Welcome to Bimmerfest -- The #1 Online Community for BMW related information! Please enjoy the discussion forums below and share your experiences with the 200,000 current, new and past BMW owners. The forums are broken out by car model and into other special interest sections such as BMW European Delivery and a special forum to voice your questions to the many BMW dealers on the site to assist our members!

Please follow the links below to help get you started!

Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E60 (2004 - 2010)

E60 (2004 - 2010)
BMW 5-Series (E60 chassis) was first seen in the Unites States in the fall of 2003 with a 2004 Model Year designation. The E60 is now available as a 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and a 535xi sports wagon! -- View the E60 Wiki

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-04-2013, 06:05 PM
chintonmd chintonmd is offline
Registered User
Location: South Dakota
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 33
Mein Auto: 2008 535xi
Sea Foam for intake valve carbon buildup: results

This is a report of my experience with Sea Foam. If you do what I did (you know, professional driver on closed course... yeah right) you might get hurt or hurt someone else. Let your mechanic do this for you.


My '08 535xi was beginning to run rough on acceleration and the power output seemed reduced. Various threads on this forum ( http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...light=sea+foam ) indicated that it's a common problem with the N54 and other direct injection engines.

It was mentioned that dealers charged ~$500 to fix the problem. People mentioned removing the intake manifold and blasting the valve area with walnut shells or using brushes etc. Rather than remove the manifold even to inspect it, I decided to just try Sea Foam. Here's what happened:

I got the Seam Foam Spray Cleaner & Lube with the long red applicator tube. I pulled the large charge air tube off the throttle body, stuck the tip up into the throttle body then partially replaced the air tube (you can't put it back completely due to the coupling but that's ok). I used my ice scraper jammed up between the accelerator pedal and the seat to increase engine rpm to about 1500 then sprayed in 1/2 can. Then let it sit for 5 min just like the instructions said. Next I re-attached the air tube then immediately went for a full-power run. When I hit the throttle it popped and bucked a little then out of this huge cloud of blue smoke it took off like a bat outta hell!

This tuff really worked! I did a few brief full power runs and afterward it accelerated smoothly. Cost me $10. I saved $490 over the dealer price!

If I were to do this again I would let it sit for 10-15 minutes before starting the engine and even then I would repeat the treatment immediately to remove any residual carbon.
Reply With Quote
Advertisement
  #2  
Old 02-04-2013, 07:17 PM
SoLucky SoLucky is offline
Nothing to see here...
Location: No. VA
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 253
Mein Auto: '08 535i
Without seeing carbon build up (with a boroscope, for example) nor confirming removal of it (if there ever was any), how can you be so sure Sea Foam worked? I want to believe, since at some point my car will need to be de-carboned, but it would be nice to have more empirical data vs. a gut feel.
__________________
________
2008 535i - Monaco Blue/Tan Leather, Sport, Premium, Cold (+ heated rear seats), Navi, HUD, PDC, CA, Sunshades, Fold down rear seats, CPO, Extended Maintenance
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-04-2013, 07:37 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 21,274
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
If you're interested, we (over in the E39 section), took a good hard look at what Seafoam is and what it does ...
- What is Seafoam motor treatment, what does it do, where do you put it, and how does it work (1)

__________________
Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-04-2013, 10:50 PM
chintonmd chintonmd is offline
Registered User
Location: South Dakota
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 33
Mein Auto: 2008 535xi
Actually I was ready to use an old flexible sigmoidoscope (short version of the thing the doctor sticks up your butt to do a colonoscopy) to look at it to be sure. But the wind chill was about -35F and i'd have to be working outside at the time. My logic was that it wouldn't hurt to try the Sea Foam and it worked. But you're correct that I can't say for sure that carbon was causing the problem. I figure a 60% chance based on symptoms alone (at least better than 50:50), 75% based on response to Sea Foam. I think that gives an overall probability of 90%. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-04-2013, 11:25 PM
chintonmd chintonmd is offline
Registered User
Location: South Dakota
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 33
Mein Auto: 2008 535xi
Others have posted pictures of the carboned up valves. The symptoms they described are exactly what my car was doing. So, I wouldn't call it a gut feeling. My gut feeling was that it was something electrical until I ran across this valve problem here in the forum.

Anyway, think of a favorable response to Sea Foam as being a positive test. But the test has a false positive rate too (as well as a false negative rate as in "what if it didn't work and it really was carboned up?") So, there was a positive test in a situation where there was already a fairly high probability that the condition really did exist. It that situation the false positive rate is really low. On the other hand if you have a positive test in a situation of low probability then there's a pretty good chance the test is wrong.

The Sea Foam people might have some data on this but I doubt it.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-05-2013, 05:45 AM
JoeFromPA JoeFromPA is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: West Chester, PA
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,738
Mein Auto: 01 M5, 08 535xit
It is possible to reduce carbon build-up at the intake valve edge using an injected or atomized solvent such as seafoam, and therefore get better combustion chamber sealing.

You are relying upon the forceful and unexpected introduction of a foreign liquid, which does not combust like gasoline, into the combustion chamber though. In addition, you are relying upon carbon to be dissolved or broken off the intake valves in a very sudden way.

The primary chance for harm is hydrolocking your engine (sucking up too much before it burns out of the cylinder) or breaking off a LARGE chunk of carbon. The other fears are mostly poorly founded - a car can consume a quart of solid motor oil in the combustion chamber without fouling the cats/o2 sensors; and pale oil will burn far cleaner than motor oil.

Further, your combustion chamber has to deal with small bits of carbon from time to time. They are combusted and blown out the exhaust valves. They either get stuck in the exhaust and burned away over time, or blown out the exhaust altogether. They don't "scratch" the cylinder walls.
__________________
01 m5 - 127k miles 11/2013....08 535xit - 94k miles
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-05-2013, 07:00 AM
HPIA4v2 HPIA4v2 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: washington
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,131
Mein Auto: E60, E71, E92
I have a feeling, Seafoam is like chemotherapy for common flu. I'd pay dealer $700 every 3-4 years to get carbon cleaned the right way, walnut blasting, that is.
A friend shows me how Seafoam stains plastic and eat away a rubber hose, that stuff is corosive as hell. Not sure what happened to turbo and catalytic converters in long run.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-05-2013, 07:32 AM
Serpens Serpens is offline
Registered User
Location: Cincinnati, OH
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 41
Mein Auto: 2 BMWs, MB
Its hard for me to believe that Seafoam cured DI carbon build up problems in the same way that walnut blasting would.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-05-2013, 08:14 AM
chintonmd chintonmd is offline
Registered User
Location: South Dakota
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 33
Mein Auto: 2008 535xi
I'll try to take a look at it and see. By the way, when I started it yesterday am it went into what I think is limp mode: Sort of a surging idle as if someone pumping accelerator and when I push the accelerator it only goes to about 2000 rpm. Who knows. Maybe I killed it!
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-05-2013, 08:26 AM
Serpens Serpens is offline
Registered User
Location: Cincinnati, OH
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 41
Mein Auto: 2 BMWs, MB
Quote:
Originally Posted by chintonmd View Post
I'll try to take a look at it and see. By the way, when I started it yesterday am it went into what I think is limp mode: Sort of a surging idle as if someone pumping accelerator and when I push the accelerator it only goes to about 2000 rpm. Who knows. Maybe I killed it!
Doubt you killed it. I think you should just take your car to the dealer or independent specialist and eat the cost. Your car could need injectors or walnut blasting, hard to tell given that description. These cars sure aren't cheap to run!
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-05-2013, 12:41 PM
Stephen Max Stephen Max is offline
Registered User
Location: Austin, TX
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 64
Mein Auto: 1998 M3, 2004 545i
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serpens View Post
Its hard for me to believe that Seafoam cured DI carbon build up problems in the same way that walnut blasting would.
Placebo effect is as powerful as walnut blasting. For the short term, at least.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 02-05-2013, 01:48 PM
themust themust is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: bay area
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 117
Mein Auto: 2008 535i, manual blk/blk
I finally had a dealer who was willing to go to the mat for me with BMW. So, having tried the HPFP (third one, I think) and replacing injectors, again not resolving the problem, they allowed the dealer to remove the valve cover and send pics of the valves which were, indeed, covered in carbon deposits. So the walnut blast was authorized and covered under CPO!!! Car runs like original with tons of smooth pwer again. Frankly, given all the hassle, I'd do it again in a second and just eat the $500.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 02-05-2013, 06:10 PM
booyaazaa's Avatar
booyaazaa booyaazaa is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: East Bay, CA
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 1,106
Mein Auto: '09 AW 535i
Quote:
Originally Posted by themust View Post
I finally had a dealer who was willing to go to the mat for me with BMW. So, having tried the HPFP (third one, I think) and replacing injectors, again not resolving the problem, they allowed the dealer to remove the valve cover and send pics of the valves which were, indeed, covered in carbon deposits. So the walnut blast was authorized and covered under CPO!!! Car runs like original with tons of smooth pwer again. Frankly, given all the hassle, I'd do it again in a second and just eat the $500.
Hey I noticed your from the Bay Area, what dealer did you take your car.
__________________

2009 AW 535i
-Sport, Premium Package, and Comfort Access
-FBO, custom Cobb E30 map, Performance Gearing LSD.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 02-06-2013, 06:36 AM
JoeFromPA JoeFromPA is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: West Chester, PA
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,738
Mein Auto: 01 M5, 08 535xit
For $500, that indicates to me that we're talking about 3 hours of dealer labor on average. Kinda makes me wonder if an Indy would charge $300, ya know?
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 02-06-2013, 06:59 AM
Stephen Max Stephen Max is offline
Registered User
Location: Austin, TX
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 64
Mein Auto: 1998 M3, 2004 545i
You might have a hard time finding an indy with walnut blasting equipment.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 02-06-2013, 07:31 AM
booyaazaa's Avatar
booyaazaa booyaazaa is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: East Bay, CA
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 1,106
Mein Auto: '09 AW 535i
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Max View Post
You might have a hard time finding an indy with walnut blasting equipment.
+1

I've called numerous indy shops and i get the same answer from all, the tool that connects to the intake for the blasting and vacuuming is super expensive. I've seen some people modify a shop vac wand tool but the shops tell me they would only use the correct tool. So far i have only found one indy shop in the bay area to do it and it is about $550 to do the blasting and it takes about 4-5 hours.
__________________

2009 AW 535i
-Sport, Premium Package, and Comfort Access
-FBO, custom Cobb E30 map, Performance Gearing LSD.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 02-06-2013, 08:20 AM
Oceans10's Avatar
Oceans10 Oceans10 is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: CT
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,499
Mein Auto: BMW 535i + 535XI wagon
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFromPA View Post
For $500, that indicates to me that we're talking about 3 hours of dealer labor on average. Kinda makes me wonder if an Indy would charge $300, ya know?
I had it done for $320 by an indy, including new gasket.
It was done by 2 guys in a garage. They use a wetvac to suck out walnut shells and carbon deposits. The whole procedure took 3 hrs and is worth doing if your car has over 50,000 miles. They use a wand that shoots compressed air with walnut shells via an aluminum cup that fits the opening of the valve chamber.
Interestingly my sedan which has a meth kit was pretty clean in cylinders 5 and 6. This is due to meth actually dissolving carbon build up as it passes through the throttle body and into the intake.

Burger Tuning sells an oil catch can that supposedly separates off any oily sludge so it doesn't reach the intake. http://www.burgertuning.com/BMW_335_oil_catch_can.html
I don't have it installed so can't comment on how well it works.
__________________
Audio: Jehnert Flatline speakers, Mobridge M1000 DA2 prepro, Helix P-DSP, Zapco Z-150.6 amp, iDock on dash
Performance: Protuned Cobb, AR Downpipes, ER FMIC/CP, DCI, RB turbos, KW V2 coilovers, AEM 320E LPFP/ported fuel rail

Last edited by Oceans10; 02-06-2013 at 08:21 AM.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks


Forum Navigation
Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E60 (2004 - 2010)
Today's Posts Search
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On



Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 01:06 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
© 2001-2011 performanceIX, Inc. All Rights Reserved .: guidelines .:. privacy .:. terms