Oil leak in 1994 325is... am I getting hosed by my dealer?

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The answer to this question should I suppose be obvious to me after all the info I've received, but a review/short answer would be helpful...when you have a possible blown head gasket , are leaking oil
into the cylinder etc, what part of the breakdown causes the engine to overheat? that is, why does the engine get hot and why is the cooling system unable to deal with it? ( I apologize in advance if the question sounds 'dumb'.... I can state in my defence that I have been doing some reading on engines/cooling systems etc..)
Many thanks once again in advance.
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I would say exhaust gasses enter the coolant and eventually create an air pocket at the water pump, rendering it useless.
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You should buy the Bentley manual, ISBN: 0837603269, read it, get a little background knowledge, and let your local European car mechanic (or any mechanic) use it to investigate further.
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The answer to this question should I suppose be obvious to me after all the info I've received, but a review/short answer would be helpful...when you have a possible blown head gasket , are leaking oil into the cylinder etc, what part of the breakdown causes the engine to overheat? that is, why does the engine get hot and why is the cooling system unable to deal with it? ( I apologize in advance if the question sounds 'dumb'.... I can state in my defence that I have been doing some reading on engines/cooling systems etc..)
Many thanks once again in advance.

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Bob Freeman wrote:

A head gasket separates 3 different areas from each other: Coolant, Oil and the Combustion chamber. The signs of a blown head gasket can vary depending on which boundary is breeched and to what extent.
oil in the coolant is a sure sign. coolant in the oil is another. white smoke (coolant in the combustion) is another. oil in the combustion is a possible sign (many other ways this can happen).
Exhaust gas in the coolant will cause voids that result in the appearance of a boil over, and rapid overheating.
Exhaust gas in the oil will cause an over pressurized crankcase and may cause some seals to blowout.
All loads of fun...
--
-Fred W

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Bob Freeman wrote:

If you have a blown head gasket, it's equally likely that coolant is leaking out of the cooling system into a cylinder. Pretty soon, there isn't much coolant left in the cooling system, so the engine overheats.
If there is coolant leaking into a cylinder, after you shut off the engine, it can continue to leak into the cylinder. If the cylinder is partly filled with coolant and you try to restart the engine, then major damage can occur.
-- Phil Robyn 1987 E28 535is 1991 E34 M5 University of California, Berkeley
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Ok so I've learned an awful lot about internal combustion engines...some of it quite frightening, because alot of the possible problems lead to $$$$ which I would prefer to sepdn on other things. In any case, I'd like to give you experts out there a bit of an update and see if you have any other suggestions based on new info:
Summary:
1) Took car to dealer because it was idling 'rough' on cold start but fine after that.
2) Dealer did leakdown test, said oil was all over the place in #3 cyl. ..need new engine = $5,000
3) Brought the car home , remembered I had not changed oil in 15,000km ( note sheepish typeface!) , noted level was way down, added two litres and some 'oil leak' gunk.
4) three days later, rough starting problem ended.
5) Now, one week later, car is running fine, engine purrs, but I am losing coolant ( overflow tank level is at bottom after driving for 20min-half hour)
So, now , whenever I listen to the engine and experience the usual 'nice' ride the 325is always provides, given its age ( 1994) , I find it hard to believe I need to replace the engine.
What do you suggest? I do not feel that I know of any mechanic in the area that I feel I could trust to give me the 'straight' goods, so I find it hard to get a decent second opinion.
Thanks in advance to Dave, Roger, Fred, Misterbeets et al for all your good advice and instructional info...as I said I've learned enough to now at least be skeptical slightly but not completely of the original diagnosed need for a whole new engine. I can't help but wonder if there is not some cost between a couple of litres of oil and an entire engine that I could look at as an alternative course of action, and maybe some tips to try before I cave in and turn over my firstborn to my BMW dealer.

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Bob Freeman wrote:

You need to find out where that coolant is going. A head gasket (if that turns out to be where you are losing it) is not that big of a job.
I for one would not be taking a 12 year old BMW to any stealership. You might as well just put all of your money in a big bag and hand it to them. I would look for an independent shop with good reputation. If you tell us where you are located somebody might be able to suggest such a place.
--
-Fred W

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Ok well I'm in the Toronto-Burlington area of Ontario Canada, if that means anything to folks out there... basically if anybody knows someone in the Niagara region or Burlington-Hamilton-Brantford areas , great!
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Another relevant symptom I need to note is that I do periodically see white smoke coming from the exhaust but it's winter here and that might not be unusual. Can anyone put some 'quantification' on the levels of white smoke one would see coming from the exhaust, that would definitely indicate that coolant is getting into the cylinder? And again, even if it is, is there a case for a head gasket replacement versus a full engine replacement?
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Freebase wrote:

You have an awful lot of miles on that engine to put any amount of money into it. What if you spent $500-600 on a head gasket and then the next week something else went wrong (badly) with the engine. To put it another way, I don't think that engine owes you anything... ;-)
--
-Fred W

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Freebase wrote:

I just checked and surprisingly, there isn't a single IAIBMWSP shop in the Upstate NY area. There are a couple of shops listed in Ontario, but I have no idea where those places are.
http://www.iaibmwsp.org /
--
-Fred W

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this is the guy you want to go to... http://www.bmwe34.net /
find the contaCT info for the owner, Bruno. He will help you, he is a genius. best indy mechanic in ontario.
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in case any of the bimmerheads aren't hanging here too, look around at forums in maxbimmer.com (pretty sure it's outta t-dot) and someone there will know the area for good mechanics...hell that close and someone will probably be interested enough to come by and help you out...nudge nudge, cheers dave
Freebase wrote:

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just incase any of the bimmerheads aren't lurking here too, go to the forums at maxbimmer.com(out of Tdot, knowledgeable folks) and they'll recommend some good local mechanics...hell that close and someone will probably come by and look just out of curiosity....nudge nudge...gl dave
Freebase wrote:

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Try this link to the Trillium Club, you should be able to find some club members that can point you in the direction of a local shop that you can trust.
    http://www.trillium-bmwclub.ca/site/home.jsp
Good luck, Bob
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