BMW cars are especially durable and high-quality vehicles, as evidenced by their continued steady clientele, recognition by car enthusiasts, and worldwide praise. Despite their exceptional design and engineering, BMWs have a few common problems amongst them that are certainly design-related. One such issue is the infamous, legendary alternator seal oil leak.
This is a well-documented problem that is frequent amongst BMW drivers all over the world, and tends to infuriate individuals who attempt to fix it; the cost of fixing this issue is often high when the price of the replacement part alone is super inexpensive. Since the problem is design-related, the options for fixing the issue are limited. In this article, we’ll go over a few basic things you should know about the issue and what you can do to fix or prevent it.
The alternator bracket seal is in place to keep oil contained within the system of your engine. If the bracket seal becomes compromised, it can leak oil which is a serious issue for performance and engine health. Unfortunately, the alternator bracket seal is a poorly-designed seal/gasket combo in BMWs that is highly inefficient- especially as the car accumulates mileage. Even if the car is well below the 50,000-mile mark the problem can come up – this indicates that the problem persists despite careful and conscientious driving habits and routine maintenance.
This problem occurs due to a design error by the manufacturer. Usually this is addressed by the company, as the replacement part is highly affordable – it’s the labor that isn’t. Furthermore, the replacement part is made of the same material as the original bracket seal, which eventually will run into the same problem once again – the bracket seal will dry out, crack, and become brittle allowing it to leak oil. We’ll get more into how to fix the problem more efficiently in a moment.
The warning signs of a failing alternator seal are nearly impossible to detect until the seal begins leaking oil; therefore, the main sign of a gasket or bracket seal leak is an oil leak. However, if you don’t notice the oil leak for some reason, you’ll eventually notice that your engine is losing oil or oil pressure. You may be warned by the instrument cluster in your dashboard via the check-engine warning light or oil-pressure light.
This problem affects many different BMW models, including such models as the X5, the 745i, the e65, and the 550i – but that’s certainly not the whole list. The reason for this is that BMW, along with many other manufacturers, streamline their production and only make slight changes between models to the engine designs. It’s important to research whether your car is at risk of developing this issue and act preventively if possible.
Chances are, if you own a BMW you may run into an oil leak due to alternator bracket seal failure. As we mentioned before, this is unfortunate because the problem is not simple to fix. To effectively fix the issue, several engine components must be removed, including a motor mount, which requires automotive expertise, a high level of skill, and time spent in labor. When the seal is replaced, it’s best to use a high quality part and add extra sealant to prevent leaking. The most unfortunate part of all of this is that the replacement seal won’t guarantee a prolonged solution, and is only a tiny fraction of the entire cost. It’s imperative that you find a shop that specializes in BMW cars and get an opinion or estimate and discuss your alternatives.
The BMW experts here at St. Matthews Imports in Louisville, KY, are familiar with the alternator bracket seal oil leak that so many BMW drivers report experiencing. We know how frustrating this issue is, and it is our mission to find a solution that will work best for you and your vehicle. If you’d like to have an inspection or diagnosis performed, please bring your BMW to our Hubbards Lane location right away.
* BMW x5 image credit goes to: ABykov.