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BMW Repairs That Could Have Been Prevented

I’m Saul Reisman here at Saul’s AUTOTEK and today we’re going to show you a very small simple repair on your BMW vehicle that may lead to something larger down the road.

So we’ve currently got this BMW X5 disassembled its engines on the floor and it’s getting replaced. But what I’m going to show you is actually all this oil filter housing assembly itself. Now if we look closely, we can see those oil residue around the back of the filter housing and around the front side of it. Now we might see this and assume that this cap just must not be tight enough or that this oil O ring right in here that gets changed with your oil filter must have gotten pinched or is leaking. On BMW vehicles specifically, there’s been a problem with the prolixity of the aluminum cast housing that the oil filter itself sits into.

As a result, we’ve seen many vehicles come in that have been diagnosed either by a local reputable mechanic or by the BMW dealership as needing a new gasket where this aluminum oil filter housing attaches to the engine block. Now while we’ve seen a few of those that that has been the cure. The vast majority that we’ve seen, the gasket itself hasn’t actually been the problem, but the actual aluminum housing is. Now aluminum can be porous, just like cement if it’s not cured and built properly from the factory. Now I’m not a machinist and I’m not going to get into the details of how they build it, but the fact of the matter remains that this piece, like several others that we’ve seen in a few different general motors, Saturn vehicles, can and will eventually fail. The downside of it is the location. If we come around to the front side of the engine, we can see that where this oil filter housing is [inaudible] located, if it were to leak, it’s going to leak oil directly below, which would put oil as we’re seeing onto the alternator of the vehicle.

So not only is it going to put the fluid which is conductive and could create short circuit directly on the alternator, potentially leading to an alternator failure. However, it can also leak oil directly onto the belt drive of the vehicle. Now if that happens, BMW has a very unique and interesting failure that only is experienced by these vehicles.

If that oil-soaked rubber bell does fail, in most vehicles, the belt will simply fall apart. The oil will degrade the belt, the belt will break and it will come off in a nice violent fashion. Whether that means the belt snaps and just goes flying or takes out a few pieces of plastic along the way is unknown. Just depends how fast it’s spinning and what items are in the way. Now the thing that makes BMWs unique and special in this regard is that it’s this oil filter housing or gasket or both are leaking and gets oil onto the belt drive and belt fails, the way the belt is positioned on the front of the vehicle, you can actually pull the belt inwards into this harmonic damper or crankshaft pulley, the front of the engine itself.

Now what can happen at that point is it will suck the belt beyond this pulley and actually pull pieces of the fragmented belt between this pulley facing and the front of the timing cover on the engine. When this happens, pieces of rubber get sucked through the front crankshaft main bearing seal which creates another oil leak. Additionally, the pieces of rubber and the fibrous membrane that goes through that oil seal into the crankcase of the engine can cause serious irreparable damage to the oil pump pickup clogging it, leading to total engine failure. Scary. So the most often thing that we look for when we see these vehicles are these oil filter housings leaking down.

We’re always very suspect if we see them, especially if somebody tells us, well, it just got a new oil change, so it must just be a little leak or a little overflow from that. We are always going to be very thorough and make sure that if your BMW vehicle comes in and we are all questioning of an oil leak, that we run it, clean it, dry it and test it with dye in it to prove if that’s actually leaking from the gasket, the porosity of the aluminum housing or simply just that filter O ring. We want to make sure that’s something as simple as an oil filter doesn’t lead to an engine failure for your BMW vehicle.

If you’ve got concerns about yours, feel free to bring it in and see us. We’re here seven days a week in Greenwood Village, Colorado for your convenience. We’ll see you soon.

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About the Author

Picture of Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman has been helping the residents of the Centennial State with their automotive needs for over ten years now. He finished his Associate Degree in Physics at the Community College of Denver. Saul is an active member of the Specialty Equipment Market Association and a board member of the Young Executives Network. He undergoes constant educational training through GMC, MOPAR, Ford, Snap-On, Borg-Warner, and Ozark Automotive, with an emphasis on diagnosis, repair, and improvement.

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