blown head-gasket or blown engine?

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I've got coolant coming out my exhaust...from what I've read, its alot of work to tear down the engine to the point where you can examine the head gasket to know if that is the problem. Can anyone estimate how many hours a mechanic should take to do this? And if its not the gasket, has any of the work needed to replace the entire engine then been done, so I don't have to pay twice or not? Does anyone know of a website I could go to to see what the steps involved are? many thnaks in advance....

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Depending on the mileage you have on your car - I would suggest getting a used motor with lower mileage - Let me know if you need help locating one.

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oops sorry, I forgot to mention its a 1994 325is with 213,000 km on it .... it sounds like you are suggesting that its a whole lot of work to get down to the head gasket and replace it , compared to the cost of putting in a new engine? The cost of a new engine looks to me to be about $3K-5K , and it seems like the engines go for about $1,200 and they all seem to have 117,000 mi? km? ( am a little suspicious of this !) on them.... the cost of a head gasket would seem to be less than all that?

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I went to a "BMW specialist" to get an estimate and they wanted $1800 to remove and replace the headgasket. I then found a mechanic, who use to own a shop that only worked on BMWs, who charged $1100 to replace my head gasket on my 90 535i, 5spd, 106K miles. The $1100 included replacing a cracked t'stat and housing too! The broken t'stat was probably the reason my car overheated.

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Any good mechanic can tell you in less than an hour if you have a blown head gasket but he probably would need to tear it down to tell you if the head is cracked. There was a problem on the 318is in the early 90's that required replacing the head gasket and that job usually cost about $1200 but that was 10 years ago so I'm sure it's more now. If the head is cracked you can add about $1800. A rebuilt engine is probably the best course of action if you intend to keep the car for a while.

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Jack wrote:

reading this thread has freaked me out a bit... i have a '96 318is which had a full service about a months ago, had about 400 bucks work done and pretty good feedback from the mechanic about its condition.

...but a note on the invoice as something which needed attention was that the engine gasket is leaking oil inside, and this should be replaced within the next few months. i was quoted about $150 for a new 3rd party seal (does that sound about right..?), was told it would cost more for genuine bmw.

one thing i've noticed is the temp gets up to about 60% within a few mins of driving, although i'd heard 318is's ran hotter than most. i've never seen the temp go over about 60%...

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gimp wrote:

That would be a valve cover gasket, not a head gasket. Not a major deal.

--
-Fred W

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Regarding the $150 quote you got, my experience is that the only time you'll get anything done at a BMW dealer for $150 is if you take it in for an oil change and no filter replaced! Be very wary of the labour costs involved... that $150 part could cost $1000 to get installed because of the same kind of time I'm facing just to find out what's leaking in my engine. I'm hearing that to get down to the head gasket is several hours labour.....$$$$$ !!!

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Freebase wrote:

that quote was not from a bmw mechanic, i try not to go there... :)

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Sorry if my post alarmed you but you are safe from the defect I was referring to. It was only applicable to the M42 engines made from '90 to '92 and involved an internal gasket called the "profile gasket". Failure caused a rapid loss of coolant and often resulted in an engine overheat fatal to the cylinder head. This was caused by a design error in the material chosen for this gasket and affected more than 50% of these cars but BMW NA refused to accept responsibility forcing owners to pay for the fix.

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on about something:

You could try a compression test which requires nothing more than removing the spark plugs.

This will show if the head gasket has gone between the cylinder and water jacket.

Otherwise the next likely source would be a cracked head.

Has anything happened to the car just before this happened? i.e. Did you over heat it due to an older water leak? This can warp the head and prevent the head gasket from making a good seal.

Dodgy.

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MUSHROOMS ARE THE OPIATE OF THE MOOSES

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Well there is some history here... two years ago , something went wrong in the cooling system when my son was driving it but he drove it for longer than he should have in that condition. I had the cooling problem fixed, and no further problems for some time, then one year ago , a repair shop tore the engine apart and told me I had a crack in the block..they sent it away to be 'welded' ..... $2600 and one year later I have coolant coming out my exhaust...the BMW dealer did a 'leakdown test' ( is that same as 'compression test' ?) and said cyl #3 had oil in it..need new engine..but I'm not burning oil..don't trust them at all..they only understand new BMW's and major replacement I think, nothing less.... ?

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I had that once with a Fiat. Sick of throwing good money after bad I bough a rusted out hulk of one with an older engine that wasn't great but wasn't bad. Swapped it in a weekend myself and drove around for qiute a while before I went away to school and my parents sold it when I wasn't looking.

Point is, even a slightly worn but working engine will end the suffering and they can be had cheap - especially if you aren't looking for an engine per se.

--
Need Mercedes parts? http://parts.mbz.org
Richard Sexton | Mercedes stuff: http://mbz.org
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Freebase wrote:

Whoa, the plot do thicken don't it! I was gonna suggest a crack in the block after your first post, then you posted the rest of the story. I'd bet you a thousand bucks that the weld has failed. A new engine is the solution.

-- Cliff

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on about something:

Wooooo.... Okay... The lemon alarm has gone off... (not you, the engine!)

I'm not sure about cracking a block from an engine over heat, I haven't heard of those very often. Usually it's the head that cracks or warps (The head gets a lot hotter than the block, it's where all those lovely still expanding superheated gases whizz out of after all!).

I don't know what a leak down test is, but if you've got oil in #3 that's sounding very much like a head gasket or warped head (or the mother of all cracked heads).

Do you have any other symptoms, water in oil, oil in water, excessive pressurisation of the cooling system? I had a head gasket leak once that inflated the top hose to about 6 inches diameter! I opened the bonnet/hood and you've never seen anyone run away so fast in your life!

Dodgy.

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Thanks for asking about other symptoms... no oil loss , no white/grey guck in the oil cap, oil on the stick looks a normal 'brownish', no expanding hoses. The 'check coolant level' does come on right away even right after I top it up ( sensor?) . Also, it seems like if I don't put the car in the garage overnight, its possible that when I turn the ignition key, I'll get a 'clunk' and no go ( has happened twice in two months) .. then a few hours later, it will start fine. I'm hearing that this may be a 'vapor lock' , where in that one cylinder there's no ignition because of leaked coolant. Does that make sense? If so, why does it startup later on? The car absolutely 'purrs' while driving, no missing etc....My question is this.. I've been driving it for about two month like this, trying to decide what to do with it.... am I making anything any worse by driving it while I scrape some cash together, if it needs a new engine anyway?

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on about something:

Not vapour lock, hydraulic lock.

Vapour lock is petrol evaporating in fuel lines/carbs when they get too hot. You end up having to crank the engine until "real" liquid fuel comes through.

A "clunk" no go, engine can't turn, is your piston trying to compress a cylinder of coolant that's leaked into the cylinder while it's been left parked up. Liquids don't compress very well, unlike an air/fuel mix.

It clears because after the piston has manage to apply a bit of pressure to the liquid, it slowly leaks out, either the way it came (the crack in the head/block or leaking gasket), or past the valves, eventually the pressure decreases and the next time you give the car a go the piston can manage to squeeze the remaining liquid past the compression stroke, down it goes on the power stroke (although not producing any power in that cylinder) and then on the exhaust stroke it chucks the remaining fluid down the exhaust.

This will only lock a cylinder that coming round to the compression stroke.

It purrs along because the leak is slow and doesn't have a chance to leak into a cylinder whizzing up and down 50 times a second.

Dodgy.

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wow... I love how you can describe exactly what's happening... so it has probably nothing to do with being left outside, more so where the cylinder head ended up when you turn it off? Can you comment on how much damage I can cause by driving it like this? I've heard that maybe the coolant is harming the exahust system?

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on about something:

LOL! Well it's all just an educated guess! Count yourself lucky I'm not attempting to draw a diagram in ASCII art!

If it suffers the lock or not is down to where the piston for the cylinder that's got the leak is in the cycle, and how long the vehicle is parked for. If the piston is right down the bottom of the intake stroke and about to come up on compression, then you could have a problem if you park the vehicle long enough.

I doubt it will be doing much more damage to the engine apart from your spark plug might go rusty and fail and an increase in bore/piston ring wear if it's left long enough for the bore walls to corrode (I'm not sure what 325 bores are made of/lined with).

I'm quite surprised some of the water hasn't found it's way past the piston rings and into the oil. If the oil starts turning creamy colour, you really should worry.

I don't know how much the cat will like it a load of rusty water complete with untold antifreeze chemicals hitting it. At least it's cold when it happens, so it's not going to shatter, but you'll have to ask someone who's better on chemistry than me. Having said that, it's already done, so if it's too late to worry. You just need to find where that water is coming from. That head's gotta come off!

Count yourself lucky the water is dripping slowly into a cool/cold engine... The one you really want to avoid is the running engine driving into a flood... The engine sucks a great load of cold water goes through the air filter and into the inlet manifold... Cold water hits red hot valves, and usually causes them to shatter. Head of the value falls off, piston of still turning engine comes up (there's no compression to work against, the valves have just fallen apart!) and the valve head either ends up going through the piston crown, or gets rammed into the head. Usually both, and then get's battered about for a bit until the engine stops turning.

I think it was the Mk2 VW golf that suffered badly from this as the air intake was just behind the front valance, about 6 inches off the ground!

Dodgy.

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Jeez.... and I thot my BMW has problems ..thank gawd I don't have a golf....OTOH I'm looking at leasing a GOLF and putting the BMW away until my son, who maybe caused this mess ( driving while car was overheated) has enough $$$ to get the engine replaced.

Which raises another q that hopefully someone of you have been so helpful can answer... Given what you know about the condition of my 1994325is ie the coolant leak, probable gasket or cracked block... If I put the car in the garage for two years and we get the engine replaced then..... what condition will it be in in like in two years ...ie will there be any cumulative damage caused by the condition its in now ? what will seize up from rust of anything etc.. thanks again....

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