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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, Apr-18-2011, 10:19:01 PM   #1
benn0154
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Default Heater smells like oil; Thoughts?

First of all, let me generically thank everyone for all of the DIY info on this forum. I purchased my 05 vert last November, and through the winter (while in storage), I made some simple repairs and performed an Inspection II. I couldn't have done it w/out this site.

Now to the issue. When I run the heater, I get a noticeable but not extreme smell of oil. To be specific it almost smells more like grease than oil. The higher temperature setting on the HVAC controls, the more odor. As I lower the temperature to switch to only AC (59 deg.) the odor goes away entirely.

I have replaced the cabin filter, no change. No noticeble coolant loss and the odor does not have the typical sweet smell of antifreeze. If I open the hood, I do not smell the same odor. I have removed undertrays and confirmed no oil has been leaking on the exhaust, so it doesn't seem to be coming from the engine bay.

So that leads me to believe the odor is coming from the heater core. Anyone ever have a similar issue? My experience w/ HVAC in cars tells me there could not possibly be an oil leak in the heater core, only antifreeze. So since this is my first BMW, and I have now learned they do some things "differently", does the AC/Heater box contain any oil lines? Does BMW antifreeze have a totally different smell than the typical Asian or American antifreeze? Any other suggestions...

Thanks.
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Old Mon, Apr-18-2011, 10:42:58 PM   #2
Mr.B///MW
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Default Re: Heater smells like oil; Thoughts?

in my old E36 I had an issue where oil fumes were coming into the cabin through the Defrost vents of the heater (To the point where it looked like I had exhaust fumes in my car during winter). It was caused by an oil leak that was flooding the cabin filter - so I find it odd that yours isn't being saturated with oil but you're still getting the smell.

I do know mine started off faint the year before It started filling the cabin up with oil fumes.
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Old Mon, Apr-18-2011, 11:18:43 PM   #3
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Default Re: Heater smells like oil; Thoughts?

I'm assuming that somewhere along the line while doing maint. you might have spilled or dripped oil somewhere under the hood of the car on a surface that gets fairly hot. And possibly the smell is coming through where the cabin air filter is.
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Old Mon, Apr-18-2011, 11:45:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: Heater smells like oil; Thoughts?

Its probably your CPV leaking and the burning oil fumes being sucked into the cabin...
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Old Tue, Apr-19-2011, 01:39:01 AM   #5
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Default Re: Heater smells like oil; Thoughts?

^+2 ..I have 25k miles on mine, recently started smelling oil, just took off my skidplate, sure enough we have leaker, going pick one up tomorrow and replace it, doesn't look too bad since I have catless headers
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Discussing Heater smells like oil; Thoughts? 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)