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DIY: Seafoaming an N52
Published by ClintM
11-12-2011
DIY: Seafoaming an N52

So you want to Seafoam your N52 engine? Well you can't do it like normal people, because we don't have the appropriate vacuum lines. Ordinary Seafoam is out; you need to get the Seafoam Spray.

The Seafoam website has a neat how-to. Basically, it works by spraying it directly at the throttle plate while slightly revving the engine for a couple of minutes, letting the car set, and then driving your Bimmer around like you stole it.

So if it's so easy, why am I posting this? There seems to be some resistance to doing ordinary things (like Seafom) to our engines. A DIY will show that it can be done, and that it won't kill the engine or do anything awful. Second, while accessing the throttle body is a piece of cake on most cars, my experience under the hood of my 328i tells me that numerous engineers in Munich really do not want us to access our throttle bodies. Like getting to our spark plugs, it's not hard, it just has a lot more steps than should be involved.

Tools Needed
  • 10 mm socket
  • 6 mm socket
  • Wife
  • Can of Seafoam Spray (with included spray tube)

Overview:
Here is the left side of the engine. There are two clamps on the air intake boot; we're going to be undoing the one farthest in the back, which connects the boot to the throttle body. This will first require moving some stuff.

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Step 1: Use the 10 mm socket to undo the nuts holding down the power steering fluid reservoir.

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Step 2: Lift the power steering fluid reservoir off of the bolts and set it somewhere where it will remain upright, but out of your way.

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Step 3: There are these hoses in the back that will also get in the way. Grab them by this rubber thingy, and pull up on the rubber thingy until it is no longer holding the hoses to a metal doohickey. It's not necessary to move the hoses anywhere in particular, they just need to be able to freely move.

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Step 4: That black plastic bar that carries the hoses across over the engine - it may also get in the way. I pulled it out, but that may not have been necessary.

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Step 5: The clamp that you need to loosen - the screw for it faces away from you. It needs a 6 mm socket. I promise you I got a normal socket driver (no extension) back there and was able to loosen this screw. To make reassembly easier (i.e. I didn't do this and later regretted it), loosen the screw the point where the clamp can be slid to your right, up the boot and out of the groove where it normally lives.

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Step 6: Tug, wiggle, and pull the boot until it comes off of the throttle body.

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Here are some pictures of the Seafoam Spray, its spray tube, and the instructions on the back:

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Step 7: Measure how far it is from the lip of the throttle body to the throttle plate. The Seafoam says to cut the spray tube so that it will end about 1/4" before the throttle plate.

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Step 8: Cut the spray tube. Here's what mine looked like:

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Step 9: Hook the small end of the spray tube inside the throttle body and put the boot back in place enough to hold it there. You won't need to put the boot all the way back on, but bear in mind that if it comes off your engine will die.

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Step 10: Insert wife into driver's seat.

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Step 11: Order wife to maintain rpms between 1500 and 1700 (can says 500 to 1000 over idle).

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Step 12: Attach Seafoam can to loose end of spray hose. You'll want to use two hands for this, one to hold the can and press the button, the other to hold the tube securely in place. Shortly after I took this picture, I sprayed the Seafoam without using a second hand to hold the tube in place, and the pressure from the Seafoam caused the tube to come out and I sprayed Seafoam all over the outside of my engine. Anyhow, the can says to spray until half the can is gone; this takes two, three, maybe four minutes. Hope you brought a radio, cause it's kinda unpleasant standing there with the engine revving and your head under the hood, just holding a can.

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Step 13: Turn the car off. The can says to wait 5 minutes; I restarted the car after 5 minutes and didn't get much smoke. I turned it off and waited another 10, at which point I got the smoke show you see below. At any rate, use this time to put everything back into place that you took apart in the first few steps.

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That's more smoke than I anticipated, considering the engine is only at 52,500 miles, 90%+ of which was driven on Shell 93.

Step 14: Drive like a mad man until the smoke stops coming out. This took me about 4 or 5 minutes.

I don't think using Seafoam in the intake like this is as effective using Seafoam in the crankcase before an oil change, but it plainly does something (with prior cars, I've used repeated applications of Seafoam to see if the smoke was just the product, and I got decreasing amounts of smoke with each application, which would be consistent with Seafoam's claims that it's removing carbon from the engine) and it's never hurt a car that I've used it on. And the big cloud of smoke is kinda fun.
__________________
2008 328i, Black Sapphire, Sports, Premium, AT with the flappy paddles
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  #1  
By bmwpk on 11-14-2011, 09:52 PM
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Awesome write up. How did the car feel afterwards? My 330i has been idling funny. I cleaned maf and just put in new spark plugs, this maybe my next step.
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  #2  
By saeng on 11-14-2011, 11:00 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwpk View Post
Awesome write up. How did the car feel afterwards? My 330i has been idling funny. I cleaned maf and just put in new spark plugs, this maybe my next step.
If you do this then you should put back the old spark plug when you do it. The seafoam will kill your spark plug..
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  #3  
By saeng on 11-14-2011, 11:01 PM
I was going to put it in this line.


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  #4  
By saeng on 11-14-2011, 11:02 PM
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  #5  
By saeng on 11-14-2011, 11:02 PM
http://m.flickr.com/photos/69805749@N04/6345498257/lightbox/
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  #6  
By saeng on 11-14-2011, 11:04 PM
Also I don't see that line in first pic.. Y is that I have it and you don't?? Both are n52 engine
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  #7  
By bumere90 on 11-18-2011, 08:47 AM
For those of you who put seafoam into motor make sure you change the oil right away
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  #8  
By ClintM on 11-22-2011, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwpk View Post
Awesome write up. How did the car feel afterwards? My 330i has been idling funny. I cleaned maf and just put in new spark plugs, this maybe my next step.
Smoother idle, smoother from 2500-4000, with a less gruff sound. Acceleration feels a just little more free. I had thought my engine was aging well, but in the week or so after I used this I realized that I had simply become accustomed to very slightly degraded performance. None of the changes were huge, but it was worth it.

Also, since I ran it through my crank case (a few weeks before I did the above tutorial) my mileage has improved. This hadn't happened in previous cars I'd Seafoamed (indeed, my truck actually had decreased mileage), but I'm getting maybe 5-8% better mileage on the highway. I don't have a large enough city sample to say anything on that, but in a couple of lengthy highway drives I have really noticed a difference. I expect this to be temporary, and, literally, your mileage may vary, but that's the experience I've had since Seafoaming. I also changed the plugs, so that undoubtedly has something to do with it, but I'm getting better mileage than when the car was new.
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  #9  
By saeng on 11-23-2011, 11:23 PM
Did you get any misfire? Or any codes? And did you change the spark plug after the seafoam?
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  #10  
By ClintM on 11-24-2011, 01:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saeng View Post
Did you get any misfire? Or any codes? And did you change the spark plug after the seafoam?
No misfires, no codes, no change of spark plugs. I changed the spark plugs a few weeks ago, but was willing to swap them out again if anything seemed wrong after the Seafoam. If you were thinking of changing your plugs, though, I would definitely do it after the Seafoam. That seems to be the common wisdom.

Also, I don't know what that line going into your intake boot is. Definitely was not on my car.
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  #11  
By saeng on 11-24-2011, 01:14 PM
Can I ask what's your miles??
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  #12  
By saeng on 11-24-2011, 01:17 PM
Ok nvm
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  #13  
By chinna_n on 03-16-2013, 08:59 PM
I know this is old thread, but I was wondering,

instead taking out hose at throttle body, just take out MAF sensor, keep it safe somewhere. and put some making tape with seafoam spray nozzle in that hole.

Seafoam site says it does not harm rubber or plastics, so intake should be fine. Also, in BMW N52 engines the throttle plate is always opened, and idle is controlled by valve opening. So we do not need to worry about if throttle plate is closed, and also it may clean throttle plate area.

Ofcourse we need to reinstall MAF sensor and reset the OBD code later.

Any issues with this approach?
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  #14  
By Surly73 on 03-18-2013, 07:15 AM
With the way Valvetronic works, I'm highly doubtful that this aerosol spray is reach anything but the two cylinders right in front of the intake.

Were I concerned about intake valve and manifold deposits I would probably use something more like Amsoil Powerfoam. Fill the manifold with the foam, let it dwell, start it up and blast all the smoke out and proceed.

Holding revs at 1500 with no load doesn't move much more air through the IM than idling. If you were able to inject seafoam from inside the vehicle while driving it under load, intake air volume and velocity would be MUCH higher and might clean all cylinders properly. I think there's lots of youtube video from people who have done just that. I'm not exactly recommending it.

If I had a DI engine, I'd seriously consider Amsoil Powerfoam as an alternative to freting over walnut blasting all the time.
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  #15  
By saeng on 03-31-2013, 02:16 PM
To all.. I never did the intake seafoam.. 2 mouth ago my starter died. Had to open the intake manifold to get to the starter and saw that the valve was clean.. So no point doing the intake manifold thing for the n52.. But for the gas and oil. Is a plus..
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  #16  
By Cabobimmer on 08-12-2014, 12:15 AM
I didn't see this post before and I did the seafoam treatment today. I have the same engine but I don't know if all of you have the 3 stage manifold with 2 DISA valves.

I unplugged the Vacuum Break Booster line out and definitely I felt suction from it so I poured slowly the seafoam in that line. The engine didn't shake or do anything different. I rev the car too 2k while seafoaming and then turned the engine off for 5 minutes and no smoke at all, left it for 15 minutes and still no smoke so I think the seafoam cleaned nothing. I put half of the can into the fuel tank and after driving I felt HUGE difference no more hiccups!

I am thinking on doing it following this DIY but my car has a 3 stage manifold with 2 DISA VALVES so I think the seafoam won't get inside of all the cylinders.

When I changed my starter I saw my valves and they all have carbon build. I I pour the seafoam with the oil will do the trick of cleaning the valves or there is no way to do it and get all of the valves clean?

Thanks to all 😉
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