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Old Tue, Sep-12-2017, 07:05:35 PM   #1
Bimmerman325i
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Default S54 stubbornly high oil temps, thoughts?

I have been chasing really high oil temps for a while now, and wanted to get your thoughts on what could be going on. S54 engine, E36 chassis, C&R radiator and oil cooler. This might be more of a venting post and/or a help-me-brainstorm post.

For record, all temps I'm referring to are per aftermarket gauge. I don't have the E46 gauge cluster, so I will make the distinction for Oil Pan temps when measured via canbus data logger.

The last three track days I went to were at Thunderhill in CA, ~100F ambient temps. I have Stack water and oil temperature gauges-- water is measured in the hard pipe behind the water pump, oil temp is measured at cooler/thermostat exit in the OFH (i.e. removed the little plug on the back). Water temp was hovering around 200-210 on track, oil was reaching 260-270F (I don't recall what the ultimate peak was). Oil Pan temps, per AIM CANbus data, showed peaks of 290F. I was reaching these temps within ~4 laps, every session, throughout both days.

So, this freaked me out. Over the last two weeks, I have done the following:
-replaced Castrol 10w60 oil with fresh Redline 15w50 on advice from local racers
-removed all AC and Aux fan components that were blocking airflow to ~50% of the oil cooler.
-ducted and sealed the oil cooler and radiator so that all air entering the lower/kidney grills must go through the two heat exchangers.
-retuned the engine to drop AFRs down into the 12.8 range rather than the 13.3 range.
-replaced Vanos pressure regulator (on advice from tuner and DIS response time test)

Yesterday I went back to Thunderhill, again in 100F ambient temps (no AC for the drive suuucked). As close to apples to apples ambient conditions as possible. Unfortunately, little to no difference. Water temp dropped to 190-200F range, but oil temp stubbornly kept right at 260-270, peak of 275F. I haven't reviewed the Oil Pan data yet, but I'm not expecting any difference from the last event.

I'm about at my wit's end. The last three things left, that I can think would make any difference:
1) Separate the oil cooler and radiator ducts.
2) Oil diverter valve. Not wild about this since the car is still street driven and autocrossed.
3) Vented hood?

What do you all think? Any thing stand out that I should try / check? It worries me that the temps are so high after only 3-4 laps.

What I know I need to check are:
1) oil thermostat functionality i.e. is the cooler warm to the touch when gauge reads >200F. Cooler has historically been cold to the touch below 195F indicated, and hot above, so I'm not expecting different.
2) check oil cooler temps (IR maybe?) when gauge shows 200+

For reference, driving on the highway in ~80-85F temps I see water temp between 190-200 (with or without AC installed) and 210-215 oil temp. On the drive back from Thunderhill (100F+ remember) I saw 195 water and 220 oil temp, at 75mph cruise (3750 rpm because 5spd + 3.91). CANbus oil pan temp on the drive home was in line with the gauge reading.
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Old Tue, Sep-12-2017, 08:49:29 PM   #2
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Default Re: S54 stubbornly high oil temps, thoughts?

I think upgrade coolers in the OE location are a waste. The problem with the aftermarket coolers are they provide only a small increase in frontal surface area. You get more depth but you're cooling with progressively hotter air.

The other issue is I think the air coming out of the cooler is cooling your crank damper which relies on air flow to function properly.

I'm installing a second cooler in series coupled to airflow from a different location.

I have a dual opening duct...



One feeds the brakes, other goes to this homemade box...



I installed a second cooler along the frame rail. I welded threaded rod and then bolted the cooler to it.




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Old Tue, Sep-12-2017, 09:52:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: S54 stubbornly high oil temps, thoughts?

Your water temps are excellent, I wish I saw temps that low. As far as your oil temps, I wouldn't get excited about those. I've seen temps in that range in almost all of my previously tracked cars and had no ill effects. Ran them tens of thousands of miles with no issue.

My S4 would see 280 all the time, my LS 951 would peg the gauge at 270. My friends C5 Z06 Vette sees 320+ all the time, has for years and its still running strong.

My point here is that while it'd be nice to see lower temps, since your water temps are so low, I wouldn't worry about the oil temps. It's not like they're 350F or something....
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Old Tue, Sep-12-2017, 10:32:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: S54 stubbornly high oil temps, thoughts?

Why not do a diverter valve in combination with a thermostat?
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Old Thu, Sep-14-2017, 01:57:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: S54 stubbornly high oil temps, thoughts?

I saw similar temps (although on the stock gauge) with Castrol. I switched to Total and now Ravenol and my temps are better. I know you've switched oil once but it might be worth trying another. Relatively cheap and easy compared to your other options.

I do agree with Doc in that while your temps are higher they shouldn't be the end of the world, or your motor.

What does your ducting look like?
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Old Thu, Sep-14-2017, 04:58:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: S54 stubbornly high oil temps, thoughts?

Those temps don't seem too excessive but what was the reasoning behind using RL 15w50 when they make a 10w60 that would thin out a little less at higher temps.


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Old Thu, Sep-14-2017, 05:48:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: S54 stubbornly high oil temps, thoughts?

Thanks all! Update before I get into responses: I have verified the OE oil thermostat is working. Oil cooler is cold to the touch below 190ish oil temp (measured via canbus) but is very hot to the touch above that. So, the failed closed thermostat theory's out. I don't have a way to verify whether it's flowing as it should though. IR thermometer shows that the surface temp of both cores of the cooler are hot (front read ~60C, rear couldn't get a good reading), so oil is definitely flowing through the cooler.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjae1976 View Post
I think upgrade coolers in the OE location are a waste. The problem with the aftermarket coolers are they provide only a small increase in frontal surface area. You get more depth but you're cooling with progressively hotter air.

The other issue is I think the air coming out of the cooler is cooling your crank damper which relies on air flow to function properly.

I'm installing a second cooler in series coupled to airflow from a different location.

I have a dual opening duct...(snip)
I may just be doing this if I can't solve the issue as-is. I'm benchmarking my car first against locals who have similar cooling setups yet lower temps before going outside the box. I like the added cooler though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by docwyte View Post
Your water temps are excellent, I wish I saw temps that low. As far as your oil temps, I wouldn't get excited about those. I've seen temps in that range in almost all of my previously tracked cars and had no ill effects. Ran them tens of thousands of miles with no issue.

My S4 would see 280 all the time, my LS 951 would peg the gauge at 270. My friends C5 Z06 Vette sees 320+ all the time, has for years and its still running strong.

My point here is that while it'd be nice to see lower temps, since your water temps are so low, I wouldn't worry about the oil temps. It's not like they're 350F or something....
I agree on the water temp (esp since it's still partially coolant), but every S54 racer I've been talking to has been unnerved by my cooler exit oil temps.

If it were reaching those temps at the end of a session I would be happy to live with it, but it's pegging 270F within 3 laps when others are turning faster lap times than I am, with similar coolers and oil, and are running 30-40F cooler oil without the diverter valve. Something's not right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drewster View Post
Why not do a diverter valve in combination with a thermostat?
I may go down that road but not until I've exhausted what could be wrong now. The locals running faster and cooler than I am without the diverter valve makes me want to identify the underlying issue before throwing parts at it, if I can. Diverter + external thermostat is at the forefront of my mind though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Namniek View Post
I saw similar temps (although on the stock gauge) with Castrol. I switched to Total and now Ravenol and my temps are better. I know you've switched oil once but it might be worth trying another. Relatively cheap and easy compared to your other options.

I do agree with Doc in that while your temps are higher they shouldn't be the end of the world, or your motor.

What does your ducting look like?
I'll try to post a picture tonight, but imagine the OE radiator rubber ducts all still present and sealed to both the coolers, the MM underpanel, and the bumper with speed tape. All air entering the kidneys and lower grill must go through the coolers. It's no rigid sheet metal duct, but I can't see any way for the air to bypass the coolers.

Good idea on trying a different oil. The Castrol and Redline so far have performed the same, temp-wise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ggrslc View Post
Those temps don't seem too excessive but what was the reasoning behind using RL 15w50 when they make a 10w60 that would thin out a little less at higher temps.
I may try that one next. I did the 15w50 on advice from racers who said it dissipated heat a bit better than the 10w60 Castrol or Redline. If it does, I haven't noticed.
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Old Thu, Sep-14-2017, 06:05:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: S54 stubbornly high oil temps, thoughts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmerman325i View Post
Thanks all! Update before I get into responses: I have verified the OE oil thermostat is working. Oil cooler is cold to the touch below 190ish oil temp (measured via canbus) but is very hot to the touch above that. So, the failed closed thermostat theory's out. I don't have a way to verify whether it's flowing as it should though. IR thermometer shows that the surface temp of both cores of the cooler are hot (front read ~60C, rear couldn't get a good reading), so oil is definitely flowing through the cooler.







I may just be doing this if I can't solve the issue as-is. I'm benchmarking my car first against locals who have similar cooling setups yet lower temps before going outside the box. I like the added cooler though!







I agree on the water temp (esp since it's still partially coolant), but every S54 racer I've been talking to has been unnerved by my cooler exit oil temps.



If it were reaching those temps at the end of a session I would be happy to live with it, but it's pegging 270F within 3 laps when others are turning faster lap times than I am, with similar coolers and oil, and are running 30-40F cooler oil without the diverter valve. Something's not right.







I may go down that road but not until I've exhausted what could be wrong now. The locals running faster and cooler than I am without the diverter valve makes me want to identify the underlying issue before throwing parts at it, if I can. Diverter + external thermostat is at the forefront of my mind though.







I'll try to post a picture tonight, but imagine the OE radiator rubber ducts all still present and sealed to both the coolers, the MM underpanel, and the bumper with speed tape. All air entering the kidneys and lower grill must go through the coolers. It's no rigid sheet metal duct, but I can't see any way for the air to bypass the coolers.



Good idea on trying a different oil. The Castrol and Redline so far have performed the same, temp-wise.







I may try that one next. I did the 15w50 on advice from racers who said it dissipated heat a bit better than the 10w60 Castrol or Redline. If it does, I haven't noticed.


Well the 15w50 might flow a little faster. Based on that theory you may as well save some money and use Mobile 1 but I'm thinking your issue is mechanical and not with fluids.


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Old Thu, Sep-14-2017, 06:25:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: S54 stubbornly high oil temps, thoughts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ggrslc View Post
Well the 15w50 might flow a little faster. Based on that theory you may as well save some money and use Mobile 1 but I'm thinking your issue is mechanical and not with fluids.


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I used Mobil 1 0w-40. My pressures topped out at 80psi so I'm guessing the OE pump has a pressure relief set to 80 psi. I think that's good news. The problem was my temps would get up to 320 in moderately hot weather.

I think Mobil 1 0w-40 is the way to go if you can keep the temps under control. Pressures are good and a 5qt jug is $23 plus tax at Walmart.


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Old Thu, Sep-14-2017, 07:46:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: S54 stubbornly high oil temps, thoughts?

I found that my AIM Pista interpreted coolant and oil temperatures consistently about 5-10% higher than the actual temp.

Maybe that's the only issue you are having?
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