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X5 E53 (1999 - 2006)
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  #1  
Old 01-17-2009, 04:52 AM
booninety booninety is offline
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Unhappy Omg did i seize the engine?

Can anyone help?? I have a 2001 X5 3.0 with 105k miles. It was very cold today and I didn't take it for my usual 35 mile commute, so I decided to warm it up when I got home from work. Started up with no issue, except it sounded a little rough, but that was normal in really cold weather. after about 15 minutes I went out to see how warm the engine had gotten and noticed the SES light came on. I thought perhaps I should move the car as it was parked on a slight incline in my driveway. That's when it rattled a bit and stalled. I tried to start it and it wouldn't start. I left it for about 10 minutes while I went to call my mechanic. The interior lights came on so it wasn't the battery, but it couldn't engage or turn over. I noticed just before it stalled that there was a huge cloud of white smoke at the exhaust. I checked the exhaust pipe for oil and there was oil residue. ANd since I was able to back up a little, I then saw a puddle of oil in the driveway-about a half a quart worth. There was no oil level warning light prior to this. Could I have siezed the engine? Or is there enough intelligence built into the onboard computer to shut the engine down so as not to cause any more damage?
Any information anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated. I'm going to sell my beloved X5 as I cannot stand having to worry that it's too cold to use my car!
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  #2  
Old 01-17-2009, 07:02 AM
ncsucarjock88 ncsucarjock88 is offline
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Your engine may have hydrolocked. But first, I'm going to yell at you for leaving a very cold car alone to warm up while idling - something that BMW explicitly states in the owners manual *should not* be done. I realize tons of people do it, especially when it's really cold out, but if you'd been in the car, you would have noticed a problem.

Honestly, it sounds like you have a headgasket that went south. You may not have had the right antifreeze in a passage, or it simple could have been time and age. Basically, the head gasket let go, which caused coolant to enter a cylinder (explaining the huge cloud of white smoke at the exhaust), and as coolant filled that cylinder, it "rattled" because you can't compress liquids, and then the engine stopped.

Depending on when and how it stopped, you may be okay, or you may have bent a connecting rod, broken piston rings, or damaged the main bearings or crank. I don't know the inherent weaknesses of the 3.0L block and lower end.

The oil is probably from the head gasket as well - when the engine tried to compress the liquid, it could have developed enough pressure to blow a bigger chunk out of the HG (and this would be a *good* thing - you want the weakest link to die to preserve the rest of the engine), and allow some oil to escape before the engine shut down.

You're not going to know exactly what's wrong or what exactly happened until the engine is torn down.

Sorry bud.

PS: Even if you'd be driving the car, chances are this would have happened - only on the road, at speed, and things would have happened faster, with possibly more cataclysmic results.
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  #3  
Old 01-17-2009, 09:17 AM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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+1! Time for a new headgasket (best), head (not so good), or block (awful!). You have an old, high miler so check out the indy shops and start thinking about getting a "new" engine from a BMW dismantling yard if its a cracked block. Rebuilding the engine is going to cost a ton!
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  #4  
Old 01-17-2009, 09:48 AM
booninety booninety is offline
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anyone interested in buying it for parts??????
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  #5  
Old 01-17-2009, 07:05 PM
Ghost-Flame Ghost-Flame is offline
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Dude!!

I logged on to tell my story, I had the EXACT same thing happen to me today. How wierd is that?
It was 3 degrees here today. I got in dorve about a mile and white stuff (steam I assume) was spewing out the rear. By the time I got the car stopped grey smoke was filling the passenger area.
I opened the hood and it had puked oil all over the manifold. I could smell anti freeze.

I just picked this car up Wednesday night.

2002 X5 3.0 80,000 miles. I put only 160 miles on before this happened. Thank God I bought the extended warranty.

But what did the cold have to do with it. These cars are designed and built in a very cold country. What's the deal.
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  #6  
Old 01-17-2009, 09:48 PM
ncsucarjock88 ncsucarjock88 is offline
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Weird...

very odd...

Cold or heat can exacerbate any lingering issue, as it puts more stress on all systems (starting, charging, oil pressure, coolant flow). Not to mention that when things get cold they *contract*, and a few hundreths of a millimeter on an engine gasket can cause issues...

Yes, they're designed to be rugged, but even so, they are hightly tuned machines, with very tight tolerances. They won't tolerate things being out of whack - even by a small amount.

Glad you got the extended warranty - it should be covered...
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  #7  
Old 01-18-2009, 07:48 AM
booninety booninety is offline
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I can't have the car evaluated until tomorrow and i'm getting more anxious as time goes on. would the onboard computer provide any clues as to what the problem is? No, I'm not going to try to figure it out myself. I did check the display and the only warning is SES
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  #8  
Old 01-18-2009, 11:40 AM
jcl10 jcl10 is offline
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Both failures described above are consistent with the crankcase ventilation valve failing. It is a well-known and understood condition. It isn't a major failure, but it has the potential to cause more significant engine damage in some cases.

The crankcase is vented, and other vehicles use a PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) valve for this function. BMW routes the crankcase ventilation line into an oil separator, which separates out the oil mist and vapour, and returns it to the sump.

Over time, gunk collects in the line. If you have had lots of short trips, or don't get the engine hot enough regularly, there is moisture (condensate) in that gunk. Then, when it gets cold enough, it freezes. It can block the vent line in that case. Now the crankcase is pressurized. It builds up pressure, and then the engine forces oil out and the weakest point is usually a valve cover gasket. That is what has likely happened if you have oil all over the engine. There can be lots of smoke when this happens.

In some cases, the valve can fail such that oil is drawn into the intake, and this has the potential to create a hydraulic lock (liquid enters the cylinders, is not compressible, and the engine stops). It doesn't always fail in that manner, but it is not unusual.

Newer models have heated vent and drain lines so they are less likely to freeze. It can still happen. The root cause is lots of short trips, the engine not getting hot enough to boil off the moisture, the moisture collecting in the oil and then in the valve, and very cold ambient conditions.

Note that the first failure mentioned leaving the car idling. As has been noted, that is a bad idea, and can contribute to this failure. Your engine wears faster when it is cold, or warming up. Warming it up with load on it (ie driving) shortens the duration of the warm-up cycle. Warming it by idling (no load) takes a long time, and the wear is multiplied. There also may not be enough heat under the engine to melt any frozen condensate in the oil separator, and then you get a trip to the repair shop.

The valve and lines are not expensive ($$ are hundreds, not thousands), but are a pain to replace. Valve cover gaskets, or other seals if required, add to the cost. In the rare cases when a hydraulic lock occurs, a bent connecting rod is possible. That is not very common. It gets very expensive very quickly.

For more information, do a search on 'crankcase ventilation valve' or 'oil separator' and BMW, and read about it.

Hope that helps.
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Last edited by jcl10; 01-18-2009 at 11:44 AM.
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  #9  
Old 01-18-2009, 11:55 AM
booninety booninety is offline
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why wouldn't bmw build a failsafe to prevent these problems? like an engine kill switch if it idles for too long a time without engaging?
is there any way to tell if my failure is valve gasket vs seizure vs hydraulic lock? I'd have thought BMW smart enough to code a warning message
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  #10  
Old 01-18-2009, 01:06 PM
Ghost-Flame Ghost-Flame is offline
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JCL10,

Thanks for the disortation. That is consistant with the history of this vehicle before I picked it up on Wed night. It was driven for 7 yrs by a 65+ yr old grandmother about 11,000 miles a year. short trips shopping, grand kids, the mall, church etc. I thought that was a plus but maybe it isn't.

is the oil seperator line a routine maintanance item? It sounds like it should be. I agree with the above comment. Why doesn't a $60,000 car ahve a more fail safe system or a big warning sticker on the visor about this? Seems like a stupid design to me.
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  #11  
Old 01-18-2009, 03:02 PM
ncsucarjock88 ncsucarjock88 is offline
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Keep in mind...BMW's were meant to be driven. Ever driven in Europe? Full throttle acceleration and highway stints at high speed (81-155mph) are quite common. The owners manual explicitly states that warm up should be avoided.

What more do you want? Someone to hold your hand while you drive and tell you it will be okay?

There is not a practical way to put a warning system in...
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  #12  
Old 01-18-2009, 03:58 PM
Ghost-Flame Ghost-Flame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncsucarjock88 View Post
Keep in mind...BMW's were meant to be driven. Ever driven in Europe? Full throttle acceleration and highway stints at high speed (81-155mph) are quite common. The owners manual explicitly states that warm up should be avoided.

What more do you want? Someone to hold your hand while you drive and tell you it will be okay?
There is not a practical way to put a warning system in...

You can get that!?!? I want my Frauline (sp) 29, blonde, 5' 7", tiny waist, big rack and yummy bun-sies,
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  #13  
Old 01-18-2009, 05:02 PM
jcl10 jcl10 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by booninety View Post
why wouldn't bmw build a failsafe to prevent these problems? like an engine kill switch if it idles for too long a time without engaging?
is there any way to tell if my failure is valve gasket vs seizure vs hydraulic lock? I'd have thought BMW smart enough to code a warning message
Because it takes years to show up as a problem, and even then it happens as a result of a lot of short trips, an accumulation of moisture, and very cold ambients. You can retrofit the upgraded parts, but that is not a guaranteed cure.

If there is oil leaking out, it is likely that your valve cover gaskets are leaking. It could be somewhere else, but that appears to be the most likely spot. I don't think you seized your engine. Seizing implies metal to metal contact, lack of lubrication, too much heat, and it all isn't consistent with your idling situation. A hydraulic lock is a possibility, but that doesn't mean the engine is toast.

That is about as far as we can go with web diagnosis. You need to have it looked at by a mechanic familiar with this failure mode. If you are using a dealer, they know about it. If you use an independent who claims he has never seen anything like this before, then find another one. Just my $0.02.
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  #14  
Old 01-18-2009, 05:09 PM
jcl10 jcl10 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost-Flame View Post
JCL10,

Thanks for the dissertation. That is consistant with the history of this vehicle before I picked it up on Wed night. It was driven for 7 yrs by a 65+ yr old grandmother about 11,000 miles a year. short trips shopping, grand kids, the mall, church etc. I thought that was a plus but maybe it isn't.

Is the oil seperator line a routine maintanance item? It sounds like it should be. I agree with the above comment. Why doesn't a $60,000 car have a more fail safe system or a big warning sticker on the visor about this? Seems like a stupid design to me.
The line is not a routine maintenance item according to BMW, but some of us think it should be. If I had a three or four year old vehicle, I would clean out the lines. The valve doesn't fail, it just gets clogged up. The lines go soft with age, so if you were cleaning them out it would be just as easy to change them. Cheap insurance, IMO.

The design is rather typical of BMW, perhaps over-engineered a little. A PCV valve was a cheap maintenance item used by all manufacturers, but it was now-tech. BMW complicated the design and added an oil separator so the oil mist drains back into the crankcase, and doesn't go into the intake. That is better all round as a result, but it involves additional parts, things to break, etc.

BMW would probably say that the manual tells you to change the oil more frequently in severe service applications (short trips, cold weather, etc), and that idling it to warm it up is specifically advised against (see your manual). There are lots of failures reported on boards like this when the weather gets cold, every year, and then it goes quiet again for 9 months. Even though it makes all the message boards every year, there is not a high percentage of failures overall. I have had 5 BMWs in recent years, and have never had this failure myself. I have seen it, but on cars with less maintenance than my cars get.
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  #15  
Old 01-18-2009, 05:38 PM
Ghost-Flame Ghost-Flame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcl10 View Post
The line is not a routine maintenance item according to BMW, but some of us think it should be. If I had a three or four year old vehicle, I would clean out the lines. The valve doesn't fail, it just gets clogged up. The lines go soft with age, so if you were cleaning them out it would be just as easy to change them. Cheap insurance, IMO.

The design is rather typical of BMW, perhaps over-engineered a little. A PCV valve was a cheap maintenance item used by all manufacturers, but it was now-tech. BMW complicated the design and added an oil separator so the oil mist drains back into the crankcase, and doesn't go into the intake. That is better all round as a result, but it involves additional parts, things to break, etc.

BMW would probably say that the manual tells you to change the oil more frequently in severe service applications (short trips, cold weather, etc), and that idling it to warm it up is specifically advised against (see your manual). There are lots of failures reported on boards like this when the weather gets cold, every year, and then it goes quiet again for 9 months. Even though it makes all the message boards every year, there is not a high percentage of failures overall. I have had 5 BMWs in recent years, and have never had this failure myself. I have seen it, but on cars with less maintenance than my cars get.
That's encouraging. I guess the little old lady that drove my car for the last 7 years didn't do anything to the CVV. I think after this experience every year I am going to clean this bugger... Can I still get the frauline??? of course I drive a hundred miles a day. So one way is at least 50 miles.

I'm learning. Thanks for all the input.

Last edited by Ghost-Flame; 01-18-2009 at 05:42 PM.
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  #16  
Old 01-19-2009, 08:43 AM
beto66 beto66 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcl10 View Post
The valve and lines are not expensive ($$ are hundreds, not thousands), but are a pain to replace. Valve cover gaskets, or other seals if required, add to the cost. In the rare cases when a hydraulic lock occurs, a bent connecting rod is possible. That is not very common. It gets very expensive very quickly.
Hi JCL10,

Is there anyway of finding out what the problem with the engine might be without having to disassemble it? If the engine still runs after moisture damage, would a metallic noise be indicative of a bent connecting rod or as ncsucarjock88 states, "... a connecting rod, broken piston rings, or damaged the main bearings or crank."?
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  #17  
Old 01-19-2009, 01:08 PM
jcl10 jcl10 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beto66 View Post
Hi JCL10,

Is there anyway of finding out what the problem with the engine might be without having to disassemble it? If the engine still runs after moisture damage, would a metallic noise be indicative of a bent connecting rod or as ncsucarjock88 states, "... a connecting rod, broken piston rings, or damaged the main bearings or crank."?
A knocking sound, a tapping sound, etc, would indicate potential internal damage, after the CCV and lines were fixed and the engine was running. There would be no reason to tear the engine apart until that point, unless there was a lack of compression.
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  #18  
Old 01-19-2009, 05:15 PM
booninety booninety is offline
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car has been in the shop all day and they're still trying to get the oil out. don't know exactly what is broken
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  #19  
Old 01-20-2009, 05:35 PM
Ghost-Flame Ghost-Flame is offline
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Today is Wednesday 4 days after the incident I finally get the diagnosis.

The oil seperator CCV "siezed" (that's the machanics term not mine) oil pressure built up and blew out the valve cover gasket. cold engine, 3 degrees, 1 mile of driving. bad design siezed. I don't care how precise tyhese cars are made. This car is not worth a damn to me or anyone else if you can't drive it in the cold.

Anyway, I have a engine and power train warranty. We'll see what happens. I heard this could cost over $2000. I'll know thursday what the cost.

I'm hoping I diodn't make a mistake buying this wonderful car with 80K miles. I'm hearing big dollars for repairs..... gulp

Last edited by Ghost-Flame; 01-20-2009 at 05:40 PM.
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  #20  
Old 01-20-2009, 07:18 PM
booninety booninety is offline
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mechanic was able to start my car after trying to clear out the oil all day. didn't seize the engine, no catastrophic damage. don't know yet what the cost will be in labor. will post when i have final diagnosis. will detail and sell this car in the spring. ultimate driving machine my a$$
why build a car that can't take the cold? at least build warning messages to give the owner a chance to avoid these kinds of problems. will never feel secure driving this baby again. love the beemer. can't afford one out of warranty. will buy japanese next time
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  #21  
Old 01-20-2009, 08:26 PM
JSBulmer JSBulmer is offline
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As the X5 is one of the vehicles am considering I wonder if there have been similar issues with vehicles in Canada or in the northern plains states where it actually does get cold. Notice that both of these issues were in PA and NY and wonder whether the increased humidity of these areas is a contributing factor.

Where I am at, -30 and -40 are not out of the question.

jb
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  #22  
Old 01-21-2009, 06:44 AM
ncsucarjock88 ncsucarjock88 is offline
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booninty - it's not just the cold. You bought a car used with a lot of miles, and an unknown driving history. If you'd done your homework on the X5, you would have known this was an issue (along with pixels pre '04, suspension bushings, brakes, valley pan gaskets in the V8's, etc). If you'd owned a BMW before, you would have known to be proactive to replace some of these things - before they bite you in the butt.

Yes, it sucks your car broke. It's a pretty easy fix though, and you avoided major damage. German engineering isn't for everyone. It's often overdone, extremely precise, and a bit "touchy". That said, with proper maintenance, it'll out-perform and out-last most everything else on the road.

I'd be sad that you've give up the X5, especially considering used values are in the toilet - but - to each his own. Best of luck.
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  #23  
Old 01-21-2009, 10:06 AM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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There are lots of choices out there and some of them can be had quite reasonably. If you are looking for simple and reliable stop by and check out the new Tahoe. Not a car but a truck and one that will probably outlast most others in harsh conditions. No comparison to the X5 of course, including cost of maintentance and repairs, but a great choice if you need a truck.
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  #24  
Old 01-21-2009, 04:13 PM
Ghost-Flame Ghost-Flame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncsucarjock88 View Post
booninty - it's not just the cold. You bought a car used with a lot of miles, and an unknown driving history. If you'd done your homework on the X5, you would have known this was an issue (along with pixels pre '04, suspension bushings, brakes, valley pan gaskets in the V8's, etc). .
Alright I'm willing to chalk this up to experience and I am glad I dodged an expensive bullet with my warranty. I want to keep my X5. I loved driving it for 200 miles before the problem.

What else could go wrong with a 2002 x5 3.0? What are pixels as referred to the X5? What else should I have fixed before it lets me down? I had the belts, hoses, brakes, CV Boots checked. The CV boots were craked and replaced by BMW dealer.
How much $$$ to replace bushings? I don't have a valley pan gasket. but the valve cover gasket is being replaced

What else? This is my first BMW and have never heard of any flaws. I have a good BMW independent mechanic in town. what should I tell him to check?
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  #25  
Old 01-21-2009, 04:39 PM
BankrSteve BankrSteve is offline
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I am amazed by the somewhat blithe and sometimes demeaning responses in this thread. There is no good way for an owner to anticipate this problem and I do not think there is a particularly good way to avoid it. We deserve better from BMW. Seems to me at the least that there should be a scheduled maintenance item to remove the gunk that is discussed here before it leads to potentially catastrophic breakdown. I wonder if we went to the consumer product safety commission whether we could get some action?
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