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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 01-24-2011, 02:56 PM
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nyclad nyclad is offline
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Do I have an oil pan gasket leak?

Hi Guys,


I've been tracing an oil leak for a few months now. It seems to eat about a liter every 3-4 weeks. I've replaced parts that really did leak (albeit a little) such as vacuum hoses, new oil return hose with the banjo bolts, etc... I already put in a new CCV a year ago. I even changed the oil filter housing gasket twice. The first time I changed the oil filter housing gasket a year ago when it really did leak, and the last time 2 months ago (thinking I messed up the install and made it leak,) but it was bone dry down there, so no leakage. I've already changed the valve cover gasket as part of the Vanos, and it's dry nowadays too. Plus there are no CEL lights or pending codes at this time.

I finally cleaned off the bottomside of my engine then re-examined it 150 miles later. I'm pretty sure this is the dreaded oil pan gasket leak where I need to remove the front subframe. What do you guys think?
I've never fixed this before, and I know the dealership hasn't messed with the oil pan either (I bought it new back in 2002.)

Here is the front of the oil pan.
IMG_3067


Here is the same area from the right side. The red/brownish stuff feels rubbery and I think it's probably RTV sealant?
IMG_3069


Here is the middle of the oil pan area by the steering components.
IMG_3068


Thanks,
Steve

Last edited by nyclad; 01-24-2011 at 03:02 PM. Reason: added photos
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  #2  
Old 01-24-2011, 03:08 PM
poolman poolman is offline
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Check your hoses around your power steering resivoir--if it leaking there it could make it's way down below also.
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  #3  
Old 01-24-2011, 03:10 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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With that rate of leakage, I would expect that the entire underside of the car would be fouled with oil. Leave the plastic undershield off, and inspect the area where you park to see if that might narrow down on the source.
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  #4  
Old 01-24-2011, 04:42 PM
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nyclad nyclad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poolman View Post
Check your hoses around your power steering resivoir--if it leaking there it could make it's way down below also.
I've been checking, and it's not the problem. I did the reservoir hose clamp fix and the o-ring for the PS reservoir cap about a year ago, and it's dry. The end where it meets the PS pump is slightly moist, but it's not that much at all.
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  #5  
Old 01-24-2011, 04:47 PM
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nyclad nyclad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edjack View Post
With that rate of leakage, I would expect that the entire underside of the car would be fouled with oil. Leave the plastic undershield off, and inspect the area where you park to see if that might narrow down on the source.
I'll leave the shield off and see what I find. Before I cleaned things off, the entire underside, from the front of the oil pan, to the part that squares off where the oil change plug, to the tranny was fouled with oil, some new (clearer) and some old. Some oil even made it to the part behind the tranny (front muffler?)

I tend to think that maybe most of the oil drops onto the roadway while I'm driving? The upper side of the shield did have plenty of oil and dirt in the rear middle section.
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  #6  
Old 05-16-2011, 12:56 AM
penguinc00 penguinc00 is offline
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Sorry to bump an old(ish) thread, but I'm having the same issue. Was this ever resolved? Was it the oil pan gasket that was causing the leak? I was under the car today and the entire underside of the car was soiled. I checked where the oil filter gasket usually leaks and saw that it was bone dry. Valve cover gasket was also replaced fairly recently. It seems that the leak I have is similar to the OP's in location...
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  #7  
Old 05-16-2011, 07:13 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penguinc00 View Post
I was under the car today and the entire underside of the car was soiled.
As cn90 has said many times, in most cases, an oil leak that isn't the valve cover gasket is due to the oil filter housing gasket which is a 5-dollar fix.

Do a /ofh in the bestlinks for details.

If, perchance, it 'is' the oil pan gasket, mudbone has a solution that does 'not' require dropping the subframe.

A simple /oil pan gasket in the bestlinks will reveal the method.
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  #8  
Old 05-16-2011, 07:13 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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If you have ruled out the OFH gasket, then you probably have the Oil Pan Gasket leak.

Use only BMW gasket $26 or so.

The usuall procedure calls for dropping the subframe in order to get the Oil Pan out.
This will be a nasty 8-10h job!

There is an alternate method: cut the gasket in 1-2 places and slide it in, then use RTV sealant.
Read this thread by "Mudbone":
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=532166

When torquing the pan bolts, watch the torque, it is easy to strip them!
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  #9  
Old 05-16-2011, 11:58 AM
penguinc00 penguinc00 is offline
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I'll be pulling the manifold to replace the intake gasket, and replacing the CCV and all associated hoses this weekend, so I hopefully I'll get an even better look at what's going on. Thank you for the ideas. The gasket cutting idea is superb. But I guess that will make it difficult/impossible to clean the oil pan?
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  #10  
Old 05-16-2011, 12:02 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penguinc00 View Post
...The gasket cutting idea is superb. But I guess that will make it difficult/impossible to clean the oil pan?
No need to clean the oil pan.
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  #11  
Old 03-26-2012, 12:55 AM
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Jason5driver Jason5driver is offline
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Mine leaks in the same exact spots and along the back bell housing/ rear main seal.
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  #12  
Old 04-06-2013, 05:10 AM
Joelgk Joelgk is offline
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Jason5driver: Did you fix your leak. Mine looks to be doing the same now. I have dark oil around the bell housing. Is the oil pan ? or Is it from the transmission?
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  #13  
Old 04-06-2013, 06:24 AM
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tmvE39/E53/Z32 tmvE39/E53/Z32 is offline
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FYI: the Oil Filter Housing gasket (which is much easier to replace) is more prone to leak than Oil Pan gasket.
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  #14  
Old 04-06-2013, 06:28 AM
Joelgk Joelgk is offline
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I did replace the OFH gasket last year and its been good since..
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  #15  
Old 07-25-2014, 08:33 PM
trickstar trickstar is offline
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A trick for locating the leak. Clean your engine, and then spray the problem areas with foot powder. It's white, doesn't blow off like talc or corn starch, and shows exactly where your leaks are coming from.

Jimmy
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  #16  
Old 07-26-2014, 09:35 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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For the record, these are the newly defined canonical threads on the three methods of replacing the oil pan gasket ... (at least as currently defined in the bestlinks)...

- How to identify an oil pan leak (1) & how to remove & replace the E39 V8 oil pan gasket (1) & how to replace the E39 I6 oil pan gasket by dropping the subframe (1) & the Mudbone / cn90 trick to cut and replace the rigid metalized I6 OPG without removing the sub frame (1) & how to substitute pure RTV as a FIPG formed in place gasket for the 6-cylinder E39 oil pan gasket without lowering the sub-frame (1) & how to build or buy your own hoist & engine-support tools (1)

Picture is from this thread:
- E39 6cyl oil pan gasket replacement illustrated

See also:
- Magnum BMW V8 oil pan gasket DIY (1)
- E39 6cyl oil pan gasket replacement illustrated (1)
- Do I have an oil pan gasket leak? (1)
- Oil pan gasket repair, partial fail. (1)
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 07-26-2014 at 09:45 AM.
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