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Old 03-21-2019, 07:21 PM   #1
egoy936
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Leaking valve cover bolts

I replaced my valve cover gasket along with all the valve cover bolt rubber washers in my 2002 330ci. I have been driving around for about a week mind you I don't drive very far or drive it that much. However I noticed a burning oil smell like oil has on drippped on to the exhaust manifold. So I checked it out and noticed that oil was sweating from on of the back bolts on the VC on the left side of the engine. I decided one day to pull it out and clean everything again from the washer to the bolt and even the new rubber washer. After that I decided as a precaution that I would put gasket maker under the rubber washer since looked like the source. However today was was driving around and noticed the faint smell of burning oil and could see the bolt had new oil on it. I attached a picture below. Any ideas in why is happening and how to fix it? Also I should mention I have tighten the bolts to the correct torque spec and I have a catch can install in place of the CCV. Any help is much appreciated.
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Old 03-21-2019, 07:27 PM   #2
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Your catch can setup might be putting too much pressure in the crankcase causing the gasket to push out
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Old 03-21-2019, 07:39 PM   #3
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It's common to get a crack in the plastic valve cover in that area. Do a crankcase smoke test when the engine is dead cold and see if you get any smoke coming out near that VC bolt.
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Old 03-21-2019, 10:45 PM   #4
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...also, tightening to torque might be deceptive...as it's such low torque. You need to tighten in a few stages, inside to out (basically...there's a pattern to follow), and you should stop when you bottom out. If you haven't bottomed out, you should. Once you bottom, don't tighten much from there or you'll crack a nut.

I'm sure you put the rtv over the half moons and where vanos meets the head...if not...that could be cause for your leak.

It might also be that you got a wire snagged under the valve cover in the rt. rear corner (not uncommon). Also not uncommon is some leftover gasket in the cover...and rarely, a bad new gasket. Some brands got a bad reputation here for a while...but I suspect those issues were sorted out a while ago.

Start by tightening down to the stop...and stopping...and good luck!

(Oh, btw, all this might just be leftover residue of oil which will eventually burn off. After a week of a decent amount of driving it should be gone...but maybe not. Clean things up and see if the smell persists.
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Old 03-21-2019, 11:22 PM   #5
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if your valve cover isn't in perfect condition, make sure to not use Victor reinz, those are too thin. I found out the hard way by wasting 8-10hrs trying to re-seal and adding rtv. Didn't help, still leaking on headers like yours. Finally got thicc Fel-Pro gasket and it's working way better!

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Old 03-21-2019, 11:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by lyssword View Post
if your valve cover isn't in perfect condition, make sure to not use Victor reinz, those are too thin. I found out the hard way by wasting 8-10hrs trying to re-seal and adding rtv. Didn't help, still leaking on headers like yours. Finally got thicc Fel-Pro gasket and it's working way better!
This. Get a genuine OE gasket from a dealer -- they seal well and have upgraded the rubber material to something that will last.
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Old 03-22-2019, 05:57 AM   #7
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So I am not convinced it is the catch can because many other people are running the exact same setup with no leaks. If it was the increased vacuum wouldn't the other bolts on the left side be leaking since the engine is tilted that way? I used all genuine BMW parts that I order straight from FCP Euro. I am thinking about doing a smoke test to see. I have to buy/ make one first. I suppose it could be the actual cover but it does almost look like the bolt its self it sweating the oil out. This only happens when I drive the car hard .

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Old 03-22-2019, 06:12 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by egoy936 View Post
I replaced my valve cover gasket along with all the valve cover bolt rubber washers in my 2002 330ci. I have been driving around for about a week mind you I don't drive very far or drive it that much. However I noticed a burning oil smell like oil has on drippped on to the exhaust manifold. So I checked it out and noticed that oil was sweating from on of the back bolts on the VC on the left side of the engine. I decided one day to pull it out and clean everything again from the washer to the bolt and even the new rubber washer. After that I decided as a precaution that I would put gasket maker under the rubber washer since looked like the source. However today was was driving around and noticed the faint smell of burning oil and could see the bolt had new oil on it. I attached a picture below. Any ideas in why is happening and how to fix it? Also I should mention I have tighten the bolts to the correct torque spec and I have a catch can install in place of the CCV. Any help is much appreciated.
Re-torque them. You did observe the cross tightening rules when fitting them? Slacken them off and redo them gradually to 10Nm center first moving outwards to the ends. If that doesn't sort it out then replace them again.
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:39 AM   #9
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You can make a super simple smoke tester for cheap using a small cigar or cigarette, hand pump, tape, and rubber glove. See the videos in this post by jfoj.
https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showpo...35&postcount=2
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Old 03-22-2019, 02:00 PM   #10
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I did a smoke test a while ago and found a hairline crack in the VC in that area. I smothered it with plastic bonder epoxy after a very thorough cleaning and sanding. Holding up good so far.
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:40 PM   #11
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I vote re-torque to be sure you didnít miss one.


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Old 03-22-2019, 04:15 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by fanatichuman View Post
I did a smoke test a while ago and found a hairline crack in the VC in that area. I smothered it with plastic bonder epoxy after a very thorough cleaning and sanding. Holding up good so far.
Cheers
Some member on here, I forget who, had three M54 valve covers with hairline cracks in that one spot and it stuck in my mind. Iíve seen one case as well. Iíll see if I can find his post about it.
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:24 PM   #13
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I checked it out and noticed that oil was sweating from on of the back bolts on the VC on the left side of the engine.
1) That is the RH side and not Left, unless you sited backward driving.

2) That thing has female threads so it's a nut (female nuts?) not bolt which normally has male threads.

3) How many washer from that nut to the rubber seal? the pic seems to show 2 washer. Even with cracked cover, I don't see how oil got to the top hex capped nut as in pic. Do this: Does the cap nut go tight or loose into the rubber seal? If loose then oil can leak between seal and nut outer wall. don't need to over torque that nut because it already bottomed out.
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:42 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sapote View Post
1) That is the RH side and not Left, unless you sited backward driving.

2) That thing has female threads so it's a nut (female nuts?) not bolt which normally has male threads.

3) How many washer from that nut to the rubber seal? the pic seems to show 2 washer. Even with cracked cover, I don't see how oil got to the top hex capped nut as in pic. Do this: Does the cap nut go tight or loose into the rubber seal? If loose then oil can leak between seal and nut outer wall. don't need to over torque that nut because it already bottomed out.
Sapote, so glad you brought this up! The left and right sides as well as front and rear are always from the perspective of sitting in the driver's seat, regardless of whether the driver's seat is on the left side (USA) or right side (UK). So many people just don't know this simple fact. All auto parts are listed this way. The terms driver's side and pasenger side are just wrong and annoying.

On BMW parts that are slightly different for each side, the right side part number is even and the left side is odd.

Also, many people don't realize that nuts are female because they have holes with threads inside, while bolts are male because they go in holes and have threads outside.
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Old 03-22-2019, 08:14 PM   #15
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The reason for the tightening pattern is so that you don't crack the cover.

One way that can occur is tightening the outer nuts first, while the center is lifted from the gasket pressure. Tightening the center nuts then collapses the "bridge", resulting in a crack. Loosening and re-tightening won't fix the crack.

The nuts bottom out on their shoulders. The pressure is set by the depth of the shoulder and the resilience of the the rubber washer. Tightening beyond bottoming out on the shoulder will just put stress on the fastener threads, not increase the gasket pressure. And in a battle between threads on the (inexpensive, easily replaced) steel stud and the threads in the aluminum head...

RTV won't help here, it will only make things worse. There should only be a hair-thin application of RTV on the seam between the head and VANOS, and perhaps on the sharp angle of the VANOS arch and the rear cam cut-out.
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