Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
10/3/22 2:12 p.m.

Okay, you got me, it's actually an F55 4-door, 'cause that's how uncool I am. Anybody been through timing cover replacement on a B38?

Anyhow, the core question is whether as I replace the timing cover (and the motor mount that the oil leak destroyed), is it worth buying the special BMW tool 2 357 900 (or the $65 knockoff) for guiding the seal onto the crank?

It seems like a stupid use of $65 for a (hopefully) one-time job, but it also seems like a great opportunity to save $65 only to have to buy another timing cover and do the whole job over again if it turns out that you are likely to berk the seal by just trying to slide the timing cover into place. I will happily cough up the money if it significantly improves the odds of not doing this again sooner than I ought to. Okay, "happily" might not be the correct word, but I'd love to know whether it's worth it.

I was disappointed nobody's done a model for 3D printing a similar tool, but I'm not going to try to figure out how when I wouldn't have dimensions 'til the DD is half-disassembled. Also a little concerned that it might be fussy to get that smooth enough to work nicely given the layer ridges' most obvious orientation, though a few minutes of manual smoothing might be nicer than the cost of the tool.

Okay, maybe if I put a B48 in the 2002 I'll get two uses out of it.

Aspen HalfDork
10/3/22 2:50 p.m.

I can't say on the tool  but am surprised that your B38 is leaking already.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
10/3/22 3:20 p.m.

In reply to Aspen :

I have no idea what's normal on "modern" cars. This is my third new-vehicle experience, and this is the first one I've kept for a while.

Seven years and 81k miles? I'd certainly be happier if it weren't leaking. And happier if it'd been obviously leaking when I did the crank balancer/pulley last year and was 80% of the way through this job in the process...

This thing was rock solid until that point, having only ever had a cracked spark plug insulator and a buzzy speaker in the first six years. Now I've got the timing cover, that leak killed the rubber in the torque link below that, and the top engine mount is dead as well.

jharry3 Dork
10/3/22 3:56 p.m.

I've bought tools more than once, and used them once, because the cost was a small percentage of what a mechanic would charge for the work. 

 Especially if it meant I wouldn't break something trying a work-around.

kb58 UltraDork
10/3/22 4:34 p.m.

My rule is: Buy it if it costs less than having someone else do the same work, because then you save money AND end up with a "free" tool.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
10/3/22 5:01 p.m.

In reply to jharry3 and kb58 :

I dig it; that aligns with my general tendency and makes a lot of sense.

I think I'm wrestling with some aversion as a long time BMW fan who's not stoked about their increasing DIY-hostility and other changes I find distasteful.

$65 for a tool to guide one seal on one engine (well, one engine family) is also a little ugly in terms of how general the functionality is (support a seal in transition onto a shaft) and how limited in use the specific tools is (B38 and B48?), but that doesn't change the practical calculus.


Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/3/22 6:31 p.m.

When it comes to MINI/BMW special tools, I've learned (sometimes the hard way...) BMW spec'd them for a reason.  Are they always required?  Maybe... maybe not.  For example, I have a similar "seal protector" tool for installing the CV axles into the R50-53 transmission.  I honestly don't know if any of the indie MINI wrenches I know use the tool, but it was in the manual... and the cars I was working on weren't mine... and the tool wasn't terribly expensive... so it's part of my collection. 

When it comes to leaking oil, MINIs uphold the finest of British traditions.  Especially the R53.  It's almost heartwarming to read the F56 isn't immune either.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
10/3/22 7:17 p.m.

If that is a low tension seal (has no spring) like VWAG started using a ways back... you really do need a guide tool to keep the seal from getting damaged.  They are more like stiff cup seals than lip seals and do not tolerate getting tweaked.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
10/3/22 7:23 p.m.

In reply to Ian F and Pete. (l33t FS) :

I've already ordered it, but I'm grateful for the confirmation (and education).

I was trying to figure out if there was some way to make a range of them for use across all applications of this type. Having a $65+ tool for every size of low tension seal you ever cross paths with sounds expensive. Does such a thing exist?

I don't actually know whether this is that type of seal yet, but contextually it sure seems likely.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
10/3/22 7:50 p.m.

The VWAG units I am familiar with generally came with a little plastic installer tool, just a thin little sheath to get the seal over the shaft it is sealing to, which will help you keep the seal from getting damaged but it does nothing to ensure that the seal gets installed perpendicular.  The bores they pressed into all had positive stops, which is nice, but you would still need a way of pressing the seal in evenly so you don't bend it.


A lot of timing covers nowadays do NOT have a positive stop, you can push the seal in too far.  I know the rear main seal in the R50 is like this, because I drove one in too far while trying to install it cowboy-style.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
10/3/22 8:28 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

In this case the seal is part of the timing cover and the tool seems to just be to stop you folding it back over on itself on the way on. New problems with multiple form factors! VWAG including the tool I like. BMW 0, VW 1, today. At least pressing evenly can be ad hoc'ed a bit more easily in many cases.

It feels like this is an application that could've been dandy to use an included $0.25 plastic guide with a little clever design. But I guess that's not the BMW way (nor is it the way of folks who install three of these a week, so there's that)...

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