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Concerning find in oil filter (IMS?)


7 Oct 2021
Dropped the oil for the first time in my ownership at the weekend and when I checked the filter found the dreaded metal flakes. Felt instantly sick.

No large chunks but a resonable amount of something was in there. I've already sent off for one of Miller's oil analysis kits so that should shed a little more light on it but in the interim I also took the filter (not the car) down to my local indy and they've advised I get the IMS done immediately as a first step. When they are doing the IMS they said they will bore scope and check for any signs of scoring.

In terms of other symptoms, car doesn't smoke, no sooty exhaust, no ticking.

Feeling very concerned right now... :nooo:
Good luck, I hope it works out...

The flakes could be from a number of things, so before committing to anything I'd wait for the results of the Millers analysis, as there is little point in shelling out for a bearing change and associated labour which is duplicated as part of a rebuild anyway, depending on what you decide to do.

If the scope shows evidence of scoring, then time is on your side if the engine is not symptomatic. Driven sensibly and using decent oils it will most likely give many miles of service before needing a rebuild.
What mileage is it on? If close to 100k I'd seriously look at a rebuild with new big ends and mains, fit a later large bearing IMS when in there.

Still relatively low, circa 66k
Do you have any pictures? What colour/size are the particles? Are they magnetic?
I don't unfortunately. Quite small flakes really. More like tiny specs. The Indy seemed to think it looked more like the start of something rather than something that was already well underway.
Shiny Chrome particles of metal will probably be the IMS bearing .. the race outers and the bearings are chrome covered .. as this starts to flake off it will end up in the oil filter ..

When bad the canister the oil filter sits in will have a fair amount sitting in the bottom .

Off hand im unaware of anything else in these engines that is chrome .. hence ims .

Tiny specs doesnt sound like this to be honest .

Copper coloured and that would indicate particles of bearing shells .

Black .. silicone , green / rubber seals .

Talk to your Indy and go with what they say .. that might mean a recovery to them ... they can see the metal and we can't so they are the ones who can advise you the best i feel ... no offence to anyone here obviously as i'm just posting what i feel is best for the OP .
Indy saw the filter and they just said 'hard to tell, could be ims. If we replace that we can do a bore scope and see if anything else going on". They didn't specifically identify that the particles looked like anything in particular.

Wasn't anything in the oil filter canister.

I'll keep you all posted!
So today I got my oil analysis results back from Millers. Doesn't show anything particularly disturbing and importantly, wear metals are satisfactory.

So what to do now???


Am going to forward this on to my Indy and get their thoughts but thought would post on here for any expert opinions also! Expect Indy will just say to do IMS regardless of this...
Maybe give Hartech a call for suggestions. They see more of these engines than anyone else, and are always very helpful.
That's perhaps not a bad shout.

I do wish I'd held onto the filter now instead of leaving with the Indy who will have just binned it.
I suppose in the basis you've found bits, there's no harm in getting the IMSB changed for peace of mind. Maybe also consider 'while you're in there' stuff like the clutch and possibly if corroded the brake line over the gearbox so you are getting value out of the labour charge.

Other than that, I'd just use and enjoy the car and not go looking for trouble. If the bores are scored then it will gradually become evident at some point but won't do any harm.
I can only give my answer based on what you have said im afraid .. what to do now though .. hmm ..

With no picture of the metal in the filter its difficult ..

My experience ..

IMS breaking up .. it either lets go with no warning or you will have a reasonable amount to a large amount of very shinny and sometimes largish particles of metal in the bottom of the oil canister ..

You will get some smaller particles in the filter but the majority will be in the base of the canister .

I've seen perfectly normal running cars in for a service and a large amount of this in the canister .

Your description doesn't match this .. dull alloy particles and that's the casing .. not sure why you would have a reasonable amount though .. running in a rebuilt engine and you might but not as standard .

Now then .. oil analysis .. garages don't do this , thats a Forum thing so i have little knowledge of it but i assume it's looking for minute , crushed metal thats mixed with the oil .. microscopic basically .. things like bearing shells , copper etc of these shells and your report says nothing there ..

So its not bearing shell im guessing .

To me .. you have 2 options based on how lucky you feel ..

Run the car for a couple of thousand miles , drop the oil filter and have another look .. take pictures if anything ..

Replace the IMS bearing .

Out of everything i can think of .. only the IMS will go bang .

I'll add .. absolutely nothing you have said leads me to think its this and i feel it isn't .. but on the side of caution and based on what your Indy has said .. who after all have looked at this issue then i would have to lean towards what they say .

A Gambling man may well drive it for a bit though if you get my drift .
Thanks again for input. To try and describe as best I can nothing larger than a grain of sand but small shiny silver particles throughout the filter. One thing to mention is that around a similar time to this my oil level on the digi gauge went to a single flashing bar and I had to top up. Could the lack of oil (albeit for a very brief / short period) have caused wear somewhere?

Understand what you're saying. I spoke to a guy in the States who found something remarkably similar in his C4S and his results from oil analysis were the same (nothing of note found). What he did say (which I now can't test for as I no longer have the filter) was that his mechanic attributed the flecks in his filter (which were found to be aluminium) to be small little casting defects in very old oil. I don't know if this could be the same for me (but there is no way of knowing now anyway) or whether the mechanic was even correct in his diagnosis.

I was always in the camp of leave the IMS bearing well alone but this has made me question that. I guess as Robertb says if I can get some value from the labour charge by getting some of the other 'while you're in there" jobs done perhaps it's worth it for the peace of mind factor. Was considering a new clutch as have always felt it was a tad on the heavy side with a very high biting point despite only having 30k miles on it (doesn't slip at all though). The Indy also does the RMS as part of the same job.
If you want to go down the IMS route, I'd just have it checked out and remove the seal. Do not change it unless it is showing signs of wear. But obviously to do this you'll incur a large labour fee for doing so.

Personally I'd be on to Hartech for any further advice from where you are now.

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