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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-20-2005, 03:57 PM
Nigel-DV Nigel-DV is offline
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Mein Auto: BMW 323i se Tourer 2.5
Blown Head Gasket?

First post around here, but not my first BMW by any streatch, I've owned 735, 520, 325 diesel and 728, all around 10 years old when I bought them, anyway, on with my question.

I am about to buy an R reg 1997 BMW 323i se Tourer. It's a straight 6 2.5 litre engine with 97,000 miles on the clock. It's mint condition with full service history, not all BMW, but latter part BMW specialist. The engine looks as new and so does the car, drives like new too.

But, uppon removing the oil filler cap their is a lot of yellowish/off-white mayonaise type substance, kind of gummy and thick, this is lining the inside of the oil filler cap.

I've heard that this means a blown head gasket, or that it is about to blow as water is getting into the engine, is this right?

However, after a quick 2 mile round trip (from cold start) the needle on the temperature gauge on the dash, went to half way, and sat there perfectly, the heater also blew out warm to hot (ish) air when the temperature was set to maximum. I could not see the yellowish cream on the oil dip stick, just oil.

There was a lot of white/light grey smoke coming from the exhaust, especially on start up, big cloud of it, but the car had been sitting in the cold for 3 weeks, un-used. After the 2 mile round trip, the white/grey smoke was still present, especially when I asked the owner to rev the engine. I also noticed the smoke comming from the exhaust when the driver drove quite fast (I was passenger looking out the back window).

The car reallly is superb condition, a real stunner and I really love BMW's, but I'm a little concerned as my last BMW, which was a 735 V8 K reg 1993 model blew the head gasket and it was going to cost me £1,200 to get fixed by an independent specialist, not BMW main dealer. The car only cost me £3000, so you can imagine my shock at this.

Will this 323i se tourer be expensive to fix, if it is the head gasket that has blown, or do you think it is the head gasket at all, do I need to be worried?

A quick answer would be great as I am going to buy the car first thing in the morning (Monday am UK time).

Any other tips, or things to look for on this car?

If it is head gasket, how much should I expect to pay?

Thanks in advance.
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  #2  
Old 11-21-2005, 03:46 PM
mott mott is offline
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head gasket

hi nigel
right first off dont get drawn in to the old fantasy about emulsified oil on the filler cap .......i work for bmw and i can tell you that 90% of the cars i service show this its quite normal especialy if the car only does very short journeys iv even seen it on a brand new pdi so it proves nothing .. the other thing i can tell you is iv been with bmw now for about 6 years and i can count on 1 hand the number of 6 cylinder engines we have had to take the head off because of the gasket being blown it just doesnt happen that often they seem to be ....well kinda bullet proof lol .
The only problem we get from them seems to be external ::: water pumps thermostats .... sensors ......maby a VANOS but even theese seem to be prity robust
The sauce of the smoke you saw is most likely to be water trapped in the exhaust after being stood idle for a time
Let me know if you think of any other problems you may be aware of ok m8
cheers for now
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  #3  
Old 11-22-2005, 01:08 AM
Nigel-DV Nigel-DV is offline
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Thanks for that, reasuring, if of course the head gasket hasn't gone. I'm buying the car this morning and having a BMW expert friend of mine check it over in his garage.

Cheers
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  #4  
Old 11-22-2005, 01:31 AM
zachgeo zachgeo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel-DV
Thanks for that, reasuring, if of course the head gasket hasn't gone. I'm buying the car this morning and having a BMW expert friend of mine check it over in his garage.
Can't you have it checked out before buying? A 2 mile drive seems like an inadequate test, given what you desribe. That said, I agree with Mott -- the smoke and the mayonaise thing could be from the car sitting around too long, and moisture building up. But why take chances -- can you convince the seller to let you drive it for a few days, so you can get a better impression?
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  #5  
Old 11-22-2005, 04:16 AM
obd2guru obd2guru is offline
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ok

ill advise a chemical test on the radiator and oil cost about 15 dlls at autozone if u are in the usa ,its designed to show contamination , it will tell you quickly if anything is passing tru, depending on the severity of the "chocolate" or yellowish if you buy the car get a engine block ceramic coating like a k&w ,to be on the safe side ,it will make a coating inside the block and gaskets to prevent any failure.
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  #6  
Old 11-22-2005, 05:57 AM
Nigel-DV Nigel-DV is offline
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Thanks for the tip on the coating.

Okay, I bought the car, but before I bought it I agreed with the seller that I could take it to a BMW specialist who I know. The BMW specialist did a 'Block Test' and all is fine, he said the same as you guys, the yellow was because the car had been sitting on a dealer forcourt for a month and been driven back and forth onto the yard (about 30 feet) each day.
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  #7  
Old 12-02-2005, 06:52 AM
Kissner Kissner is offline
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I had yellow crap on my oil cap too, it was from going on short trips. I took it on a couple longer trips (couple hour drives) and when i got home and checked it was gone.
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  #8  
Old 01-17-2007, 07:30 PM
Ronald Monje Ronald Monje is offline
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Mein Auto: 528i 1998
I dont now what to belive, my 528i is been over heating, I've replaced thermostat,pull water pump, replace temperature sensor and still overheats.
The color of my oil is chocolate and when I'd drained the oil I got almost 1 1/2 gallons of chocolate, so I've decided to replace the head gasket. I need an advice about what to do in this case.
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  #9  
Old 01-18-2007, 01:21 AM
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Andycapps Andycapps is offline
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I had to replace the Head gasket on my 94 325is 2 years ago. I had the yellowish-mayonaise looking gunk on the oil cap afterwards..and still do from time to time. I thought it was left over gunk from when the head gasket was blown, but after doing multiple block tests,compression&cylinder leak down tests, I've concluded that this is just from driving short trips and condensation getting in the oil. Ronald..the biggest issues with coolant/water in the oil is that it will destroy your main bearings quickly. Also..if you have coolant getting in the cylinders..this can cause hyrdolock or crack the head..bend valves etc. So dont drive it.when my head gasket was blown, my oil looked like chocolate milk. I had constant billowing sweet smelling white smoke coming out. my car started to overheat from a cold start in a matter of minutes. Its likely just a blown head gasket..but have the diagnostics done(i.e Compression&cylinder leak-down tests/block tests) done first. You could also have a warped or cracked cylinder head or block.Hopefully not, but you could even have a broken head bolt. And sometimes they break when you try to take them out. The symptoms can be similar and sometimes the only to see if the head has cracks is to have the cylinder head sent to a machine shop and have it pressure tested for cracks. Either way this needs to be done. Also have the head machined. If you do have to replace the head gasket..i'd suggest having the head rebuilt and replace all the critical cooling system components as well.

Last edited by Andycapps; 01-18-2007 at 01:29 AM.
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  #10  
Old 01-18-2007, 04:35 AM
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DominguesE30 DominguesE30 is offline
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my e30 had milk all inside the oil cap. I did a block test and it came up fine. My mechanic replaced the oil and i never saw it again..
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  #11  
Old 01-19-2007, 06:04 AM
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Andycapps Andycapps is offline
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I've never really seen this milky oil residue on any other cars..maybe its just a bimmer thing?
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  #12  
Old 01-19-2007, 11:24 PM
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DominguesE30 DominguesE30 is offline
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probably.... Im sure other cars would have it aswell
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  #13  
Old 01-20-2007, 10:23 AM
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After my car sat for almost a year..all the oil looked like mayonaise/gunk. So I used the 'Gunk' brand 5 minute oil system flush..and that worked very well and got all the stuff out. I still get it on the oil cap every now and then, but i think its just condensation or something. I was worried about it being coolant getting in the oil...but the last 3 oil changes have been nice and clean.
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  #14  
Old 02-23-2009, 05:50 PM
Abuddha20 Abuddha20 is offline
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Whats this block test? Im having some problems and trying to see what the problem is. Anyone with any thoughts on how to check to see if my HG is still good?
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  #15  
Old 02-23-2009, 06:06 PM
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ffej ffej is offline
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There really isn't a way. When the HG blew on the race car the first time, it failed, leaking air into the cooling system and causing the car to overheat on an already hot day. If I kept the revs below 4k, it was fine, when I pushed it, it overheated by the end of the third lap.

This time it was due to a bad manufacturing job and the HG blew between cylinders 5 & 6 and the car was running - literally - on 4 cylinders and had a terrible idle.
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  #16  
Old 11-22-2010, 03:58 PM
moodyothman moodyothman is offline
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Mein Auto: 1988 bmw 325ic
24 valves swap

Quote:
Originally Posted by mott View Post
hi nigel
right first off dont get drawn in to the old fantasy about emulsified oil on the filler cap .......i work for bmw and i can tell you that 90% of the cars i service show this its quite normal especialy if the car only does very short journeys iv even seen it on a brand new pdi so it proves nothing .. the other thing i can tell you is iv been with bmw now for about 6 years and i can count on 1 hand the number of 6 cylinder engines we have had to take the head off because of the gasket being blown it just doesnt happen that often they seem to be ....well kinda bullet proof lol .
The only problem we get from them seems to be external ::: water pumps thermostats .... sensors ......maby a VANOS but even theese seem to be prity robust
The sauce of the smoke you saw is most likely to be water trapped in the exhaust after being stood idle for a time
Let me know if you think of any other problems you may be aware of ok m8
cheers for now
hey mott. i swapped a 325i 1993 to my 1988 325i, the car started over heating for some reseans. i lowerd the t-stat to 80c changed the water pump, and checked everything. the coolant boil and overflow and the to hose get very stiff when i shut the coolant resivoa. some one told me its the head gaskit, i dont wanna do all the work to change it and then find out the head has a crack. i dont know anyways of telling if its the head gaskit or a crack. i do have some white creamy stuff in my oil cap. i found a product on line calls steelseal or sorda thing but i dont know if i should use that if my head gaskit is bad. i difenetly dasprit for help. i ve spent time and effert on this car
thank you
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  #17  
Old 04-01-2011, 04:29 AM
crashpete crashpete is offline
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I HAVE JUST HAD ASIMILIAR PROBLEM WITH A 316ISE WHICH OVERHEATED NOT AT THE DASH BUT THE RAD AND LOST ALL THE COOLANT ILEFT THE CAR TILLTHE NEXT MORNING AND TOPPED IT UP. WHEN I STARTED THE CAR IT FIRED OK BUT I NOTICED I COULDNOT PUT THE ACCELORATOR DOWN , UPON INVESTIGATION OF THE ENGINE BAY I DECIDED TO TAKEBOTH THE FILLER CAP AND DIPSTICK OUT TO CHECK BOTH AS I DID NOTKNOW IF THIS WAS A ENGINE MANAGMENT SHUTDOWN TO PREVENT MORE DAMAGE TOTHE CAR.. UPON TAKING OFF THE FILLER CAP I FOUND A LIGHT CHOCLATEY EMULSION ON THE BACK OF IT AND BECAME A BIT WORRIED I ALSO PULLED THE DIPSTICKOUT TO FIND THE SAME EMULSION IN THE SUMP !! i JUST PAID 1800 FOR THE CAR TWO WEEKS AGO FROM A DEALER AND I WOULD LIKE TOKNOW IF THIS IS A DEFINET HEAD GASKET OR CYLINDER HEAD CRACKED ANY INFO AT ALL WOULD BE OF GREAT HELP RIGHT NOW
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  #18  
Old 04-01-2011, 11:01 AM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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Head gasket and/or cracked head. And STOP SHOUTING (typing in all-caps is considered shouting).

Welcome to the fest.
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  #19  
Old 11-17-2011, 10:51 PM
brooin8 brooin8 is offline
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Mein Auto: 528i
Blown HEad

I actually know my Head is blown on my 528i, 1998.
I smell coolant and see white smoke at idle when I am at a red light.
I am going to do the change myself and was wondering if there was a thread on it.

If not, ill start one. For all those DIY that want to attempt this, at least you will have someone who will have done it step by step for you.
I can't seam to find anything of that sort.

Chocolate oil, Smelly exhaust, and a rough idle = something wrong, in this case my head is blown
Thanks,
Brooin.
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  #20  
Old 11-18-2011, 05:18 AM
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crisscross crisscross is offline
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Google e36 headgasket diy, there are literally thousands of threads about it...
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  #21  
Old 11-21-2011, 08:35 AM
twitchit72 twitchit72 is offline
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I see at some point this thread was revived. I have a tricky problem. I have a 97 318 that overheats. I changed the water pump and rad. I don't think it's getting flow and it has a big boule. That is only evident when the fan does not kick on. Thought it was a fan switch but that tested fine. I put it in a pot of water and slowly brought it up to temp. Both temps turned on the the respective circuit. After many hours with the fluke, I found water was not reaching the switch. Some dumb a$$ engineer decided to put it up high in the rad passenger side tank. Well I thought I burped it good enough but it still overheats. At one point it blew the res tank off the rad. Really pissing me off.
I also wondered what this chem test Is. What dou you ask for? Is it litmus paper type of tester? I need to know for sure it's not a blown head gasket or cracked head.
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  #22  
Old 11-21-2011, 09:11 AM
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jonesin jonesin is online now
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Better than even money on there still being air trapped in the system. I know I tend to bleed my car 3-4 times. Do a quick search for "raise the front 8-10"" and that should give you a good run through for the whole procedure.
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  #23  
Old 11-25-2011, 05:52 AM
mark1999 mark1999 is offline
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bmw overheated and wont start

Hey guys, I need some help. I've been reeding post on this site and you guys are a big help. My 1999 bmw 3 series overheated on wensday night. I had it towed back home. The next morning I started the car the temp gage went into the red after about 5 min of idling. The coolent was real low so filled it up and now the car wont start just turns over almost starting. Any help would be great. I thought might be waterpump but now not starting concerned might have cracked head
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  #24  
Old 11-25-2011, 07:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark1999 View Post
Hey guys, I need some help. I've been reeding post on this site and you guys are a big help. My 1999 bmw 3 series overheated on wensday night. I had it towed back home. The next morning I started the car the temp gage went into the red after about 5 min of idling. The coolent was real low so filled it up and now the car wont start just turns over almost starting. Any 'help would be great. I thought might be waterpump but now not starting concerned might have cracked head
First off, how long did it overheat for the previous night?

Secondly, why in the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster would you then idle it without checking your coolant level?

Sent from my ALCATEL_one_touch_908S using Bimmer
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  #25  
Old 11-28-2011, 12:16 AM
twitchit72 twitchit72 is offline
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Ok so I learned a valuable lesson. Use only OEM stuff when it comes to cooling. I bought a radiator new from a wholesaler (not OEM quality) and my fan would not kick on no matter how hot the car got at idle. I thought it was my fan. So I checked it out and it was fine. Then I thought it was my wiring. It turned out to be working fine as well. Naturally I thought it must be the temp switch by process of Elimination. After a few weeks of scratching my head I finally got the right switch. That didn't fix the problem either! So I put the old rad in again because it was still functional although the PO fast welded the tank for some reson. What do you know the fan kicked on the moment the temp gauge moved a hair above normal. Turnes out the new rad had a dead spot on the top half where the switch screws into the rad. For a few extra bucks I could have had a Behr sent straight to my door. I hope my daughter didn't blow the head gasket when it overheated on her. Sub standard parts piss me off!
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