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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Sat, Mar-28-2009, 11:10:39 PM   #1
shamulater
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Default Oil leak

An oil leak started a few days ago....leak is dripping down on to exhaust. Figured it was time for a valve cover gasket change since I know this is a common enough problem (replaced other related gaskets also). Leak is still present and appears unchanged. From under the car, I can see the drip coming from the back of the head just about even with the manifold flange bolts (drips straight down on exhaust as pipe curves to flow to rear) but from exactly where is unknown. Nothing is visable from topside. Up until this, car was totally leakless...never a drip. No maintenence issues nor over heating...only 67,000 miles on a 99. With a small mirror and flashlight, it appears that there is no leakage from valve cover though there is the small area in the back which cannot be completely viewed. A finger check reveals no oil residue. I'm about to pull the valve cover again and double check but figured I might ask if there's possibly another source this oil is might coming from (yeah I know...cracked head but there's no evidence of this and car has never been subjected to any abuse or lack of maintenance). Only other clue is that leak starts only when car is running.
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Old Sat, Mar-28-2009, 11:19:20 PM   #2
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did you make sure you RTBd the corners of the valve cover when you did the gasket...The corners are the places where its known to leak so it should be RTBd
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Old Sun, Mar-29-2009, 12:28:22 AM   #3
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did you make sure you RTBd the corners of the valve cover when you did the gasket...The corners are the places where its known to leak so it should be RTBd
Yep but I'm also afraid I could have been a little light with the stuff. I generally smear it on for a somewhat thin coat rather than a heavy bead. Should I go with the medium or heavy bead?
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Old Sun, Mar-29-2009, 05:02:42 PM   #4
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One more stab at this....removed valve cover again and went with heavy bead of high temp sealant. Oil leak is still present. From the best of my inspection, oil drip becomes visable from behind wire clip at the rear of the motor just slightly below where the head and block attach (directly above exhaust system, o2 sensor). I'm now suspecting a head gasket failure since this is really about the only possible source I can come up with even though mileage and use along with consistant maintenance doesn't exactly add up to a failure in this area. There's also absolutely no indication of a coolant leak which sort of flys in the face a head gasket failure.
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Old Sun, Mar-29-2009, 05:42:46 PM   #5
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Another clue....pulled the wire clip and bent it out of the way (had to let the o2 sensor wires swing free). Oil drip is now running down front inspection cover of bellhousing...and thankfully dripping away from exhaust. Very consistant drip...small drop every 4 or 5 seconds. Seems doubtful to a rear main since it's to the passenger side of the crank rather than directly below. Frankly I could live with the drip if it's not an indicator of something seriously flawed. Any clues to help keep me off the path of ignorance?
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Old Sun, Mar-29-2009, 10:08:16 PM   #6
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If your head gasket is letting oil actually flow out like that I think you'd have other indicators that it is bad but I could be wrong. I'd think about looking more into the rear main seal. It may leak out at the back and then go some strange path before you actually see it leaking down.
A way to test might be to take a power washer and spray the whole under area down so you're sure you've got it clean. Then take it for a short and low drive, no quick acceleration or tight turns. Then get under the car with a clean cloth and see where the largest concentration of oil is at, that should be close to your leak.
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Old Sun, Apr-05-2009, 12:25:46 AM   #7
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Figured I'd update this since it was in fact a very oddball leak. Behind the head, centered between the two cam access slots, about 3 inchs down is a threaded plug with a crush washer. I found that this plug was loose...could turn it with my finger tips. Near impossible to get a wrench on...I believe it may have been a 4.5 allen...could have been torx. Used a very small pairs of vise grips to finally tighten. Oil leak stopped immediately. Valve cover has to be off to access (just too tight with cover on to get your fingers deep enough to feel plug).
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Old Fri, Oct-02-2009, 03:36:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by shamulater View Post
Figured I'd update this since it was in fact a very oddball leak. Behind the head, centered between the two cam access slots, about 3 inchs down is a threaded plug with a crush washer. I found that this plug was loose...could turn it with my finger tips. Near impossible to get a wrench on...I believe it may have been a 4.5 allen...could have been torx. Used a very small pairs of vise grips to finally tighten. Oil leak stopped immediately. Valve cover has to be off to access (just too tight with cover on to get your fingers deep enough to feel plug).
Hopefully this isn't the problem that I'm having. I just did the valve cover gasket but didn't check that area.
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Old Sat, Oct-03-2009, 11:04:04 AM   #9
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Hopefully this isn't the problem that I'm having. I just did the valve cover gasket but didn't check that area.
I've yet to come across anyone other than me who's had this as an oil leak problem....probably just one of those very rare issues that pop up here and there. Here's a picture of the plug...just to the left of the freeze plug.
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File Type: jpg IMG_0555.jpg (245.9 KB, 315 views)
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Old Tue, Oct-13-2009, 07:28:08 PM   #10
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so how did u get it tightened? did u have the engine out of the car? i tried to reach back there to feel if mines loose, i have a leak twards the back of my engine that gets onto the exaust, also leaves oil spots from the rear of the engine on my parking spot, i cant get my hand back in there to even feel the plug, do i have to take off my valve cover to do this ?
edit: nevermind i just read that u have to have the valve cover off...can u get your tools back there tho with the valve cover off?
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Discussing Oil leak in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)