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Young + Dumb
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I recently started noticing some oil drops in my driveway. I jacked the car up and it really looked like a mess, but I cant figure out whats leaking. Does this look like the oil pan gasket to you? I thought the drain plug was stripped at first, but that doesn't explain the dirty steering rack. I know the power steering lines are leaking. It couldn't all be blow back from that could it?



Ill be washing down the whole underside with simple green later today. Just figured Id post up on here to see if anyone had any advice for what to look out for while Im under there.
 

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BMWCCA HPDE Instructor
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Although the oil pan gaskets can leak on occasion, the E36 engines are not known for having oil leaks very often (with the exception of the valve cover gasket). That said, the E36 is notorious for having leaking/weeping power steering hoses. Since you said your steering rack is drenched, there is a 95% chance that this is the source of your leak, not the oil pan gasket, and fluid from the steering system is dripping down and blowing back onto the oil pan (and everything else).

I'd wager a bet that there isn't one of us in this forum that has bone dry power steering hoses.
 

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BMWCCA HPDE Instructor
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Yeah, same here. I plan to swap to a Z3 steering rack, and I'm going to replace everything else in the system (reservoir/filter, hoses, etc.) at the same time. I'm going to try to figure out a way to use items that will not eventually leak like the stock hoses do.

My current hoses are weeping fluid, but it doesn't leave any drops on the ground and the fluid level hasn't gone down in two years, so I have been putting up with it.
 

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Young + Dumb
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks,I'm hoping thats what It winds up being. I won't be home for a while, but Ill check to see what kind of fluid is on the bottom of the oil pan before I rinse it off. Theres so much sludge toward the front of the engine its hard to tell anything in that area!
 

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BMWCCA HPDE Instructor
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Just FYI: the power steering system in the E36 uses automatic transmission fluid (ATF), not power steering fluid as you would expect. You may have noticed already, but it says "ATF ONLY" on the power steering reservoir cap. If you do find that your power steering reservoir is low, be sure to use the correct fluid.
 

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Young + Dumb
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks. Turns out it was the oil pan. Not surprising with 240k and completely unknown history. Doesnt need to last me too much longer for DD duty anyway. Itll just do autox's after that.
 

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I feed trolls
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I'd imagine the oil pan gasket isnt too bad, if you are able to remove the front crossmember. If you do this though, make sure to support the engine from the top, because one of the motor mounts is on the crossmember
 

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Registered
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I'd wager a bet that there isn't one of us in this forum that has bone dry power steering hoses.
Mine are!

Because they've all been replaced since they were almost spewing fluid they were so bad.:)
 

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BMWCCA HPDE Instructor
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^Ha! Did you replace them with the same OEM setup? I've read that they often leak from a bad hose clamp which can be changed from the original design and that will help prevent leaks, but I don't know if this is true. There has got to be a way to use better parts than what came on these cars from the factory.
 

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Yeah, I went OEM again. They lasted almost 15 years so I don't have a gripe.
 

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Young + Dumb
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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Its going to be up on a lift soon for subframe bushings. I might do the gasket at the same time. All I know is we used to just call it "The BMW" since it's the only one in the driveway. Its new name is "The Siv" lol. Head Gasket is seeping a bit as well.
 

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I feed trolls
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Gotchya. What I mean though is if you take the crossmember out on the front, you'll need something to temporarily support the engine, because on of the motor mounts is on the crossmember. We have a special tool at work for stuff like this, dont know what its called... But basically you hook it up to where-ever on the engine, it has padded areas where you set it on the body, and then you can remove the motor mount without the engine falling out of place. Its handy.
 

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Young + Dumb
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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Oh I see. They sell bars like that for mustangs. My dad and I have used them before. I might as well order some motor mounts while Im there too. They seemed shot.

Edit:I was just thinking about something else that I don't know is related to the HG or not. If I need to start the car to move it quickly then restart it a few minutes later; it always puffs some smoke on the restart. The initial start is always fine. Could this be related to the head gasket seepage?
 
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