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6 Series
The BMW 6 Series builds on BMW's sporty heritage with aggressive lines and an incredible motor to back the design up. Available in coupe and convertible trims with a standard 4.8 liter engine producing 360 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque, the 6-series is a popular choice that exceeds expectations.

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  #1  
Old 01-18-2014, 09:15 AM
Domiac Domiac is offline
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645Ci coolant mixed with oil? (see the pics)

Hello guys,

My friend purchased a beautiful 645Ci (2004) and after a day he got "coolant low" message. I got worried after opening the coolant tank and observing something that really looks like oil mixed with coolant . Oil cap is full of creamy yellow stuff. I got even more alarmed after observing dark brown greasy stuff inside the coolant tank. After dipping my finger inside the coolant tank, I got greasy brown stuff to my finger which really feels like oil, it is kind of half the stuff is greasy brown and half of the stuff is clear (hence the fear of intermix). However, dipstick looks good, engine sounds good, engine temperature stays around 200F, mileage only 30k.

Now, could anyone comment does this look normal for this engine and if not then what is the probable cause for this.

See hi-res pics here:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ihgrvk6vstjjj34/ueGGioa8qk


Thanks a ton!_a_
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  #2  
Old 01-19-2014, 01:10 AM
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645/333 645/333 is offline
Michael
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Normally when you see this it is on the oil filler cap and is a sign that the cylinder head gasket is failing and water is getting into the oil.......either way not good!!! as the V8 has two banks so you would have to replace both if that is what is failing........
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  #3  
Old 01-19-2014, 08:13 AM
Domiac Domiac is offline
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Originally Posted by 645/333 View Post
Normally when you see this it is on the oil filler cap and is a sign that the cylinder head gasket is failing and water is getting into the oil.......either way not good!!! as the V8 has two banks so you would have to replace both if that is what is failing........
Just to make sure, the pics are from coolant cap, not the oil cap. Still, it looks scary. If anyone else thinks this is normal or not, please comment!

Forgot to mention that the car is automatic. One option could be that the transmission oil is leaking to coolant, any idea how to check this?

Most likely it is a failing head gasket / cracked head which means that the pressurized oil drives itself into the coolant. Still, why oil looks good?

Thinking of next steps. Has anyone applied fluorescent leak detector dye into engine oil and used an UV light to verify leakage? E.g. this kind of product: http://www.pepboys.com/product/details/563222/00828/ ?

Thank you!

Last edited by Domiac; 01-19-2014 at 08:16 AM.
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  #4  
Old 01-19-2014, 08:16 AM
Domiac Domiac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 645/333 View Post
Normally when you see this it is on the oil filler cap and is a sign that the cylinder head gasket is failing and water is getting into the oil.......either way not good!!! as the V8 has two banks so you would have to replace both if that is what is failing........
I only know about Porsches but why would one need to touch both banks if one could verify that only one of the banks has a problem? Lets say that we see good compression numbers in left bank's cylinders but right bank's cylinder number X has a lousy PSI value.

Thanks
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  #5  
Old 01-19-2014, 08:30 AM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is online now
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You want comments, so here it goes. It's not normal and probably not going to be a cheap fix. I wonder what the oil cap looks like. With so many BMW independent shops in the area, why would your friend buy this car without an inspection? Even with low miles, it's still 9 or 10 years old.

If it were my car I would take it to a qualified independent BMW shop and get it diagnosed correctly as soon as possible.

PS. Maybe you'll get lucky and someone put the wrong stuff in the coolant tank by mistake. If thats the case you might just do with coolant flush. Only use BMW coolant which has to mixed with distilled water. My brother once put coolant in the windshield washer reservoir so anything is possible. I'd still take it to my mechanic if it were mine.


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  #6  
Old 01-19-2014, 08:47 AM
Domiac Domiac is offline
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Originally Posted by FredoinSF View Post
You want comments, so here it goes. It's not normal and probably not going to be a cheap fix. I wonder what the oil cap looks like. With so many BMW independent shops in the area, why would your friend buy this car without an inspection? Even with low miles, it's still 9 or 10 years old.

If it were my car I would take it to a qualified independent BMW shop and get it diagnosed correctly as soon as possible.

PS. Maybe you'll get lucky and someone put the wrong stuff in the coolant tank by mistake. If thats the case you might just do with coolant flush. Only use BMW coolant which has to mixed with distilled water. My brother once put coolant in the windshield washer reservoir so anything is possible. I'd still take it to my mechanic if it were mine.
Thanks, much appreciated. I am completely new to BMW's but ashamed that I did not open the coolant cap in the shop before the car was bought, only checked the oil. Have to check the oil cap as well, that is a good tip.
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  #7  
Old 01-19-2014, 09:05 AM
ttuite ttuite is offline
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I would ABSOLUTELY NOT drive the car until you figure out what went wrong. Start with the easy way first. If it has been 3 days or less most states have a law that allows you to return the car. If you are past the 3 days you find through the seller the previous owner. Give them a call and see if they had the head gaskets fixed. I would next find the previous owner through the seller. Call and ask them if they had the head gaskets repaired. They may have just had the work done and this is residual from them not flushing the system well enough. If that does not work out, I would next check the transmission fluid (this is why I suggest you don't drive the car) To check the transmission fluid you will have to raise the car and be sure that it is perfectly level (a rack would be great but you can do it with 4 jack stands). Start the car and bring it up to operating temperature. go through all of the gears slowly. I like to leave it in neutral. Next put on a heavy leather glove and on the vehicle left side of the transmission you will find the plug for putting fluid in the transmission. It is right beside the exhaust pipe and that is why you will need the glove. When you open the plug just a little bit of fluid should exit. If it is contaminated you will probably have it pouring out. In this case just hope that the 3 day rule is in effect. Hope this helps.
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  #8  
Old 01-19-2014, 09:22 AM
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Yorgi Yorgi is offline
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Unfortunately that really looks like engine oil in the coolant to me. I am not 100% sure but I do not think the 6er has a shared transmission cooler rad with the main engine coolant rad which can cause tranny oil to mix with coolant if a seal fails in the rad.

There may be coolant in the engine oil that will not show up on the dip stick since coolant tends to settle in bottom of the pan.

The first thing I would do is drain the coolant system and see if the problem comes back. Like FredoinSF mentioned someone could have put engine oil in the reservoir or even power steering fluid which has a reservoir about 6 inches away.

Next I would look at the plugs which will tell you if you are burning coolant. Also look for white smoke out the exhausts.

A leakdown test is the best way to check if the headgasket is blown, they are a lot more expensive than a simple compression test but are worth the effort.
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  #9  
Old 01-19-2014, 09:55 AM
Domiac Domiac is offline
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Originally Posted by ttuite View Post
I would next check the transmission fluid (this is why I suggest you don't drive the car)
Yes, transmission also worries me because it is impossible for us to check its condition (I am personally moving back to Europe and same goes for my garage tools). I have told my friend to drive the car to the nearest independent BMW shop so we understand our situation better.
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  #10  
Old 01-19-2014, 10:05 AM
Domiac Domiac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorgi View Post
There may be coolant in the engine oil that will not show up on the dip stick since coolant tends to settle in bottom of the pan.
I guess so, if the amount of coolant leaking back to the engine is small enough then it does not intermix.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorgi View Post
The first thing I would do is drain the coolant system and see if the problem comes back. Like FredoinSF mentioned someone could have put engine oil in the reservoir or even power steering fluid which has a reservoir about 6 inches away.
I'd be a bit hesitant to do this as usually it is really hard to get all the oil out from the system even if you flush it multiple times. There are many turns and nooks where the oil is trapped and after a while you get the same look to coolant cap, therefore I'd use other means to diagnose this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorgi View Post
Next I would look at the plugs which will tell you if you are burning coolant. Also look for white smoke out the exhausts.
Yes. A shop can check the plugs, as of now we do not have any tools.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorgi View Post
A leakdown test is the best way to check if the headgasket is blown, they are a lot more expensive than a simple compression test but are worth the effort.
Yes, a leakdown test is the way to go as one wants to understand the situation per each cylinder / bank.

Thank you all for your comments!
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  #11  
Old 01-19-2014, 12:55 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttuite View Post
I would ABSOLUTELY NOT drive the car until you figure out what went wrong. Start with the easy way first. If it has been 3 days or less most states have a law that allows you to return the car. If you are past the 3 days you find through the seller the previous owner. Give them a call and see if they had the head gaskets fixed. I would next find the previous owner through the seller. Call and ask them if they had the head gaskets repaired. They may have just had the work done and this is residual from them not flushing the system well enough. If that does not work out, I would next check the transmission fluid (this is why I suggest you don't drive the car) To check the transmission fluid you will have to raise the car and be sure that it is perfectly level (a rack would be great but you can do it with 4 jack stands). Start the car and bring it up to operating temperature. go through all of the gears slowly. I like to leave it in neutral. Next put on a heavy leather glove and on the vehicle left side of the transmission you will find the plug for putting fluid in the transmission. It is right beside the exhaust pipe and that is why you will need the glove. When you open the plug just a little bit of fluid should exit. If it is contaminated you will probably have it pouring out. In this case just hope that the 3 day rule is in effect. Hope this helps.
Great advice and troubleshooting tips. Unfortunately, CA has a no cooling off policy. Even if it's within three days, he bought it the second paperwork was signed.




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  #12  
Old 01-19-2014, 01:30 PM
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645/333 645/333 is offline
Michael
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Domiac View Post
I only know about Porsches but why would one need to touch both banks if one could verify that only one of the banks has a problem? Lets say that we see good compression numbers in left bank's cylinders but right bank's cylinder number X has a lousy PSI value.

Thanks
Hi point made, but until he finds out the real cause, it still maybe the head gasket or cracked cylinder block, and without the relevant tests difficult to diagnose, but experience tells me that if one has gone the next is not far away!!!!
I don't think it is transmission oil as there is no direct connection between the coolant system and the transmission system.
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Old 01-19-2014, 04:54 PM
Domiac Domiac is offline
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Thank you everyone. Here's couple more images that I added to dropbox. See especially the paper-dipped-in-coolant.jpg which sadly looks quite brown :-( Oil cap is clean.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ihgrvk6vstjjj34/ueGGioa8qk

I truly hope someone has mistakenly put some oil to the coolant or his baby's top end has just been done. Will keep you guys posted after we get more info from a BMW tuning shop.

PS. As someone already stated, California has no cooling off, it always costs extra.
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  #14  
Old 01-20-2014, 04:39 PM
Harry Hood Harry Hood is offline
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Quickest non invasive way to test whether or not there is coolant in your oil is to get your oil analyzed. As others have said, I would not start your car until you get this figured out. Obtain a free oil sampling kit from Blackstone Laboratories. http://www.blackstone-labs.com/ They sell vacuum pump kits that will enable you to draw a sample from the dipstick tube. http://www.blackstone-labs.com/vacuum-pump.php. They typically have a one day turn around time once receiving your sample and email you with the results. $25 will tell you if you have coolant, among other things, in the oil. Read the sample report so you know how to interpret and understand your test results. http://www.blackstone-labs.com/report-explanation.php. Oil analysis is like getting a blood test for your car. It provides a lot of useful information. I started the attached thread on oil sampling. http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=730949. You might find it interesting. At the very least, if you get your oil analyzed, you should post your results in this thread. Next, I would pressure test your coolant system. That will tell you if your coolant is leaking and, if there are no obvious leaks, and your oil analysis shows that you have coolant in your oil, then you have your answer. Check out post 9 in the attached thread for a DIY coolant pressure test. http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...+pressure+test. I hope the best for you. Good luck.
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  #15  
Old 01-28-2014, 03:25 PM
Domiac Domiac is offline
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My friend drove the car to http://edgemotorworks.com/ in Mountain View, CA. They did a simple compression test for the coolant system through coolant cap, checked out well. They inspected the oil visually by draining it a bit from oil pan, comment was that the oil is good. Their verdict was that the car is good and there is nothing major wrong in it, most likely someone has put oil into coolant tank by mistake.

Car keeps temperature well within the range, it seems that the amount of oil in the coolant tank is small (but visible still), hence I do not see that much of point on flushing it, the oil will just keep coming back in pieces for a looong time.

If this would have been my car, I'd have sent the oil to laboratory and possible do even a leak down test, both would have given me a nice baseline for the engine as well and after that I'd be content with the cars well being. Then again, this was not my call and I think my friend made a reasonably good decision, after all he did drove the car to a shop for further inspection.

Once again, thank you all for your comments!

Last edited by Domiac; 01-28-2014 at 03:26 PM.
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  #16  
Old 01-28-2014, 06:00 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is online now
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Glad there was nothing major wrong with it. Thanks for coming back and closing the loop too.
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:41 AM
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Hi! good that there is no major problem, but I would give the coolant system a real flush as much as you can go with, it is not a difficult job really just time consuming. The reason being I would not leave any contaminates in the coolant system as this will definitely have the potential to damage seals, we are already aware of the coolant pipe seals failing.
How someone could put oil into the coolant tank always beggars belief,
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