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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 05-13-2011, 03:37 PM
bjo3030 bjo3030 is offline
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Help Assess Damage from Overheating

So my expansion tank blew up, big surprise. I saw the problem coming but couldn't get parts for the overhaul in time.

Anyhow, I was stuck in traffic when the temp gauge went totally red and the hood started steaming. When I got to a lot I cut the engine and had it towed home. Probably ran for 1-2 minutes of real bad heat, but I can't be sure (furious anger distorts perception).

Here's my question: What is my best plan? I don't want to do the complete cooling overhaul and then find out my engine is toast. Can damage be uncovered without full rebuild? Right now I'm basically coolant-less.

I've scoured the board and done my research, but I could really use some advice.

BTW its a 97 automatic with 55k miles (I know, I blew it...)

Thanks for any help.
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  #2  
Old 05-13-2011, 05:12 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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The only way you are going to find out is to replace the expansion tank and what ever let go and drive it.
If you have access to an cooling system pressure tester you could pump up the cooling system and see if it holds pressure.
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  #3  
Old 05-13-2011, 05:14 PM
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525isport 525isport is offline
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im sure its fine because you didnt drive it far and it still starts right?? .but to be sure remove the cooling system to find what caused the tank to blow ( stuck thermostat or blocked radiatior) then after you find the problem buy your new parts and bleed it properly and you should be good
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  #4  
Old 05-13-2011, 05:21 PM
bjo3030 bjo3030 is offline
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I filled the expansion tank with water and started it up cold, sounded fine. I'm doing the whole system: radiator, thermostat, water pump, blade, clutch, pulleys, etc.

Hopefully the head gasket isn't blown/head isn't cracked, I'm guessing I would have heard something wrong during the cold start. I'll go ahead with the overhaul and then take it in for a compression test I guess.

Much obliged for the help
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  #5  
Old 05-13-2011, 05:22 PM
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chiefwej chiefwej is offline
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If you had an I6 engine it would be toast for sure, but the V8's usually survive if you get them shut down in a short time. On the 6's one overheat = blown head gasket or warped head.
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:37 PM
bjo3030 bjo3030 is offline
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Yea knock on wood i6 vs v8... The pre-vanos m62s should be stronger than the vanos models too if I understand correctly.

I'm converting to the NPG+. I can't deal with the pressure any more. Chief, you're my inspiration on that one, still working out well for you?
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:41 PM
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chiefwej chiefwej is offline
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No problems w/ the zero pressure system.
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  #8  
Old 05-13-2011, 07:07 PM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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was waiting for that chime in of the zero pressure setup.

anyway fix it, Roll.. They are rather beefy engines... all the germans stuff runs for ever with oil, can be fixed and rebuilt with the service kit, and will get you home on half of cylinders firing

Im sure its ok... The steam was your coolant.... did you peg the needle for a few min? of just in the red?
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Old 05-13-2011, 10:52 PM
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chiefwej chiefwej is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burning2nd View Post
was waiting for that chime in of the zero pressure setup.

anyway fix it, Roll.. They are rather beefy engines... all the germans stuff runs for ever with oil, can be fixed and rebuilt with the service kit, and will get you home on half of cylinders firing

Im sure its ok... The steam was your coolant.... did you peg the needle for a few min? of just in the red?
You know that it isn't really a temperature gauge don't you? It just acts as an idiot light. Once the car warms up, it just sets in the middle until you overheat, then it goes to the red.
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Last edited by chiefwej; 05-13-2011 at 10:56 PM.
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  #10  
Old 05-14-2011, 10:15 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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Yea... thats a temp guage

the red light is you failing to observe you have left the safe zone... and i believe the red lights at the 3/4 hash mark no?
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  #11  
Old 05-14-2011, 08:09 PM
Jimmys 530i Jimmys 530i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
The only way you are going to find out is to replace the expansion tank and what ever let go and drive it.
If you have access to an cooling system pressure tester you could pump up the cooling system and see if it holds pressure.
That is what I would do. If the car was overheated briefly, it is very possible that no damage was done. My mom once overheated my old 97 328i when the expansion tank exploded, and it was in the red for almost 5 minutes until she could pull over and the engine was fine.
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  #12  
Old 05-14-2011, 08:20 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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What I would do is run some of the tests that anyone else would run if they suspected that overheating may have caused engine damage.
  • Cooling system pressure test
  • Cooling system exhaust-gas "geyser test" (1)
  • Cooling system exhaust-gas "analyzer test" (1)
  • Cylinder compression tests, wet & dry (1)
  • Cylinder leak down test (1)
In addition, the OP may wish to review some of these threads:

- 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) & 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).

Last edited by bluebee; 05-14-2011 at 08:22 PM.
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  #13  
Old 05-14-2011, 10:26 PM
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TemporarySanity TemporarySanity is offline
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I wouldn't recommend it but I drove 10 miles without enough coolant. Granted, it was -5F but I've since put at least 100k mi. since the repair without any signs of damage.
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