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X5 E53 (1999 - 2006)
The X5 SAV Forum

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  #1  
Old 12-19-2009, 12:43 PM
JD1200 JD1200 is offline
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What years of X5's are most susceptible to the dreaded oil separator failure?

I just bought a 2005 X5 4.8is with only 38k.
I love this vehicle. It is everything I imagined it would be.
A friend of mine has me worried now.
He told me that the X5's are famous for the dreaded oil separator failure in cold winter weather.
Can someone tell me if this is a problem found on older X5's or is mine subject to this too?
What can I do to ensure this doesn't happen to me?
I do live in a cold winter area and will often drive in sub freezing temps.
All advice on this one is much appreciated.
Thanks,
John.
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  #2  
Old 12-19-2009, 04:07 PM
ncsucarjock88 ncsucarjock88 is offline
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The 2005 models are subject to it as well. Best advice. Don't drive for short trips in cold weather. Ensure that the engine can always get up to operating temperature, and stay there for awhile. If you live in a really cold climate, taking an hours drive at highway speeds every week is a good idea.

The problem happens when water condenses and then freezes inside the passages and clogging the CCV system. Do what you can to minimize condensation.

I've had no issues with mine in the past 33k (at 63k, bought with 30k) but I drive a *lot*, and never for short distances where the engine won't get hot.

Other than that, I'm not sure of any way to prevent this from occurring.
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  #3  
Old 12-19-2009, 05:05 PM
JD1200 JD1200 is offline
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I have heard about a heating type wrap that either goes around the separator or the lines or maybe both.
Has anyone heard of this?
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  #4  
Old 12-19-2009, 06:18 PM
Stanesq Stanesq is offline
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Why should something like this ever be an issue on a $50K vehicle?
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  #5  
Old 12-20-2009, 12:46 AM
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HT417 HT417 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanesq View Post
Why should something like this ever be an issue on a $50K vehicle?
I couldn't agree more but nevertheless it is an issue.
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  #6  
Old 12-20-2009, 07:52 AM
JD1200 JD1200 is offline
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Any suggestions on how to make my X5 more cold weather reliable?
What is this "fix" that BMW has introduced to combat the problem?
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  #7  
Old 12-20-2009, 10:05 AM
dkl dkl is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanesq View Post
Why should something like this ever be an issue on a $50K vehicle?
A $50K+ price tag doesn't exclude you from anything. If by your logic, then a Bugatti Veyron should be NEVER break down or at least 30 times less likely to breakdown than an X5?

Last edited by dkl; 12-20-2009 at 10:14 AM.
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  #8  
Old 12-20-2009, 11:07 AM
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HT417 HT417 is offline
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Originally Posted by dkl View Post
A $50K+ price tag doesn't exclude you from anything. If by your logic, then a Bugatti Veyron should be NEVER break down or at least 30 times less likely to breakdown than an X5?
For these prices I expect a little better engineering. This has been an issue for years. The lowest price for repair that I've ever seen posted here was in the neighborhood of $400.00 and I've seen some in the neighborhood of $2300. In addition, the consequences seem to range from a blown valve cover gasket to a blown head gasket. It's not BMW's fault that condensation pools in the oil pan as a result of too many short drives but, it seems that BMW makes you pay a harsher price than necessary. I really don't get what's so special about their design that they can't make it lower maintenance and lower priced.
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  #9  
Old 01-04-2010, 05:12 AM
darlene034 darlene034 is offline
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rocket science

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkl View Post
A $50K+ price tag doesn't exclude you from anything. If by your logic, then a Bugatti Veyron should be NEVER break down or at least 30 times less likely to breakdown than an X5?
Look at the Space Shuttle and they are rocket scientist.
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  #10  
Old 01-20-2011, 11:39 AM
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Zulu95 Zulu95 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanesq View Post
Why should something like this ever be an issue on a $50K vehicle?
Because it makes $tealers and BMW a LOT of money for repairs!!
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  #11  
Old 01-21-2011, 06:52 AM
BlackPearlX5 BlackPearlX5 is offline
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Angry Do you have a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Warranty?

I am just wondering because my original owner 2003 with all service records E53 cost me +$800 last year to have the oil separator replaced with a cold-weather version. Unfortunately, the dreaded sludge is back again just this past December. Very frustrating. Daily trips to work are about 40 minutes each way.
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  #12  
Old 01-26-2011, 09:50 AM
aimtimes100 aimtimes100 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanesq View Post
Why should something like this ever be an issue on a $50K vehicle?
its llike what i always said to my one friends.just cause it costs more doesn't mean its better
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  #13  
Old 01-26-2011, 10:10 AM
aimtimes100 aimtimes100 is offline
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and i thought i was just one of the few to get a ****ty X5 but now this just seems like an issue that every person has unless the live in texas or something.this is just another reason too add to the list of "why my X5 and probably BMW in general, sucks"
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  #14  
Old 12-20-2009, 10:46 AM
Redridge Redridge is offline
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BMW AOS is way over engineered.... but it still not bullet proof. My 911 is the same way, same design and the rubber diaphragm is prone to failure.... It will however keep oil out of your intake on high G's to prevent hydrolock.
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  #15  
Old 12-20-2009, 11:11 AM
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HT417 HT417 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redridge View Post
BMW AOS is way over engineered.... but it still not bullet proof. My 911 is the same way, same design and the rubber diaphragm is prone to failure.... It will however keep oil out of your intake on high G's to prevent hydrolock.
If I'm not mistaken, the best sports cars only pull a little over 1 G. Is that high enough to threaten the intake with an oil bath? It seems like the AOS more properly belongs on the Space Shuttle and not an internal combustion engine.
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  #16  
Old 12-20-2009, 11:21 AM
Redridge Redridge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HT417 View Post
If I'm not mistaken, the best sports cars only pull a little over 1 G. Is that high enough to threaten the intake with an oil bath? It seems like the AOS more properly belongs on the Space Shuttle and not an internal combustion engine.
yes hydrolock is real, especially flat 6 boxer engines.... thats why the AOS is a vertical column in design (so that the oil can fall back into the crank case and the oil have to creep up to get passed it). The AOS is also more for mandated emissions.... unlike back in the old age where the crank exhuasts vents to atmosphere. Not sure about the X5, but porsche AOS also has coolant running through it to cool the gas before entering into the intake.
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  #17  
Old 12-20-2009, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redridge View Post
yes hydrolock is real, especially flat 6 boxer engines.... thats why the AOS is a vertical column in design (so that the oil can fall back into the crank case and the oil have to creep up to get passed it). The AOS is also more for mandated emissions.... unlike back in the old age where the crank exhuasts vents to atmosphere. Not sure about the X5, but porsche AOS also has coolant running through it to cool the gas before entering into the intake.
Thanks - got it. I'm hoping to one day own one of those boxer engines. I sure had blast driving them.
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  #18  
Old 12-21-2009, 07:16 AM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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I wonder what Subaru does with their hot WRX Sti boxer engines? Probably uses a PCV valve like the rest of the manufacturers, except for BMW and Porsche I guess.
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  #19  
Old 12-26-2009, 07:42 AM
sequel95 sequel95 is offline
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I have a 2003 E53 3.0 liter with about 88,000 miles. Last winter at 75,000 miles, on a very cold day, I drove the E53 to work in the am, started it up at 5pm, and it was running roughly. I let it warm up for a few minutes, then made my way home. The temp was -5 degrees F all day. About 1 mile from my office, the vehicle seized on the interstate in Milwaukee. I did not try to restart it, as I figured it was a water pump. It was the oil separator, and it blew the valve cover gasket and coated the engine with lots of oil. BMW NA stood behind the parts, and I paid for labor ($1300). Here is what I tell friends with 6 cylinder BMWs potentially affected by this issue- call BMW NA and tell them your concerns, and ask them to consider replacing and updating parts before you have a catastrophic failure. My guess is they will pay for parts and you will be on the hook for a few hours labor.

All this talk of driving longer distances, higher RPM, etc, I wonder if it really matters. I drive mine at highway speeds for long periods, and rev it up whenever possible, so I am confident the problem is in the design of the separator. It just gets clogged up and if it freezes, watch out! My commute to work is about 8 miles, so that could have had an impact. You might try driving in sport mode, and at each fillup, check your oil cap (I do once per week) for sludge. That is the best way to know if that separator is holding onto sludge.

I bet it also has to do with miles on vehicle. BMW NA knows when these things fail, but good luck finding out the real data.
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  #20  
Old 12-27-2009, 12:16 PM
Ken Jacobs Ken Jacobs is offline
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2010 X5 Diesel ... will the oil separator be a problem?

I've read quite a few posts about the oil separator problem, but I've not seen any information about whether or not this can occur on a diesel.

Just yesterday I bought a 2010 X5 xDrive35D, and it will be delivered next month. We live in Utah, and have a heated garage, but it sometimes gets pretty cold here. Rarely below 10 F, but sometimes below 0 F. Our shortest drive would be 15 minutes or so one way, down, then up the mountain.

So, is the diesel engine subject to the OS problem? Will the sort of driving we do ... perhaps to go out for dinner on a cold night ... be a problem?

Thanks ... and wish me luck with my new car!
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  #21  
Old 12-28-2009, 05:14 AM
jkwolfe1 jkwolfe1 is offline
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Thanks sequel95 for your discussion...I have the same X5 with exactly the same mileage and live in South Dakota! I have owned my SAV for about two months and recently did my own oil change only to find some tan colored sludge on the oil cap! The vehicle operates beautifully except for a persistent "check oil level" warning (even after replacing the sensor). Any thoughts?
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  #22  
Old 02-27-2010, 12:34 PM
dannyone dannyone is offline
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had a conversation with a mechanic and his advice to this problem is to change the oil every two months
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  #23  
Old 12-28-2009, 08:39 AM
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David1 David1 is offline
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The seperator goes bad when the drain for it gets clogged. It drains through the dipstick tube and it is a double walled tube.
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  #24  
Old 01-02-2010, 12:09 PM
almostdone almostdone is offline
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Well I just watched my BMW X5 being towed away for the 4th time for the oil separater problem. Each time in the shop it is 'this is the right fix'! We'll see. I came across this site as I was looking for new cars! I am so afraid to start my car and have no trust in it. Each time I start it I have to say a prayer and hold my breath that it will not have a big black smoke ball if the temp is below 20 degrees. Although it is below zero today, the other 2 cars in the garage had no problems. A saturn with 150000 miles on it and a Jeep. Makes me wonder. I have spent more money on keeping this car on the road that I refuse to do it any longer. Once I get it running, it is gone and I will never get another BMW. I saved my whole life to get this car and now am slowly going into the poor house from the repairs. Although BMW has been wonderful and have acknowledged this issue and has worked with me, I cannot continue to put good money into a bad product. Very sad as I love it when it is running! In reading the other posts it states to drive it around and don't take it on short trips.....I don't think a car that costs this much I should have to be so selective in where I drive it to, or drive around for an hour before I go to the grocery store. I would think that I would get more reliability than a 6 year old saturn way past its prime. The fact that I have to keep the saturn as a backup because I never know when my BMW will work is really wrong! Sorry BMW!
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  #25  
Old 01-05-2010, 11:45 AM
almostdone almostdone is offline
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update:

Quote:
Originally Posted by almostdone View Post
Well I just watched my BMW X5 being towed away for the 4th time for the oil separater problem. Each time in the shop it is 'this is the right fix'! We'll see. I came across this site as I was looking for new cars! I am so afraid to start my car and have no trust in it. Each time I start it I have to say a prayer and hold my breath that it will not have a big black smoke ball if the temp is below 20 degrees. Although it is below zero today, the other 2 cars in the garage had no problems. A saturn with 150000 miles on it and a Jeep. Makes me wonder. I have spent more money on keeping this car on the road that I refuse to do it any longer. Once I get it running, it is gone and I will never get another BMW. I saved my whole life to get this car and now am slowly going into the poor house from the repairs. Although BMW has been wonderful and have acknowledged this issue and has worked with me, I cannot continue to put good money into a bad product. Very sad as I love it when it is running! In reading the other posts it states to drive it around and don't take it on short trips.....I don't think a car that costs this much I should have to be so selective in where I drive it to, or drive around for an hour before I go to the grocery store. I would think that I would get more reliability than a 6 year old saturn way past its prime. The fact that I have to keep the saturn as a backup because I never know when my BMW will work is really wrong! Sorry BMW!

Update: Well, I am picking up the X5 tonight with a 'brand new fix'. The techs don't sound confident, but what can I do. the service department has been wonderful, but unfortunaltey they cannot make me feel warm and fuzzy that this won't happen again-because they do not feel warm and fuzzy. We will see!
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