Oil Leak - common spots?


So, the new car has what looks to be a fairly healthy oil leak at the front of the motor. A little disappointed, but also figured I’d need to work on the car to get it dialed in the way I want. Helps that my “drop dead ready” date isn’t til October. (My ex-wife would probably have a heart attack if she found out that I planned something that far out in advance)

My questions are simple:

[li]Are there common places for oil to spew forth from the front of the motor?[/li]
[li]Is it even remotely possible to pull the timing cover and such without pulling the motor?[/li]
[li]Even if I can do the above, is it easier/simpler to do it with the motor out?[/li]
[li]Do the M20 headgaskets ever leak just oil?[/li]

Pic attached…

Thanks :slight_smile:


You might have to do a bit of cleaning to ID the source of the leak. Possibilities if the oil is indeed coming from the front and not fooling you in some diabolical way…
Rocker arm cover gasket.

Rocker arm shaft seals. These are pieces of rubber (4) that are about the size of the end of your thumb and sit under the rocker arm cover gasket. 2 front and 2 rear.

Head gasket.

Cam shaft seal.

Keep cleaning and inspecting. Oil doesn’t drip “up”, so you’ll find it.


Thanks. I’ll look into it. I suppose I’ll just start at the top and work my way down. I’ve done enough M/S 50/52 headgaskets… would you rate the M20 job as easier or more difficult than one of those?


Much easier. No VANOS. Much less plumbing and wiring. Everything easy to get to. If you have a helper you can put the manifolds on to the head before you carefully put the head in place. That will save time.

Put a couple zipties on the bitch tube to compress it’s spring before the intake manifold goes on to the head. http://i465.photobucket.com/albums/rr17/RangerGress/Mechanical/IntakeManfoldBitchTube.jpg


Are there any DIYs out there? I love having the Bentley Manual, but it’s nice to see other people’s work, as well. You learn tricks like putting zip ties on the bitch tube…


And yet more questions. Are there any known issues with the Victor Reinz head gaskets? I know that their M/S 50/52 HGs were suspect. To the point that my old mechanic told me exactly where the one I put in my car would fail. He was right…dead center between cylinder 5 & 6. Yes, I used new head bolts, yes, they were torqued properly and yes the head was sent to a machine shop and decked. The Elring Klinger HG I put in after that has run strong for many harder, hotter, angrier miles.


Stick with Goetze headgaskets!


HG’s are like religion. We’ve one experienced engine builder here who feels that VR HG’s are fine. Others prefer Goetz or EK. The one time I gave a VR and a Goetz close visual inspection side by side I thought that the latter was “stiffer” and had a more pronounced orange sealing strip.


Thanks for the input, guys. I’ll chase it down some more before I go really wild on it, but I’m planning on it being the most involved and costly fix, so anything less will make me happy B)


Browse around e30tech.com and bimmerforums\e30


Some exploration reveals that the leak is below the rocker arm/valve cover gasket. That looked really clean. I noticed nice clean oil seems to collect on the tab of the HG where the “2.5” is stamped in. This has me worried, but not too badly. I’m going to run a compression test tonight to see what the numbers are. It doesn’t sound or feel like the HG is blown, so is it possible it could just be leaking from somewhere? Biggest fear at this point is that I need a new head.

Another thing came up, too. Motor mounts…started another thread, as that is a separate discussion.


I had oil accumulate there at my first race on the new motor despite the fact it was coming from underneath at the oil filter/cooler block where I had reused the old O-rings. The old O-rings were square but I forgot to order new ones for the build.


Did a little digging yesterday evening/night and it seems like the problem might be coming from the front camshaft seal/o-ring. The front one in particular. Question to those of you with experience…is this something that can be dealt with while the head is on? It looks like I’ll be in for a timing belt as well, tackling the job, so can I re-use the pulley, too? (The motor was rebuilt about 500 miles ago.)


It’s easy to replace both the cam seal and o-ring with the head on after you remove the cam gear. Be careful not to break off the mounting tabs working the seal carrier out of the head!


It’s easy to replace both the cam seal and o-ring with the head on after you remove the cam gear. Be careful not to break off the mounting tabs working the seal carrier out of the head![/quote]

That is good to hear. Thanks :slight_smile:


Note that there is both a cam seal and an o-ring in front. Replace both.