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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi Everyone,

So I wanted to detail out first what the situation is so that I can get some tailored advice - if there is any about my situation. I recently purchased (last few weeks) a 2007 530i, I had it pre-checked by a local foreign car's specialist in South Dakota.

They said that it needed the new oil filter gasket, oil filter cap and gasket, and that the oil pan or oil pan gasket was leaking. I asked straight out, is this going to be a problem car, is it worth buying, "Oh we didn't see anything that would scare us away, it looks great and if you can get it for a reasonable price it would be worth it." I went online and looked up the issues and determined that I could do them without dropping the $2,000 they wanted.

Bring it home and park it outside, start opening things to clean and inspect. The coolant is entirely empty save for what is in the little plastic crevices. I decide not to operate it because
#1 I knew the Serpentine belt was soaked in oil and had read that it can get sucked into the engine,
#2 I didn't know why all my coolant was gone. I have a family friend who is a mechanic come over - he shows me along the side of the engine near the head gasket there is a giant puddle of coolant and streaks of coolant coming down the side of the head.

I have to pay out of pocket to get it to another garage which pressure checks it and confirms head gasket failure.

I have a young family (had our first baby this year after 7 years of being married - Wooo!
) and I make my money from fighting fire in the summer. We go through the winter and save as much as we can. I can't burn all our money at once on this project - I certainly can't justify burning cash at a mechanic's shop. My goal is to spend at most $3,000 but we can go over if necessary to get this car working. It's going to be a huge learning curve and I have no experience working on cars. What I am here to ask anyone who is kind enough to help me through this process.

#1. After the first shop tried blaming the previous seller for potentially using head sealant, me for driving it erratically (I drove it home and parked it...), and claiming there is not any possible way to see a head gasket failure or identify one, the service manager informed me that any head gasket failure on an N52 wasn't really worth trying to fix as most commonly the gasket tear equaled catastrophic failure of the head and threads. He said that the threads on most all engines are stripped and more than likely the head was warped. I want to know how valid this is regarding these engines -
I. I know it is possible, how likely is it? Do most N52 head gaskets equal being trashed?
II. Should I attempt to remove the head and take it to the local machine shop or simply get a new engine (I know the benefits of a new engine, but I really would prefer to save as much as I can for now). If this is the only real option, can anyone help me locate a newish engine? All I have found are 100k plus and selling for $2,000 - $3,000. If possible also with a warranty against the engine?

#2. I currently have the Bentley Manual and have been watching any and all videos I can. What I am trying to inventory currently is what is the best tools I can get for the money to work on this car. I am fine with investing within the budget on good tools so I can make this car last and also make working on cars into a hobby (who knows, maybe I will make it a profession one day?) Anyways - what is a complete list of tools if anyone is willing to chime in that would allow me to do most any repairs? Ratchets, jacks, oil pans, etc... Anything you can think of, I am certainly not an expert.

#3. Is this a good place to get advice to learn this? Is there anyone who is willing to talk with me about this process and guide me in the right direction to make this happen? I am working on making a plan of action but with my limited knowledge and lack of experience here, it would be helpful to get some knowledgeable input.

My wife and I have looked around and there was not a better car locally for the price, even with all the issues. We really want to make this work and keep it running - I had a Bronco before that failed and we both regret not having the opportunity to fix it and keep it going. I want to take the time and make this work, even if it's a big time and somewhat of a money investment.

Also if anyone is interested, I intend to document my learning process and the repair process.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and provide any advice or input. I really do appreciate it!

Edit: I also found the sticky post and I am reading through that and the e60 pdf.
 

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I don't know what to say other than a previous owner may have driven the car with a faulty water pump, which could lead to a failed head gasket and a warped head. Depending on how bad the head is you might need to replace the engine but you're a long way from that point. You need to do some diagnostic work first, which would involve a pressure test of the cooling system to determine if you have a leaking head gasket. A compression test of the cylinders is important as well, as that can confirm the head gasket leak along with the health of the engine. The N52 can be a relatively bullet proof engine but it's not abuse proof.

That said, it could be a good car but it's not a Toyota.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I don't know what to say other than a previous owner may have driven the car with a faulty water pump, which could lead to a failed head gasket and a warped head. Depending on how bad the head is you might need to replace the engine but you're a long way from that point. You need to do some diagnostic work first, which would involve a pressure test of the cooling system to determine if you have a leaking head gasket. A compression test of the cylinders is important as well, as that can confirm the head gasket leak along with the health of the engine. The N52 can be a relatively bullet proof engine but it's not abuse proof.

That said, it could be a good car but it's not a Toyota.
Thank you for the reply. It's interesting to me, the Indy I took it to is supposedly specialize in European cars BMW specifically. One of their Master Technician's said there was no test whatsoever to determine a failed head gasket, you simply could not test for a blown head gasket.

To clarify, he did not say that my head is warped specifically - he said that's the case with most all N52s. He tried to dissuade me from removing the head and having the machine shop look at it because you just don't work on N52s with head gasket failure, you trash them and get a new one.

If the water pump is failed it should have thrown errors correct? Would there be a log if I get it hooked up to a scanner that there ever was a previously failed pump?

I am going to look up the procedure to perform those pressure tests, thanks again for replying.
 

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The cylinder head is one long piece, unlike on the V6s that's why there is more chance that it's warped.

Logs are most likely deleted but you will need a computer anyway. INPA with K+DCAN cable from Ebay.

First confirm the head gasket failure if there is any. I haven't seen any BMW engine seeping coolant out of the head gasket. Either it's badly warped. Or it's something else.
I have replaced the engine on the E46. I spend $6k on it but that included everything. Like starter motor, diff, tranny seals, all engine seals, complete cooling system, control arms all around, brakes, whatever.
Replacing the engine is easier than dealing with the head. But if you search for 50kid's youtube videos. He resurfaced an M56 engine head and put it together, so you can have an idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Also the $2-$3k sounds a lot for the engine.
this one here is https://sacramento.craigslist.org/pts/d/rancho-cordova-2007-bmw-328i-coupe/6765958078.html $900 for example.
Thanks for the info on 50's Kid, I am watching his videos right now. He covers a lot of material.

That engine is on CL in CA. In South Dakota it's a bit harder to source parts, I'm working on looking through local yards for other donors for the car. Unfortunately the "local" dealers are 300 miles away so the area isn't full of BMW salvage, other than tourist wrecks. I guess that was one of the benefits of living in CA. Thanks for sharing that, I'll keep looking while trying to diagnose the current issue.
 

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By the sound of your budget I hope you paid next to nothing for this car.
Even with a different engine, which will have no guarantee, it still has a lot of issues.
This can become a money pit, real easy and real quick.
There is a saying here, "The most expensive BMW is a cheap BMW ".
Good luck
 

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By the sound of your budget I hope you paid next to nothing for this car.
Even with a different engine, which will have no guarantee, it still has a lot of issues.
This can become a money pit, real easy and real quick.
There is a saying here, "The most expensive BMW is a cheap BMW ".
Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #9
By the sound of your budget I hope you paid next to nothing for this car.
Even with a different engine, which will have no guarantee, it still has a lot of issues.
This can become a money pit, real easy and real quick.
There is a saying here, "The most expensive BMW is a cheap BMW ".
Good luck
More than I wish I had put into it. The mechanic said it was all good except the common oil leaks, I'd researched them before buying it and figured I could do the work on my own - it's a worthwhile skill to learn I thought.

Talked the owner down from $5,700 to $3,500. I would have liked to go less but he didn't want to go lower and my wife and I agreed it was worth the effort and potential risk for that the car offered. Twice as much into the local offerings, $10,000+ were rusted out junk around here.

It's a bit frusterating but... I want to learn the skills needed to make it work. Prior to fighting fire, I worked in computers, so I'm use to troubleshooting and diagnosing. I just need to know how things work together and what are the symptoms when one or more parts doesn't work.

I'm honestly thinking of switching careers so I can be a better dad and not be in another state every summer. This is currently acting as a test run to see if it's something that's viable as a career. As well as prevent our investment from being a total loss.

I'll start with the pressure testing as mentioned above and we'll go from there I suppose.
 

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The mechanic who did the PPI was incompetent or lied.

There are several ways to detect a blown head gasket. Cylinder leakdown; coolant chem test; oil in coolant loop. Less often, coolant in oil loop.

Bad head gaskets are noted by high-pressure cylinder gas forced into the coolant, typically. The gas is, of course, much higher pressure than the coolant.

The coolant becomes infused with combustion gases.

First, the high pressure gases forced into the coolant will increase the coolant loop pressure and may (or will, eventually) blow out a weak spot in the loop. Shocking that you got the car with coolant blown out.

Second, combustion gases are detected in the coolant loop using a everyday chemical test, available in any auto shop, that changes coolant color in the presence of such gases. It's a very common method of checking a head gasket. Every mechanic worth a damn knows what it is.

If he looked in the coolant loop and it was empty, or coolant was on the outside of the engine, he should have diagnosed it from there.

Third, clearly he did not do a pressure or leak-down test; but usually they charge extra for that. Still, the instant he saw low coolant he should have done the chem test and called you with his concerns. Sounds like he didn't even open the expansion tank.

He ****ed up and gave you a really poor PPI. Probably thought it was a quick $100 and walked around it.

Download and read the latest "So you Just Bought an E60, v 4.8" in the "new here?" sticky
 

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Just as an aside if you decide to keep the car, harbor freight sells some of the specialist tools you will need at a very low cost, particularly the Torx tools. No need to buy real expensive ones, since the alloy fasteners don't need a lot of force. You will need torque wrenches of the appropriate ranges though. This is critical so you don't snap fasteners and destroy threads.
 

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Thank you for the reply. It's interesting to me, the Indy I took it to is supposedly specialize in European cars BMW specifically. One of their Master Technician's said there was no test whatsoever to determine a failed head gasket, you simply could not test for a blown head gasket.

To clarify, he did not say that my head is warped specifically - he said that's the case with most all N52s. He tried to dissuade me from removing the head and having the machine shop look at it because you just don't work on N52s with head gasket failure, you trash them and get a new one.

If the water pump is failed it should have thrown errors correct? Would there be a log if I get it hooked up to a scanner that there ever was a previously failed pump?

I am going to look up the procedure to perform those pressure tests, thanks again for replying.
C-

Do you mind posting a link to the shop that performed the pre-inspection? I don't plan to drive through SD anytime soon, but if I do I want to be sure to avoid the place.

They are not telling you the truth. For a mechanic who "KNOWS" N52s to tell you that the head will be warped but doesn't know how to check for head gasket failure is a mechanic to AVOID.

Pulling the codes may not tell the whole story. To get the real low down from a computer requires that you use a dealer level scanner. You can find download copies of Rheingold, but it requires an investment and there is a learning curve associated with the software. Taking the car to an actual BMW dealer could be a slippery proposition too; do you want to place your trust in the dealership to give you a clear assessment? Towing fees to and from a dealership? You might also look around for another mechanic that really specializes in BMWs. Even that is no guarantee; I stopped using the one in my town after a flaky experience. And they always have about a dozen BMWs in their parking lot.

Sorry for your experience and good luck,
Fred
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The mechanic who did the PPI was incompetent or lied.

There are several ways to detect a blown head gasket. Cylinder leakdown; coolant chem test; oil in coolant loop. Less often, coolant in oil loop.

Bad head gaskets are noted by high-pressure cylinder gas forced into the coolant, typically. The gas is, of course, much higher pressure than the coolant.

The coolant becomes infused with combustion gases.

First, the high pressure gases forced into the coolant will increase the coolant loop pressure and may (or will, eventually) blow out a weak spot in the loop. Shocking that you got the car with coolant blown out.

Second, combustion gases are detected in the coolant loop using a everyday chemical test, available in any auto shop, that changes coolant color in the presence of such gases. It's a very common method of checking a head gasket. Every mechanic worth a damn knows what it is.

If he looked in the coolant loop and it was empty, or coolant was on the outside of the engine, he should have diagnosed it from there.

Third, clearly he did not do a pressure or leak-down test; but usually they charge extra for that. Still, the instant he saw low coolant he should have done the chem test and called you with his concerns. Sounds like he didn't even open the expansion tank.

He ****ed up and gave you a really poor PPI. Probably thought it was a quick $100 and walked around it.

Download and read the latest "So you Just Bought an E60, v 4.8" in the "new here?" sticky
Thank you for providing that information. I am really not familiar with cars, so reading what you posted is an interesting insight into what exactly the issue is beyond "head gasket failure".

My next question, I am going to remove the head and have it taken to a machine shop. If they can resurface/mill any issues and I am good to go. Beyond removing any remaining coolant/oil and refilling them - is there anything else I should do? One story I had read while researching this was that a failure was so bad that they needed to run a detergent through the lines. If the oil still looks clean and the remaining coolant looks okay, is there anything else I should look for besides replacing the gaskets and calling it good?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Just as an aside if you decide to keep the car, harbor freight sells some of the specialist tools you will need at a very low cost, particularly the Torx tools. No need to buy real expensive ones, since the alloy fasteners don't need a lot of force. You will need torque wrenches of the appropriate ranges though. This is critical so you don't snap fasteners and destroy threads.
Thanks for that, my wife and I were thinking of using Harbor Freight exactly. Good to know it's a good choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
C-

Do you mind posting a link to the shop that performed the pre-inspection? I don't plan to drive through SD anytime soon, but if I do I want to be sure to avoid the place.

They are not telling you the truth. For a mechanic who "KNOWS" N52s to tell you that the head will be warped but doesn't know how to check for head gasket failure is a mechanic to AVOID.

Pulling the codes may not tell the whole story. To get the real low down from a computer requires that you use a dealer level scanner. You can find download copies of Rheingold, but it requires an investment and there is a learning curve associated with the software. Taking the car to an actual BMW dealer could be a slippery proposition too; do you want to place your trust in the dealership to give you a clear assessment? Towing fees to and from a dealership? You might also look around for another mechanic that really specializes in BMWs. Even that is no guarantee; I stopped using the one in my town after a flaky experience. And they always have about a dozen BMWs in their parking lot.

Sorry for your experience and good luck,
Fred
Thanks Fred,

The link is:
https://www.alsdandiautorepair.com/
Al's D & I in Rapid City.

I don't have the money to throw at mechanics. So at this point I am going to learn what to do and how to do it right. I looked at some of the mentioned scanners for computers Ican/dcan I believe they are called? The software I had read about before was a standalone which used a workstation version of windows or one which only ran on XP. Currently all my systems are Linux which makes the software a bit harder to do but I do have the same laptop systems employed by dealer mechanics interestingly enough. I will do more research on Rheingold.
 

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Thanks Fred,

The link is:
https://www.alsdandiautorepair.com/
Al's D & I in Rapid City.

I don't have the money to throw at mechanics. So at this point I am going to learn what to do and how to do it right. I looked at some of the mentioned scanners for computers Ican/dcan I believe they are called? The software I had read about before was a standalone which used a workstation version of windows or one which only ran on XP. Currently all my systems are Linux which makes the software a bit harder to do but I do have the same laptop systems employed by dealer mechanics interestingly enough. I will do more research on Rheingold.
I also run Linux and have no problem running virtual copy of XP on VMWare Player. There is a free copy of VMWare Player on their website. If you need help with setup I'll be happy to chime in.

INPA software can be obtained from the Coding section of this forum.
 

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Get a tool kit called "BMW Tools", it will INPA plus others, it is the software dealerships use.
Use VMware player with linux, install Windows XP, then the tool kit.
Also make sure you get a decent ODBII adapter, it can make a difference.
As mentioned you should be able to find the software in the Coding sub forum.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks Fred,

The link is:
https://www.alsdandiautorepair.com/
Al's D & I in Rapid City.

I don't have the money to throw at mechanics. So at this point I am going to learn what to do and how to do it right. I looked at some of the mentioned scanners for computers Ican/dcan I believe they are called? The software I had read about before was a standalone which used a workstation version of windows or one which only ran on XP. Currently all my systems are Linux which makes the software a bit harder to do but I do have the same laptop systems employed by dealer mechanics interestingly enough. I will do more research on Rheingold.
I also run Linux and have no problem running virtual copy of XP on VMWare Player. There is a free copy of VMWare Player on their website. If you need help with setup I'll be happy to chime in.

INPA software can be obtained from the Coding section of this forum.
That's great to hear. When I was reading about it before, I read that there were issues of the VM receiving data from the bus and it required tweaks or in some cases flat out did not work.

I'll pick up one of those cables and get it setup. Good to know there are other Linux users here!
 

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I would second the Harbor Freight and INPA recommendations. I run it on an XP virtual machine on my Mac. It took me a bit to get the USB port setup for the connection, but if you have IT experience that should not be an issue. INPA lets you read a history of errors, which is separate from the error history. When you clear the codes, they are not cleared from the history. You can erase the total history with INPA, but it is likely to still be there.
When my water pump failed I got three different errors, they made the problem pretty obvious. Based on your problem, you may want to make sure your pump and thermostat are in good working order.
Contributing to the tools list: 1/4***8221;, 3/8***8221;, and 1/2***8221; torque wrenches, set of 3/8***8221; drive male torx, set of 3/8***8221; drive allen, set of 3/8***8221; drive female torx, extensions and u-joints, open end ratchet wrenches. I had to buy a e12 or e10 torx ratchet wrench to remove my oil cooler. Spark plugs require a special thin wall socket.
Hope this helps. Good luck with the project!
 

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Hate to be a pessimist. I have a 2007 320I with the N52 engine. Purchased new and presenty 113k miles. Have changed oil evry 7500 to 10k miles with bmw or other approved oils. After about 90k miles the repairs and expenses start going up. My experience is ex owner of specialty repair shop for race cars and exotics, including BMW's. Repairs and problems on my Bimmer is last 20k. Transmission vibration (GM trans) torque converter lockou chatter, temporary cured by changing trans oil and lfiter three times, change should be done at shop not at home due to need rack to properly run trans and go lthrough gears to fill torq converter. Water pump and thermostat eplaced, front wheel bearings replaced, front control arms, etc, replaced, valve cover replaec, oil filterhousing gasket replaced, front rotors and pads replaced, Spark plugs and coils replaced, motor and transmission mount replaced, power steering pulley replaced. belt tensioner replaced. automatic air conditioner controller replaced. four windowl control mechanisms replaced, teo door lock mechanisms replaced, hood and trunklid lift cylinders replaced., plus other minor repairs and replacements. possible next is vanos cleaning and/or replacement and possible catylitic converter repalcement. Oil pan gasket needs change, dealer cost $1500, Indy cost $900. Need lift to do this major labor work.
While most of this can be done your self but you will need an extensive list of special tools both metric and torx style, a Bentley manual, professional style OBD scan and code stting tool. These cars are difficult to work on and are not designed to have labor accesibility. for instance, changing valve cover gasket, a $35 part takes at least 4 hrs if experienced and 8 hrs + if no experience and easy to break other parts (PCV) tubes while doing it.
With no previous experience or tools I'm afraid an older BMW is not a good choice to start with. I would seriously consider selling the BMW while you can and getting something easier to work on. Any of the Japan or Ford, GMC cheaper parts and easier to work on. I have had Porche's, Alfa's, Lancia's, Pantera, Bitter, Ford's, Mitsubishi's, Jeep's, Chev's Fiat's and while there are worse cars to work on, after 100 to 120K the newer (after 2006) BMW's gets expensive and troublesome to maintain.
 
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