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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 12-31-2012, 10:11 PM
TWF TWF is offline
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car stopped running

Wife took 04 325xi to work today and did not make 2 miles when car shut down and smoke coming from under the hood. When I got there I opened hood and only thing I could see is oil or some liquid around oxygen sensor and down bellow it, looks like it comes out of the oxygen sensor. Did not try to start it, towed it home.
Any clue what is wrong?
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  #2  
Old 01-01-2013, 09:17 AM
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SJBimmer SJBimmer is offline
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How is your oil level?
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  #3  
Old 01-01-2013, 09:30 AM
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charlesberry charlesberry is offline
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The valve cover gasket has blown out, hence oil all over the oxy sensors. Mine did that. Most likely/common reason it blew out...... is the CCV is clogged and needs to be replaced.

Like SJ said above - check the oil level first. Now for some good news - these are both jobs you can do at home in your driveway for about $200 bucks in parts and the DIY's here.
Or at least that's what I would guess from your description.
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Old 01-01-2013, 12:16 PM
TWF TWF is offline
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Oil level looked fine when I checked it. There was no oil under the car, just little right around sensor that looked like it is coming out of the sensor itself, and some down under it. Not really any big amount of oil. I checked coolant and that was fine also. There was white sludge under oil fill cap. That is all I checked while there before tow truck came. It was cold to stand out there and look any more.
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  #5  
Old 01-01-2013, 12:33 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TWF View Post
Oil level looked fine when I checked it. There was no oil under the car, just little right around sensor that looked like it is coming out of the sensor itself, and some down under it. Not really any big amount of oil. I checked coolant and that was fine also. There was white sludge under oil fill cap. That is all I checked while there before tow truck came. It was cold to stand out there and look any more.
Based on what you have provided thus far, your problem could be one of a hundred different possibilities. You need to provide more information. Try starting the car and see what happens. How are your other fluid levels? Is the Check engine light on?

Suck it up, brave the cold, and give us details.
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  #6  
Old 01-01-2013, 12:37 PM
TWF TWF is offline
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Windshield fluid bottle is full
Will check more little later.
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  #7  
Old 01-01-2013, 12:42 PM
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Bimmer1995318ti Bimmer1995318ti is offline
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Windshield fluid bottle is full
Will check more little later.
Rofl rofl
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  #8  
Old 01-01-2013, 01:35 PM
TWF TWF is offline
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Ok, got brave and opened hood. Oil level is good, on lower end but within range. Coolant level is at minimum now, was good yesterday when car was still warm. All the normal lights are on instrument when key is on, check engine light is on. When I turn key car will not even try to turn over, just click from starter engaging. Bunch of white paste stuff on oil fill cap.
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  #9  
Old 01-01-2013, 01:54 PM
Marky_N Marky_N is offline
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That gunk on the cap is usually a sign of the head gasket going or gone. It's a mixture of water / liquid getting mixed with the oil in the engine.
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  #10  
Old 01-01-2013, 01:55 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Ok, got brave and opened hood. Oil level is good, on lower end but within range. Coolant level is at minimum now, was good yesterday when car was still warm. All the normal lights are on instrument when key is on, check engine light is on. When I turn key car will not even try to turn over, just click from starter engaging. Bunch of white paste stuff on oil fill cap.
You need to check the codes to see why the CEL is showing. If you don't have a code scanner, you need to buy one at your local auto parts store.

From the looks of the white crap on your oil filler cap, this may certainly be a blown head gasket; however, that wouldn't cause the engine to just suddenly stop running (and prevent it from turning over), unless its hydro-locked, which I don't think is the case. It certainly should be looked into though. Interrogate your wife and see what other details she will give up. Was there any odd sounds before the car shut down? Did it overheat before hand?

Last, you also need to check your battery and alternator just to rule out the possibility of one of them being bad. A bad alternator could cause the engine to suddenly stop running after the battery drained and it would certainly keep it from turning over. An auto parts store could scan your codes, check your battery and your alternator all for free. Unfortunately though, they won't come to you car; you have to take the car to them.
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Last edited by halltristan; 01-01-2013 at 01:58 PM.
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  #11  
Old 01-01-2013, 01:57 PM
Marky_N Marky_N is offline
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Forgot to add.. My partners Vauxhall Astra has this problem for about 6 months but the head gaskets was fine. The water level didn't drop at all and have it checked a few times and was told its bad breathing in the engine. We just kept an eye on it for a few more months. It was worse in the colder weather. One day she was driving from work and her car just cut out, wouldn't start but we didn't experience any smoke from the engine. On later inspection it was a valve that had slowly disintegrated which was giving off the creamy gunk for some time until it finally gave up and broke. Head off job, new valve put in, head skimmed, built back together. Took around 4 days with only have an hour, hour and half at most working on it with doing other things.
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  #12  
Old 01-01-2013, 01:59 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Also, upload some pics of the oil / liquid are you O2 sensors. Lets figure out what that is.
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  #13  
Old 01-01-2013, 02:02 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Forgot to add.. My partners Vauxhall Astra has this problem for about 6 months but the head gaskets was fine.
Unfortunately, the coolant being low is indicative of head gasket failure. Its hard to say for sure at this point -- and a head gasket failure still shouldn't cause the car to suddenly shut down -- but the coolant had to have went somewhere.
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Last edited by halltristan; 01-01-2013 at 02:04 PM.
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  #14  
Old 01-01-2013, 02:03 PM
TWF TWF is offline
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Yea, car not turning over does not make sense, either blown head gasket or any other stuff mentioned.
She said car was running perfect (women ear for engine ) and she was about 1-2 miles from home sitting on light. Everything was fine until she took of from light, all sudden lost power and died within 40 feet with smoke coming from under the hood. She parked right there and called me. Never had battery or any other issues like this. She said no lights on instrument before it stopped and water temp was just above blue/cold.
I will drop it to my mechanic, can't work on car outside with this weather.
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  #15  
Old 01-01-2013, 02:07 PM
TWF TWF is offline
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Hard to take good pic down there in dark. Like I said, there is not really pool of oil, just wet around sensor and on that sheet metal above sensor. And some down on bottom under, I guess under engine shield cover.
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  #16  
Old 01-01-2013, 02:08 PM
TWF TWF is offline
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Can't see but there is darker area around sensor which is wet, probably dripping from sheet metal above where that U shaped notch is.
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  #17  
Old 01-01-2013, 02:08 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Yea, car not turning over does not make sense, either blown head gasket or any other stuff mentioned.
She said car was running perfect (women ear for engine ) and she was about 1-2 miles from home sitting on light. Everything was fine until she took of from light, all sudden lost power and died within 40 feet with smoke coming from under the hood. She parked right there and called me. Never had battery or any other issues like this. She said no lights on instrument before it stopped and water temp was just above blue/cold.
I will drop it to my mechanic, can't work on car outside with this weather.
Having only driven two miles, I don't think this is an engine related failure simply because there wouldn't have been enough time for the engine to overheat, warp or hydro-lock, and shut down. The white crap should still be checked out but I'm willing to bet this is just a bad alternator case. The battery was probably low when she left home because the alternator hasn't been charging it properly. After starting the engine, and later coming to a stop and revving the car after the stop light, the battery had no more power to give; thus the shut down and reason you can't start the car now. (The low / dead battery will also cause the instrument cluster and CEL to light up.)

Recharge the battery, check the alternator, and replace it if necessary. Problem solved. Pretty easy fix - you should be looking at $300 parts and all or around $200 if you do it yourself. Opt for a new alternator, don't get a rebuilt one.
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Last edited by halltristan; 01-01-2013 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:15 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Wife took 04 325xi to work today and did not make 2 miles when car shut down and smoke coming from under the hood.
The smoking from the hood is the only thing that I can't explain. A bad alternator wouldn't do that; nor a head gasket or anything else we've mentioned here. Usually smoke under the hood is either a coolant leak or oil burning from the exhaust manifold. Have the mechanic perform a pressure test on your coolant system. It shouldn't cost $10 and will at least rule out a coolant leak.
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  #19  
Old 01-01-2013, 02:35 PM
TWF TWF is offline
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Well, there should be no coolant in that area above or around sensor so it is oil. Most like from valve cover, nothing else there. Doubt it is alternator either, started easy at house before she took of. Battery going bad I can see but sudden like that makes no sense, I will check battery. She said car jerked few times before shutting down when she took of from light, like running out of the gas. I think something locked up in engine. I don't see it as anything else but mechanical part.
Will let mechanic deal with it. Thanks guys.
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  #20  
Old 01-01-2013, 02:39 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Well, there should be no coolant in that area above or around sensor so it is oil. Most like from valve cover, nothing else there. Doubt it is alternator either, started easy at house before she took of. Battery going bad I can see but sudden like that makes no sense, I will check battery. She said car jerked few times before shutting down when she took of from light, like running out of the gas. I think something locked up in engine. I don't see it as anything else but mechanical part.
Will let mechanic deal with it. Thanks guys.
A leak from the valve cover gasket wouldn't cause the car to suddenly stop and you never mentioned the car jerking a few times before shutting down before. Didn't you think that was important??

So lets see, first you're too cold to check out your car and now you're telling us information that you should have all along. No wonder your car suddenly stopped; it probably couldn't take anymore and offed itself.
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  #21  
Old 01-01-2013, 02:56 PM
TWF TWF is offline
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I just asked her details how exactly it stopped. I was not in the car. Car that shuts off while moving will jerk at certain speed.
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  #22  
Old 01-01-2013, 04:08 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Can't offer any suggestions, but out of curiosity, where are you taking it to have it fixed? I've only been to one place in Reno and not thrilled with them so still having all my cars serviced in the Bay Area.
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:13 PM
TWF TWF is offline
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Place called German Automotive, he worked on my MB's and this BMW.
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:39 PM
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SJBimmer SJBimmer is offline
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Bad CCV can cause engine to hydrolock with oil, prevent starting, and I'm almost certain this is what happened. She may also have a small coolant leak in conjunction with this. The mayonaise on the oil filler cap could be from the bad CCV, or just an indication of many short trips that do not allow the engine to warm up fully. You did not mention how many miles on the car, but a cooling system overhaul may be necessary, and the best time to do all of this is the same time you do the CCV and the valve cover gasket.. More details can be found in the Wiki at the top of the page, and I suggest you read it completely to fully understand what should be done. The bad CCV pressurizes the crankcase, causing the valve cover gasket to blow out, causing the oil leak you are seeing. You may also want to do the spark plugs at the same time, as a Bad CCV can and will cause plug fouling depending on how long it has been happening.. and you probably will have to remove them anyway to remove the oil that is in the cylinder(s) Good luck!
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:45 PM
TWF TWF is offline
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You right about short trips, she drives 3 miles to work. And shopping on weekends
Is this CCV only crankcase venting?
91k miles total on this car.

Last edited by TWF; 01-01-2013 at 04:48 PM.
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