Heater problems - head gasket implicated?

This concerns the same Jan 1996 BMW 328SE Auto whose ABS problem we're discussing in the other thread.
While they had the car for the ABS scan this morning, I asked them to look
at my poor heating. They reported that "...the upper hose was hot but the lower one cool. And there's high pressure throughout, strongly indicating the possibility of a leaking head gasket," or something along those lines.
I'd appreciate advice on the seriousness of this please. It sounds potentially expensive and if so is another factor I need to consider carefully before spending 300 or so to get the ABS fixed. This comes on top of quite high repair and servicing in 2010.
Not an easy decision therefore lies ahead. More repairs now, or withdraw (say) 15 K from savings for a replacement second-hand 3-series (or Merc, or Lexus - I've done zero research so far).
--
Terry, East Grinstead, UK

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Yes, a leaking head gasket is a possibility but you can do a few simple checks yourself on the driveway.
Is the cooling system pressurising excessively into the top up bottle after a run. eg does the coolant shoot sky high when the filler is opened? (careful here of scalding youself!!)
Is there oil in the coolant or water in the oil? (remember this could also be an oil cooler problem)
Check or change the thermostat (if it's stuck shut you may have a cold bottom rad hose)
The older beemas did have a reputation for eroding cylinder heads requiring welding and machining if you were lucky enough to be able to reclaim them. (more often on v high mileage units)
Get a reputable garage to do a coolant check. ie test for co2 emissions in the coolant.
15k will get you a nearly new beema! My favourite and one which I run is the 3 series diesel. With todays silly fuel prices it makes sense with 60 to the gallon on a run at 70mph. And 150hp is adequate for average driving. Mick Suffolk, GB

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Thanks.
No.
No.
OK, thanks, I'll ask them about that.

I've always had fast cars and not sure that I'd be happy with anything significantly slower than my present model (which I think has 192 bhp, modest by today's standards for 2800cc.) My wife is pressing me to 'get something smaller and more economical', and I can't produce any rational arguments in my support, but...
--
Terry, East Grinstead, UK


>Mick
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The results of your checks would not indicate you have an 'obvious' head gasket problem. Take into consideration too, with these sub zero temperatures and plenty of airflow thro the radiator, it wouldn't be unusual to have a cool bottom hose. If your coolant temperature gauge registers normal, then I would suggest that your garage is after your cheque book and you should entrust someone better to look at your heater problem.
If the headgasket does need changing , then go for it as it's not a megga job and any 'decent' garage who knows beema's shouldn't be ripping you off. Consider though, extra expense should any maching work be required on the head and you won't know this until it's on the bench.

My sentiments entirely..... the 2.8 is a lovely motor so why not keep the savings and spend a grand on her!
Mick Suffolk, GB
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On Fri, 07 Jan 2011 08:01:01 +0000, Terry Pinnell

Why not investigate a 325d or 330d? Both have the same 3 litre straight 6 with the 325 being a slightly de tuned 330d (IIRC). They make a rather nice noise which is the reason *I'd* recommend a 325d over the dull and dreary sounding 320d (i.e. 4 cylinder diesels). I doubt you'd feel short changed on the performance front either.

Well a 325d/330d might manage about 58mpg at a constant 60mph and you can get a smile inducing push in the back from either (though not at the same time). What's not to like?
I'd suggest a 2008 model or later due to the swirl flap modification if you're likely to get one with big miles on it.
--
Z

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I'd not expect the results of a pressure test that are high result in a diagnosis of a leak.
High pressure is expected when the system integrity is good, low pressure would come if there was a leak.
The water pump draws relative cool water from the bottom of the radiator and returns hot water to the top. I do not accept the diagnosis given. You, and everybody else that uses this shop, need a new mechanic.
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