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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-23-2012, 06:49 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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Its a Case of the Smoking ECU...

Okay for real though. This past week for the holidays I've done a crazy amount of driving. I'm talking just over 2500 miles in the past week. However, today as I was coming to a stop at a relative's house I noticed a little wisp of white smoke come out from under the top (closest to the windshield) of my hood. I immediately popped the hood to investigate, and saw that it came from around my ECU area. I literally have NO idea what this could be so any help would be great.

Also on a side note, I've noticed a slight rubbery burny smell coming from my AC. I've looked through the forum and results yield everything from oil leaks to smelly floor mats. Any possible leads on that front either?? Thanks for any help and hope y'all havin some happy holidays!
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  #2  
Old 11-24-2012, 06:37 AM
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jvr826 jvr826 is offline
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Do you have angel eyes?

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  #3  
Old 11-24-2012, 07:53 AM
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jonathan2263 jonathan2263 is offline
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Are you sure it's coming from the ecu? A burnt rubbery smell and a wisp of smoke near the back of the engine are common signs of a leaky valve cover gasket.
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:05 AM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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I do not have angel eyes.

I'm not sure at all that the ECU is the source of the smoke. When I lifted the hood up that is the closest landmark that I would use to describe the location. Would a leaking valve cover gasket explain the smell only coming out while the A/C is on heat??
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Old 11-24-2012, 12:12 PM
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jonathan2263 jonathan2263 is offline
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Typically, the valve cover gasket leaks at the back and drips a little oil onto the exhaust manifold. You can smell it when the vents are open. Also, sometimes you'll see a puff of smoke. Try looking at the right rear part of the engine for a small oil spot near the manifold.
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  #6  
Old 11-24-2012, 12:25 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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Alright. I'll go check that out report back. How difficult is it to replace if this is the case?
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Old 11-24-2012, 12:41 PM
R. Cate R. Cate is offline
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Not difficult at all, especially if you take your time. And by that, I mean thoroughly cleaning the matting surface of the gasket, paying attention to any lines that come loose during the process(This happened to a member, Starless, which triggered a SES light. Search for that thread as it is very informative.), torquing the valve cover bolts in the correct orientation, etc. There are a lot of write ups on this forum and a couple of videos posted on YouTube. Like I said, just take your time and all should go well.
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Old 11-24-2012, 01:35 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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I just checked the entire engine bay and couldn't find any oil anywhere. When I removed the Oil Filler Cap it seemed unusually dirty. Other than that nothing really stood out. Is there anything else I can check to confirm that it is the valve cover gasket?? If this is something that I need to do, what all will I need to complete this? Thanks for all the help guys.
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Old 11-24-2012, 03:53 PM
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G. P. Burdell G. P. Burdell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christopherr117 View Post
If this is something that I need to do, what all will I need to complete this?
The Beisan Systems double VANOS tutorial includes a comprehensive guide to replacing the valve cover gasket. It covers the parts, tools and other supplies you will need, and it walks you through the entire procedure while promoting good technique.
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:08 PM
R. Cate R. Cate is offline
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Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I'm almost certain that an oil filler cap with an excessive amount of residue is an indication that the CCV is on the way out.

Regarding what is needed for the valve cover gasket, aside from a basic socket set, a t30 torx is needed to remove the cabin air filter housing. A gasket scraper is ideal, and something to pry the valve cover off wouldn't hurt.

Oembimmerparts sells the gasket and 15 individual grommets for $35.

If you use the search function, you'll find tons if information on this topic. Like I mentioned earlier, rather simple procedure, just take your time.
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:57 PM
QAfred QAfred is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christopherr117 View Post
I just checked the entire engine bay and couldn't find any oil anywhere. When I removed the Oil Filler Cap it seemed unusually dirty. Other than that nothing really stood out. Is there anything else I can check to confirm that it is the valve cover gasket?? If this is something that I need to do, what all will I need to complete this? Thanks for all the help guys.
Take a look at the heat shield running lengthwise just below the plastic valve cover. It is bare aluminum, above exhaust manifold, that protects heat from rising much above and damage wiring etc.
Anyhow, in the back, all the way against friewall, passenger side, you will see where the oil from the leaky VCG will usually drip onto that heat shield and smoke.

Look at the heat shield from front to back, it will usually be clean except for that last inch or two...if it is leaking.
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:01 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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Thanks for all the help guys. I'll double check everything again in the morning. Yall think that I'm okay to drive the car to work and back? Or do I need to bench it? How time sensitive is this repair??
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  #13  
Old 11-25-2012, 06:05 PM
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rgk330i rgk330i is offline
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I'll double-or-nothing on the leaking valve cover gasket. And more than likely, it's caused by a failed oil separator valve (CCV, or sometimes CVV, depending on who you ask). Photo of where to look for valve cover oil here.

And if you're going to do the work of replacing the oil separator, you might as well replace the oil filter housing gasket too, because that's sure to be leaking as well. The good news is that if you do those 3 things, you'll almost certainly have no further oil problems.
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