Engine done for? Some hope?

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Norcal
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Hi all. This is a sad first post for me. I bought an 07 Audi RS4 about a month ago. The car has high mileage, 122k miles, but is clean and drives really well. I *thought* I got a really good deal on it until I changed the oil last week. I noticed very small copper like gold flakes in the oil after I drained it. Its very fine and looks almost like metallic spray paint. I did a little bit a research and it seems like the rod bearings may be the only parts with copper(?). Is this motor done for? Should I stop driving it and consider a rebuild? The engine does not tick loud or knock. I called the previous owner and asked him if he warmed up the car before driving hard and he said he always did. He owned it for 100k miles. I told him about the copper flakes and he said he wouldn't know because he always got his oil changed at a shop and provided the oil 5w40 lubro moly. He mentioned it could be the new parts that were recently put on the car. He got oil cooler lines replaced, intake spacers, heater bypass, and some injector work. From research, I see that oil coolers have copper too but not sure how changing the lines would produce so much copper. Any of the work above call for copper grease? I'm going to send in an oil sample for UOA but just wanted to post this to get some feelers about experience with similar material in oil.

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1,330
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ZFW
Hm, that's tough. I'd say that with that much copper (assuming that's what it is), you'd definitely be hearing something if it was the bearings. I'd say it's most likely the copper from the oil cooler lines, even though that's a lot of copper. My advice would be to run it another short OCI, change the oil, then run a longer OCI and send off a sample for testing. Good luck! Edit: Was this done through a private seller, or a dealership?
 
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On another site
It's possible that those are from the new parts.... But most definitely send in a sample! Can't say if motor's done or not...worst case - hopefully a new set of bearings is in your budget, just in case.
 
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42,893
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Ontario, Canada
Yes, oil coolers have copper that leaches and can show up in a UOA, but it does not present as visible particulate. That's most likely bearing material.
 
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I'm no expert, but I'd say its more likely that is from new copper lines and parts being installed. Sounds like the PO took good care of it, unlikely to be bearings coming apart.
 
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7,768
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That's a lot of cooper. I'd think if it was from the bearings, you'd would be hearing it by now. I'd do a few more OCI's. A oil test won't tell you where the cooper is coming from, but will tell you that you got cooper in the oil, which you already know.
 
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I'm not that familiar with UOA... Will the testing show if it's copper from a bearing vs oil cooler? Also, I assume there will be more metal parts if it's indeed the bearings getting grinded down. I used a strong magnet on the material and it did not pick up anything. Fingers crossed.
 
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Originally Posted by TimeRS4
I'm not that familiar with UOA... Will the testing show if it's copper from a bearing vs oil cooler? Also, I assume there will be more metal parts if it's indeed the bearings getting grinded down. I used a strong magnet on the material and it did not pick up anything. Fingers crossed.
No, it won't, and would likely be a big waste of money. Does the car provide you with a real oil pressure reading? Worn bearings should present as reduced oil pressure.
 
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42,893
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Originally Posted by Schmoe
That's a lot of cooper. I'd think if it was from the bearings, you'd would be hearing it by now. I'd do a few more OCI's. A oil test won't tell you where the cooper is coming from, but will tell you that you got cooper in the oil, which you already know.
You'd be surprised. One of the 302's that belonged to a friend of mine was down to the copper across the board and he had like 12psi with 20w-50. The engine was, however, quiet.
 
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Maybe some kind of oil additive? There are additives that have soft metals in them, like engine restore. Engine restore uses a "CSL" formula which to my knowledge is copper, silver and lead. The formulation is supposed to be small enough in microns that they shouldn't be visible. The bottle does state to shake well as the first instruction step. I suspect if it does precipitate out over time it could build up and be visible? I have no idea how it would react in an oil pan over time. Hypothetically even if engine restore caused it, why did the owner use engine restore? That in and of itself may be indicative of a problem.
 
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Originally Posted by OVERKILL
Originally Posted by TimeRS4
I'm not that familiar with UOA... Will the testing show if it's copper from a bearing vs oil cooler? Also, I assume there will be more metal parts if it's indeed the bearings getting grinded down. I used a strong magnet on the material and it did not pick up anything. Fingers crossed.
No, it won't, and would likely be a big waste of money. Does the car provide you with a real oil pressure reading? Worn bearings should present as reduced oil pressure.
Seriously that what I was thinking.... He needs a compression test done... I'd bet there is a decent bit of deviation from what it is supposed to be.
 
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Originally Posted by ka9mnx
If the bearing babbitt was worn down to the copper, you WOULD be hearing a knocking.
Depends entirely on the engine. As I said, I've seen it on a 302 that didn't, it was perfectly quiet, and I know it was at the copper, I had the wrench in my hand and physically removed the bearing caps and was like "whoa". We knew it was worn because of low oil pressure, but we didn't think it was as bad as it ended up being.
 
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Originally Posted by bbhero
Originally Posted by OVERKILL
Originally Posted by TimeRS4
I'm not that familiar with UOA... Will the testing show if it's copper from a bearing vs oil cooler? Also, I assume there will be more metal parts if it's indeed the bearings getting grinded down. I used a strong magnet on the material and it did not pick up anything. Fingers crossed.
No, it won't, and would likely be a big waste of money. Does the car provide you with a real oil pressure reading? Worn bearings should present as reduced oil pressure.
Seriously that what I was thinking.... He needs a compression test done... I'd bet there is a decent bit of deviation from what it is supposed to be.
Yup, it could be "engine in a can" as another poster noted (Restore), which is made up of soft metals and could indeed look like this in the bottom of the pan. If she had low compression, that's one quick and dirty trick to bring it up for an off-load.
 
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Coming from the motorcycle world where engines just dont last as long as automotive engines. Looks like something more substantial than cooler residue. Definitely damage. Run it until you start having problems would be my recommendation. Filter should have caught more of that.
 
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1,846
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South Carolina
Originally Posted by OVERKILL
Originally Posted by ka9mnx
If the bearing babbitt was worn down to the copper, you WOULD be hearing a knocking.
Depends entirely on the engine. As I said, I've seen it on a 302 that didn't, it was perfectly quiet, and I know it was at the copper, I had the wrench in my hand and physically removed the bearing caps and was like "whoa". We knew it was worn because of low oil pressure, but we didn't think it was as bad as it ended up being.
I'm thinking the 20w-50 was doing a good job of masking the noise?
 
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42,893
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Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted by ka9mnx
Originally Posted by OVERKILL
Originally Posted by ka9mnx
If the bearing babbitt was worn down to the copper, you WOULD be hearing a knocking.
Depends entirely on the engine. As I said, I've seen it on a 302 that didn't, it was perfectly quiet, and I know it was at the copper, I had the wrench in my hand and physically removed the bearing caps and was like "whoa". We knew it was worn because of low oil pressure, but we didn't think it was as bad as it ended up being.
I'm thinking the 20w-50 was doing a good job of masking the noise?
It wasn't making noise on 10w-30 either, but the oil pressure was scary, so he went to 20w-50 to get it to 12psi, LOL grin 302 has a short stroke and pretty mild r/s angle, so that may be a contributing factor. That said, there are plenty of guys with various BMW "S" engines doing rod bearing replacements and those bearings are SCARY looking, yet the engines aren't making noise.
 
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718
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New York
Also I hope you saved a bunch of that metal for further testing. I'd make sure that it's not magnetic by using a magnet, then see if the color is accurate by putting it in a cup and hitting it with some solvent like brake cleaner, swish it around (make sure it isn't a plastic cup) and drain and check if the color changed. Or just put some on a piece of paper towel and hit it with brake cleaner there.
 
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