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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 07-24-2014, 04:37 PM
trickstar trickstar is offline
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Oil pan gasket w/o lowering subframe

Okay, I tried to do the oil pan gasket without lowering the subframe, AND without using the factory gasket.

I set out to use "The Right Stuff" by Permatex, but decided to use the Permatex Ultra Black RTV. Here's why.

For one thing, this is a huge job, no matter WHAT shortcuts or ingenuity that you have. Getting to all of those bolts is a real nightmare.

After using tin snips to cut out the old metal/rubber gasket that was leaking (BTW, it took about 4 cuts, and maybe one break to get it out), I started cleaning the surfaces with brake cleaner on the rag. Kept cleaning until the dripping had stopped.

I realized that I was not going to have enough room to work with to have any luck with a 'bead' of RTV. This was truly going to be a smear campaign. Especially in the blind areas near the front/harmonic balancer and the area back by the transmission.

You only have, at best, about just under an inch to work in on most of these surfaces, if you don't drop the subframe or raise the engine, which is what I did.

Since the time limit for working with "The Right Stuff" is 5 minutes, I decided against it. There was simply no way, with the situation that I was in, that I was going to be able to get this stuff on all of the surfaces within 5 minutes, let alone getting a bead of any kind.

The Ultra Black RTV would give me a longer setup time to be able to create wires and tools to get the RTV back to the places near the front and the tranny that would be impossible to reach with my fingers. I couldn't even SEE these places, and I was trying to get the RTV on it.

I decided to attack these difficult places first. I put RTV on my fingers and pushed it as far back as I could reach, in two stages, laying on both sides of the engine.

To get a bit more space for the pan to drop down, I unbolted the power steering, and moved it a bit back from the bracket on the subframe. It didn't give me much, but it gave me just enough... sort of.

Then, I cut a piece of coat hanger wire and put a bend at the end to sort of 'push' the silicone down the blind paths.

I was a bit messy, but not really thick layers of silicone. I knew that the surfaces would contact mostly, so I kept it relatively thin.

Got the pan back up while the RTV was still relatively sticky and moist, not yet skinned, I don't believe. Put a few of the easier to get to bolts back in and gently bolted up.

Put everything back together, cleaned up... and NO leaks, so far.

That being said, I don't feel great about this procedure. I like working neat, clean, and being able to continuously clean the oil dripping down. I waited for it to stop and everything, but, still, I'm just not sure if any got into the middle of the repair.

I'm about to go for the test drive. Hey, if it worked, it worked... If not, I'll have to do it the right way.

Either way, I want the whole gasket done using the RTV, and, next time when I take the pan all of the way off, The Right Stuff. Due to the Ultra Black, on a future attempt, I will have to do a full cleaning of the pan while off of the car.

I'll check in with how it goes.

Jimmy

Last edited by trickstar; 07-25-2014 at 05:25 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-24-2014, 05:11 PM
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helmet75 helmet75 is offline
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I truly pray I never have to do this job. it is honestly one which goes beyond what I am willing to do on my own.
I'll throw the money at the indy and let him tackle it

I am perfectly able to do it and have the tools and knowledge, but have no desire to.
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Old 07-24-2014, 07:22 PM
trickstar trickstar is offline
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So, I took the test drive, and it's dry as a bone. At first, there appeared to be some leakage back by where it hooked up with the transmission, but that was just brake cleaner and oil from when I cleaned the surfaces to apply the Ultra Black RTV.

I washed it off, took it out again. Dry.

I'm happy with the outcome, but I'm not sure that I'd recommend this method to most people. The possibility of missing a spot when blindly applying RTV to the front and rear ends of the pan is just too dicey and a waste of time if it leaks.

If you're a neat freak, my method will drive you nuts. It's NOT a neat bead, neat process or neat, in any way... However, there is barely any RTV leaking out the outer edge of the pan and block, because I had to wipe the RTV on and it turned out to be a pretty thin coat.

Hopefully, this is an example of 'better living through chemistry'. It's almost like rock, paper, scissors. The oil gets thinner, too thin to be held by the old style of gaskets when they get old. The RTV sealant gets better and holds the thinner oil. And it's easier to install than pulling the whole subframe. Barely easier.

I feel that cutting the new gasket and using the RTV at the cut points is the most surefire, easy, way to get a short term, serviceable fix. But, I feel that the RTV going all the way around is less apt to rot like the rubber in the OEM gaskets. I hope to never have to redo this, due to only using the Permatex Ultra Black. We're about to find out a couple of things. How a thin coat of RTV holds up long term, and how resilient this setup of RTV directly on the pan an block lasts as opposed to using an OEM gasket.

Jimmy
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Old 07-24-2014, 07:26 PM
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helmet75 helmet75 is offline
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in the old days of building small block chevy's, if you over-tightened the pan, it would warp and the cork gasket had to be put on with a pretty heavy bead of RTV.
It doesnt sound like the case with these engines, but they are built different and are very tight to work in.
keep us updated as I would love to know the long term results.
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  #5  
Old 07-24-2014, 08:29 PM
trickstar trickstar is offline
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Yeah, the chevy's had those punched out, formed metal pans, and you had to use a ball peen hammer to flatten out the holes before you bolted them back up.

Thanks for the encouragement, it's looking good... so far.

I'll go out of my way to keep an eye on it.

Jimmy
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Old 07-24-2014, 11:12 PM
trickstar trickstar is offline
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Oh, and it cost me a total of $2 worth of a tube of Ultra Black RTV that I already had laying around, and some brake cleaner.
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  #7  
Old 07-25-2014, 01:26 AM
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I see the OP has already posted to the canonical thread, so, just for reference so that others can find this more easily, here's the canonical thread on the topic of replacing the gasket without lowering the subframe ...
- Replaced oil pan gasket (1), by Mudbone
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Old 07-25-2014, 06:37 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Glad you got it done. On the average, the RTV gasket lasts about 6-8 years.
So you are good.

Many car mfg's don't use rubber gasket, instead they use liquid gasket from factory (Volvo, Honda etc.).

Next time:
- Drain oil overnight.
- Use the "cut gasket + patch" technique by "Mudbone". Just cut the gasket on the "high side", which is the driver side.
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  #9  
Old 07-25-2014, 07:27 AM
trickstar trickstar is offline
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Hi, I actually wanted no physical gasket in there at all. Nothing to rot, just pure RTV. I wanted a permanent seal, and in my estimation, the RTV is better than a mix of materials, like the cut gasket. Any movement or fluctuation in temperature can slightly move the 'patch', causing the metal to cut the patch RTV. Also, rubber rots, and it's part of all of these metal/rubber gaskets. In my opinion, a continuous layer of RTV around the pan is a long term, permanent fix.

Add to that, these BMW's are prone to warping, and the RTV compensates for that. A metal/rubber gasket won't have the same ability, and you could end up with another leak, or at least, another in the near future.

When doing an oil pan gasket without dropping the subframe, you don't have enough room to tell whether your pan or block are warped or not.

Chemicals have come a long way since our cars were engineered, and the new RTV sealants are one of the luxuries born of that advancement.

I hope that these posts help someone who is looking for alternatives to the very expensive service required to do these repairs

Jimmy
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:59 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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This post will certainly helps me.

My 1998 528i is still bone dry, I fixed the OFH gasket a while back and no oil leak so far.

My 2006 X5 has M54 engine and believe it or not, the front pass-side axle goes right through the oil pan (designed like this from the factory)!
I have an oil leak, which I hope is from OFH gasket (an easy fix).
If this X5 oil leak turns out to be oil pan gasket, it is another story!!!
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Old 07-25-2014, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trickstar View Post
I actually wanted no physical gasket in there at all. Nothing to rot, just pure RTV.
Oh my. I hadn't realized this is very different then, from the canonical thread on replacing the oil pan gasket without lowering the subframe because that Mudbone/Cn90 method entails slicing the gasket.

I wonder if we need a specific keyword-rich link in the bestlinks for this method (a step-by-step list & pictures would have been nice though).

How does this sound for a keyword-rich cite?
- 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 (i.e., no 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)

Note: I try to spell subframe as many ways as people might search (subframe, sub-frame, sub frame), and I used as many verbs as people might search (lowering, dropping, removing), and even added OPG as an abbreviation for oil pan gasket, so that single-word searches find the cite more easily.

Note: So as to not inundate newbies, I've started to link to just a single canonical thread, per topic, with any other content linked to that canonical thread. How I choose that single thread depends on the detail, number of posts, pictures, step-by-step procedures, etc.


[@OP: This thread is novel enough to be included in the bestlinks, but, since it will be referred to others in the future, it would be a lot better with a list of steps and/or pictures.]
EDIT: See also the old cite:
- How to identify an oil pan gasket leak (1) & how to remove & replace the E39 V8 oil pan gasket (1) (2) or the E39 I6 oil pan gasket by dropping the subframe (1) (2) (3) & hints how to replace the rigid metalized I6 oil pan gasket without removing the subframe (1) (2) & how to build or buy your own hoist & engine-support tools (1) (2)
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Last edited by bluebee; 07-25-2014 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 07-25-2014, 05:32 PM
trickstar trickstar is offline
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Bluebee, thanks for taking care of the categories!!!

I wanted to do video, but it was just a real mess and my drop light broke in the middle of the application of the RTV... URGH!!!

There really is absolutely NO room to put a camera. EVEN putting a drop light in an advantageous position is not realistic, seeing that mine actually ended up broken.

I could have used one of those long swabs, like they use for the adhesive that is put on PVC pipes to join them in plumbing. That would have been a great applicator for the RTV in the blind places where I was having to apply this. Not pretty, but easier than most of these methods, cheaper ( a few bucks for RTV and brake cleaner) and, in my honest opinion, much more long term resiliency and resistance to oil.

Jimmy
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Old 07-25-2014, 06:16 PM
theWalkinator theWalkinator is offline
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Just wondering, would it be a lot easier to run a bead of RTV on the pan instead of on the block?
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  #14  
Old 07-25-2014, 06:54 PM
trickstar trickstar is offline
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No, you're only dealing with less than an inch of clearance. You couldn't run a consistent bead on either the pan or the block, you get no straight shot at either surface. You MIGHT be able to hit a few inches of the sides, but not consistently. In the end, it just made sense to smear a thin coat on the block AND the pan surfaces, blindly at times. This was to make sure that you get no 'blank' or empty spots on the surfaces.

That bead is going to get spread out, anyway, by the process of bolting down the pan to the block.

Jimmy
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Old 07-26-2014, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trickstar View Post
No, you're only dealing with less than an inch of clearance.
I've been searching for a picture of what that looks like, to no avail.

Here's the latest update on the links so that others, who come here, can have one-stop shopping!

- 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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Last edited by bluebee; 07-26-2014 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 05-28-2015, 08:35 AM
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For the xref, this was asked today...
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Oil pan gasket replacement without actually using a gasket?
Quote:
Originally Posted by deyrag View Post
ok, flame suit on.

Has anyone done this by cutting the old gasket and replacing the pan using only sealant and no gasket (m52 engine to be specific)?
Plenty of other manufacturers use just sealant without a gasket so I see no reason why it would not work ok on our engines.
See also:
- 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)
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  #17  
Old 05-28-2015, 08:40 AM
deyrag deyrag is online now
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Trickstar, how is this holding up after a few months?
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:45 AM
trickstar trickstar is offline
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Hi, holding up great, dry as a bone!!!
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:52 AM
trickstar trickstar is offline
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Still dry, at 168k. I'm wondering how the cut gaskets are faring for the folks who used those.

Jimmy
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