View Full Version : White smoke what could it be ?
05-23-2004, 08:01 PM
Hey waz up people, i have a 99 528i auto, well its got 95xxx miles now and the last two todays ago i drove it somewhat hard somewhat too hard. And well now its starting to missfire. So i checked it and it said cylinder number 4 missfire, So i changed all the spark plugs and still it didnt do any better and now white smoke is coming out of the exhuast, only at cold starts cause when it warms up the smoke goes away so i think my cat is getting hot enought to do its job. But still the smoke does not smell like burn oil, i think its unburned gas and air mix, If anyone has had the same problem let me know what you guys did, cause im about to take it to the dealer, and i want that to be my last option. Thanks.
05-24-2004, 06:02 AM
I'm new to the BMW business but guess you blew the head gasket. Coolant fluid enters the cylinder(s) and produce white smoke. Further indicators may be noticable loss of coolant fluid, possibly also discoloration of the engine oil (grayish). If it was my car I'd have a qualified service shop fixing it... I'm a "plugs and oil change" kind of guy...!
05-24-2004, 06:02 PM
Damn i didnt check the coolant level, good idea, but i didnt see any discolor when i took the spark plugs out.
05-24-2004, 06:30 PM
checked oil cap and coolant level ok and color is the same green with no signs of coolant and oil mix. engine still knocks when start and running for a while.
05-25-2004, 05:55 AM
Misfiring engines can be quite demanding to diagnose without special equipment. Still thinks a damaged head gasket can be the cause in this case since it gives white exhaust smoke... but then again, who am I to tell, have just some knowledge of old volvos, saab 9k... let's hope the real experts have something to say here!
The engine control unit in my saab has always been very helpful in pinpointing faulty sensors and stuff, that is the natural starting point in fault diagnosis on that car. Have no idea about bmw:s self diagnosis capability but I guess your ecu should have a nice collection of error codes by now, to be pulled and interpreted.
A faulty head gaskets has some tell-tale indicators such as misfiring, whitish plug deposits, oily coolant fluid/loss of, murky "mayonnaise" in the engine oil... condense on the oil dip stick perhaps... but sometimes they are not very clear. To rule it out, you would need a block tester that tests for exhaust gas above the coolant fluid.
Unless you are an experienced DIY guy, I think your engine problem is something for a pro. It needs to be correctly diagnosed, and if it really is the head gasket, it is not a typical DIY job anyway. Of course it can be done but it would probably take a couple of days, full time.
In any case, I would not use the car at all until it is fixed. Expensive components such as the cat can be damaged by the misfiring alone, and if there is coolant fluid leaking into the cylinders as well… not good at all! Best wishes, and hope to hear from the really experienced folks! Please report back to us about the solution.
05-25-2004, 07:59 AM
Sterner is right. Your symptoms sound like a blown head gasket or a cracked head.
"White Smoke" on cold starts is almost always coolant in the form of steam. The coolant gets into cylinder while the engine is sitting still (e.g. overnight). At startup the piston pumps the liquid into the exhaust. The liquid turns to steam as the exhaust system heats up. The engine runs very rough at start up because the effected cylinder(s) has a much higher compression ratio due to the liquid taking up some or all of the volume normally reserved for the compressed gas/air mixture. In the worst case the incompressible fluid consumes nearly all of the available space making the whole problem much, much worse:(
The tell tale 'coolant in the oil', 'coolant loss' etc. is not that easy to see until the problem gets pretty bad. The head gasket leak (or crack in the head) can be between just a water jacket and a combustion chamber. In that case, the coolant that gets to the oil has to drain around the rings via their gap(s). If one of the three rings is oriented so that the gap is "up" (note BMW 6's are tilted to one side) the cylinder can hold quite a bit of coolant before it gets to the gap and hence spills into the oil. If you drive the car daily, it may not leak fast enough to fill up to the gap in the rings. So you would not see any significant coolant in the oil. Besides, oil filters trap 'sludge' pretty well, which further reduces your ability to see minor amounts of coolant in the oil without a full oil change and through inspection of the filter contents.
I'd follow Sterner's advise and quit running the engine until you can determine that it is _not_ a blown head gasket or cracked head. If either of these is your problem, every time you start that engine cold you run the risk of cracking the head as the piston tries to compress the incompressible fluid. Something has to give and most likely it is the thin walls in the alloy head:(
FWIW I am in the middle of a full rebuild of my 77 530i engine brought on by two cracks in the head. So I _may_ know what I'm talking about;)
-- Funf Dreisig
05-25-2004, 09:50 AM
Thanks for your help and, Yeah i have another car that i been using. I just going to take to the dealer, I hope its not a headgasket and its less then 2gs to fix.
05-25-2004, 09:54 AM
What about a "water/oil separator" malfunction?
The V8's have this troublesome gizmo...what about 6's? It's a very complex emissions gizmo that serves as a PCV, amongst other things.
This "white exhaust cloud" symptom mirrors a writeup on the E38 org site. This is an external part mounted somewhere around the intake manifold...perhaps on the rear of it.
05-25-2004, 10:12 AM
Nice cause just talked to the dealer they said its going to be around $1800 to $2200 to fix :confused: :eek: :yikes: :( :bawling: :cry: :mad: :tsk: , Others its around $1250 thats somewhat better, Do you have the link to what your taking about the oil and water separator, i dont even know if a 5 has one of them.
05-25-2004, 10:31 AM
What about a "water/oil separator" malfunction?.... Good point. My experience (and my previous post) is based on working on cars over the last 40+ years that don't have the modern, sophisticated environmental and/or performance gear (e.g vario-cams, etc.). A failure in one of these could closely mimic the symptoms of a failure in more 'basic' components like the head, head gasket, etc..
-- Funf Dreisig
05-25-2004, 08:53 PM
I made some calls and found out some more info, It could also be a leaking fuel injector, cause i have no discolor in my coolant and the smokes goes away when the car is warm, its hard to start in cold start, and that the smoke doesnt smell sweet like syrup ( burned coolant). it could be a hydraulic lock in cold starts it needs very little liquid to cause this and it again it could be fuel which i hope to God it is or coolant but will see, also dont you have to drive a car very hard to crack the head gasket?
05-25-2004, 09:54 PM
...don't you have to drive a car very hard to crack the head gasket? I certainly hope that I'm wrong and your problem is something simple and inexpensive to fix. But you do not have the 'drive a car hard' to blow a head gasket or crack a head.
The BMW six is a long engine. The head is a relatively complex aluminum alloy casting bolted onto a steel block. The main culprit in head failures is heat and differential expansion between the head and block. Overheating in stop and go traffic is much harder on heads and head gaskets than 'driving the car hard' on the open road (or an autoX).
FWIW Early E12s (like mine) are notorious for having head related problems. The heads tend to warp slightly and create a gap which leads to either a blown head gasket and/or cracks in the thin wall between the combustion chamber and the 'water' jacket. This weak area was strengthened in subsequent designs but it is still a potential point of failure.
Good luck -- Funf Dreisig
05-26-2004, 05:50 AM
The car should not be driven at all, with this symptom.
If it's an internal coolant/gasket/crack problem, the engine will need a total rebuild in just a few miles of driving ($6K+).
If it's a water separator problem, the catalytic converter will be damaged ($800).
If it's a stuck injector, the lubrication will be washed off the cylinder walls and severe Alusil scoring can result, requiring a new motor and new cat's to boot ($7K+).
Get it towed and repaired. The complications from a delayed repair (procrastination) can cost 10x the original repair fee.
05-28-2004, 10:07 PM
You have to have a blown head gasket. This happened on my Porsche 928 and it was the head gasket. My new 530i fully loaded shipped from germany on May 28th and I can't wait to get it. I will have to retire the Porsche.
If you have white smoke then you have moisture in the oil. This is escaping through the exaust. The ony way you really could get water in your oild is a blown head gasket. Well you could have cracked the manifold, but this is very unlikely and also the last thing that you want to have as the problem.
06-16-2004, 06:38 PM
Took my car to the dealer, They told me it was my headgasket well told them fix it, then they told me that if one of the bolts holding the engine together does not freely come out then you will need a new engine. Well guess what one of the bolts broke and now i need a new engine. They said that the car overheated many times through out its life and had problems with overheating but didnt see any overheating when i drove it. Well will post picks of the bolts and if anyone knows if overheating can brake this bolts please post it.
06-16-2004, 08:44 PM
...they told me that if one of the bolts holding the engine together does not freely come out then you will need a new engine. Well guess what one of the bolts broke and now i need a new engine.... if anyone knows if overheating can brake this bolts please post it. Bummer:(
Which head bolt was it? And was it already 'broken' or did it snap when the mechanic was trying to remove it?
If it was already broken the engine had been cooked at some point stressing that head and bolt to the point of failure. OTOH if it snapped when the mechanic was removing it, it could just be that the bolt was frozen in the head (unlikely, since it is exposed to oil) or simply not up to spec (possible, but not easy to prove/disprove).
You almost certainly need a head and the decision to repair or replace the 'engine' would depend on the condition of the bottom end (rings, bearings, etc.). If you don't have the skills or time to do your own engine rebuild, the cheapest solution is to get a replacement low milage engine from a wrecking yard.
Please post the pictures. It would be interesting to see how much of the head bolt is exposed and whether it is feasible to remove it from the block.
-- Funf Dreisig
06-17-2004, 05:56 AM
There is no such thing as a broken bolt that can not be extracted. Your dealer is a jerk. This shop is offering you a plug and play "cost is no object" solution. They want to make big bucks on a simpler engine swap. Go somewhere else....to an independent BMW engine reapir facility. Do some research to select the proper shop.
There are special machines and methods used by the automotive industry to extract ANY broken-off fastener from ANY material. This extra step will cost a few bux (couple hundred), but the block surely CAN be saved. I can not believe a new block is mandated unless there are other issues you aren't mentioning.
06-17-2004, 07:38 AM
Well still havent seen if the block or the head is not level anymore. This really sucks.
06-17-2004, 07:40 AM
Anyone want a 99 jet blk/blk 528i for 10gs lol. very cheap. :cry:
06-17-2004, 11:09 AM
well people the police was called to the dealership cause i went crazy, when they told my father that he had broken the bolt. I went ****ing Crazy! Well cops came and said we have to pay and take the car off the lot. to pissed off to type be back later if you guys are ever around St.louis and your BMW needs work do not take it to Suntrup West County BMW that place ****ing sucks. :mad:
07-15-2004, 01:46 PM
Have a 97 528i with same overheat problem --only 59k lightly-driven miles. Dealer says hairline crack in the head. This will cost me 4500 to fix (in NY prices). I was just a pissed off, except they didn't have to call the cops for me.
When I called BMW NA Customer Service to tell them that this should not happen to such a young car, they told me that the warrantee is only good until 50,000 miles or 4yrs. According to that theory, I guess the $40,000+ that I paid for this vehicle only buys you 50,000 miles of reliable service.
Seems to me that BMW is avoiding owning up to a major engine defect in the 528i engine.
When my car is fixed I will sell it for a fair price, and just go to Lexus (vehicles with the lowest incidence of repair in U.S).
I will make sure everyone knows that BMW should no longer be allowed to bull**** the American public with an illusion of quality. They have other major quality problems across the board-- X5s are turning out to be lemons, and over 41 people in U.S. have been injured by premature Airbag deployments.
08-02-2004, 03:51 AM
Sorry to hear about problems, I had the same problem with my E34 525 twice and it seems there is a known problem with the heads cracking. Often it is a hairline crack not visible to the naked eye and only opens when the engine is hot.
The headbolt being broken needs simple engineering know how and if the Dealer says it can't be done either there is too much other damage or they are not worth using.
08-26-2004, 09:05 AM
As we say here in England (Or Wales).
You thrashed the ass off it.
It's an old girl, with 95K on the clock, and you went out and gave it a testosterone crazed thrash!
The head Gasket has blown. No surprises there I'm afriad to say.
The bolt issue, they are lying. A bolt extractor kit could do it, if not, just drill the thing out, re-drill the hole to the next size up to take either a bigger bolt or a Helicoil and original sized bolt.
However, they said the engine showed signs of much overheating, they probably couldn't be bothered spending the man hours on it.
05-10-2005, 03:21 PM
Same exact issue with my 96 328i. Misfire on startup, white residue on oil cap, white smoke(spy hunter style) on start up and hard accelerations, stalling of the entire car itself (did not want to start), etc etc.. I was finally able to crank it on, which I now find out is a huge no, and took it straight to a shop. As soon as the BMW tech heard my symptoms, he advised it was probably a blown head gasket, that is if i didnt worsen the situation by forcing it to start again. SH*T! In any case, a blown gasket is going to run me $800, if a decide to do a valve job while its out, that will run me $1500, and if the head is cracked or need new valves, .. lets just say the mechanic chuckled....
05-10-2005, 03:25 PM
In my experience white smoke means you've just elected a new pope.
05-10-2005, 04:04 PM
In my experience white smoke means you've just elected a new pope.
White smoke what could it be ?
pot-head in the back ?? :dunno:
05-12-2005, 06:59 PM
Well what a post....I'll add my two cents here. I had about 65-70k on my 528i 1998. It was a cold winter and was on the interstate and she over heated. Lucky for me, I caught it in time. Towed her home and put a new thermostat, cover and wasser pumpen.
Then my inspection II lit up and out the spark plugs came out. Well the threads were all stripped! Man. I almost fainted. BMW wanted $5,000. I call an online parts vendor whom I used alot. He gave me the confidence and sold me a Bentley manual for a 328i.
Out came the head. :p
Took it to the machine shop who knows I change my oil every 3,000 syn! We could not believe that every valve rocked back and forth completely out of spec. And a bearing cap on the exhaust camshaft cracked in half and gouged the cam. :dunno:
Lucky the head was not warped and he had an extra cam from another engine. With all the special tools, head work it all came to $1,900-$1,800. :eek:
BMW is well aware of this problem.....a real shame. I work on older BMW & Mercedes and did not expect to tear my new one apart. Because of my carfeful attention I have gotten over 250,000 service on my older babies on dino oil to boot.
I seem to recommed people who do not work on their cars to get the extended warranty or don't bother buying a BMW. :tsk:
05-12-2005, 08:09 PM
This is all news to me....BMW has been building sixes for ever....I have only heard great things about the 3 and 5 series sixes from friends. In fact I thought I was taking a big chance going with the 540, what with some "issues" with them.
05-13-2005, 04:04 PM
friend of mine had simillar issue with his S320 around same milage... ended up wires for the coils...
go with cheap fixes first and work your way out... if you cant fix it... well take it to one of the auctions... you will get plenty for them... never give up.. go get another one.. may be you will have better luck...
to search for engine www.car-part.com
to take it to one of the auctions search for local public auction, or go here www.iaai.com
i hope this will give you new wave in life,,, and you get to a better spot in your life...
i know this suck when you expect something to live longer because it is suppose to.
ps... may be its time to throw something else in to that thing...
05-26-2005, 02:08 PM
Same problem = 540i, 130K mi, white smoke at cold start clear when , thought it was the head gasket (5K+ to repair), turned out to be the oil seperator $229 to repair! When you are looking at 5K it is worth it to get a second opinion:-)!
03-08-2006, 11:18 PM
1997 BMW 528i ~ Same problem. Yesterday morning... plenty of white smoke coming from exhaust but it was morning and it's cold here so didnt think too much... Yesterday night... left to a friends house, loss in power, obvious misfire, turned around and came home. Checked oil cap - white residue (began speculating head gasket), checked exhaust - no smoke, checked oil filter - fine, checked dip stick - fine... Ok so this morning took it to my mechanic, a few hours later "Head Gasket, Cylinder #4" ~ $1300 for repairs :mad:
07-20-2008, 12:00 PM
Yea I have been having problems with my 1997 540i.... i have white smoke on start ups and sometimes on acceleration, and also my check coolant light comes on, yet the car has enough. My car also sometimes displays a message that says "STOP! ENGINE PRESS" and I assume that i a problem. My service engine light is constantly on and the oil level is constantly low.... can anyone help me? I have taken the car to a mechanic twice and he says he keeps fixing it but the problems continue. I hear that the problem might be a head gasket or maybe an oil-water separator..... PLEASE HELP!!!!!
07-20-2008, 02:10 PM
It's not a water oil seperator---it's called the crank case vent valve---getting ready to put a new one on mine now and doing the job myself should take about three hours on my 2003 525i--the 540 model V8's also have these--check real oem.com and find your part number and the number of the plastic hoses that go along with it.
Hope that helps
07-21-2008, 07:03 AM
07-10-2010, 06:22 PM
I'm having the same problem on my 98 528i!! I shoots straight to red in stop and go traffic and now there is white smoke and a lil water out of the tailpipe at cold start! I just found out that I need a new fan clutch, but that wouldn't cause the smoke right?
07-10-2010, 06:24 PM
No. The antifreeze in your combustion chamber is doing that.
07-15-2010, 12:21 AM
So I had my 528 fixed today. Appearently I had a bad thermostat which caused my fan clutch to go out. So that's my overheating prob. As far as my white smoke, my mech said I was overdue on an oil change. Could the white smoke go away with just an oil change and my fluids bled??Weird, but none the less it's running great... Hopefully for GOOD!
07-15-2010, 01:56 AM
Jeezz.. all these things give me the creep. i just got my 97 528i last week and although she's in perfect condition (15K miles)..i'm starting to get frightened..
SarahAarr..hope yours turn out to be only that bad ! No more head gasket issue..
Good luck !
Sorry to hear about your trouble. Even if the head bolt broke it shouldn't be a big deal. Normally Helicoil inserts are replaced. These helicoil inserts go into the block and then head bolts screw into these. I had all 14 of mine replaced, parts were $ 78.26. As I recall labor was cost was minor. Repair head, rebuild cooling system, replace suspension bushing, steering rack boots and an alignment for $ 3,677.00. If the head is cracked it's a different ball game. I used a top notch indy shop, not the dealer. I'm certain the dealer would have been close to 6K.
07-17-2010, 02:00 PM
i think everyone knows an authorized BMW dealer doesn't manufacture the cars or having anything to do with defending the BMW brand name, they are privately owned and just like any indy mechanic shop who's authorized by the company in Germany to sell parts and their mechanics are trained with BMW specs. depend on the ownership, some of them are just like any junk yard shady owners who's looking forward to rip off anyone step into the shop. that's why i sell the vehicle every 3 yrs after warranty is over.
Sorry to hear about your trouble. Even if the head bolt broke it shouldn't be a big deal. Normally Helicoil inserts are replaced. These helicoil inserts go into the block and then head bolts screw into these.
07-17-2010, 02:49 PM
I think another way of checking, if u have a blown gasket, is to open the reservoir cap and see if there are any air bubbles (but do it when the car is cold since the hot coolant can burn you)
05-07-2011, 12:30 AM
[QUOTE=528iheat;768165]Hey waz up people, i have a 99 528i auto, well its got 95xxx miles now and the last two todays ago i drove it somewhat hard somewhat too hard. And well now its starting to missfire. So i checked it and it said cylinder number 4 missfire, So i changed all the spark plugs and still it didnt do any better and now white smoke is coming out of the exhuast, only at cold starts cause when it warms up the smoke goes away so i think my cat is getting hot enought to do its job. But still the smoke does not smell like burn oil, i think its unburned gas and air mix, If anyone has had the same problem let me know what you guys did, cause im about to take it to the dealer, and i want that to be my last option. Thanks.[/QUOT
Hold on before you get carried away with rebuilding your motor check this first. I had the same prob w/ my 99 5258i, its common knowledge that BMW used crapy plastic hoses, ducts, ext. if you look directly at your engine on the right side of the head (valve cover) towards the front of the car you will see a hose, connected to the valve cover its angled @ 90 degrees, and it goes down towards the bottom. [ATTACH] well its made from that crappy plastic and if you got a crack, therefore its a leak causing air to escape,and trowing off your camshaft position sensors, o2 sensors, MAF sensor etc. i located the crack at first i just jimmy rigged a new one warped it w/ high heat tape and pronto no smoke no codes no rough idle or misfire, but i was lucky good luck
05-07-2011, 03:14 PM
Phillip, quit joking... this man is already in a lot of pain... he can't take any more! -BTW -this OP was done in 2004 so I'm sure it's all resolved by now. Wonder when OP gets out on parole?
I agree with most others here in that any broken bolt can be fixed. My experience with BMW dealers is that they all tend to feed you a line about THIS engine/car is somehow different or special and only they know what to do or how to fix it. A broken head bolt is unusual, so I bet THEY did it to scare the crap out of you and make more money! The bolt can be removed and the head, if not cracked, can be flattened and the head gasket replaced. Try and find a honest mechanic and your problems will soon go away... sorry about the cops thing... do you happen to be fairly young? I was like that once... often did the same things (ouch!) Now I am old an tired, unable to throw an Irish fit anymore and get myself in trouble.. however, I am proud of you!
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