BimmerFest BMW Forum banner

Head Gasket Leak~ Re-Torque Bolts?

11490 Views 14 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  vman15
I am new to this site and have been researching the threads about a head gasket leak. I recently bought my 1st BMW (97 528i). Unfortunately the day after I purchased the car I found the shop that was servicing the car and they said it had overheated and it has a head gasket leak. A leak test had been done and it indicated coolant in cylinder #6. I did not believe them at first because the car drives great and no white smoke and no water/oil mixing.

I have been noticing the coolant level has been dropping and I have had to add about 2 cups of coolant every 100 miles. based on threads I'm pretty sure that It must be loosing a little coolant in the cylinder and it's blowing out the exhaust. I have a rough idle on cold starts for 15 seconds then smooths out!

My question is what are my chances if I just do a head bolt retorque? The original BMW shop recommended starting with that. They want to charge $400. This seems like it would not be very hard and wondering if I should attempt this myself? I have an iron block. I know the gaskets are rubber so maybe this will fix it? Has anyone else had success in just doing a retorque?

1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Not likely. You need to replace the head gasket, and examine the head and block for flatness. The headbolts are torque-to-yield, and cannot be retorqued. Is this a BMW shop? If not, find one.

If you have no service records to the contrary, you need to perform a complete cooling system overhaul, and replace the VANOS seals.
Don't completely trust any shop nowadays. They're all starving for money. Double check for any external coolant leaks, you might get lucky. I recently had a head gasket scare as I've been loosing coolant over the last few weeks and couldn't locate any external leaks. Long story short; I had the lower cover off the front of the car for other repairs and noticed the marks of a drip on the lower radiator hose. Turns out my water pump is leaking when the car is at operating temp. It's worth the time to check.
Yes it is a BMW shop with good local ratings. This same shop did all previous repairs and replaced the whole coolant system. They gave me a print out of all they have done over the past few years. I plan to investigate retorque more. I was told by another mechanic that he has solved small head leak issues doing retorque on other cars (non-BMW).

I feel it must be the head because of the rough idle on cold starts. Coolant must be in the cyl chamber. I do not see any other places where leaking.

Any other thoughts?

Thanks Guys!
Car probably has a lot of miles on her- There is a product called Blue Devil head gasket sealer that is supposed to be the best at this type of fix--64 bucks a can--Have heard of it for years and thought little of the produt until a freind tried it an did a good job on his truck. Now if this was an engine that was newer and less miles, I would say pull the head and make the fix the right way--in this case I would try the Blue Devil
you probably have a cracked cylinder head if its leaking only on one cylinder, and it runs rough in the morning.

Cracked head is a bigger problem than blown HG.
A cracked head sounds very expensive. The shop quoted me at least $2500 just to replace the head gasket and closer to $3000-$4000 if the head needs replaced. There is no way to find out untill the head is removed. I may try and actually do the job myself. The car has only 85k miles but must have over heated pretty badly. I could at least attempt to take the head off and get it checked.

I've read threads about special tools (expensive) needed for the job. If the head is cracked I'm thinking I could find a wrecked car and use a used head after getting it resurfaced and refurbished. It would be the same thing as taking my head off and getting it resurfaced.

Does anyone have experience in doing this type of job? What tools would I need? I'm not willing to spend a small fortune to fix this car.

Thanks for the input.
I'd still try the Blue Devil trick and give it a go--60 bucks is costly --- it might be snake oil or the stuff might just do the trick--to gamble, sometimes pays off
pressurize the cooling system and inspect that cylinder with a GOOD borescope. i have a snapon that does GREAT jobs at looking in there. it has a mirror to let me see 90* and i can physically look at the valves and gasket between the head and block....

you can find and see most cracked heads leak coolant.

I recently applied the Bar's 1111 head gasket leak fix. So far after a month it has solved my problem. Coolant is no longer leaking and the car is no longer running hot. I'm not sure how long this will last but for $30 it was well worth a try. I'll keep everyone posted. A friend of mine said he ran 30k miles without any coolant leaks with this stuff! :D
I am confused. You bought a car from a shop that knowingly sold you an overheated engine and yet you don't bring it back for a proper repair by the shop?
Sorry about the confusion. I bought the car from and auction dealer (no warrantees) and after the puchase I found out about the leak. I called around and found the BMW shop that had the service history. They told me about the leak. My coolant leak was very small and the Barrs leak 1111 chemical is still working. I just poured it into the radiator, flushing was not required.
How long Bar 1111 has been lasted after treatment?

Hello Vman15,

I have an exact same problem like you described. I wonder how long the BMW will be free leakage from after Barrs leak 1111?
Have your car still been stopped the leakage after using i?
yes, I still own the car and it runs great. After the Bars I keep checking the coolant level and I did have to add a little more coolant a few times but now it is not loosing coolant at all. It's been months now and the Bars is still working. If it's a small leak it should work. I don't think it's going to hurt, especially your walet for a head repair!
ps: I also said some prayers!

1 - 15 of 15 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.