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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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Old 07-20-2011, 05:58 AM
wddanie wddanie is offline
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Location: Atlanta
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 5
Mein Auto: Explorer
depression between the #5 & 6 cylinders

I have a 2002 330i that cracked the expansion tank and blew the head gasket and need some advice about repair strategies.

I let an independent BMW shop replace the head gasket and install inserts and it ran well for about 3 wks, but it over heated yesterday. The shop now thinks there was some warping on the top of the block between cylinders 5 & 6 that is causing the problem and now recommend installing a used engine. I am hesitant to pay them more at this point.

During the original repair, the head was removed and there was a ~.005 in. depression between the #5 & 6 cylinders. An ~.040 in. rim around each cylinder feels flat, but beyond that, the aluminum block has sagged into this depression that feels about .005 in. deep, 0.040 wide and 0.2 long in the narrow area between the two cylinders. The shop manager told me he thought this would not be a problem and recommended installing inserts and rebuilding the head. I told them to proceed and the car ran well for 3 wks but overheated yesterday. I can see from the invoice that they used a normal .7mm thk head gasket (11-12-7-501-304) and not the oversized 1 mm thick gasket (11-12-7-501-305).

I am a good mechanic and machinist and could have done this myself, but my wife drives this car and she wanted a pro to do it so we gave the indy a crack at it. I do not want to pay them any more for this and wonder if there is any chance I can make the current engine work since it ran fine for a while. by . Is there a chance that installing the thicker head gasket could fill in this depression bt 5 & 6? Should I just get a used engine and install it?

Thanks in advance for your help,

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Old 07-20-2011, 06:12 AM
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smolck smolck is offline
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 22,954
Mein Auto: 2002 330i ZSP
This is unfortunately a common mistake and one reason on overheated bimmers I always say a used engine is a better option. Half the time the inserts don't work anyways and pull free. You could have the block decked, but that involves removal of the engine and then you still have the chance the new inserts will pull loose. Cut your losses and get a used engine. I have a source here in Bham and would be willing to not only offer to do the replacement at half the cost but also arrange delivery and so forth. Just PM me if you are interested. I just replaced an engine in an e36 for a guy who had the same issues you describe.

Check out my YouTube Channel for DIY's and other fun stuff HERE
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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Old 07-20-2011, 07:39 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 25,236
Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
We were getting a spate of overheated engines ruining the M54 block a while back so I read all the sad destroyed engine tales to come up with this set of links intended to help others ...

It's written for the E39; but the E46 shares engines so I hope it's useful for the E46 team also:

- Summary advice to provide users who suspect a major engine repair due to overheating (1) & how to test an engine for blown head gasket, cracked heads, a warped block, cam seizures, contaminated bearings, coolant hydrolock, or piston, ring, or valve damage (1) (2) & a well researched reusable response to a particular user with a blown engine (1) & what questions to ask when severe heating-related damage is initially suspected (1) & welding the crack between cylinder #3 and the water jacket on the exhaust side (1) & what E39 engine swaps are most recommended (1) (2) (3) & how to lift & remove the engine (1) & where to obtain a new or rebuilt replacement short block or long block (1) (2) & why the E39 engines are so prone to heat-related damage in the first place (1) & real-world results from people faced with similar blown engine problems from which this advice came from (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) (21) (22) (23) (24) (25) (26) (27) (28).
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