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2010 2011 BMW 5 Series Forum F10 BMW 5-Series (F10) Forums General 5-Series Sedan and Wagon (F10 / F11) Forum questions about visible exhaust fumes in the 520d
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      09-10-2012, 04:00 AM   #1
darrko
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questions about visible exhaust fumes in the 520d

While I am driving it I have never seen any visible exhaust fumes from my car's rear (in the rear view mirror) but the other day when I drove up into my driveway someone pointed out to me that there were visible fumes. Now this guy is present almost every time I drive into my house so he has a point of reference. I stepped out of the car and asked him to rev the engine a bit and it was just like he said. The fumes were light grey, not dark or black but were still visible esp against the dark car paint. Is that normal? Also every time I stand behind my car while the engine is running the smell is quite weird, not like the typical fuel or diesel smell but slightly pungent and almost chemical. Again, is that normal?

One more Q: I wash the car every Sunday and while doing the rear with the pressure washer the water that enters the exhaust always comes out black. I understand the carbon deposits would cause that but then how do I clean it properly? Should I refrain from allowing the pressured water to enter the exhaust? Should I keep doing it until the water is no longer black? I am a little confused.
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      09-25-2012, 05:03 AM   #2
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Did you get to the bottom of this problem?
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      09-25-2012, 07:55 AM   #3
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You can have visible fumes from the exhaust on a diesel, just like on a petrol engine. If it's white and very little it's just vaporization of condensed water in the exhaust. If it's darker colours it suggests overfuelling (grey/black) or oil (blue).

On a modern diesel engine with particulate filter there really should not be any visible smoke apart from vaporization on start up. Would take it to BMW to check if there is regular smoke.

Also the tailpipe should be clean at all times on a particulate filtered diesel BMW. You should be able to wipe your finger inside the tailpipe and not get any deposits on the finger.

The smell is typical of catalyzed and particulate filter diesels. It's a strange, chemical smell as you say.
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      09-25-2012, 09:14 AM   #4
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I wonder if the grey hue from the exhaust was due to a DPF regeneration. May not have quite completed by the end of the trip. Some comment on how there can be a bit of residual smoke as the soot is burned off to ash. Plus of course, that added smell is a sign of a burn off.

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      09-25-2012, 09:32 AM   #5
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Maybe it was steam?
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      09-25-2012, 12:00 PM   #6
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It doesn't smell like rotten eggs does it (Sulphur)? Is it starting normally and smoothly on cold starts?
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      09-26-2012, 12:33 AM   #7
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Yeah starts are very normal and smooth. The main thing is that I never see any visible smoke in my rear-view mirror when I accelerate, its that one time that it was pointed out to me and I thought that was strange. I doubt it was steam because I had been driving for 25 min already and besides, the climate here is tropical.

The smell is pungent and more like ammonia than sulphur.
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      09-26-2012, 08:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darrko View Post
Yeah starts are very normal and smooth. The main thing is that I never see any visible smoke in my rear-view mirror when I accelerate, its that one time that it was pointed out to me and I thought that was strange. I doubt it was steam because I had been driving for 25 min already and besides, the climate here is tropical.

The smell is pungent and more like ammonia than sulphur.
Just that one time? Maybe it was regenerating the DPF...
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      10-01-2012, 11:44 PM   #9
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I am keeping an eye out in case this happens again.
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      10-02-2012, 06:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darrko
While I am driving it I have never seen any visible exhaust fumes from my car's rear (in the rear view mirror) but the other day when I drove up into my driveway someone pointed out to me that there were visible fumes. Now this guy is present almost every time I drive into my house so he has a point of reference. I stepped out of the car and asked him to rev the engine a bit and it was just like he said. The fumes were light grey, not dark or black but were still visible esp against the dark car paint. Is that normal? Also every time I stand behind my car while the engine is running the smell is quite weird, not like the typical fuel or diesel smell but slightly pungent and almost chemical. Again, is that normal?

One more Q: I wash the car every Sunday and while doing the rear with the pressure washer the water that enters the exhaust always comes out black. I understand the carbon deposits would cause that but then how do I clean it properly? Should I refrain from allowing the pressured water to enter the exhaust? Should I keep doing it until the water is no longer black? I am a little confused.
This post was funny since the answer is actually in the op's second paragraph.

Guys, it sounds like he is jamming the water spray into the bowels of his exhaust every week.

Where do you think all that water is going to go? At least the residual water will turn into the steam and thus the vapor he complains about.

Don't spray water into the exhaust!
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      10-12-2012, 04:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWrules7 View Post
This post was funny since the answer is actually in the op's second paragraph.

Guys, it sounds like he is jamming the water spray into the bowels of his exhaust every week.

Where do you think all that water is going to go? At least the residual water will turn into the steam and thus the vapor he complains about.

Don't spray water into the exhaust!
Hey Sherlock, I don't see where you got the word "jamming the water spray into the bowels of his exhaust" from my post as I simply stated ".... the water that enters the exhaust always comes out black." I don't suppose it is impossible to wash the car with a pressure washer and not have any water entering the exhaust. The water that does enter is actually deflected off the exhaust tips or the occasional off-spray and not purposely "jammed" down the exhaust as you seem to deduce from the evidence.

The residual water turning to steam would make sense if the smoke appeared right after me washing the car. In fact, I wash the car Sunday evening and do not drive it till Monday morning. The next wash is next Sunday so its hardly likely that the water that accidentally enters the exhaust is so much in volume or so resistant to the weather that it manages to stay inside and produce steam throughout the week in tropical climate.

The only informative bit in your post is the last line so thank you for your advice. I was a bit unclear about how exactly one should proceed with washing the exhaust from the inside and have been cautious about it already. I would like someone to confirm if it is recommended to take extra measures like blocking the exhaust opening while the car is being washed.
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      10-12-2012, 09:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darrko View Post
I was a bit unclear about how exactly one should proceed with washing the exhaust from the inside and have been cautious about it already. I would like someone to confirm if it is recommended to take extra measures like blocking the exhaust opening while the car is being washed.
Darrko, you don't clean it, try to avoid it 100%

If the outside of the tip is mucky (dirt etc.) use a cloth with soap and water and then spray with a slow hose pipe making sure no water gets in..

Any water getting in could sit in the baffler housing.... and get sucked into the front bafflers and catalytic converter etc.... (and cause rust) I found out the hard way in my Audi A4, had to replace the whole lot!
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Last edited by jedpause; 10-12-2012 at 09:03 AM. Reason: More info
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      10-12-2012, 02:16 PM   #13
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Use an old alloy wheel brush that is lightly moist followed by metal polish, keeps the inside of the ends lovely and shiny on all my prior cars.
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      10-12-2012, 03:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jedpause View Post
Darrko, you don't clean it, try to avoid it 100%

If the outside of the tip is mucky (dirt etc.) use a cloth with soap and water and then spray with a slow hose pipe making sure no water gets in..

Any water getting in could sit in the baffler housing.... and get sucked into the front bafflers and catalytic converter etc.... (and cause rust) I found out the hard way in my Audi A4, had to replace the whole lot!
Making all service station car washes useless that then...???
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      10-15-2012, 05:21 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boss330 View Post
Making all service station car washes useless that then...???
Usually those are a fairly low pressure...(and not concentrated into a single jet)... I was talking more about keeping a hosepipe or pressure washer away from the exhausts....
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