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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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  #1  
Old 02-26-2011, 05:04 PM
reb78 reb78 is offline
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E39 528i Engine removal/replacement

Replacing the engine is looking to be cheaper than replacing the headgasket on my 1999 528i. Has anyone any tips/advice for this?

Does the gearbox definatley have to come out?

How long might a complete swap take for a relativley competant home mechanic?

Will i run into a load of problems with things that need re-coding on the replacement engine or, provided everything is connected up correctly, will it start fine?

Are there any specialist BMW tools needed for this job?

The tranny in the car is an auto. Does this affect my choice of replacement engine - i.e. does the replacement also have to come from an auto?

Last edited by reb78; 02-26-2011 at 05:08 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-26-2011, 05:17 PM
Takechan Takechan is offline
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Since no one has responded, i'll give it a shot.

If you remove bumper etc. you can pull engine + tranny out easy (so I've heard).

You don't have to mess with your ECU unless you are putting in a larger/smaller engine.
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  #3  
Old 02-26-2011, 05:23 PM
reb78 reb78 is offline
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Thanks - I has been wondering if it was possible to remove it by taking the front off and pulling it forwards - i'd assumed there was a reason that it wasnt that easy since the manual talks about removing the gearbox. It would be a nicer job if the box could stay in place as this will be done on my drive. I've done plenty of land rover engines, but there is a ton of space there to play with!
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  #4  
Old 02-26-2011, 10:56 PM
Schitzo Schitzo is offline
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http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1298422

Last edited by Schitzo; 02-26-2011 at 10:59 PM.
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  #5  
Old 02-27-2011, 03:27 AM
reb78 reb78 is offline
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Thanks for the link. Very informative. Seems it can be done on the drive and without removing the tranny afterall. Cost built up a bit though. I want to get the car to a sellable state really and i'm not comfortable doing what one mechanic suggested - changing the rad and dropping a tin of Radweld type stuff in it in the hope it might seal the gasket long enough to trade the car in!
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  #6  
Old 02-27-2011, 05:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reb78 View Post
Thanks for the link. Very informative. Seems it can be done on the drive and without removing the tranny afterall. Cost built up a bit though. I want to get the car to a sellable state really and i'm not comfortable doing what one mechanic suggested - changing the rad and dropping a tin of Radweld type stuff in it in the hope it might seal the gasket long enough to trade the car in!
yea i wouldnt do that . just think if someone sold you a car that they "fixed" the headgasket in . i just cant see how they call themselves mechanics.
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  #7  
Old 02-27-2011, 07:09 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Did the engine overheat?
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  #8  
Old 02-27-2011, 08:07 AM
reb78 reb78 is offline
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Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Did the engine overheat?
Yes. Briefly. I detailed it in this thread:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=521912

Since then, i have done a compression test and would appreciate your thoughts on the results:

Cylinder 1 Dry - 14 bar, Wet - 17 bar
Cylinder 2 Dry - 12 bar, Wet - 16.5 bar
Cylinder 3 Dry - 15 bar, Wet - 17 bar
Cylinder 4 Dry - 8-12 bar, Wet - 17 bar (i thought i'd found the problem when this was dry at 8 bar, but repeated it dry and it returned 12 bar the second and third time)
Cylinder 5 Dry - 14 bar, Wet - 16.5 bar
Cylinder 6 Dry - 12 bar, Wet - 17 bar

Not quite what i expected if it was the head gasket. a few of the figures were low relative to the others dry, but all improved (quite dramatically) on the wet test. I thought if the head gasket had gone, there would be one (or more) cylinder(s) low on the dry and wet test.

However, i'm still convinced it is the head gasket. When warming it up for the test today, i filled it up and bled it (i have botched the rad leak for now until i figure out what to do, but thats fine for warming it up on my driveway). I started it up and it runs fine, not lumpy at all. I let it idle (radiator cap off) and there were no bubbles appearing and a little condensation in the exhaust. I revved it gently and there was a lot of condensation in the exhaust and the expansion tank frothed up quite a lot. Not sure what to make of it all really, or what to do next!

Last edited by reb78; 02-27-2011 at 09:35 AM.
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  #9  
Old 02-27-2011, 01:47 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Originally Posted by reb78 View Post
Yes.
Thanks. So others benefit, I cross linked that information into the ramifications of cooling system failures thread (so others benefit as we're sure to reference them there in the future).

Quote:
Originally Posted by reb78 View Post
Not quite what i expected if it was the head gasket.
I have no clue; so what I did to help you out a bit was cross reference to this other excellent compression-test thread.

Maybe those experts can help?
- E39 540i low compression

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  #10  
Old 02-28-2011, 02:18 PM
reb78 reb78 is offline
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Glad this can be of use to people.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the compression figures above? Is it possible to get decent compression with a head gasket fault?
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  #11  
Old 03-04-2011, 01:01 PM
xz14 xz14 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reb78 View Post
Replacing the engine is looking to be cheaper than replacing the headgasket on my 1999 528i. Has anyone any tips/advice for this?

Does the gearbox definatley have to come out?

How long might a complete swap take for a relativley competant home mechanic?

Will i run into a load of problems with things that need re-coding on the replacement engine or, provided everything is connected up correctly, will it start fine?

Are there any specialist BMW tools needed for this job?

The tranny in the car is an auto. Does this affect my choice of replacement engine - i.e. does the replacement also have to come from an auto?

Rebuilt the engine by replace the Head gasket, you do not have to take out the trans. Why do you go that far unless you have some tobe done with the block or transmission: such as replace the back seal of the block. You need to have tools for the job and time. Goodluck.
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  #12  
Old 03-04-2011, 01:37 PM
reb78 reb78 is offline
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Originally Posted by xz14 View Post
You need to have tools for the job and time. Goodluck.
The tools are part of the problem - i do not have the tools to re-time the VANOS. They will cost as much to buy as the job will cost at a garage (with no complications) and if i do the job at a steady (i.e. slow) pace, it wont be economical to rent them.

On looking into this whole problem though, it seems likely that the head will have warped and/or cracked and actually need replacing. In addition to this, it also appears that it is common for the warping head to rip the head bolts out of the block, thus requiring helicoils or the like in order to get the block to a state in which i can re-install the head. I think it is simpler to cut my losses and fit a replacement engine. For this of course, you have to find a decent replacement or someone you can trust to supply you with one. I have the tools and capability to change the engine - this seems stupid to me as it surely should be easier to repair an engine than to replace it, but this lies with BMWs design!

I am still undecided on how to proceed - part of me says scrap the damn car and call it a day - my time could be better spent than trying to salvage some of the value of this car!
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  #13  
Old 03-04-2011, 01:41 PM
xz14 xz14 is offline
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Originally Posted by reb78 View Post
The tools are part of the problem - i do not have the tools to re-time the VANOS. They will cost as much to buy as the job will cost at a garage (with no complications) and if i do the job at a steady (i.e. slow) pace, it wont be economical to rent them.

On looking into this whole problem though, it seems likely that the head will have warped and/or cracked and actually need replacing. In addition to this, it also appears that it is common for the warping head to rip the head bolts out of the block, thus requiring helicoils or the like in order to get the block to a state in which i can re-install the head. I think it is simpler to cut my losses and fit a replacement engine. For this of course, you have to find a decent replacement or someone you can trust to supply you with one. I have the tools and capability to change the engine - this seems stupid to me as it surely should be easier to repair an engine than to replace it, but this lies with BMWs design!

I am still undecided on how to proceed - part of me says scrap the damn car and call it a day - my time could be better spent than trying to salvage some of the value of this car!

You need to take time and think it carefully, and it fun to spend time with your car. Goodluck
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  #14  
Old 03-07-2011, 02:03 PM
reb78 reb78 is offline
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Not sure if this confirms the headgasket........... Fixed the leaky rad with a replacement. Put the system back together and pressurised the coolant system to 1 bar. No sisible leaks or drips. Went in and had dinner and half an hour later it had lost 0.2bar. Would pressure leak out anywhere else? Its a proper kit to pressurise the coolant system and the cap is sealed whilst at pressure.
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  #15  
Old 03-07-2011, 02:45 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Can you see any evidence of coolant on the dipstick?
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  #16  
Old 03-07-2011, 04:21 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reb78 View Post
half an hour later it had lost 0.2bar
I had never thought of this ... but may I ask the general audience ...

If you pressure test the cooling system, I first thought that only checks the cooling system (per se) for leaks.

I thought you checked head gasket leaks with compression tests.

But, if the cooling system pressure test indicates leakage, yet, let's say, the cooling system is intact (but that the VCG is not), would the cooling system pressure test force the pressure out the head gasket?

Wouldn't the compression test have shown the same thing?

I'm confused. Can you de-confusify me (yea, I made up that word).
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  #17  
Old 03-07-2011, 04:34 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Exactly, Bluebee. The failed headgasket could allow coolant, which would be under pressure, to leak into the cylinders. Basically, a pressure test does the same thing as overheating the engine by upping the pressure in the cooling system, but without the increase in temperature, if that makes sense.

This wouldn't necessarily reveal all headgasket failures. Depending on the block or engine type, there might be failures between the neighboring combustion chambers, but it's usually driven by overheating in BMW's. which means the cooling system's involved.

There was actually a thread I read recently where one of the members said that the coolant leaked into his #3 cylinder, causing hydrolock.
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  #18  
Old 03-07-2011, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
coolant leaked into his #3 cylinder, causing hydrolock.
Thanks for the clarification.

Does the coolant leak 'into' the cylinders from the head gasket?

(Or does it get in through heat-induced cracks in the cylinder walls?)
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  #19  
Old 03-07-2011, 05:11 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Bluebee, I've never hear of the cylinder walls themselves failing. Rather, the narrow strip of headgasket between the cylinders blows out, leaking gases from one cylinder to the next. In this case, coolant isn't necessarily involved. i haven't heard of this happening on BMW's, but others may have.

More commonly in BMW's, pressure buildup in the cooling system induces gasket failure in the space between a gasket hole for the water passages and the cylinder cylinder space, which allows coolant to seep into the cylinder.

Last edited by bobdmac; 03-07-2011 at 05:12 PM.
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  #20  
Old 03-07-2011, 07:13 PM
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...which allows coolant to seep into the cylinder.
Thanks for the clarification.

Reading up on it, apparently combustion pressures are vastly greater than cooling system pressures so it's more likely that exhaust gases leak into the cooling system, causing displacement of coolant than the other way around (1). The gases are not effective as a coolant (go figure) and that causes the overheating. Eventually something blows.

Apparently (from googling), the maximum pressure you can apply to a cooling system is normally around 20 psi for most American cars whereas combustion pressures are over a hundred and fifty psi (same reference).

Plus, apparently, coolant molecules are 'enormous' compared to puny combustion gas molecules; the net effect is that exhaust gases normally go into the coolant instead of the other way around.

So, this article I referenced says pressure testing the cooling system is not the way to figure out if you have a blown head gasket. It says to use an exhaust gas analyses, only instead of sticking it in your tailpipe, you hold it above your open radiator cap! Weird. But it's in that reference.

So I guess these tests are important to ascertain a blown head gasket:
  • Compression tests (wet/dry)
  • Cylinder leak down test, i.e., a compression test in reverse (1)
  • Cooling system pressure test
  • Exhaust gas analyzer
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  #21  
Old 03-07-2011, 07:44 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Interesting perspective, Bluebee. I never thought about it that way. Just to be contrarian for a moment, it seems you could also argue that the pressure driving the coolant (which,unlike gas, is not itself compressible) is constant, while the pressure in the cylinder oscillates between positive and negative, as the cylinder empties and fills again, making it more likely that coolant could force its way toward the cylinder.

Also, the model you describe begs the question, why doesn't it happen more often between cylinders, where combustion gases exert pressure from alternating sides?

At any rate, other telltale signs of headgasket problems are overheating and cross-contamination--the presence of coolant in the oil, or vice versa. These last two I remember well, because when I was a kid, my family had a '58 Rambler American that was notorious for its headgasket failures. We replaced three of them in the four years that we had the car.
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  #22  
Old 03-08-2011, 12:53 AM
reb78 reb78 is offline
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Thanks. That was an interesting read.

I cant see any evidence of coolant in the oil - the level is actually a little low. If it was mixing with coolant, i would expect it to go up, but it has not changed. My theory with pressurising the coolant system was that if water is getting into the combustion chambers and thus exhaust, i presumed that pressure in the coolant system would force air into the chamber and that i might even be able to hear it since the plugs are out at the moment - i didnt hear anything, but there was a gradual loss of pressure. The pressure i put in the coolant system was only 1/12 that of the minimum pressure developed on the compression test, so it stands to reason that the pressure is more likely to force combustion gas out of the chamber when running - i guess the heat causes evaporation of the coolant in the area of the leak and the gas then gets sucked into the chamber and sent out the exhaust as condensation.

I think i'll start it up next and see how it is, then see about getting the exhaust analyser test done on the 'coolant gas'. Trouble is, the insurance has now lapsed, so taking it to the garage is a problem - police everywhere round here!

Last edited by reb78; 03-08-2011 at 01:31 AM.
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  #23  
Old 03-08-2011, 11:00 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Re-reading your info and your previous thread (which I apologize for not having read before), I'm inclined to think you just have a leak in the cooling system. Maybe a hose is leaking. But I also think you should also eyeball the coolant to make sure no oil has gotten into it. You might be able to see it if you shine a flashlight into the reservoir. If everything looks good, I think it makes sense to see how it runs for a few minutes, making sure to keep an eye out for leaks. If it idles well, goose the throttle a couple of times and see if you detect any misses.

If all seems well, and you decide you want to do the exhaust-gas check (which is actually a great method, only made possible the advances in smog-testing technology), and you're concerned about the insurance, you can have it trucked to a shop.

From what I've read, heads don't necessarily warp every time they're overheated, and you shut things down pretty quickly when the radiator blew.

Are you confident you bled the radiator properly after you replaced it?
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:01 AM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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By the way, I forgot to ask how the remaining coolant looked when you drained it to replace the radiator. Any sign of oil there?
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Old 03-08-2011, 12:13 PM
reb78 reb78 is offline
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Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
By the way, I forgot to ask how the remaining coolant looked when you drained it to replace the radiator. Any sign of oil there?
Thanks for both posts. Now this is the strange thing, no oil visible in the coolant at all (you'd see the telltale 'blobs' or at least a smear in the surface in it if there were) and no signs of coolant in the oil.

When running, it ran fine....... I started it for a brief period before i changed the rad, so i could warm it up for the compression test - i botched the rad leak for this, but it was only run briefly and it was controlled on my drive. It did not miss a beat either at idle, or when revved, which really made me doubt the head gasket had gone. However, the condensation in the exhaust when revved was discouraging. There were bubbles in the coolant, but this could easily have been drawn in from the crack in the rad that i had forced shut whilst i ran it.

I'll run it up later in the week and see how it is now that the rad is replaced. I have bled it, but will ensure i have done this properly before and as i run it up to temp.

There is a dampish patch on the block just under no.1 cylinder underneath the intake manifold, but i cant tell if this is oil stain mixed with the water that leaked out when the rad broke, or if it is fresh liquid. The water level has not dropped at all since i re-filled it on Monday evening (it has not been run though).

Last edited by reb78; 03-08-2011 at 12:20 PM.
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