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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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 03-31-2010, 06:53 PM
jaytone jaytone is offline
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Brown sludge in oil cap

Recently bought a very low mileage 528. Last oil change by the former owner was last July and only 2000 miles have been driven since.
I was cleaning the engine today and I removed the oil cap. There was brown sludge on the bottom of the cap and on the rim of the cover.
Any idea what is going on ?

Car just turned 49,000 miles.
Thanks
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  #2  
Old 03-31-2010, 07:33 PM
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Solidjake Solidjake is offline
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like this?

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  #3  
Old 03-31-2010, 08:11 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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1+,

Mine looks like that at 100K.
Car runs fine.
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  #4  
Old 03-31-2010, 09:26 PM
ecool ecool is offline
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Mine looks like that too. Just changed the oil last week. Runs fine at 114,000.
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  #5  
Old 03-31-2010, 09:34 PM
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doru doru is offline
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Signs of a failing CCV
0.02
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  #6  
Old 03-31-2010, 09:48 PM
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It's often caused by repeated short runs where the engine doesn't fully warm up and condensation in the rocker box isn't fully burnt off.
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  #7  
Old 03-31-2010, 09:55 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Actually that pic is normal at 100K, not a cause for concern at all.

This is real sludge seen in this forum:

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  #8  
Old 04-01-2010, 04:11 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Actually that pic is normal at 100K, not a cause for concern at all.

This is real sludge seen in this forum:

Now that is SLUDGE!!!

The brown stuff you see is indeed condensation from within the engine. The color ranges from brown to a thick yellow-white mayo-like sludge. It is present in virtually every e39 to varying degrees. It often means, but not always, a failing CCV. Replacing the CCV is a PITA and is a common component failure in e39s due to the poor design. The CCV is supposed to vent the crankcase (like a PCV) and allow this condensation to flow back into the sump but it gets clogged by an accumulation of this condensate. In colder weather, this condensate clings to the CCV pipes/tubes, as they do not warm sufficiently on short trips to flow back into the CCV. The BMW "fix" is insulated pipes/tubes, however, this is only a partial solution. Best to avoid short trips and allow the car to warm sufficiently.
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  #9  
Old 04-01-2010, 06:10 AM
jaytone jaytone is offline
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Thanks to all for replying. It does look like the photo above but with some extra **** (sludge) that I cleaned off and now the cap is just brown (looks like rust). As Fudman mentioned above it did look like brown to a thick yellow-white mayo-like sludge.
The former owner only used the car to go on short trips, usually 5 miles a day, to the train station. He told me that in the entire time he had it (11 years) he took only 5 or 6 long trips and the rest was basically daily to the train station. He only changed the oil once a year too by BMW.
So, I guess I will have the oil changed and use it more often now that I own it.

Last edited by jaytone; 04-01-2010 at 06:14 AM.
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  #10  
Old 04-01-2010, 06:47 AM
Joe Mauer Joe Mauer is offline
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I had an interesting thing happen with my wife's Ford F350 diesel. Because of the snow, we didn't run it at all during February. Once we got it back on the road, I drove it to town and back (less than 15 minutes total run time). After that trip, I happened to remove the oil filler cap and noticed a light-colored residue inside the cap, which I wiped off. After the next trip (also short), the residue had returned, but there was less of it than before. At that point, I changed the oil and took it on a long trip with a heavy trailer. Now the residue is gone.

I am not sure what that means for this thread, but I think it supports the condensation theory mentioned by the others here.

Seeing that residue on my wife's oil cap spooked me a little. Those Powerstroke motors are notorious for cylinder liner failures resulting from cavitation on the coolant side of the cylinders. It's a great truck, but I am always fearful of what I will see on the dipstick.
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  #11  
Old 04-01-2010, 06:47 AM
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Go out and redline the bish a few times

It's begging for it
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  #12  
Old 04-01-2010, 03:54 PM
JTuck JTuck is offline
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"Go out and redline the bish a few times
It's begging for it"

Exactly. Otherwise known as an Italian tune-up.
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  #13  
Old 04-01-2010, 04:22 PM
mic0ne23 mic0ne23 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solidjake View Post
like this?

mine looks the same too
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  #14  
Old 12-28-2010, 09:45 AM
mic0ne23 mic0ne23 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Actually that pic is normal at 100K, not a cause for concern at all.

This is real sludge seen in this forum:

WOW.. how would you know if you have all that? just by removing the valve cover? or would there be a huge mess under the cap too?
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  #15  
Old 12-28-2010, 10:44 AM
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  #16  
Old 12-28-2010, 02:13 PM
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Also, accelerated oil changes will get rid of that stuff in time.
I had some deposits when I purchased the car - it was maintained by the BMW interval. It was under the oil filler cap and on the dipstick. Then I took things in my hands and the first 2 oil changes were at something around 3000 miles, after that between 5 and 7 thou miles to day. The mayo and brown stuff is gone. Also, I had the CCV freeze on me a year or so after I purchased the car. No problems since. I also took a flashlight and looked inside oil filler cap and it looks great -what I can see. When I did the Vanos, what I could see was looking great too.
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  #17  
Old 12-28-2010, 02:49 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
Also, accelerated oil changes will get rid of that stuff in time.
I had some deposits when I purchased the car - it was maintained by the BMW interval. It was under the oil filler cap and on the dipstick. Then I took things in my hands and the first 2 oil changes were at something around 3000 miles, after that between 5 and 7 thou miles to day. The mayo and brown stuff is gone. Also, I had the CCV freeze on me a year or so after I purchased the car. No problems since. I also took a flashlight and looked inside oil filler cap and it looks great -what I can see. When I did the Vanos, what I could see was looking great too.
Like the picture of the crud with the valve cover removed?! No way. The only way to clean that is a tear down. No amount of oil changes, solvents, or magic elixirs will clean that up...it has been tried here, and other forums....just doesn't happen when it is that bad.
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  #18  
Old 12-28-2010, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
Like the picture of the crud with the valve cover removed?! No way. The only way to clean that is a tear down. No amount of oil changes, solvents, or magic elixirs will clean that up...it has been tried here, and other forums....just doesn't happen when it is that bad.
I'm not talking about that fouled engine. I agree that nothing can remove that. When I purchased my car, it was still under BMW warranty, very low mileage, practically new. I was talking about my car which started to develop a mild sludge/mayo. The inception of the process if you will, not that graphic pic.
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  #19  
Old 12-29-2010, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solidjake View Post
like this?

Mine looks like this as well (73,000 miles); I use RedLine 5W30 change every 5000 miles, did the VANOS with Fudman and inside the engine looks mint (zero deposits) so I'm wondering if the oil condensate simply goes to the highest point in the engine (the cap). After changing my oil last week, I warmed up the car and rechecked oil to top off last 1/2 quart and noticed already small beads of moisture on the cap (clear at this point)... could be my CCV, I suspect it has never been changed (FL car).

I drive 24 miles one way to work so car gets a chance to warm up by mid-point in the commute daily; using my daughter's VW Golf now as my winter car but miss my e39.
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  #20  
Old 12-29-2010, 11:18 AM
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Italian tune-up, now that's effin' funny
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  #21  
Old 02-02-2011, 12:00 PM
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For the record, there is apparently some brown sludge buildup in this 540i cylinder head removal thread ...

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  #22  
Old 02-02-2011, 01:22 PM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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my 525i is clean but 530i has a bit
cleaning Air Distribution piece looks like help

PITA

Last edited by champaign777; 02-02-2011 at 01:26 PM.
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  #23  
Old 02-02-2011, 01:25 PM
Abby2010 Abby2010 is offline
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Ccv

Fudman, is the CCV real difficult to replace? I'm thinking w/105,000 I should probably do this.
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  #24  
Old 02-02-2011, 02:27 PM
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If you are not displaying any CCV symptoms (smokey exhaust, high oil consumption, etc.), I would recommend holding off because it is a PITA (my opinion). It also depends on your driving habits. The accumulation of the "mayo" is typically attributed to driving short distances in cold weather and not letting the engine heat up sufficiently to burn off the condensate. If you do a weekly highway run of 10-20 miles, that should help to minimize accumulation.
I don't recommend this job because I have average mechanical skills and found myself somewhat lucky that my car started back up afterwards. It took me about 8 hrs over two days. Read my DIY (it applies to your MY). Access to the CCV is tight. It is doable but I needed to apply some workarounds to simplify the installation. Read the entire thread as others have modified steps in my procedure with success. Good luck!

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...240&highlight=
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  #25  
Old 02-02-2011, 03:12 PM
Abby2010 Abby2010 is offline
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Thanks. I have zero smoke on start up and my oil cap looks about like the one in this thread so I think I will just not worry about it right now. Thanks for the info & link!
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