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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 11-21-2015, 11:42 PM
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Oil in spark plug well

ok so the other day I did my VCG, couple weeks before that, I changed my spark plugs and noticed a little oil in well #6 (bank 2) I thought to my self, ut oh, its time for a new vcg, so later on, I went back to check all my spark plugs and again I saw a little oil sitting at the very bottom of the well #6. I thought I might of torqued my plugs a little too much and crushed the washer, but no other wells had oil in them, so i replaced the spark plug... Keep in mind, I recently installed a new ccv about a month ago, and I never had oil in the wells before but only once. ---keep reading...

Fast forward...

The other day, I did my vcg, thinking this would fix my issue, as well as I had to install some new studs because I had intermediate oil dripping on my cats because of stripped studs. Ok so vcg was done, Im pretty sure I installed it correctly, and I also added some Red RTV around the key spots and around my troubled spark plug well. This morning I noticed, oil had found its way back in the well #6, and all other wells are clean. It wasn't much BUT you can tell that its seeping through a little at the bottom, and not falling from the gasket, where it seals around the well. So after ruling out where the oil is actually coming from, I went ahead and cleaned it out and installed a new spark plug (this is the second plug replaced in 3 days , thinking I might of over crushed the washer again, this time I didn't torque it as much, drove the car for a while and again I found oil had came right back....


So I came to a couple of conclusions that might be my problem:

1. I might have a stripped spark plug hole in well #6 (reason, is why is oil only coming back in this particular well ?)

2. Failing CCV? did some reading and I saw that if you have too much pressure in the engine, oil can seep through the spark plug wells (if this was true, my CCV is only 2-3 months old and its only been 45.F or more where I live) I also did a plastic bag test, pics are below

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3. Blown head gasket? (car has over heated before, but to make long story short, cause was of low coolant during a trip, and no coolant was in the oil/flakes and vise versa, plus this issue had been resolved long time ago, so this is unlikely the issue.)


PS - like I said, before I installed my new CCV, I never had oil in my spark plug well #6, but only once before, and that was because I over crushed the washer, when this had happen I replaced it with a new spark plug, and I never saw oil in that well since, and this was about 6 months ago.

There are no CEL, and no codes are thrown.... I even had code p0313 before I did my vcg, after adding a new vcg, this code cleared on its own within 1 day.

Last edited by eburnz; 11-21-2015 at 11:46 PM.
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Old 11-22-2015, 03:20 AM
Jaguuy Jaguuy is offline
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You need to change your valve(tappet cover) cover gaskets
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  #3  
Old 11-22-2015, 05:03 AM
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Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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When you removed/replaced plug #6 does the electrode show any signs of being fouled by oil? My thought here is the oil in the well could be getting in there via the combustion chamber. Unlikely this is the cause, but possible. If the plug electrode shows no such signs of being fouled by oil then most likely the VCG is not properly seated/sealed; that is the only other way oil can get into the plug well. Good luck/Bill
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Last edited by Wgosma; 11-22-2015 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 11-22-2015, 05:22 AM
lsrguy98 lsrguy98 is offline
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Not sure if you could torque the plug to spec. if the threads were stripped.
If it is stripped you could to a Timesert.
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  #5  
Old 11-22-2015, 06:59 AM
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You should be torquing your spark plugs to the correct value(18 ft lbs), not just guessing by feel. And you can eliminate your concerns about the source of the oil by cleaning up the oil with Q-tips, pulling the plug and inspecting it visually. If the plug is clean, the oil is coming from the outside into the plug well, not from the inside. In addition, you would probably be getting a misfire code if your plug is fouled and oil is coming out of the compression chamber.

If you are leaking oil in the valve cover area, it is usually due to the valve cover gasket. If you are finding oil in a spark plug well, it is usually because the spark plug portion of the gasket is leaking. BTW, please confirm that you replaced the spark plug portion of the gasket (ask me why I am asking this). There are three primary reasons for leakage:
1) Bad gasket. This is the most common reason.
2) Improper installation of the gasket. This happens too.
3) Bad valve cover. This is less likely but a possibility.

While stripping a spark plug thread is not common, it can happen. If you cannot achieve the proper torque value, then you will know the threads are stripped. Get a Time-Sert to effect repair.
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Old 11-22-2015, 07:18 AM
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Oil in spark plug well

Ok let me go outside now and I'll take a pic of the spark plug, but as I recall when I take the plug out I have to clean the threads which has oil in it, I don't remember if oil was on the electrodes or not.

And I repeat I have no codes.
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Old 11-22-2015, 08:24 AM
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I wonder is it because of this, I'm going to add a new gasket on this bolt.

ok so took the car for a drive after cleaning the spark plug and oil in the well, but oil still came back in the well, i immediately stopped the car after driving to take a look and problem still occurs...something new i seen though, the rubber gasket around the well was wet with oil... so, I guess I was wrong, for some reason its not sealing and I think I know why, I probably put too much RTV around that well hole... the gasket alignment is properly covering the well hole, so idk what else it could be.

I wonder after time, would this seal its self eventually and will having a little oil in the well harm anything ?, I'll be damn If I have to go back and reinstall the gasket....
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Last edited by eburnz; 11-22-2015 at 09:26 AM.
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  #8  
Old 11-22-2015, 09:51 AM
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You're going to have to just 'be damned' and pull the cover and do this install again; you don't want oil leaking into the plug area, it's more likely this will get worse than better over time.

I did this job on my car a while back, I'm getting old and my memory fails me at times but the only place on the VCG I recall using an sort of 'sealant' was on the 'half-moons' that on on the periphery of the outer gasket, which is recommended procedure; I don't think you need any sealant anywhere else on this gasket assembly to make it 'seal' properly.

....go to about the 4 min. 30 second mark on this video and this guy at BavAuto will show you:


Good luck/Bill
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Last edited by Wgosma; 11-22-2015 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 11-22-2015, 10:47 AM
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That is your problem. RTV is NOT required around plug holes. It is only required in the front, by the half moon curves. Remove the gasket, clean off all the RTV and other contaminants and then reassemble. Refer to the Beisan DIY procedure for Vanos seals. It details exactly how to open up and replace the valve cover. Just ignore all the other steps.

http://www.beisansystems.com/procedu..._procedure.htm

Last edited by Fudman; 11-22-2015 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 11-23-2015, 07:18 AM
Ken@BavAuto Ken@BavAuto is offline
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You probably had a little piece of old gasket material on the spark plug well before you put it back together. Quite often using RTV where it isn't needed actually increases the odds of leaks too. I would buy a new gasket set for that side too. Re-using a gasket like that which already been torqued and heat-cycled multiple times is going to greatly increase your chances of doing the job a third time soon.
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  #11  
Old 11-23-2015, 02:16 PM
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Oil in spark plug well

Today I re did the gasket and removed all RTV around the well and drove the car for a while and oil still found its way back in. I've done a VCG job before and I never had this problem. The gasket is only 3 days old from same company I've used before when I never had an issue.

Only good thing I got out of this is I actually fixed my intermediate oil leaking on the cat.

It just weird how this spark plug well is the only one having issues. I've used RTV around the same well #6 before and I didn't have a leak problem.

Let's say even if my CCV wasn't working would it push oil back in a particular bank? Or would it do either one.

I'm beginning to think my spark plug threads are slightly stripped.

Last edited by eburnz; 11-23-2015 at 02:17 PM.
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  #12  
Old 11-23-2015, 03:48 PM
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.....when Fudman gets online he'll explain the next steps to you- I just don't have the heart to break the news to you. You're making progress.
Good luck/Bill
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Old 11-23-2015, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
There are three primary reasons for leakage:
1) Bad gasket. This is the most common reason.
2) Improper installation of the gasket. This happens too.
3) Bad valve cover. This is less likely but a possibility.

While stripping a spark plug thread is not common, it can happen. If you cannot achieve the proper torque value, then you will know the threads are stripped. Get a Time-Sert to effect repair.
Your problem may have originated with #1 and your replacement gasket may not be bad. You clearly did #2 but that is now corrected. I am thinking #3 is a lot more common than #4. BTW, redoing the job with the same previously used gasket does not necessarily mean the gasket is good, even though it is relatively new. Replacing the VCG is a LOT cheaper than replacing the VC or Time-Serting your spark plug well. I would redo the cheaper things first (replace the gasket) before spending big $ on the other solutions.
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Old 11-23-2015, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
Your problem may have originated with #1 and your replacement gasket may not be bad. You clearly did #2 but that is now corrected. I am thinking #3 is a lot more common than #4. BTW, redoing the job with the same previously used gasket does not necessarily mean the gasket is good, even though it is relatively new. Replacing the VCG is a LOT cheaper than replacing the VC or Time-Serting your spark plug well. I would redo the cheaper things first (replace the gasket) before spending big $ on the other solutions.
Jesus christ, do a 3rd VCG job ?

I just did this in 30.F weather, that maybe not be cold to others but, it was freezing to me . Even so, that doing this job is fairly easy, as far as getting things off, but its quite frustrating having to do this type of job, more then 2 times...


It still worries me that, I haven't found a solid solution of why oil is getting in the well. Those pictures I took, even though it may look like oil had made a straight line trail from the gasket on down to the puddle of oil, but that pic was taken after I removed the ignition boot and the oil from the boot which it did have oil on, probably came off of it and rubbed on the well.

When things happen, I tend to look at the most valuable coincidence's... for instance:

1.If my VCG was bad, why is it that only 1 ring is leaking oil, even if it was bad/old to the point it would make a leak, at least the ring closer to it, would also leak as well ?

2.I've replaced 3 brand new NGK spark plugs, thinking I might of torqued each one maybe just a little too much crushing the washer, but all 3 leaked in well #6 but not the other 5 which all has the same amount of torque ? hmm

3.The only thing that makes me think more its the VCG and not the spark plug threads, is whenever I remove the boot, it has tiny bit of oil on the higher part of the boot, almost exactly where the gasket and the surface of the well meets... Idk if oil splashes around in the well while driving or what...


Couldn't I just try and apply some RTV around the gasket and spark plug well without taking the VC off? just to make sure I rule out where the oil is exactly coming from and give me a solid direction to go in.

Keep redoing these stud bolts and cap nuts, scares me that I might strip another or break another, and I already replaced the broken ones that I broke and stripped last summer.
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:20 PM
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Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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We are not there to see, but from what you've shown for pic's and described the the oil is not accumulating in there because an excessive amount is getting past the rings in the combustion chamber and then past a poor seal of the spark plug gasket - the motor would run poorly and you'd be filpping misfire codes, etc.. This issue is from the improper sealing of the VCG.

The ONLY way to fix this is to do the R&R again, 3rd times a charm, right! I'd suggest this:

- Purchase a new gasket set
- Find a friend/buddy, etc. who has some sense about car repair work and have them help you by being a second set of eyes.
- Pull the stuff apart and CAREFULLY examine the VALVE COVER - particularly the ring/surface where the gasket is inserted on plug #6 - you need to insure this area is clean, uncracked, does NOT have any small pieces of the old gasket in there nor in any way mechanically 'disrupted' so you can feel confident the gasket will seat properly.
- examine the gasket mating surface on the head around plug #6; make sure it's clean, smooth, etc.

Get a friend to help if you know somebody who is willing/able. You cannot 'fix' this problem and make it last with any other method, do install #3 with a new gasket and be done with it.

Good Luck / Bill
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Last edited by Wgosma; 11-23-2015 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 11-24-2015, 06:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eburnz View Post
When things happen, I tend to look at the most valuable coincidence's... for instance:

1.If my VCG was bad, why is it that only 1 ring is leaking oil, even if it was bad/old to the point it would make a leak, at least the ring closer to it, would also leak as well ? If your VCG was bad in a single location, it would continue to be bad in that location.

2.I've replaced 3 brand new NGK spark plugs, thinking I might of torqued each one maybe just a little too much crushing the washer, but all 3 leaked in well #6 but not the other 5 which all has the same amount of torque ? hmm This clearly indicates (to me) that your spark plugs are not related to the problem.

3.The only thing that makes me think more its the VCG and not the spark plug threads, is whenever I remove the boot, it has tiny bit of oil on the higher part of the boot, almost exactly where the gasket and the surface of the well meets... Idk if oil splashes around in the well while driving or what... To me, all evidence points to the VCG as the cause of the leak (an opinion).


Couldn't I just try and apply some RTV around the gasket and spark plug well without taking the VC off? just to make sure I rule out where the oil is exactly coming from and give me a solid direction to go in. This will not work as the contaminated surface will not hold against the oil pressure.

Keep redoing these stud bolts and cap nuts, scares me that I might strip another or break another, and I already replaced the broken ones that I broke and stripped last summer.
It appears that you do not have a torque wrench. BUY ONE and use it. Working on your engine without a torque wrench is like performing surgery with a pocket knife. You can do it but you greatly increase the risk.

Lastly, no one wants to repeat work, especially under adverse conditions. We all feel your pain. But most of us have been there before. When I did my Vanos seals, in my haste to complete the job, I did not replace my spark plug gaskets when buttoning up. You think you had leaks!? I had two spark plug wells filled with oil! I bit the bullet, bought a new VCG set and redid the job properly. In your case, make sure you have the correct tools available. This will preclude stripping bolts and ensure that the leaks stop.
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Old 11-24-2015, 10:13 PM
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Oil in spark plug well

OK call me hard headed, but today I decided to try one more diagnose and try to pin point where the oil is coming from, yes I know advise was given to me to replace the gasket, but with this diagnose that I did, it clearly shows you that its not even coming from the gasket, its coming out and going in the well ? dont ask me how, but its werid....

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I decided to add the nice layer of RTV covering the well surface and gasket to eliminate that the oil isn't leaking through the gasket, and in the pictures you can see that there isn't any leaking points through the RTV, the RTV is dry, besides the oil rubbing off the coil boot when I took it out. So some how oil is getting into the well from either the outside of the VC or stripped spark plug threads ? hmm



The other RTV you see in the pics, I added that to try and catch the oil so I can see how its getting in the wells and why... I dont even know how oil got on top of the RTV while the ignition coil is bolted down, unless there is high pressure in the well and making the oil burst through the well while driving... otherwise i dont know how it can get there.



If my spark plug well threads aren't stripped, then maybe I have too much pressure in the crankcase, making the oil seep through ?



I clearly ruled out that it isn't the gasket, and my gut feeling was that it wasn't, I know errors can happen but I was sure this gasket is fine.

Last edited by eburnz; 11-24-2015 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 11-24-2015, 11:21 PM
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....I need to look this over when my brain is fresh tomorrow morning, stay tuned. Meantime I'm betting Fudman will be after you so watchout
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Old 11-25-2015, 08:51 AM
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....I need to look this over when my brain is fresh tomorrow morning, stay tuned. Meantime I'm betting Fudman will be after you so watchout
HAHA, ok.

Today Im going to remove the silver covering to see if there is a crack anywhere close to cylinder #6
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Old 11-25-2015, 09:28 AM
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The spark plugs, imo have nothing to do with the oil accumulating in the well. Over torqued plugs will not produce oil in the well. Under torque can have the plug blow out of the cylinder, but won't produce oil in the well either. Don't bother replacing the plugs, you would have to have a ton of oil in the cylinder, pushing up through stripped threads, which when running would make a hell of a noise. Concentrate on finding how oil is getting out of the valve cover, and past the o rings. Could be a crack somewhere, could be seeping down from another area. Are you tightening the valve cover using a torque pattern?

Jim
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Old 11-25-2015, 09:36 AM
Jaguuy Jaguuy is offline
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Leave the valve cover off over night turn it over ,nd fill with water leave a white cloth under it next day can see if the VC has a crack in it
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Old 11-25-2015, 09:39 AM
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The spark plugs, imo have nothing to do with the oil accumulating in the well. Over torqued plugs will not produce oil in the well. Under torque can have the plug blow out of the cylinder, but won't produce oil in the well either. Don't bother replacing the plugs, you would have to have a ton of oil in the cylinder, pushing up through stripped threads, which when running would make a hell of a noise. Concentrate on finding how oil is getting out of the valve cover, and past the o rings. Could be a crack somewhere, could be seeping down from another area. Are you tightening the valve cover using a torque pattern?

Jim
yep, I use a cris-cross pattern, but that doesn't explain how oil is getting passed the coil boot into the well, even when I take out the coil boot, its not soaked only the tip has oil on it and maybe a little on the boot but not "soaked".

Its like the oil has taken its own gravity and coming out from somewhere and passed the ignition coil on down into the spark plug well.
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Old 11-25-2015, 10:06 AM
MKJS MKJS is offline
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Cris-cross and starting at the center working out toward the ends. I like to take them up in stages, not going for the full torque in one shot.

Had a leaky valve cover once, it was steel and warped. Tried everything, new gasket, dinging up the bolt holes, (they get pulled down) even made a special reinforcing bar that the bolts ran through. Nothing stopped the leak, had to throw it out and get a new aluminum valve cover. Problem solved. It was a slant 6 dodge. 6 cylinders is a lot of length to keep leak free.

Is your valve cover aluminum or plastic?

Look for warpage, cracks, etc.
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Last edited by MKJS; 11-25-2015 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 11-25-2015, 11:06 AM
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Mein Auto: 98 528i 5-spd sport pkg
Quote:
Originally Posted by MKJS View Post
Cris-cross and starting at the center working out toward the ends. I like to take them up in stages, not going for the full torque in one shot.

Had a leaky valve cover once, it was steel and warped. Tried everything, new gasket, dinging up the bolt holes, (they get pulled down) even made a special reinforcing bar that the bolts ran through. Nothing stopped the leak, had to throw it out and get a new aluminum valve cover. Problem solved. It was a slant 6 dodge. 6 cylinders is a lot of length to keep leak free.

Is your valve cover aluminum or plastic?

Look for warpage, cracks, etc.
...the tightening of the nuts that secure the valve cover to the head is pretty simple as the nuts are designed to 'bottom out'; as I recall the 'torquing' if you can call it that is around 7 ft-lbs, which is next to nothing....it means get them snug once they've bottomed-out on the threaded studs

I'm about 99% certain he's got a PLASTIC valve cover; I don't think an aluminum cover is available.

He's either got some left over hardened rubber from the old gasket sandwiched into the sealing area on plug #6, a defective gasket (possible but not likely) or the valve cover is physically damaged in that area; i.e. a crack, etc.

Take care/Bill
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Bill in Oceanside, CA
98 528i - 5 spd, Cold Weather Package & OEM Sport Suspension

Last edited by Wgosma; 11-25-2015 at 11:21 AM.
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  #25  
Old 11-25-2015, 11:23 AM
MKJS MKJS is offline
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Location: Texas
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,446
Mein Auto: '99 540i
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wgosma View Post
...the tightening of the nuts that secure the valve cover to the head is pretty simple as the nuts are designed to 'bottom out'; as I recall the 'torquing' if you can call it that is around 7 ft-lbs, which is next to nothing....it means get them snug once they've bottomed-out on the threaded studs

I'm about 99% certain he's got a PLASTIC valve cover; I don't think an aluminum cover is available.

He's either got some left over hardened rubber from the old gasket sandwiched into the sealing area on plug #6, a defective gasket (possible but not likely) or the valve cover is physically damaged in that area; i.e. a crack, etc.

Take care/Bill
Seems like I have read on here about plastic valve covers warping upon occasion and needing to be replaced.
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bmw, bmw e39, ccv, e39, failing ccv, oil, oil in cylinders, oil in spark plugs, spark plugs


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