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On our second morning out of Colorado bound for Florida, we stopped for breakfast on I70 about halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis. After our meal, I noticed some oil on the ground under the front of the bike (99 with 43K). Panic set in as I thought the nearest dealer in front of me was Nashville (Cape Girardeau if I wanted to go out of my way) or Kansas City two hours behind me. I called Kansas City BMW and was told there was a brand new dealer in St. Louis, Gateway BMW. I talked to Shannon, the service manager there. We agreed that since the sight glass still indicated a full crankcase, I could probably make it to their shop safely. We headed off east stopping at every rest area and most exits to check the oil level.

I found Gateway on a tricky frontage road two exits south of I70 on I170. These guys could not have been nicer nor more accommodating. It was determined after much cleaning of the engine front that the leak was either the timing cover sealant or the front crank seal behind the hall effect cover. The downside of a new dealership (open just two weeks) is that they don't have a complete parts stock yet. We didn't want to take the bike apart only to find that a seal might need to be ordered, delaying our trip by at least a day and losing a couple of prepaid motel reservations. I bought two quarts of oil and pressed on southward.

Now here is the dilemma. I took the machine to a Florida dealer to see about getting an emergency repair. The wrench’s diagnosis was the same, timing cover sealant or front crank seal. Then he looked at the sight glass and said the crank case was over filled. The level (while on the center stand) was just below the top. He stated that the proper oil level was at the center of the glass in this position. My manual, 1999 version, states that this is the proper level for the tilt stand. Every dealer-preformed oil change since I’ve owned the bike has had the level at mid sight glass while on the tilt stand. On the center stand it has always been at the top. I checked a brand new LT in their showroom (which was on the tilt stand) and found it to be at the bottom of the sight glass. Has BMW changed this specification? If not, should I trust this dealer to do the work if they are indeed wrong about the proper oil level? After 1000 miles I have lost maybe 1 to 2 ounces of oil. Currently the weeping is not that bad. Has anyone had experience with a similar leak and then had a catastrophic loss of oil? I would prefer to have this work done at my local dealer than on the road just in case there is any warranty issue with the work preformed yet I don’t want to put the bike and myself at risk by not taking care of this issue while I have the chance.

What would you do? I welcome your collective opinions.
 

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if that is all you are losing, carry a quart with you, check your level often and refill if necessary, otherwise enjoy your trip. Get it fixed somewhere you trust
 

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Top of the sight glass is correct when your center stand on level ground. I would keep an eye on it and if it remains stable just wait until your home. You could always visit a dealer along the way if the need arises. Check it every fuel stop at minimum. Enjoy the ride.
 

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I don't think that little difference in oil level is that critical. I just put 4 quarts in when I change oil & never look at the glass. Now if I see oil under the bike like you are seeing, then I'll check the glass.
 

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Keeping riding, enjoy, no worries

Sounds like a non-critical leak to me.
I would not try to get a repair done during the trip.
Check the oil level each morning, don't worry and enjoy the ride.

I think that the oil level in the sight glass isn't that critical either.
If you can still see the oil level at the top of the sight glass with the bike on the sidestand it is going to be okay; when it is this full you may not be able to see the oil level when on the centerstand. However, I would prefer to be able to see the oil level both on the centerstand and the sidestand.

(On the other hand, four full quarts might be over filling. Putting in four full quarts and not checking the sight glass might be asking for trouble. My understanding of the problem with overfilling is that the crankshaft can whip air into the oil in the sump, and then the foamed oil will not lubricate as well causing engine wear. )
 

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CharlieVT said:
(On the other hand, four full quarts might be over filling. Putting in four full quarts and not checking the sight glass might be asking for trouble. My understanding of the problem with overfilling is that the crankshaft can whip air into the oil in the sump, and then the foamed oil will not lubricate as well causing engine wear. )
I agree with Charlie here. I've never put 4 qts. in an LT and I've done more oil changes than I can remember.

I also agree on just checking it in the morning. Never heard of a catastrophic failure in this area.

Have some fun.



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CharlieVT said:
(On the other hand, four full quarts might be over filling. Putting in four full quarts and not checking the sight glass might be asking for trouble. My understanding of the problem with overfilling is that the crankshaft can whip air into the oil in the sump, and then the foamed oil will not lubricate as well causing engine wear. )
The distance from the crank to the level of oil in the sump is too great to ever have contact even with a full 4 quarts. Run the engine it on the center stand and look at the sight glass - it will be empty.

I would not worry about the leak until you get back home. Enjoy the trip.
 

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The sign glass is a pain at best. If you have a friend with you have him ( her) sit on the bike and go from unright to the side stand while you check the sign glass. This should give you an idea of the amount of oil in the crankcase.
My 99LT tech book said to put 4 qts of oil in on a oil change so I would and the oil was always above the sign glass, there are those that say that this is wrong but have not give proof of it. So I don't know if its fact or just opinion.

DON
 

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Not an opinion, it's wrong. I've seen sight glasses with 4 qts. in the belly. The site glass is completely covered, which means it's overfilled. When you drain the oil, old oil remains. Many times I've drained the oil and pulled the valve cover with oil draining out. I've then pulled the cams to put in new buckets, with more oil draining out. After putting it all together, the bike still didn't take 4 qts.

Trust your sight glass, don't be lazy and just dump oil because it's convenient. There's a reason the sight glass is there.... use it. On the same thought, when you change the oil on your cage, do you use the dipstick or just dump?



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So Grif: On a oil change what is the the proper level on the sight glass? Where is it checked? on the side stand or center stand? How long should we wait for the oil to drain down? Maybe BMW would answer these questions so we could stop opinions and deal with facts.

DON
 

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donsobeck said:
So Grif: On a oil change what is the the proper level on the sight glass? Where is it checked? on the side stand or center stand? How long should we wait for the oil to drain down?
DON[/QUOTE]Here's how I do it, and I can't even remember how many I've done, sometimes 5 in a line during a tech session in the gearage:

I consider the proper level in the sight glass to be just at the top while on the center stand and in the middle while on the kickstand. This is after putting 3 1/2 qts (this amount is included with pre loading the filter) and starting the bike. Fine tune afterwards.

donsobeck said:
Maybe BMW would answer these questions so we could stop opinions and deal with facts.
They already have, it's in the manual.



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Discussion Starter #12
The book does indeed state the min/max should be measured on the tilt stand. What bothers me is a certified BMW mechanic told me it was overfilled and to never check it on the tilt stand. That doesn't give me a great deal of confidence in the expertise of the shop or mechanic. In his defense, I only have one bike to remember, he has many different machines to maintain. Its possible that other bikes use a different indication and he was confused on a hot Saturday afternoon.

Regardless, after reading all your responses and finding, coincidently, another thread not too far down the list about leaks around the timing cover being somewhat common for 99-01 K1200lt's, I have decided to ride it home and fix it myself. Turns out my stay has been cut short due to a family situation anyway. This leaves zero time for nearly all day repair.

Thanks for all your input!
 

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Grif: Went and read the Repair Manual for the first time for oil changes. I am sure glad the crows here are smaller than in Canada but I'll bet they taste as bad.

DON
 
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