BMW 3 series valve cover gasket perhaps?


Active Member
Hi, I have a feeling that my valve cover gasket may need replacing on my 2004 318i Tourer. It has covered 66K miles and has a full BMW service history; it has recently undergone its Inspection 2 service.

There are no visible signs of an oil leak (no puddles on the drive; no oil in the engine bay; it is nice and clean under the filler cap and on the dipstick and there is no smoke; in fact, the car runs as sweet as a nut) but when I start the car there is a definite but short term whiff of burning oil. It can also be smelt at the end of a journey when I turn the engine off or briefly when at a standstill; looking under the bonnet after a journey I can't see any leaks.

Having searched a number of forums and posts, it would seem that a common issue is a 'worn' valve cover gasket, hence my enquiry as to the cost of this to be replaced a an indy or a main dealer, or whether there is another theory to the smell.

Are there any other possible theories that may explain this issue before I engage the services of an indy or main dealer??

Thanks in advance, Nick


Active Member
Are you getting a puff of smoke from the exhaust when you start the engine, or is it just an odour coming through the air vents?
If it's just an odour try and have a look round the exhaust manifold where it's attached to the cylinder head, if your valve cover gasket if leaking that's the most likely place to heat up quickly enough to burn the oil when you first start the car.

As I first read your post I was thinking valve stem seals, rather than valve cover gasket, that's an easy way to burn oil without it needing to leak out anywhere. But a bit more unlikely with a car of your age and mileage.

You need to get a good torch and have a good look around.


Active Member
Update...........I think I have identified the source of the suspected oil leak as coming from around the vacuum pump towards the rear of the engine near the bulkhead. Whilst the engine was cold this morning I had a feel around (around the valve cover gasket and around the exhaust manifold) and felt some slight oiliness near the area of the vacuum pump.

My local indy suspects as much and says it is a fairly common occurence on my engine :-(

It'll go in next week for it to be diagnosed for certain. ££ ouch!


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