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      10-13-2010, 09:23 AM   #1
SteveF1
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Crankcase Breather/Oil seperator

My cars major third service is overdue and my local dealer stated that my crankcase breather valve/oil seperator (whatever they call it) may need replacing as after around three years they become blocked and can cause no end of engine problems. On reading stories on the net this appears to be the case but more so for the previous 3 series, not really the E90.

I have been ringing round for quotes and on speaking to one dealer the E90 does not need its breather valve replacing and should last the life of the car stating it was only the E46 that suffered failures after poor maintenance.

I need some advice re this as some dealers are saying replace it and others not.

BTW on the last key check the car did NOT indicate any problems in this area or that it needed replacing but I've been getting a lumpy idle for the past 6 months and some say this could be a contributory factor?

Whats nice to know is that BMW dealers know their cars well.....
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      10-13-2010, 12:00 PM   #2
JonnySi
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Since september 2005 built cars the breather has been deleted from 3rd oil service. It is a venturi style breather rather than a little filter, and therefore cannot block.
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      10-13-2010, 12:12 PM   #3
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i would say for the minor cost of it - its worth the peace of mind.............
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      10-13-2010, 12:13 PM   #4
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This is a growing problem with 5 series (E60) diesels, particularly the 6 cylinder ones. The problem is that the original breather was what is termed a "loo roll" type, from its shape - the breather has an oil separator inside it (to separate oil from the crankcase gasses before the gas is fed back to the inlet for burning off). The loo roll type has a separator that is similar to a coarse filter element, hence the nickname. This element is prone to blocking from oil particles (not necessarily from poor maintenance). If the breather gets blocked, the engine tends to run on its own sump oil, so you cannot switch the car off, and can run to destruction. The replacement is a "vortex" type, which cannot get blocked - thankfully.
On the 5er, the vortex type is a straight swap for the loo roll type. Some $tealers try to seel you a complete unit - breather and housing, but it's not necessary. IIRC mine was 27 - fitted myself.
On the 530 (as the E46 330), the air filter is a time consuming affair to change, but to change the breather at the same time will add about 5 minutes to the job. I'm not familiar with the air filter on the E90, so I can't say if this will be the same on yours.
On the 530, the breather is located on top of the engine, to the left of the rocker cover, between the inlets - it's a quick job once the engine cover is off.

Mike
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      10-27-2010, 02:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnySi View Post
Since september 2005 built cars the breather has been deleted from 3rd oil service. It is a venturi style breather rather than a little filter, and therefore cannot block.
Your right, it is a venturi style filter, but beleive me, they can block! I work on these all day long and it's not uncomon for the pipes leading to the crank case block up with thick oil and oil sludge wich causes the oil seperater to block and causes all sorts of issues!
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      10-28-2010, 01:21 PM   #6
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this is what it looks like on 320d N47 engine. First is valve cover with pressure regulater, over-pressure valve, and cyclone filters. Second is the cyclone 'filter'


Attachment 448583

Attachment 448584
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      10-28-2010, 01:26 PM   #7
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try again...
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      02-09-2011, 04:59 PM   #8
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Hi there will I have a problem with my turbo people in BMW are so un helpful it is un real please can you post if you still come on here i think i have blown my turbo i need to find reasons why it's on e90 56 plate thanks
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      02-15-2011, 08:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveF1 View Post
My cars major third service is overdue and my local dealer stated that my crankcase breather valve/oil seperator (whatever they call it) may need replacing as after around three years they become blocked and can cause no end of engine problems. On reading stories on the net this appears to be the case but more so for the previous 3 series, not really the E90.

I have been ringing round for quotes and on speaking to one dealer the E90 does not need its breather valve replacing and should last the life of the car stating it was only the E46 that suffered failures after poor maintenance.

I need some advice re this as some dealers are saying replace it and others not.

BTW on the last key check the car did NOT indicate any problems in this area or that it needed replacing but I've been getting a lumpy idle for the past 6 months and some say this could be a contributory factor?

Whats nice to know is that BMW dealers know their cars well.....
steve have it changed as its the common cause of the turbo blowing and with all the claims BMW may have had in the near past they are probably taking precautions at last.
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      03-29-2013, 08:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnySi View Post
Since september 2005 built cars the breather has been deleted from 3rd oil service. It is a venturi style breather rather than a little filter, and therefore cannot block.
What's causing light brown mayo on my oil cap?
I know it's not the head gasket,been freezing here for a while and only doing little runs,could this cause it? Was going to get the oil breather pipe off to clean out, am I wasing my time?

Regards
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      03-29-2013, 08:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will0800 View Post
Your right, it is a venturi style filter, but beleive me, they can block! I work on these all day long and it's not uncomon for the pipes leading to the crank case block up with thick oil and oil sludge wich causes the oil seperater to block and causes all sorts of issues!
Can these be cleaned out or do they need to be replaced?
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      03-30-2013, 03:07 AM   #12
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I replaced mine on Friday 07 E91 320D. It was 57 quid iirc. We bit of stripping to get at it but an hour done it. I wasn't sure when mine was last done but as said above for all it costs get it done to ease your mind.
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      03-30-2013, 05:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbstoke View Post
What's causing light brown mayo on my oil cap?
I know it's not the head gasket,been freezing here for a while and only doing little runs,could this cause it? Was going to get the oil breather pipe off to clean out, am I wasing my time?

Regards
It probably is the short journeys. The system isn't sealed, so cold damp air can get in. As the engine warms up, the moisture in the air will condense at the high points (like the filler cap), then dry out as the engine gets to full operating temperature. If you're never reaching this point, you'll just see the evidence of the condensation. I get the same on my 335i, but a decent motorway run clears it up completely.
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      04-26-2013, 07:43 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanblee View Post
It probably is the short journeys. The system isn't sealed, so cold damp air can get in. As the engine warms up, the moisture in the air will condense at the high points (like the filler cap), then dry out as the engine gets to full operating temperature. If you're never reaching this point, you'll just see the evidence of the condensation. I get the same on my 335i, but a decent motorway run clears it up completely.
Thanks for that :-)
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      04-26-2013, 05:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will0800 View Post
Your right, it is a venturi style filter, but beleive me, they can block! I work on these all day long and it's not uncommon for the pipes leading to the crank case block up with thick oil and oil sludge which causes the oil separator to block and causes all sorts of issues!
100% correct. I'm the service manager for an indy dealership and boy do we get through some breathers.

Best course of action for me is to always recommend its changed if in any doubt when going over the cars history when the service book or info regarding the cars history is given to me. Its a small price for the security it offers and can solve many issues the customers report. The shocking thing for many is finding cars that have been though the main dealer network that haven't had the work done and have eked the service intervals out to get max mileage between oil changes... on 320d's especially someone will pick up a nice 1500+bill if the basics are ignored.

As for this quote "speaking to one dealer the E90 does not need its breather valve replacing and should last the life of the car" my god but it shows that in many cases the front desk simply have no idea and are there to process customers and take the money... knowledge is key.. very worrying indeed as many customers would rely 100% on the info given to them by their dealer
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      04-27-2013, 01:04 AM   #16
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If its just a plastic vortex, can't you just clean it?
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      04-27-2013, 02:22 AM   #17
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Good info Old Grey Steve
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