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  #51  
Old 07-09-2019, 10:40 PM
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So, I have a little time to prove my theory as in the photo posted above.

I am glad I did this experiment, which was done on a 2003 325i M54 engine with 96K miles...

- Cleaned old oil leak as much as I can.

- Used windshield washer fluid and funnel + tubing combo to SLOWLY pour fluid along the L side of the engine block, mimicking OFH gasket leak...

- Windshield fluid is BLUE so I can see it, but you can use plain jane water too.

- Just go slow, a few mL at a time to allow the fluid to slowly drip down. Be patient!

- It took almost 10 minutes of slow dripping and voila, the fluid trickles down and appears at the infamous bolt.

- So, yes an OFH Gasket leak will allow the oil to trickle down that infamous bolt.

To summarize:

1. Do OFH Gasket first b/c it is $7 and "easy".

2. The VCG b/c it is also easy but a bit more involved (ignition wiring loom, the O-rings, scraping the sealing surface and retrieve broken bits and pieces etc.). BTW, use BMW VCG only, about $30-$40 or so.

3. Last resort is oil pan gasket and RMS. Luckily, my other car 1998 528i M52 engine with 180K...the oil pan gasket and RMS are bone-dry...

- See photos...
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Last edited by cn90; 07-11-2019 at 12:04 AM.
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  #52  
Old 07-22-2019, 03:03 PM
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Going to look at the oil filter housing gasket more closely today. Although, I don't see how the leak from the oil filter housing gasket could end up with oil on the axle housing on the passenger side like this.

Also, my oil leak droplets are isolated to the back of the oil pan and passenger side axle housing. It doesn't have any leaks on the bottom areas of the oil pan like in your test pictures.
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  #53  
Old 07-22-2019, 07:17 PM
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Oil can get *anywhere* it's very windy down there.


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  #54  
Old 07-28-2019, 10:31 PM
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Ended up changing out the oil pan gasket and it looks like it has solved the problem.

Just some notes for future readers who may be trying to diagnose similar oil leak issues.

Having done the valve cover gasket and eliminating the possibility of the oil leak coming from a source higher up on the engine, the next step for me was to determine if it was the oil pan or OFHG leaking.

Checking the waffle weave on the engine block showed no signs of any oil, especially when I was comparing it to how much oil was constantly leaking on the ground. Next, I wanted to check to see if maybe if the OFHG was leaking out through the bottom only and then making its way to the passenger and back sides of the oil pan. I ended up taking the stiffening plate off to get a better look at the oil spots around the oil pan and noticed that the oil was really only built up on the passenger sides/areas of the oil pan. I cleaned all of the oil and let the car sit with the plate off for a day to really get a better idea of where the oil was coming from. From my pictures I posted, you can see that the majority of the oil was coming down through the passenger axle mounting location on the oil pan and the rear oil pan bolt going through the transmission.

So many people suggested that I change the OFHG that I decided to give that a try first. However, as I removed the alternator and power steering from the engine, I really got a good look at the area around the OFH. Ultimately, based on what I saw everywhere else and what I was looking at with those two pieces off, I decided that the OFHG was not the cause of my oil leak in this scenario.

I had read online that if you pulled a bolt or two out of the oil pan from the areas that the oil was leaking from and if you saw oil on the threads, then that is a good indicator that the rubber oil pan gasket has failed and was letting oil come through. This was true in my case. The threads were soaked with oil.

As I pulled out the oil pan and gasket, I noticed that the oil pan gasket had cracks that ran through to the metal portion of the gasket. There were these cracks everywhere throughout the edges/perimeter of the gasket. No way it would have been possible for the gasket to keep the oil from seeping through based on the condition that I saw it in.

My car went from leaking almost no oil to leaking oil profusely within a short amount of time at the rate of maybe around a quart a month. I originally noticed an oil leaking issue when I saw oil smoke coming off of my exhaust headers. This led me seeing that oil was leaking out of the valve cover gasket. However, as I was doing the VCG, I noticed that whoever had worked on the car/engine before had made a large crack/hole in the valve cover itself and had tried to repair it with globs of RTV. After having replaced both the gasket and also a new valve cover, was when the car started to really leak a large amount of oil. I am not sure if it was coincidence or not, but I think it is possible that after replacing the cracked valve cover, the pressures inside the engine were higher (normal operating pressures) than before, which exacerbated the oil pan issue to become what it was in my situation.





As far as the oil pan DIY process goes, I also do have a few tips/thoughts that could be helpful for those who are trying to do it themselves. In no particular order:

- No need to disconnect the any part of the steering column from the subframe
- I have seen a few pictures/videos of people being able to get the oil pan out without having to
disconnect the driver side axle from the hub and simply knocking it out/off from the oil pan side only. To do this, you would have to disconnect the front lower control arm at a minimum. I don't know exactly if more would be needed to be removed, since I personally disconnected the axle from the hub to remove it completely.
- Instead of removing the axle hub nut, I did disconnected the axle from the hub using the "30 minute cv boot" method here https://xoutpost.com/bmw-sav-forums/...0-minutes.html
This method was slightly messier due to having to deal with the grease, but then I didn't have to worry about trying to torque off and on the tight axle nut.
- If you do the above cv boot method, then I would suggest having the the necessary tools/supplies to do the cv clamps back on the boots
- When removing the passenger side axle, I felt like I had to remove my strut out of the way to get enough room to pull everything out. If you do this, make sure you remove the caliper and tie it up out of the way as to not damage the brake line.
- There are four bolts in total that holds the front differential to the oil pan. Three of the bolts are fairly easy to access, but the last bolt, which was the rear most top bolt was in a very tight area/position. Personally, I was not able to get an open ended wrench on the bolt or a ratchet. I ended up dropping the subframe first, which allowed me plenty of room and easy access to the last bolt on the front differential.

Aside from those more specific notes/tips, I would just suggest just making sure you have all of correct necessary tools to remove everything, so that you don't have to go back and forth to the hardware store. Having a premade list of all of the necessary torque values for reassembly will make it easier to reference as you are putting everything back together.

If I have more stuff I can remember, I'll add/edit this post. If you guys have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll try to help out.
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  #55  
Old 07-28-2019, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Nguyen View Post
Going to look at the oil filter housing gasket more closely today. Although, I don't see how the leak from the oil filter housing gasket could end up with oil on the axle housing on the passenger side like this.

Also, my oil leak droplets are isolated to the back of the oil pan and passenger side axle housing. It doesn't have any leaks on the bottom areas of the oil pan like in your test pictures.
There's an o-ring seal on the axle housing that could have hardened and is now leaking. The seal is to prevent engine oil in the sump from mixing with the oil in the axle/differential. I replace the o-ring on my X last summer. You will need to remove the axle and remove the axle housing. I would replace the oil seal in addition to the o-ring.
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  #56  
Old 07-29-2019, 04:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by upallnight View Post
There's an o-ring seal on the axle housing that could have hardened and is now leaking. The seal is to prevent engine oil in the sump from mixing with the oil in the axle/differential. I replace the o-ring on my X last summer. You will need to remove the axle and remove the axle housing. I would replace the oil seal in addition to the o-ring.
Are you sure about that arrangement? That would mean that the axle shaft was running in engine oil... Not sure that this is actually the case. You are correct - there ARE o-rings down there but I dont think the axle runs in engine oil. If it did, removing the right axle would require draining the engine oil.



Pic thanks to cn90.
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Last edited by wpoll; 07-29-2019 at 05:07 AM.
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  #57  
Old 07-29-2019, 06:02 AM
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Never said the axles we’re running in engine oil. I did state that the o-ring at the axle housing could had harden like the gasket on the ofhg and could be leaking. The fluid could be from the differential.
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  #58  
Old 07-29-2019, 06:55 AM
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Which is important to know because a dry diff is a much bigger problem than adding engine oil regularly


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  #59  
Old 07-29-2019, 01:04 PM
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I had also put UV dye in my engine oil, which really made it clear what type of oil was leaking. Combining that with my low oil level sensor going off, it was obvious that it wasn't my differential gear oil.
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  #60  
Old 07-29-2019, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Nguyen View Post
I had also put UV dye in my engine oil, which really made it clear what type of oil was leaking. Combining that with my low oil level sensor going off, it was obvious that it wasn't my differential gear oil.
Glad to hear you got it figured out. Thanks for the great description and analysis a few posts above.

In there, you mention a theory about the pressure increase following sealing up the valve cover. In less advanced cars, one of the first easy steps when fixing / diagnosing an oil leak is to check / replace the $2 PCV valve, which could similarly cause high crankcase pressure, increasing leaks and blowing past seals. Are you (should you be?) concerned about maybe a problem with your CCV system?

Did you consider doing the oil pan gasket method that cuts it into two pieces, to save on a bunch of steps? Comments on why you chose your way?

Lots of great info all throughout this thread. Thanks for updating your progress.
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