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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E30 (1982 - 1993)

E30 (1982 - 1993)
God's Chariot. The E30 was produced primarily from 1982 through 1991. The cabriolet was the one exception which was produced through 1993.

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  #1  
Old 12-31-2014, 01:03 PM
RP808 RP808 is offline
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Location: Hawi, Hawaii
 
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Mein Auto: 325is
Leaking valve cover, no love!

Hello All- I'm at the end of my rope with the valve cover on my e30. It leaks like a sieve, especially from the two bolts that hold the spark plug loom to the cover. I have replaced the gasket twice, I've tried both the hard paper gasket and the synthetic (currently on the latter), I've tighten bolts down in every pattern imaginable; bottom to top, zig-zag, etc. and it seems to make no difference. Do I need to replace the cover? Maybe it's warped? Should I be using a gasket sealant? Any and all suggestions are much appreciated.

1988 325is
USA
M20
177k
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1988 325is
177+K miles
5 speed
K&N cold air intake
Chipped
Magnaflow cat back
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  #2  
Old 12-31-2014, 01:54 PM
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cmac2012 cmac2012 is online now
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Location: Berkeley, CA
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 4,749
Mein Auto: Two 1987 325i, 418K, 211K
Dang, warped might be the answer. Not sure what the boneyard situation is like there but I suspect it's not good. Machine shops will often have granite blocks that have been polished perfectly flat within a thousand of an inch or better. If you could find one about as big as the valve cover you could check to see if it's salvageable. If not, you might be able to get one used online.

If it is flat, I'd be experimenting with different kinds of goop. Maybe the black silicon stuff.
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  #3  
Old 12-31-2014, 07:48 PM
RP808 RP808 is offline
Dafuqisdat
Location: Hawi, Hawaii
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
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Mein Auto: 325is
Thanks for the reply. Yeah, junkyards around here are pretty dismal. It seems to have become worse as time goes on, maybe I'll try some goop and hope for the best for now, then.
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1988 325is
177+K miles
5 speed
K&N cold air intake
Chipped
Magnaflow cat back

Last edited by RP808; 12-31-2014 at 07:50 PM.
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  #4  
Old 12-31-2014, 08:05 PM
lti_57 lti_57 is offline
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Location: Spokane
 
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Mein Auto: 325 BMW, Suzuki Sidekick
Find your self a piece of glass. Bigger then your valve cover
couple of ways do to this
spray paint it. Then fast like and straight down put the valve cover .
lift straight off again only takes a sec
see the spot (hopefully) with no paint thats the low spot
Or just smear valve lapping compound of the entire pane of glass
Now work the valve cover in a figure "8"

until you see the edge of it looking the same you will know when you look at it
If you use sealant put it on the Valve cover side its a pain to remove it from the head.
I recommend 3M (yellow monkey snot) Weatherstrip and Trim Adhesive
good luck
And Happy New year peace and may GOD bless all
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  #5  
Old 12-31-2014, 08:24 PM
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BMWFatherFigure BMWFatherFigure is offline
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Location: Perth, Western Australia
 
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Mein Auto: E23;E30;E38;E32;E34 +
Try this - it works on my Jaguars:
Remove the studs around the valve cover. Countersink the holes JUST ENOUGH to get the surface accross the hole(s) level. Do the same for the bolt holes at the front.
Refit the studs after cleaning out the bottom of the holes. Refit the cover by firming up the nuts from the center out gradually.
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  #6  
Old 01-01-2015, 07:19 AM
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downhiller downhiller is offline
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some good rtv is in your future. or get the make your own gasket stuff and could put some around the bolts too
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  #7  
Old 01-01-2015, 01:30 PM
RP808 RP808 is offline
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Location: Hawi, Hawaii
 
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Wow, thanks for all the input. I'll take them all into consideration. I just cleaned the hell out of the valve cover and head and put black gasket sealer on the valve cover side. Hoping that this works or I'm in the market for a replacement cover. Again, thanks for all the input!
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1988 325is
177+K miles
5 speed
K&N cold air intake
Chipped
Magnaflow cat back
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  #8  
Old 01-01-2015, 08:59 PM
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BMWFatherFigure BMWFatherFigure is offline
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I still bet some PO or expert machanic has pulled those studs up. Been there seen that!
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Current:
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Previous:
E21 318i; E30 318i; E32 735iL; E34 535i; E38 730iL; E53 4.4i
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  #9  
Old 01-23-2015, 09:59 PM
RP808 RP808 is offline
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Location: Hawi, Hawaii
 
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Mein Auto: 325is
Damnation! So, to update this thread, I bought a different valve cover of eBay (yeah, yeah) because I was thinking that the old one was warped. It has been refinished but not resurfaced and is in good shape as far as my eye could tell. I replaced the gasket with a new one (OEM BMW), replaced all of the nuts with new s/s ones. I then proceeded to clean the manifold gasket/heat shields since they were so covered in oil that had been burned and then dried, oh, so many times. Well, it seems that my VC is still leaking! WTF? There is a smell, however not as bad as in the past, and the mani/shields are shiny wet when I am done driving. I realize that some of this may be from residual oil that has been imbedded inside the shield forever, but when I run a clean rag under where the head and VC meet, it comes away with oil on it. Don't really know what the hell could be wrong. Am I not tightening down the VC enough? Too much? I read where someone said they dont need be tightened too much and from all my past experiences this has never been an issue, and I've owned Lancia's (beta) and Fiat's (x/19, 124 spiders and coupe) that didn't leak oil like this lol! I have obviously offended the gods of the mountain somehow and now they want blood. Any thoughts (besides the countersinking trick which I really, really don't want to do)? All help is greatly appreciated.
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1988 325is
177+K miles
5 speed
K&N cold air intake
Chipped
Magnaflow cat back
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  #10  
Old 01-24-2015, 07:25 AM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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The nuts you are using...are they ordinary hex nuts, or acorn nuts that have blind holes (no thread all the way through). I'm trying to picture why you cannot get the cover cinched down tight enough to stop the leaks, and all I come up with is the nuts are bottoming on the studs and not actually tightening against the cover.

Did you use a torque wrench on the nuts? They're supposed to be tightened to 7 ft/lb.
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buying a ratty example (of a BMW) is a parasitic relationship.(and you ain't the mosquito) 7pilot

Ken Kanne, Silverhill, AL, E36 Forum Mod/Craigslist addict/Hoarder of all sorts of stuff
BMW-CCA #441426
1995 318is "Bebe"; 1993 325is "Elvira" 1985 635CSi "Katja" 1984 633CSi "Sylvia"
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  #11  
Old 01-24-2015, 12:29 PM
RP808 RP808 is offline
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Location: Hawi, Hawaii
 
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Alright, I think I fixed the problem although I have not driven the car yet. In response to hornhospital, I am using ordinary hex nuts, and this brings me to the heart of the matter. The leak was occurring in the area where the wire loom attached to the valve cover. I've always felt that something was wrong with the loom because I could never get the nuts tight enough over that area. And guess what? IT HAD THE WRONG WIRE LOOM INSTALLED! F'ing comedy, this is. You see, the two previous owners, although being somewhat mechanically inclined, were in fact, not thorough mechanics. I've spent so much time fixing their respective 'fixes' that now that I consider what I've had to do, this comes as no surprise. Anyway, the loom was from a later model BMW; the tabs that held it to the head/vc were plastic and some 1/4" thick. The good thing the past owner did was to give me 2 boxes of spares and parts. I woke up this morning, and in a last ditch effort before pulling all my hair out, began digging through them because I had seen an extra loom and wanted to check to see if they matched up. And they did not. The loom in the box had metal tabs that were very thin (like I thought they should have been), it was also somewhat smaller, and so I installed it. I have not run the car yet but I feel that this has got to be the solution. Thank you for all your input!

Note: I went to the PelicanParts website just now and noticed that the replacement loom that they sell for the e30 is in fact, the one that was installed on my car. In the pics it has the thicker tabs and is missing the BMW logo on the front (don't know if that matters). The loom that I installed came off of a parts car and was a bit beat up but I managed to make it work. The thing that stood out to me, that didn't make much sense was to have a thick piece of plastic sandwiched between two pieces of metal (hex nut and valve cover). Just thought I would put it out there.

So upon searching eBay and looking at other e30's engine compartments, it seems that everyone is using the thicker wire loom so it can't be that bad. In any event, I'm sticking with the metal tab and will see what happens. Peace!

One last thing: How important is it to adhere to the torque specs? I've heard anywhere from 7 inch pounds to 11 ft pounds, to hand tight, lol. Makes me think not so much. Also, how important is the tightening sequence? I have tried all torque settings and tightening sequences and really it doesn't seem to matter much in this case.
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1988 325is
177+K miles
5 speed
K&N cold air intake
Chipped
Magnaflow cat back

Last edited by RP808; 01-24-2015 at 02:49 PM.
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  #12  
Old 01-24-2015, 06:42 PM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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If I recall correctly with the later, thick plastic tab wire loom, you put the nuts & washers on all the studs all the way around, torque them to spec (7 ft/lb) THEN put the loom on and put more nuts on there to secure the loom. The loom tabs are not involved with the torquing of the nuts that secure the cover.
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Quotes to live by:
guessing gets expensive...drivinfaster
nothing is more expensive than a cheap BMW...c4harpe13
buying a ratty example (of a BMW) is a parasitic relationship.(and you ain't the mosquito) 7pilot

Ken Kanne, Silverhill, AL, E36 Forum Mod/Craigslist addict/Hoarder of all sorts of stuff
BMW-CCA #441426
1995 318is "Bebe"; 1993 325is "Elvira" 1985 635CSi "Katja" 1984 633CSi "Sylvia"
HAVE I HAD MY MEDS YET?

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  #13  
Old 01-24-2015, 07:19 PM
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downhiller downhiller is offline
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horns right. so maybe youre mounting the loom wrong and thats your problem
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  #14  
Old 01-25-2015, 01:14 AM
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BMWFatherFigure BMWFatherFigure is offline
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Location: Perth, Western Australia
 
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Have you checked the stud length AND the metal around the studs for pulling? With getting every thing else right you should be fixed.
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Current:
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Previous:
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  #15  
Old 01-25-2015, 11:54 AM
RP808 RP808 is offline
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Location: Hawi, Hawaii
 
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Mein Auto: 325is
Thanks horn! That was the info that I needed. When I took possession of the car, I found the loom mounted to the valve cover that way, which never made any sense to me. I took it for granted that this was the proper way it should be done and found no other imagery or information to the contrary, until now. I will make the change and hope that cures my issue. Thanks for all the input. If this doesn't work, I'll go the stud route.
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1988 325is
177+K miles
5 speed
K&N cold air intake
Chipped
Magnaflow cat back
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  #16  
Old Yesterday, 06:37 PM
RP808 RP808 is offline
Dafuqisdat
Location: Hawi, Hawaii
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 10
Mein Auto: 325is
Alright gentlemen, this damn leak is still on. Arrggh!
I think the next step is to pull the bolts up, and then if that doesn't work, a new head. I spoke with Pelican Parts today and they were totally mystified. Suggested that the head itself could be warped at the lip. The leak is occurring in the same spot which is the area directly above the spark plugs. I cleaned the crap out of all areas and the heat shields as well, and after a short run, I can see a tiny trickle coming down from the valve cover as seen in pics. The heat shields are generally coated in a shiny slick of oil, the pics you are seeing are after only a 5 minute drive, with the car up to temp. Prior to the drive I had cleaned all areas and heat shield.
Anyone have any advice on pulling up the studs? Is it a simple matter of two nuts stacked on one another? Clockwise, counter clockwise? I have noticed now that I have been considering this option that one or two studs already appear a bit more proud than the rest and am thinking that this has been done to remedy a prior leak. Thanks again for all input!
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1988 325is
177+K miles
5 speed
K&N cold air intake
Chipped
Magnaflow cat back
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  #17  
Old Yesterday, 08:26 PM
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downhiller downhiller is offline
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Location: des moines
 
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Mein Auto: 2012 hypermotard 796
get a long flat bar and feeler gauge. check valve cover for warping. you can check the head length wise too. get new bolts. cheap insurance.

if you still get a leak afterwards, its more a last resort, but not a half bad idea, get a new gasket and some rtv. i know its not good practice to rtv the gasket to the head, but it'll stop the leak. hell its all i got on my diff cover on my truck and im running royal purple in there too. no leaks so far
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