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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
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  #1  
Old 01-24-2013, 05:24 PM
Hemorrhage Hemorrhage is offline
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Cleaning Carbon Buildup With Water?

As I've said a while ago...when my car is at operating temperature (and ONLY at operating temperature), it will "sputter" when you press the gas pedal down about midway or so.

So, I never got around to taking off the intake and cleaning the ports because, well...I'm kind of scared to do it...because I don't have the right tools for the job.

I was talking to a tech at my place today...and he suggested pouring water into the throttle body slowly and that'll rip the carbon right off of the intake valves.

I've started doing research about the method, and it seems legit. I'm not a huge believer of Seafoam or anything...


However, something I could not find...
Will this work with a turbo'd / direct-injection car?
Does the oil need changed afterwards?


Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 01-24-2013, 06:01 PM
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thekurgan thekurgan is offline
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I'm sure others will chime in, but I sure wouldn't do anything with water into these engines. I'm not a fan of seafoam either, but maybe your independent mechanic can do a crushed walnut shell blast after removing the heads?
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:03 PM
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galahad05 galahad05 is offline
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Yeah, it can work. Yeah, it can be dangerous. This is a really old school technique, been used since the invention of the internal combustion engine.

It essentially flash-steams your combustion chambers and to a lesser extent your valves.

It can also, if you suck too much water into the chambers, hydrolock the engine. This is not good. This is about as far from not good as is possible.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:06 PM
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galahad05 galahad05 is offline
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Having said that, I've used this technique successfully, myself. On my old bike--an SV650.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:07 PM
Hemorrhage Hemorrhage is offline
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Right. Water can't be compressed, so it'd be like hydraulics if too much got in...which is bad. I planned on spraying it in as a mist, if anything.
I'm just unsure.
I mean...will it damage the turbo or anything by going through it?

Another thing is...how can this method be any different than driving through humid weather?
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:08 PM
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galahad05 galahad05 is offline
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Oh yeah, also used this technique on the first love of my life--my baby: a sky blue/midnight-blue 1968 Corvette Stingray.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:10 PM
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galahad05 galahad05 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemorrhage View Post
Right. Water can't be compressed, so it'd be like hydraulics if too much got in...which is bad. I planned on spraying it in as a mist, if anything.
I'm just unsure.
I mean...will it damage the turbo or anything by going through it?

Another thing is...how can this method be any different than driving through humid weather?
Amount of water. You're spraying water droplets (or heaven help you pouring water) straight in via vacuum. Past the air filters. This is far more than a humid day in south Florida.

EDIT: The technique as it is usually implemented is to start spraying in enough water to start to change the engine idle; some daring souls go so far as to get enough water in to almost stall the engine, let the idle recover, repeat.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:11 PM
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galahad05 galahad05 is offline
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The safe thing to do is walnut shell blast or do like the DIYs do and use carb cleaner/shop vac/gun brushes.
Probably get you better results too.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:14 PM
Hemorrhage Hemorrhage is offline
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Originally Posted by galahad05 View Post
The safe thing to do is walnut shell blast or do like the DIYs do and use carb cleaner/shop vac/gun brushes.
Probably get you better results too.
I wanted to walnut shell blast it, but I don't have the tools for it.
I want to take the intake off and clean it manually like you said, but...don't you still need a mechanism hooked up to the starter to open/close the valves so nothing gets in the cylinders?
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:24 PM
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fun2drive fun2drive is offline
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You simply rotate the crank bolt to open and close the valves all covered in a DIY.
There is no reason flashing water into steam would not work. However if carbon chunks came off not sure what that will do. I flew B-52's and all model B-52's except the H model used water injection. To be exact 10000 pounds of distilled water in 90 seconds. Provides more oxygen thus more fuel. Never did the engines any harm and most WWII piston engines used water injection too for added power.
It would be really great if using water injection helped clean the valves. I recall a lot of old timers regularly poured some water, thin streams into the engines to clean carbon off the engine combustion chamber as has been reported above.

Anyone done this to our 335's?
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:25 PM
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galahad05 galahad05 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemorrhage View Post
I wanted to walnut shell blast it, but I don't have the tools for it.
I want to take the intake off and clean it manually like you said, but...don't you still need a mechanism hooked up to the starter to open/close the valves so nothing gets in the cylinders?
The DIYs cover this aspect. You can either temporarily wire in a "bump" switch which bumps the starter incrementally on command, or you can physically rotate the crankshaft by slightly moving the car in gear, or, I think one said, by using a big socket wrench on the front of the crankshaft snout (the pulleys).

EDIT: I see f2d beat me to it.
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Last edited by galahad05; 01-24-2013 at 06:26 PM.
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  #12  
Old 01-24-2013, 06:29 PM
Hemorrhage Hemorrhage is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fun2drive View Post
You simply rotate the crank bolt to open and close the valves all covered in a DIY.
There is no reason flashing water into steam would not work. However if carbon chunks came off not sure what that will do. I flew B-52's and all model B-52's except the H model used water injection. To be exact 10000 pounds of distilled water in 90 seconds. Provides more oxygen thus more fuel. Never did the engines any harm and most WWII piston engines used water injection too for added power.
It would be really great if using water injection helped clean the valves. I recall a lot of old timers regularly poured some water, thin streams into the engines to clean carbon off the engine combustion chamber as has been reported above.

Anyone done this to our 335's?
I just don't remember how accessible the crank pulley bolt is on the car.

You seem pretty confident and knowledgeable with the water technique.
That being said...doesn't that just void the whole idea of pulling the intake (if there are no carbon chunks)?
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Old 01-24-2013, 07:42 PM
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CALWATERBOY CALWATERBOY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemorrhage View Post
As I've said a while ago...when my car is at operating temperature (and ONLY at operating temperature), it will "sputter" when you press the gas pedal down about midway or so.

So, I never got around to taking off the intake and cleaning the ports because, well...I'm kind of scared to do it...because I don't have the right tools for the job.

I was talking to a tech at my place today...and he suggested pouring water into the throttle body slowly and that'll rip the carbon right off of the intake valves.

I've started doing research about the method, and it seems legit. I'm not a huge believer of Seafoam or anything...


However, something I could not find...
Will this work with a turbo'd / direct-injection car?
Does the oil need changed afterwards?

Forget water outside the combustion chamber. Do THIS if you need to mortify your flesh. If not, THIS PDF, Post #1.

Water injection does clean the combustion chamber, however. Engines have been run on the test bench to the point of water pouring out the exhaust valves - still running too. Nope, don't recommend that for your ride. Water is best used only on the N54, and then 50/50 H2O:Meth.

.

Last edited by CALWATERBOY; 03-12-2013 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:16 AM
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Zooks527 Zooks527 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fun2drive View Post
I flew B-52's and all model B-52's except the H model used water injection. To be exact 10000 pounds of distilled water in 90 seconds. Provides more oxygen thus more fuel. Never did the engines any harm and most WWII piston engines used water injection too for added power.
Very true, but for a different reason.

In the earlier B52s (Big Ugly Fat ****s ) the water injection into the turbine engines increased the mass going through the engine, increasing the thrust while providing extra cooling to the engines which were at high power while at low altitude / low speed. Also ended up creating big honking smoke trails because the water would prevent all the fuel from burning. They stopped using it after the "G" model as higher power engines were then available.

In WWII piston engines, a water or water/methanol mix was used to allow increased compression and power while preventing premature detonation (knock) of the fuel mix. Not especially great for the engines, thus its being termed "War Emergency Power".
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Last edited by Zooks527; 01-25-2013 at 07:34 AM.
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  #15  
Old 01-25-2013, 04:33 AM
Hemorrhage Hemorrhage is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CALWATERBOY View Post
Forget water outside the combustion chamber. Do THIS if you need to mortiy your flesh. If not, THIS PDF, Post #1.

Water injection does clean the combustion chamber, however. Engines have been run on the test bench to the point of water pouring out the exhaust valves - still running too. Nope, don't recommend that for your ride. Water is best used only on the N54, and then 50/50 H2O:Meth.

.
A little confused about this part...
Are you saying DON'T use the water method (Nope, don't recommend that for your ride)? Or are you saying water is best used only on the N54 engine? Because isn't the N54 what's in an '07 335xi?
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:03 AM
hondo402000 hondo402000 is offline
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if our cars are direct injection, which I assume means that the fuel is directly injected into the combustion chamber, and not prior to the valves, like in the intake, how is any gas additive suppose to help clean carbon? the gas additive never runs across the intake valves. How about using a carburetor cleaner thats O2 safe, and take the air filter out and spray the cleaner in the intake while the car is running, a little at a time, maybe over the course of several days to gradually dissolve the carbon, But seeing that you have not pulled the intake off, how do you know the sputtering is due to carbon build up if you have not actually seen it?

Hondo
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:05 AM
Hemorrhage Hemorrhage is offline
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Originally Posted by hondo402000 View Post
if our cars are direct injection, which I assume means that the fuel is directly injected into the combustion chamber, and not prior to the valves, like in the intake, how is any gas additive suppose to help clean carbon? the gas additive never runs across the intake valves. How about using a carburetor cleaner thats O2 safe, and take the air filter out and spray the cleaner in the intake while the car is running, a little at a time, maybe over the course of several days to gradually dissolve the carbon, But seeing that you have not pulled the intake off, how do you know the sputtering is due to carbon build up if you have not actually seen it?

Hondo
I DON'T know for sure if it's carbon buildup. However, a lot of people on here suspect that it is. I took it to BMW, and they also suspect that it's carbon buildup (they didn't pull the intake and check for sure, though).

But, it does seem plausible.
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Old 01-25-2013, 07:21 AM
HPIA4v2 HPIA4v2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemorrhage View Post
As I've said a while ago...when my car is at operating temperature (and ONLY at operating temperature), it will "sputter" when you press the gas pedal down about midway or so.

So, I never got around to taking off the intake and cleaning the ports because, well...I'm kind of scared to do it...because I don't have the right tools for the job.

I was talking to a tech at my place today...and he suggested pouring water into the throttle body slowly and that'll rip the carbon right off of the intake valves.

I've started doing research about the method, and it seems legit. I'm not a huge believer of Seafoam or anything...


However, something I could not find...
Will this work with a turbo'd / direct-injection car?
Does the oil need changed afterwards?


Thanks.
Usually, the carbon build up symptoms is very rough when engine still cold.
hard to say but most N54 engine seems to develop this carbon-build-up around 50kmiles, so it's possible you have it.

BTW, I wouldn't pour water into intake maybe spraying water mist into it.
Short term I'd walnut blast the intake (not chemical) by dealer around $800-$900
long term installed methanol injector (mod/after-market) even if you are not mod, your car probably gain some small HP, at least it'll keep the intake clean and guarantee no pinging even when you buy cheap gas.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:23 AM
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CALWATERBOY CALWATERBOY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zooks527 View Post
Very true, but for a different reason.

In the earlier B52s (Big Ugly Fat ****s ) the water injection into the turbine engines increased the mass going through the engine, increasing the thrust while providing extra cooling to the engines which were at high power while at low altitude / low speed. Also ended up creating big honking smoke trails because the water would prevent all the fuel from burning. They stopped using it after the "G" model as higher power engines were then available.

In WWII piston engines, a water or water/methanol mix was used to allow increased compression and power while preventing premature detonation (knock) of the fuel mix. Not especially great for the engines, thus its being termed "War Emergency Power".

Some history for ya....especially like when water was pouring out of the combustion chambers but the engine ran.
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:42 AM
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Zooks527 Zooks527 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CALWATERBOY View Post
Some history for ya....especially like when water was pouring out of the combustion chambers but the engine ran.
Now that's a fun article!
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:53 AM
jburke4689 jburke4689 is offline
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This is a high compression engine and water is very risky. With the spark plugs out (and you should have the spark plugs out to verify top dead center) you can turn the engine over with the alternator pulley and that is accessible if you have the right size TORX. If it is a manual trans just put it in gear and move the car slightly. I did mine the first time with small brushes, gun patches and carb cleaner. I only got about 75% of the gunk out but the car ran perfect after. Next time it will be crushed walnuts. I bought the port adapter and blaster nozzle from BMW for around 50 dollars.
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by hondo402000 View Post
How about using a carburetor cleaner thats O2 safe, and take the air filter out and spray the cleaner in the intake while the car is running, a little at a time, maybe over the course of several days to gradually dissolve the carbon
It may work, but the cleaner has a *long* way to travel through a turbocharged intake tract. Plus you'll need to have the engine on the turbo(s) to move the cleaner along, because blow-by (oil droplets along the intake tract that deposit onto the intake valves, contributing to carbon buildup) only occurs when the engine is operating in a non-turbo/naturally-aspirated state. Cleaner + air into intake, cleaner + air into turbo, compressed air + cleaner (heated charge, possibly burning off most of the cleaner by now) into intercooler, cooled/compressed air into intake manifold.
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:53 AM
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While I think it would work and actually clean some carbon off the intake valves the material entering the combustion chamber might well cause considerable damage. I plan to borescope my intake valves through the throttle body and see how bad they are once I hit 70K miles. I also plan to put the Rob improved PVC valve in at the same time since it does help reduce blow by compared to the OEM.

On the other hand I might fabricate a way to inject distilled water into the intake manifold test and document the results. No one I have know of so far has found a non contact method of cleaning the intake valves it is either walnit blasting or strong cleaners and wire brushes.

I need to do more research on this. How much water at what rate actually would make a difference?

Others have reported the problem has not come back when they changed to a different oil with higher flash point. I researched all the synthetic oils I could find and most are all around 350-400 F with 400 F being more rare. I have changed over to Mobil 1 from BMW Castrol and there is no way to tell if this will reduce-increase or have no affect on the intake valve build up...
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:21 AM
jburke4689 jburke4689 is offline
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Spraying carb cleaner into the intake will not work and it may damage your Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF). I know it won't work because I sprayed it directly on the valves and ports and scrubbed with brushes and didn't get it all off. A vapor of carb cleaner certainly wouldn't work.
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:28 PM
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fun2drive fun2drive is offline
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This isn't something that would happen over nite. I see this as something if done right (and this is speculation) might take this injection over a period time. Look at it this way we didn't coat the valves over nite and if done right at small reductions it will take time to remove it too. On the other hand the brute force method works, works fast and you are done.
I clean my MAP with alcohol when I do clean it which isn't often. I run a dry filter so I don't see much need for cleaning that for a long time yet.

I am curious at 55K miles how much carbon is on my intake valves. I don't have stumble and don't beat on the car so I have no clue how bad the build up is...
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