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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 03-19-2011, 06:44 PM
bavareze bavareze is offline
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bad bleeding or blown head gasket

Hello,

I am having a problem with my 323i with 170k.

One week ago it overheated badly. Someone else was driving I noticed the expansion tank was punctured and coolant leaked.

So I got a new tank. After that I filled with coolant. I opened the bleeding screw while filling to make sure air goes out. Then when I start the car I see some issues:

- immediately a lot of pressure builds in the hoses.
- coolant does not circulate through the hoses

so I went to get a new thermostat, put it in, redid bleeding.

same issues: as soon as I start the car there will be a lot of pressure in the cooling system.

shall I go ahead and assume head gasket is gone?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 03-19-2011, 07:01 PM
QAfred QAfred is offline
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no, not yet. I have had to overfill the exapnsion tank until fluid comes out of the bleed, in order to get all of the air out of my system. I then use a old turkey baster to suck out the excess anti-freeze out of the tank...it also helps to have the car jacked up in the front but not necessary done this way...just keep pouring it into the tank slowly as it approches it full point and keep pouring until fluid comes out the bleed - then you know you have all the air out...also, turn the key to on- engine off- and turn the heater up all the way in order to open that valve too and get fluid into the heating system.
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  #3  
Old 03-19-2011, 07:04 PM
bavareze bavareze is offline
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good answer (that's exactly the procedure I followed, without jacking the car), but still that does not explain the build of pressure as soon as engine is started. what do you think?
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  #4  
Old 03-19-2011, 07:35 PM
QAfred QAfred is offline
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I was thinking that you had a lot of air in the system and the pump was building pressure instead of moving fluid.

not sure how a blown head gasket would cause this either? unless it was an extreme meltdown but then it probably would not run..

I'll do so homework to see if I can find anything on this.
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  #5  
Old 03-19-2011, 07:38 PM
QAfred QAfred is offline
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I found this on fanatics

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...cooling+system
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  #6  
Old 03-19-2011, 11:31 PM
robj213 robj213 is offline
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Did you set turn the dial for the center vent to the three red dots, set the temp to the highest setting and fan speed at the lowest to open up the heater core while bleeding?
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  #7  
Old 03-20-2011, 01:32 AM
bavareze bavareze is offline
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yes I did, 3 red dots, vent on 1, heat on max. part of the problem is that no heat was coming from the vents. I believe there might be a problem since while I was attempting to bleed, engine was not completely cold. I will try again tomorrow morning and post results
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  #8  
Old 03-21-2011, 12:14 AM
bavareze bavareze is offline
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it is now clear head gasket is blown. there is extremely high pressure in the hoses after only 1-2 seconds of running the engine, even with cold engine.

I am estimating the parts will be around $600 in the best case scenario, plus some $1500 in labor, so maybe it's time to sell it as is and get another one.

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  #9  
Old 03-21-2011, 12:55 AM
jcourcoul jcourcoul is offline
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For cylinder compression pressure to find its way to the cooling system like that, must be a really blown gasket and warped head. If you want final confirmation prior to throwing the towel on this one, try to get a leakdown test on each cylinder. Also, have you seen any kind of creamy froth or oily residue on the coolant?
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  #10  
Old 03-21-2011, 09:42 PM
bavareze bavareze is offline
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yes, that's what happened. now I have a lot of work to fix it
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  #11  
Old 03-22-2011, 10:33 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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We get this problem once a week so we're standardizing our response to it so that the OPs get the most complete and comprehensive answer at the lowest possible cost.

More information than you could read in a day is included just in these two references from the VERY best of E39 Links but which applies equally well to the E46:
- My bimmer overheated & I need a new head gasket (1)
- What you need to know if you suspect an overheated engine caused a head gasket or other major failure (1)

Excerpts here:
Quote:
Overheating a BMW E39 engine is the most common cause of blown head gaskets, cracked heads, warped blocks, cam seizures, contaminated main bearings, coolant-caused hydrolock, & piston, ring, & valve damage in the BMW E39, particularly those with the aluminum block (1) (2) (3) (4).

If you think you might have a blown head gasket, you don't have many options (the solution would have been to not to let it happen in the first place), especially since, by some reports, only 1 out of 20 aluminum engines are rebuildable after exhibiting symptoms of a 'blown head gasket' (which may be a misnomer of sorts given that the problem is usually a warped block and/or a cracked cylinder head, in which case, it's time to replace the engine (1) (2)).

But, if it is 'just' a head gasket you need, these are your options:
  • Replace just the head gasket (not likely this, alone, will work on E39s with aluminum engine blocks)
  • Repair the engine, machine the valves, grind the head, repair the pistons, fix bolt holes, etc. (as needed)
  • Replace the engine (often the lowest-cost solution overall)
  • Sell the car (and cut your losses)
Now ... maybe ... just maybe ... your head gasket is not blown ... (if you're lucky) ... and your head isn't cracked ... (doubly lucky) ... and your block isn't warped (triply lucky) ... but, nobody here at the other end of a keyboard can actually tell you that.

You need to run some basic tests:
  • Cooling system pressure test
  • Cooling system exhaust-gas "geyser test" (1)
  • Cooling system exhaust-gas "analyzer test" (1)
  • Cylinder compression tests, wet & dry (1)
  • Cylinder leak down test (1)
Here are references for pricing out parts and labor & for finding a mechanic:
- BMW phantom diagrams (1) & nominal prices by part number (1) labor rates by zip code (1) (2) (3) where to find a good mechanic (1) (2) & finding a specialty BMW indy in your area (1)

Bear in mind, the entire BMW cooling system is a time bomb to overhaul the cooling system in any case.
- Complete cooling system overhaul recommended parts list (1)

Don't believe me. Believe these pictures:
- Pictorial look at typical E39 cooling system failure modes (1)

When this time bomb goes off, if you don't immediately STOP driving the vehicle, the engine can easily become toast. Again, don't believe me. Believe these people from these representative threads:
- 525i BIG problems!
- Major Decision - replace head or buy "new" engine
- E39 528i Engine removal/replacement
- Overheating and water loss
- Replace head gasket or replace engine
- E39 528i Engine removal/replacement
- E39 540i low compression
- Possible blown head gastket, but no mix of oil/water yet
- Blown 528i update.....New motor advice & subsequent Engine swap advice....528i
- Advice on getting new cylinder head assembly.
etc.

For a head gasket DIY, you might try these:
- BMW Head Gasket Replacement, Pelican Technical Article, by Wayne R. Dempsey
- Journal: M54 Head Gasket Replacement & Other Stuff Too
- M62TU Head gasket/ Timing guides journal
- DIY This! One Person M54 Cam Removal
- Replacing the M54 head gasket (1)
- Replacing the 540i cylinder head (1)
- (Note: I need more and better DIY links.)

The basic cylinder head gasket DIY procedure is outlined below:
  • Raise the front of the car to gain access to drain plugs
    • Drain engine oil (probably contaminated with coolant)
    • Drain coolant (probably contaminated with exhaust gases)
  • Remove radiator viscous fan clutch & fan assembly
    • This job is easier if you purchase two recommended tools
  • Remove the radiator & the attached expansion tank assembly
    • Optional: Flush (or replace) the radiator & replace all hoses
  • Remove both drive belts
    • Optional: Replace with new
  • Remove the water pump & thermostat unit
    • Optional: Replace OEM plastic impeller waterpump with an aftermarket metal impeller design
  • Remove the ignition coils from the head & remove the spark plugs
    • Optional: Replace with new
  • Remove the valve cover to access the head bolts
    • Check for head bolts yanked out of their threaded holes by force!
  • After using the special camshaft alignment tool, remove the camshaft
    • You 'can' replace the head gasket without removing camshafts
    • But, head resurfacing requires camshaft removal
  • Remove the intake manifold (to access the cylinder head)
    • Optional: Consider replacing your knock sensors after removing the intake manifold
  • Remove the VANOS unit (to access the cylinder head)
    • Optional: Replace the VANOS seals while you're there
  • Remove the camshaft position sensor (CMP) from the cylinder head
    • Optional: Replace the crankshaft position sensor (CKP) while you're there
  • Remove the lower timing chain tensioner to loosen the chain on the camshafts
  • Disconnect the VANOS oil line (to access the cylinder head)
  • With a special tool inserted into a hole in the engine block & flywheel, lock the engine at top dead center (TDC) for cylinder number 1
    • This is to accurately time the camshafts when you reassemble the engine
  • Remove the cylinder head bolts hidden under the camshaft with a special Torx socket tool
  • Enervate all electrical connections and heater core hoses innervating with the cylinder head
  • Disconnect and loosen the exhaust manifold
  • Remove the cylinder head
    • Tie off the timing chain so it doesn't fall into the block
    • Remove the camshafts prior to sending the head for reconditioning
  • Send the cylinder head to a machine shop for resurfacing
    • Don't forget to save the oil pressure check valve on the bottom of the cylinder head
  • Have the machine shop check for cracks in the cylinder head
    • A crack will cause any new head gasket to fail!
    • Cracks 'can' be repaired by the machine shop
  • Have the machine shop measure, lap, and grind the valves
  • Optional: Have your fuel injectors cleaned & 'matched' (1)
Note: While the parts are off the car, you may as well:
  • Do a complete cooling system & belt-drive system overhaul
  • Replace your VANOS seals
  • Replace your camshaft position sensor (CMP) and your crankshaft (CKP) position sensor
  • Replace the valve cover gasket (VCG)
  • Replace your spark plugs
  • Replace the oil filter housing (OFH) gasket
  • Send your fuel injectors out for cleaning (1)
  • Consider replacing your knock sensors (once the intake manifold is off)
  • Consider replacing your oil pressure check valve (on the bottom of the cylinder head)
Good luck. Keep us informed.
And ... excerpt here ...

Quote:
To the team:
Please tell me what I missed in this attempt at a quality response?
And, why aren't there more head gasket DIYs?
Please improve the "typical scenario" below as I don't have the technical expertise to write this important paragraph!

To the OP:
We're very sorry to hear about this issue. The main problem is that the BMW cooling system is a time bomb. If not periodically overhauled (about every 6 years or 60,000 miles), the cooling system "will" leak in multiple places ... (see pictorial reference here). If you drive for even a few minutes with an overheated engine, the aluminum heads warp & crack, often causing bolts to pull out of the aluminum block E39s (some E39 blocks are, thankfully, cast iron and are less susceptible to this common problem), and other internal damage to the engine (valves, cylinder walls, piston rings, etc.). This is bad. Very bad. The cost for parts is nothing compared to the labor rates involved. Half the engine needs to be removed. If you "suspect" this problem, you really need professional advice with the engine being TESTED! Your options are to replace the parts (expensive), replace the engine (expensive), or buy a new vehicle (expensive). Plus the car will be out of service a minimum of a couple of weeks realistically. Did I mention you really must get professional advice from someone who has the engine to test in front of them? Good luck. And, please keep us informed as to your progress, if for no other reason, so that we may advise the next person who follows in your footsteps.

We get this question about once a week:
- 525i BIG problems!
- Major Decision - replace head or buy "new" engine
- E39 528i Engine removal/replacement
- Overheating and water loss
- Replace head gasket or replace engine
- E39 528i Engine removal/replacement

The problem is this is like asking a forum "I think I'm having a heart attack ... what should I do?". You may be in serious trouble; so you need professional help. Up 'till now, this was my standard response (1).

o 1997-1998 6-cyl M52 engine: iron block, ferrous-liners?, aluminum head
o 1999-2003 6-cyl M54 engine: aluminum block, non-ferrous liners, aluminum head
o 1994-2005 8-cyl M62/S62 engine, aluminum block, non-ferrous liners, aluminum heads

However, I'll try to consolidate the questions from those last few threads to come up with a more standard (i.e., artificial intelligence) approach for improved efficiency.

For quality control, I would ask subsequent posters to help us hone this questionnaire below...

To the OP:
  1. What happened?
    • Who was driving (i.e., reporting what happened)?
    • Did the car overheat?
    • How long did you drive it overheated?
  2. What is the vehicle?
    • What vehicle (i.e., engine) do you have?
    • What is the age, miles, condition?
    • Do you (really) want to keep the car?
  3. What is your situation?
    • Can you afford the few thousand dollars to spend on the fix?
    • Do you have (or want to have) the appreciable skills to DIY?
    • Can you allocate the weeks-long downtime while it's being repaired?
  4. What symptoms do you have now?
    • Do you have white smoke in your exhaust?
    • Is your engine running rough or not at all?
    • Are you losing coolant?
      • Is it visibly leaking?
      • Is your dipstick oil somewhat milky?
      • Does your oil or exhaust smell somewhat sweet?
  5. What tests have you run?
    • What are your wet/dry compression pressures? (1)
    • What is your cylinder leak down results? (1)
    • What is the cooling system pressure test result?
  6. Have you had a professional price out your options?
    • Comparison cost of a replacement vehicle = ?
    • Installed cost of a replacement engine = ?
    • Labor rates for a replaced head gasket = ?
      • Warning: "Head gasket" costs often escalate due to unseen issues like the bolts ripped out of the aluminum heads or damaged rings, cylinder walls, or valves, etc. Pad accordingly!
  7. If you decide to fix the engine yourself
  8. While you're at it, replace a few other maintenance items
    • Vanos seals
    • CCV, ICV, & DISA valves
    • All cooling system & belt-drive system parts
If the OP is a newbie, which often is the case, then these links below should help with pricing:
- BMW phantom diagrams (1) & nominal prices by part number (1) labor rates by zip code (1) (2) (3) where to find a good mechanic (1) (2) & finding a specialty BMW indy in your area (1)
- Where to get a new engine for your E39 (1)
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  #12  
Old 03-22-2011, 11:32 AM
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smolck smolck is offline
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[QUOTE=bluebee;5938250]We get this problem once a week so we're standardizing our response to it so that the OPs get the most complete and comprehensive answer at the lowest possible cost.

[QUOTE]

OP already said his engine is toast. Nothing at this point will qualify for "lowest possible cost" it's all expensive from here.
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  #13  
Old 03-22-2011, 12:57 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
OP already said his engine is toast. Nothing at this point will qualify for "lowest possible cost" it's all expensive from here.
I agree.

But the threads say what his options are.

And what to look for, e.g., blown head gaskets, cracked heads, warped blocks, cam seizures, contaminated main bearings, coolant-caused hydrolock, & piston, ring, & valve damage, etc.

And where to get a new engine.

And five different tests that he should run to diagnose the severity of the failure (and to run on the new/used engine also!).

And it provided extensive DIYs for fixing the M54 if he opts to fix or rebuild his or a used engine ....
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  #14  
Old 03-25-2011, 01:05 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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For the record, I opened a new thread today expressly so we can put our combined tribal knowledge together to point newbies to who ask whether their engine is blown and what they can do about it.

- What advice should we provide when a newbie asks for help with a blown E39 engine?
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  #15  
Old 03-25-2011, 10:13 AM
bavareze bavareze is offline
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very useful. I sold mine time to start shopping again. maybe 2dr
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