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      09-12-2019, 11:56 PM   #1
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N51 Smells like burning oil inside the cabin

Whenever I drive my car for a while, it always smells like burnt oil in the cabin. It seems worse when I run errands and have to make short trips and turn off the car multiple times. I'm not sure if its because of a minor oil pan leak that I'm aware of. The car is at 106k and I've done the OFHG, Valve Cover and VCG in the past 5k miles due to an oil leak. Can the oil pan leak cause burning oil smell in the cabin?
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      09-13-2019, 07:12 AM   #2
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When you smell the oil, stop car,open hood, and with a good flashlight look around.

Note, you're also going to have to go under car.

Maybe you want to arrange with a shop to bring car in when the smell is strong, and they can put up on a lift.
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      09-13-2019, 08:53 AM   #3
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Different engine but my pan leaks and doesnt cause any smell because its not hitting the exhaust.

If youre talking about the popcorn burning smell then its likely oil hitting a hot surface, which is usually the valve cover since it sits right above the exhaust. Id start looking there first for more weeping, etc.

I know you said you just did it but maybe didnt get the head clean, valve cover damage, etc. Is the valve cover plastic on those as well?
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      09-13-2019, 03:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryan stewart View Post
Different engine but my pan leaks and doesnt cause any smell because its not hitting the exhaust.

If youre talking about the popcorn burning smell then its likely oil hitting a hot surface, which is usually the valve cover since it sits right above the exhaust. Id start looking there first for more weeping, etc.

I know you said you just did it but maybe didnt get the head clean, valve cover damage, etc. Is the valve cover plastic on those as well?

All the work was done at a reputable indy bmw shop in my area so I doubt they damaged a new valve cover or the gasket. But yeah, it is the black plastic valve cover.
All the work was done at a reputable indy bmw shop in my area so I doubt they damaged a new valve cover or the gasket. But yeah, it is the black plastic valve cover.
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      09-13-2019, 03:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marvinstockman View Post
When you smell the oil, stop car,open hood, and with a good flashlight look around.

Note, you're also going to have to go under car.

Maybe you want to arrange with a shop to bring car in when the smell is strong, and they can put up on a lift.

I really dont want to ta
I really dont want to take it to a shop, but that'll be my last option. Thanks!
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      09-14-2019, 12:58 AM   #6
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Any residual oil should burn off in a couple of days, at least that was what happened when I changed out the valve cover (Uro) myself.

You can shine a flashlight on the passenger side of the cylinder head and look for oil there. When my valve cover was still leaking after sealing the valvetronic motor gasket with RTV, leak lessened but oil was pooling around there (near the valvetronic motor on the cylinder head) and getting onto the hot exhaust, creating smoke. That was when I replaced the OEM valve cover with Uro. I also RTV'ed the new valvetronic motor gasket. Problem solved.

Besides that, pop the hood and see where smoke might rise up. Another area may be the PCV plastic pipe.

Last edited by mainbearing; 09-14-2019 at 01:20 PM..
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      09-14-2019, 07:10 AM   #7
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Yes, a leaking oil pan will cause a burning smell. Especially if it’s leaking bad enough to travel the length of the transmission and onto the exhaust at the tunnel. If you have any external oil leaks it’s pretty self explanatory that those would be the first place to start to fix the smell...
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      09-14-2019, 02:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mainbearing View Post
Any residual oil should burn off in a couple of days, at least that was what happened when I changed out the valve cover (Uro) myself.

You can shine a flashlight on the passenger side of the cylinder head and look for oil there. When my valve cover was still leaking after sealing the valvetronic motor gasket with RTV, leak lessened but oil was pooling around there (near the valvetronic motor on the cylinder head) and getting onto the hot exhaust, creating smoke. That was when I replaced the OEM valve cover with Uro. I also RTV'ed the new valvetronic motor gasket. Problem solved.

Besides that, pop the hood and see where smoke might rise up. Another area may be the PCV plastic pipe.
is the valvetronic motor gasket a common thing with this chassis?
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      09-14-2019, 02:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NinetyEight740 View Post
Yes, a leaking oil pan will cause a burning smell. Especially if it's leaking bad enough to travel the length of the transmission and onto the exhaust at the tunnel. If you have any external oil leaks it's pretty self explanatory that those would be the first place to start to fix the smell...
i took my car to a couple shops and they both said the oil pan leak isn't bad at all and told me to hold off until i need to replace my motor mounts. but even if it was burning enough oil to smell, would it be possible for it to seep into the cabin from the oil pan?
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      09-14-2019, 02:16 PM   #10
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Yes:

https://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1536946
https://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1597467

My post #16 in the second link shows my RTV'ed valvetronic gasket. Also, as I mentioned the PCV hose can get brittle and crack. This is another known problem.

https://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1634259

Not sure if your car is affected by the PCV heater recall. One of the symptoms is burning oil smell IIRC. If the oil pan leak is *very little*, I doubt you will smell the amount of burning oil that you did. How much (quart/miles) is it leaking?


Quote:
Originally Posted by slowlyprogressing View Post
is the valvetronic motor gasket a common thing with this chassis?
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      09-14-2019, 02:20 PM   #11
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I wonder if the leak is more than the oil pan, maybe elsewhere. I would still take a flashlight and look top side and use a mirror or crawl under to check the PCV plastic hose.

Do you work on your car much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by slowlyprogressing View Post
i took my car to a couple shops and they both said the oil pan leak isn't bad at all and told me to hold off until i need to replace my motor mounts. but even if it was burning enough oil to smell, would it be possible for it to seep into the cabin from the oil pan?
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      09-14-2019, 02:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mainbearing View Post
Yes:

https://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1536946
https://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1597467

Also, as I mentioned the PCV hose can get brittle and crack. This is another known problem.

https://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1634259

Not sure if your car is affected by the PCV heater recall. One of the symptoms is burning oil smell IIRC. If the oil pan leak is *very little*, I doubt you will smell the amount of burning oil that you did. How much (quart/miles) is it leaking?


Quote:
Originally Posted by slowlyprogressing View Post
is the valvetronic motor gasket a common thing with this chassis?
I just looked through old mail and i found a recall letter for the blower motor and the PCV heater. Maybe I'll get these handled and hopefully it'll solve the issue.

Will the dealer replace the PCV hose when they do PCV heater?

As for actually how much oil is leaking, I've gotten my first oil change about 1k miles ago after replacing the OFHG and VCG, so I'll have to wait and see.
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      09-14-2019, 02:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mainbearing View Post
I wonder if the leak is more than the oil pan, maybe elsewhere. I would still take a flashlight and look top side and use a mirror or crawl under to check the PCV plastic hose.

Do you work on your car much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by slowlyprogressing View Post
i took my car to a couple shops and they both said the oil pan leak isn't bad at all and told me to hold off until i need to replace my motor mounts. but even if it was burning enough oil to smell, would it be possible for it to seep into the cabin from the oil pan?
I wish I can, but I don't have the tools nor the space to work on my car. Best option for me right now is probably to get a shop to look through the whole car
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      09-14-2019, 02:51 PM   #14
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Had the same issue. Oil pan leak was the culprit.
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      09-14-2019, 02:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ny325 View Post
Had the same issue. Oil pan leak was the culprit.
Hopefully it is. Was planning on replacing it with the motor mounts when my next oil change is due.
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      09-15-2019, 03:02 PM   #16
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I am not sure if the dealer will replace it free if that hose is cracked. That was not mentioned in the recall.

The cracked PCV hose is another known issue. You can shine a flashlight under the intake manifold and see if the heater coupler is leaking oil and heating it.

Update us!

Quote:
Originally Posted by slowlyprogressing View Post
I just looked through old mail and i found a recall letter for the blower motor and the PCV heater. Maybe I'll get these handled and hopefully it'll solve the issue.

Will the dealer replace the PCV hose when they do PCV heater?

As for actually how much oil is leaking, I've gotten my first oil change about 1k miles ago after replacing the OFHG and VCG, so I'll have to wait and see.
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      09-16-2019, 06:40 PM   #17
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Valve cover and oil pan are either leaking or preparing to leak. Woot!
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      09-17-2019, 12:07 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runnr548 View Post
Valve cover and oil pan are either leaking or preparing to leak. Woot!
Valve cover and gasket were replaced not that long ago. The oil pan is leaking, so I'm assuming that's probably the culprit.

Thanks!
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      09-17-2019, 12:10 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mainbearing View Post
I am not sure if the dealer will replace it free if that hose is cracked. That was not mentioned in the recall.

The cracked PCV hose is another known issue. You can shine a flashlight under the intake manifold and see if the heater coupler is leaking oil and heating it.

Update us!

Quote:
Originally Posted by slowlyprogressing View Post
I just looked through old mail and i found a recall letter for the blower motor and the PCV heater. Maybe I'll get these handled and hopefully it'll solve the issue.

Will the dealer replace the PCV hose when they do PCV heater?

As for actually how much oil is leaking, I've gotten my first oil change about 1k miles ago after replacing the OFHG and VCG, so I'll have to wait and see.
I checked the dealer website near me to set up an appointment for the recalls and it says there are no recalls for my car. Might have to give them a ring for that.

What is the heater coupler exactly?
I checked the dealer website near me to set up an appointment for the recalls and it says there are no recalls for my car. Might have to give them a ring for that.

What is the heater coupler exactly?
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