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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
Talk about the E83 BMW X3 in this forum!

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  #1  
Old 11-08-2013, 01:47 PM
DangermouseX3 DangermouseX3 is offline
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OFHG why does it fail?

I was wondering the other night why I am about to start replacing gaskets on a 6 year old upmarket German import. Or more succinctly, why can't my precisely German engineered engine with 80k on it do what my old Chrysler engine with 180k on it do - keep the oil inside.

I have racked up hundreds of thousands of miles over the years in a variety of cars and never replaced a failed gasket (just those that are taken off for other reasons). And now I find that I should just plan to change the oil filter housing gasket (OFHG), the valve cover gasket and the valvetronic gasket. Is there some innate inability for BMW to use a gasket material that is at least as good as Ford or GM?

The OFHG for example how does it fail? Rubber gets hard and splits perhaps?
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  #2  
Old 11-08-2013, 01:55 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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OFHG why does it fail?

The only valves to commonly fail are the OFHG and VCG. Both can be done for $70. It isn't a big deal.


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  #3  
Old 11-08-2013, 02:08 PM
DangermouseX3 DangermouseX3 is offline
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It's not the cost.

I would just have expected that something that was part of the "ownership experience" of an old English sportscar would have been engineered out by now.
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  #4  
Old 11-08-2013, 02:32 PM
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I read somewhere that the German government requires materials that decompose faster, for ecological reasons. Can't find the article though. Perhaps this causes them to fail sooner.
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  #5  
Old 11-08-2013, 03:23 PM
joylove joylove is offline
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Lower viscosity, higher pressure, environmentally friendly rubbers?
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  #6  
Old 11-08-2013, 03:42 PM
Supercourse Supercourse is offline
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If we are throwing out ideas, I'll toss in:

- BMW engines are designed to run slightly hotter than many others so however good the gasket material it's not going to last as long
(might explain cooling system component longevity too)

- for the oil filter, it's one of the downsides of the replaceable element type having a weird-shaped housing to mate with the block
(much easier to cast a round hole in the block for the spin on type down low where it's cooler and where the rubber gasket gets replaced at every oil change)
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  #7  
Old 11-08-2013, 04:23 PM
Grabby544 Grabby544 is offline
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OFHG why does it fail?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DangermouseX3 View Post
I was wondering the other night why I am about to start replacing gaskets on a 6 year old upmarket German import. Or more succinctly, why can't my precisely German engineered engine with 80k on it do what my old Chrysler engine with 180k on it do - keep the oil inside.

I have racked up hundreds of thousands of miles over the years in a variety of cars and never replaced a failed gasket (just those that are taken off for other reasons). And now I find that I should just plan to change the oil filter housing gasket (OFHG), the valve cover gasket and the valvetronic gasket. Is there some innate inability for BMW to use a gasket material that is at least as good as Ford or GM?

The OFHG for example how does it fail? Rubber gets hard and splits perhaps?
You know what... You're right! It is a pita. Some days I feel like I'm walking on eggshells driving a BMW. Devils advocate: BMW is designed with maximum performance in mind, I kind of assume that to be a driving factor to its high maintenance. Also, I love BMW because they are their own thing whereas other luxury cars are churched up versions of their parent brand e.g. Lexus/ Toyota, Infinity/ Nissan, Acura/ Honda, etc... While I like BMW for being its own thing, I can't help but think the other companies have an R&D upper hand.


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  #8  
Old 11-08-2013, 04:40 PM
jlex jlex is offline
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I'm 100% with you on this Dangermouse.... I've owned lots of cars in my 60 years: German, Swedish, American and Japanese. I've never run into so many inherent problems like I'm experiencing and reading about that plague BMW. Don't get me wrong, I really like the car's ride and styling, but the quirky things that almost seem designed to fail make me wonder about BMW's ability to address it's problems. Gaskets, window regulators, sunroofs, expansion tanks, broken springs etc. aren't just one of a kind problems experienced by a few, but appear to be chronic problems that plague all owners of these cars.
Luckily, I've been wrenching on cars for a long time; some of my projects have been pretty mechanically involved so I can handle just about anything BMW throws my way, but for the cost and German engineering these cars are supposed to have, why should I? Lots of BMW customers don't have the tools I do, and for them to have to shell out $1,000 at a crack to take care of a design problem is amazing to me.
Sure, it's been pointed out the cost of the gaskets are cheap, but if you don't do your own work, that $70 is more like a $700 job at the dealership! Doesn't look like I'll be getting another BMW; I'm getting too old to chase design problems.
Ha... got lost in my rant. Dangermouse: the reason the OFGH fails is that people wrench on the filter cap too tightly. Too much torque on the cap causes the housing to pull away from the engine case thereby compromising the seal. You can bet since I've replaced mine, I'm using a torque wrench on the cap to avoid another problem...

Last edited by jlex; 11-09-2013 at 06:41 AM.
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  #9  
Old 11-08-2013, 05:25 PM
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AzNMpower32 AzNMpower32 is offline
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The sad thing is that BMW's quality control is only getting worse on the new models.
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  #10  
Old 11-08-2013, 05:45 PM
DangermouseX3 DangermouseX3 is offline
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OFHG why does it fail?

Jlex, that is an excellent point about wrenching on the oil filter cap. I'll pay attention when I do mine.






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  #11  
Old 11-08-2013, 06:16 PM
jlex jlex is offline
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You'd be surprised at how little force it takes to get a proper seal on that cap. The O ring which is supposed to be replaced along with the filter seals it, not a tight cap. The way I see it, as soon as someone sees that huge nut on top the cap, they figure they gotta get the biggest monkey wrench out of the cabinet to give it what for... one good crank and the damage is done. Maybe someone will chime in with the correct torque spec... I've got it written down somewhere...
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  #12  
Old 11-08-2013, 06:52 PM
timarnold timarnold is offline
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the torque spec is 18 Ft-lbs.
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  #13  
Old 11-08-2013, 07:36 PM
Supercourse Supercourse is offline
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I know the over-tightening of the cap theory has been put forward by others, but I am sceptical.

It seems to me that even those who always have their BMW serviced at the dealership fall victim to a failed OFHG. Surely those well-trained employees are told how the o-ring seals at the side and you are not trying to bottom the cap out?

Just as most DIy'ers get it or at least those who take the time to look at it and think about it.

Now fast-lube places might be a different story.

I'm still going with the high heat theory, and continue to tighten the cap only until the o-ring disappears from sight - which is more or less hand tight. Just enough that you will need a tool to remove it, but only just.
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  #14  
Old 11-08-2013, 08:13 PM
jlex jlex is offline
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I really like the concept of the filter housing & the ease with which you can change filters. I'd trade it in an instant, though, for the tried and true metal cased filter that screws directly into the block...never a problem there.
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  #15  
Old 11-08-2013, 10:18 PM
mtbrdad mtbrdad is offline
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High heat? What is the OEM thermostat temp.?
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  #16  
Old 11-09-2013, 05:00 AM
timarnold timarnold is offline
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I think there is a bit of truth in many of these theories. The OFH gasket is molded out of thermoplastic rubber (TPR) of some grade. This material is recyclable, which would make it more environmentally friendly. Some grades of rubber would last longer, but are much less dimensionally stable and would not reliably fit up to the design of this gasket, which is much more 3 dimensional than a simple stamped gasket. During the service life of the gasket, this design is very reliable and effective and is also much more error proof for assembly & servicing. (no gasket sealer & it stays in place during assembly).

TPR will tend to degrade over time due to temperature and continuous contact to hot oil. As the long chain polymers degrade, the molecular chains become much shorter which leads to the "glassification" of the material.

That being said, there are literally hundreds of different grades of TPR and the odds that the one selected is the absolutely best one available is remote. Also, new ones are developed all the time, but unless there is a severe short term life problem with the component, which there isn't, BMW will not go back through the design & qualification required to change it's specifications.
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  #17  
Old 11-09-2013, 06:35 AM
jlex jlex is offline
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When I replaced mine, I expected to see a plasticized mess like the valve cover gasket. Nope. It ws so good looking, it looked almost new. The thing wasn't degraded at all. Pried it out & compared it to the new one & couldn't tell the difference. That's why I'm thinking the too tight cap is what caused the problem. First time I replaced the filter, I noticed how tightly the cap was cranked down . Had to use my 3/4" breaker bar to get it off...
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  #18  
Old 11-09-2013, 06:45 AM
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I thought the gasket was at the bottom of the whole thing, behind the belts in front of the engine. At least that's where my leak is; never overtightened anything on cars.
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  #19  
Old 11-09-2013, 07:26 AM
jlex jlex is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AzNMpower32 View Post
I thought the gasket was at the bottom of the whole thing, behind the belts in front of the engine. At least that's where my leak is; never overtightened anything on cars.
We're talking about 2 different gaskets here.... one O ring gasket that's in the cap which is sometimes overtighted (that's not the one that usually leaks) and the other one that's at the base of the housing & seals the housing to the engine block...The latter one is what causes problems & requires a 5hr. repair...
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  #20  
Old 11-10-2013, 06:19 AM
relinuca relinuca is offline
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BMW gaskets...a supplier problem?

I was gratified to read this "why do BMW gaskets fail" thread. At least I now know that our
'08 X3 is not a lemon. So far we've had the OFHG replaced twice, the Rt. Rear Diff Output seal replaced, and the Cam cover gasket replaced. Our '09 E-350 with comparable mileage has not required a single gasket replacement...none!

The obvious difference between the two cars is that the X-3 was assembled in the U.S. and M-B was assembled in Germany.

Could BMW have a supplier quality problem for the X3? Just wondering.

relinuca
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  #21  
Old 11-10-2013, 07:07 AM
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AzNMpower32 AzNMpower32 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by relinuca View Post
I was gratified to read this "why do BMW gaskets fail" thread. At least I now know that our
'08 X3 is not a lemon. So far we've had the OFHG replaced twice, the Rt. Rear Diff Output seal replaced, and the Cam cover gasket replaced. Our '09 E-350 with comparable mileage has not required a single gasket replacement...none!

The obvious difference between the two cars is that the X-3 was assembled in the U.S. and M-B was assembled in Germany.

Could BMW have a supplier quality problem for the X3? Just wondering.

relinuca
The E83 X3 is built in Graz, Austria.

Not a supplier quality problem, probably just a design issue that makes it more prone to failing.

Geez, do people still really expect all car components to last 200k miles without a single failure? I feel that 160k mls (260k km) is a respectable "lifetime" for a vehicle, perhaps my standards are too low.
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  #22  
Old 11-10-2013, 07:52 AM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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I would say that 250K miles would not be beyond expectations for a new modern vehicle. Trucks for sure, but you expect that from a truck. Cars, with a lot of maintenance and repair should easily do that as well. I was just looking at the tailpipe on my '06 X3, it is virtually pristine after 99K miles. Back in the day, I can remember changing exhaust systems (well mostly to get a better sound with steelpaks ) and having the tailpipe literally fall apart in my hand it was so rotted out with less than 40K miles on the car. It has to be the removal of lead from the fuel. As far as 'mouse's post I agree. Too many times it has been self degrading window driver dogs, splitting expansion tanks, leaking pumpkin gaskets, and on and on that you just do not find in other cars and trucks at twice the age and mileage. It must just be the price we pay for having the "ultimate driving machine".
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  #23  
Old 11-10-2013, 08:04 AM
Grabby544 Grabby544 is offline
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OFHG why does it fail?

I believe the X3 was made in Austria until 2010. Now all X series are built in Spartanburg.


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  #24  
Old 11-10-2013, 08:30 AM
Supercourse Supercourse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlex View Post
...The latter one is what causes problems & requires a 5hr. repair...
Not sure that it should ever be billed as a 5hr. repair. Mine was 2.8hr. which may be what the flat-rate book quotes for the M54 engine.
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  #25  
Old 11-10-2013, 01:01 PM
jlex jlex is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Supercourse View Post
Not sure that it should ever be billed as a 5hr. repair. Mine was 2.8hr. which may be what the flat-rate book quotes for the M54 engine.
Not quoting dealership billing rates, rather what the DIY guy will likely have into it after cleaning the engine, skid plate, etc. (You'll want to do this to see if it's fixed) At least that's pretty close to what it took me after playing w/ the alternator too...just slow, I guess
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