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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 Fri, Apr-20-2018, 05:51:08 AM   #1
e46Dan
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Default The strangest oil leak

I realize that's a bold claim but damn if I'm not about to lose my mind. I've had the oil pan off twice and the transmission down once. I finally put UV dye in the oil.

There's a clear path on the rear passenger side from the lower edge of the head down the transmission to where it drips from the oil pan bolt to the floor. It's not the rear main seal or the oil pan gasket. It's not the intake or exhaust cam sensors, both are dry. It's not the timing chain tensioner bolt. There's no oil in the coolant and no coolant in the oil. Is it possible to leak oil through the head gasket without any mixing of the fluids? The valve cover gasket is OE BMW, brand new and dry all around...

Someone for the love of all that's holy please have a solution to end my suffering

Edit: Fixed, turned out to be the intake cam sensor o-ring was leaking by the back of the block.

Last edited by e46Dan; Tue, Apr-24-2018 at 04:54:36 AM.
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Old Fri, Apr-20-2018, 06:05:06 AM   #2
bigjae1976
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Default Re: The strangest oil leak

There are some freeze plugs on the backside of the head. Iíd get a mirror or a boroscope and look at that.

Assuming you ruled out the CPV.


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Old Fri, Apr-20-2018, 06:22:40 AM   #3
e46Dan
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Default Re: The strangest oil leak

Yes, I forgot about the CPV. It has a new viton o-ring in it. I might try the borescope with the engine running to see if it's one of the freeze plugs. Are the screw plugs for coolant passages?

Last edited by e46Dan; Fri, Apr-20-2018 at 06:27:35 AM.
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Old Fri, Apr-20-2018, 06:34:31 AM   #4
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Default Re: The strangest oil leak

This recent thread could be worth a read http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=597459.
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Old Fri, Apr-20-2018, 06:35:57 AM   #5
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Default Re: The strangest oil leak

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Originally Posted by e46Dan View Post
Yes, I forgot about the CPV. It has a new viton o-ring in it. I might try the borescope with the engine running to see if it's one of the freeze plugs. Are the screw plugs for coolant passages?


I donít know but the freeze plugs are pressed in, not screwed.


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Old Fri, Apr-20-2018, 12:38:19 PM   #6
e46Dan
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Default Re: The strangest oil leak

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Originally Posted by E30User View Post
This recent thread could be worth a read http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=597459.
I thought they could be the problem after reading that thread. I pulled the transmission and redid the rear main seal and casing for it.

If this image was a s54, the red marked would be where I can see the oil coming from. The good news is it's not the rear main or oil pan gasket.
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Old Fri, Apr-20-2018, 01:02:41 PM   #7
schoonerm3
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Default Re: The strangest oil leak

There are two plugs on the head that big jai mentioned. worth checking
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Old Fri, Apr-20-2018, 03:39:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: The strangest oil leak

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Originally Posted by schoonerm3 View Post
There are two plugs on the head that big jai mentioned. worth checking
I was about to say this exact thing when I saw the picture.
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Old Fri, Apr-20-2018, 04:55:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: The strangest oil leak

When I was searching, one guy had a cracked oil separator that was leaking to the HG line.

Check the vanos sealing plate, oil can ride the HG protrusion straigh back and down. There’s also a bolt on the head that often backs out (per past threads) it’s hidden to the left of the thermostat housing.

Also oil return line from VC.
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Old Fri, Apr-20-2018, 07:39:51 PM   #10
e46Dan
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Default Re: The strangest oil leak

The oil separator is a good thought. It does have a uv residue around it on the plastic but not much. The high pressure line on the vanos is new. I'll pop the valve cover off after work and take a look at the freeze plugs. Hopefully it's something easy and obvious.
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Discussing The strangest oil leak 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)