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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 01-01-2010, 04:26 PM
msj67 msj67 is offline
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Burning smell?

My car has started to have a burning smell lately, that I only smell through the center air vents when at a stop light or otherwise stopped with the engine running after driving for a while. It hasn't ever done this before, and the only thing that's different lately is that I mounted the winter wheels and snow tires because we had a big snow storm, so I ended up driving around on streets with a lot of road salt. It started the first time I drove with the snow tires on the treated roads. I think it's likely an oil leak (valve cover gaskets) getting onto the hot exhaust, but I've had some people tell me that it's related to the road salt getting onto the exhaust. Not sure about that, so I thought I'd throw it out there to the board. Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 01-01-2010, 04:46 PM
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dalekressin dalekressin is offline
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I had a non BMW that acted the same before the water pump went out. How many miles and has there been coolant work done yet?
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  #3  
Old 01-01-2010, 04:50 PM
msj67 msj67 is offline
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It's a '99 528i with 52000 miles. Just had an Inspection II and the coolant was flushed/replaced.
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  #4  
Old 01-01-2010, 05:11 PM
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CoreyMNK CoreyMNK is offline
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I have a 2000 528i.. it does the same thing and it's the valve cover gasket. It only does at stop lights, and sitting for a while... just like you said. I would look around the engine and see if you can some oil somewhere .
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  #5  
Old 01-02-2010, 07:37 AM
Neversaynever Neversaynever is offline
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Does the smell happen after you have been driving in snow and not otherwise? If so, this is a typical snow on the manifold/exhaust situation and nothing to worry about. (no comments from sun country please. :-))
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  #6  
Old 01-02-2010, 08:33 AM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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I've got a burning smell from coolant hitting something, because I have a ticking time bomb in my expansion tank.

Don't wait like me before replacing your cooling system, if it's a burning coolant smell.

If it's not coolant, it's probably the VCG. The VANOS may be leaking too but it doesn't smell (in my experience)
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  #7  
Old 01-02-2010, 08:37 AM
Jim Rolando Jim Rolando is offline
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I have the same problem with my 99 528i. When I pull into the garage, shut the engine off and get out, I can detect the slight, but unmistakable smell of burning oil. I assume it is coming from some small seep in the valve cover gasket. in the rear because I can't see it. But, since the oil level never goes down and there are never drips on the ground or floor, I'm not going to worry about it until it gets a lot worse. A tiny bit of synthetic can make a big smell. My experience with the snow/ice splashing matter is that it is a distinctly different odor, unless of course, one drives through a puddle with lots of oil accumulated in it from the road.
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  #8  
Old 01-02-2010, 08:49 AM
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MMME30W MMME30W is offline
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Sounds exactly like the VCG on my M54 engine in my 330.
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  #9  
Old 01-02-2010, 09:03 AM
dboy11 dboy11 is offline
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I would point at the VCG to start, the 5ers are famous for that
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  #10  
Old 01-02-2010, 09:20 AM
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Mister Chow Mister Chow is offline
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+1

VCG caused the burning smell in my 528i. Smelt like burning rubber, yuck!
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  #11  
Old 01-07-2010, 06:23 AM
ricky525I ricky525I is offline
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HI.
I have 2002 bmw 525i and i have burning oil smel when i turn heat on, so i went to a deler and he said i have to change valve cover gasket , oil vapor seperator and change oil cost me $1688, i know how to change valve cover gasket but oil vapor seperator i dont even know where is located.
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  #12  
Old 01-08-2010, 08:49 AM
JohnnyOttawa JohnnyOttawa is offline
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Re:Burning smell

You could check or have checked the lines leading to powersteering reservoir. I had the smell in my 99 540 and had oily leakage IVO my pan - initially I thought that a seal (oil leak) had gone - thankful it wasn't!!! It was a line leading to pwr steering reservoir. It should be a fairly cheap fix it this is your problem.
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  #13  
Old 01-08-2010, 11:22 AM
kingbled kingbled is offline
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I have the same thing going on and I KNOW my gaskets are leaking and need to be replaced. I have the parts and every thing just have yet to get to doing it. You are having the same problem so get the gaskets and have at it...
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  #14  
Old 02-22-2010, 03:17 PM
bimmergb bimmergb is offline
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Re. Burning smell

Had exactly the same - Burning oil smell on my '06 330xi with 44K. Still under warranty. Dealer replaced upper gasket. It was a small leak there.
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  #15  
Old 02-23-2010, 06:12 AM
525man 525man is offline
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Same problem on 2002 525i touring. I found some oil droplets accumulating on the exhaust but did not find the leak yet. It does have a burning rubber smell so i think it may be my vcg.
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  #16  
Old 02-23-2010, 03:01 PM
mrpumpk1n mrpumpk1n is offline
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speaking of burning smells, after taking my car out for a bit when i came home and parked, i saw smoke (very thin, and oderless) go up from the front of the car, it was hugging the windshield. its raining out.. is that the rain water steaming off somehow? or do i have a big problem xD
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  #17  
Old 02-24-2010, 03:07 PM
ricky525I ricky525I is offline
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Thumbs up Burnning oil smell

I finally fix my problem,it was VCG and oil vapor seperator. So BMW in Naperville,Il charged me 1350 for both parts to replace.Parts are not expensive,but labor riped me off
Thanks guys for your help...
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