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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I lack a lot of info, but I'll do my best.
My brother has a 2008/09 x3, there's been oil leaks and he had 2 gaskets replaced at different times. Now there's olddd oil, and new(?) or newish oil. Looking for easiest+cheapest way to diagnose if there's a problem now.
Can't afford compression test.

(he's pessimistic that anyone will be able to help or they'll have exterior motives, so I'm asking for him)

He can't figure out how to remove the oil stains ("I'd have to remove spark plugs+wires, strut bar, etc"), or a way to detect if there's any oil leaking since oil change.
My noob ideas:
  • photos now compared to in a week, or photo + ruler.
  • clean with heavy duty shit on some type of flexible extender cleaner thing?.
  • tape over old stains and see if any new stains appear. (or paint, but bad idea when he wants to resell. Maybe spray and peel stuff?)

His mechanic said to add lucal oil additive (I read mystery oil w/e additive could be good too). But he just got a regular oil change to see if that helped, but can't figure it out after 2-3 weeks.

Sorry to ask this since I don't know much or have pics atm, but if you have ideas or need info/pics I can get then let me know please. And thank you.
 

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DO NOT add any gasket sealer to the oil; the N52 engine is very sensitive to having small passages/screens getting plugged.

If not the oil pan gasket, then likely the leak(s) are in the oil filter housing's and nearby oil cooler's gaskets. Plenty of posts on here about changing them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't think new engine gaskets would need sealer. Still good to know about gasket sealer.. (which is different from lucas oil additive and marvel mystery oil, yeah?)

The problem is 1) identifying if ANY oil is leaking. Since there's old oil leaks (can be ignored), and other leaks that he doesnt know if they're a recent but past problem or a current one.
So he can't figure out a way to either:
A) clean away all the oil in/on/around engine. Then any new oil would prove it's still leaking and help diagnose from where.
B) Or a way to detect if any oil leaking is recent, 0 clue what a good method for that is. I'm sure someone's figured it out since it's happened before we had fancy (expensive) tech to tell us.

Then 2) What to do about it. I guess just add lucas oil additive, as suggsted by his bmw mechanic. Maybe he should just do it regardless...(?)

But he doesn't want to cause serious harm to the car right before his new driving job. So knowing the problem is solved is ideal, additives that could help (and AFAIK, not really hurt). Just still won't know if it's solved. Guess it could help long enough to earn enough for an engine compression test.

If a compression test is the only way, then that's the only way - just trying to find best/cheapest way to resolve this.

I'll tell him about the pan/housing/cooler gaskets, he can check those spots and see if they're the likely culprit

Thank you for your response, any help is more info than I had really.
 

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A compression test isn’t going to tell you anything about where an oil leak is.

Clean areas, look for new oil. But, there shouldn’t be any oil anywhere on the outside of the engine. So, if you see any oil, no matter how old, that is where the leak(s) are. The car is a decade+ old BMW and it will be leaking oil from every possible gasket by now. Oil additives will NOT fix the problem. The only remedy is to replace the offending gaskets. 2 in particular (heat exchanger, oil filter housing) can and will destroy the engine if ignored for too long. One uses Marvel to rehab a maltreated engine’s internals (cleaning sludge, quieting lifters, freeing stuck pistons/rings, etc.). Lucas is junk. An oil additive like your “mechanic” suggests contains chemicals that, to keep it short, seal hardened gaskets from inside the engine.

This is the wrong car to drive if one can’t afford a $30 compression tester, as replacement of all leaking gaskets will likely cost around $3000 if paying someone else to do it.

Find out where the oil is and we can tell you what gaskets need replacing, there are only a few locations. Remember that finding anything other than clean metal verifies a leak in that area.


Via the interwebs
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well he has replaced gaskets, I just don't know which. And he just lost his job (so expensive things can't be done atm). I was told a compression test is $200-300 though, but if it's $30 that's good to know... though I guess no longer matters if it won't help diagnose. I'll pass the info along though. The old oil leaks are from before he replaced things, so any oil isn't necessarily a sign that it is still faulty (but it could be ofc. I guess just finding out what has been replaced and finding the oil leaks spots will be most helpful)

Dye seems like a good idea. I'll report back with pics and see if he has any updates. Hopefully the dye can help the most.

Thank you all for the suggestions.
 

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You can borrow/ rent a compression tester from a parts store and complete yourself in about one hour. It’s identical labor to spark plug replacement, and if that job isn’t in his quiver of capability than an aging E83 is not the right car for him
 
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