JB4tech.com - International Turbo Tuning Discussion
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Default Smoking When Coming To a Stop -- An N54 Owner's Right of Passage - 06-29-2017, 08:13 AM

Starting about two weeks ago, I started to get a bit of smoke coming out of the exhaust. This only happened when the car had reached full operating water/oil temps, had been sitting in stop-go traffic, when riding 2nd gear to a stop, and when the RPMs dipped below 1000. Smoke clouds of varying sizes, depending on conditions, would envelop the car. I initially thought it may have been a faulty flapper valve, which is why I replaced that a few weeks back. The clips had been compromised and the o-ring didn't seem to be sealing any longer. That cheap fix did not correct the smoking when coming to a complete stop.



I re-checked all the connections to the oil catch cans and verified all hoses were in the proper places. The external PCV eliminated the possibility that my PCV valve had failed. I have a BMS OCC on the high side, and the RB external PCV connected to a Mishimoto OCC on the low side.







Barring catastrophic damage, which would be unexpected as the car is running phenomenal otherwise, this left only two things that could be causing this: valve cover issues or leaking turbo seals. Injectors had been replaced with Index 12s recently and plugs were good. I removed the engine cover and inspected the valve cover for any leaks. While there didn't seem to be any obvious areas, there were some damp spots. As I'm quickly approaching 80,000 miles and over 8 years on the OEM valve cover and gasket, it's certainly a candidate for failure. At nearly $400.00 for the cover, gasket and bolts, its not a scheduled maintenance item I'd budgeted for.

At some point of my forum research for a solution to this smoke, I read about a test that involved holding the throttle around 1000-1200RPM for an extended period. To my amazement, after doing this for a bit I started seeing more smoke than ever before. I grabbed my camera and filmed this. Keep in mind that the car is fully warmed up. It will not smoke AT ALL if not fully up to temperature. No smoke under boost. Just when it passes that threshold of 1000RPM before falling back to idle. I can avoid smoking all together by throwing the car into neutral and rolling to a stop instead, which is what I've been doing in traffic to alleviate the embarrassment.



I've already purchased a new valve cover, gasket and bolts in the hopes of stopping the smoke. Those items should be here Friday and I'll be installing them Saturday to see if this corrects the problem. I'm already prepared to see the problem immediately remedied, but if turbo seals are truly the culprit, I should see the smoke when stopping come back in a week or so. The most logical explanation in my mind seems to be that the valve cover PCV inner components are gunked up or there is a crack/compromised portion of the gasket that is causing issues when the car is transitioning from boost to vacuum.

Also not burning any oil. The oil level is still at max from the last oil change.


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Default 06-29-2017, 08:44 AM

Valve guides?

can't see the video - what color is the smoke?

turbo leakage would happen more under boost. if you're on stock turbos they're probably worn, but doesn't sound like is causing the exhaust smoke.


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Connormobley Connormobley is offline
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Default 06-29-2017, 09:03 AM

Do a compression check if you haven't already, I had these same issues thinking it was my valve cover/pcv. Turns out I had 3 cylinders low on compression. I had no codes and the car was running well, just fyi.
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Default 06-29-2017, 09:41 AM

What is your exact PCV setup?


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Default 06-29-2017, 09:57 AM

These cars seem to have a smoking problem. It sounds like you've narrowed it down pretty good though, I'm curious to see your results.

Please document a step-by-step valve cover replacement. It's something I'd like to do in the future


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Default 06-29-2017, 10:17 AM

if it's oil in the exhaust, could only be rings, valve guides, or turbo.

unfortunately I'd guess one of those, since it does it warmed up - the rings and guides expand when they warm up, allow the blowby to happen.


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Default 06-29-2017, 10:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by LessIsMore
Valve guides?

can't see the video - what color is the smoke?

turbo leakage would happen more under boost. if you're on stock turbos they're probably worn, but doesn't sound like is causing the exhaust smoke.
Smoke is white (no, it's not coolant) and smells of oil and burning plastic. The turbos could most certainly be worn given the mileage and wastegate rattle I get without utilizing the wastegate rattle reduction via the JB4 or MHD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Connormobley
Do a compression check if you haven't already, I had these same issues thinking it was my valve cover/pcv. Turns out I had 3 cylinders low on compression. I had no codes and the car was running well, just fyi.
Valve guides would really be worst case scenario and this is not under any acceleration or just basic deceleration. Only when the car switches from boost to vacuum. Not that it couldn't be valve guides, but that would be completely out of the blue considering the amount of miles I have and how easy I am on the car overall.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LessIsMore
if it's oil in the exhaust, could only be rings, valve guides, or turbo.

unfortunately I'd guess one of those, since it does it warmed up - the rings and guides expand when they warm up, allow the blowby to happen.
There is no oil in the exhaust. Even when I wipe deep inside the tips, nothing other than condensation. This along with the fact that I'm not losing oil makes me lean away from turbo seal failure, even though they have 78,000 miles of use including a few at 20 psi or so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jyamona
What is your exact PCV setup?
BMS OCC on the high side. External RB PCV routed to a Mishimoto OCC on the low side. Brand new flapper valve. But still on the original valve cover and gasket with 78,000 miles of use.

Head ports not plugged. Rob recommends it but still haven't decided if I'll be doing that when replacing the valve cover.

Quote:
Originally Posted by suspenceful
These cars seem to have a smoking problem. It sounds like you've narrowed it down pretty good though, I'm curious to see your results.

Please document a step-by-step valve cover replacement. It's something I'd like to do in the future
I will be. I just did the job about two months ago on the E60 535i before I sold it, so it shouldn't be too much trouble while I'm still familiar. I will certainly document the process. It's something I'll need to do in time anyways, might as well do it now and see if it solves this smoke before digging into the turbos prematurely.


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Last edited by chadillac2000; 06-29-2017 at 11:07 AM..
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Default 06-29-2017, 11:20 AM

The only thing you could be burning that would envelop the car in smoke is oil or coolant. A cracked valve cover, other gasket issues, etc. would not do it.

Sounds like it's either rings, valves, headgasket, or turbo seals.


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Default 06-29-2017, 11:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by LessIsMore
The only thing you could be burning that would envelop the car in smoke is oil or coolant. A cracked valve cover, other gasket issues, etc. would not do it.

Sounds like it's either rings, valves, headgasket, or turbo seals.
While I'm open minded about what the problem could be, I read this all the time yet its hardly ever confirmed as rings, valves or headgasket. I 100% know its not a blown headgasket, there are zero indications of that. I see threads daily on this topic and I've only seen a handful of times its ever been confirmed as rings or valves -- I feel like I've read every smoking thread in existence over the past few weeks trying to figure out how to approach this issue.

You don't think the PCV system still inside the valve cover could cause smoke? Or that the correlation of the smoke only happening on the 1,000 RPM threshold despite whether the car is moving or not has anything to do with the PCV system?


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Connormobley Connormobley is offline
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Default 06-29-2017, 11:33 AM

Yeah its probably more likely its just your valve cover, although I speak from experience. my car let go of 3 cylinders at 42,000 miles. I didn't want to admit it at first, but the sad truth was I needed a new motor.
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Default 06-29-2017, 11:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Connormobley
Yeah its probably more likely its just your valve cover, although I speak from experience. my car let go of 3 cylinders at 42,000 miles. I didn't want to admit it at first, but the sad truth was I needed a new motor.
That would be devastating. I feel for you brother! Fingers crossed it does not come to that for me.


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Default 06-29-2017, 11:45 AM

Good luck buddy.
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Default 06-29-2017, 06:01 PM

Good luck, I'm having the same problem as well. I saw in your build thread you were in nc? What part?


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Default 06-29-2017, 07:59 PM

My bet is the turbo seals
I just popped my front turbo under WOT three days ago
Had the exact symptoms you have
That was the 4th and final time.
I just went Single turbo kit and the car will be ready on saturday
No more twin turbo heartache



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Default 06-29-2017, 09:00 PM

My car also became similar. White smoke was not issued at a low revolution speed with the engine fully warmed up. After exchanging the injector, why did not it stop. Even if smoke was discharged, the car did not go bad.


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Default 06-30-2017, 06:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Connormobley
Good luck buddy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by driverfound_
Good luck, I'm having the same problem as well. I saw in your build thread you were in nc? What part?
Thanks fellas. Valve cover arrives today, that will tell me a lot.

I'm in the Asheville area, what about you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferocious
My bet is the turbo seals
I just popped my front turbo under WOT three days ago
Had the exact symptoms you have
That was the 4th and final time.
I just went Single turbo kit and the car will be ready on saturday
No more twin turbo heartache
I wouldn't be surprised if that's ultimately what the issue is. This problem didn't arise after any type of WOT pull or any type of heavy throttle. Drove the car gingerly to work one morning and noticed the smoking when pulling up to a stop light out of no where. From then on it's been there if the conditions in my original post were met.

Definitely a good call on the ST for reliability and simplicity. I prefer the original twin setup though on all other accounts!

Quote:
Originally Posted by naoaki
My car also became similar. White smoke was not issued at a low revolution speed with the engine fully warmed up. After exchanging the injector, why did not it stop. Even if smoke was discharged, the car did not go bad.
Smoke can be caused by a plethora of things on this car. The culprit can be narrowed down depending on when exactly the car smokes. Injector smoke is usually immediately upon startup and doesn't go away.


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Default 06-30-2017, 08:33 AM

I doubt it's valve guides as that would usually cause smoke on startup, I have the same problem, though my smoke looks more blackish! I do the same coasting in neutral to a stop! What I have read around is that it's turbo seals, I to, do not have any oil consumption but my turbos are getting old. But I can't wait to hear if the valve cover fixes it, good luck!
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Default 06-30-2017, 09:06 AM

Don't you have a new set of VTTs at your disposal? Throw those in. I bet it is turbos creating the smoke, symptoms sound similar what I had. At temp big clouds coming over the wagon on decel.

If not you will at least know it's the engine.

Evan



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Default 06-30-2017, 09:16 AM

[QUOTE=chadillac2000;546107]

I'm in the Asheville area, whatabpit you?.[/QUOTE

Greensboro. I'm actually planning on going out that way the end of July.


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Default 06-30-2017, 09:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ucsbwsr
Don't you have a new set of VTTs at your disposal? Throw those in. I bet it is turbos creating the smoke, symptoms sound similar what I had. At temp big clouds coming over the wagon on decel.

If not you will at least know it's the engine.
Yes, indeed I do. Well at least $1,000 off a pair. Leaning heavily towards GC Lites, but haven't ruled out the Stage 2+ and saving some money. Been saving over the past few months, and will continue to for the next few before pulling the trigger before the 6 month timeframe of the offer expires.

I was hoping you'd chime in. I ran across your threads when researching my own problems over the past few weeks. You were case evidence that this might NOT be the valve cover as I saw you replaced yours with no effect on the smoke you were experiencing.


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Default 06-30-2017, 09:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by chadillac2000
Yes, indeed I do. Well at least $1,000 off a pair. Leaning heavily towards GC Lites, but haven't ruled out the Stage 2+ and saving some money. Been saving over the past few months, and will continue to for the next few before pulling the trigger before the 6 month timeframe of the offer expires.

I was hoping you'd chime in. I ran across your threads when researching my own problems over the past few weeks. You were case evidence that this might NOT be the valve cover as I saw you replaced yours with no effect on the smoke you were experiencing.
GC Lites look sick. They were on a pedestal in my eyes until I met up with Sam who was local at the time who just installed them on his E61 and during a demo ride with me starting smoking badly, the GCLs were removed and sent back to VTT. That shook my confidence a bit but I understand things happen, it is just unfortunate. In terms of spool, top end, and power potential for a daily I don't see it getting much better. Long term reliability TBD as with most hybrid setups.

Although valve stems are a possibility they seem like a rare occurrence on the N54 platform relative to turbos so I consider it a safe assumption until you have data supporting otherwise.

My wagon still ran fine with the smoke, I think I was around 20psi at the time but MAN was the smoke embarrassing.

Evan


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Default 06-30-2017, 10:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ucsbwsr
GC Lites look sick. They were on a pedestal in my eyes until I met up with Sam who was local at the time who just installed them on his E61 and during a demo ride with me starting smoking badly, the GCLs were removed and sent back to VTT. That shook my confidence a bit but I understand things happen, it is just unfortunate. In terms of spool, top end, and power potential for a daily I don't see it getting much better. Long term reliability TBD as with most hybrid setups.

Although valve stems are a possibility they seem like a rare occurrence on the N54 platform relative to turbos so I consider it a safe assumption until you have data supporting otherwise.

My wagon still ran fine with the smoke, I think I was around 20psi at the time but MAN was the smoke embarrassing.

Evan
Aesthetically they are beautiful and on paper they seem like exactly what I need at the moment, while still leaving plenty of room to grow if I add more fueling.

That's certainly disappointing to hear about the smoke issues immediately after installation with the set of GCLs you got to experience in person. That would be so disheartening after taking all the time to upgrade twins just to have to do it all again. While your buddy's may have not had anything to do with installation, in the defense of most of the aftermarket turbo companies, there are a lot of amateur installation jobs to blame. So many oil/coolant line gaskets, PCV system not functioning properly, compressor surge due to improper BOV/DV setup, and choice of oil & interval changes; it's a lot to keep up with. I'll be taking plenty of time and triple checking everything.

That seems to be the strangest issue with these cars -- the smoke while all other aspects of the car are unchanged and performing as expected.

Were you losing oil by any chance? I'm keeping a close eye on my levels and my oil level is still at max.


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Default 06-30-2017, 11:46 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by chadillac2000
Aesthetically they are beautiful and on paper they seem like exactly what I need at the moment, while still leaving plenty of room to grow if I add more fueling.

That's certainly disappointing to hear about the smoke issues immediately after installation with the set of GCLs you got to experience in person. That would be so disheartening after taking all the time to upgrade twins just to have to do it all again. While your buddy's may have not had anything to do with installation, in the defense of most of the aftermarket turbo companies, there are a lot of amateur installation jobs to blame. So many oil/coolant line gaskets, PCV system not functioning properly, compressor surge due to improper BOV/DV setup, and choice of oil & interval changes; it's a lot to keep up with. I'll be taking plenty of time and triple checking everything.

That seems to be the strangest issue with these cars -- the smoke while all other aspects of the car are unchanged and performing as expected.

Were you losing oil by any chance? I'm keeping a close eye on my levels and my oil level is still at max.
Sam, "SamStryker" on here I believe is the guy who has his E61 driven by Matt Farah on the Smoking Tire one takes. He is a true gear head and did the install himself at a shop he was working at, not saying that improper installation isn't possible I would just categorize it as unlikely knowing the way Sam operates. A bummer nonetheless.

Although not immediate my smoking started shortly after ditching all the c-converters so it strengthened the argument for turbos.

As for oil there was no noticeable increase in oil consumption which was funny for me as I was coming from an E39 M5 with the S62 and I would put 1 quart of oil in for every 2-3 gas fill ups, no joke. Chunks of carbon on the rear bumper.

Evan


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rkreimer10 rkreimer10 is offline
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Default 07-01-2017, 03:19 PM

I am having smoking as well. And believe it's coming from a few different things but am positive the initial problem is from bad turbo seals. I am the third owner of 150k 535i with original turbos. The seals are definitely bad on my turbos along with nasty wastegate rattle. I will be replacing them next week or soon there after with rb oems with upgraded parts. I want to log my car first and am waiting on my cable.

The reason I posted is 7k miles ago the previous owner had the valve cover and gaskets, ofhg, oil pan gasket and various cooling system parts replaced. He sold me the car with the turbos known to be bad and the main cause of the smoke.

How much oil do you collect in your low load catch can? I would plug those ports if you have to go in there. At least I plan on it when I do the valve cover and gasket again or injrctors; which I think are soon to be on the list.

Ryan
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mikeseli mikeseli is offline
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Default 07-01-2017, 07:05 PM

If it always smoke at the same exhaust and each turbo has their own exhaust pipe, in other words there is no "X" or "H" have a look at the front turbo oil drain.

The front turbo oil drain was badly designed by the factory and with time, the flex portion is restricting oil flow.
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