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  • Oil change reveals tiny metal flakes...

    Just did an oil change yesterday and was very surprised to see very tiny metal flakes in the oil, almost like metallic paint. Now I知 wondering what to do. I have noticed a more metallic sound to the valves (might be my imagination) recently but I did a full valve shim adjustment barely 2000 miles ago.

    I just removed the valve cover and had a look - no sign of metal flakes at all, but I did run the engine for a couple of minutes after the oil change.

    Of course the car is now parked . I値l take apart the oil filter now to double check and I guess I値l start stuffing cash under the mattress for a rebuild.. so happy I just renewed my mortgage at a ridiculous monthly payment to pay it off ASAP. :-(

    Very depressing since winter finally ended and the car has been on the road for less than a month and it痴 only done 200 miles.

    Anyone experience this?

  • #2
    Don't run the car, it's most likely your rod bearings failing. You might be able to get away with just replacing the bearings if you caught it very early, but if you continue driving it you're going to need that mattress full of cash.
    Last edited by Mick; 05-22-2019, 03:35 AM.

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    • #3
      Just took apart the oil filter and guess what? Absolutely no metal flakes! Nothing.

      I think I know what happened.

      A month ago I drained the transmission oil out of my parents e46 - as it had a leak and I thought it might be the pan gasket. Turns out the transmission (automatic) had grenaded itself - pump was actually seized and required a complete rebuild. I had used the same drain pan. My dad had cleaned it up and put it in a garbage bag and I pulled it out without looking it over before draining the M3痴 oil - that痴 more than likely where the metal flakes came from.

      Of course, now I知 paranoid - there was a bit of metallic sludge on my magnetic drain plug.

      Thoughts?

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      • #4
        Pics of the oil?

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        • #5

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          • #6
            Top pic of oil drained from the filter.. I値l get one from the drained batch shortly.

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            • #7
              Upon closer inspection of the oil filter I知 finding some of these little flakes - not metallic though. I tried to take a better pic of the oil but it looks no different than the pic above..

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              • #8
                If it is the rod bearings wouldn稚 there be metal in the filter?

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                • #9
                  Get a Blackstone oil analysis.
                  1990 M3

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                  • #10
                    Very VERY tiny pieces of metal in the oil....more like sparkles than flakes....are very common. It is like when you pull a magnetic drain plug on a tranny or a diff....usually it will have a coating of metal dust. Same if you have a magnetic oil pan plug.... The fact is, in the process of running, metal things like engines and transmissions are always in the process of wearing slightly, and the fine dust is the by-product. Not a cause for alarm.

                    Flakes of metal are a completely different thing....and are pretty solid evidence that something is about to fail in a major way (or already has). Most typical in engines is copper flakes from failing bearings. Pieces of metal suspended in oil are kind of difficult to identify, because the amber tint of the oil tends to make them all look like copper.

                    To ease your mind, an analysis of your oil certainly cannot hurt anything.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Split_S View Post
                      Just took apart the oil filter and guess what? Absolutely no metal flakes! Nothing.

                      I think I know what happened.

                      A month ago I drained the transmission oil out of my parents e46 - as it had a leak and I thought it might be the pan gasket. Turns out the transmission (automatic) had grenaded itself - pump was actually seized and required a complete rebuild. I had used the same drain pan. My dad had cleaned it up and put it in a garbage bag and I pulled it out without looking it over before draining the M3痴 oil - that痴 more than likely where the metal flakes came from.

                      Of course, now I知 paranoid - there was a bit of metallic sludge on my magnetic drain plug.

                      Thoughts?
                      I had this happen to me before. I changed trans fluid and then changed my oil a few days later and noticed flakes. I changed my rod bearing for piece of mind but the flakes definitely weren't from my bearings. The bearings I removed looked great.

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                      • #12
                        An oil analysis would be great if I trusted that my oil wasn稚 contaminated by my drain pan. Now my engine is full of fresh oil. Perhaps I should redrain it and have a look again and take the oil pan off and have a look see there. Ironhead you池e giving me hope. It was definitely tiny metal dust mostly but also some tiny flakes. Still, I have to be exceedingly cautious.

                        Im in Montreal and there is no one local that I know of whom I壇 trust for a rebuild. Getting it done in the US adds near 30% to the cost thanks to the exchange rate. No thanks. Besides the fact I haven稚 begun to set $ aside for it.

                        She might be sitting for quite a while... :-(

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                        • #13
                          I'm a BMW tech and the amount of metal we see in oil filter caps is scary. Personally if there are no other symptoms, I would think it's ok. I would have an oil pressure gauge fitted (should anyway as these motors are expensive) and monitor pressure, drive for a few 100kms (so long as there is no knocking noises) and then do another oil change and check the oil and filter again.

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                          • #14
                            Looks all good to me, I think some of those particles in the filter element will be carbon and possibly dislodged gasket material.
                            I would refill with Diesel oil and take it for a short drive and drop it out in to a clean container for close examination. The diesel oil with the higher detergent will flush any contaminants out when you pull the drain plug and if there is anything going on it should show in the drain container.
                            Dave

                            E30 M3 1987
                            Mini Clubman GT
                            BMW E36 323 Msport
                            Toyota Corona
                            KTM 200EXC
                            Honda CB50 (1979)

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ironhead View Post
                              Very VERY tiny pieces of metal in the oil....more like sparkles than flakes....are very common. It is like when you pull a magnetic drain plug on a tranny or a diff....usually it will have a coating of metal dust. Same if you have a magnetic oil pan plug.... The fact is, in the process of running, metal things like engines and transmissions are always in the process of wearing slightly, and the fine dust is the by-product. Not a cause for alarm.

                              Flakes of metal are a completely different thing....and are pretty solid evidence that something is about to fail in a major way (or already has). Most typical in engines is copper flakes from failing bearings. Pieces of metal suspended in oil are kind of difficult to identify, because the amber tint of the oil tends to make them all look like copper.

                              To ease your mind, an analysis of your oil certainly cannot hurt anything.
                              /\/\/\

                              This.

                              Engines wear and the material which wears away doesn't just disappear. The first oil change after my rebuild, the magnetic sump plug looked like a Christmas tree.
                              Sport Evo No.47

                              My Sport Evo Restoration

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