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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 12-11-2014, 05:37 PM
davtex davtex is offline
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E39 1998 EU Head gasket mystery

Hi guys!

I come from Slovakia and I have just recently bought a 3/1999 528i with blown head gasket - or at least I was told so. I was warned that I shouldn't really drive the car since the coolant had been disappearing, so I drove it just home for around 70 miles, after which the car started overheating just as I was waiting for my gate to open. I left the car parked until yesterday and I started to dismantle all the gizmos under the hood. During the process my friend told me that because of notorious cooling issues with these engines, the head can be in fact OK and I am just losing hours of time and money trying to replace a working gasket.

The thing is that I bought the car in almost mint condition (looks and suspension-wise) from an owner that I have no reasons not to trust. I was told that he had done a compression test, which yielded good results and that he was told that the problem is for sure in the head gasket. Also, he told me that yellow foam formed under the oil cap after longer journeys.

However, I finally got the cylinder head out of the car few hours ago and didn't really learn anything. The head gasket was intact, however, the bolts between 5th and 6th cylinder were wet and covered in yellowish substance that reminded something I am not sure I am allowed to name on this board.

Other info:
- the head gasket has been replaced before with a thicker one
- the yellow substance was present at valve cover around the oil cap, in water pump, all the water canals inside the engine block and breather hose
- short metal pipe that comes from oil pan and connects to oil separator was completely clogged by something that reminds brown sugar
- nothing yellowish in the oil itself, no problem with coolant either
- thermostat was half-burnt from the outside and there was no hole drilled in it
- can't say anything about the water pump as I don't have the tools for the fan yet
- no visible damage on the head
- RPM over 3000 for several seconds after starting the car after couple of days
- losing over 2L of water per 60 miles

There is no way of telling how many miles the engine has done since it is a local tradition to manipulate the odometer before selling the car, the block is made of aluminium.

Here are photos of bolts and de-gizmoed engine.

The thing is that I don't know what to do. The head can't really be resurfaced again as it is already 0,3mm thinner. And I don't know that because I don't know whether there was a problem with head gasket or not :/

PS
I have experience with japanese 4 cylinder engines, so I have some thing to learn about these engines, but I went through probably all m52 related overheating and head gasket threads and didn't find an answer.
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  #2  
Old 12-11-2014, 07:38 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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Horrible local tradition.. But maybe someone had tried to put stop leak in it?? That's the yellow foam substance?
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  #3  
Old 12-11-2014, 07:45 PM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is online now
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yellow foam is water and oil ...

at this point it doesnt matter... Do the head.. Redo the cooling... send it
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  #4  
Old 12-12-2014, 04:51 AM
davtex davtex is offline
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Thought so. I will have the head checked for straightness and leaks and get a new gasket and hopefully, I will be smarter after that.

BTW This is odometer history of another 528iA that I own according to Slovak version of MOT since the car entered the country.
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  #5  
Old 12-12-2014, 05:25 AM
crobmw crobmw is offline
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i would say that this seem to cracked head...not head gasket....
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  #6  
Old 12-12-2014, 05:57 AM
timarnold timarnold is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crobmw View Post
i would say that this seem to cracked head...not head gasket....
+1 The yellow goo on the nos 6&7 head bolts is not a good sign. Anyway, you are doing the right thing pull the head, have it checked for leaks & if needed get a used head and you should be good to go.
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  #7  
Old 12-14-2014, 02:00 PM
davtex davtex is offline
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I've driven the head to a not-so-local garage that specializes in this kind of stuff and asked them to do a pressure test. If the head will prove to be OK, they will resurface it as well. However, the head hasn't been resurfaced ever before and you could actually still see markings on the head where the original head gasket blew. So obviously, somebody has replaced the HG without resurfacing the head.
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  #8  
Old 12-22-2014, 05:29 AM
davtex davtex is offline
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I finally have the head back. The pressure test was OK, but they had to cut 0,25mm off the head to make the surface level. I have also order a gasket set from Elring and VANOS seals for unbelievable 35 euros. I fell robbed paying that much money for 2 rubber circles!
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  #9  
Old 12-23-2014, 05:12 AM
m735is m735is is offline
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How did all of the threads look for the headbolt holes? Did it look like any were pulling the threads?
Are you going to put inserts in as a precaution or just try to install the bolts as is?
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  #10  
Old 12-23-2014, 07:57 AM
davtex davtex is offline
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The threads looked just like new. I will just clean the holes properly, dry them off, use new bolts and a proper torque wrench. I've heard that you should be fine unless you forget some of the aforementioned things.

However, I am bit worried about one thing. I used a razor to get rid of some old gasket material and then a textile drill cleaner instead of a plastic one mentioned in Pelican manuals. After that, the surface stayed a little bit scratched. You can't really feel the scratches and they are visible only from a very specific angle. The guy that straightened the head for me told me that it is OK since such marks are visible even on a brand-new head from the factory. However, I remember reading something about how important the surface quality is on some cars. What do you think?
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  #11  
Old 12-23-2014, 08:22 AM
crobmw crobmw is offline
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Not to be worried about it....this is normal after head been surfacing...specially if tool with bigger blades was used....
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  #12  
Old 12-23-2014, 08:35 AM
davtex davtex is offline
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OK then, I hope I'll have it finished by the end of the year. I have just picked some seals (water pump, heating pipe) from local BMW dealer and also new VANOS seals, however, I am still waiting for the Elring gasket set to arrive - it is stuck somewhere between Slovakia and Germany I think and it would be a miracle if it arrived today. Anyway, I have to finish it before 5th January as I've already got a reservation for LPG installation. Wish me luck.
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  #13  
Old 12-23-2014, 09:22 AM
timarnold timarnold is offline
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Not to be too obvious, but it is very easy to get lost a bit while torquing the head bolts. This can result in having one bolt angle torqued only once and another torqued three times. Neither of these things is good. What I did was draw a line on each bolt after taking them to seating torque. That way, you can tell by where the line is pointing exactly what you have done to that particular bolt. Maybe it's just my short attention span, but it really helped me.
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  #14  
Old 12-23-2014, 10:46 AM
davtex davtex is offline
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Good idea, I'll definitelly do that. Anyway, I just finished drilling out the valve cover gasket. It was so hard that I had to drill a small hole in it every inch or so and lift it up with a screwdriver piece by piece. Never seen anything like that. In the meantime, I'll order a new ccv - oil pan hose and drill/weld that dam joint on the oil pipe. The car has a new alternator, CCV(which I also cleaned), Visco, almost every seal, filters and belts will also be replaced. The water pump propeller is made of steel and is in very good condition. Everything CCV related has been properly cleaned and checked. Anything else worth checking or replacing while the engine is dismantled?

PS
The car is 3/1998 - does it still use ADS diagnostics, which nobody seems to have or something newer?
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  #15  
Old 12-30-2014, 08:52 AM
davtex davtex is offline
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OK, so I managed to strip 2 threads - the exact same ones which housed those two yellow-goo-covered bolts. You cannot image the disappointment.

I now have 3 options:
1, repairing the threads - no way I am going for time-serts because of their price. I might use heli-coils, which are available here and cheaper as well. I will call the local importer tomorrow and call for the price of inserts and required tools.
2, replacing an incomplete engine block - there is one for sale for 40 euros, which is a bargain, but I can't really imagine the work associated with moving the pistons etc.
3, replacing a complete engine block - not possible at the moment since there are only whole engines on sale (400e+). One guy told me that he just threw out 3 complete 528i blocks since nobody was interested in buying those.
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  #16  
Old 12-30-2014, 08:00 PM
m735is m735is is offline
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Fourth option is to use an larger headbolt from a Mercedes. Not sure of the size, I think it's 1mm larger in diameter, but I've read about it online.

I know how you feel. I didn't want to feel that way so I just went with a used motor. I will do the Timeserts to my old motor later when I have the money. I wouldn't use Helicoil based on searches-you don't want the same feeling again.

Just curious, how much was the head gasket set compared to a used motor where you are?
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  #17  
Old 12-31-2014, 12:19 AM
davtex davtex is offline
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Used ones including the transmission go for around 400e, but they all have 150k+ miles on them. It felt a lot safer to repair the engine I have. Spent some 90e for leveling the head and pressure test, Reinze/Elring head gasket is around 50e. The other thing is that I am not really equipped to do an engine swap at the moment.


Found these two sets:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Time-Sert-...item4186d11284
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Time-Sert-10..._Tools&vxp=mtr

200 hundred cheaper than the BMW kit and the only thing missing is the fixture plate.

Last edited by davtex; 12-31-2014 at 01:35 AM.
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  #18  
Old 12-31-2014, 04:58 AM
black&white black&white is offline
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If u send pics..it will be much better... 400 euro for the whole engine or just the cylinder block??? From my experience... its much better to buy a damaged bmw from accident and strip it off the engine and u will still have spare parts for the whole car.. in 900veuro or less.. but u seem to like working everything ur hands..so just calculate it... and what u said about the odometer game is completely right man..am next to u in czech lands
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  #19  
Old 12-31-2014, 05:27 AM
davtex davtex is offline
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Yeah, 400e for the whole engine (block, head, pistons, crankshaft, camshafts). It would certainly be easier and less time-consuming - but would it be worth it? It will cost me the same to repair the existing engine. I spent some 250e for head repairs and a gasket set + it will cost me another 120e for the time-serts. That way I know that the gasket and rest of the engine is OK.

I have once swapped an engine on MX5 with not so good results - the head gasket blew 2000 miles later. Since 80% of all E39 BMWs driving around are in poor to piss-poor condition, I would think twice before buying a different engine.

PS
I own another 528i with working engine but broken gearbox - but since there is nothing else wrong with the car, it wouldn't really be worth stealing the engine from it.


PS2
I have read some threads about Time-Serts and found out that the original BMW kit puts the inserts 6mm under the surface of the block, while my method would put them right "on" the surface. Do you think that it would be a problem?
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  #20  
Old 12-31-2014, 07:19 AM
black&white black&white is offline
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For sure u spent already .so for sure i will go on with ur project... and what u say is true.. better to have an engine that i know 50% what t has than brand new one that no nthn about.. but for sure , a used engine can be also inspected for signs of wear and all the rubbish as wel as a functioning one.
Any way.. for the threads sure i would recommend what the guys recommended coz never had such problem..but it seems they know better.. wish things work out soon with u man.
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  #21  
Old 01-01-2015, 04:29 PM
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For reference, see also:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > What advice should we provide when someone asks for help with a blown E39 engine?
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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