Of used cars and head gaskets...

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Kingsly, Sep 29, 2006.

  1. Kingsly macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #1
    Well, I found a car that I really like. Its the right price and the right year. A little heavy on the miles but not too bad. Its in really good shape. The lucky car is a BMW 318i.

    But........

    It has had a replaced head gasket. :eek:

    I am told (by a euro car expert and good friend of the family) that replacing a head gasket is the equivalent of adding 100,000 miles. The engine just isn't the same.

    Is this true? Apparently the car runs beautifully (I was hoping to see it in person this weekend).
    I was always under the impression that something like this was good... like a recent brake job or something...

    So confused.

    Help?
     
  2. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Location:
    Clovis, California
    #2
    [​IMG]

    Oil pressure is the MAIN thing. It tells the condition of the engine all by itself. As far as blown head gaskets go, as long as the engine was shut down quickly after the gasket failure, it's alright. Engine coolant that gets into the oil after a blown head gasket can reek havoc on bearings, but good oil pressure means good bearings. [​IMG]
     
  3. bigandy macrumors G3

    bigandy

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2004
    Location:
    Murka
    #3
    Macdrive, good points, but also I'd like to throw in that the gasket should be a proper replacement.

    They only cost about $1 for the actual gasket seal, but the money is in taking the engine apart to fit it. Too many people seem to think it's fine to use a tube of instant sealant (a temporary measure if anything) to sort the car. You'll notice this if the seal seems to be coming out the sides of the engine slightly.

    It could cost you a replacement engine. :eek:
     
  4. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Location:
    Clovis, California
    #4
    1 dollar for a BMW head gasket? Are you sure about that man? :confused:
     
  5. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Location:
    Communard de Londres
    #5
    BMW's have a reputation for suffering from warped heads,be careful.
     
  6. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #6
    If I can get the maintenance records for the fix, will that tell me anything?
     
  7. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    #7
    If it is a vehicle not known for blowing gaskets, then the replacement of the head and gasket might add life to the vehicle.

    If it is a vehicle know for blowing gaskets, it is the nature of the beast and you may be a gasket away from an engine swap.
     
  8. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #8
    How would I go about finding out if this particular car is known for blowing gaskets?
     
  9. iGav macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2002
    #9
    It'll be in it's service history.

    Back to your original query, sounds like nonsense to me... though like any repair, if it's not done properly then it could cause problems.
     
  10. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Location:
    Clovis, California
    #10
    Post the YEAR of the 318i for criminy sakes! [​IMG]

    And I'll find out. [​IMG]
     
  11. Cam59 macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Location:
    Arizona
    #11
    its a good thing it was replaced. It would have cost you $600 or so in labour for a $10 part.
     
  12. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #12
    Terribly sorry! :eek:

    Its a 1992 318i w/ 180,000 miles. The body and interior are in great shape (interior is practically *MINT*)

    Also, the power windows were recently worked on (to me this implies that I wont be needing to do much electrical work in the future... since its fixed? :cool: )

    Also, I hear that the 318s are more prone to mechanical problems because its a smaller engine pulling a heavier chassis, thus must work harder. Is that true or... BullShido™?
     
  13. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Location:
    Clovis, California
    #13
    Start reading this: Link

    Apparently in 1992 they came both with either an inline 4 or an inline 6.

    Find out which one it has.

    In the mean time, I'll keep digging. [​IMG]

    Edit 1: According to this Site it's supposed to have an E36 I4.

    Edit 2: I suspect that BMW had a water pump failure causing the engine to overheat and subsequently causing the head gasket failure: Source This is NOT a bad thing as long as the oil was not over cooked or if water entered the oil.

    Edit 3: More Info

    Edit 4: More Info

    Kingsly, from what I can tell, the E36 had a common water pump failure as the result of a plastic impellar. No biggy, just make sure that it's had it's water pump changed out at the time of the head gasket replacement and it should be fine. Also, from what I've found, it's common for them to have cracked radiators; another easy fix. So far I can't find any major reasons not to get the beamer. It just needs common parts like all cars do. :)

    BMW E36 I4

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Surf and Turf macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2006
    Location:
    In my mind
    #14
    Have you thought of dropping an e36 s50 motor in? They are quite fun in an e30 chassis? The only problem is to get the weight ratio correct given the mass of the new motor and chassis geometry.:)
     
  15. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #15
    WOW. Thanks for the in depth research! :)

    I have heard about the water pump issue before...

    How can I tell if coolant got into the crankcase or if oil got into the coolant system? I worry about coolant > crank case because it can be murder on the bearings/etc.

    I am hoping the previous owner was smart enough to shut the motor down IMMEDIATELY when it started to overheat.

    Also, how can I tell if the head warped and weather or not they fixed it?

    Finally, do you have any insights about the smaller engine > bigger chassis theory? Will it really be working hard enough to be more likely to fail?
    Thanks.
     

    Attached Files:

  16. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2002
    Location:
    Republic of Ukistan
    #16
    You should be able to see if there's any contamination because the oil on the dipstick will show signs of emulsification (foaming).
    Easy to see if there's any oil leak at the gasket. Otherwise you'd have to take the head off and check it with a straightedge, I guess.
     
  17. bigandy macrumors G3

    bigandy

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2004
    Location:
    Murka
    #17
    I made a mistake. For cars I've owned in the past, I've seen them for about that price for the gasket. A BMW one can be had for around £10. (US$20).

    Any gasket is just a rubber seal - as I said, the expense is in the fitting.


    The 318 isn't a slow car. It does fine with the 1.8 litre engine. The 316 is a little sluggish, but I don't think you'll be left wanting, unless of course your last car had a 500bhp engine in it... ;)
     
  18. iGav macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2002
    #18
    Not small enough to make any significant difference, that model 3 Series dropped down to a 1.6 engine, and the 3 Series isn't a particularly big car.

    Of that era, in Europe at least, BMW's engines were considered to be at least .2 of a litre higher compared to similar capacity engines from the likes of Ford and Vauxhall. For example, a 1.6 BMW engine, was similar in performance to a 1.8 from Vauxhall and Ford, the 1.8 BMW engine the equivalent of the others 2 litre engines etc etc.
     
  19. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #19
    So there appears to be little weight to the idea that the smaller engine is working harder and more likely to fail.

    For my inspection:
    I assume I would have to bring the engine up to operating temp and look around the cylinder head for oil leaks,
    Check the dipstick for foaming,
    Check the radiator for cracks/leaks,
    Check the coolant pump,
    Check the maintenance record of the gasket fix,
    Push all the buttons, knobs, and dials,
    Drive it, listen for... <someone please fill in the blank> :eek:
     
  20. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Location:
    Clovis, California
    #20
    Drain the crankcase and refill with:

    [​IMG] 10W-40 :)
     
  21. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #21
    Is that approved by BITOG? :D

    Any sounds or bumps, rattles, etc. that I should be feeling, listening for when I test drive it?
     
  22. Frisco macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    Location:
    Utopia
    #22
    You are forgetting about the transmission, which is very important because transmission repairs are more expensive than engine repairs. I would rather blow my engine than blow my transmission.

    Make sure the transmission was serviced at scheduled intervals--transmission oil flushed and filer changed usually every 30K miles, but can vary significantly so check owners manual.

    Also check the transmission dipstick. Feel the trans fluid with your fingers, make sure there are no metal shavings in there. If there are stay away! Also make sure the fluid is red. If it's starting to get a little dirty, it will need to be changed soon. If it's real dirty I would stay away. Also smell it for a burned odor.

    Find out how to check the trans oil on the car--some have to be checked while engine is running, other while engine is off. Check it on a flat surface.

    Good Luck!
     
  23. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #23
    I'll be sure to check that too! Thanks.
     
  24. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Location:
    Clovis, California
    #24
    Well did you buy it yet? One thing I did notice from the photos you posted in that the engine compartment is going to need cleaning. :p
     
  25. 840quadra Moderator

    840quadra

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Location:
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    #25
    That is incorrect, a head gasket is made of metal, or a metallic alloy. The rubber gasket you are thinking of is a valve cover gasket.

    Kingsly

    The BMW 318 is a reliable car, it isn't quick, nor is it the best on fuel milage (some people think they would be as they are a 4 cylinder). However they are fun to drive, look good, and have interiors and body that hold up well.

    Also, your friend or acquaintance is incorrect. Replacing a head gasket will add to the life of the car, as that is a common point of failure on any vehicle. The head gasket is the weakest point between the engine block, and the cylinder head, and they usually cause issue long before the head or block will. Hopefully whoever did this work also checked or replaced the timing chain guides while they had things apart :confused: .

    If it was replaced / repaired correctly you should be fine. An improperly installed or fitted head gasket usually will show itself early by causing coolant to flow into the oil passages (causing foamy oil), Combustion chamber (causing white smoke), or oil to flow into either compartments (causing either foamy coolant, or black / blue smoke from exhaust).

    On those cars also check to make sure the brake pedal feels good and firm. Also check for tire wear on the rear especially. There was an issue with rear control arms on the early E36 (that is the BMW generation this car is) models that can fail, and besides that, if bushings are going out in the rear you will have some uneven wear in the rear.

    A real good site to ask many of these questions on this car would be Bimmerforums.com E36 3 series section. Their site is slightly larger than Macrumors (with users), and have many helpful people when it comes to this BMW chassis.

    The 318 pictured is a manual gearbox model. it will not have a dipstick to check the gear oil. In most cases you should be fine to check for adequate level, however this needs to be done under the car. If it hasn't been changed before, I would recommend replacing the gear-oil with a good synthetic like Red Line, and or Mobile product.
     

Share This Page