A Tale of Two 3-Series BMWs

Q. I currently own two 3-Series BMWs; a 2001 325i with 152,000 miles, and a 2004 325xi with 91,000. When my ’01 had 100,000 miles, I was told my valve cover gasket was leaking and should be replaced, but it was not an emergency. At 105,000 miles, the check engine light came on, and the engine was running very rough. I brought it to the dealer immediately. I had to replace the crankcase vent valve, guide tube, return pipe, vent hose, ignition coil, spark plugs, and oil filter housing gasket. I also had the valve cover gasket replaced. Ten days later, I told the dealer that my ’04 occasionally had a burning smell, and they offered to check it. I was told both the valve cover gasket and the oil filter housing gasket were leaking, and had to be replaced. First, did I contribute to the huge repair bill on my ’01 by not repairing the valve cover gasket when I was first told about it leaking? Second, is it common for a 3-Series BMW to leak oil? Additionally, the ‘01 ended up back in the shop with a coolant leak. The expansion tank had to be replaced. What’s the probability that the leak was caused when they did all of the engine work?


A. I don’t believe the valve cover gasket contributed to the overall repair, I think those items were needed at the time of the repair. As the engine PCV system started to clog it caused internal pressure and the valve cover gasket started to leak. The spark plugs and ignition coil were more likely a result of normal maintenance. If you check with some of the BMW forums, you will find this to be fairly common. It is certainly possible that the expansion tank was damaged during the repair.

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