Oil Change Gone Bad

Recently, I had the oil and filter changed in my 2001 BMW 325i. As I was driving home, after around 40 minutes, the car began running really rough and I saw smoke coming from under the hood. I had it towed back to the dealership that performed the oil service thinking they botched the job. They found the problem to be a blown water pump and replaced the pump, belts, etc. at no charge. When I got my car back, the problem was fixed, but it was still running a little rough. Since then, they replaced all the belts at no charge. It does run better, but not as smooth as it did before all the work. I was thrilled to hear that they weren’t charging me for the water pump and belts as they said there is nothing they could have done wrong with the oil service that could have caused the water pump to blow, it was just a coincidence it happened right after i had my car serviced. So, is this correct? Is there anything they could have done wrong with the oil service that could have caused the water pump to blow? The car was not running rough before i took the car in. Is it possible that a botched oil service could cause not only the water pump to blow, but much more damage and/or pre-mature wear to the engine? It seems almost too nice of them to be performing so much repair work they say they had no part in causing. Thanks:)

I assume someone checked the oil level and for leakage around the oil filter, to make sure the oil change was done correctly. If those checks turned out OK, then the oil change did not cause any of the damage that is occurring. Frankly, I am surprised that they have gone to the extent you describe, to do repairs, since the oil change does not appear to be at blame here. The engine overheating during this occurrence may have caused enough damage to cause the rough idle, etc. Without being on the ground and looking at the car, I don’t know much more advice to provide, except to get them to do a head gasket and compression check to identify any extra damage that may have occurred, due to no fault of their own.

Something sounds rotten in Denmark here. A waterpump replacement isn’t small potatoes, so I’m also having difficulty believing they did it for nothing. However, a routine oil change would have nothing to do with the waterpump, so that part of the story is at least believable.

If your oil or “Check Engine” light didn’t come on at the time the smoke appeared, there is probably no actual engine damage. Perhaps a wire or vacuum line wasn’t properly secured when they did the waterpump and belts. Bring it back and tell them the problem.

I’m still scratching my head about the free waterpump replacement, though.

Roy is correct about the possibilty of engine damage from overheating. I posted my reply too quickly.

Why do they seem to act guilty? They changed the motor oil. In a few miles, the engine began to run very rough and there was smoke coming out from under the hood. What could have caused the smoke? It could be from oil which blew out of the oil fill in the valve cover which they forgot to put the oil filler cap back on. This heavy loss of motor oil could have damaged the engine. If this is the case, they owe you more than a water pump.

They may be aboveboard, and the “smoke” was from coolant loss onto a hot engine. Did you smell something with a sweet odor? Or, did you smell something like burnt rubber, or burnt cork? These would be motor oil cooking on the hot exhaust manifold and pipes.

This model BMW has known issues with the cooling system that fall in line with what happened to you. The water pumps on these cars can go out with as little as 60,000 miles and the radiators at 100,000 miles. Unfortunately by the time you notice the car has overheated it’s usually too late to save it and the cylinder head of the inline 6 gets warped. The car needs to be properly inspected now by someone who can check for a head gasket leak by either a BMW dealer or BMW specialist. If it’s the head go through an independent specialist in BMW but get ready for a bill in the thousands for this one. I warn all BMW owners to pull over immediately when a coolant light comes on or the temp guage reads high on these cars. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of nowehere, pull over. You’ll be glad you did.

Hello! Thanks for your reply, you put my fears to rest. My car was running fine, not overheating…the whole water pump incident happend quickly…it suddely ran rough, i saw white smoke coming from under the hood (dealership says that was steam…it didn’t smell like oil burning, so that makes sense) i pulled over right away, i didn’t drive it hot. When I stopped, i checked the oil level, it was full, and around the filter, that was fine. The leakage was dirty kind of greasy water, and the dealership said that was from the water pump. That all seemed to make sense, the water pump suddenly blew and the dealership replaced it. They said there is nothing they could have done wrong changing the oil to cause this, but i wanted to make sure. You really made my day!! I can’t believe they gave me all that free service, I am so lucky! Thanks again:)

Hi! The car wasn’t over-heating before the pump blew, and when it did…I pulled over immediately. So, everything should be okay, right?

My dealership has always given great service and goes above and beyond what’s expected, but that almost seems to good to be true…a free water pump, belts, etc…thought I should check to make sure they weren’t doing all this because they knew they caused the problem. I’m thrilled to know they didn’t!
My check engine light never came on…the car wasn’t over-heating before the pump blew, and i pulled over right away when it did…so it sounds like it didn’t do any additional damage. Thanks for your reply:)

Hopefully, but it doesn’t take much to blow the head gasket on these cars. If the car is running slightly rough it should be investigated. Even if it is a head gasket, the head likely won’t be warped.

If your BMW has an aluminum block, overheating can ruin an engine. I had a water pump failure on a low mileage older Accord some years ago on an Interstate. The heavy traffic caused me to miss the warning light. Before I could get the car safely off the road, the engine was ruined. These aluminum blocks can’t take the heat that the old cast iron blocks could. A cast iron block can over heat and not change its shape, but aluminum blocks warp and nothing ever fits right again. This can happen in a matter of minutes. Sorry to be such a pessimist, but I assume you want the facts. I hope this didn’t happen to your engine.

This story is missing a few things IMHO.

Your 1st inclination may be right, sorry to say. BMW engines are some of the finest, smoothest running in the world. If yours is running rough, even a little bit, it needs to be looked at and corrected (if at all possible, now). Please see a BMW specialist, even if he/she is not your regular one.