Does filter catch most damaging metal flakes?

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Feb 14, 2022
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I recently had a component in my VANOS on my E45 M3 go bad, oil pump disc bearings disintegrated.

I switched off the engine as soon as I noticed the problem, but not sure how long it was going on for before it failed. All the debris has found it’s way into the oil pan now, but when I looked at the oil filter, I could see small metal fragments on the outside of the filter.

The post filter oil looks ok to the naked eye, but under a microscope I can see tiny particles of metal.

Question is, how dangerous are the fragments that have managed to get through the filter?

I plan to do a bottom end strip down of the engine, clean out oil pan and oil pump. Going to change rod bearings, but with engine in the car can’t change mains.

Try to clear out any visible debris, then run it in fresh oil idling for 30 mins then drop the oil and put in fresh oil and filter. Run that for 100 miles or so then change again.

Do you think that would be enough to flush out any remaining fine metal particles before the destroy anything major?
 
How did you know a component had failed on your VANOS? When my VANOS went bad, it seems that only seals had failed. It was porpoising when stony cold, even stalling occasionally.

Had it rebuilt under warranty. There was no talk of metal fragments.
 
There was a hole in the rocker cover exposing the timing chain.

I have removed timing cover and VANOS unit, all the radial bearings and retaining ring for the oil pump disk have simply disappeared and the housing is severely scored.

The broken bits went between the timing chain and sprocket resulting in broken off sprocket teeth.

I can rebuild all that, have a. We VANOS and sprockets, need new timing chain etc.

But my concern is that after doing all that and cleaning out oil pan and bottom end, will I still have damaging microscopic metal flakes in the oil that got through the filter, or are those small enough to be flushed out.
 
If the particles made it thru the filter media they are probably small enough not to be an issue. There not much you can do unless you completely remove and disassemble the engine completely down to a bare block and clean every oil passage etc. At that point it would be much cheaper to replace the entire motor.
 
Get the highest efficiency oil filter you can find, run several short OCIs (of the same interval), see if the metal levels decrease. If not, (as said above) the only alternative is tear down & hot tank everything.
 
If I run several short OCIs under very low loading, could I get away with a slightly lower grade of oil?

The E46 M3 uses Castrol Edge 10w60 which is about £100 per oil change!

I normally have the oil Analysed for metals each oil change, so that would help show if the metal content is reducing, and also if there is any damage to rod or main bearings.
 
He can run XW40. 10W60 sheares down to 40 anyway. This is one of the greatest debates among S54 owners, running 10W60 or 5W50 like Redline etc.
Mobil1 5W50 is good option if cost effective for shorter runs.


Doesn’t he have to worry about leftover metal fragments in the engine?
 
So to me its sounding like you cut the filter to inspect its insides is that statement consistant with what you did?
Yes correct, but didn’t need to cut it as it is a cartridge filter.
 

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As we see in the oil filter section here, a filter catches break in material. An internal failure would probably release more metal though. Definitely drop the pan for peace of mind.

*When I did the lower intake manifold gaskets on my truck, I was worried about junk getting in the engine. I did an oil and filter change 3 days in a row with some highway miles followed by 2 weekly changes. Dumped the oil hot so everything was still in suspension as I imagine the oil was just as filthy as the filter.
 
If I run several short OCIs under very low loading, could I get away with a slightly lower grade of oil?

The E46 M3 uses Castrol Edge 10w60 which is about £100 per oil change!

I normally have the oil Analysed for metals each oil change, so that would help show if the mtetal content is reducing, and also if there is any damage to rod or main bearings.
You could likely use anything as long as you kept it to 50% Max Throttle and 50% Max RPM. I would use the cheapest 15W-40 HDEO from Walmart as long as isn't going to cold soak at extreme temps. If so use Rotella T6 5W-40.
 
Yes good filters will catch particles that cause immediate damage. The particles that get through will take hundreds of thousands of miles to wear out the engine, assuming good maintenance practices. Get that thing put back together and I bet it will run tops. I think 1 short-interval rinse would suffice. Probably a good idea to take it easy during that rinse.
 
Yes good filters will catch particles that cause immediate damage. The particles that get through will take hundreds of thousands of miles to wear out the engine, assuming good maintenance practices. Get that thing put back together and I bet it will run tops. I think 1 short-interval rinse would suffice. Probably a good idea to take it easy during that rinse.
That sounds like a good plan, I think just to be extra cautious I will run lot of cheap oil through it just idling on the drive and dump that as a sort of flush, then put in the proper stuff, take it easy for a bit and do a shirt interval oil change and get it analysed.

I’m going to do rod bearings while I’m in there anyway, so can check if anything has got into the shells, maybe worth pulling the caps off the mains and check those too, can then flush out as much old oil in crankshaft oil ways. Just trying to get it as clean as I can, maybe strip and rebuild oil pump as that would have had unfiltered oil through it and might have been damaged by some larger fragments.
 
The 77 454 in my sig ate the cam some of which is throughout the engine. I consider it done and am looking into a change of direction maybe a 6.2 or reinstalling a 327 that was in this truck for 10 years.
 
I think this is an Instance where a motor flush product is a good idea. Maybe 10 or 20 minutes idiling in park and then dumped and filled with a fresh oil/filter change then a very short interval and changed again with normal oil choice and an efficient filter and then just go on.
 
Thanks, I did consider using a flushing product it heard so many people saying not to use them as they dissolve a lot of gunk that can get into and block small passages.
I planned on doing the process you suggested but instead of a flushing oil to use a cheaper grade oil for the “flush”
Would a flushing product be better at flushing out metal particles than a flushing oil, thought the flushing oil uses chemicals to dissolve built up sludge, so more for engines that have been neglected and are pretty dirty.
Happy to give it a go if it’s better than using regular oil, not too bothered about sludge build up, my engines pretty clean inside as it’s always had regular oil changes.
 
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