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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #26  
Old 12-25-2012, 06:10 AM
kmorgan_260 kmorgan_260 is offline
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Wow, thanks for the informative reply. I will read through and attempt to sort out fact from urban legend!
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  #27  
Old 12-26-2012, 01:00 PM
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This test will find a cylinder #3 crack:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metlic53 View Post
ok i called the tech and he explained, he pressured up the 3rd cylinder and water sprayed out the radiator cap. all other cylinders were fine
And this thread has pictures of a typical cylinder #3 crack:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > 2002 525i Cracked head
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  #28  
Old 12-29-2012, 10:18 PM
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Another similarly blown engine posted today:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ironman27 View Post
I just had my second diagnosis on my car and it has a blown engine. Looking to sell as i dont have the money to pay for a used one. Excepting reasonable offers. The car is located in New Jersey.
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  #29  
Old 01-05-2013, 11:21 AM
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Here is the saga of a recently hydrolocked M54 that is in the process of being rebuilt:
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  #30  
Old 01-18-2013, 06:36 AM
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Here is another cracked head, with a successfully welded crack:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Another cracked head

Quote:
Originally Posted by H2odiesel View Post
I got the Head off on 12/21, and I was relieved to see no sign of Valve butter as I like to refer to the oil and water emulsion that is formed after running for a time with oil contaminated with coolant. Upon close inspection the typical cylinder three crack from exhaust valve seat to coolant passage is present. I've decided to have a local company do the repair. They said they do them frequently and warranty the repair for two years. There were also two sets of heads on the counter waiting for the local BMW dealer to pick up, which I felt was a good sign. I dropped the head off with cams still installed along with all of the studs still in place. The counter man reassured me they understood the proper cam removal procedure. I'll get it back repaired with a valve job and new valve stem seals, fully assembled for $550. I think that price includes a $50 off locals discount.

There is a steel washer under each head bolt, and after removing the head bolt you can fish the washer out on edge through the Bearing ledge that supports the cam shaft and lifters. Does anyone have a tip on how to best get these washers back in place when reinstalling the head? I was considering running the washers up to the machine shop and have them stick them down with some assembly lube in there recesses.
Quote:
Originally Posted by H2odiesel View Post
Update: I've had the repaired head on for about three weeks now, and once I tracked down a slight coolant leak from an inadequately tightened hose clamp, the engine has preformed well. I also did the vanos repair while I had things apart and I can feel a distinct difference when accelerating. Here is a pic of the repaired area. If you look closely you can make out a little of the welded material in the coolant passage.




See also:
- Summary advice to provide users who suspect a major engine repair due to overheating (1) (2) (3) (4) & how to test an engine for a blown head gasket, cracked heads, a warped block, stripped head bolt threads, cam seizures, contaminated bearings, coolant hydrolock, or piston, ring, or valve damage (1) (2) & what are the major factors in deciding whether to rebuild the engine, replace the engine, or sell the car (1) & a DIY for replacing the I6 M54 head gasket (1) (2) & replacing the V8 M62TU head gasket (1) & why these engines are so prone to heat-related damage in the first place (1) & welding the crack between cylinder #3 and the water jacket on the exhaust side (1) & what engine swaps are most recommended (1) (2) (3) & where to obtain a new or rebuilt head (1) replacement short block or long block (1) (2) & how to lift & remove the engine (1) & the most recent real-world results from the last 50 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) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) (34) (35) (36) (37) (38) (39) (40) (41) (42) (43) (44) (45) (46) (47) (48) (49) (50)
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  #31  
Old 01-27-2013, 12:37 PM
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Here's a new thread today with the classic dilemma posed right at the start.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theola_Henry214 View Post
Good afternoon all,

Last week my 1997 BMW 540i may have finally quit on me. After 2-3 weeks of a fluctuating thermostat. The radiator simply "popped", emitting a steam cloud and some coolant/water.

Now, hours before the 'pop' (at least 2 hrs prior) I put water into the reservoir which I noticed was bubbling unusually and excessively. I have owned this vehicle for 6 months now and NEVER experienced such a problem.

I am afraid I may have an underlying head gasket issue (cracked or blown), something I cannot afford to fix in this or the next lifetime.

The car still turns on as normal, also driving as such. Now, I am aware NOT to drive it, for the risk of burning it out completely.

However, my question is: Should I replace the radiator for now and work my way up to the gaskets? Or am I wasting my time buying the radiator? OR is it possible to solder the cracked area?

I must add, I questioned why the thermostat went up and down, even while driving; my car showed no signs of overheating. Therefore, many told me that the thermostat may be broken and I would simply need to replace it. All in all Ididn't think much of this.


What do I do!??!?!? I'm nervous that if I buy a new radiator that I might be wasting my money
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  #32  
Old 04-07-2013, 03:27 PM
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For the record, another one bites the dust today (maybe):
Quote:
Originally Posted by davondenhuevel View Post
My wife over heated the 2000 323i, no mods. And now, water is leaking out of the front end of the car from where it apperes to have 2 metal lines connecting to the back of the thermostat housing or the water pump. Can anyone tell me what to open up so I can see better or give me an idea of what is going on. I need this car pronto for work.
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  #33  
Old 09-18-2013, 12:38 PM
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Another dead engine due to overheating reported today ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by dareabiodun View Post
My mechanic did not fix my radiator hose very well after change of water pump for my E39 (530i) 2002 model, I was not aware of this fact when I drove the car about 40miles before the cars stopped because of serious engine overheating, and the engine oil was forced out under the car due to the hotness of the engine. On taking the car to another mechanic he changed the gasket and some components of the radiator, after finishing and the car was started, it was bringing out smoke, he later said my engine has gone due to serious overheating experienced...my questiong is, can this completely knocked down my engine or the problem could be changing of TOP CYLINDER? Please I need help. When I had similar problem with my E36, I only changed the top cylinder and other few components and I used the car after for 4 years.....PLEASE I ADVICE ON WHAT TO DO...NEW ENGINE IS NOT EASY TO COME BY
EDIT
See also:
- Summary advice to provide users who suspect a major engine repair due to overheating (1) (2) (3) (4) & how to test an engine for a blown head gasket, cracked heads, a warped block, stripped head bolt threads, cam seizures, contaminated bearings, coolant hydrolock, or piston, ring, or valve damage (1) (2) & what are the major factors in deciding whether to rebuild the engine, replace the engine, or sell the car (1) & a DIY for replacing the I6 M54 head gasket (1) (2) & replacing the V8 M62TU head gasket (1) & why these engines are so prone to heat-related damage in the first place (1) & welding the crack between cylinder #3 and the water jacket on the exhaust side (1) & what engine swaps are most recommended (1) (2) (3) & where to obtain a new or rebuilt head (1) replacement short block or long block (1) (2) & how to lift & remove the engine (1) & the most recent real-world results from the last 50 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) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) (34) (35) (36) (37) (38) (39) (40) (41) (42) (43) (44) (45) (46) (47) (48) (49) (50)

Note: I stopped at 50.
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Last edited by bluebee; 09-18-2013 at 12:39 PM.
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  #34  
Old 09-19-2013, 09:38 AM
GSXRYDER GSXRYDER is offline
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I would...

Swap with an LS1 chevy engine. Most Cheap HP per $. Plentiful you can most likely find one for $1500 with a tranny...and robust...IMHO I would not try to reinvent the wheel. Once that engine is rebuilt with a few miles on it the value isn't gone but it is no longer original so at this point your going to be miles ahead if you put a cheap reliable engine under the hood...Good Luck
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  #35  
Old 09-19-2013, 10:02 AM
John@SAtlBMW John@SAtlBMW is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Another dead engine due to overheating reported today ...


EDIT
See also:
- Summary advice to provide users who suspect a major engine repair due to overheating (1) (2) (3) (4) & how to test an engine for a blown head gasket, cracked heads, a warped block, stripped head bolt threads, cam seizures, contaminated bearings, coolant hydrolock, or piston, ring, or valve damage (1) (2) & what are the major factors in deciding whether to rebuild the engine, replace the engine, or sell the car (1) & a DIY for replacing the I6 M54 head gasket (1) (2) & replacing the V8 M62TU head gasket (1) & why these engines are so prone to heat-related damage in the first place (1) & welding the crack between cylinder #3 and the water jacket on the exhaust side (1) & what engine swaps are most recommended (1) (2) (3) & where to obtain a new or rebuilt head (1) replacement short block or long block (1) (2) & how to lift & remove the engine (1) & the most recent real-world results from the last 50 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) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) (34) (35) (36) (37) (38) (39) (40) (41) (42) (43) (44) (45) (46) (47) (48) (49) (50)

Note: I stopped at 50.
Bluebee. You are a scholar and a gentleman. Thank you for compiling all this research. I've seen this issue pop up quite a bit.
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  #36  
Old 09-22-2013, 10:43 AM
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Thanks.

BTW, this popped up today, which is a nice test of whether there is a crack in the cylinder walls, from someone who bought a 528i for $1600 and then sank a lot of money into repairs - only to find ... this ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxeah View Post
Hi all,
Sooooooo, finally gave in and had a great BMW Tech, Autobahn, Natick Ma
Diagnose. Very cool he inserted a fiber-optic cable into spark plug hole, pressurized the colland system, low and behold drip,drip,drip cylinder #3.
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  #37  
Old 09-22-2013, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
What should we tell these people that will help them make the major decision they're facing?

Hopefully, we can provide:
  • Test procedures (heads, block, valves, cooling, gaskets, etc.)
  • etc.
This popped up today, which is a nice test of whether there is a crack in the cylinder walls, from someone who bought a 528i for $1600 and then sank a lot of money into repairs - only to find ... this ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxeah View Post
Hi all,
Sooooooo, finally gave in and had a great BMW Tech, Autobahn, Natick Ma
Diagnose. Very cool he inserted a fiber-optic cable into spark plug hole, pressurized the colland system, low and behold drip,drip,drip cylinder #3.
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  #38  
Old 10-22-2013, 11:17 AM
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This was an unusual blown engine which was posted today ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by thecreator88 View Post
hello
last night when i was driving at around 4-5k revs the engine died and a piston or rod went through the engine block. the car is a 525i m54 double vanos engine with 150k miles on it.
my question is what caused this , i know i had a compression problem on cyl 6 it was 9 and the other cylinder where 11.5 , could this be the cause
and what do you think i should buy another m54b25 engine or a m54b30
is the swap easy , on realoem it says that the clutch is different and the gearbox also
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  #39  
Old 11-15-2013, 11:22 PM
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Here's a potentially blown engine posted today:
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpx View Post
After many other hours spent reading this forum, I found the numerous posts about engine diagnosis. I want to thank you for the patience you had to answer my questions, even when similar threads were already available.

I purchased a new battery and checked that I have spark. I have fuel, I can hear the fuel pump running when I short the pins on the relay ( and the relay is good) and I always have gas squirting whenever I release the Schrader valve on the fuel rail after I crank the engine. But the engine wouldn't start even with starting fluid.

I only have compression in cylinder 6. I measured: 1(30),2(20),3&4 almost zero,5(30) and 6(120)psi. I figured the cylinders must have been flooded on several occasions while cranked so I added some transmission oil in each cylinder. That increased compression by at least 20 psi in all except for the middle ones. #6 increased to 200psi.

Given that the engine most likely overheated when the serpentine belt broke, should I start shopping around for a new engine after what I found out? But I should still take the heads off and see what I find, right? The engine should have the iron block, what is the best scenario I can hope for and what special tools would I need?
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  #40  
Old 02-01-2014, 06:29 PM
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The question came up again today:
Quote:
Originally Posted by deepcranger View Post
2003 540i m-sport
Does any one have any recommendations for replacement motor, my timing chain blew and of course have bent valves vanos is questionable ect is it better to just replace the engine or repair? if so who is a reputable seller of these engines. any help would be greatly appreciated
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  #41  
Old 03-30-2014, 12:50 PM
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Another blown engine ...
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Buy used engine or a whole 528i car?


Quote:
Originally Posted by stKKd View Post
I need to swap my toasted engine for another one.

My car is a 1997 528 single vanos.

I have 2 options:

- Buying a used engine (single vanos) for 650 euros (900 $)
- Buying a used 528i car (double vanos) for 1000 euros (1400$)

The problem is if I buy the double vanos car I have to switch electronic parts (EWS etc..) from the donor car to mine. Is it really a hassle?

The good point about buying the spare car is that I will have plenty of spare parts for me and/or selling later


Which option would you chose?
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  #42  
Old 04-01-2014, 06:15 AM
kmorgan_260 kmorgan_260 is offline
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It may be easier to find a donor 328 than the e39. My e39 is currently equipped with an M52 from my last e36 project. The swap was plug and play. Only thing I had to do was drill and tap a couple new holes for the e39 motor mounts. They were already cast in the right place but just not threaded.
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  #43  
Old 04-30-2014, 10:49 PM
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Another blown engine due to overheating today ...
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Starting a looooong journey to the head gasket replacement
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzbrown View Post
Burning2nd - It's also about money. Hate to get that far and leave the main bearings untouched for sure. I got this babied car with 210k on it for 600 with the bad gasket. Near mint inside and out. Lots of new parts. 2nd owner was a moron and kept putting water in when it was leaking. He only had it for 4 months. Got away from him one night and he drove it home hot. Everyone knows what happens net. But I don't want to get into a year long project, which if I keep adding things to do, that's what it will be. Been a long time since I had my 635 and am looking forward to driving this one. But on the other side, spend 2k in parts, leave one thing not done and it will come back to bite you. No doubt. If push come to shove I could sell my 78 fiat and have it all covered.
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  #44  
Old 05-05-2014, 09:17 PM
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This PDF from another thread today seems useful for engine diagnosis:
BMW_Engine Diagnosis.pdf
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  #45  
Old 05-12-2014, 06:06 PM
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Another cracked engine block today ...
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > head finally off replacing gasket serveral items to note
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzbrown View Post
Hello all,

Replacing the head gasket and what a job!!! Pics at the end of my novel. Pelican has a procedure calling it a 9 out of ten. I thought that was overly negative. Now that I have the head off, they may be right on the mark. No way I get this far without this site Here is a recap from a guy that is confident that he can follow directions.
THERE ARE A LOT OF DANGER POINTS - some minor and some much more so.

I have a fair amount of tools but a 22 24 and 36 mm wrench had to be purchased.
I have all the male torx but you need the female set. Never even saw them before.
I bought the head bolt tool for 39 off of ebay- now that I know the head goes in before the cams go on, at least for me, that was not needed.

Cut a couple of hoses that now look real good except my cut, just trying to make the intake easier to remove.

Head bolts. All the docs say remove 14. But, seems there are 16. Two small bolts at the front, that bolt the head to the block, I have not seen mentioned. Small torx male bolts like the regular head bolts but smaller. All I see they do is mate the head to the block, ergo they are head bolts to me. Wonder how many people trying to get the head loose have these two still to do. I know I did.

Here are the pics. Not sure where the gasket is bad. Water in the oil for sure. Pics for discussion and learning. Engine has 210,000 miles.
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  #46  
Old 05-12-2014, 06:16 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Another cracked engine block today ...
Bluebee, just to be clear, that is a cracked head, not the block.
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  #47  
Old 05-14-2014, 01:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
Bluebee, just to be clear, that is a cracked head, not the block.
Thanks. I hadn't noticed that it was the head, and not the block.

Poolman & others subsequently posted this to that thread ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by poolman View Post
Biggest part about #3 cylinder cracks,,when the engine overheats,,coolent will head to that cylinder first because it has the lest amount of metal in the casting. Then coolent enters the combustion chamber,,when the owner then first trys to crank the car,,the coolent is at the top of the piston,,the high cylinder pressure then cracks the head...
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
There is a BMW recycler in Florida called "QuarryMotor" (on ebay). Very very reputable people, only sells good parts. Ask if they have an M52 head for you.
http://www.quarrymotorsusa.com/


Or look at local junk yard for M52 heads, in cars that are either rear-ended or T-boned crash, or slight frontal crash.

If the car looks cosmetically perfect, run away because these are the cars that was likely killed by overheat and ended up in the junkyard b/c of high mileage as part of the R.I.P. process..
Quote:
Originally Posted by djmjd View Post
I'm sorry to sound like a broken record, but before you start buying parts to replace the head, what have you done to determine that the bottom end is in serviceable condition? So far everything that you have described (running the engine with a water/oil mixture, dirty oil deposits on the head, oil on spark plug electrodes) indicates that this engine is not in good shape. If you're going to buy a used head I strongly recommend you buy the whole engine with it - I really think you're going to find out your engine is junk.

I also recommend before you spend more money on the car that you drop the pan on the transmission and look for any evidence of damage like bits of clutch material. The GM transmission is robust, but with 210k miles on it even a well cared for transmission is nearing the end of its expected service life (and yours is probably not well cared for being that the "lifetime" fluid is anything but). You may find that the best deal is to buy a complete low mile powertrain (engine and trans) and swap everything at once.
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  #48  
Old 07-04-2014, 01:18 PM
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Looks like another one today ...
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Overheating, blown head gasket and what I had to do

Quote:
Originally Posted by withers2 View Post
I'm posting this because I was encouraged to do so, in order to help with a common problem. Overheating.

The scenario was that as my wife was driving our 1997 528I home from work she lost both drive belts ( I assume one failed and fouled up the other). It was a mess. When I went to retrieve the car there was coolant condensed on the windscreen on the interior of the car.

What I had to do:
After talking with everyone on this forum (to make a long story short) it was determined that I was suffering either a warped head or a blown gasket. The steps leading to this conclusion were that I replaced the water pump, thermostat, thermostat housing, drive pulleys (I didn't want to loose a belt again), radiator, hoses and drive belts.

The symptom at this point was: When the engine reached temperature and the thermostat opened coolant would reverse back into the reservoir. The temperature would remain constant and within proper parameters until I put the car in Drive and drove it anywhere. At this point we (the forum) decided that it would not hurt to try Bars Leaks HD1.

The absolute necessity stated by the manufacturer is that the engine must be able to operate without overheating for 15 minutes. I was concerned that, since the coolant was blowing backwards (for the most part) that the product would not be able to get to the effected area in sufficient amounts to make a difference. So, I decided that instead of dumping the HD1 in the reservoir I removed the bottom radiator hose and inserted the contents there.

I next made certain as humanly possible that there was not any air in the cooling system. This is not easy. I put it on ramps, wiggled, shook and squeezed for a very long time before I was certain that it was ready.

After that I ran it for 15 minutes as the manufacturer suggested, let the engine cool off and checked to make certain that the system was still topped off (it was still a little low).

After that there was absolutely no problem. It has been running now for one month without any issue whatsoever. I must admit that I was skeptical but the $30 that I spent was a lot less than the $6000 I was looking at for a rebuild.

I will update this post if anything changes. Thanks to all of you that helped. You are a great group of people and I'm glad to attempt to add to the community.
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  #49  
Old 07-08-2014, 04:32 PM
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Here's another blown E46 today:
> E46 (1999 - 2006) > Is my engine dead if I drove overheated for few miles
Quote:
Originally Posted by isitkittu View Post
I own 99 323I, it has 150k on it, I just love driving it. Last Friday morning, I saw the coolant indicator but drove it work with a plan to have the coolant filled near work (40 miles from home). One the way back home the coolant indicator disappeared, so I thought the indicator popped in the morning coz I took out the car after a week or so that too in the cold temp. So kept driving, the indicator popped on and off, suddenly saw the heat indicator on the extreme red, slowed down but kept driving (ignorance and stupidity) the indicator still on the right but not bright red. I may have driven for 5 miles with the heat indicator at its peak and finally car stopped. Got the car towed it to workshop, coolant tank cracked and they did compression and leak-down test. the results from leak down test are 1-10%, 2-15%, 3-18%, 4-25%, 5-15% and 6-5%. Do these results show that engine is no more good shape. Mechanic is suggesting to go for a different engine (lot of money though). based on what I read in forums leak downs around 20 are still Ok. but not sure, I am thinking of getting the coolant done and see what happens. What do you experts suggest.

Thanks in Advance
Kris
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  #50  
Old 07-11-2014, 10:23 PM
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Another E39 today ...
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > E39 528i overheated. Some repairs done, looking for advice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sxty8goats View Post
Hello all,

Last winter I lost my idler pulley. This caused an immediate fan belt loss but I didn't hear it go. The only indication I had was a power steering loss. Having lost a power steering pump in the past, I kept driving under the wrong assumption. @ 20 min later as I neared my destination I heard a pop and my rear view mirror showed a hell of a fog behind my car. Pulled into my buddies driveway two min later. 50 miles from home, 20*F. Opened the hood to find the expansion res had exploded belt gone and idler also gone.

Autozone supplied the parts, I got her all patched up. Started fine. Drove around the area for a bit listening for any odd noises and did not hear any odd noises. Drove home. Continued to drive her for a week, maybe put 200 miles on her after the overheat. Still ran well but the smell of antifreeze was still strong. Washed her down at the local self wash, drove to the grocery and noticed the Oder in about a mile. Leaking. Park her for the rmainder of the winter.

Summer. Warm her up and look around. Stream of fluid running down the front of the block. Doesn't seem to be on the pulleys at all, a bit of splatter on the air cleaner. A look at the thermostat housing shows bubbling. Order housing. Replace housing. steady stream is reduced to a drip every second or so. Hoses show no leaks. All drips are off of the block, nothing from the radiator area.

This is where I'm at now. Next step in my mind is to replace the water pump. Maybe even buy a hose/pump/pulley kit and replace everything but the radiator which actually looks new.

Questions:

With all I've read about overheating destroying these engines, am I driving a time bomb that I should just dump? Is it worth repairing?

Am I on the right track if I do repair?

Is there a common area that would leak from the front of the block that I'm missing?

Thanks for any help.

PJ.
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