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Thread: Yellow/brown goop on oil cap...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Portland, OR
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    Unhappy Yellow/brown goop on oil cap...

    Doing a routine oil check (yellow oil light came on) I checked the oil and it was near the bottom of the notch on the dipstick, so I was going to add a quart to get it to the top of the notch. I twisted the oil cap, which was way harder than I remember in the past, and upon pulling it off there was this yellow/brown sludge all over the cap and a little inside the top of the engine... There's none on the dipstick or anything, only the top where the cap is.

    I added a quart like I had planned, then I also checked my coolant fluid to see where it was at and it was still at the normal level.

    When I backed the car out to get some sunlight over it, I noticed a small puddle of reddish/orange fluid on the ground more towards the passenger side of where the engine was. My car had never had any leaks before, so I have no clue what's going on.

    Also, not sure if this is related, but the other day when I got home and out of the car I noticed this weird smell. It was like the smell if you get something stuck in a carpet vacuum for too long -- like a burnt smell. I thought it was coming from the engine area and I checked all my belts, but nothing looked out of place and I couldn't really pinpoint the origin any further.


    Any ideas what may be causing all of this? And how much is it going to cost me to fix



    2004 330Ci Mystic Blue Metallic on Alcantara | BMW CCA Oregon Chapter

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
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    Not pretty...
    How many miles on oil? which oil?
    Sending a sample for analysis would be the easiest way to tell if something's going on: (well worth the $20 or $30 bucks I think):
    http://www.blackstone-labs.com/
    2005 AW ZHP Coupe. CW, Alcantara, Leather st. wheel, HK, Xenons, Step, Dinan chip & air box, USASpec, Sprint Booster


  3. #3
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    Jun 2012
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    The red stain is more than likely power steering fluid the hoses for the units are a common source for leaks. As for the yellow oil residue mine had the same from what i remember it has to do with the car not getting properly warmed up all the way during the winter from making short trips. I could be wrong and someone has a much more detailed explanation as to the cause but that is all i can remember at the moment.
    The smell sounds like you may have an oil leak somewhere. Check around the exhaust manifold and see if you have any oil residue on it that is more than likely leaking out from the head gasket and down onto the manifold.

    '01 330i

  4. #4
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    +1 ^^
    Short trip driving and not burning off condensation residue from oil completely can cause goop like that - I'd take the car car out on the hwy for an hour or 2 at around 80 mph, get the oil changed ASAP, and then repeat. (In addition to sending off a sample of the current oil for analysis)
    Last edited by Washburn; 12-23-2012 at 01:35 PM.
    2005 AW ZHP Coupe. CW, Alcantara, Leather st. wheel, HK, Xenons, Step, Dinan chip & air box, USASpec, Sprint Booster


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, OR
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    The oil was changed on 11/22, along with a new oil filter, and it's only been 1104 miles since then. I change it every 6-8k miles depending on usage. The car's only had BMW Full Synthetic SAE 5w-30 in it the last year and a half.

    My work commute is very short.. it's maybe 10ish miles (10-15min). So the car isn't driven much during the week.

    The power steering fluid reservoir was changed out a few months ago and I was checking it regularly to see if anything was leaking. We spilled a little onto the bottom plastic guard plate (?) during the install, so maybe the rain is slowly moving that excess fluid to my garage floor.

    The smell was the first time I've ever smelt that before. I'll keep checking for oil leaks though. The VCG was replaced last year around this time.

    I'll send a sample off for analysis and see what they say.
    2004 330Ci Mystic Blue Metallic on Alcantara | BMW CCA Oregon Chapter

  6. #6
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    I wouldn't be concerned over the oil cap.

    That's common for short-commute cars. A nice long highway/higher rpm drive will go a long way to clearing that up. I'd be more concerned that that same crap is starting to clog up your ccv. would definitely get her out for a nice spirited or highway drive and get her nice and hot to burn that stuff off.

    +1 on the power steering fluid. I would drop the splash shield and clean it up so you can easily spot any fresh leaks on there and then just keep an eye on your fluid levels.
    -Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
    ZHP Pre-Ride Briefing

    2005 ZHP, Alcantara, Silver Cube, Nav, Sharked, BMW Perf Intake, BMW Perf CF Strut Brace, CF Valve/Fuel Rail Covers, Shadowline Grills, CF Splitters, Fog Light Inserts, LED Interiors/Plate Lights, Euro-mirrors, CDV Delete, Beisan vanos, GAS DISA, BP Coded

    2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Q4; Sport Package, CW Package, Nav, Sunroof

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by kayger12 View Post
    That's common for short-commute cars.
    The 325Ci and this current ZHP that I have now are both auto DDs for me and they've never even looked close to that though....
    At most, the cap will have gritty/grimy brown residue that can be easily wiped off with a towel but neither of mine ever looked like that.
    My average commute is only about 7 miles. But I do move back and forth a lot but still, all short distances.

    Should I be worried or was I just lucky?
    (The 325Ci had about 125,000 miles on it and was still fine.)

  8. #8
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    The so-called BMW mayo is normal on the cap. It happens on short-commute cars, in colder weather, where condensation builds up in that chamber and isn't burned because the engine doesn't have time to warm up properly. Mine looked like this this morning, and I went skiing today (100 miles each way) and it's back to normal.

    You have head gasket issues when there's oil in your expansion tank, or mayo on your dipstick.

    That leak definitely looks like PS fluid. Can you remove the splash shield and see if you can find a path? It's 8-10 screws.
    Alex '03 Imolarot BMW 330i ZHP - 6MT


    Drivetrain: 3.46 Diff | Borla Catback | Gruppe M CAI | CDV Delete | 330d SSK
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKO_ZHP View Post
    The 325Ci and this current ZHP that I have now are both auto DDs for me and they've never even looked close to that though....
    At most, the cap will have gritty/grimy brown residue that can be easily wiped off with a towel but neither of mine ever looked like that.
    My average commute is only about 7 miles. But I do move back and forth a lot but still, all short distances.

    Should I be worried or was I just lucky?
    (The 325Ci had about 125,000 miles on it and was still fine.)
    I think it's just a matter of getting a look at the cap at the right time.

    You need a bunch of short distance runs in colder weather.

    I did the same thing with my old 325. Had looked at the cap a bunch of times and never saw much.

    Then one time I pull it off and it looks like the one you posted- I had a heart attack and started googling the crap out if it.

    Even after reading that it was normal I was still convinced I had a problem.

    It wasn't until I pulled the valve cover off to do the vanos and saw that the top end was fine that I relaxed about it.

    Sent from my kick-A Galaxy S3
    -Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
    ZHP Pre-Ride Briefing

    2005 ZHP, Alcantara, Silver Cube, Nav, Sharked, BMW Perf Intake, BMW Perf CF Strut Brace, CF Valve/Fuel Rail Covers, Shadowline Grills, CF Splitters, Fog Light Inserts, LED Interiors/Plate Lights, Euro-mirrors, CDV Delete, Beisan vanos, GAS DISA, BP Coded

    2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Q4; Sport Package, CW Package, Nav, Sunroof

  10. #10
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    I had this concern a while back. When I did my Vcg my worries were relieved.

    Clean as a whistle for 195k

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk 2

    '01 330i

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