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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 08-31-2009, 09:23 PM   #1
pjo33us
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330xi head gasket procedure

st picked up a 2003 330xi black/black sport package 74k in just about damn near perfect condition EXCEPT that I need to do the head gasket! I bought the car at a very good price. I did take a warranty on the car through my bank so am covered if this turns out to be really bad, but not for the gasket repair.

There is definitely oil in the coolant though I am not experiencing any loss of power or any smoke from the tail pipe so I do not think it is real bad leak...yet. I have a couple of questions on the head gasket procedure.

1. How much should it cost? How many hours of labor should it take? I realize there are variables here which leads to...
2. What else should I have done while I have a mechanic ripping the car apart? I figure on doing the water pump, thermostat, hoses and belts at least. What other internals should the mechanic be looking at? Vanos seals?
3. Does anybody have any experience with German Motorcraft in Colorado Springs (they diagnosed the head gasket issue) or can they recommend someone there? I do not know these guys well other than speaking with them and the fact that they did a lot of diagnoses work for nothing. They recommend keeping the car and doing the head gasket.

Also, has anyone ever heard of a head gasket failure NOT being caused by an overheated car?

Thanks for your help guys, this board is the best.
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Old 08-31-2009, 09:30 PM   #2
kamaqazi
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Some say its about a 15 hour job.

Time for a s54 swap

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Old 08-31-2009, 09:33 PM   #3
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You can't take them mechanic's word for it man. Some of them will take you for a ride and more. I wouldn't do it unless you have done research on the guy from some credible source.
Never heard of head gasket problem that overheat not being the root cause.

Other things that you must do while doing the head gasket are
1/ The CCV (crankcase ventilation)
2/ Cleaned the ICV
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:38 PM   #4
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I am thinking the car was overheated at some point and everything visable was replaced. There is oil in the coolant and the cooling system has low pressure. Not sure there is anything else that would cause this...anybody?
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Old 09-02-2009, 02:49 PM   #5
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Compression test the engine.
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Old 09-02-2009, 03:17 PM   #6
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In some cases, it is cheaper to just swap in a newer engine. You may want to just do that.
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Old 09-02-2009, 03:34 PM   #7
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Never heard of head gasket problem that overheat not being the root cause.

Other things that you must do while doing the head gasket are
1/ The CCV (crankcase ventilation)
2/ Cleaned the ICV

I have seen cars that have had head gasket failure with out overheating, but that being said I have another possibility.

Is the car automatic? What does the oil in coolant look like?

If it is an automatic another possibility is that the Transmission cooler line inside the radiator has cracked and is leaking trani fluid into the radiator.

If you are a manual forget about the trani line since you don't have it.

I can also recomend you goto to a NAPA near you and pick up a head tester fluid and tool. They carry it and it will detect Exhaust fumes in the radiator.

Here is a link. Leak tester

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-03-2009, 01:39 PM   #8
pjo33us
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'A government big enough to give you everything you want,
is strong enough to take everything you have.'
Thomas Jefferson

-GREAT QUOTE

The car is a manual so that would not be it. There is no smoke and the car runs strong. The cooling system was pressure checked and will not hold.

Good news is... I was "fool" enough to buy an extended warranty for $2k for 36 months. I should be covered, it will be up to the warranty company to figure out what to do. I am pretty sure they will want to repair and not replace as a new engine is somewhere around $9 to $15k I believe. Even rebuilt the lowest I have seen is about $6k. M3 transplant? Hmmmm....

I have resigned myself that there will be surgery on the engine and am really just looking for a list of other things to d owhile I am at it. The CCV and ICV are good calls.

I will do a compression check on the cylinders myself this weekend as well. Honestly, I am thinking the HG just failed. While I have never heard of this in an E46, this does happen.
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Old 09-03-2009, 02:06 PM   #9
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A head gasket can go in any car so I am not surprised. It is a good thing you got that extended warranty.
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Old 09-03-2009, 07:09 PM   #10
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fyi if you went to a dealer it would be anywhere from 25 to 32 hours @ whatever per bill able hour say 130/hour so 3250 to 4160+parts and taxes

i looked it up

so esentially you could by a used m54 for that and have it installed and maybe save a couple hundred +
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Old 11-04-2009, 04:24 PM   #11
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FYI... the Engine was fine. Compression and leakdown were great. Emissions non existent. The PO put power sterring fluid in the coolant expansion tank!
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Old 11-04-2009, 04:39 PM   #12
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FYI... the Engine was fine. Compression and leakdown were great. Emissions non existent. The PO put power sterring fluid in the coolant expansion tank!
Gratz on no major engine work needed.

You said earlier that the coolong system would not hold pressure. In your glee dont forget about that as that may be a symptom of something else.
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Old 11-19-2009, 04:38 PM   #13
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Gratz on no major engine work needed.

You said earlier that the coolong system would not hold pressure. In your glee dont forget about that as that may be a symptom of something else.
Not forgotten... It is something to do with the t-stat. My plan is to just go ahead and replace t-stat/water pump/hoses/tank and belts and call it good...
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Old 11-19-2009, 04:44 PM   #14
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replace the expansion tank too.

good luck.
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:02 PM   #15
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replace the expansion tank too.

good luck.
Will do... Any idea how I can tell if my car has a WP with plastic impeller or metal besides taking it apart? I am thinking I may just do the t-stat/expansion tank and a flush with the BMW recommended stuff (BG Flush) and call it good until either a. the WP fails or b. I clock 100k... My hoses and belts look new...
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:48 PM   #16
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Hmmm, you slipped out of the HG job so as you were prepared for that bill, don't go cheap with the cooling sys. The water pump can grenade at any time, producing catastrophic results. Check out bundled cooling kits the vendors offer, the pricing isn't that bad. The water pump should be swapped while you're making the effort. The newer OEM impeller/pump is supposed to be fine and you know about the premium metal units offered.

You need to solve for the pressure leak and get that baby tight quickly or Mr. head gasket may visit you soon.
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:22 AM   #17
pjo33us
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Hmmm, you slipped out of the HG job so as you were prepared for that bill, don't go cheap with the cooling sys. The water pump can grenade at any time, producing catastrophic results. Check out bundled cooling kits the vendors offer, the pricing isn't that bad. The water pump should be swapped while you're making the effort. The newer OEM impeller/pump is supposed to be fine and you know about the premium metal units offered.

You need to solve for the pressure leak and get that baby tight quickly or Mr. head gasket may visit you soon.
Good advice I guess and none of it is really that expensive... I will just suck it up and spend a weekend doing it. Should I replace the radiator as well? How aboutthe tensioner pulleys?
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:25 AM   #18
pjo33us
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Thanks everyone for your help... It is pretty awesome to have a rescource such as this. I wish we had this when I had my first 2002 in 1985!
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Old 11-20-2009, 11:50 AM   #19
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IMPORTANT: If the engine overheated and the head warped, it's possible that the head bolts pulled out and damaged the threads in the aluminum block. BMW has a service bulletin for testing this; in short, you un-torque and re-torque all the head bolts and make sure they hold torque. If the head bolts don't hold torque, then the threads int he block are damaged. BMW regards this as un-repairable (i.e. new engine) but some folks have reported success with Time-Sert or Heli-Coil.

Test those head bolts before replacing the head gasket! It would be terrible to do all the work of removing and reinstalling the head, only to find out that the head can't be torqued to the block properly.
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:39 PM   #20
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IMPORTANT: If the engine overheated and the head warped, it's possible that the head bolts pulled out and damaged the threads in the aluminum block. BMW has a service bulletin for testing this; in short, you un-torque and re-torque all the head bolts and make sure they hold torque. If the head bolts don't hold torque, then the threads int he block are damaged. BMW regards this as un-repairable (i.e. new engine) but some folks have reported success with Time-Sert or Heli-Coil.

Test those head bolts before replacing the head gasket! It would be terrible to do all the work of removing and reinstalling the head, only to find out that the head can't be torqued to the block properly.
We have pretty much figured out that the HG is fine. The PO put either oil or power sterring fluid in the wrong hole. Compression fine...in fact very close to new specs. Tested the head bolts they were/are tourqued to factory specs (as new)!

I do have a stuck (open) t-stat and still have trace amounts of oil in the cooling system. I am debating how far I need to go on replacing stuff in the cooling system. I am thinking I will do a flush with the BMW recommended cleaner (BH Flush?), replace the t-stat, expansion tank, 3 hoses, belts, water pump and maybe the tensioner pullys as well.

Thoughts?
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