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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 Mon, Jan-20-2020, 07:24:42 PM   #1
jbfrancis3
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Default How well does a one-time oil analysis predict rod bearing wear?

I didn't do a great job timing an oil change with maintenance work but the advantage is we have an oil analysis directly comparable with rod bearing inspection/replacement.

Attached photos are:
1) My recent oil analysis, before rod bearing inspection
2) Rod bearings a couple hundred miles after analysis

The bearings are original to the vehicle. The vehicle lived a relatively easy life up to current mileage of 110k.

Oil analysis notes lead and copper are within anticipated values. Actual rod bearings show more wear than would suggest by analysis. Bearing shells aren't trashed yet but they definitely needed a replacement. I think oil analysis is great but make sure you understand the limitations. I'm also wondering how much wear is "baked" into the Blackstone averages.

Side note: the high iron and related comments are attributed to Cat Cams I had installed during the oil interval but failed to note it to Blackstone.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 05 M3-191220.jpg (740.0 KB, 78 views)
File Type: jpg Rod Bearing Wear.JPG (494.6 KB, 71 views)
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Last edited by jbfrancis3; Tue, Jan-21-2020 at 01:43:26 PM. Reason: title update for clarity
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Old Mon, Jan-20-2020, 07:35:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: How well does oil analysis predict rod bearing wear?

If there's any copper in the oil, it's time IMO. I would have changed them based on your UOA.
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Old Mon, Jan-20-2020, 07:47:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: How well does oil analysis predict rod bearing wear?

I think if you have 110k miles on original bearings, no matter how easy a life they have lead...
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Old Mon, Jan-20-2020, 07:50:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: How well does oil analysis predict rod bearing wear?

I don't think oil analysis is a good indicator. Previous owner did oil analysis and showed no sign of wear, I replaced them anyway. This is one of the bearings.

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Old Mon, Jan-20-2020, 08:12:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: How well does oil analysis predict rod bearing wear?

It seems like the answer is "if you do oil analysis from Day 1 of new bearings, you can see when the levels change." If you're waiting for a red flag to pop up but no one's looking for it as it passes you, you won't see it.
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Old Mon, Jan-20-2020, 08:23:48 PM   #6
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Default Re: How well does oil analysis predict rod bearing wear?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeko View Post
It seems like the answer is "if you do oil analysis from Day 1 of new bearings, you can see when the levels change." If you're waiting for a red flag to pop up but no one's looking for it as it passes you, you won't see it.


This is true. But not the only part of the equation. You also need consistent oil change intervals for it to be a fair comparison from test to test.

Safer to just assume you need to change them every 75-100k mi. Shorter intervals if driven hard.
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Old Mon, Jan-20-2020, 08:33:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: How well does oil analysis predict rod bearing wear?

11ppm lead and 10ppm copper in just under 3500 miles, I'd say your bearings look the par.
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Old Tue, Jan-21-2020, 01:30:04 AM   #8
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Default Re: How well does oil analysis predict rod bearing wear?

Oil analysis is helpful if you have a history. Otherwise it’s safer to assume death is near if you see copper. There’s nothing else copper in the motor that I can think of other than rod bearings.


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Old Tue, Jan-21-2020, 04:53:53 AM   #9
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Default Re: How well does oil analysis predict rod bearing wear?

I agree with the summary here: history is best. high lead seems to indicate the time is near, but we've seen a few cases where lead went down. end of day, if you have copper, do NOT delay, as lead is worn through.

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Old Tue, Jan-21-2020, 06:10:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: How well does oil analysis predict rod bearing wear?

Replaced mine a few days ago. Not sure on exact mileage on them, but based on Vanos not being addressed, I would assume that they are original to the engine, or possibly changed in a recall early in the engine's life (engine not original to the car).
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File Type: jpg IMG_1988.jpg (149.3 KB, 32 views)
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Discussing How well does oil analysis predict rod bearing wear? 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)