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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 02-26-2012, 02:01 PM
mariodr mariodr is offline
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Question Valve Cover Gasket.

We replaced a valve cover gasket on our 2007 X3 last winter due to a burning oil smell. After the repair, the smell gradually came back, but disappeared entirely during the summer. After winter rolled around again, the smell came back full tilt. So, we went to the dealer this time thinking the Indy shop we used the first time did a poor job. The dealer changed the gasket, and lo and behold the smell is gradually coming back again. Rather than smelling like burnt oil, it just smells like oil. We are starting to think it may not be the gasket, but perhaps the valve cover itself. Perhaps it warps with the cold weather? Or something else. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Last edited by mariodr; 02-26-2012 at 02:04 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-26-2012, 02:14 PM
PSUEng PSUEng is offline
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I just had the valve cover gasket replaced on my 2007---60k miles at the dealer. This is interesting to note and I'll keep an eye out for more burning oil smell. I love this car, but I hope she lasts well into the 150k mile range without things like leaking valve cover gaskets!

I'd say that there may be some spilled oil residue on the head that is periodically cooking off.
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  #3  
Old 02-26-2012, 05:38 PM
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I've heard that a failed crank case ventilation system can cause a buildup of pressure and blow the valve cover gasket.

Another part that seems to fail is the oil filter housing gasket. An easy job to replace.

A third option may be that the shop isn't using RTV sealant in the halfmoons... Not sure.
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  #4  
Old 02-26-2012, 06:44 PM
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i'd be willing to guess its time for your air PCV system is clogged.
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  #5  
Old 02-27-2012, 07:53 AM
swapsafari swapsafari is offline
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Dominic -- I am due for my valve cover gasket..Last month I replaced my spark plugs and the indy shop told me that the 3rd spark plug had oil in it and the VCG needs to be replaced. Bought it from ECS and planning to get it done sometime soon. Indy quoted total of $315 (90/hr = total of 3.5 hrs) just on labor to get it changed. Thought of doing it myself but saw that there is too much going on after I opened the engine cover. Can you share how much you spent on getting your VCG done?

How about you PSUEng?


BTW, my car dosen't have any burning smell but does vibrates/shakes a little bit when its in D mode standing still. Vibration fades down if you put it in P or N. The indy told its coz of the oil in VCG. Makes sense?

Thanks!


Quote:
Originally Posted by mariodr View Post
We replaced a valve cover gasket on our 2007 X3 last winter due to a burning oil smell. After the repair, the smell gradually came back, but disappeared entirely during the summer. After winter rolled around again, the smell came back full tilt. So, we went to the dealer this time thinking the Indy shop we used the first time did a poor job. The dealer changed the gasket, and lo and behold the smell is gradually coming back again. Rather than smelling like burnt oil, it just smells like oil. We are starting to think it may not be the gasket, but perhaps the valve cover itself. Perhaps it warps with the cold weather? Or something else. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Last edited by swapsafari; 02-27-2012 at 03:25 PM.
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  #6  
Old 02-27-2012, 03:16 PM
PSUEng PSUEng is offline
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My VCG was done under warranty--so $50 CPO deductible but the part is not very expensive--$40 or so. Labor, not sure on but, I'd guess at least 2 hours.
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  #7  
Old 02-28-2012, 01:07 PM
mariodr mariodr is offline
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Gasket.

Thanks guys for the responses. The first valve cover gasket replacement at the Indy shop ran me $250. The oil now seems to be coming from the left side of the engine near the front (the left looking into the engine bay from the front of the car). It seems to be making it's way down some wiring there. The source is definitely near the corner from what appears to be close to the top of the engine, covered by guards. Any ideas?
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  #8  
Old 03-18-2012, 02:03 PM
Bimmer's Garage Bimmer's Garage is offline
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Replacing the valve cover gasket is probably one of the easiest things to do to your m54 engine. If you can install and remove spark plugs you can take off the valve cover. The issue with BMWs valve cover gaskets is on the back of the head oil seeps out because gasket doesn't seal perfectly there. To solve this apply a small amount of ultra copper silicone gasket maker to the halve moon shaped cutouts on the back of the head. BMW does not say this is necessary when replacing the gasket but from experience and from what others have told me this is the best way to prevent seeping oil. Ive done this to all the BMWs I've replaced valve cover gaskets on.
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Last edited by Bimmer's Garage; 03-23-2012 at 11:44 AM.
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  #9  
Old 03-21-2012, 05:26 PM
mariodr mariodr is offline
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Thanks for the insight, most helpful.
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  #10  
Old 06-16-2012, 07:37 PM
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I did the valve cover gasket today on my 2004 M54 engine. It went smoothly and in the time alloted (slightly less than 3h, took my time). Hardest part was getting the cover off after undoing all the bolts- the cover was firmly wedged on there and I spent about 30min with a hair dryer trying to get one corner loose before it finally gave way.

I applied an "adequate" amount of RTV sealant to the half-moon areas as directed in the DIY but after doing one full-throttle acceleration, some burning smell still exists although brief and not too terrible- not much of an improvement. I'd hate to think I went thru all that effort for naught.....I'll double check the seal tomorrow but I did bolt down everything fairly tightly.

Unfortunately I can't visually check the back end of the engine. Ideas where I could have gone wrong?
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  #11  
Old 06-16-2012, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AzNMpower32 View Post
I did the valve cover gasket today on my 2004 M54 engine. It went smoothly and in the time alloted (slightly less than 3h, took my time). Hardest part was getting the cover off after undoing all the bolts- the cover was firmly wedged on there and I spent about 30min with a hair dryer trying to get one corner loose before it finally gave way.

I applied an "adequate" amount of RTV sealant to the half-moon areas as directed in the DIY but after doing one full-throttle acceleration, some burning smell still exists although brief and not too terrible- not much of an improvement. I'd hate to think I went thru all that effort for naught.....I'll double check the seal tomorrow but I did bolt down everything fairly tightly.

Unfortunately I can't visually check the back end of the engine. Ideas where I could have gone wrong?
Did you wait a few hours to let the rtv sealant set up and dry before driving?
My guess is that the burning smell could be old residue still burning off.
Where did you get the gasket and was it BMW or aftermarket?

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  #12  
Old 06-16-2012, 08:20 PM
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It took long enough for me to put everything back on so I assumed the RTV dried sufficiently after approx 1,5 hours. I sort of "guesstimated" how much RTV I used on the rear half moons, I tried to use a generous amount but its right up against the firewall so impossible to see. The plus side on the X3 is that there's enough room to work around the engine bay; I did not remove the cabin air filter to access the bolts in the rear. I'll try some driving under full load again tomorrow.

I used BMW parts for the valve cover gasket and the rubber grommets. I do hope that it's as you say, that some residue was left over thats burning off.

Last edited by AzNMpower32; 06-16-2012 at 08:22 PM.
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  #13  
Old 06-17-2012, 02:16 AM
murderland murderland is offline
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i took my x3 into get inspection 2 the other day, they said the VCG was leaking onto the exhaust so there's a burning oil smell, quoted me around 417 for the whole job. problem is i don't smell burning oil or maybe i don't really know what that smells like....
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  #14  
Old 06-17-2012, 06:00 AM
Martin5333 Martin5333 is offline
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You should see smoke coming from under the hood from time to time. This together with the burnt oil smell is surely a valve cover gasket problem.
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  #15  
Old 06-17-2012, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AzNMpower32 View Post
It took long enough for me to put everything back on so I assumed the RTV dried sufficiently after approx 1,5 hours. I sort of "guesstimated" how much RTV I used on the rear half moons, I tried to use a generous amount but its right up against the firewall so impossible to see. The plus side on the X3 is that there's enough room to work around the engine bay; I did not remove the cabin air filter to access the bolts in the rear. I'll try some driving under full load again tomorrow.

I used BMW parts for the valve cover gasket and the rubber grommets. I do hope that it's as you say, that some residue was left over thats burning off.
Glad to see you trying "more complex" DIY stuff! You should be fine if you used and "adequate" amount of RTV. If you didn't clean up the exhaust mani area around the metal plates where the old oil seats, you will still smell it for a while.

What DIY did you use, if you don't mind to share?
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  #16  
Old 06-17-2012, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by X3-terrestrial View Post
Glad to see you trying "more complex" DIY stuff! You should be fine if you used and "adequate" amount of RTV. If you didn't clean up the exhaust mani area around the metal plates where the old oil seats, you will still smell it for a while.

What DIY did you use, if you don't mind to share?
Thanks! I redlined the car a couple more times today, seemed to be less burning smell but I will clean off the aluminium plates since they are pretty dirty, presumably from the previous leaking oil.

I used this DIY: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=886063 except I didn't remove the cabin microfilter because it's constructed a bit different in the X3 and appears molded into the base windshield covering. I was able to reach all the bolts with it in place; the hardest ones to remove are actually towards the front on the left (as you face the engine) side near the round black "thing" that sits next to the windshield washer tank because there's so little space for a wrench there.
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  #17  
Old 06-18-2012, 06:29 AM
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FWIW the cabin air filter housing comes out very easily in the X3. I've had it out on multiple occassions for various repairs. It'll be coming out again this weekend when I do the Vanos o-ring and valve cover gasket replacement. I've got the dreaded Vanos studder and burning oil smell....
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  #18  
Old 06-18-2012, 08:34 AM
swapsafari swapsafari is offline
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Same problem of VCG leaking in my car as I saw some oil in the third spark plug slot when I replaced them last. I guess, the job on 04-06 X3 seems to be much easier than 07 (N52) onwards as they have the Valvetronic motor that comes in your way when replacing the VCG. I am trying to get an insight here from a long time on how to deal with the valvetronic motor before removing the cylinder cover. Can anyone around here please throw some light on this? the VCG is long due on my car and don't want to pay stealership big $$$ for doing this job.

The DIY for E46 is a great write-up except that in my case I get stuck up at the valvetronic removal step.
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  #19  
Old 06-24-2012, 12:22 PM
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I cleaned off the (very filthy) metal plates last week and drove the X3 to WV this weekend which includes the usual mountain passes (up to 10%) and stress on the engine. I noticed no additional leakage from that area and no smell. Problem solved and a successful DIY!

Have I mentioned that the old X3 is a joy to drive in the mountains? The overengineering really pays off- it isn't overengineering at all, rather driving joy done right!
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:33 PM
Frenchx3 Frenchx3 is offline
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I did the Vanos seal and valve cover gasket replacement this weekend. All went well... The hardest part was getting the valve cover off of the engine. It's stuck on there pretty good. Using a putty knife at the front right side of the gasket finally worked. The valve cover gasket was leaking at the back of the engine on the passenger side near the firewall... The old gasket was completely plasticized in quite a few places particularly the seals around the spark plug cyclinders

The Vanos seal replacement did NOT solve my 3K RPM+ stuttering problem but it did get rid of the skipping when it idles. I noticed that my long term fuel trims are too high so I think I'm looking at pre-cat o2 sensors or a vacuum leak next....
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  #21  
Old 08-27-2012, 05:48 PM
chrisk03 chrisk03 is offline
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I will be attempting the valve cover gasket replacement on our 04 X3 2.5 (and spark plugs) this weekend with the help of the writeup on Pelican parts. I ordered the gasket/NGK plugs from ECS and am wondering if I should have ordered the rubber grommets, as well, or do they come with the OEM gasket as a "kit"? If not, can I just use the grommets that are already there?
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Old 08-27-2012, 06:16 PM
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When I bought the Valve Cover gasket set at the dealership, I had to purchase the rubber gromets seperately. They should be replaced because like the main gasket, the rubber will be brittle and hard and thus wouldnt be very effective at its job.
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:05 PM
chrisk03 chrisk03 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AzNMpower32 View Post
When I bought the Valve Cover gasket set at the dealership, I had to purchase the rubber gromets seperately. They should be replaced because like the main gasket, the rubber will be brittle and hard and thus wouldnt be very effective at its job.
Thanks, that's what I thought. I had called ECS back to inquire and order, but they didn't seem to know what I was talking about. Oh well, my dealer's parts dept is pretty good, so will just call them and pick up this week. Thanks again!
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  #24  
Old 08-27-2012, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
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I had called ECS back to inquire and order, but they didn't seem to know what I was talking about.
Looks like ECS just sell the nut and grommet assembly.

http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E83-X3-...Cover/ES18355/

With 15 needed for the M54 engine and 22 for the N52 it gets expensive.
About twice as much as the gasket set itself.

Good thing the dealer sells them separately.
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  #25  
Old 08-27-2012, 08:46 PM
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I remember Flow BMW, one of the more reasonable dealers in terms of parts pricing, charged ca. $1,20/per piece. Not cheap but go figure, imported from Germany. They might source things like coolant, motor oil, brake fluid, fuel treatment, and wiper blades from North America for dealers in the US, but for engine-related parts, it's still Germany.
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