A non-Ferrari Oil question - for the experts....

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by ronfrohock, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. ronfrohock

    ronfrohock F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Aug 16, 2004
    Full Name:
    Ron Frohock

    I hope you gus don't mind me asking a non Ferrari related question.

    There seems to be a bunch of oil related expertise on this site so I am hoping to see if anyone has any thoughts or recommendations on the following....

    My wife has an 04 BMW X5. I have just become aware of a consistent problem that most of the older X5's have if they are driven for shorter distances in cold weather.

    Apparently, there is a design flaw in the crankcase ventilation system that prevents condensation from burning off - out of the oil. There is a lot of information on this with a simple google search. I have read as much as I could find.

    Here's my question.....

    Is there any additive that could be used with the engine oil that would help to clear any moisture form the oil?

    Such as gas line antifreeze - but for engine oil?

    I appreciate any advice that you can provide.


    - Ron Frohock
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  3. Jamie H

    Jamie H Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Aug 28, 2009
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    Not that I am aware of. Here in Canada we have the issue that the moisture freezes and blocks the crankcase vent which causes other issues. The only real solution is to drive the vehicle more regularly. Have you tried swapping vehicles with her once or twice a week so that it gets driven longer?
  4. beast

    beast F1 Veteran

    May 31, 2003
    Lewisville, TX
    Full Name:
    Rob Guess
    About all you can do is more frequent oil changes or take the car out for a nice long drive that will get the oil temps up and help to boil moisture and gas out of the oil.
  5. haith

    haith Rookie

    Jun 7, 2008
    North Lincs, UK
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    Spot on. This is the only option. DO NOT add anything to the engine oil!
  6. ronfrohock

    ronfrohock F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Aug 16, 2004
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    Ron Frohock
    Ron Frohock
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  8. andrew911

    andrew911 F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 8, 2003
    Northern NJ
    #6 andrew911, Jan 13, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
    +1- I had a 1 mile drive to the train station from where I used to live, and one morning the car wouldn't start up or ran REALLY bad (2000 540 with 4.4 v8- either the same or similar motor to your X5 if you have the v8- if you have the I6, the same should apply...). Anyway, the car started and ran fine later in the day and I had the oil changed- the moisture that had accumulated in the oil froze something up. Anyway, since I drove the car short distances during the week (but more on the weekened) I doubled up the oil changes. The BMW service lights are supposed to factor trip length in, but I started doing the oil change after a couple of green boxes went out and told them not to re-set the gauge, then when it hits one green or one yellow I do another oil change- no problems since. My 5 day a week is still short (a couple of miles) so this seems to have solved the problem.
  9. Mitch Alsup

    Mitch Alsup F1 Veteran

    Nov 4, 2003
    Exactly right. A long drive is actually better for the engine than a change in the oil.
  10. FasterIsBetter

    FasterIsBetter F1 Veteran

    Jul 22, 2004
    NoNJ/Jupiter FL
    Full Name:
    Steve W.
    How about one of those engine block heaters that you plug in at night? They are supposed to keep the oil warm so it will flow in the morning, but should also prevent condensation as well I would think. Or at least keep the crankcase vent from freezing up and being blocked. Just a thought.
  11. vinuneuro

    vinuneuro F1 Rookie
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    May 6, 2007
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    BMW released an updated oil separator/lines in 05 or 06 that will prevent this problem. It's a pretty laborious job to replace it though.

    I dunno how much an engine block heater will help, if the logic is that having the coolant up to temperature will bring the oil up to temp quicker through the heat exchanger. It might help a little, I know both our 01 and 05 X5's took a long time for even the coolant to get up to temp, but oil takes much much longer get to up to operating temperature. The best solution would be an oil heater. I believe the most common design is a stick-on oil pan heater pad.

    Other than that, avoid short-trips if you can, otherwise take the car for a long drive once in a while. Usually when you have this problem, you'll also see the oil being milky under oil filler cap.
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  13. vinuneuro

    vinuneuro F1 Rookie
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    May 6, 2007
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    Btw, visit It's largest X5 forum, and they have ton's of information on this subject. Even a few diy write-ups on how to change the oil separator to the updated design.
  14. bpu699

    bpu699 F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Dec 9, 2003
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    Yep...just changed the oil on the x3 yesterday. The amount of condensation on the filler cap (yellow crud) was quite high... I was suprised...

    Recommend oil change interval is 15000miles? I do 8000-10,000, fully synthetic...

    How about the rest of you?
  15. AceMaster

    AceMaster Three Time F1 World Champ

    Feb 6, 2009
    Calling a penalty
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    That sounds about right
  16. 412fan

    412fan Karting

    Aug 1, 2005
    Northern Plains
    The BMW enthusiast magazines and forums uniformly condemn the extended service intervals BMW are doing now. For example, BMW used to require you to flush and fill your cooling system every two years "or else." Now they say it's a lifetime fill, even though the coolant is the same.

    Long story short, dig up the "old" service schedules for BMW and follow those, is the reco. from the enthusiasts.
  17. f355spider

    f355spider F1 World Champ
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    May 29, 2001
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    Hugh G. Rection
    #14 f355spider, Jan 14, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
    +1. I believe the update (available for other models as well, including the E39 6 cylinder cars) includes insulated oil separator lines to help reduce the condensation. Generally, this has been a problem more so in colder climates/areas along with the short trips. Told many BMW's are afflicted in the Midwest and mid/eastern parts of USA and Canada.

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