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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 05-07-2015, 07:03 PM
97BeamerDude 97BeamerDude is offline
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Thumbs down 97 528i Leaking headgasket?

I have a 97 528i with 170,000 and I think it's leaking coolant from the headgasket. Passenger side towards the back. Very small leak, bout 1-3 inches of coolant loss a week. No overheating. I was thinking about replacing the head gasket but than I read that the head is aluminum so more than likely something would get stripped/ruined during the process. I just want advice on what I should do. Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 05-07-2015, 07:46 PM
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computiNATEor computiNATEor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 97BeamerDude View Post
I have a 97 528i with 170,000 and I think it's leaking coolant from the headgasket. Passenger side towards the back. Very small leak, bout 1-3 inches of coolant loss a week. No overheating. I was thinking about replacing the head gasket but than I read that the head is aluminum so more than likely something would get stripped/ruined during the process. I just want advice on what I should do. Thanks.
First things first, get a compression test. If that does not go well, ask a mechanic to do a leak down test to diagnose the affected cylinders. Ask them to check for exhaust gasses in the coolant, something they should be able to do with emissions testing equipment. The results may suggest a blown head gasket. If your mechanic determines that a new engine is needed, bluebee has a great post! Check it out:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...55#post5863855
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  #3  
Old 05-07-2015, 07:53 PM
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best to confirm the coolant leak source before messing with the head.there is a coolant hose at the rear of the block that goes to the heater.chk that as well.

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  #4  
Old 05-07-2015, 08:36 PM
dvdlkd dvdlkd is offline
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97beamerdude,
I have a 97 528 with a head gasket leak at the backside passenger corner. It is an external head gasket leak not the classic combustion chamber to coolant system type leaks that over pressurize and overheat your engine. I found mine about a year ago. It was about a drop a minute. My car had 270K miles on it at that time and I was not willing to tackle the head gasket repair (don't have the timing tools). I put some BARs Head gasket stop leak type HG-1 (Their best and most expensive) No leak for 8 months. Now it is back but very slow. I lose an inch of level in my expansion tank every week. I watch it close.

Since your car has only 170K miles and should go another 100K miles if not other big problems, I suggest you replace your gasket. Our cars have aluminum heads. Yours should be OK since you haven't overheated it. Our blocks are cast iron which makes stripping the threads a low risk.

The M52 engine has a large water channel in the back of the head on the passenger side. There appears to be weak spot in the head gasket there that allows external leaks. I found other M52 engine owners on the 328 site that had this problem.

PS. I have had no collateral issues with using the BARs and i was worried about that. It fixed it for a while, but if you are going to keep your car for a while, I'd replace the gasket.
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  #5  
Old 05-08-2015, 06:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 97BeamerDude View Post
I have a 97 528i ..... I was thinking about replacing the head gasket but than I read that the head is aluminum so more than likely something would get stripped/ruined during the process. I just want advice on what I should do. Thanks.
You're lucky in that the '97 has an IRON bottom end, not ALUMINUM.
Just about all the head bolt problems occur on AUM bottom end motors (1999-2003)
There is almost no chance that your head bolts will be stripped out/ruined in the process on the '97-'98 528i, unless you cross thread the bolts when installing.
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  #6  
Old 05-08-2015, 12:27 PM
djmjd djmjd is offline
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It doesn't sound like a HG leak, HGs don't typically leak to the outside of the engine. I would find the source of that leak ASAP (as in don't drive it another mile) unless you want to replace the HG and head. Do a cheap (and absolutely necessary) repair now - OR - do that same repair PLUS the $1500 for a new head and HG later. Has the head ever been off? I could see a previous repair leading to a weird external HG failure but that's about it.

Last edited by djmjd; 05-08-2015 at 12:32 PM.
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  #7  
Old 05-08-2015, 12:29 PM
djmjd djmjd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdlkd View Post
97beamerdude,
I have a 97 528 with a head gasket leak at the backside passenger corner. It is an external head gasket leak not the classic combustion chamber to coolant system type leaks that over pressurize and overheat your engine. I found mine about a year ago. It was about a drop a minute. My car had 270K miles on it at that time and I was not willing to tackle the head gasket repair (don't have the timing tools). I put some BARs Head gasket stop leak type HG-1 (Their best and most expensive) No leak for 8 months. Now it is back but very slow. I lose an inch of level in my expansion tank every week. I watch it close.

Since your car has only 170K miles and should go another 100K miles if not other big problems, I suggest you replace your gasket. Our cars have aluminum heads. Yours should be OK since you haven't overheated it. Our blocks are cast iron which makes stripping the threads a low risk.

The M52 engine has a large water channel in the back of the head on the passenger side. There appears to be weak spot in the head gasket there that allows external leaks. I found other M52 engine owners on the 328 site that had this problem.

PS. I have had no collateral issues with using the BARs and i was worried about that. It fixed it for a while, but if you are going to keep your car for a while, I'd replace the gasket.
EDIT: I don't want to sound like I'm doubting you - BUT- can you link to the source of your information (specifically that this is an m52 issue)? Have you physically verified the HG is the source of the leak?

Last edited by djmjd; 05-08-2015 at 01:12 PM.
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  #8  
Old 05-08-2015, 02:03 PM
dvdlkd dvdlkd is offline
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DJMJD,

I agree with you that a leak at this location is rare. My 97 has 296K miles on it. My 17 year old son is driving it and has banged it up somewhat. It's a beater. I don't have the confidence or the tools needed to lock the cams, etc for the head removal job. My car is within a year of the junk yard so I'm not going to pay to have an Indy fix it. Below is a thread I googled for "BMW external head gasket leak" that is on this forum and posted in 2008. Poolman and CN90 both chimed in on whether to use stop leak or not. I wouldn't do it with a car i want to get a few more years out of. There is a large cooling channel at the back passenger corner of the head/block. The head gasket is thin there or maybe the iron block for the M52 just corrodes little. I'm not sure. But I was in denial about this leak for a while until I got the cabin air filters out and using mirrors saw the coolant beading out at the joint. The Bars has worked for me, heater still works and the car doesn't overheat. I really wish it has been a heater hose off the back..........


Need Some Help, Head Gasket Coolant Leak.
For The Last Few Weeks Our 97 528I Has Had A Very Slow Coolant Leak. We Followed To Diy's To Get The Air And And Bubbles Out Of The System. But Today After Some More Examination It Turns Out That The Backside/Passengerside Headgasket Has A Very Tiny Leak. I Did A Search And Tried For Some Answers And Nothing Came Up So I Decided To Ask You Guys. What Do You Guys Recommend? Is A Coolant Sealer A Good Idea To Put In There? If You Have Any Other Suggestions Please Share, As We Are Bmw Newbs Right Now! Please Let Me Know If It Is A Major Problem Also. Thanks So Much!
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  #9  
Old 05-08-2015, 03:35 PM
97BeamerDude 97BeamerDude is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 528i BMW
I'm going to put the car on ramps here In a couple hours and find out exactly where the leak is coming from. I'll check that hose going to the heater in that area to make sure its not leaking from there (hopefully it is cause that would be easier to repair rather than change the head gasket. But if all else fails you guys said I have an iron bottom so I don't have to worry about stripping anything if I do decide to change the head gasket. I know this car can get many more miles so I'm not giving up on it. I'll let you know and possibly take pics after i get it on the ramps
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  #10  
Old 05-08-2015, 04:18 PM
poolman poolman is offline
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There's a pipe on the engine block that can leak also. It requires the removal of the intake to make the fix,,but that's not as bad as having to remove the head and do that gasket. Need to check there as well. If this car is just a beater to drive around town and has a lot of miles on it, I'd use the Bar leak on it in a minuet. There are better stop leak products out there though that are higher dollar that might do a much better job and not be as bad on the internals of the engine block. With a small leak such as you describe,and the miles that you have on the car, yep I'd give it a try. If you were to go for the head gasket fix, I bought a newer engine and installed it cheaper than going that route
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  #11  
Old 05-09-2015, 09:51 AM
97BeamerDude 97BeamerDude is offline
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Well looks to be the head gasket. Small seeping spot at the very corner of the passenger side back of engine. It only drips every now and than so It's not major and no overheating. I'm going to tackle the head gasket in about a month.
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