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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have been smelling a bit of a burning plastic smell after I go for short drives in the M5. It might be unrelated, but I decided to check my oil level today and found this.



This is after I cleaned it off and put it back in.



I also don't remember my dipstick ever looking crooked like this.



What is that yellow foamy substance? Is it coolant or water?

The car is a 2000 M5, with 63k on the clock. It is not my DD anymore and only sees about 250 miles/month. I switched from castrol to liqui molly 10W-60 about 6 months ago. I have put 4000 miles on the car since the last oil change.

Please help, and post suggestions. I also had a TON of oil seeping around the filler cap. The cap is new withing a year.
 

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That's coolant/water. A little is nothing to worry about, more than a little is.

Keep a very close eye on it. If you see that on the inside of the oil cap, that is usually a bad thing.
 

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Looks like coolant to me. Keep a very close eye on oil and coolant level.


EDIT: Bahhh! Beat me again, Rob!
 
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That's coolant. A little is othing to worry about, more than a little is.

Keep a very close eye on it. If you see that on the inside of the oil cap, that is usually a bad thing.
Water. It happens when you go out for short drives and the oil isn't heated up properly. I saw it a lot on my father's '03 X5 3.0i.

There's only one way to really tell at this point.....taste it.
 

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There's only one way to really tell at this point.....taste it.
I was thinking smell it first.

It is true that moisture can accumulate in the oiling system on cars that are not brought up to full operating (oil) temperature occasionally.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That's coolant/water. A little is nothing to worry about, more than a little is.

Keep a very close eye on it. If you see that on the inside of the oil cap, that is usually a bad thing.
Thanks Rob. I checked the chains and cap and didn't see any. A few months ago I had a fairly quick loss in coolant and had to top off, but i never noticed anything in the oil ( the reservoir was at the min line and I figured i just hadn't checked it in a while).

How does coolant/water get into the system? I assume the water can just be some sort of condensation.

Could the lesser mileage that the car is seeing, combined with the cool temps have anything to do with why I am seeing this all of the sudden?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I was thinking smell it first.

It is true that moisture can accumulate in the oiling system on cars that are not brought up to full operating (oil) temperature occasionally.
I did smell it and it just smelled like burned oil/plastic.

I always mind the rev warnings on the tach and never push the car hard when all i am taking it for is a short drive.

I would say that I, at least, drive the car 30 miles a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less.
 

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Water gets in the system by condensing out of the air in the crankcase, particularly if the car is not fully warmed up - like lots of short trips - so you will see that more in the winter with cooler temps.

Coolant gets into the oil because of a mechanical problem, like a leaking gasket, cracked head or block, etc.

If you ever see something that looks like a milkshake on the dipstick (ther's lots of room for juvenile humor there - enjoy ;) ), then you have a real problem - that is the classic sign of a blown head gasket.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
There's only one way to really tell at this point.....taste it.
My buddy's friend is an amateur doctor and he advised me not to put anything other than castrol 10w-60 in my system.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
If you ever see something that looks like a milkshake on the dipstick (ther's lots of room for juvenile humor there - enjoy ;) ), then you have a real problem - that is the classic sign of a blown head gasket.
What exactly do you mean, looks like a milkshake? Whatever was on top of my dipstick had a frothy look to it.
 

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I mean it looks like a milkshake ;) . If you see this:



you have a real problem.
 

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Brian - If it looks like a few smears of dirty mayonnaise it's probably winter-time condensation that you aren't burning off with good long drives.

As a small anecdote of that: My wife's DD '08 Subaru Legacy GT (now sold) had that exact substance in your picture form in the top of the neck of the oil filler cap every winter. Decent amount too. In summer it would dissapear. It was just oil & water vapor mixing at the high point and notable in the colder months when condensation was much more prevalent.

Unless you have ongoing coolant loss, a much bigger sign than those pictures, oil in your coolant, or an oil cap like what Rao posted....
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Brian - If it looks like a few smears of dirty mayonnaise it's probably winter-time condensation that you aren't burning off with good long drives.

As a small anecdote of that: My wife's DD '08 Subaru Legacy GT (now sold) had that exact substance in your picture form in the top of the neck of the oil filler cap every winter. Decent amount too. In summer it would dissapear. It was just oil & water vapor mixing at the high point and notable in the colder months when condensation was much more prevalent.

Unless you have ongoing coolant loss, a much bigger sign than those pictures, oil in your coolant, or an oil cap like what Rao posted....
I looked on some other forums and saw pictures of stuff building up on the cap too, and it was just the wintery buildup...not a head gasket starting to fail.

I don't have any huge coolant losses, but i don't drive it a lot lately. Should i not be concerned at all with the buildup on the dipstick?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
:goldcup:
I assume this is your way of saying Yes, my friend?

Even if it isn't bad, immediately, I may reconsider my on and off short trips in the cold....or just get out of this salt ridden cold weather. I hardly ever get the chance to get it up to speed when i do take it out.
 

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Worry about if you know the engine was good and warm. I have seen it a few times this winter when I only went straight to work then home a couple days in a row. Warm moist air happens often in the winter then the temp drops, cold air cannot hold water so the water falls out. Guess where it goes, it does take the right conditions but the conditions are common in the winter.
Don't worry.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Worry about if you know the engine was good and warm. I have seen it a few times this winter when I only went straight to work then home a couple days in a row. Warm moist air happens often in the winter then the temp drops, cold air cannot hold water so the water falls out. Guess where it goes, it does take the right conditions but the conditions are common in the winter.
Don't worry.
Thanks Sailor,

I will keep an eye on it during short trips, versus long driving spells to get a feel for when it happens. Like I said, my car has very recently switched its duties, so this is a new situation to me.

In this particular case today, i hadn't driven the car in a week and only did the 15 mile round trip drive to work and back.
 

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It's just some water from your short drives. Take longer drives to get the beast up to temp to get rid of condensation. I doubt it is coolant.
 
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