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3-Series (E21, E30) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1975-1983 and 1984-1991 line. Specific models: BMW 315, BMW 316, BMW 318, BMW 318i, BMW 320/4, BMW 320i, BMW 320/6, BMW 323i, BMW 320i. E30 Family models include: BMW 325e, BMW 325i, BMW 325is, BMW 325ix.

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Old 03-27-2006, 07:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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oil leaking from a few places...

Well my car hasn't leaked oil in almost a year...but all of a sudden, when I'm about to drive home, I see a puddle of oil under my car, big enough that I can see it when I'm standing right next to the driver side door. (you know, it's leaked a big enough puddle to be wider then the car) The car had been sitting there for about 20 hours. Of course I check the dipstick and it's still got half a quart before it's too low...so I drive home. When I park, it I make sure to check the cement BEFORE I park so I know how much it leaks. After about another 20 hours of the car sitting there there were a few small puddles (not one of them was bigger then 4 inches accross). One of the drip locations is right where the transmision meets the engine (most of the oil is dripping from here), another is from the drain plug on the oil pan (I'm pretty sure it's not draining from the plug...that's just a low point and the oil drips down the pan and falls off at the plug), and the rest are spread out from that plastic cover in front of the oil pan. At first I thought it was the oil pan gasket but then why is it dripping from where the transmision meets the engine? Could two gaskets have gone bad at the exact same time??


The last oil I put in there was that Mobil 1 full synthetic extended performance stuff...garaunteed for 15,000 miles....that was 8,000 miles ago. But I changed the filter 2,000 miles ago. Nothing is dripping from the oil filter (well there is a little build up on the base of the filter but not enought to drip off) Do you think the old oil had something to do with it?

here are my questions:

(1) why would it leak HUGE amounts of oil after one 20 hour sitting and then only leak a small amount after another 20 hour sitting? when the driving prior to each was about the same?

(2) why would it leak from so many different points at the same time (I realize that the oil can get "spattered" around before it falls off the engine) how could it leak from the "tranny meets engine point" and also from the very front of the engine?

(3)what are some solutions and estimated cost for a shop to fix (or estimated amount of work)

(4) if I make sure she's got enough oil in her can I still drive her? (the closest BMW shop is an hour and a half away, I'll just stop every few minutes and make sure she's full)

She's a 89 325i convertable with 145,000 miles...

any help would be appreciated...my little girl is bleeding to death!

thanks!
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Old 03-27-2006, 10:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well the leak from inbetween the engine/tranny is called the rear main seal. It's kind of a pain to replace, the tranny needs to come off. I had a quote of $900 from a relatively reasonable bimmer mechanic, but i ended up taking care of it myself. As for the other leaks, good luck. If you can, try to clean up the areas around the oil pan gasket, head gasket, oil filter, all the places where 2 pieces of metal meet, and see if you can see any leaks. As for the huge puddle, I have no idea.

Good Luck!
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Old 03-27-2006, 10:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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http://www.auto-rx.com

Stuff works wonders.

Stop using synthetic. It'll make your seal leak troubles worse.
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Old 03-27-2006, 10:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The oil pain can also leak in the rear making it look like a rear main seal, from the front is most likely a cam and/or crank seal.
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Old 03-27-2006, 11:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3UOND
Stop using synthetic.

What about all this talk of once you go synthetic then you can't switch back?
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Old 03-27-2006, 11:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yes you can switch back.

Synthetic tends to leach through any gunk that may be saving your ass, and make leaks worse. It's fine to switch to syn if your seals are in tip-top shape...my guess is yours aren't.
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Old 03-28-2006, 10:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I am having the same issue, on a smaller scale, and plan to replace the oil pan gasket and the valve cover gasket as well. that should pretty much clean it up for me. If you weren't in Utah, I'd help you out.
As far as your hour and a half drive, as long as your check panel is in good working order, you should be okay. The car will let you know when it needs oil. When the "Engine Oil" light comes on, I usually put a quart in, and that will last me for another 1000 to 1500 miles. If the Oil can lights up on your cluster, STOP NOW!! You have lost oil pressure and your engine does not like this.
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Old 03-28-2006, 10:42 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ldsbeaker
I am having the same issue, on a smaller scale...If you weren't in Utah, I'd help you out...
I almost think that the problem is going to somewhat fix itself....after the first day, the day when it made a mess of the garage floor, it hasn't really leaked too much. I wonder if some "sludge" got in there and plugged what ever hole was in the seal.....hmmmm, I'll just wait and see I guess.

I actually have a grandpa with a mechanics shop...he mainly works on old tractors but he would let me use his lift and all his tools...so I could fix it for free. But I just don't have the time nowadays...if I had a second car and could fix the bimmer up on the week ends it would be a different story. I'm thinking I'll take her to get an inspection 2 and have them fix her all the way around. I just want to get an idea of what's wrong before I go in there so I can better know if there screwing me or not...
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Old 03-28-2006, 12:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Oh, don't worry, they WILL screw you, and good, too.:
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Old 03-28-2006, 01:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ldsbeaker
Oh, don't worry, they WILL screw you, and good, too.:

yea that's kinda what I figured....but what can ya do??

there's no chance this could be tranny fluid is there? It's the same color and thickness as my engine oil, but I just want to make sure....as that's the only fluid I can't check on my own...I had it checked back in jan and it was filled to the brim.
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Old 03-28-2006, 07:19 PM   #11 (permalink)
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sooo...uhhh...I don't meant to post twice in a row but does any one think it could tranny fluid?

isn't tranny fluid a different color?
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Old 03-28-2006, 10:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Auto tansmission fluid is usualy red ATF depending on how funky it is, early manual trans fluid is gear oil with a distinct smell, and later manual trans fluid is red ATF.
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Old 03-29-2006, 07:39 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Hey man, M3UOND is right! Anytime you switch an older engine over to Synthetic your going to have major leakage issues! An older engine's seals get hard a brittle over time and the only thing that keeps many of them from leaking then is the varnish that builds around them. Synthetic Motor oils, as a general rule, not only have a smaller molecular size but they also have ALOT of detergency. This detergent breaks down the varnish rapidly and allows those eager little molecules to find their way through your antiquated seals right out onto the ground! And it's almost always the front and rear crank seals that are first to fall victim, followed usually by the camshaft seals as these parts are constantly subjected to direct vibrations and also a moving part, they can't build the varnish rings as well as a stationary seal can. If I were you I would get that very expensive Mobile 1 out of there and just switch back to a good multigrade Dino lube.(AKA regular oil) It may continue to leak for a while and then seal itself back up but if you have a manual transmission and your rear main is leaking very much for very long you risk contaminating the clutch and flywheel surfaces and that will surely ruin your 1.5 hour drive real quick. Good luck to ya man and happy motoring!!

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Old 03-29-2006, 07:55 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I guess there's a chance it could be tranny fluid, but the only way to find out is to check the level in your tranny, drive for about a month and see if it goes down by an appreciable amount. Unless you have nothing better to do than to drop your tranny, that is.
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Old 03-29-2006, 06:16 PM   #15 (permalink)
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so putting aside that my engine is 17 years old, what are the benefits of using sythetic oil?

I've had this car for 2 years, she's always had sythetic oil (by always I mean between me and the previous owner)---so why would someone switch to sythetic if all it does is cause leaks? and could I expect any adverse affects by switching to non-sythetic?
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