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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Wed, Jul-25-2007, 03:50:28 AM   #1
///tonic
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Default Common oil leak? Oil Pan or rear main seal?

My 2001 has ~97,000 miles on it. I'm out of warranty as of a few months ago. The last couple months I've been intermittently smelling a burning smell under heavy throttle.

I got under my car and decided that the smell was due to the drip of oil by my oil pan drain plug somehow spraying onto the exhaust. But I changed my oil last weekend, wiped the area down, and a week later, the oil is back, and it's definitely a more $$$$$ leak than just the drain plug. I can't see much through the hole in that chassis brace, so I can't really make any judgments whether it's the main seal or an oil pan gasket leak. Obviously the car did have the warranty bottom-end job done (long before I purchased it). Also, as a side note, the car has been pretty consistently going through a quart every 3,000 to 4,000 miles since I bought it 23,000 miles ago, and that doesn't seem to have increased.

So the questions are, can I tell whether it's main seal vs oil pan somehow without pulling that chassis brace/cover off? Should I wait for the weekend, throw it up on jackstands and pull the brace off to see if I can spot exactly where the leak is coming from? Or should I just **** it up and bring it into a shop now before it makes any more of a mess? Turner motorsport is just up the road and there are a number of other good shops in my area opened by former Turner employees.
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Old Wed, Jul-25-2007, 01:50:39 PM   #2
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You sure you didn't over-tighten the drainplug and crush the gskt?? If it's from drainplug area..must be related.. I'd replace gskt and keep an eye on it and see b4 you remove all the cross member bracing.. Or get the car on a hoist.. start it up and check to see exact area where the leak is from while engine is running after you remove the shields..
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Old Wed, Jul-25-2007, 02:07:57 PM   #3
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Oil leaks are hard to tell the location since oil leaks down and makes it look like everything is leaking. My advice, go to parts store and buy a small bottle of Ultraviolet Oil Dye. Put it in drive it around for a couple of days and get under with a black light. It works great.
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Old Wed, Jul-25-2007, 03:34:53 PM   #4
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Surk///M, that was my original theory. That's why I waited until I was able to do my oil change. But I used a new crush washer from the oem filter package, and torqued it down to 18 foot pounds.

I have a third possibility courtesy of a chat with a nearby BMW mechanic: the oil check valve that sits just in front of the headers.

This weekend, I'm going to pull that chassis brace down and see what I find.
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Old Wed, Jul-25-2007, 03:55:07 PM   #5
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Take off the diaper cover (the large plastic cover under the engine) and LOOK. A rear main seal will NOT migrate forwards to the oil drain bolt. Chances are excellent that the pan gasket is leaking - lots of people who had the bearing recall done experienced this - including me. You won't need to pull the brace off once you take the diaper off. BTW - be careful when removing the diaper pan - it's designed to hold over 1 quart of oil, and if you're smelling burning oil - it probably is.

Question is - can you get BMW to warranty is under the 100k engine warranty? It's possible since it is "lubricated by oil"..

Small edit: if you do remove the cross-brace - the bolts holding it to the chassis are one-time use, and angle torqued. Just a FWIW.. have some handy to replace them.
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Old Wed, Jul-25-2007, 07:14:25 PM   #6
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Just another possibility.. the old drain gskt may have stayed on the oil pan..and you've dbl gskt the drainbolt..seen this b4

Quote:
Originally Posted by ///tonic View Post
Surk///M, that was my original theory. That's why I waited until I was able to do my oil change. But I used a new crush washer from the oem filter package, and torqued it down to 18 foot pounds.

I have a third possibility courtesy of a chat with a nearby BMW mechanic: the oil check valve that sits just in front of the headers.

This weekend, I'm going to pull that chassis brace down and see what I find.
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Old Wed, Jul-25-2007, 07:51:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ///tonic View Post
Surk///M, that was my original theory. That's why I waited until I was able to do my oil change. But I used a new crush washer from the oem filter package, and torqued it down to 18 foot pounds.

I have a third possibility courtesy of a chat with a nearby BMW mechanic: the oil check valve that sits just in front of the headers.

This weekend, I'm going to pull that chassis brace down and see what I find.
The pressure control valve is the most likely cause. 2001 m3s seem to have this part fail often. Its actually the O ring around the valve assembly but its not serviced seperatly. My car was misdiagnosed twice by two different dealers. Its a ***** to get at but a relatively cheap part to replace at about $30-40 usd.

Edit: also you do not have to remove anything to see the leak. Just get it up in the air.
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Old Wed, Jul-25-2007, 08:41:06 PM   #8
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had the same prob. it was what lorkar says.
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Old Wed, Jul-25-2007, 08:54:32 PM   #9
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close your sunroof and the smell shouldnt be coming in..
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Old Wed, Jul-25-2007, 09:33:04 PM   #10
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on the bottom of the bellhousing there's a hole...
put your finger in it, check for oil dripping out of it...
hose it down inside with some brake cleaner and check again after a few hundred miles...if dry, rear seal is probably good...

there is a prv on the rear rt side of the block, it's proe to failure...leaks oil onto the headers and runs down to the bottom, looks like a rear seal leak
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Discussing Common oil leak? Oil Pan or rear main seal? in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)