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Thread: Is my E32 730i burning oil?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Gold Coast, Australia
    My Cars
    1988 BMW 730i

    Is my E32 730i burning oil?

    Hi all,

    I have a 1988 E32 730i in Australia which was a UK import in the mid 90s. The car had been sitting for about 2 - 3 years in my garage without any service and hasn't been driven during that time. Recently, I've had too much spare time on my hands, and have been trying to fix it up to get it into roadworthy condition so i can re-register it (It hasn't been registered since 2017). Everything works and it drives fine; though the steering does need to be adjusted and the wheels need to be aligned - but these aren't problems i'm worried about.

    The car still has it's oil from the last time it was serviced 2 - 3 years ago. The oil level was right at the maximum line when i checked it BEFORE turning on the car for the first time.

    Last night, i turned it on and ran it for about 10 minutes to see if there would be any leaks and just to see how it'd go after such a long time. I revved the engine for fun just a little bit too. After this 10 minutes i checked the oil level again. To my surprise, the level on the dipstick had dropped a considerable amount. Say, roughly 3 - 4 millimeters lower, and was at about 7/8 level now. There seems to be no leakages anywhere, as i opened the engine and it was very clean and there was 0 sign of oil spillage anywhere. I had a very deep look.

    At this point i'm thinking perhaps its something internal? Or perhaps is it normal for oil to drop a little bit after the car has been sitting for quite a long time? I'd sure like to hope its something ordinary, as i wouldn't want to spend considerable $$$$ for an engine rebuild or to replace the piston rings.

    Any thoughts and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    My Cars
    11/88 E32 750iL+98 E36M3
    I will move this to the E32 forum, where all the E32 owners are active and can help you.
    For sure after some year all oil inside the engine was in the oil pan and now after you started the engine it lubricated all channels inside the whole engine, and that it goes down into the pan again, that takes some time.
    Also the oil filter housing will now again be full of oil, probably in the 3 years it leaked down into the pan. Check the oil filter housing, should be full now. Also when after the start the engine oil light is on, this is a sign that the check valve inside the oil filter housing is not good, a common problem on the M30.
    On some models, the return valve in the oil filter housing fails with time, thus making oil run out after stopping the engine, instead of keeping it in the housing. While not a critical problem, it results in the engine needing up to five seconds to build up proper oil pressure upon engine start. BMW replaced the oil filter housing with a more durable valve around 1991.

    I would watch it first and drive more, maybe you change the oil after so many years the engine did not run as well as the oil filter.
    Last edited by shogun; 05-15-2019 at 08:13 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    My Cars
    11/88 E32 750iL+98 E36M3
    From Gale's old post on bimmer info dt 08-2005: I posted a few days ago how it was my turn for the classic "low oil pressure" due the check valve in the bottom of the oil filter cannister not closing all the way and letting the oil drain down overnite. Guess mine was the extreme case since it would bleed down in less than an hour. Sticker shock at BMA, their best price for a new "dealer-only" cannister is $379 -- time to take mine off & do some investigation. They come out of a 7 without removing the alternator with the use of a swivel. Mine is the newer "improved" style cannister, they're not supposed to fail. What happened is excess oil pressure caused the entire stamped sheetmetal seat to pop out of the cannister. It was tilted up about 1/8" on the left side, held in place by only 4 "stakes". I was able to tap the seat back down where it belongs by slipping a 17mm thinwall socket into the recess. You can see I got a little happy with adding more stakes:
    So far, so good with the oil pressure light going out only a few seconds after starting after sitting for an hour. The true test will be if it holds overnight. I confess I was the cause of the failure, I took the car to the track a week ago & exceeded redline more often than not -- shame on me, must have popped the seat out of the cannister during a wild downshift going into one of the turns.

    The oil cannister check valve problem, if you have the problem, will not affect starting behaviour. With a leaky oil cannister check valve, the oil will drain out of the cannister after sitting for awhile and the next time you start it, the oil light will stay on for a long time, until the cannister fills back up, starving oil flow to bearings, etc. It might even flash a "low oil pressure -- see owner's manual" message. Mine did that for about a week until I tackled the fix, and what I did was do several short bursts of starting/stopping the engine to fill the cannister up before letting the engine develope power.
    Particularly on the M30 engine, when you fire up the engine after it's been off for a while it takes a long time (10 - 15 sec) for the oil light to go off. If it gets bad enough the "engine oil press" warning message comes on (I think that's the text it shows).
    Parking with the nose of the car down hill can make the light go off faster. Usually you have to buy the $300+ canister to really fix it, as you can't buy just the broken valve and junkyard ones are often bad too.

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