".... mine at 92k was more than loose, it pretty much had no contact and was sliding freely. Mine don't rattle either, afiak its usually the M54B30 (330i) or ZHP has the noticable rattle. I bought mine at 75k and I'm willing to bet even then the seals was shot... If you VCG is leaking.. your VANOS is 95% shot. I could polly gotten away with another 25k miles before the VCG started to fail... but if your gaskets & seals started to leak... its PAST time you had them replaced. Polly should had them replace BEFORE You bought your car lol.
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Old 09-30-2012, 03:13 AM   #3
TurnersInOz
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If you are seeing oil on the left then there is a good chance it is from the oil filter housing, not the VCG.
Usually the VCG leaks on the right and the OFHG leaks on the left.
Usually.
You can go after it with degreaser and a hose, just keep it away from the alt and such.
If you are going to replace the VCG you've done a lot of the work needed to do your VANOS. If you do this, remember to get new crush washers for the VANOS oil line and a new VANOS gasket.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:23 AM   #4
JanSolo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurnersInOz View Post
If you are seeing oil on the left then there is a good chance it is from the oil filter housing, not the VCG.
Usually the VCG leaks on the right and the OFHG leaks on the left.
Usually.
I meant left when looking at the engine; I guess that this is the right side of the car when sitting in it.

The oil is running down past what looks like aircon hoses & such. Is there much I can do to increase access down there to clean it up?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurnersInOz View Post
If you are going to replace the VCG you've done a lot of the work needed to do your VANOS. If you do this, remember to get new crush washers for the VANOS oil line and a new VANOS gasket.
Yep; sounds like it's worth doing. I've ordered all the parts plus the gasket & washers. I also got a new set of spark plugs too.

Thanks!
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:14 AM   #5
TonyDiv
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I've been deliberating about doing the exact same thing. My 03 only has 60k on the clock and runs like a champ, but everyone says to do the seals while I'm doing the vcg.

My oil leak is a mystery. I can't see any oil on the block or anywhere else. The smell only happens for a few minutes once the car is fully warmed up. I could drive it for another 6 hours and not have that smell again. But... if the car sits for a day the smell will return.
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:33 PM   #6
TurnersInOz
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There isn't much on mine that can be removed on the right side. Maybe try some degreaser or Simple Green and a brush that is small enough to get in where you need it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDiv View Post
I've been deliberating about doing the exact same thing. My 03 only has 60k on the clock and runs like a champ, but everyone says to do the seals while I'm doing the vcg.

My oil leak is a mystery. I can't see any oil on the block or anywhere else. The smell only happens for a few minutes once the car is fully warmed up. I could drive it for another 6 hours and not have that smell again. But... if the car sits for a day the smell will return.
An oil leak from the OFHG can be hard to see. A flashlight works well to be able to see down to the block itself to check for signs of oil.
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Old 09-30-2012, 05:24 PM   #7
Steve855
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I just did my VCG this weekend. I always try to clean up thoroughly on any repair involving a fluid leak, so I can tell if it starts leaking again after the repair.
I removed the fan and shroud (pretty easy on my 5spd) and also the SAP (3 screws, one electrical connector, and one hose clamp). This freed up a lot of space. I also took the belt off the A/C compressor to avoid oil contamination.
The extra space gave me pretty good access with brake cleaner and paper towels. I tried to clean a lot of it while the VCG was off, especially the O2 sensor harnesses and the block between the VCG and exhaust.
Once I got all I could manually, I took the skid plates off, slid a big drain pan under, and blasted the rest with brake cleaner. I cleaned the oil off the various elec connectors with MAF cleaner, hoping not to damage them.
Then I climbed underneath and wiped off every bit of oil I could see. It wasn't that bad a job, just dirty. Wear nitrile gloves if you can.
I left the skid plates off so I can put some miles on it then have another good look from above and below and be sure nothing's leaking.
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Old 10-21-2012, 06:11 PM   #8
TonyDiv
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Well, I just finished up changing the VCG on the car. The old gasket wasn't super brittle, but it was significantly less pliable than the new one. I didn't find any oil residue anywhere on the block and no obvious flaws on the old gasket. Whoever did the gasket last time used no silicone on the half moons or anywhere else.

The only thing that I can figure is that there must have been a very small leak that landed on the exhaust heat shield. The reason is that it used to take quite a while for the smell to appear and it lasted for several minutes.. If it were dripping on the exhaust, it would have happened sooner and burned off quicker.

Well, I'll find out for sure tomorrow.
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