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jetjockey 02-13-2011 08:53 AM

HELP!! E46 '01 330i Oil on top of valve cover
Hi Folks.

Well I'm in need of some help here. Before I start chasing something that may not be the problem....

So I have just removed the plastic cover over the coils/plugs and I see that there is oil sitting in the area around the ignition coils on top of the valve cover.

So here's the story...driving to work on Friday (-15C temp) I noticed when I got to work that there was a smell of buring oil. I opened the hood and could see oil dripping on the exhaust manifold. I was driving pretty normal without sudden accellerations until just before exiting the highway a few blocks from work. At that time I gave a little bit of a harder accelleration as the dude in front of me was slowing to a crawl on the 407....had to accellerate back up to traffic speed to merge with traffic to get around him....

I've read about the oil separators freezing and can cause VCG to blow....but I was expecting the leak around the edge of the VC, not at the plug area.

I've got a VCG kit to install, and the Oil separator and all lines...but before I start ripping things apart here, is there anything else that can be causing the oil leakage???

My initial concern on removing the cover was that one of the plug threads had let go, but I would think that that would not cause the oil in the area of the coils as the oil resides under the valve cover and not in large quantities in the cylinders....Valid assumption???.

the car was moved into a garage in hopes of thawing any potential frozen oil separator, and it does start this morning. There is also vaccuum on the oil cap. Engine sounds fairly normal

Car has 115K on it and until this was running great.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

E36is 02-13-2011 10:55 AM

no concern at all, you need to change your valve cover gasket and spark plug o-ring gaskets. easy repair, and can be done yourself.

simplycars 02-13-2011 10:57 AM

1. change vcg and oil separator - clean tb and icv
2. clean sparks and coils
3. drive for a week and change oil

Pierce330 02-13-2011 01:30 PM


Originally Posted by simplycars (Post 1480963)
1. change vcg and oil separator - clean tb and icv
2. clean sparks and coils
3. drive for a week and change oil

+1...this also happened to another board member this past week...

oakville46 02-13-2011 03:26 PM

^^ +2 ... happened to me and another member. This weather going up and down is the worse for the vcg and oil separator.

simplycars 02-13-2011 04:56 PM

it also happened to one of my customers with his 00 328ic - at 140km/h 6 liters of oil flew through the exhaust - new engine was installed

Pierce330 02-14-2011 09:18 AM


Originally Posted by simplycars (Post 1481018)
it also happened to one of my customers with his 00 328ic - at 140km/h 6 liters of oil flew through the exhaust - new engine was installed

Ouch...that's got to hurt!...

simplycars 02-14-2011 09:40 AM


Originally Posted by Pierce330 (Post 1481156)
Ouch...that's got to hurt!...

the head was damaged so he decided to source an engine with low kms
we did the swap in 2 days and washed the cats and exhaust with acetone.
so far no more smoke but the cats might need replacement to pass emissions.

jetjockey 02-14-2011 11:00 PM

Thanks folks. Guess I'm a lucky ba$tard then because I had just exited the 407 when I notice the smell of oil and when I got to work about 2 blocks from the highway I was starting to see smoke. I had been driving for 15 mins at highway speed + a little.

VCG is now done with a cleanup of the plugs and coils...after installation I was thinking I should have maybe looked at changing the vanos seals...but I guess I'll save that for a warmer day. Now just comtemplating the Oil Separator. I've got the upper intake boot off and I'm looking at the lower scratching my head as to how to get at the clamps. I had this boot replaced by a shop about 2 years back and they put the clamps on facing hard to get at. Will attempt that tomorrow or Wed.

thanks again for the feedback guys. I'm new here and although I have some mechanical understanding I'm relatively new to fixing this beast. So I'll dive right in with this baby and probably wish I hadn't....but that's what the victory beer is for.

jetjockey 02-15-2011 02:18 PM

I forgot to mention that when I pulled the plugs out the top of the pistons were all looking wet with oil. I would assume that this means the oil is coming from the oil separator as well. Or should I have bigger concerns....I would be more concerned if only one of the pistons was soaked, but they all looked the same so I'm thinking oil in intake....

oakville46 02-15-2011 08:51 PM

Mine was the same but I only had a small amount of oil. I got George at Simply Cars to take care of my issue and I replaced the oil separator, valve cover gasket plus a new cover since mine was warped a little, the ccv hoses and a good cleaning throughout and she's running mint once again. I would have done it at home but I have no access to a garage at the moment. Didn't feel like freezing my fingers off.

jetjockey 02-19-2011 12:08 PM

Thanks Everyone. I managed to change the VCG and I got the oil separator hoses off and they were all remarkabley free of any gunk. I was in a rush so I didn't get to chainging the separator (didn't have a throttle body gasket and had to wait for the part to come in) so I put it bak together and will change the separator in the spring as well as a good cleaning of the ICV, DISA, and throttle body....maybe even the intake manifolds. Thanks to all the help and support here.


oakville46 02-21-2011 01:56 PM

Lucky that it wasn't worse off ... give that car an oil change asap too

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