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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-17-2010, 07:30 PM
usedbimmer usedbimmer is offline
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Is my oil pan or plug stripped?

Changed my oil today. First time I've done it on my 540i.. Everything went smooth until I screwed the plug back on. I set my torque wrench for about 18lbs as recommended on the DIY's. The darn thing got fairly tight, but then just kept turning. I thought about taking it back out, but decided to just put the oil in and see if it would leak. After putting 8 quarters of fresh oil in there, I put the flap back on, lowered the car and took it for a 10 minute test drive. A couple of hours later, I checked for leaks, but the thread seemed bone dry.

I guess I'll have to be paranoid and check my plug every couple of weeks..

Do you suppose a new plug would fix it, or is it more than likely a stripped oil pan?
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  #2  
Old 10-17-2010, 07:51 PM
sealbeach740 sealbeach740 is offline
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Most likely the oil pan plug is what will strip, not the threads in the oil pan itself.
Hope that's what happened in your case (much cheaper).
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  #3  
Old 10-17-2010, 09:16 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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From the bestlinks thread:
- How to fix broken or stripped oil drain pan plug bolt threads (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17)
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  #4  
Old 10-18-2010, 07:32 AM
usedbimmer usedbimmer is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 540i
Very helpful thanks..

Based on what I've read it sound like the plug head is broke; So, the threaded portin is still plugging up the hole explaining why no leakage so far.

Now, I know what I have to do. I may just wait for the next oil change.

Thanks.
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  #5  
Old 10-18-2010, 07:41 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Go and buy a new drain plug/washer from dealer for $6.
Then undo the old plug, plug the hole with your finger, then swap to the new plug.
Oil loss should be minimal if you are good at swapping.
Better be safe than sorry, a quick loss of oil through your drain plug will fry your engine very quickly, then you will cry.

PS: If you have broken stud in the oil pan, then use a screw driver to remove it.
Another approach is get a very clean plastic oil container, do it inside a garage to avoid debris from falling into the plastic oil container.
Do the drain plug swap (again, make sure the broken part is removed first).
Then get a funnel and a piece of clean cloth, pour the engine oil back into the engine, filtering it with clean cloth.

Last edited by cn90; 10-18-2010 at 07:43 AM.
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  #6  
Old 10-18-2010, 09:31 AM
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525isport 525isport is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Go and buy a new drain plug/washer from dealer for $6.
Then undo the old plug, plug the hole with your finger, then swap to the new plug.
Oil loss should be minimal if you are good at swapping.
Better be safe than sorry, a quick loss of oil through your drain plug will fry your engine very quickly, then you will cry.

PS: If you have broken stud in the oil pan, then use a screw driver to remove it.
Another approach is get a very clean plastic oil container, do it inside a garage to avoid debris from falling into the plastic oil container.
Do the drain plug swap (again, make sure the broken part is removed first).
Then get a funnel and a piece of clean cloth, pour the engine oil back into the engine, filtering it with clean cloth.
please do this ...very soon...dont take a chance and wait for the plug to come loose for itself
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  #7  
Old 10-18-2010, 10:15 AM
KeithS KeithS is offline
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Get 2 replacement plugs. The replacement you need and the spare you should keep. The threads on the V8 drain plug are quite fragile and are easily damaged, andthey just plain wear out. When I did the first oil change on mine after getting it (used car), I was horrified when using the torque wrench as the torque was going down as I was tightnening it. The fact it was hard to get out was a clue. New plug, problem solved (Yes I still use the torge wrench and all is fine).
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  #8  
Old 10-18-2010, 05:53 PM
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I have a problem with your description and the solution (if I understand it correctly).

As cn90 & 525isport said, you're trading (at most) the cost of 8 quarts of virgin oil against the cost of a new engine, should something go wrong in the already wrong situation ... and, well, that's just not a fair trade.

Also, you said, the drain bolt head "just kept turning" while you said the threads "seemed bone dry". You're not the first person to say the bolt head kept turning - which I find really hard to fathom because my experience with the BMW OEM bolt is that it turned once too many times and just fell off.

I also find it hard to fathom, if you have the OEM BMW drain bolt, that with the head apparently loose, that it doesn't leak ... simply because the BMW drain bolt is hollow.

It might be you have a non OEM bolt in there but the discrepancies in your description from my real-life experience indicate to me your proper plan of action is, as cn90 and 525isport said ...

0. Buy a #4 extractor (or a complete set)
1. Buy two new BMW hollow drain bolts (as KeithS said)
2. Lift the vehicle and place a very clean pan underneath
3. Remove the old drain bolt (may require multiple steps)
4. Replace with the new BMW drain bolt
5. If desired, refill engine with the collected clean oil
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  #9  
Old 10-18-2010, 07:33 PM
usedbimmer usedbimmer is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 540i
I've heard enough..

I've been leery just thinking about this this all day long. You've convinced me to take care of it right away. I have all the supplies I need except the darned Oil Plug. None of the auto stores around me had the right size this evening. I decided to use a clean oil drain and re-use the oil. NO sense in wasting good oil. There is still a chance the plug is stripped, but not broke. I may be able to get it out and just plug it up right away with a new plug. We'll see!

I'll find the plug tomorrow and take care of it. May have to order it online.

Thanks!~
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  #10  
Old 10-18-2010, 07:39 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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No BMW dealer near you?
Which city are you in Colorado?

PS: Everything you ever want to know about the drain plug is in bluebee's thread here: How not to change oil:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho....php?p=5448401

Get two (2) drain plugs as suggested above.

This is my thread on how to change oil, the simple way:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=459141
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  #11  
Old 10-18-2010, 08:20 PM
usedbimmer usedbimmer is offline
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Bluebee,

The more I think about it, it seems very doubtful the head is broken. As you say, it would almost certainly fall off. I was afraid to take it out and see, without having another plug handy to immediately repair it. Also, the plug doesn't turn real loosely. It's rather snug while it turns. What seems more likely is that either the threads on the plug are just stripped and worn out or the oil pan threads (hopefully not) are stripped.

I'll let you know.
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  #12  
Old 10-19-2010, 05:41 AM
KeithS KeithS is offline
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The V8 and 6-cyl use completely different drain plugs. The V8 plug has fragile threads and they will actually start tearing off if over torqued. The 6-cyl plug is much larger in diameter and the threads are strong. But the factory 6-cyl plug is hollow, and the head will snap off, by design, if over torqued. It is rare that the threads in the oil pan, which are hardened, are damaged (not impossible, but rare).

Note that I indicated the factory 6-cyl plug is hollow. If you get an aftermarket plug, like from a local parts store, it probably will not be hollow and designed to snap and could damage the pan threads if over torqued.

Last edited by KeithS; 10-19-2010 at 09:40 AM.
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  #13  
Old 10-19-2010, 09:14 AM
usedbimmer usedbimmer is offline
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This is getting DARNED frustrating...

I am unable to extract the drain plug. It just turns with the wrench when I turn it counter clockwise. It most definitely is attached to the head. Makes me suspect it could be damaged oil pan threads. It's in there pretty good and there is no leaking, but I'm going to want to get this thing out eventually.

Note, how there is a star socket inside the head. Does that this mean it is not a BMW standard plug? As you can see, it was fairly worn on the outside by whomever changed the oil the last few times, so it doesn't surprise me that something is stripped.

Any ideas of how to safely pull the plug? I have the #4 extractor, but with the head still attached that won't do much good.

[IMG]http://**********.com/admin/images/bmw-stripped-drain-plug.jpg[/IMG]
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  #14  
Old 10-19-2010, 09:36 AM
KeithS KeithS is offline
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That is the standard BMW OEM drain plug. Pretty sure your pan is fine, the threads on the plug are mangled. Try unscrewing with a pliers pulling it out as you unscrew it. Hopefully the threads will catch.

Here is a pix of a new one (the spare I keep) so you know what you are dealing with. As you can see the threads are unusual.
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Last edited by KeithS; 10-19-2010 at 09:39 AM.
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  #15  
Old 10-19-2010, 09:44 AM
usedbimmer usedbimmer is offline
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Thanks

I've been pulling on it.. I'll try again, here.
I'm tempted to let it go. I don't think it's going to break off and leak any time soon.

I'll give it one more shot.

Thanks.
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Old 10-19-2010, 09:57 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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You just changed the oil and now you cannot remove the plug? Something is strange here.

I have been using my 5:30 o'clock ---> 7 o'clock thing for 25 years: no issues whatsoever:

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  #17  
Old 10-19-2010, 10:13 AM
usedbimmer usedbimmer is offline
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C90,

I wish I had seen your 5:30 - 7:00 before I did this.

However, I really doubt I over-torqued the plug. I think it was just worn.
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Old 10-19-2010, 10:40 AM
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try a vise grip locking pliers and pull away from the pan (very hard) while turning it should come off
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  #19  
Old 10-19-2010, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithS View Post
The V8 and 6-cyl use completely different drain plugs.
Wow. I did not know that. I only speak for the I6 since that's what I have. From the picture above, the V8 plug doesn't look anything like the I6 plug so the #4 extractor probably is bad advice. The #4 extractor works beautifully on the hollow I6 plug.

BTW, I've been told you do NOT want to remove the I6 drain pan but the V8 drain pan is pretty simple, I'm told, to remove. So, to the OP, if you need to add a heli-coil or similar set of threads, it won't be too difficult on the V8.

As for removing the V8 drain plug, the vise-grips idea while pulling outward seems reasonable; also you might get a fatter hex wrench in there than what it is designed for...

But, I echo cn90's sentiments. If you just changed the oil, then you removed the drain plug; so what changed to make it "stuck".

Anyway, this trial and tribulation (what's the difference between a trial and a tribulation anyway) proves yet again, that a fundamental component of an oil change is a brand new PLUG (and WASHER).


Last edited by bluebee; 10-19-2010 at 04:13 PM.
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  #20  
Old 10-19-2010, 07:13 PM
KeithS KeithS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
But, I echo cn90's sentiments. If you just changed the oil, then you removed the drain plug; so what changed to make it "stuck".
What happened is the drain plug was damaged to begin with. Reinstalling it even to normal/proper torque folded up the threads of the plug where it contacts the oil pan. There are still threads on the plug beyond where the drain pain threads end. This is what is holding the plug in place. Essentially there are no threads of the plug in mating contact with the threads of the oil pan. As there is no 'lead' thread left to engage with the oil pan, it does not want to catch. With a little luck and a lot of pulling force while trying to unscrew, a thread may catch. If not, time to pull the oil pan and cut/saw/grind the plug out. I would venture a guess it will not fall out.

I understand on the V8 the removal of the LOWER oil pan is easy. Actually I plan on doing it on my next oil change as the oil pan gasket is starting to leak (10 years old, 130K miles).

Last edited by KeithS; 10-19-2010 at 07:15 PM.
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  #21  
Old 10-20-2010, 05:27 AM
540nj 540nj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
...

Anyway, this trial and tribulation (what's the difference between a trial and a tribulation anyway) proves yet again, that a fundamental component of an oil change is a brand new PLUG (and WASHER).

I say another argument for topside oil change. At least until they get rid of the dipstick altogether.

dave
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  #22  
Old 10-20-2010, 05:59 AM
KeithS KeithS is offline
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I say another argument for topside oil change. At least until they get rid of the dipstick altogether.

dave
03 540i6
Unfortunately that ship has sailed. Think the dipstick is gone for most the BMW engines except diesel. I've been changing oil on BMW's for 20 car years (more than one car). Except the 1st oil change on the used 540 (damaged by previous owner), have not had the slightest issue with the drain plug. Using a torque wrench (same setting as oil filter cover) ensures no issues. The 5:30 to 7:00 method of CN90 sounds good too.

The the advise here is to keep a spare drain plug around and if anything seems funny when you take the plug out, use a new one.
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Old 10-20-2010, 07:01 AM
540nj 540nj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithS View Post
Unfortunately that ship has sailed. Think the dipstick is gone for most the BMW engines except diesel. I've been changing oil on BMW's for 20 car years (more than one car). Except the 1st oil change on the used 540 (damaged by previous owner), have not had the slightest issue with the drain plug. Using a torque wrench (same setting as oil filter cover) ensures no issues. The 5:30 to 7:00 method of CN90 sounds good too.

The the advise here is to keep a spare drain plug around and if anything seems funny when you take the plug out, use a new one.
Understand you inherited this issue. I guess that's why so many of us DIY, because of somebody else screwing things up. I've owned my car since new, and the only oil changes I didn't do were the free ones by the dealer. Even then they overfilled a few times, and they wonder why I think it is a problem!

dave
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  #24  
Old 10-22-2010, 07:33 AM
usedbimmer usedbimmer is offline
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CN90, Question on your 5:30-7:00 Tightening Method

Actually two questions:

One,
I assume you finger tighten the plug first so its snug, before applying wrench?
So basically you are only making about a 12.5% turn with your wrench?

Two,
Is this a good practice for all model cars? I want to change the oil on my daughter's Acura Integra. I fear that I could under-tigthen and risk losing the plug on the road or some where..

Back to my car: I probably did over-tighten the plug. I have a fairly small torque wrench and set it for about 15lbs..I know I went way more than 12.5% around with my turn. The other night I was playing around with the wrench and I don't think it's working properly. Good thing I didn't crush my oil filter seal too.

Now, I have to do something about the plug. With all of the tugging on it that I did a few days ago, I've loosened it just enough so I have a small leak. I will go after the plug with a good pair of vice grips tomorrow.





Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
You just changed the oil and now you cannot remove the plug? Something is strange here.

I have been using my 5:30 o'clock ---> 7 o'clock thing for 25 years: no issues whatsoever:

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Old 10-22-2010, 02:22 PM
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I quite literally just had this exact same issue a few weeks ago. It took me about and hr of tugging, hammering and twisting to get the drain plug out. I had to take the pan off and push and hammer from the top of the drain plug. My pan was stripped. So what I did was get a universal thread bolt from the local advanced auto parts store. I drilled it in to the point that it will never come out again and just bought an oil vacuum to change oil. Also there is another way to drain oil from the pan. The oil sensor is located right next to the drain plug. I just pulled the sensor out as a test run to drain oil. No difference in draining from drain bolt. This was my alternative to paying almost 300 dollars for an oil pan. So something to think about. Not saying this is a conventional or permanent fix but it keeps all the oil in my car, didn't really alter or affect the changing of the oil much and cost me only 3 dollars.
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