Liquid accumulation in Catch Can after going E85 - Need Help

alvinhobh

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Mar 8, 2018
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I recently purchased a port injection. I switched over to full e85. Now I can smell the ethanol in the oil, and what is worrying me is the water like ( maybe fuel) in the BMS catch can now.

It is possible that my car was already dying before installing the PI, and I can only smell the ethanol in the oil now because of the distinct smell it has. But I wanted to share and get opinions on things I should do before pulling the motor.

07 335i w/ 108k now, BMS catch can with RB PCV, FBO with details on signature.

Been running 20 psi on 93 and occasionally 25 when using meth.

Possible cause:

1) Leaking PI or stock injectors
2) Bad piston rings
3) Bad Valve Stems


Tested so far:

1) Pull them out and cranked the motor, no leaks
Plugs don't look wet, they are pretty dry and white

Index injectors #12
Bought them from Rockauto about two years ago
Standard Motor Products ( FJ1050)


2) Bad rings?

Leak down test- with the engine cold.
Given we have no oil dipstick, I figured it would be best to take the oil out ( since it had to be replaced anyway) and leave the oil drain plug open to hear air rushing thru.
Cylidners:
1- 4%
2- 8%
3- 4%
4- 4%
5- 18% - added some oil and went down to ~6%
6- 5%

Compression test - Cold engine
1- 150
2- 140
3- 140
4- 150
5- 180 - Cylinder still had oil from leak down test
6- 150 psi


I soaked the cylinders overnight with injector cleaner just to see if the problem is gunk in the piston rings. Sucked the cleaner out and ran the car.

Compression recheck - Warn engine
1-160
2-140
3-145
4-155
5-145
6-150

#5 compression doesn't follow my leak down test... did the leak test again on cylinder 5 and saw the same number.. will check a 3rd time with a dial gauge to find TDC ( but my method seem to work on other cylinders so I kinda trust the numbers..)

If the rings are worn out, to the point that raw fuel would go pass them, I would expect the car to be smoking like crazy, but it barely does.
iono.gif




3) Bad valve stems?
Flushed the oil again, and got a test tune form my tuner - with PI turned off, drove the car pushing ~17 psi on straight e85 - direct injection only

Now only air in going in through the manifold.. so if it was valve stems problem would have gone away?

Still saw the liquid in the catch can - the picture below is actually from this time driving

The only thing still pending is for me to physically remove the PI, just in case the PI injectors are leaking even with no power? Not sure how likely this is.. but will try


The log seems fine according to my tuner, but I have it attached here in case anyone catches anything.

Inputs? Does the catch can accumulation looks normal for e85? Am I freaking out for no reason here...
 

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martymil

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No thats normal for e85 especially in very humid climates or you filled up with poor quality e85 that had water mixed into it

There is no test for water content in e85 as it absorbs it

This is exactly what i tried to warm people about unless you get race blend e85 or e98 and mix it yourself.

I suggest you clean your catch cans and change you oil as the clear liquid is a very weak acid which is a by product of e85 combustion cycle when there is a higher than 10% water content in e85

This acid will eat the white metal of your bearings and start eating at your cam boxes

I know as it happen to me
 

Flinchy

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Nov 5, 2016
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No thats normal for e85 especially in very humid climates or you filled up with poor quality e85 that had water mixed into it

There is no test for water content in e85 as it absorbs it

This is exactly what i tried to warm people about unless you get race blend e85 or e98 and mix it yourself.

I suggest you clean your catch cans and change you oil as the clear liquid is a very weak acid which is a by product of e85 combustion cycle when there is a higher than 10% water content in e85

This acid will eat the white metal of your bearings and start eating at your cam boxes

I know as it happen to me

you'll only get acid related excessive oil wear/bearing wear, if you use shit oil with low TBN (google it) and or run extended OCI with E85. aka wear your pants on your head.

the acid also has absolutely nothing to do with there being water in E85, the combustion of E85 is simply more acidic than unleaded, which, again, is why you need to run an oil with high TBN to prevent excessive wear.

this is why i strongly suggest (especially/mainly for aussies) Penrite 10Tenths, it's 100% the perfect spec for modified/100% E85 use, and dirt cheap.

having oil smell a bit like E85 is the only slightly normal thing, yeah, but even then, if it's a really strong smell, not towards the end of the OCI, something is definitely wrong and the oil is getting contaminated excessively, somehow.
 
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Flinchy

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Haha you crack me

Acid is a bi product of the e85 combustion cylcle where excessive amount of water is either absorbed into the fuel or through the inlets eg high humidity

No mater what oil you use it will be pumped around your engine causing damage

But you keep hiding your head in the sand with the rest of you feathered ostriches

E85 combustion is acidic naturally, even without any contamination. it just is. ethanol can (and does) oxidize into acetic acid regardless. hence you take precautions.

yeah, contaminated E85 is worse, of course, but it's incorrect to say that's the only cause of the acidity. even in a completely dry climate with zero contamination, you need to run the proper oil and change it appropriately.

hell, if you have enough water contamination to produce enough formic acid to cause damage, i'd be more worried about the other issues water produces, like rust of things that shouldn't rust.. Humidity in the charge is a non-issue otherwise, i'm in QLD, humidity capital of Australia. Only have to care about the humidity for longer term storage, which you.. just don't do, to be safe, without proper equipment.

as i told you to google what TBN is, but you seem to not know how to do that... it means TOTAL BASE NUMBER. BASE BEING THE OPPOSITE OF ACID. It's common knowledge that you want high TBN oil when running E85, due to the acidity. Surely you can work out why you'd want that now no?

If you don't want to learn, that's fine, but don't spout incomplete knowledge like it's fact to people.
 

martymil

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Incomplete knowledge ? I've learned all this when you where still in diapers

Here you come spewing what you found on the internet with absolutely no practical experience

For him to collect that much clear liquid in his catch can there are only two ways and thats through contaminated e85 or high humidity

If it was a broken head gasket the oil would be like coffee and you never see the clear liquid and it would overflow the catch can.

So instead of spewing your so called knowlage, how about you learn how to diagnose what the issue is with the info that the op has given

All this liquid gets pumped around the engine before it makes it in to the catch can causing damage especially when the liquid get trapped in between the bearing surface and the crank for example when the engine is not running.

No matter how good your oil is it will eat at the bearing surfaces

Just like this

20171101_163726.jpg
 
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Bnks334

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Incomplete knowledge ? I've learned all this when you where still in diapers

Here you come spewing what you found on the internet with absolutely no practical experience

For him to collect that much clear liquid in his catch can there are only two ways and thats through contaminated e85 or high humidity

If it was a broken head gasket the oil would be like coffee and you never see the clear liquid and it would overflow the catch can.

So instead of spewing your so called knowlage, how about you learn how to diagnose what the issue is with the info that the op has given

All this liquid gets pumped around the engine before it makes it in to the catch can causing damage especially when the liquid get trapped in between the bearing surface and the crank for example when the engine is not running.

No matter how good your oil is it will eat at the bearing surfaces

Just like this

View attachment 11524

Are you the same Marty who came up with the "MILV" mod and also claims that grinding down the supports doesn't have any affect on your valve springs?

Your posts are a bit misleading. Un-burned fuel, oil vapors, and combustion by-products (blow-by) are pulled out of the crankcase by vacuum and sent back into the INTAKE to be RE-BURNED. This happens regardless of whether you are burning E85 or gasoline. Blow-by being filtered out of re-circulated PCV air by a catch can does not mean that there is excessive fuel contaminating of oil in the sump. Yes E85 = more acidic by-products, and, yes, E85 naturally has water in it. Water is part of its molecular structure (separate altogether from the "water absorption" phenomenon). Hence, this is why E85 naturally products more acidic combustion by-products than gasoline... Getting a "bad batch" of ethanol wouldn't result in FUEL FOULED OIL. There are literally people who spray water into their intakes for cooling (the combustion by-products of meth injection are actually 10x worse than e85)... Not sure how or why you keep trying to make that leap... Blow-by does not get "pumped around the engine" either.

In a healthy engine, you should not be getting blow-by in significant enough quantities to "pool" in the oil in liquid form. Any blow-by that doesn't get pulled out of the crankcase by vacuum to be re-burned gets suspended in the oil. The oils additives are there to suspend and neutralize these acidic by-products to prevent corrosion of engine internals. This happens whether you use gasoline or E85. None of this results in bearing wear. This is why people do UOA's... to determine how quickly their oil is being depleted. I've never seen significant fuel dilution in any healthy N5x regardless of fuel used. It's a modern tight tolerance engine.

Bearing wear doesn't occur unless the oil film between moving parts completely fails. Mechanical failure is the root cause for that kind of contamination, not E85 use itself. Then again, it is plausible that the solvent nature of E85 WILL result in quicker deterioration of combustion components if wetting of said components is occurring. That thought process is purely conceptual in nature though and there is no evidence that using E85 results in any kind of measurable wear on combustion components. You would be talking about wear across hundreds of thousand of miles if there way though...

Back to OP, your compression numbers are at the lowest end of the service limits. You have excessive compression loss. What would cause this: Leaking exhaust valves (you would be getting fuel out of the exhaust), leaking intake valves (you would be getting fuel blowing back into the intake plenum), worn valve guides (blow-by into crankcase), worn piston rings/cylinder walls (blow-by into crankcase).

If compression went up when you squirted oil down into the low compression cylinder that usually points to a ring issue. If compression still stays fairly low then you are losing compression elsewhere. You should pressurize the cylinder and then listen for leaks at the exhaust pipe (exhaust valve issue), intake manifold (intake valve issue), and the oil fill hole (piston ring issue). Since you already kind of established that oil reduced leak-down significantly it seems pretty obvious you have worn piston rings.

You're also saying you have excessive fuel in your oil and catch can... That could be the RESULT of the worn piston rings, and again, this would be occurring whether you use E85 or gasoline. Ok, so what could cause the piston ring wear? Cylinder wetting from running too rich? Cylinder wetting due to the poor atomization of low pressure port injection combined with E85 use? Cylinder wetting due to leaking injectors? Normal wear and tear on an abused engine? Broken rings? Scored cylinder walls? You need to do more diagnostics on the engine...

Does AFR settle to 235 and stay there when you coast? IF it takes a really long time to get to 235, or, it bounces off 235 and then richens up like 220:1 then 235:1 then 228:1 or something... that usually indicates fuel is still leaking into the cylinders despite the car being in a fuel cut-off scenario. Are you fuel trims out of whack? AFF no stable? Post up pics of the plugs... you said they are all white. Try pulling them again after a cold start and 5minutes of idling. Are any wet? Are any blackened?

Honestly though, low compression is low compression. 140psi is LOW. The blow-by will never get any better at this point without addressing whatever mechanical issue there is. Fixing a fueling issue isn't going to change that now...
 
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Bnks334

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If it was a broken head gasket the oil would be like coffee and you never see the clear liquid and it would overflow the catch can.

So instead of spewing your so called knowledge, how about you learn how to diagnose what the issue is with the info that the op has given

Sorry, but, it seems to be you lacking mechanical knowledge. How would a leaking head gasket result in an over-flowing catch can? That is a HUGE stretch LOL. Shit that leaks INTO the combustion chamber from head-gasket failure GETS BURNED during combustion and goes out the exhaust. If a Head gasket has failed so astronomically that all your exhaust (compression) is blowing past the head gasket and into the crankcase you would be blowing out crankcase seals long before your catch can "overflowed" with exhaust moisture. Further, the combustion gasses would have to make it past coolant passages in the head before it could leak into the oil drain-back ports to make it to the crankcase.

You've said so many erroneous things it would take me all day to directly quote them and point out why they are wrong.
 
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Bnks334

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I just did a Nissan head gasket. Leak was oil to coolant passage. Sucked coolant into oil.

Filippo

Ok, and how would that have ANYTHING to do with a catch can or fuel fouled oil?

I was not about to list out every possible head gasket failure scenario lol it would've had nothing to do with the context of this thread...
 

martymil

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Are you the same Marty who came up with the "MILV" mod and also claims that grinding down the supports doesn't have any affect on your valve springs?

Your posts are a bit misleading. Un-burned fuel, oil vapors, and combustion by-products (blow-by) are pulled out of the crankcase by vacuum and sent back into the INTAKE to be RE-BURNED. This happens regardless of whether you are burning E85 or gasoline. Blow-by being filtered out of re-circulated PCV air by a catch can does not mean that there is excessive fuel contaminating of oil in the sump. Yes E85 = more acidic by-products, and, yes, E85 naturally has water in it. Water is part of its molecular structure (separate altogether from the "water absorption" phenomenon). Hence, this is why E85 naturally products more acidic combustion by-products than gasoline... Getting a "bad batch" of ethanol wouldn't result in FUEL FOULED OIL. There are literally people who spray water into their intakes for cooling (the combustion by-products of meth injection are actually 10x worse than e85)... Not sure how or why you keep trying to make that leap... Blow-by does not get "pumped around the engine" either.

In a healthy engine, you should not be getting blow-by in significant enough quantities to "pool" in the oil in liquid form. Any blow-by that doesn't get pulled out of the crankcase by vacuum to be re-burned gets suspended in the oil. The oils additives are there to suspend and neutralize these acidic by-products to prevent corrosion of engine internals. This happens whether you use gasoline or E85. None of this results in bearing wear. This is why people do UOA's... to determine how quickly their oil is being depleted. I've never seen significant fuel dilution in any healthy N5x regardless of fuel used. It's a modern tight tolerance engine.

Bearing wear doesn't occur unless the oil film between moving parts completely fails. Mechanical failure is the root cause for that kind of contamination, not E85 use itself. Then again, it is plausible that the solvent nature of E85 WILL result in quicker deterioration of combustion components if wetting of said components is occurring. That thought process is purely conceptual in nature though and there is no evidence that using E85 results in any kind of measurable wear on combustion components. You would be talking about wear across hundreds of thousand of miles if there way though...

Back to OP, your compression numbers are at the lowest end of the service limits. You have excessive compression loss. What would cause this: Leaking exhaust valves (you would be getting fuel out of the exhaust), leaking intake valves (you would be getting fuel blowing back into the intake plenum), worn valve guides (blow-by into crankcase), worn piston rings/cylinder walls (blow-by into crankcase).

If compression went up when you squirted oil down into the low compression cylinder that usually points to a ring issue. If compression still stays fairly low then you are losing compression elsewhere. You should pressurize the cylinder and then listen for leaks at the exhaust pipe (exhaust valve issue), intake manifold (intake valve issue), and the oil fill hole (piston ring issue). Since you already kind of established that oil reduced leak-down significantly it seems pretty obvious you have worn piston rings.

You're also saying you have excessive fuel in your oil and catch can... That could be the RESULT of the worn piston rings, and again, this would be occurring whether you use E85 or gasoline. Ok, so what could cause the piston ring wear? Cylinder wetting from running too rich? Cylinder wetting due to the poor atomization of low pressure port injection combined with E85 use? Cylinder wetting due to leaking injectors? Normal wear and tear on an abused engine? Broken rings? Scored cylinder walls? You need to do more diagnostics on the engine...

Does AFR settle to 235 and stay there when you coast? IF it takes a really long time to get to 235, or, it bounces off 235 and then richens up like 220:1 then 235:1 then 228:1 or something... that usually indicates fuel is still leaking into the cylinders despite the car being in a fuel cut-off scenario. Are you fuel trims out of whack? AFF no stable? Post up pics of the plugs... you said they are all white. Try pulling them again after a cold start and 5minutes of idling. Are any wet? Are any blackened?

Honestly though, low compression is low compression. 140psi is LOW. The blow-by will never get any better at this point without addressing whatever mechanical issue there is. Fixing a fueling issue isn't going to change that now...

No I'm not the Marty you mentioned and the crap he/you posted.
 

chadillac2000

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Completely normal. Especially if that catch can is away from a heat source, or you live in a cold climate. Happened to me every fall and winter, would go away in the spring and summer. I eventually ditched the low side OCC all together because of it. Ended up just dumping out a bunch of condensation that had built up every few days. Didn't matter what concentration of E85 or 93 I was running.
 

fmorelli

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Ok, and how would that have ANYTHING to do with a catch can or fuel fouled oil?

I was not about to list out every possible head gasket failure scenario lol it would've had nothing to do with the context of this thread...
Actually come to think of it ... nothing. I guess no morning coffee yet. Not sure why I typed it! lol

Filippo
 

Bnks334

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And these posts are why every n54 I see on the street is blowing clouds of exhuast behind them LOL. If you're filling up a catch can every few days, or even every few weeks, you have a problem.
 

alvinhobh

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I am new to this forum and didn't realize I wouldn't get emails to my own thread if I didn't click " watch". So I figured no one said anything about this issue. Thanks for all the replies.

So my engine failed not too long after I started to trouble shoot this issue. As my leak test suggested, my cylinder #5 gave up on me. It melted/ broke the ring landing on a nice track day event at Summit Point...

As for the cause of the failure, I can't say it was directly related to running e85. Maybe running 28psi was the main issue here.

I took the engine apart, luckily the piston failure did not cause any major damage on the block. I currently have the engine block at VAC Motorsports for a close deck conversion, CP +0.5mm pistons, CP rods, and VAC coated main and road bearings. Hopefully will have it back by next week.

In the mean time, I refurbished the turbos, replaced all 24 valves ( exhaust ones were pretty worn), and installed new VAC valve guides.

My major concern at this point is how the heck do I check my DI injectors, those are the only parts I can't seem to get checked ( at least locally). Called 3 big diesel injector places near me but they gave me the obvious reply, that they don't do gasoline DI. Given they are $200 a piece, I can't just buy new ones without testing mine, which are all index -12. Any thoughts?
 

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alvinhobh

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Thank you for the detailed reply. You were right on the money. As far as what caused the failure, cylinder #5 did not look like it ran hot from a bad injector, I would say that the cast piston didn't like 28 psi on top of it. Still would like to prove my injectors are all good before putting them back on the car. But if I can't, either way I will flash the car back to stock, or a stage 1 tune to break it in with 93 and see how it runs.


Are you the same Marty who came up with the "MILV" mod and also claims that grinding down the supports doesn't have any affect on your valve springs?

Your posts are a bit misleading. Un-burned fuel, oil vapors, and combustion by-products (blow-by) are pulled out of the crankcase by vacuum and sent back into the INTAKE to be RE-BURNED. This happens regardless of whether you are burning E85 or gasoline. Blow-by being filtered out of re-circulated PCV air by a catch can does not mean that there is excessive fuel contaminating of oil in the sump. Yes E85 = more acidic by-products, and, yes, E85 naturally has water in it. Water is part of its molecular structure (separate altogether from the "water absorption" phenomenon). Hence, this is why E85 naturally products more acidic combustion by-products than gasoline... Getting a "bad batch" of ethanol wouldn't result in FUEL FOULED OIL. There are literally people who spray water into their intakes for cooling (the combustion by-products of meth injection are actually 10x worse than e85)... Not sure how or why you keep trying to make that leap... Blow-by does not get "pumped around the engine" either.

In a healthy engine, you should not be getting blow-by in significant enough quantities to "pool" in the oil in liquid form. Any blow-by that doesn't get pulled out of the crankcase by vacuum to be re-burned gets suspended in the oil. The oils additives are there to suspend and neutralize these acidic by-products to prevent corrosion of engine internals. This happens whether you use gasoline or E85. None of this results in bearing wear. This is why people do UOA's... to determine how quickly their oil is being depleted. I've never seen significant fuel dilution in any healthy N5x regardless of fuel used. It's a modern tight tolerance engine.

Bearing wear doesn't occur unless the oil film between moving parts completely fails. Mechanical failure is the root cause for that kind of contamination, not E85 use itself. Then again, it is plausible that the solvent nature of E85 WILL result in quicker deterioration of combustion components if wetting of said components is occurring. That thought process is purely conceptual in nature though and there is no evidence that using E85 results in any kind of measurable wear on combustion components. You would be talking about wear across hundreds of thousand of miles if there way though...

Back to OP, your compression numbers are at the lowest end of the service limits. You have excessive compression loss. What would cause this: Leaking exhaust valves (you would be getting fuel out of the exhaust), leaking intake valves (you would be getting fuel blowing back into the intake plenum), worn valve guides (blow-by into crankcase), worn piston rings/cylinder walls (blow-by into crankcase).

If compression went up when you squirted oil down into the low compression cylinder that usually points to a ring issue. If compression still stays fairly low then you are losing compression elsewhere. You should pressurize the cylinder and then listen for leaks at the exhaust pipe (exhaust valve issue), intake manifold (intake valve issue), and the oil fill hole (piston ring issue). Since you already kind of established that oil reduced leak-down significantly it seems pretty obvious you have worn piston rings.

You're also saying you have excessive fuel in your oil and catch can... That could be the RESULT of the worn piston rings, and again, this would be occurring whether you use E85 or gasoline. Ok, so what could cause the piston ring wear? Cylinder wetting from running too rich? Cylinder wetting due to the poor atomization of low pressure port injection combined with E85 use? Cylinder wetting due to leaking injectors? Normal wear and tear on an abused engine? Broken rings? Scored cylinder walls? You need to do more diagnostics on the engine...

Does AFR settle to 235 and stay there when you coast? IF it takes a really long time to get to 235, or, it bounces off 235 and then richens up like 220:1 then 235:1 then 228:1 or something... that usually indicates fuel is still leaking into the cylinders despite the car being in a fuel cut-off scenario. Are you fuel trims out of whack? AFF no stable? Post up pics of the plugs... you said they are all white. Try pulling them again after a cold start and 5minutes of idling. Are any wet? Are any blackened?

Honestly though, low compression is low compression. 140psi is LOW. The blow-by will never get any better at this point without addressing whatever mechanical issue there is. Fixing a fueling issue isn't going to change that now...
 

martymil

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After looking at the pics you had a big missfire at some point and/or a large repeated knock.

Happened to me on cylinder 6, all it took was.one major missfire.

Boost has nothing to do with it

We are running 30 psi on a stock motor and trans on a 3582rs single turbo kit.and it has no issues, but i know it will have the same fate as.your motor as soon as we get A missfire its inevitable.
 
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Bnks334

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After looking at the pics you had a big missfire at some point and/or a large repeated knock.

Happened to me on cylinder 6, all it took was.one major missfire.

Boost has nothing to do with it

Edit: sorry completely mixed this thread up with the one of the melted spark plugs...

Without logs and a history its hard to say what caused this... my money would be on the meth/pi spraying though if I had to guess.

As for how to prove the injectors are working properly, that's a tough one. I've seen people connect them to the rail and crank the engine to let them spray into the air lol Hopefully someone can help you out...

My N55 just had a failed injector. My firdt sign was that i noticed my afr was leaning out at part throttle. I always have my phone out with guages up... I was also getting some smoke out of the exhaust and the car was idling funny. Thought for sure it was oil burning... The exhuast also had a weird pulse to it like a valve issue. Then, the car started occasionally misfiring at part throttle (I could feel it before the DME threw a misfire code). My cyl 1 plug was wet when I pulled them. Most of the symptoms of the bad injector were all mechanical, unfortunately, and I stopped driving the car until I figured it out. Otherwise, I could've kept on driving it like no big deal... It drove fine.
 
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