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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I have a 97 M3 with 150k on it. Last week I noticed the temperature gauge was creeping towards the red a few times while driving, though it never actually reached the red (came close a few times, but then would drop back down). I tried to do a coolant flush according to this page: http://www.dvatp.com/bmw/diy/coolant_flush/
but maybe I did something wrong as not more than 1/2 a gallon came out from the radiator. I put a little over a gallon of BMW coolant/dh20 50/50 mix in before it filled. I was planning to try again this weekend by using the engine block drain but probably not now...

The car ran fine the next couple of short drives, but then a CEL light came on, it started idling very rough for the first 30s I turned it on, and I noticed white smoke coming out of the exhaust, which smelled sweet. Today I checked the dipstick and there was no coolant, but underneath the oil cap there was a small amount of gooey white stuff. The coolant level has gone down a little, maybe a few ounces. So according to the internet this is classic HG failure.

After I got off the ground and stopped crying I called some local independent shops for estimates. One place said maybe its not a head gasket, it could be some oil cooling device but wanted at least $100 to look. I figure any place I bring it in is going to charge me some kind of substantial $ just to even verify what is wrong.

So my burning question is, based on paragraph 2, does this justify taking it in and paying at least $100 immediately or is there anything else I can do first? I do not have access to a Peake Tool.

I am pretty poor and a competent but not super experienced DIYer, but this repair is probably out of my league right?

Thanks a lot!
 

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Sounds like a failed head gasket to me. You really cannot allow the temperature needle to go even a little past 12 o'clock in these cars. Even if it never reaches the red, there is a good chance that the head has been warped or cracked due to excessive heat.

It's possible to do this job yourself, but you will need to have the head x-rayed for microscopic cracks, decked back to level, etc., so I'd recommend having this job performed at a shop. Be prepared for a huge bill. And don't continue driving the car with oil and coolant mixing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sounds like a failed head gasket to me. You really cannot allow the temperature needle to go even a little past 12 o'clock in these cars. Even if it never reaches the red, there is a good chance that the head has been warped or cracked due to excessive heat.
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Thank you for your response and dully noted. But if this is true then why the hell does the warning light not come on at 12 odclock?? I mean if it had then I would have pulled over immediately. It seems kind of stupid or cruel to make it seem like you are in an acceptable range when you are actually doing terrible damage to your engine.
 

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oil cap residue alone is not enough to fail a hg in my book. this can be from an accumulation of moisture, as this is the closest place to 'outside' atmosphere to the engine.

to confirm a hg leak, i suggest the following tool. it can be purchased from jut about any parts store, or ordered online, and is (almost) idiot proof. it checks for co2, which is a confirmation of a breached hg.

follow teh linkz:
http://www.arrowheadradiator.com/head_gasket_or_combustion_leak_test.htm

unless you are a diehard diy'er, with the proper tools and equipment, i'd leave the actual repair to a shop. the check can be done in the driveway very simply.

good luck.

df
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
oil cap residue alone is not enough to fail a hg in my book. this can be from an accumulation of moisture, as this is the closest place to 'outside' atmosphere to the engine.

to confirm a hg leak, i suggest the following tool. it can be purchased from jut about any parts store, or ordered online, and is (almost) idiot proof. it checks for co2, which is a confirmation of a breached hg.

follow teh linkz:
http://www.arrowheadradiator.com/head_gasket_or_combustion_leak_test.htm

unless you are a diehard diy'er, with the proper tools and equipment, i'd leave the actual repair to a shop. the check can be done in the driveway very simply.

good luck.

df
Well it is not just residue alone, but also clouds of white, sweet-smelling smoke coupled with the fact that my temp gauge was spiking. Also I think the fact that I did a coolant flush and my coolant level went from low to high probably has some contribution, as all the problems started the day after the coolant flush. Maybe the increase in pressure was enough to force through the HG? I don't know.

Do most repair shops have that leak test equipment too? Is that how they independently confirm a blown HG? I was wondering what exactly the repair shop is going do before they say "OK this is definitely blown HG, lets start taking it apart and writing huge bills."
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Also from reading some other posts/forums, some people seem to like block sealer as a short-medium term repair for this problem. I have read that if done right it can last a couple of years. I would normally be totally against it, but I would love not to have to go into debt to fix this. Any opinions on this here? Thanks.

One more question since I am asking: how surely are my 02 sensors ruined now? I have probably driven 10 miles total with the white smoke in my exhaust. I just replaced them a month ago!
 

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meh, some hops use an emissions sniffer, but that's an expensive piece of equipment to use and risk ruining an o2 sensor calibration.

hence, i also believe that coolant will tend to ruin an o2 sensor with long term exposure, but i cannot say for certain exactly how it would be ruined other than getting coated and not able to read properly.


i also do not advise the use of block sealer. maybe 100 years ago with more metal radiators and grandpa's old model t. not so much with newer engines.

it's also how i feel about fix-a-flat.



df
 

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First of all you can do this job yourself if you really wanted to do so. However you need a place to do it and need a good set of tools and rent a head gasket tool set. If you don't have the place to do this, the time to do this and plan on 30-40 hours since you never did this before, and a good set of tools don't attempt it. If you do rent a head gasket tool kit from the members here or over at bimmerforums.com under the classifed engine section. It is not a hard jpb to do but it is a long job which takes attention to detail.

Assuming the head is pulled you really need to consider having a few other things done either by yourself or the shop doing this. The 3 heater hoses should be replaced. If your starter is original now is the time for that too since you can get to it easily, water pump and t stat housing and t stat all need to be replaced. Flush your power steering fluid is easily done with the head off too.

You don't need to x-ray anything. Any good competent shop will pressure test the head to check for leaks. If you have a cracked head it will leak, simple as that. You will need to get the head decked which is checking for level within specs which for this head is 0.010". Also if they deck the head to level that is the maximum amount you can remove before you have to use a thicker head gasket. The shop should also provide you the head mating surfaces with a roughness average (RA) of no more than 50, less is better. Why? Because this is an iron block and aluminum alloy head. The head expands much faster and if the surface is rough you will tear the head gasket.

You will also need a lot of odds and ends such as a head gasket kit, exhaust studs and nuts, and on and on but not a huge amount of parts.

Your information does indicate that you have a head gasket failure. BMWs do not take well to even once overheat close to redline. Depending on the miles you have you can also expect to see some scoring on the cam journals and maybe a couple of scored upper bearing caps. As long as the scoring is not too deep they can be polished out.

Because the labor is significant most shops charge around 1500 bucks to do this job. There are no short cuts you can take doing this.

I hope this helps some and it is unfortunate that this engine in our BMWs no matter which model, 325-328-323-M3 is suseptable to this problem...
 

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I just completed my head gasket, clyinder heard reinstallation today. It takes time and alot of non children friendly words to complete this I strongly advise aginst using this head gasket sealant unless you are stuck out in the middle of nowwhere with out a cel phone. It made my job alot harder as it clogs everything in the system not just the leak. Lesson learned the hard way by me. Lots of back flushing was req'd to clear it out. DIY if you are inclined to and have the tools and know how.Each quote I received was $2800/$3300 in the bay area. Its also winter so you need a clean warm place to work. +1 on suggestion for replacment of waterpump and thermostat, I didnt touch the starter. Take your time,pay attention to detail and you can knock this out Over a 2 wkend period . The machine shop had mine for 5 days. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
OK another question then that was touched on by fun2drive: while they are in there what parts are cost effective for me to have replaced?

So far mentioned were heater hoses, t-stat and housing, starter, and power steering flush, possible polishing of the cam journals and upper bearing caps (I must admit I don't really know what these last two are, which underscores why I am not going to try this myself)..

anything else? The car has 150,000 miles. Thanks a lot guys.
 

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Vanos rebuild (you have to remove it anyways)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Another question:

I called an independent shop yesterday, and the receptionist who I guess has some car knowledge suggested it might be cheaper to get a new engine. I think she quote 12 hours of labor + the engine cost, where I think the HG repair was 10 hrs ($100/hr I think) + 1-5 hrs for the head if it needs machining.

I haven't really seen anything online about the swap being a cost effective alternative, but maybe it is? Any opinions are greatly appreciated, thank you!
 

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You probably won't find a lower mile s52 for less than 3k, so a headgasket will be much cheaper...
 
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