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#4629931 - 01/10/18 01:01 AM 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup
pezzy669 Offline


Registered: 03/27/04
Posts: 213
Loc: Atlanta, GA
So have a friend with a '03 BMW 325i w/~137k miles on it that is in desperate need of some attention or it will be dead in no time. I am pretty certain it can be somewhat salvaged for a longer life with some proper care which it has not received in some time.

Last oil change was ~11k miles ago with a 5W-30 synthetic blend per the sticker from friends "awesome mechanic" who also has quite a few dead cars of pretty much every make parked outside of his collapsing shack of a shop with inches of dust on them. Yeah I know you don't think your 15 year old BMW is worth much but come on now. That is a story for another day.

Anyhow - this car will be a slight financial hit to me whether it dies tomorrow due to lack of maintenance or dies tomorrow due to me trying to get it back in decent running order so at this point I would like to try to get it at least halfway back to good operating order. Part of me hurts to see someone trade in a perfectly fine car (it is beautiful inside and out) because they think it is junk because they neglected the mechanicals.

It currently mows through a quart of oil every 500-750 miles and it just gets whatever 5W-30 is available at the gas station, wouldn't be surprised if it sees SA grade stuff. It only smokes immediately after a cold start for maybe 15-20 seconds and does not yet make any weird engine noises and is not throwing any codes. The oil is topped up when the red oil pressure light comes on and until the time it can be topped up the engine is shut off and restarted at stop lights to "reset the oil light". I am honestly surprised a BMW of all things has lasted this long with this abuse as this has been par for the course for at least 7 months.

Have been reading about Seafoam, MMO, FP20, etc. but I think those cleaners may be a bit too aggressive of a clean for this car. Thinking of just starting with some Rotella T6 5W-40 in the sump every 2k miles for maybe 4-5 oil changes and see where that brings us with the oil consumption and then at that point maybe introduce some additional secondary cleaners. 10k miles will only be ~1 year so there is plenty of other deferred maintenance I can take care of in between.

Good course of action or any other recommendations to clean up this dirty BMW?
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#4629935 - 01/10/18 01:17 AM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: pezzy669]
Timo325 Offline


Registered: 08/31/14
Posts: 338
Loc: AL,NC,TX,Germany,Korea,Italy
Before and after pics of valves cover off, etc.. smile

Think about where the oil is going.. a quart ever 500-750mi isn't insignificant. Leaks?

After a few cleaning cycles, then maybe things like plugs, do all fluids, check belts, brakes, suspension.

For drive train - also consider hooking up the OBD II reader anyway. Take a look at your #'s see if anything is out of place.
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#4629948 - 01/10/18 02:06 AM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: Timo325]
pezzy669 Offline


Registered: 03/27/04
Posts: 213
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: Timo325
Before and after pics of valves cover off, etc.. smile

Think about where the oil is going.. a quart ever 500-750mi isn't insignificant. Leaks?

After a few cleaning cycles, then maybe things like plugs, do all fluids, check belts, brakes, suspension.

For drive train - also consider hooking up the OBD II reader anyway. Take a look at your #'s see if anything is out of place.


Wish I could pull the valve cover - live in an HOA condo so car work minus the quick basics like air filters and wipers is a no no. Best I could do is a oil fill cap picture and I have not even gone as far as opening the hood on this beast to see what is going on. If she is leaking oil its all sitting in the undercarriage pan or oozing down the side of the block as there have never been any stains on the ground or burning oil smells.

Going to get the oil situation under control first before I dive too deep into everything else, if I get the oil consumption under control will move forward to get all the fluids replaced. Cabin filter and engine air filters will coincide with the first oil change as those are easy and cheap to handle myself.
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#4629968 - 01/10/18 03:47 AM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: pezzy669]
rooflessVW Offline


Registered: 12/24/11
Posts: 4046
Loc: North Carolina
Good course of action? Walk. Especially if you can't work on it. It is almost certainly leaking from the valve cover gasket and oil filter housing gaskets. Simple and inexpensive DIY but not if you have no place to do it.

Coming from a guy with a 170k Porsche, a 150k Phaeton, and several BMWs to my name with well over 200k miles - walk.

Or drop an engine into it. If an M54 is smoking it's done. If the car is in that good of shape aside from the neglected engine, have a shop a good used unit in. Prices are going up as swaps become more common into older cars but you could still get out for under ~$2k.
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#4629991 - 01/10/18 06:03 AM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: rooflessVW]
Ethan1 Offline


Registered: 12/29/14
Posts: 1632
Loc: 'murica
Originally Posted By: rooflessVW
a guy with a 170k Porsche, a 150k Phaeton, and several BMWs to my name with well over 200k miles


Cheers2

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#4630180 - 01/10/18 09:27 AM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: pezzy669]
LeakySeals Offline


Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 6568
Loc: Hudson, NH
Thats horrible consumption. The plugs must be soaking wet. Probably a failed CCV http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=417819
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#4630189 - 01/10/18 09:33 AM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: pezzy669]
italian68 Offline


Registered: 01/27/12
Posts: 52
Loc: NJ
Start by using an LL-01 spec'd oil only. Short oil changes at 1k, 2k, 3k, 5k then 7.5k. Do not go beyond 7.5k oci's. Keep full of oil and drive till dead.
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#4630224 - 01/10/18 10:00 AM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: pezzy669]
thorromig Offline


Registered: 03/22/12
Posts: 804
Loc: BerksCounty/Pa.
New PCV from the get go also would be beneficial. Good luck & keep us updated.
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#4630226 - 01/10/18 10:03 AM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: pezzy669]
WyrTwister Offline


Registered: 01/13/13
Posts: 1513
Loc: Texas
If oil is disappearing , it can be leaked or consumed or both .

With a good lite & jack , thoroughly , visually examine it for leaks .

Now , if being consumed , rings , valve seals and the PCV system come to mind .

Traditional PCV valves are no big deal to replace . Do it .

Wet & dry compression tests will give info on rings and valve seals .
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#4630442 - 01/10/18 12:37 PM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: pezzy669]
nthach Offline


Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 3895
Loc: California
Tell your friend to go ride a bike/Uber or buy a car that can run on the cheapest swill like a 1990s Toyota. That E46 is too nice to be a LeMons car, I think there's still a little hope.

I'd change the gaskets, check the PCV system and then start running a HDEO like Delo 400/Delvac 1300. If the car still runs and hasn't thrown a rod or spun a bearing, I think running a small amount of Kreen or B-12 Chemtool in the oil to help dissolve some of the sludge can help. After 3-4 OCIs with the HDEO, switch over to an ACEA A3/B3 compliant oil.


Edited by nthach (01/10/18 12:38 PM)

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#4630455 - 01/10/18 12:50 PM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: pezzy669]
mightymousetech Offline


Registered: 04/03/17
Posts: 1444
Loc: Ontario, Canada
That engine is done. Expect to have to replace it. No mechanic in a bottle is going to fix it.
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#4630500 - 01/10/18 01:25 PM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: pezzy669]
zorobabel Offline


Registered: 01/27/11
Posts: 477
Loc: Anaheim, CA
How was it determined that the engine is sludged?
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#4630619 - 01/10/18 02:53 PM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: zorobabel]
rooflessVW Offline


Registered: 12/24/11
Posts: 4046
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: zorobabel
How was it determined that the engine is sludged?

11k on a "synblend." General neglect.

Trust me, things don't look good under the valve cover. At this point taking care of the car will break bits of sludge loose, then he'll have to call Dr. VANOS. More $$$.

I'd buy the car. But I have the means, knowledge, location, and contacts to drop a low-mile 3.0 in over a weekend. For the right price it'd be a simple flip.
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#4630752 - 01/10/18 05:58 PM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: pezzy669]
pezzy669 Offline


Registered: 03/27/04
Posts: 213
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Thanks guys for the excellent advice!! I am new to the nuances of the BMW I-6 (more of an MB guy) so some of this info is great, well versed on my MB M272 but this is a whole new beast for me to learn and try to care for. Fortunately there are a handful of very good BMW indy shops in the Atlanta area.

CCV System - [censored] that is one complicated and expensive PCV system ($152 on FCPEuro).

Valve Cover Gaskets - Was planning on this being one of the first replacement parts as even on my religiously maintained '09 C300 both are starting to leak at 76k miles.

I think we are going to attempt to limp her along and hope she is not too far gone and can be cleaned up, car is long paid off and like I said previously it is otherwise pristine. This car was "inherited" through a relationship and I really was not too aware of the terrible maintenance due to physical appearance until we moved in together and started swapping cars on occasion. It has turned into me being left in charge of the car stuff but I have used it as a coaching moment. If this was a Corolla I would have just turned a blind eye and possibly even hoped for catastrophic failure, but like someone above said it is an E46 and I just can't watch it continue. grin
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#4630755 - 01/10/18 06:02 PM Re: 2003 BMW 325i - 137k - Sludged/oil burner cleanup [Re: pezzy669]
pezzy669 Offline


Registered: 03/27/04
Posts: 213
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Also I will keep you guys up to date as we progress, thinking I might have the shop take a sample after the initial OCI so probably late February-March will get to get a peek in the engine. Ya know what just for fun I might just have them take a sample of whatever tar pours out of there when I have it initially changed, might be kind of fun.
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