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BMW 3-Series and 4-Series Forum (F30 / F32) | F30POST > Technical Forums > N20, N26, B46, B48 Turbo Engine / Drivetrain / Exhaust Modifications > N20 smokes on startup after sitting
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      07-27-2015, 10:47 AM   #1
bradleyland
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N20 smokes on startup after sitting

Our 2013 X3 28i (N20) started puffing white smoke at around 30,000 miles. I started seeing it in the rear-view mirror a couple of months ago. At first, I thought it was just condensation, but as it got worse, I noticed that the smoke wasn't dissipating. We let the car sit for 24 hours, and I had my wife start the car while I was shooting video. Smelled very much like a two-stroke (oil combustion byproduct) back there.

Looks exactly like leaky umbrella seals, but there's a pretty significant delay between startup and smoke. With bad umbrella seals or valve guides, the smoke tends to be immediate. My money is on a bad seal in the turbocharger leaking oil in to the compressor housing, which gets sucked up on startup.

The dealer indicates that they're opening a PUMA case in order to get authorization for the repair. That's going to take a few days, at least.

We're literally a week away from lease-end and are considering doing CPO and purchasing the car. My wife loves it, and you can't configure a new one the way we built our 2013, so we may just go ahead with the purchase. If they put a new turbocharger on, it should be fine. Not sure we'll keep it more than a couple more years though. Shame; it's been a great car otherwise.

Does anyone know if there has been a revision to the turbocharger used on the N20 or if this failure is a known problem at BMW? Trying to evaluate whether this is something that they have fixed in a revision, or I should expect to replace the turbocharger every 30,000 miles.

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      07-27-2015, 11:44 AM   #2
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I don't think its a widespread issue. I've only seen one other forum post for an N20/N26 having bad turbo seals.
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      07-27-2015, 12:18 PM   #3
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If they replace the turbo then I wouldn't worry if you truly want to keep it.
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      07-27-2015, 01:38 PM   #4
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you know I have the same problem just now, will take it to the shop to check,

CEL light on, on morning start ups, white smoke puffs out. will keep you updated. Also at 33000 miles. I was about to purchase a A8 also, waiting for the shop results
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      07-27-2015, 01:57 PM   #5
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Found this thread with some additional searching:

http://f30.bimmerpost.com/forums/sho...e+smoke&page=2

Reading through the comments, it looks like the following forum members have had the same problem, resulting in turbo replacement:

ntalekt
f30fl2013
ChiefF30
DaveycrocketX3
mthaynes (second hand; a friend)
rosscartlidge

Unskinnybob says, "I have a friend who works in the workshop at a dealership in South Africa. He say's they've been replacing many turbos at around 50,000KM."

Six reports is far from epidemic proportions, but I'm sure the vast majority of these failures aren't reported here on the forums. It's really giving me reason to take a second look at CPO. Not sure I want to own this car out of warranty.
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      07-27-2015, 02:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T_flare View Post
you know I have the same problem just now, will take it to the shop to check,

CEL light on, on morning start ups, white smoke puffs out. will keep you updated. Also at 33000 miles. I was about to purchase a A8 also, waiting for the shop results
Couple of recommendations based on my experience.

1) Before you take it to the shop, let the car sit for 12-24 hours (the longer the better) and shoot a video like the one I posted. When my wife initially reported the issue, the service advisor told her that it was just condensation and that they'd have a look but it was "probably nothing to worry about". My guess is that they get about 10 reports of "smoke" each month, which are usually condensation related.

2) Get a sniff of the smoke. I'm not sure if you've ever smelled oil burning, but it smells very different than regular car exhaust. If you know what a two-stroke engine smells like, then you know the drill. Be sure to include this information in your report of the issue.

After some initial pushback, providing the video and making it clear that the smoke smells like burning oil, the service department took our claim very seriously. Literally 24-hour turn around for a PUMA case, which I understand isn't always straight forward. Some other folks have to deal with a de-carbon service before the dealer opens a case. Thankfully, our dealer took this seriously very quickly.
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      07-28-2015, 12:52 AM   #7
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My car makes a white cloud like a truck after not driving it for a day.
But then, i have a catted DP. My precious smoke doesn't smell like candy or anything. It just smells like exhaust smell.
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      07-29-2015, 12:28 PM   #8
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Don't let anyone tell you that is normal. Take it in for service.
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      07-29-2015, 01:51 PM   #9
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Update. Dealer is waiting on the turbo from BMW Germany... and it's on back order. Ugh.
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      07-30-2015, 10:00 PM   #10
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Just dropped my 2012 328i off at the dealer for service this morning, with the same white smoke at startup. Haven't heard back yet, but extremely grateful it happened before 50k miles.
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      08-04-2015, 12:53 AM   #11
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Yep, turbo. There was a 328i thread with the same issue.
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      08-04-2015, 09:45 AM   #12
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Turbo is in. Dropping the car off for replacement in the next day or so. Quickest backorder turn around ever, haha.
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      08-08-2015, 11:21 AM   #13
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It was the turbos for my 328i as well...got my car back yesterday, all good now.
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      08-11-2015, 10:00 PM   #14
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Confirm and fixed. 35k miles, had to replace the turbo because of oil leak
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      08-12-2015, 01:12 AM   #15
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How was the smell like on your car with bad turbo?
I get tons of smoke but it smells just like a car with hfc which is what i have
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      08-12-2015, 10:51 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoisthis View Post
How was the smell like on your car with bad turbo?
I get tons of smoke but it smells just like a car with hfc which is what i have
What is HFC?

If you get tons of smoke, take the car to the dealer and have them check it out. You do not want to replace the turbo out of warranty.
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      08-12-2015, 10:52 AM   #17
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Update: It turns out they didn't order a turbocharger. The dealer is saying that the issue is with some other oil supply/drainage component, which they have replaced. Will have to test the car in 24 hours and see if it still smokes.
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      08-12-2015, 12:19 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoisthis View Post
How was the smell like on your car with bad turbo?
I get tons of smoke but it smells just like a car with hfc which is what i have
its a bad smell, if you smell burnt oil before it smells like that. It only happen on cold starts. Leave your car off for 2 days and turn on and you should see a big puff of white smoke

one guy in the dealership said its a N20 problem
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      08-12-2015, 02:38 PM   #19
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Looks like my dealer replaced the "oil feed pipe". Here are the relevant repair notes.
Found oil in turbo charger. Take pictures and submit PUMA case. Advised to replace turbo oil feed pipe with updated pipe.

Part # 11-42-8-648-368 OIL PIPE INLET:889700
Interested to see if the car smokes tomorrow. Going to let it sit for 18 hours or so.
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      08-14-2015, 11:12 PM   #20
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Well, it's not looking good. Wasn't able to let the car sit for a full 24 hours. Only an overnight, and got this today. Going to let it sit for a little longer. Smelled like burned oil still

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Last edited by bradleyland; 08-17-2015 at 04:53 PM. Reason: Swapped out Dropbox link for YouTube link.
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      08-15-2015, 12:00 AM   #21
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FWIW, here were the relevant notes from my service (apologize for mobile formatting):

Verified smoke from exhaust. Pulled all spark plugs and took pictures for PUMA case. Removed exhaust and catalytic converter. Took pictures of oil in turbo. Did PUMA case. Re-installed cat and exhaust and drove vehicle. Removed cat again and found additional oil in turbo. Removed turbo. Took pictures of head ports. Replaced turbo. After replacement, used smoke machine to check for crankcase leaks. None found. Also checked valve cover and filler caps for leaks. None found. Test drove, performed two more cold starts and checked for faults once more. No faults stored. Vehicle now operating as designed.

It was under warranty so no charge, but lists turbo charger, gasket rings, o-rings, screw clamp, gasket ring, and spark plugs. Your problem could obviously be something completely different, but my symptoms were extremely similar.
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      08-15-2015, 11:06 AM   #22
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I feel pretty confident that they need to replace the turbo. I just managed to get a bad PUMA review.

Oil filler pipe
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