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Old 03-09-2020, 07:50 PM   #1
14 Years with the E30
InfiniteDice's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: St. Catharines
Posts: 1,159
Oil Filter Cap Nightmare - VANOS damage!

So just over 3 weeks ago I was heading out to do some shopping with my daughter - a day like any other. About a block away from home the X3 just shuts off... "what the hell!". So I coast it on to the next side street and stop. I try restarting it and it's not starting at all - at the time I was thinking great I have a dead battery, dead alternator, dead main relay... and so on.

So I leave the car there and it's starting to snow a lot... we walk back home. What's waiting for me in the driveway? All the engine oil. So I spend the night reading and I figured maybe the high pressure oil line broke.

When I returned to the car the next day I brought my tablet with Torque (OBD reader app), there were a few codes, one was an intake over-retarded code and there were some other codes as well. I pop the hood to take a peek.

The Oil Filter Cap had busted and the engine basically pumped all the oil over the drivers side of the intake manifold. I'd never seen or heard of that happening before. So I ordered up a metal cap - that's not going to happen again. Later that afternoon I swapped out the filter and what was left of the old cap and put the new ones on. Re-filled the oil and started it up. It took about 2-3 times longer to start (normally starts in 1 - 2 seconds). It ran rough and there was a rattling like marbles from the intake. Torque OBD was showing one code now (p0341 Intake Cam to Crank Sync out of performance or whatever). So I thought if it's done it's done, but I'm gonna drive it home. It wouldn't even move at first. After it warmed up I was able to get it to move idling, then with only a tiny bit of throttle. I made it home.

Over a week or so I tried all the basic tests to solve the P0341 code, swapping the solenoids, swapping the position sensors, cleaning the solenoids, cleaning all the electrical connections, checking the vanos non-return filters. Nothing worked. I pulled the large DISA valve and that was broken, the vane/flap was off at the top - so I rebuilt that and it's good. Rattling is gone but the code is still there.

So I did what I could and read everything I could find on that code. On one VW forum a guy mentioned how his car was running bad - bogging off idle and harder to start, and mentioned that it was a broken spring inside the cam adjuster unit. So I decided to get my valve cover off and check it.

Low and behold the gear was nearly 180 out on the intake cam, about 12 teeth were rounded or fractured. I went to a local yard and bought another gear adjuster from an 5 series with the same engine - part number was an earlier number but interchangeable with mine.

I ordered the timing tools from amazon and changed the adjustment unit.

Car is running good, just like it was before all this crap happened. Tomorrow I'll do another oil change and hopefully that's the end of it.

My advice to everyone is this... if you've never changed your oil filter cap, or don't know the history of it, change it immediately - and use the proper oil cap socket. Scratching or tightening over time may weaken the cap and it can KILL your engine. I think I lucked out - could have been much worse if I was on the highway or something. I went a step further and bought a metal cap.

I hope this helps someone, later guys!

Performance one step at a time.

Last edited by InfiniteDice; 03-09-2020 at 08:07 PM.
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