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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 03-10-2013, 06:52 PM
edogmb edogmb is offline
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more headgasket worries....

Hello, I am a noob but have been eves dropping on this site for a few months now. It has been very useful and I bought a 94 325 last month with lots of confidence being an avid DIYer. With that being said: I am looking for some experienced thoughts.
I have what looks like a slow coolant leak coming from the rear passenger side of the block!!!!!!!
I had worries of a possible headgasket issue when I first looked at it. I took off the oil cap and saw the infamous "milkshake". That with low, dark coolant in the expansion tank and slight smoke at the tailpipe had me backing off slowly. I did alot of homework and saw that my worry about the oil cap goo might have been misled as the PO did nothing but short trips. I returned to look at the car again with coolant in hand. The car runs fine with the exception of a slight idle bounce when in neutral and rolling. I added enough coolant to check to see if there was any air rushing through the expansion tank with the engine running (what I thought was a tell-tale of a HG issue) and did not see it. The oil on the dipstick looked dark, but ok. Knowing it needed some work, I bought it. Now, a few weeks and a good amount of work later, I am worried again.
I have replaced the thermostat, belts, front shocks and mounts, plugs, PS fluid and resevior, air filter, oil and filter, fuel filter, trans fluid...also flushed coolant which was rusty and bled system.
The car runs well for 150k. Good pickup and no overheating as of yet. There is no apparent oil/coolant contamination and no milkshake on the oil cap or dipstick. The coolant level stays pretty level but I have only been on the road for a couple of weeks.
Here's where the issue lies...
I had the car in the air while changing my O2 sensor and was looking around when I saw the leak. It is coming from the rear passenger side of the block and it looks where the headgasket would leak from. The only other thing so far to worry me about the HG is that the exhaust still blows a little bit of white smoke, but not much...and its still pretty chilly out...it doesnt seem to smell sweet, but Im not positive. With all this info...what are eveyones thoughts on this being a HG??? I am starting to fear the worst. Thanks in advance for any info and for reading this long, and possibly redundant post. Great site!
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  #2  
Old 03-10-2013, 08:27 PM
hnaz hnaz is offline
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Your engine has grenaded. Send it to me, so you don't have any junk lying around. Help me, help you.

Nah, it sounds like it is your heater core that is leaking. One thing to axe yourself is, do you see a fog build up on the passenger side, eventhough ambient temperature is at 70 degreesor higher? Do you smell what smells like a sweet stench inside the cabin when your defroster/heat?

As far as the oil cap with the milkshake and the short trips you mentioned, don't worry about it. It is just condensation. drive it around for a few and you will see it gone. Now if yo drove it on a pretty long or fairly long trip and it was still milky, you've got trouble with the HG. As far as the smoke coming out of the tailpipe, again, condensation. Now if it is still smoking after you drove for a while, then it could be cabon deposites in your engine. Run some sea foam in your gas tank and a small amount in your vacuum to clean all that up. Also, change your plugs as well.

May the Canadian gods watch over you.
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  #3  
Old 03-10-2013, 10:22 PM
edogmb edogmb is offline
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haha...sure, its on its way...
I will have to check a diagram of the heater core lines and look further then. It doesnt have a strong coolant smell and there is no condensation in the cabin. The random whiffs I get seem like they could easily be coming from what I see leaking from or onto the block.
I have driven around 300-500 miles, mostly highway and some heavy traffic. The milkshake is mostly non-existent, but there is still some smoke from the tailpipe. Its not billowing or anything, but seems to be more than usual.
I ran a half bottle of seafoam through the booster intake and let it sit for 20 mins.
I haven't put any in the gas yet.
Changed plugs after seafoam.
This was all done approx 2 weeks ago.
I forgot to mention before that I also did a compression test and got numbers ranging from 220-240 (thats from memory as I dont have the numbers in front of me). I thought it was high at first but then remembered that I prayed some PB blaster in the plugs to work them out. The plugs were in there REALLY good! I also figured the extra oil wouldnt really seal the headgasket for a false reading, but really dont know.
Also, I was wondering if its plausible that the headgasket could be leaking from that side of the block that slowly, or would it come pouring out like a blown water pump bearing? I know it could probably be a number of things, but it suuuure looks like its coming right from the top of the block...
On another note, I have to say this is my first bmw and I love it so far. Runs great considering the mileage and its previous neglect. I was going to fix it and drive it for a while and sell it to buy another workhorse, but I think after doing a HG...I would just keep it.
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  #4  
Old 03-11-2013, 10:06 AM
edogmb edogmb is offline
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Just wanted to bump this thread for any more opinions on the coolant leak, and add an unrelated issue...my abs and ACS lights came on the other day. I was careless in routing my abs sensor (i think) wiring when installing my new front struts and my rim frayed the sensor wire. I spliced the wire back together, but my abs and acs lights have not turned off yet. I have put about 30 miles on it since the fix. Do I have to replace that sensor, or should I disconnect the battery...or just wait???
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  #5  
Old 03-11-2013, 10:48 AM
hnaz hnaz is offline
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if the coolant is still leaking, then it might be that hose on the back of the block or maybe even the actual block drain plug for the coolant as well. Try to take some pictures. It's hard playing keyboard mechanic without seeing some visuals first.

Those compression numbers are actually really good. 220 - 240 is decent. Again, just send me your engine and alleviate yourself from this madness! I will have a good home for it.
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  #6  
Old 05-03-2013, 11:13 AM
edogmb edogmb is offline
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It has been a while, but work and weather kept me from getting back to this...
Here is a picture of the coolant leak at the rear of the engine at the firewall. It is not leaking heavily, but by the looks of it, it has been for some time now. I am hardly losing any coolant. I have only topped it off a bit once in the past 3 months...maybe a pint or so. There is no smell in the cabin or under the hood. Should I worry?
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  #7  
Old 05-03-2013, 11:26 AM
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petriej petriej is offline
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No.


I would clean it up, though. Then you can more accurately judge how fast it is losing coolant. Keep an eye on your temps and your coolant and oil levels and continue to drive.
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Quote:
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Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
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  #8  
Old 05-03-2013, 11:32 AM
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TheFinanceGuy TheFinanceGuy is offline
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This is pretty common failure point. In fact, my 328i with 160k miles is currently having its headgasket repaired from a leak at this same spot.
While you can continue to drive and use the car in its current condition, there are huge risks with doing this including:
If the engine overheats, its a safe bet that the head warped, which is going to be serious money to replace.
Also- the coolant can etch into the head. This is cause you to have to machine down the head to remove the etching, or, if deep enough, replace the head.

Personally- my car was having the same symptoms and I was refilling the coolant (about a pint) every 5k miles or so. This continued for about 20k miles. I noticed last week the leak got bigger. Drove the car to the shop, and left it there. Once he pulled the head, and confirmed that gasket has given way and was certain I had only a matter of miles before a total loss happened.

Moral of post/story- drive with caution, and watch the coolant like a vulture watches road kill. Budget for replacing as soon as you can.
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99 540i TiAg
98 328i hellrot (sold)
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Last edited by TheFinanceGuy; 05-03-2013 at 11:37 AM.
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  #9  
Old 05-03-2013, 11:35 AM
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petriej petriej is offline
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Vulture?


Left my smart pants at home today, too.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans/Black/6spd Steptragic
1999 M3 Cabrio TiAg Metallic/Dove Grey/Black 5 Speed Manual
-------------------------------------------------------------------
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2004 645Ci Mineral Silver Metallic/Black 6MT RIP 04/2011

Last edited by petriej; 05-03-2013 at 11:47 AM.
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  #10  
Old 05-03-2013, 11:36 AM
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TheFinanceGuy TheFinanceGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petriej View Post
Volture?
um... what the hell did I type? valcher is not even a word.
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99 540i TiAg
98 328i hellrot (sold)
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  #11  
Old 05-03-2013, 12:08 PM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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Just say buzzard and be done with it.
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  #12  
Old 05-03-2013, 12:12 PM
edogmb edogmb is offline
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yeah...kinda figured the worst there....
looks like i will have to put the honda back on the road for a couple of months . I will start buying parts and tools now to maybe do this by the end of the summer. That along with a new clutch and probably flywheel and all of the goodies involved there too. Countless hours of labor and probably about 1000 dollars later, and the car will be close to rebuilt.
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  #13  
Old 05-03-2013, 12:14 PM
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TheFinanceGuy TheFinanceGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Just say buzzard and be done with it.
Look who is wearing their smart pants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by edogmb View Post
yeah...kinda figured the worst there....
looks like i will have to put the honda back on the road for a couple of months . I will start buying parts and tools now to maybe do this by the end of the summer. That along with a new clutch and probably flywheel and all of the goodies involved there too. Countless hours of labor and probably about 1000 dollars later, and the car will be close to rebuilt.
Eh- you can still drive it. Just be careful
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99 540i TiAg
98 328i hellrot (sold)
96 318iC black (sold)
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  #14  
Old 05-03-2013, 12:55 PM
edogmb edogmb is offline
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So since you are having your HG done at a shop...I assume you're all for having the head machined??? I have read ppl saying both to have it done and not to. The reasons for having it done are obvious, but it seems that ppl also dont like the idea because of the specs of the thickness of the head and how little room there is to machine...
I would think that if a HG is leaking, then it would be foolish not to have the head machined...no??? If I knew I could get away with not having the head machined I would refresh the head myself. Since my compression numbers are good, a good cleanup seems it would be good to go. Any thoughts on all this?
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  #15  
Old 05-03-2013, 12:59 PM
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petriej petriej is offline
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Unless it's a bad machine shop, there's plenty of room to machine it. Port and Polish while you're at it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans/Black/6spd Steptragic
1999 M3 Cabrio TiAg Metallic/Dove Grey/Black 5 Speed Manual
-------------------------------------------------------------------
1997 328iC Schwarz II/K/K 5MT SOLD 5/2012
2004 645Ci Mineral Silver Metallic/Black 6MT RIP 04/2011
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  #16  
Old 05-03-2013, 01:01 PM
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TheFinanceGuy TheFinanceGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edogmb View Post
So since you are having your HG done at a shop...I assume you're all for having the head machined??? I have read ppl saying both to have it done and not to. The reasons for having it done are obvious, but it seems that ppl also dont like the idea because of the specs of the thickness of the head and how little room there is to machine...
I would think that if a HG is leaking, then it would be foolish not to have the head machined...no??? If I knew I could get away with not having the head machined I would refresh the head myself. Since my compression numbers are good, a good cleanup seems it would be good to go. Any thoughts on all this?
I did not have my head machined. This was a job that I wanted to tackle, but having a 5 month old baby, and a full time 45+ hour a week job have cut into my time to do this. So, I am paying a shop to do it. I use this shop for advice and to source parts when I forget to order them online, and knew he was hurting for some business right now plus it was leaking worse.

He has the tools to check the head for flatness, and did so. He found the head to be within spec and overall in good shape and recommended not machining the head. He has about 15 years as an ASE BMW certified repair tech under his belt- so I trust him.
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  #17  
Old 05-03-2013, 07:07 PM
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drivinfaster drivinfaster is offline
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if the head is flat, then no machining is necessary in that regard. just make certain it is clean. although i do not know too many diy'ers that have the tools to measure flatness....

the only time i suggest this is when the headgasket leaks externally like this. i have done a few external hg failures under warranty (sucks....) and never sent the head out.

overheated?? different story....


yours appears to be an external leak, so i would just check for flatness and only machine if out of spec.



df
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  #18  
Old 05-07-2013, 08:18 AM
edogmb edogmb is offline
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Thank you guys for the input. I appreciate it.
....I have seen people measure head warpage with a square and feeler gauges...I'm not sure that it's "acceptable", but it seems to be something that would work in theory. I am not sure if it was overheated or not, but I found an old water pump in the spare tire well with the good old propeller sheared off. That is surely a red flag. Assuming the head is not warped, are there any specific materials to use to clean the mating surfaces with? Aside from a thorough clean up of anything accessible...Are there any other things that should be done while I'm in there?

Last edited by edogmb; 05-07-2013 at 08:20 AM.
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