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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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Old 12-27-2012, 11:04 PM
mdetroiter2 mdetroiter2 is offline
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Location: thousand oaks, CA
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: 1997 z3
Post 1997 Z3 head gasket issue

Hi, I'm new to the bimmerfest site. I've had my 1997 Z3 since the year it was created. Love it. It's never had many problems. But recently, it's been overheating, which it's never in all it's years done. It's got close to 200k miles on it. Initially it was determined to be the thermostat and a few other things, but now we've been told it's the head gasket that needs replacing and they gave us a quote of $4500!!! exorbitant to say the least. first we went to a small repair shop who misdiagnosed the problem, but a main dealer now says it's the head gasket. my question is: should it be that much to replace it? If not, can anyone direct me to where we might be able to get it done for much less? Or would it just be better to sell it for parts? thanks. m
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:19 AM
elwesso elwesso is offline
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Location: Indiana
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 10
Mein Auto: Z4 M Coupe, 94 Q45
Welcome to the forum!

Is it the 1.9 or 2.8? In either case, a HG job shouldn't be horrible assuming the head isn't messed up. I did a HG on an old 5 series (E28) with 3.2 I6 and it wasn't so bad, probably took me about 6-8 hours of labor doing it in my driveway when it was snowing out.


Ther first thing you need to do is figure out WHY the car overheated. As you're learning, you can NEVER let a car continue to overheat, especially ones with aluminum heads. In addition to fixing the head gasket, it will probably be best to overhaul the cooling system with a new radiator, water pump, hoses, T-stat, etc...

The bigger problem here is if the head gasket is a problem, then chances are the head is warped, or even cracked.. You CAN have the head resurfaced assuming that it's not cracked anywhere (not sure if these had cracking issues like older BMW's)..

What you need to do is get the engine opened up and the head off to see what kind of damage has been done. In my case, when I did the HG on my old 5 series, the gasket looked intact but coolant was mixing with the oil..... After cleaning the head up, I determined the head was cracked. It sounds worse than it actually is.

I would imagine that finding a used head (regardless of 1.9 or 2.8) might not be so bad, and if you found one complete with the cam and all that stuff would eliminate a lot of headache getting the head resurfaced and whatnot.
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