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      02-25-2015, 02:16 AM   #1
chicken-butt
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Unhappy Catastrophic Engine Failure on Track

My 135i Dinan died most dramatically this weekend...



I have had the car for a little over one year and it was purchased primarily as a track toy and was not my DD. It has a little over 51k miles and had around 47k when I purchased it. It is essentially a Dinan Stage 2 with Stage 3 software plus CAI, oil cooler and intercooler. No crazy tunes or meth.

I was doing a DE at NOLA Motorsports Park, which is my home track. The car was running fine when I entered a high speed Turn 8 (maybe 100ish mph?), then a short brake zone before T9 (maybe 80ish mph?). Between T8 and 9, there is a lot going on in a short amount of time. I'm in 4th gear in this section of track (4500-5000rpm, maybe a bit more??). I heard a 'ding' and glanced down to see the big check engine light on. Seconds later, as I enter T9, BOOM! I was not really rolling onto the throttle, just modulating after the brake zone and turn-in as I was planning on investigating the light and pitting.

I immediately spun on my oil and slid off the track. It was a wild ride waiting for the other cars to pass by while sliding through my oil slick. After the session was red flagged and I got out, I picked up several fistfuls of my engine from the track, including part of a rod-end cap. Near the apex of T9 was the first place I saw any evidence of oil on the track from my car.

I really had no time to react in the seconds between that ding and the kablamo. In hindsight, earlier that lap the car did hesitate briefly when I rolled on the throttle once, but seemed to recover without any lights and then seemed fine. Oil temps were fine that lap (as always), and there was no evidence of leak that morning on inspection.

I did have a major leak form an oil cooler hose late last year while at the track, but I caught this before any lights came on, but who knows if there was damage done there or not. I had a few codes last month that seemed to be o2 sensor related, but it was inspected last week and the codes could not be reproduced. Last summer it entered limp mode once but was fine after restarting. I have never over-revved, but obviously I cannot speak for the first 47,000 miles. I am the third or fourth owner. I changed the oil after every track weekend last year, and Sunday would have been my third track day since the last oil change in mid-January.

I'm not certain what I am going to do just yet. I briefly fantasized about an s65 or s85 swap, but that is probably not realistic. I'll probably find another used n54 and then do a major rebuild with whatever upgrades I can find. I have a knowledgeable friend looking at it tomorrow, then I'll talk to my mechanic. Parting it out is an option, but I really enjoy the car and I had planned on tracking it for the next few years at least until moving onto a dedicated track/race car. It was always a real sleeper at the track and I would run with many 'nicer' cars.

Anyway, it was an interesting and memorable failure, so I thought I would share. I regret that I was not running video that day. Please note, I am a car enthusiast, but I am not a mechanic or an expert, but I will try to answer any questions and give an update once a real mechanic looks it over to see if a particular source can be found. This is certainly an expensive hobby - sometimes you have got to pay to play.

Last edited by chicken-butt; 02-25-2015 at 02:49 AM.
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      02-25-2015, 03:18 AM   #2
delta-9-ginseng
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Sorry to about your car, plz keep us posted. Hopefully, it is a simple fix!
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      02-25-2015, 03:39 AM   #3
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This happened to my Z4My about 4 or 5 years ago (I no longer own i). I was on the track coming out of a highs peed corner stepped on it and heard a ding and then BOOM!!!

I ended up with a cracked block... no warning. Had to get another engine... sucks big time. Hopefully yours isn't as serious
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      02-25-2015, 03:39 AM   #4
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That sucks, glad to hear you didn't hit anything when you went for the ride though.
If I was you I would just throw in another stock motor.
Maybe put in some sump baffles first.
http://store.vacmotorsports.com/vac-...n54-p1435.aspx
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      02-25-2015, 05:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nugget View Post
That sucks, glad to hear you didn't hit anything when you went for the ride though.
If I was you I would just throw in another stock motor.
Maybe put in some sump baffles first.
http://store.vacmotorsports.com/vac-...n54-p1435.aspx
great part, but they should also made it for the N55...
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      02-25-2015, 05:40 AM   #6
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Sucks man. Sounds like maybe that oil leak from last year wasn't caught in time. I think for people that regularly track their cars... an Canton/Mecca Accusump is a worthwhile investment. www.accusump.com
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      02-25-2015, 07:37 AM   #7
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Failures are rare, and they are always oil control related. I wonder if the N54/n55's have oil starvation issues under high lateral G's?
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      02-25-2015, 08:53 AM   #8
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Gotta be oil pressure failure, particularly with bottom-end parts letting go. Sounds like the oil line failure (I had this happen in an S3-tuned N54 car) may have "weakened" some things and then the cornering force may have caused momentary starvation, which is all that's needed to blow a bearing that may have already been compromised. A baffled pan might or might not have helped here, but it's better to have it than not. Dry-sump oiling is also popular for track cars, but it'd probably be expensive to fit on an N54. I had an older 911 that came that way from the factory, and as it was air-cooled, it was probably the best way to keep the bearings lubed on the street as well as the track.
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      02-25-2015, 08:58 AM   #9
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Been heavily tracking my tuned N55 for two years now. Bought it used at 48,000Kms, and it has 71,000Kms now. Never seen a limp mode, but figured that lowering oil temps might give me a slight safety margin, so I installed a BMS oil TSTAT bypass valve. I also installed a magnetic "DIMPLE" oil drain bolt.

I let my engine idle for 5-10 minutes in the pits after each lapping session, with the hood/bonnet opened, to let everything cool down a little more.

I change my oil every 4-6 track days, or when the viscosity starts to break down (slight oil consumption as oil gets thinner due to high temp cycles). This season, I will change from Castrol Syntec 0w40 European Formula, to Motul X-cess 8100 5w-40. Im hoping the Motul oil is more shear and temperature resistant.
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Last edited by dcaron9999; 02-25-2015 at 09:08 AM.
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      02-25-2015, 09:34 AM   #10
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There were a few N54 cars a few years ago that the engine let go at the track. I think two of them were oil due to a high speed sweeping turn. I can't remember which direction. It was determined by a few that the oil wouldn't stay near the sump in that direction.
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      02-25-2015, 09:51 AM   #11
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Oil sloshing in the pan has caused a lot of different engine types to fail in track situations. Alot of "Race" built engines have a baffled oil pan, or a dry sump oil system to prevent oil starvation. I wonder if this is an opportunity to develop a baffled oil pan for the n54/n55? I'd buy one just for the piece of mind.
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      02-25-2015, 09:56 AM   #12
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Looks like VAC Motorsports have already jumped on this! A while ago too........ I wonder why this hasn't got more attention?
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=821626
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      02-25-2015, 10:00 AM   #13
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Just going through an N55 technical description PDF, regarding oil return, deflector, and oil intake snorkel. There are other enhancements to the "oil supply" in the N55. I wonder if BMW learned a few lessons from the N54...

"In the N55, the oil flowing back from the cylinder head is directed under the oil deflector. In this way, no returning oil can reach the crankshaft and cause churning losses even under high transverse acceleration conditions."
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      02-25-2015, 10:04 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delta-9-ginseng View Post
Sorry to about your car, plz keep us posted. Hopefully, it is a simple fix!
LOL are you just being an ass?
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      02-25-2015, 10:17 AM   #15
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N55 oil pan

As you can see the stock N55 oil pan has a built in Oil baffle system and windage tray. Seems they noticed a flaw in the N54 pan, which did not come with this feature.

NO EXPLAINATION
1 OIL PUMP
2 OIL RETURN DUCTS , INTAKE SIDE
3 BEDPLATE
4 OIL DEFLECTOR
5 INTAKE MANIFOLD WITH OIL SCREEN FILTER
6 OIL RETURN DUCTS , EXHAUST SIDE
Attached Images
 
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      02-25-2015, 01:00 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcaron9999 View Post
This season, I will change from Castrol Syntec 0w40 European Formula, to Motul X-cess 8100 5w-40. Im hoping the Motul oil is more shear and temperature resistant.
Motul X-cess 8100 5W-40 has solved most of my early breakdown and then consumption issues. Reduced my consumption by at least 50%. I hope you have the same, or better, experience!
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      02-25-2015, 01:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chicken-butt View Post
I have never over-revved, but obviously I cannot speak for the first 47,000 miles. I am the third or fourth owner. I changed the oil after every track weekend last year, and Sunday would have been my third track day since the last oil change in mid-January.
hence the trouble with being the "third of fourth owner"...you have no idea what that car has been before.

hope you get to the bottom of this....sucks to hear of such a catastrophic failure.
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      02-25-2015, 02:10 PM   #18
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Sorry about that
Since you have Dinan, their warranty should cover engine failure.
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      02-25-2015, 08:00 PM   #19
chicken-butt
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Thanks for the discussion so far - I like the idea of the oil pan baffle and will talk to my mechanic about it.

Here are the codes. I'm not certain which order they were triggered. I think P1328 must mean "Grenade Dedected."


Quote:
Since you have Dinan, their warranty should cover engine failure.
Way out of warranty, I'm afraid.

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by delta-9-ginseng View Post
Sorry to about your car, plz keep us posted. Hopefully, it is a simple fix!
LOL are you just being an ass?
I at least appreciate the optimism...
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      02-25-2015, 09:21 PM   #20
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Man... I'm really sorry to hear about your predicament. Glad nobody was hurt. These kinds of things can and do happen to those who aren't prepared to deal with the outcome, hopefully you will be able to deal with the financial impact of the situation. Thanks for sharing.
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      02-26-2015, 02:29 AM   #21
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Terrible news, but think of it this way: it could have been vastly worse.
We're all glad you were able to walk away from it.
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      02-26-2015, 08:22 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosozoku View Post
Terrible news, but think of it this way: it could have been vastly worse.
We're all glad you were able to walk away from it.
+1 ... its only hardware, however expensive it is ...
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