BMW Castrol "TWS" 10w60

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EDIT: oops... this should probably be under UOA - Gasoline... I thought that's where I was. Hi, guys. I joined here after some puzzling oil analysis info that nobody seemed to be able to answer completely for me. Sooner or later, everyone referred me to this site, so here I am. I have a 2001 BMW M3 with the S54 engine. It has about 140k miles, and the bearing recall was performed at around 50k miles, so the bottom end bearings and oil pump only have about 90k miles on them. It has always been run on the recommended Castrol 10w60 specifically formulated for the S54 engine. This stuff is supposed to last 15k miles, but I have changed it every 8-10k and so have the previous owners, as shown in maintenance records. When I purchased the car, I immediately began sending in oil analysis. Unfortunately, I decided to use an octane booster for peace of mind as I was only able to get 90 octane gas during one of the fill ups at the very beginning of the first oil sample. So, lead was reading high at 39 (avg is 7 I believe). I just relaxed and filed this under the fault of the octane booster. However, my next sample still showed a higher than average lead content. This time, though, it was 32, so it is dropping, but still high. What is puzzling is that no other wear metals are even as high as the average. Iron, copper, tin, etc. are all below average or even 0... Some other facts compounding the confusion and possibilities are (I feel like I'm living an episode of "House" for mechanics): The previous owner had just performed the valve adjustment and some other maintenance, so he could have used grease, anti-seize, thread locker, assembly lube, or other things that could be in the oil... I have begun hearing a slight ticking. This is definitely not the top end. It sounds more like it is coming from the exhaust manifold and can only be heard underneath and to the passenger side (exhaust side) of the car. I am also getting intermittent check engine lights relating to O2 sensors, so I am thinking this could be an exhaust leak, cats going bad, or etc. I'm sure this is a coincidence that God has caused so that I lose sleep at night. This is what started worrying me the most, however. I have run the car in 3 SCCA autocross events so far. I am a beginner, so I was pretty slow and certainly did not even get anywhere near redline. The car redlines at 8k, and at the most I think I approached 7k for maybe half a second. Otherwise it is around 4-5k most of the time, which is a total of about 60 seconds per run. One of these events, however, is important... I forgot to check the oil before hand and was only able to check it at the track. I also only had about 1/4 of a bottle with me. When I checked it, the oil was at the low mark on the dip stick, and the extra little bit brought it just slightly above the low mark. I feel stupid about this, but I don't think that could have hurt anything. It was still within the safe region. Also, the high lead readings started before this occurrence. So, that's a long story and I still don't feel like I have included everything. Anybody have any suggestions? What could be another source of lead and no other wear metals? Could the octane booster be lingering this long? I want to believe it is something this simple, but the new noises are troubling. I have not been able to get an actual oil pressure gauge on it yet... it just has a warning light (that has never come on).
 
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Ticking could very well be from a leaking exhaust manifold. I've had the same sound(different engine though) and once I replaced the exhaust gasket the sound disappeared. The cel was also likely from the exhaust gasket leaking. As far as running it with low oil I seriously doubt anything bad happened. There was oil in the sump therefore oil would be circulating and as long as you didn't run it dry there shouldn't be any problems. As far as your uoa goes an octane booster really shouldn't affect it to the levels you describe,so there has tobe something else going on. There are many here who use M1 0w-40 in their M class cars and pennzoil ultra 5w-40 euro is also getting some M1 users to pay attention as well if the prescribed castrol is difficult to attain. If I was in your shoes I'd find an inexpensive oil that meets your particular spec and run it at a short interval,say 200-300 miles tops to wash out any lingering oil and contaminants out,then run your usual oil at your usual interval,then get it analyzed. You may have some kind of particle streak that is affecting the uoa giving you some bizarre values and may not be a true indicator of what's really going on. OVERKILL is a BMW M class owner. With any luck he will see this thread and perhaps be able to give you better answers than I. I'm a mustang guy so I'm no expert on your particular car,so my advice is likely worth about as much as you paid for it however OVERKILL knows what he is talking about when it comes to your car so hopefully he'll pop in and help. I am glad to see that you track your car. Why have it if you can't enjoy its full potential.
 
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Originally Posted By: potate311
the bearing recall was performed at around 50k miles, so the bottom end bearings and oil pump only have about 90k miles on them.
It sounds like the bearing are wearing again, 90K on them is a lot for this engine. These engines are known for it recall performed or not. The last thing you need is let it go too far and damage the crank, if you start seeing copper its time to take a look, if the lead layer is going away numbers will go down because there may be nothing left to wear away. An OP gauge can tell you a lot about the engines bearing clearances. Something like Mobil 1 0w40 may be beneficial for cold start wear but i wouldn't start playing with viscosity until i had some real pressure data. I would get a gauge on it ASAP, right now your dancing around in the dark with very little info other than a UOA for high lead. The noise is probably a pre cat exhaust leak, the noise with O2 codes is a giveaway.
 
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The ticking you're hearing is probably an exhaust leak. They can sound pretty metallic. And since it is coming with O2 sensor codes, it's almost certainly an exhaust leak. If it was a bearing, the noise would be more of a clank than a tick. If you have high Lead readings, but not high Copper, it may just be a streak in the overlay of a bearing. If Lead and Copper were both high, it would be wear of the lining of a bearing. Assuming, of course, that this engine has leaded-Bronze bearings. Are you sure that the octane booster that you used two oil samples ago contained Lead? It doesn't seem likely that it would have such a strong and lingering effect on the Lead reading.
 

potate311

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Originally Posted By: A_Harman
Are you sure that the octane booster that you used two oil samples ago contained Lead? It doesn't seem likely that it would have such a strong and lingering effect on the Lead reading.
No, I'm not absolutely certain, but that was the opinion of the analysis techs. I also see similar results from others. I expected it to be gone with the next sample, though, like you said.
Originally Posted By: Trav
An OP gauge can tell you a lot about the engines bearing clearances.
Will the gauge be an immediate giveaway? I haven't gotten one on their yet because it will take a decent amount of tear down to get it in the correct spot. What signs will be an immediate indication of bearing wear? Or will it just be more like "well that does look a little low"
 
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As bearing clearances increase oil pressure decreases. Worn bearing will usually show up at cold start with longer times to build oil pressure. There are specs to compare your reading to, if the pressure is at the lower end of the spec you know there is a potential problem lurking. Cars that see track time should always be fitted with an OP gauge at a minimum, ideally with an oil temp gauge also.
 

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Originally Posted By: Trav
As bearing clearances increase oil pressure decreases. Worn bearing will usually show up at cold start with longer times to build oil pressure. There are specs to compare your reading to, if the pressure is at the lower end of the spec you know there is a potential problem lurking. Cars that see track time should always be fitted with an OP gauge at a minimum, ideally with an oil temp gauge also.
Ok, so I should look for time required to build pressure as well as compare to the specs of pressure range. Thanks. I agree about the pressure gauge and temp gauge. I don't call a few weekends of SCCA autocross (parking lot cone courses) serious track time. The car does have a stock oil temp gauge, but only a low oil pressure warning light. I'm not sure what pressure this light will come on. When I say that I will put a pressure gauge on it, I just mean one that I will have to screw into an unused port on the filter housing and stand next to the car holding the gauge while it is running... this is not something that can be put permanently into the car for the time being.
 
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Lead = bearings. You can try one thing to be sure. Stop using the octane booster and run 1-2 tanks of gas without it. Then drain your oil and fill the engine with 15w40 HDEO and drive it 5-10 miles to rinse out any lead from the octane booster. Then do a new 10w60 oil change with filter and run it 8-10k and do a UOA. If you have elevated lead you have a bearing issue.
 

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Originally Posted By: Doog
Lead = bearings. You can try one thing to be sure. Stop using the octane booster and run 1-2 tanks of gas without it. Then drain your oil and fill the engine with 15w40 HDEO and drive it 5-10 miles to rinse out any lead from the octane booster. Then do a new 10w60 oil change with filter and run it 8-10k and do a UOA. If you have elevated lead you have a bearing issue.
The booster was used once and only once at the very beginning of the usage of the first sample oil. That oil was then run about 6k more miles. The oil was changed, that sample was sent in, lead read 39 but all other wear metals were at or below normal. The next oil was run about 8-9k miles with no octane booster and had a sample sent in. This lead reading was 32 and other wear metals were even better. Lead alone at a rate that is decreasing is not so simple of an answer as "bearing problem"... One thing I am thinking is that the previous owner who performed the valve clearance used a small dab of grease to hold the spacers in while performing the job. This is common, and grease contains traces of lead, if I recall correctly.
 

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Now I am seeing info from owners of brand new M3s with less than 30k miles with all numbers across the board much higher than mine... Granted, that's an entirely different engine, but maybe I am being too paranoid about this.
 

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Definitely continue to use TWS, this engine didn't magically change oil recommendations like they did for the M5, LOL wink With respect to your noise, do you have access to a mechanic's stethoscope that you could use to definitively locate the source of the noise? That would be extremely helpful if you could.
 

potate311

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Originally Posted By: OVERKILL
Definitely continue to use TWS, this engine didn't magically change oil recommendations like they did for the M5, LOL wink With respect to your noise, do you have access to a mechanic's stethoscope that you could use to definitively locate the source of the noise? That would be extremely helpful if you could.
Yeah, I have no intentions of switching from the TWS. If BMW worked specifically with Castrol to make this oil for this engine, I think they know what it needs. At least that's what I understand about the situation with that. No, I don't have a stethoscope right now. I will be getting one and looking at it tonight. I've been underneath it with it running and it's like night and day as soon as you move your head from one side of the car to the other, or front to back. It's definitely the exhaust side, and definitely close to the block. I'm thinking manifold leak. The valves and vanos purr like a kitten from the top.
 

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It could be a leak or a crack, once you've pinpointed the location with your stethoscope, you'll be able to inspect further and find the culprit smile
 

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That just leaves the high lead content... I hate having to wait 8k miles or so to have another report. I guess I can take the airbox off and get a pressure gauge on the filter housing, so that will give me some additional info until I can get another UOA. Even then, I don't know what to think if I get another one and lead is say, 25, all other metals stay low, and the pressure gauge checks out... Just blame it on particle streak, octane booster, grease, planets aligning, etc. and enjoy driving it I suppose. On the other hand, if the pressure gauge reads on the low side and I still have slightly high lead and no other wear metals, does that warrant tearing apart the bottom end?!
 
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Originally Posted By: potate311
Originally Posted By: Trav
As bearing clearances increase oil pressure decreases. Worn bearing will usually show up at cold start with longer times to build oil pressure. There are specs to compare your reading to, if the pressure is at the lower end of the spec you know there is a potential problem lurking. Cars that see track time should always be fitted with an OP gauge at a minimum, ideally with an oil temp gauge also.
Ok, so I should look for time required to build pressure as well as compare to the specs of pressure range. Thanks. I agree about the pressure gauge and temp gauge. I don't call a few weekends of SCCA autocross (parking lot cone courses) serious track time. The car does have a stock oil temp gauge, but only a low oil pressure warning light. I'm not sure what pressure this light will come on. When I say that I will put a pressure gauge on it, I just mean one that I will have to screw into an unused port on the filter housing and stand next to the car holding the gauge while it is running... this is not something that can be put permanently into the car for the time being.
AutoXing with the oil level at the minimum level could easily have resulted in moments of oil starvation (sucking air in part) without the oil idiot light being triggered. I've experienced this a lot. An oil light is useful pretty much only on idle when the oil pressure is at it's lowest. An oil pressure gauge will indicate you when your cornering at high g's, with the engine running at elevated rev's and therefore with high oil pressure, if there are oil pick-up problems as the steady OP reading will drop off, not necessarily to zero but enough to know that the oil pick-up tube isn't staying fully submerged in oil.
 

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Originally Posted By: CATERHAM
AutoXing with the oil level at the minimum level could easily have resulted in moments of oil starvation (sucking air in part) without the oil idiot light being triggered. I've experienced this a lot. An oil light is useful pretty much only on idle when the oil pressure is at it's lowest. An oil pressure gauge will indicate you when your cornering at high g's, with the engine running at elevated rev's and therefore with high oil pressure, if there are oil pick-up problems as the steady OP reading will drop off, not necessarily to zero but enough to know that the oil pick-up tube isn't staying fully submerged in oil.
It was about a quarter of the way up the stick once I added what little oil I had on hand. I understand that's not ideal, and yes I feel stupid. However, the first high lead reading occurred before that incident even happened... the oil that came out of the engine after that incident occurred had a lower lead content. I definitely know what you are saying, though. I'm also puzzled that the "low oil level" light never came on... Unfortunately, for the time being I will just have to use a diagnostic OP gauge, like I said before. One that I will have to hold while standing next to the car.
 
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Originally Posted By: potate311
Originally Posted By: CATERHAM
I'm also puzzled that the "low oil level" light never came on...
Fortunately you're car has a dipstick unlike the newer BMWs.
 
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I used Lucas octane booster every other fill up in my V8, lead never showed up in the UOA, Mn did though... The consensus is also unless you drive your M3 very frequently, your engine would be prone to cold start Pb wear if you run TWS. I know it's not scientific, but lots of UOA at m3post.com showed this.
 
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Originally Posted By: Leonardo629
The consensus is also unless you drive your M3 very frequently, your engine would be prone to cold start Pb wear if you run TWS. I know it's not scientific, but lots of UOA at m3post.com showed this.
That's something I've never considered: can the oil be so thick at startup that it actually causes damage to the bearing overlay? Maybe the OP could try a different oil, such as Redline 5w50, and see if the lead goes away.
 
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