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Mudbone 03-16-2011 06:32 AM

Who has replaced their oil pan gasket?
I have a 2003 530i Manual Transmission w/Premium and Sport Pkg with 130,000 miles.

I recently noticed a couple of spots of oil on the driveway. After cleaning the underside of the engine and transmission, I drove the car for an hour or two and then let it sit overnight. Next morning I jacked her up and noticed an area approx 4-5 inches long on the passenger side of the oil pan that looked like it was seeping oil. I checked the torque on the pan bolts, they were all tight at 9-10 lb-ft.
How big of a pain is the pan gasket to change? The Bentley manual description is very invasive (unbolt and lift the engine 1/4").

I'd appreciate some "first-hand" advice from someone who has done this.


cn90 03-16-2011 06:51 AM

The Oil Pan Gasket for I6 is a 9-10h job because the subframe has to be removed.

If you think you have Oil Pan Gasket, you need to think again because that gasket is metal and should last way more than 250K miles.
I thought I had Oil Pan Gasket leak but when I looked at the procedure, I chickened out.
And Yes everything happened for a reason, upon further investigation, I found out that in 99% of the cases, the culprit is higher up, it was the OFH gasket.

Six ($6) later the problem is fixed:

PS: The "Freeze Plugs" fix only applies to 1997 and 1998 I6 engines.

Mudbone 03-16-2011 07:15 AM

That scars me that YOU chickened out!!

I am certain that it is not the OFH gasket. I replaced it approx 2 yrs ago. I am dry as a bone on the drivers side.

doru 03-16-2011 08:22 AM

What CN90 said.
Do the same thing as previous, BUT: take some paper towel and affix it as best as you can at the bottom of the oil filter housing - if it leaks it will soak up all the oil. If the leak is big, it will drip down.
The way the OFH is placed together with the air straem created by the fan will make the oil drip/channel where you see it.
When you crawl underneath the car - you wil see the subframe crossing right under the oil pan - it's a bear of a job for the i6.
I changed the oil pan this weekend on one of my friends X5 - it's a v8 and a very easy job.

SSJRICH 540i 03-16-2011 02:52 PM

I feel sorry for you I6ers.. It took me I think 25 min + oil change... V8 ;)

doru 03-16-2011 03:15 PM


Originally Posted by SSJRICH 540i (Post 5923197)
I feel sorry for you I6ers.. It took me I think 25 min + oil change... V8 ;)

If I were you I would not even bring it up. Maintenance and headaches i6 vs v8.
You should know better.
And if you don't believe me I will send you to read some articles written in Bimmer magazine (by our friend Mr. Miller: i6 vs v8 reliability and trouble spots). Don't get me started, please.

bluebee 03-16-2011 03:30 PM

To the OP, cn90 speaks words of wisdom.

However, if you want links ... well ... we have links!

Almost everyone with an oil-pan disaster on their hands 'contemplated' replacing the oil pan ... until they found out how much effort it was.

Then they found a simpler solution.

Which is what cn90 is trying to lead you toward ...

Good luck.

Here are the related links:
- How to fix broken or stripped oil drain pan plug bolt threads (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) & replacing the oil pan & BMW E39 oil pan gasket DIY (1)

SSJRICH 540i 03-16-2011 04:27 PM

Hey I know the differences!! I own it!! lol

V8 - What should I replace?? A: everything! lol

Common on, we 8ers need to have our momments...

franka 03-16-2011 04:59 PM

The ol bump.

Mudbone 03-17-2011 05:17 AM

Thanks for the inputs.

I don't want to start an oil thread here BUT, I got a suggestion from a buddy at work. Try not to hold this against him, I try not to. He drives a 2003 Cadillac. He said he switched to synthetic oil several years ago and his car leaked at several locations. A mechanic at the Cadillac dealership told him to switch back to dino oil and the leaks would go away. He tried it and said it worked. He says that with dino oil his car does NOT leak and with synthetic it DOES leak!!

What are the odds?

I'd be willing to switch to dino oil and increase my oil change frequency to not have to change the oil pan gasket.

I'd appreciate your comments/inputs.


franka 03-17-2011 07:32 AM

This is what is happening. This is the very condensed version.

Dino oil has an ingredient, totally unintentional, that swells seals a bit. It comes in the crude oil and is not one of the many additives that are in all engine oils.

Synthetic oils do not have this naturally occuring ingredient in sufficient quantity. But due to the incidents of syn oils leaking, the oil companies are adding a component to help with this. Also the auto mfgrs are switching to seal materials that will work well with syn oils.

I switched years ago and had a few leaks that went away in a month or two. Do some research on your syn brands to find out which are addressing the problem.

Mudbone 03-17-2011 09:02 AM

So, you are saying the story is credible?

I am going to give it a try. I'll keep ya'll posted on the results.

cn90 03-17-2011 09:23 AM

What brand of OFH gasket seal did you use 2 years ago?
Aftermarket seal is known to leak.

Anyway, clean it all up everywhere and start monitoring oil leak to determine the exact source before spending 10h doing the oil pan gasket.

Mudbone 03-17-2011 09:33 AM


I bought to OFH gasket from the strealership. I have a friend in the parts department. I get pretty good prices.

I took the air filter housing box out and have inspected the OFH. It is NOT leaking. I wish it was the cause.

What is your take on the switch to dino oil?


cn90 03-17-2011 09:42 AM

ARE you sure it is leaking from the oil pan gasket?

bluebee 03-17-2011 09:46 AM


Originally Posted by cn90 (Post 5925124)
ARE you sure it is leaking from the oil pan gasket?

To the person cn90 is talking to ... heed his questions.

Cn90 himself went through this ... as have many others.

Many 'think' it's the oil-pan gasket; but often, it 'really' is the OFH gasket.

Mudbone 03-17-2011 10:30 AM

Unfortunately, I am 100% certain.

cn90 03-17-2011 11:05 AM


Originally Posted by Mudbone (Post 5925269)
Unfortunately, I am 100% certain.

Clean it up, wait for the leak then post some pics.

nyclad 03-17-2011 02:28 PM

I went through this diagnostic a few months ago and concluded it to be the oil pan gasket.

Check out the pics in my thread.

I replaced the oil filter housing gasket twice, the first time (2 years ago,) it was leaking. The second time, it was dry, so it wasn't the oil filter housing gasket. I cleaned the engine and checked for oil leaks, and it seems to be coming from the oil pan gasket. I put a plastic sign under my engine and left the protective cover off, and there's quite a bit of oil dripped on it.

I'm slowly gathering parts to do it. I have the gasket itself, it seems to be a rubber gasket with a metal inside frame.

The only thing keeping me from doing this right now is that I'm shopping around now for an engine support bar. I'm also waiting until I can borrow a secondary vehicle while mine is under. I'm thinking 2 days as I tend to work slowly and methodically.

I found the repair on a copy of Bentley's and I'll post pics of the repair once I get to it.

bluebee 03-17-2011 04:20 PM


Originally Posted by nyclad (Post 5925893)
Check out the pics in my thread.

Nice link.

I added it to the bestlinks so that re-use is designed in:

- How to fix broken or stripped oil drain pan plug bolt threads (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) & replacing the oil pan & BMW E39 oil pan gasket DIY (1) (2) & how to isolate & fix OFH oil filter housing leaks (1) (2) (3) (4)

cn90 03-17-2011 07:58 PM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by nyclad (Post 5925893)
...The only thing keeping me from doing this right now is that I'm shopping around now for an engine support bar...

Once the engine is suspended by the hoist, use a floorjack with a piece of wood and gently place slight pressure under the front of transmission (for additional support) before removing the subframe.

If you are creative enough, you can make your own engine hoist. The engine weighs about 350 lbs or so, therefore the 4x4 treated wood can easily handle that load. Once done, you turn the hoist into a kids swingset!

559eddie559 03-17-2011 08:17 PM

I have personally changed my oil pan gasket about two weeks ago.

It is a pain in the butt but i figured where it was leaking oil. It was from the oil filter flange gasket which is on the driver side. I took me about 3 days because i had school and also because it was such a tidious work. The engine has to be lifted thats for sure and you might want to take out your rack and pinon out to have some space under there..In the end i think i had done wise decision because the rubber on the gasket was real stiff and was about to go out the door already. Tell me what you need to know ill guide you.

bluebee 03-18-2011 05:10 AM


Originally Posted by cn90 (Post 5926677)
If you are creative enough, you can make your own engine hoist

This is such a nice idea that I just now added it to the bestlinks for re-use:
- How to make your own engine hoist and engine support (1) when removing the subframe or I6 oil pan

cn90 03-18-2011 07:31 AM

? Volvo Chemical Gasket
I just came up with this idea and wonder if you guys like it.

Those of you who owns Volvo know that Volvo use "Chemical Gasket" (Anaerobic gasket)to seal the cam head and the oil sump.
Volvo PN 1161059: $30 for Volvo OEM or $7 for Victor Reinz brand

The procedure is here:
The Volvo procedure says use a roller but you can still use this like an RTV sealant (silicone based).

So my $1M question is, if someone is willing to be the guinea pig, then he/she can try this WITHOUT the need to remove the subframe/oil sump. It is an 1h job instead of the 10h job!
- Drain engine oil.
- Loosen the drain pan bolts, support the rear part of the sump with wood/floor jack.
- Now remove the sump bolts and cut the old gasket and remove it.
- The FRONT part of the sump will rest against the subframe; The REAR part of the sump will rest against the floor jack; and gives you about 1 inch of gap to apply the sealant.
No need to remove the oil sump.
- Apply the Volvo sealant all around as per Volvo procedure.
- Bolt the sump back and that is it.
- Oh, don't forget to add the engine oil!

This is the Volvo part I mentioned above, PN 1161059:

cn90 03-18-2011 07:44 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Another trick to do this job without removing the subframe.
I have not tried this, so this is just a thought!

The main reason you need to remove the subframe:
- The oil sump gasket is stiff (it has metal in it) and you cannot work it (in other words, "snake it") from under the oil pump/pickup pipe ---> therefore you need to remove the subframe (itself is a pain in the butt). Admittedly some people have been able to "snake it" under the crankshaft.

So for those of you who don't want to remove the subframe, I propose that you cut the new gasket ($28 experiment!) at the front and rear parts of the gasket (See pic below):
- Do the above-mentioned post (drain oil, loosen sump bolts, remove old gaskets, let the sump rest against the subframe).
- Now slide in the 2 halves of the new gaskets (that you just cut in half).
- Gently bolt it up, leaving a 1/2 inch gap.
- Apply Volvo chemical seal at the 2 locations where you cut it.
- Bolt it up.
- Add oil.

What you do think?
Who wants to be the guinea pig LOL? Worst case scenario, you lose $28 bucks, but I think this should work great.
All I can tell you is that: if and whenever my oil sump gasket goes bad, I will try it this way (cut it in half + Volvo chemical seal): 1h job is better than 10h job!
Conceptually, this is no different to using RTV for the "half-moon" areas when doing the VCG or Vanos jobs!

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