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  #1  
Old 02-16-2009, 04:48 PM
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CCV Cleanout with Pictures

Following the recent freeze up of my crank case vent (CCV) valve (and $1800 repair bill), I'm posting a few pictures. I didnít really post this as a DIY since Iím not a mechanic and Iíd like some advice from those who are more knowledgable. I'm hoping to spur on some discussion. If there is demand for a DIY, I can take some step-by-step pics next time.

The CCV is a simple diaphragm valve that vents any crank case pressure back to the intake manifold.

I drive a 2005 4.4i (N62 engine) and live in Edmonton, Canada (routine winter temps down to -15įC and as low as -30įC). As stated, the CCV recently froze and when I started the car, I overpressure the right side cylinder head cover, oil everywhere. I had my vehicle towed to the local dealer and they replaced the right side head cover and gaskets. All said and done: $1800 CDN. They installed an upgraded head cover and vent hose/valve. You'll see the difference between the new right style and old left style in my pictures.

The dealer noted that I had an extremely high amount of moisture in the engine (usually caused by short trips and excessive idling). I'm the second owner and must blame the previous owner for the moisture build-up (but alas I have to deal with it). The dealer did a hot oil change in an effort to remove some moisture. I've recently done a second hot oil change (500km after the dealer did it).

The dealer advised that I drive in manual mode and run the engine hard in an effort to build temperature and vaporize the built-up moisture.

Following my research and discussions with others, I've decided to play it safe and routinely check/clean my CCV valves in order to remove the sludge/moisture that builds up. Following the two oil changes and the harder driving, I'm still noticing sludge/moisture build up.

Anyway, here's the pics of my procedure. Note that in these pictures, you will not see a lot of white sludge (indicative of moisture), as I didn't think to pull out my camera until I cleaned most of it out. (I'll follow up with a picture of the sludge, next time I clean the valve).

If you intend to do this yourself; the standard disclaimer applies. Be confident in your skills before attempting this. I wonít be held responsible if you mess things up!

The following picture shows the 4.4i Valvetronic engine (cover removed). The right side CCV is visible. I have an upgraded right head cover which does not have an internal CCV. It is located at the midway point of the vent hose.



The following picture shows the LEFT side cylinder head cover and integral CCV. This is the stock arrangement. Most people will have this type of valve arrangement on both sides (unless youíve had a reason to replace head covers recently)



Through my experience, I havenít seen any sludge/moisture on the left side, so Iím showing the pictures related to the Right side only. First I remove the hose. No tools needed, just squeeze the end connectors and pull straight off. I carefully remove the CCV cap by prying off the plastic retaining tabs with a flat screwdriver (these are easily broken if pried too far). I normally do this with a warm engine as the retaining tabs are very brittle when cold. If you are working on the old style configuration (see my Left side pic), you have to remove the cap from the head cover. You have to get under the hood and carefully pry off the retaining tabs to get the cap off. AGAIN: be careful not the break the tabs!

Once your remove the cap, carefully extract the orange rubber diaphragm (by hand). It is soft rubber and will be easily damaged with a screwdriver. The spring sits behind the diaphragm. As stated, I already cleaned this out before taking pictures so there is no sludge/water visible. (I usually pull out about a tablespoon of white sludge from the valve housing and hoses). Itís also normal for about a teaspoon of water to pour out when I remove the hose. I blow compressed air through the hoses to get as much sludge/water out as possible.



Here is some remaining sludge for those that arenít familiar. It the same ďcheese whizĒ that some owners typically find under their oil cap. Itís just a mixture of water and oil.



Here is another pic showing the hose connection points (right valve cover and intake manifold). White sludge is visible inside both hose connections.



Now I reassemble (and repeat weekly!)

Thoughts, comments?

Matt
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:07 PM
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Hmmmm...something else must be wrong if you have to repeat this procedure weekly

Why is there excess moisture on the right side - more than the left side?
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:23 PM
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Thanks for the great pics.

Just to confirm, cylinder 1-4 is on the passenger side (right side) of the car correct? If that is the case and that cylinder head cover is the new style with the corresponding hose(s) which was issued to help fix this problem, I am very curious as to why you are getting the cheese only on the right and not on the left at all. Seems like it should be the other way around, if at all.?

Also, I am amazed as to how much you seem to be developing. How frequently are you having to clean it out? Did BMW suggest any additional solutions such as a different weight oil, block heater, garage, etc.?

BTW, what is the production date of your car and how many miles does it have? The $1800 repair bill wasn't covered under warranty?
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:05 PM
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mgruber, correct. I am finding the cheese on the right (passenger side), cyls 1-4. I have no explanation as to why I find cheese here and not on the other side. I must admit, I'm not entirely clear as to what the upgraded parts are designed to do so I can't explain the difference between left and right sides. My first thought is that the left side hose runs out of the head cover and the down and out of sight. I can't tell if it's piped into the intake or somewhere else (maybe it sees more flow and runs at a higher temp???).

The only recommendation from the dealer was to drive it hard and make sure it always gets up to operating temperature. No short trips, no idling, and a hot oil change at 1000km (I did one at 500 and I'll do another at 1000).

My warranty expired in November. I have 86,000km. I was well informed of BMW CCV and separator issues so I fought hard for some goodwill from the dealer. They contacted BMW Canada for a favor but I was denied: "no goodwill on vehicles imported from the States" (I imported from Chicago last year). Don't get me started on this rant....

In response to dkl's comment: I specifically asked the dealer if there could be a another problem contributing to the high moisture. The service rep double checked with the tech and I was told "no". They also promised to contact BMW directly to inquire as to other causes. I've heard nothing back.

If anyone has any other ideas on potential causes, please let me know!!!

A mechanic friend who works on big rigs was well aware of moisture build-up problems (and freeze ups ). He told me the moisture is notoriously hard to get rid of (but was unable to explain why). I'd love to know why an oil change doesn't do it!
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:19 PM
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An oil change removes alot of it. But its not going to remove all of it. Plus as soon as the short trips begin again, so does the sludge..You're doing the right thing by staying on top of this and cleaning the hoses. Those brutally cold temps don't help at all. I did 2 oil changes in 2 days. (Not on purpose, its a long story, but it did remove alot of sludge) I'm in a warmer climate than you so I'm waiting for spring right around the corner and I won't have this problem until probably next winter. You may also consider switching to 0w -40 oil in the coldest months. I will be switching to 0w -40 before next winter, and I expect better results. Don't get me wrong, switching to this oil doesn't mean you can drive short trips all you want and think everything is solved but it will help tremendously.
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:24 PM
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Great info thanks for the follow up. What's your production date?

Has your dealer seen this problem before, and if so to this extent?

I'd also suggest switching oil to 0W-40 or 0W-30. BMW recommends 2 such oils that meet their specs. Mobil 1 SAE 0W-40 and Castrol Syntec European Formula SAE 0W-30.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:15 PM
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My production date is 11/04.

What advantage is offered by lighter oil? Higher operating temperature?

I got the service rep to admit that this is a common problem in our climate although he was not terribly forthcoming with information. He told me that there are always a few towed vehicles sitting in the lot after a really cold weekend. I guess it's hard to get a BMW dealer to admit that "The Ultimate Driving Machine" isn't so Ultimate when you live in a cold climate!
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:29 PM
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Just wanted to know, because cars made up to 9/2004 have 2 hoses to replace and not just 1.

Based on the temps you see a 0 weight oil would be preferable to the 5 weight for less wear. Not sure if it will help directly but getting it to flow easier and up to operating temp I would suspect would help at least cut down the amount of moisture at least a little bit. In that regard a block heater of some sort would help a little too. Remember what you want is to avoid getting the CCV stuck (open or closed) from the accumulation of moisture or cheese or whatever. My guess as to why BMW redesigned the cylinder head cover (the new one is called an "optimized" cylinder head cover!) is that the CCV was integrated into the head cover making it harder to access, clean, replace and maybe even more prone to outright failure/clogging. By creating an external CCV connected to insulated hoses they are probably not so much fixing the problem completely (though I could be wrong) but making it less likely to happen as the hoses probably don't get as cold as the cylinder head itself, as well as easier to access for cleaning or outright (cheaper) replacement.

Sometimes the BMW parts guys are more forthcoming with honest info then the service guys. Have you dealt with Bavaria BMW up there?

If I hear anything else on the topic, I'll be sure to let you know.

Last edited by X5 Meister; 03-03-2009 at 02:22 AM.
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seabass
I'd love to know why an oil change doesn't do it!.....

What advantage is offered by lighter oil? Higher operating temperature?
A lighter oil (the first number in the viscosity) will flow better at very low ambient temperatures. There is no difference at operating temperature, that is related to the second number in the oil viscosity. That's it. It has no connection with the condensate you are seeing in your oil, that isn't coming from the oil. The condensate (it is not called sludge, which is very different, and it is not cheese either) is from moisture in the air, that condenses inside the engine. When you start it up cold, that moisture combines with the oil. Every start/stop and hot/cold cycle produces more condensation. Normally, if the engine gets good and hot, the moisture boils off after a while, on each trip. Then, you have no problems. If you have lots of short trips, with no long trips mixed in, the condensate doesn't boil off, and builds up over time. Enough of it produces an emulsion of oil and water that has a pasty consistency, but all it is is oil and water mixed. Because it contains water, it can freeze. Because it is semi-solid, it doesn't flow and therefore it clogs up the separator. More frequent oil changes help. Some specific oil blends may have better performance at holding it in suspension, but that is because of the different oil, not the different weight of the oil. Oil doesn't affect operating temperature, that is regulated by the engine.

Best bet is a series of hot oil changes (not too close together), followed by driving it sufficiently long to get it good and hot every now and then, if you can't do it on every trip. A heated garage probably wouldn't hurt, but short of that there isn't a lot you can do. Some people have suggested block heaters, but they don't address this issue and you would have to heat the entire block continuously, not just immediately prior to startup. That would get expensive.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:39 AM
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Thanks to all for the great discussion and feedback.

Anyone have any thoughts as to why I only see the moisture/cheese on the right side and not the left?
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