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      02-24-2013, 12:48 AM   #1
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Thumbs down 1st Track Day = N54 Engine Failure :(

This is a repost, but I think a valid one since it's a track story / issue (link to original thread). Based on the suggestion of Killerfish...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Killerfish2012 View Post
Sorry to hear about your miss fortune. My comments to you in the limp mode thread seems to tie directly into one of your theories. I didn't answer you back on purpose, because I avoid discussing tunes on this forum. I also don't post in this section of the forums very much, so you might want to post this in the track section, as well, for more input.

Good Luck
FINAL UPDATE: #3: 4/6 - New engine was installed on 3/12 and car returned to me on 3/14. SouthBay Autohaus knows their stuff and has been great to work with through all of this. Also, added better pics of failure and what remains of piston #6 which exploded like a grenade (scroll down).

UPDATE: #2: 3/5 - Engine removed. Added pics of failure due to hydrolock caused by methanol injection malfunction (scroll down).

UPDATE: #1: 3/3 - added pics of replacement N54 (scroll down).
Will continue to update and post pics throughout week


Original Post, 2/23
For the last year I've been debating on whether or not to take my car to the track or wait until I buy a dedicated track car. I finally decided I should at least go once for a full day event before I make the investment in a 2nd car. So last Friday (2/15) I attended Speed District's open track day event at Willow Springs.

I thought I was going overboard with all of the preventive maintenance I did in preparation (see earlier post for all kinds of good DIYs I took advantage of) coupled with my newest mod, ER Competition Dual Oil Coolers (link to pics post-install).

The first session was great and the car was everything it should be - balanced and composed in the turns and pulling hard on the straights.















I took a look at the engine bay when I came back in the pits and everything was in order. I was stoked for my 2nd session as I'd paid for an instructor to help me learn the proper line and get the most out of the day.




The 1st lap with the instructor (white helmet) was smooth as I was focusing on the line and not pushing the car. In fact, there was only a single shift that lap from 3rd to 4th gear while exiting turn 6. Coming out of turn 9, I floored it and a moment later while still accelerating down the straight, the car started surging. I assumed the clutch was slipping and steadied the throttle to maintain a constant speed of 110mph at that point. No more surging, but I had to prepare for the left-hand turn 1. The moment I lifted off the gas and applied the brake there was a sickening explosion followed by white smoke in my rear-view mirror. If that wasn't bad enough the clutch pedal was at the floor.
I pulled off to the side of the track and had to wait for what felt like an eternity (probably only 10-15 minutes) before the instructor or I could get out of the car. The whole time I was kicking myself for breaking my car.



Fortunately, no fluids leaked onto the track, but since the car wouldn't even turn-over they had to tow me into the pits. I still assumed it was just the clutch that had failed at that point. My logic was since it couldn't engage, the engine's electrical coding was preventing it from turning over as a safety feature.

Called AAA and fortunately got a free tow home as Willow Springs is 98 miles from Redondo Beach (100 mile free tow radius).



I had it dropped off at a shop recommended by a friend. The next day the mechanic calls and tells me he believes the engine hydrolocked due to the meth kit malfunctioning. He did a compression test and identified cylinder 4 to be no good. When he turned the engine over he could hear a thud each time.

I still don't know exactly what went wrong. I think it's more likely that (a) the meth line boiled and got air in the lines causing the surging sensation while under WOT and engine failed due to lack of octane. Issue there, is that it was only lap #1 and my oil temps were still down around 210. It could have been (b) an electrical grounding issue, (c) clutch failed and engine somehow over-revved (although I didn't hear anything to support this), (d) tune malfunction, or (e) who knows what else. Even once I tear the engine apart, I probably still won't know.

Regardless I'm still waiting for the replacement engine to arrive as it's supposed to get here Monday. Getting a 2010, N54, complete with turbos and only 25K miles. Settled on $6K. Also, I went ahead and purchased an upgraded SPEC Stage2+ clutch from Jeff@TopGearSolutions. Including labor, I figure it's gonna cost around $10K total. Glad I was saving for a track car, but it looks like that's gonna be a while - especially since my wife now thinks that this is what happens every time you go the track.

I still plan on taking my car back to the track at some point, but am probably going to ditch the meth all together and just mix in some race gas to raise the octane and ensure safe, reliable power. If someone manages to convince me to keep the meth, I'd definitely switch to a trunk mount kit (at a minimum) as I didn't realize so many people had fires until I spoke with Jeff@TopGearSolutions.

Pertinent info I didn't mention regarding my car's setup at the time of failure:
History:
- Car has 67K miles w/ original clutch
- HPFP, Turbos, and Wastegates replaced under warranty at 55K miles
- Carbon build-up cleaned by dealer at same time, 55K miles
Tune / Meth:
- JB4, G4 board running map 3 (controls meth flow)
- Max boost set at 14.5 psi
- 0 boost additive
- BMS Windshield Washer (WW) Meth Kit (uses components from CoolingMist) link
- Boost Juice (49/51 meth-to-water ratio)
- Single CM10 nozzle
Fuel:
- ACN91 Octane gas (basically, weak CA "piss-gas" that's not equal to 91 octane in other states). Filled up at 76 station.
- I normally blend in race gas, but regrettably did not this rare time as I was concerned about engine temps after reading the "Limp Mode STICKY"

I want to believe that the JB4 didn't cause this, but I feel like I had pretty conservative settings relative to what most people run on the forums. I've had the JB4 and BMS WW Meth Kit since they came out and have had zero issues until now.

I'd appreciate any thoughts, concerns, and constructive comments about the situation in general.


-------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE #1: 3/3 - Replacement engine arrives

Had a little drama as the 1st engine we sourced was delivered, but had been stripped of parts. My mechanic wisely rejected the engine as the condition had not been disclosed before negotiating on a price and the trust was loss at that point. Mechanic located a 2nd engine, which arrived on Friday. It's a 2010 N54 from a 335i that had 27K miles. Shop is prepping for the swap today. Hopefully, we'll discover something to shed some light on what went wrong. Targeting Thursday to have my car back to me.







My car gathering dust as it waits patiently for its heart transplant. Fortunately, I have a few fun mods planned too...







-------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE #2: 3/5 - Engine removed and root cause identified; hydrolock caused by methanol injection malfunction


Today the failed engine was removed from the car and the cause was identified without even needing to tear the engine apart... excessive methanol injection caused hydrolock which resulted in a hole blown through the bottom end of the long block on the driver side. CRAZY!

This is what I saw when I walked in the shop on my way home from work...



I hope I never see this again...





Failed engine removed from the car (below)



Note the Lamborghini Gallardo in the background



Hole blown through the driver side of the longblock above the oil pan, near the rear of the engine (closer to cylinder 6, farther from cylinder 1)





Chunks of metal were removed from the oil pan and fragments were found in the oil filter (below).





This means my ER dual oil coolers need to be flushed to ensure there's no remaining metal floating around in my oil lines.





Also, still need to inspect the turbos off my failed engine to ensure they're good to re-use on the new engine. I'd prefer to keep them as they only have 12,000 miles on them, whereas the new engine and turbos have ~27,000 miles. Turbos off of replacement engine and various spare parts shown in picture below as the replacement engine is being prepped for transplant surgery (i.e. - carbon buildup being removed and major cleaning to ensure all metal fragments removed).



Mechanic said there were still puddles of pink "boost juice" (pre-mixed methanol and distilled water in 49/51 ratio) inside the cylinders when he first gained access to the intake manifold. Basically, a smoking gun that the engine failure was caused by excessive methanol injection, which resulted in hydrolock. As far as what caused the methanol injection to malfunction, I have no idea. All I know is that my confidence in the BMS Methanol Injection kit is gone. I plan on ditching methanol completely and switching to a more track-friendly tune once my car is back up and running. Mechanic plans to have my car running by Friday (3/8).

Of all the people using JB4 and its functionality as an integrated methanol injection controller, I guess I'm the first lucky one to have this happen.

-------------------------------------------------------
FINAL UPDATE: 4/6 - Just got home from taking my car the LTMW meet and the engine's running better than ever


New engine was installed on 3/12 and car returned to me on 3/14. I've put almost 700 miles on the new engine. Let me start by saying that SouthBay Autohaus knows their stuff and has been great to work with through all of this. Their expertise is top notch and I really appreciate how they've kept me informed along the way. The car is running better now than it ever has, but it's taken some serious work to get to this point.

Last time I posted, I knew my original clutch was toast but I didn't know that I'd have to purchase a new DMFW (Dual Mass Fly Wheel) too. When the engine seized, the torque from the driveshaft caused this to happen... (notice how the holes don't line up?).



Also, here's a few of the other issues we had to work through after the car was originally returned to me:
- squeeling pulley - replaced
- broken nipple off of plastic vacuum canister - replaced
- boost leak - replaced all vacuum lines
- vanos codes - replaced both intake and exhaust vanos solenoids
- low pressure fuel pump codes - resolved issue with ECU
- high pressure fuel pump codes - resolved issue with ECU
- clunking noise when turning left or right - issue caused by a worn bushing (see upgrades below for fix as I decided to use this as an excuse to upgrade to front and rear M3 control arms)

Here's what remains of piston #6 (left and middle) which exploded like a grenade. Far right is the piece of the block that was blown off.





Below is a better shot of the hole that was blown through the block





The head of piston #6 sheared off the top of the spark plug



Good shot of what 67k miles worth of carbon build-up looks like



Pic of the new engine below that was taken the day before it was installed




Upgrades / Future Plans:
- I now have a 2010 engine with 27k miles
- Carbon build-up was cleaned out completely (you can get to way more with the engine removed than you can otherwise)
- new water pump and thermostat installed
- new Vanos solenoids
- new spark plugs
- and a bunch of other new stuff (i.e. - crankshaft seal, oil pan gasket, exhaust gaskets, valve cover gaskets, etc...)
- The new Spec Stage 2+ clutch is great and has a very OEM feel with a very subtle, slightly stiffer engagement.
- Front and rear M3 control arms (link). Still waiting for these to arrive.
- Still waiting for my Qauife LSD to arrive. Plan on having LTMW install next weekend.
- Purchased PowerFlex Urethane Diff Bushings to go on the same time as the LSD:
Rear Diff Front Mounting Bushing PFR5-425 (qty 2)
Rear Diff Rear Mounting Bushing PFR5-426 (qty 1)
- Planning on having LTMW install some side splitters and maybe a custom front splitter for a little more downforce
- swapped out the JB4 for Cobb St2+ FMIC tune (really like it so far)
- installed BMS DP Fix

Oh, I have a BMS WW Meth Kit w/ FSB if anybody wants it for free.
I wouldn't feel right selling it since it's what caused all of this.

Summary:
I'm not bitter as I understood this was a possibility when I started modifying my car years ago and I plan to continue modifying my cars in the future. That said, I'll certainly be far more wary of engine mods. Thankfully, I really love this car and plan to continue enjoying it for at least a few more years now that I've made such a big investment in it; that was one expensive track day.
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Last edited by SneakyDeeky; 04-06-2013 at 08:04 PM. Reason: Summary of repairs and new pictures added
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      02-24-2013, 01:35 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SneakyDeeky View Post
I'd appreciate any thoughts, concerns, and constructive comments about the situation in general.
Again, I'm sad to hear about this, but it's now a learning experience. Good to hear that you've gotten a new motor, and if the wifey permits, you'll be back on the track again in the future. At that time my advice to you again, would be to ditch the JB4 permanently, and just go with a Cobb AP. You can buy like 5 gallons of 100 octane for a track day, and either blend it with your 91 octane and run stage 2+ aggressive, or run it straight with the 100 octane race map. I'm not a fan of E85, so I won't steer you in that direction. You can like hose down your radiator inbetween sessions if heat is a worry.

I've got a lot of experience over the years racing this vehicle on the track. Last year, I ran cobb stage 2+ aggressive with 100 octane blended in with 93, while I waited for the release of the then beta Cobb 100 octane race map. This year, I'm buying two 5 gallon drums of MS109, to use with the now fully released map. If you have any questions or need anything, just ask.
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      02-24-2013, 07:32 AM   #3
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i'm about to try tracking this year .. and post like this scare me. i'm also on jB4
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      02-24-2013, 10:37 AM   #4
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Sorry to hear OP, I'm not very familiar with the n54 but my experience tells me modded turbo cars are just not as reliable as their n/a counterparts or untuned motors. Have you considered replacing the motor but keeping her stock, and only keeping the cooling related modifications? Truth is even in stock form the n54 will hold its own on the track. You really don't need the extra hp. As long as overheating isn't an issue, only mods I'd really focus on are tires, brakes and suspension.
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      02-24-2013, 12:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by demontwinz View Post
i'm about to try tracking this year .. and post like this scare me. i'm also on jB4
Hopefully, my post can help you be better prepared for the track and ensure you can drive home at the end of the day. If I were doing it over again (with all the same mods), I'd:
- mix in race gas so I had a blend of 93 octane (or better)
- start the day using map 0 (no tune, no meth) and if I felt like i got to a point where I wanted a little more power, switch to map 5 (autotune, no meth)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DSC_OFF View Post
Sorry to hear OP, I'm not very familiar with the n54 but my experience tells me modded turbo cars are just not as reliable as their n/a counterparts or untuned motors. Have you considered replacing the motor but keeping her stock, and only keeping the cooling related modifications? Truth is even in stock form the n54 will hold its own on the track. You really don't need the extra hp. As long as overheating isn't an issue, only mods I'd really focus on are tires, brakes and suspension.
Right you are, but hindsight's 20/20. I knew what you're saying to be true even before I went to the track, which is why i was saving for a reliable, dedicated track car. I've been eyeballing Honda S2000's and maybe even a Lotus Exige or Elise. For now, though, I plan on doing exactly what you said - take the meth and tune out of the equation.
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      02-24-2013, 08:18 PM   #6
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meth at the track is sort of asking for trouble- IMO. The car by itself has numerous systems under extreme stress at the track. Add any sort of tune and other mods and you are adding things that can and will fail. Meth seems way too unreliable, especially when the car is stressed like that (g forces, etc). Sorry this happened. There is a reason most track guys are running the cobb.
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      02-24-2013, 08:42 PM   #7
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http://www.e90post.com/forums/showpo...3&postcount=51
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      02-25-2013, 01:46 PM   #8
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yikes, that's a pretty rough way to learn about your car Glad you are able to get it fixed though. sucks to see something like that happen, especially when you think your upgrades are supposed to help with things like that.

Anyway, I also live in RB, so if you need help wrenching on your car when you get it back from the shop, let me know.
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      02-25-2013, 04:46 PM   #9
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How full was your oil before the track day? Did you overfill?
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      02-25-2013, 06:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DallasBoosted View Post
How full was your oil before the track day? Did you overfill?
No - the electronic dipstick showed that it was full, but still within the range.
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      02-25-2013, 07:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DallasBoosted View Post
How full was your oil before the track day? Did you overfill?
Oil starvation problems will not lead to said symptoms. The engine would tick like crazy before the catastrophic failure. Overfilling will not result in catastrophic failure too. Again, oil related problems would result in audible symptoms before the catastrophic failure IMO.

I can only speculate, since no access to the car would mean whatever I offer up here will be merely wild ass goose chase. In addition, I'm not a trained mechanic so I can't offer jack and sh*t...And Jack just left town. But I would have the mechanic look at the clutch again. The fact that it's going to the floor doesn't bode well, since the hydraulic system of the clutch has nothing to do with the engine.

Stock clutch, I assume?
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      02-25-2013, 07:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The HACK View Post
Oil starvation problems will not lead to said symptoms. The engine would tick like crazy before the catastrophic failure. Overfilling will not result in catastrophic failure too. Again, oil related problems would result in audible symptoms before the catastrophic failure IMO.

I can only speculate, since no access to the car would mean whatever I offer up here will be merely wild ass goose chase. In addition, I'm not a trained mechanic so I can't offer jack and sh*t...And Jack just left town. But I would have the mechanic look at the clutch again. The fact that it's going to the floor doesn't bode well, since the hydraulic system of the clutch has nothing to do with the engine.

Stock clutch, I assume?
My only wild-ass-guess from his description was oil starved and threw a rod which maybe hit a clutch line on its way out of the motor? But he said there were no fluids on the track, ventilated blocks usually spew oil everywhere.

Will be interested to hear what actually happened so we can all learn from it. Sorry that it had to happen this way. I blew a motor in a previous track car and those bills are no fun.

Good luck,
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      02-25-2013, 07:59 PM   #13
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it's possible that oil spewed out onto the flywheel/clutch assembly when it blew (inside the bell housing, but not outside of the block itself). Could have really fouled up the clutch and caused caused it to stick open, leaving the pedal on the floor.

total swag of course.
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      02-25-2013, 08:09 PM   #14
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At the end of the day, the thing to remember for people that have never tracked before is that stories like this are much more likely to be reported than stories that say "hey I tracked my car and it performed just fine and I drove to work the next Monday morning like usual."

It really sucks for the OP- I hope it gets fixed and doesn't break the bank. BUT this kind of hobby has certain risks involved. My opinion that doesn't mean shit, and won't fix OPs car, is that running 8 30 minute sessions in two days won't harm most cars, beyond wear items like brakes and tires.

Moral of the story- preventative maintenance, fresh fluids, and safe motor mods will get you the most for your money. For me, the reward outweighs the risk

I have a feeling that the OP can be creative and find ways to get fixed up without getting screwed over.
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      02-25-2013, 08:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StealYourFace View Post
...stories like this are much more likely to be reported than stories that say "hey I tracked my car and it performed just fine and I drove to work the next Monday morning like usual."
... this kind of hobby has certain risks involved... For me, the reward outweighs the risk
Well stated - the same is true for me, which is why I ultimately decided to take my car to the track even though I was fully aware of the risks. I just wish preventive maintenance had prevented a little more.
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      02-25-2013, 08:20 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraRacer13 View Post
There is a reason most track guys are running the cobb.
Care to elaborate? I'm considering switching to Cobb, but really like the versatility of the JB4 (on the fly map changes, fuel economy map, code reading and clearing, downpipe fix, data-logging, etc.). I'm sure there are a ton of threads on here about this topic, but I guess I'm asking for your personal opinion and why you choose Cobb. I put a lot of weight on testimonials - especially from people who've tracked their N54.
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      02-25-2013, 08:23 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The HACK View Post
Stock clutch, I assume?
Yes - it had 67K miles on it. The last 15K miles were with JB4 and 10K miles with meth.
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      02-25-2013, 09:37 PM   #18
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Damn, sorry to here this sneaky. Let us know if you find out more about the original n54 once its out of the car.
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      02-25-2013, 10:46 PM   #19
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Is it too soon to call dibs on the front bumper, side skirts, and potentially the CSL lid?
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      02-25-2013, 11:07 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DallasBoosted View Post
My only wild-ass-guess from his description was oil starved and threw a rod which maybe hit a clutch line on its way out of the motor? But he said there were no fluids on the track, ventilated blocks usually spew oil everywhere.
Oil starvation blowing his motor on his first track day?
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      02-25-2013, 11:13 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by SneakyDeeky View Post
Care to elaborate? I'm considering switching to Cobb, but really like the versatility of the JB4 (on the fly map changes, fuel economy map, code reading and clearing, downpipe fix, data-logging, etc.). I'm sure there are a ton of threads on here about this topic, but I guess I'm asking for your personal opinion and why you choose Cobb. I put a lot of weight on testimonials - especially from people who've tracked their N54.
Dude, piggybacks on top of the stock tune, are not for the track. Ironically, had you just listened to my advice, and ditched the JB4, and thus the meth, and got cobb, this wouldn't have happened. If you're gonna track again, just listen to good advice, from folks that have been there. When you come across as not taking advice, then those giving the advise, feel that they are not listened to, and don't respond anymore.
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      02-25-2013, 11:35 PM   #22
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Theres a reason Dinan does flashes like the Cobb vs the piggyback, ITS THE RIGHT way to do it. Most of there stuff is overpriced, but the engineering rivals OEM.
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