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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 03-01-2010, 03:21 PM
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Andreas540i Andreas540i is offline
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Location: Lincoln, NE
 
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Mein Auto: 1997 BMW 540i
Where is this oil leaking from?

I fixed the valve covers recently and stopped that leak but now there is a leak causing a puddle under the back of the oil pan, right in the middle of the car . It would be fine if it didn't make my car smell like burnt oil. Where do you think it is coming from? I originally thought the oil pan but it seems to be higher than that, and it is not the back of the valve cover.

The first 4 pictures gradually get further from the small oil puddle so there is no confusion of where the puddle is. The last to are where it is dripping off the oil pan.

Thanks for any help you can provide.
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  #2  
Old 03-01-2010, 04:27 PM
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BigCo540i BigCo540i is offline
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Location: Richmond, VA
 
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Mein Auto: 98 E39 540i - 09 E90 328i
It could possibly be your timing cover gaskets, this is common with the v8.
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  #3  
Old 03-01-2010, 09:34 PM
jose hinojosa jose hinojosa is offline
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Location: Yucaipa ca
 
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Mein Auto: 2001 530i
it could be your oil case gasket
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  #4  
Old 03-02-2010, 12:08 PM
resharp001 resharp001 is offline
Russ
Location: fort worth, tx
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 540iA & 1995 M3
It is really hard to tell from those pictures. I had a similar issue and after months of monitoring it, tracked it back to my upper timing cover gaskets. Initially it sure didn't seem like it could be coming from that location, but I monitored it closely and sure enough it was coming mainly from the driver's side upper TC gasket and running off/down behind the alternator and down the side of the block. Once I took the upper cover off it was totally obvious the location mine was leaking from, and as noted above it is a common leaking point on our V-8's. I would bet money you also have a leaky oil pan gasket as well, but that is not normally what causes a small puddle/drops from all the things I've seen/read. If I were you, I would start by getting a couple of cans of engine cleaner, get that front end in the air, and really go after cleaning the underside of your engine. It is so hard to track an oil leak when everything is dirty. You didn't really mention how big the puddle was, but these things normally start small and get worse over time. Assuming you're not losing a ton of oil every night clean it up good, keep a close eye on it in the ensuing days and it will most likely reveal itself.

Subscribed. Good luck.
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  #5  
Old 03-02-2010, 12:25 PM
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Andreas540i Andreas540i is offline
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Location: Lincoln, NE
 
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It puddle is about the size of a dime or quarter over one night or day. After a weekend of sitting parked it is about 1-2 inches in diameter.
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  #6  
Old 03-02-2010, 01:27 PM
resharp001 resharp001 is offline
Russ
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Mein Auto: 2002 540iA & 1995 M3
Seems almost on par with what I was seeing when I finally did my upper timing gaskets last month. You're kind of in the same boat as I was in replacing the upper timing gaskets. You should have just done them at the same time as your VC's since alot of the work overlaps. I'm sure you're old VC gaskets were probably brittle when you took them off.....the upper timing gaskets are probably just as bad. My old ones just crumbled to pieces when I tried to remove them. I can't say this leak is definitely from that location, but just saying if you needed to replace the VC gaskets good chance the upper timing chain cover gaskets need it too.

I can only speak for myself, but with that amount of loss I would still feel ok cleaning it up real good and then monitoring it over the next week or two very closely crawling under the car with a flashlight tyring to trace it back to it's origin. I don't see you're mileage anywhere, but your oil pan gasket problaby isn't helping matters. I have one sitting in my garage for when I do my next oil change. At 8 years and 75k miles mine seems to be a little weepy.
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  #7  
Old 03-02-2010, 02:44 PM
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Andreas540i Andreas540i is offline
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Location: Lincoln, NE
 
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It has 125,300 miles on it.

If it is leaking from a gasket in the front wouldn't it be strange that most of the oil is hitting under the back of the engine?

I found this DIY for the gasket
http://www.bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/607468
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Last edited by Andreas540i; 03-02-2010 at 03:04 PM.
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  #8  
Old 03-02-2010, 04:48 PM
resharp001 resharp001 is offline
Russ
Location: fort worth, tx
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 540iA & 1995 M3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andreas540i View Post
It has 125,300 miles on it.

If it is leaking from a gasket in the front wouldn't it be strange that most of the oil is hitting under the back of the engine?

I found this DIY for the gasket
http://www.bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/607468
I guess I was more implying that if you needed to replace your VC gaskets before then your upper timing chain cover gaskets are almost certainly in need of being replaced as well, not necessarily that your oil leak was definitely from them. I can tell you that when I originally started looking for an oil leak that I peaked under the car and thought WOW, my oil pan gasket is leaking like a mofo. After cleaning the underside thouroughly and monitoring it, I realized that was not the source of my main issue as I originally thought it was. I do a lot of researching on-line and I can't say that I remember coming across anyone that had an oil pan gasket leaking that bad all the sudden. It just seems strange and as if the real culprit might be elsewhere. A couple of cans of gunk engine cleaner from the local auto store will do wonders getting you a clean start.

On a side note - I had looked at that DIY in preparation to do mine. Although I knew that the pre-vanos M62's didn't have the vanos solenoids to mess with, I didn't realize that they also didn't have the secondary air tube that gave me a beotch of a time when I just did mine on my M62TU! No wonder I tried to change mine without taking that secondary air line off, thus causing me 2 solid weeks of headaches and hearthaches!
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  #9  
Old 03-03-2010, 04:37 PM
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Andreas540i Andreas540i is offline
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Is it just me or is vanos more trouble than its worth?
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  #10  
Old 03-03-2010, 04:50 PM
resharp001 resharp001 is offline
Russ
Location: fort worth, tx
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 540iA & 1995 M3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andreas540i View Post
Is it just me or is vanos more trouble than its worth?
Well, the vanos on the M62TU engine is quite a bit different from what the 6 cylinders from what I understand. The V-8's don't have the same kind of issues that they experience. The only real problem I've had with mine so far is just having the hassle of taking that solenoid out to get the upper timing cover off. That said there was a recent thread in the last couple of days that someone was posting weather to get a vanos or non-vanos V-8. Someone had made a comment that normally the vanos models are avoided like the plague or something like that, but that's really the first thing I've seen written like that.
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