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      03-31-2014, 07:28 PM   #1
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N20 Blown Turbo - Blowing White Smoke - Video

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Noticed my 328i was blowing a little white smoke during a cold startup. I was going in for a scheduled oil change anyway so I snapped this video to show my service advisor.

I dropped it off saturday and they just called me and said I won't have it back for a few more days because they are replacing the turbo. It's weird to me because it wasn't down on power or throwing any codes. Maybe a seal or something?

I drive the car like it was designed to be driven. Only 2-3 times a week and sometimes a little spirited driving on the way. But nothing crazy.

Anyone else having any reliability problems with the N20?

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      04-01-2014, 10:32 AM   #2
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Wow, looks like you may be the first with this issue. Congrats
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      04-01-2014, 01:34 PM   #3
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Note to self...Turbo can blow up...Ease off the throttle...
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      04-01-2014, 03:11 PM   #4
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I'm not an expert by any means but doesn't white smoke usually mean coolant is leaking into the exhaust? I understand how a turbo works but I'd be curious to know how white smoke appears from the exhaust due to a defective turbo. I guess if the turbo was blowing coolant into the engine that wouldn't be good. Let me guess . . . . coolant is circulated around the turbo and if the casing cracks, the coolant leaks and the turbo is toast?

Mind you, both from personal and from experiences shared online, stories of a dealer blowing smoke out their a*s is not uncommon. Any time any car I had with a technical issue went in for service, I always asked to talk to the tech working on it. Not all SAs are bad but I've run into a couple who couldn't tell you the difference between a walnut and a lug nut.
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      04-01-2014, 03:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ntalekt View Post

I drive the car like it was designed to be driven.
Wasn't it designed to be driven on the Autobahn, a highway in which there are sections with no speed limit?

I thought the 328 was 'speed limited' to 200-250 kph? I think it's designed to go pretty fast and for more than a few minutes. A turbo that dies an early death I'm sure wasn't part of the design.
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      04-01-2014, 03:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by menncars View Post
Wasn't it designed to be driven on the Autobahn, a highway in which there are sections with no speed limit?

I thought the 328 was 'speed limited' to 200-250 kph? I think it's designed to go pretty fast and for more than a few minutes. A turbo that dies an early death I'm sure wasn't part of the design.
Defective parts happen. Luckily it happened within the warranty period.

White spoke can be either oil or water/coolant but more than likely this is just a bad seal in the turbo. Bad valve guides/seals give off a similar symptom but would be a bit more unlikely I suppose...
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      04-01-2014, 10:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboM View Post
Defective parts happen. Luckily it happened within the warranty period.

White spoke can be either oil or water/coolant but more than likely this is just a bad seal in the turbo. Bad valve guides/seals give off a similar symptom but would be a bit more unlikely I suppose...
Winner winner chicken dinner.

if they are replacing the turbo because of white smoke = bad turbo seal and its burning coolant.
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      04-01-2014, 10:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboM View Post
Defective parts happen. Luckily it happened within the warranty period.

White spoke can be either oil or water/coolant but more than likely this is just a bad seal in the turbo. Bad valve guides/seals give off a similar symptom but would be a bit more unlikely I suppose...
Thanks for the reply!
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      04-02-2014, 02:34 AM   #9
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Did you have any aftermarket mods? (tune, DP etc)
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      04-02-2014, 10:06 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmaak View Post
Winner winner chicken dinner.

if they are replacing the turbo because of white smoke = bad turbo seal and its burning coolant.
It looks like oil. I have not broken this turbo open or anything, but the coolant passages in turbos are completely isolated from anything generally. It is only oil that really passes around any moving parts parts because it cools the turbo and also lubricates. I guess that should be clarified that coolant is isolated pretty much everywhere in a car and when you are burning it it is a head gasket issue. Oil buring can happen lots of places because that mingles with moving parts, valve guides, rings, turbos, blahbity blah, all can allow oil to be burned. The smoke looks to have a tint of blue.

It is hard to see from the video quality, but if it is ONLY at startup, it could just be condensation if there is no blue in it. If you also start to notice an occasional puff sitting at a stoplight or idling long after startup then it is the turbo. What constitutes the "seal" in the turbo is stronger when the turbo is spinning, and weakest when the turbo is not and that is why you get seepage of oil when the car has been sitting for a period or when the car comes to a stop.

Any car can get a defective turbo but my eyebrows always go up when someone says "I drive it like it is meant to be driven." If you beat on it, and shut it down hot, turbo life will be shortened.

Last edited by vader1; 04-02-2014 at 10:51 AM.
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      04-02-2014, 06:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vader1 View Post
It looks like oil. I have not broken this turbo open or anything, but the coolant passages in turbos are completely isolated from anything generally. It is only oil that really passes around any moving parts parts because it cools the turbo and also lubricates. I guess that should be clarified that coolant is isolated pretty much everywhere in a car and when you are burning it it is a head gasket issue. Oil buring can happen lots of places because that mingles with moving parts, valve guides, rings, turbos, blahbity blah, all can allow oil to be burned. The smoke looks to have a tint of blue.

It is hard to see from the video quality, but if it is ONLY at startup, it could just be condensation if there is no blue in it. If you also start to notice an occasional puff sitting at a stoplight or idling long after startup then it is the turbo. What constitutes the "seal" in the turbo is stronger when the turbo is spinning, and weakest when the turbo is not and that is why you get seepage of oil when the car has been sitting for a period or when the car comes to a stop.

Any car can get a defective turbo but my eyebrows always go up when someone says "I drive it like it is meant to be driven." If you beat on it, and shut it down hot, turbo life will be shortened.
You are right.. I was thinking of oil as the coolant...
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      04-13-2014, 11:04 AM   #12
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this is a telltale sign of a blown turbo. google it and youll see this is the most common sign.
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      08-28-2014, 10:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ntalekt View Post
Noticed my 328i was blowing a little white smoke during a cold startup. I was going in for a scheduled oil change anyway so I snapped this video to show my service advisor.

I dropped it off saturday and they just called me and said I won't have it back for a few more days because they are replacing the turbo. It's weird to me because it wasn't down on power or throwing any codes. Maybe a seal or something?

I drive the car like it was designed to be driven. Only 2-3 times a week and sometimes a little spirited driving on the way. But nothing crazy.

Anyone else having any reliability problems with the N20?

Did it happen just one time? My car did the same thing last week but I thought it was just because the car wasn't driven in a few days.
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      08-28-2014, 11:17 AM   #14
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Thank god for warranty. If I end up keeping this car longer than 4 years, I'm pretty sure I'll buy the extended warranty.
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      08-28-2014, 11:17 AM   #15
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[quote=ntalekt;15700358]Noticed my 328i was blowing a little white smoke during a cold startup. ........

Could be many things. Can't wait to hear what the reason was.

I have never hear of this, so I guess even a small fault would make BMW want the turbo back in order to investigate. Thus you get a new one.
Warranty is a good thing.

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      08-28-2014, 04:00 PM   #16
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I guess the dealer will replace the whole thing, so that they can get the most money out of it?
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      09-05-2014, 12:14 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Thanks for the reply!
Did you find out what the problem was in the end?
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      09-05-2014, 12:24 PM   #18
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nice plate
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      10-14-2014, 08:13 PM   #19
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I have bluish smoke when I start my car up plus a rattling in the engine. Taking it to the dealer tomorrow to see what's the 411 on it.
Ntalekt did replacing the turbo fix ur problem?
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      10-15-2014, 08:25 PM   #20
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Took my car to the dealer today and looks like the turbo is bad.
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      10-15-2014, 08:30 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiefF30 View Post
Took my car to the dealer today and looks like the turbo is bad.
What was the reasoning behind it?

Are you tuned?
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      10-16-2014, 12:45 PM   #22
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Good thing it is covered
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