Looking for some advice- weird looking oil

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Nov 18, 2021
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Hi guys

Last week I bought a 2006 BMW 330i (N52). Got it home and changed the oil. Noticed that it was behaving weirdly, different from my previous euro cars. Kind of stumped as to what is going on in the engine. I also changed the oil again after a short time (150 miles or so) and the behavior is about the same. Attached are videos of what is going on. Found no metal in either engine oil filter. Engine runs smooth with no alarming noises. Occasional ticking on cold starts, seems as though the N52 suffers from lifter failure. Once warm the engine is always free of noises. The history I received with the car suggests that oil changes were regular at about every 10k miles. The videos show the 'latte art' behavior. The oil fill this round was Liqui Moly Leichtlauf High Tech 5w40. Looking for any possible explanation for the behavior, or if I'm just being paranoid.



 
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That looks like milk shake. How is your oil filter housing gasket (OFHG)? Does yours have heat exchanger on oil filter housing?
Hiw is coolant looking? Any milkshake in coolant reservoir?
N52 doesn’t suffer from lifter failure, but until 2008 they had sometimes noise lifters. Italian tun up resolves that.
Castrol Edge 0W40 is oil to go in N52. It quites down lifters at start.
Now, here is where you have to pay attention. N51/52/53/54/55 engines are known to eat serpentine belt if it breaks. If belt is damaged or tensioner (usually due to neglected leak on OFHG) they snap or tensioner fails and belt is sucked in through front crank seal. If that happened on that engine you are screwed. Maybe they patch it, fished out belt pieces. What happens is that belt blocks oil passages which then grenades rod bearings.
So look for any belt pieces in oil.
 

ktish

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Coolant appears clear. No oil cooler. OFHG was reportedly replaced once already.
 
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Sounds like the seller dumped it before the engine blows.
It could be deceiving bcs light. He says not metal particles.
N52 rod bearings are very stout and not prone to failure like in N54/55 due to botched OFHG replacement.
But if there are metal particles, my money is on serpentine belt failure.
 

ktish

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It could be deceiving bcs light. He says not metal particles.
N52 rod bearings are very stout and not prone to failure like in N54/55 due to botched OFHG replacement.
But if there are metal particles, my money is on serpentine belt failure.
Yeah I've not found a single convincing metal 'particle' to point me towards rodbearings or something else with the root cause being oil starvation. Oil changes were documented with a longer service interval than I would have personally liked, but they do exist. The light is pretty deceiving, same oil sample just no light. In my own attempts at sleuthing, I would say that this video is the most similar (that I have found), but both oil samples I removed from the vehicle didn't have any chunks or anything I could point to as being large enough to be a discernible particle. It is just exhibiting the pearlescent like behavior and then it all settles back when not disturbed.

Funny you mention the N54/N55, I had an N55 135i which had beautiful UOA's prior to me selling that car. In fairness, never had it apart to swap out any gaskets or seals, miles were low enough to where the car didn't need them. But there seems to be a growing body of cases for bearing failure shortly after more in depth services like OFHG on those motors.
 
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Yeah I've not found a single convincing metal 'particle' to point me towards rodbearings or something else with the root cause being oil starvation. Oil changes were documented with a longer service interval than I would have personally liked, but they do exist. The light is pretty deceiving, same oil sample just no light. In my own attempts at sleuthing, I would say that this video is the most similar (that I have found), but both oil samples I removed from the vehicle didn't have any chunks or anything I could point to as being large enough to be a discernible particle. It is just exhibiting the pearlescent like behavior and then it all settles back when not disturbed.

Funny you mention the N54/N55, I had an N55 135i which had beautiful UOA's prior to me selling that car. In fairness, never had it apart to swap out any gaskets or seals, miles were low enough to where the car didn't need them. But there seems to be a growing body of cases for bearing failure shortly after more in depth services like OFHG on those motors.

So N54/55 with oil cooler must have oil pump primed. BMW mechanics per TIS must do priming after OFHG replacement. If not, rod bearings might fail.
I think you should get Castrol Edge 0W40, change it, call it a day. After 2,000 miles do another change and run 5k, than do change and UOA.
 
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That was my thought as well, but I was having a hard time discerning whether it was glitter or something else in that 2nd video and thought that if there was another possibility, you'd likely be familiar with it.
First thing we do is remove the oil filter. If we see glitter like that in the oil filter housing, we just put the filter back in and put the car outside.
 
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First thing we do is remove the oil filter. If we see glitter like that in the oil filter housing, we just put the filter back in and put the car outside.
That's exactly what my wifes Accord looked like a couple years back when it pushed out the balance shaft seal and she drove about 15 miles with no oil....in July....in Georgia. (Talk about your stomach and heart just cratering) No huge chunks, but the oil looked identical to OP's vids. Nothing to be done at that point but the short change the oil a couple of times and see what happens. By some miracle it didn't make horrific noises and seemed to run fine, and she was driving it 4 months later when they got plowed by a box van and we'll never know how far that 320,000 mile F23A1 might have survived.

I'd imagine german engines are somewhat less forgiving though when they get around to making that kind of metal.
 
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Maybe run a magnet thru the old oil and see what it picks up? Do a few short OCIs with new filters, and see if it improves. That's a low-cost option.

I'm not a mechanic and completely unfamiliar with BMWs. I'll likely never own one...
 
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Maybe run a magnet thru the old oil and see what it picks up? Do a few short OCIs with new filters, and see if it improves. That's a low-cost option.

I'm not a mechanic and completely unfamiliar with BMWs. I'll likely never own one...
My take too. Few oil changes with M1 0W40 to clean stuff up.
If nothing improves, my money is on chewed up serpentine belt prior to sale.
These engines are basically indestructible unless serpentine belt snaps or tensioner fails. It happens bcs. oil gets on belt or tensioner or never changed.
 
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My take too. Few oil changes with M1 0W40 to clean stuff up.
If nothing improves, my money is on chewed up serpentine belt prior to sale.
These engines are basically indestructible unless serpentine belt snaps or tensioner fails. It happens bcs. oil gets on belt or tensioner or never changed.
I'm confused, I'll admit I know little about that particular motor, but how is a serpentine belt failure going to put metal in the oil?
 
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