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#1 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 03:49 AM
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Blown head gasket?

First post around here, but not my first BMW by any streatch, I've owned 735, 520, 325 diesel and 728, all around 10 years old when I bought them, anyway, on with my question.

I am about to buy an R reg 1997 BMW 323i se Tourer. It's a straight 6 2.5 litre engine with 97,000 miles on the clock. It's mint condition with full service history, not all BMW, but latter part BMW specialist. The engine looks as new and so does the car, drives like new too.

But, uppon removing the oil filler cap their is a lot of yellowish/off-white mayonaise type substance, kind of gummy and thick, this is lining the inside of the oil filler cap.

I've heard that this means a blown head gasket, or that it is about to blow as water is getting into the engine, is this right?

However, after a quick 2 mile round trip (from cold start) the needle on the temperature gauge on the dash, went to half way, and sat there perfectly, the heater also blew out warm to hot (ish) air when the temperature was set to maximum. I could not see the yellowish cream on the oil dip stick, just oil.

There was a lot of white/light grey smoke coming from the exhaust, especially on start up, big cloud of it, but the car had been sitting in the cold for 3 weeks, un-used. After the 2 mile round trip, the white/grey smoke was still present, especially when I asked the owner to rev the engine. I also noticed the smoke comming from the exhaust when the driver drove quite fast (I was passenger looking out the back window).

The car reallly is superb condition, a real stunner and I really love BMW's, but I'm a little concerned as my last BMW, which was a 735 V8 K reg 1993 model blew the head gasket and it was going to cost me 1,200 to get fixed by an independent specialist, not BMW main dealer. The car only cost me 3000, so you can imagine my shock at this.

Will this 323i se tourer be expensive to fix, if it is the head gasket that has blown, or do you think it is the head gasket at all, do I need to be worried?

A quick answer would be great as I am going to buy the car first thing in the morning (Monday am UK time).

Any other tips, or things to look for on this car?

If it is head gasket, how much should I expect to pay?

Thanks in advance.
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#2 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 08:46 AM
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Definitely sounds like a blown head gasket.. Expect to pay alot to have it fixed. Prolly between $1000-$1500 USD. Once problems like this start other problems seem to start as well. I wouldnt touch this car unless you are getting an insane deal..

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#3 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 09:56 AM
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Just found out that in the UK it cost 750 inc VAT all in, worse case is a recon head, which would make it around 1000 all in, this makes it a bargain as I'm getting the car for 2,000 less than they usually go for, so I will still be 1,000 better off, it's a really nice car.
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#4 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 10:52 AM
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As long as you know what your getting into.. remember haste makes waste (i've learned the hard way).. just be prepared if other stuff starts goin out on you..goodluck

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#5 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 11:09 AM
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What other problems can a head gasket lead to?
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#6 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 02:51 PM
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I have heard from others (never had the joy of dealing with blown HG) that once you start doing head work the car will never be the same. Parts start failing (cooling, driveline, etc..) You gotta figure this car was driven improperly to cause this damage..especially if u say it has extensive service records. Who knows what other kind of damage has been done that you cant tell..

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#7 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 03:31 PM
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I know what you mean, but you could really say that about any used car, you just don't know how it has been driven. I read on here that head gaskets going at 90,000 miles is perfectly normal, do all people junk their cars when the head gasket goes?
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#8 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 04:58 PM
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if the head gasket is going or gone you might expect to have problems with the radiator as it cuases pressure in the cooling system or even worse the heater matrix

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#9 (permalink) Old 11-21-2005, 05:05 PM
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These radiator and heater matrix problems, if they are not present after the head gasket has been fixed does that mean all is fine, or will these problems come later. It's not clear what you mean Passatie?

What I'm trying to clear up is, once the head gasket is sorted, is that the end of the story, or am I in for a lifetime of trouble from there on in?

Can't really see how, as this would suggest most people would bin their cars to the scrap yard every time a head gasket went, what if the head gasket went on your 4 year old 850 that was still worth £18,000, would you scrap it, or would you continue to pay through the nose for all sorts of crap that is to follow for the next few years i.e. heater matrix, radiator and lord knows what else?
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#10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2005, 07:58 AM
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Okay, I bought the car, but before I bought it I agreed with the seller that I could take it to a BMW specialist who I know. The BMW specialist did a 'Block Test' and all is fine, he said the same as you guys, the yellow was because the car had been sitting on a dealer forcourt for a month and been driven back and forth onto the yard (about 30 feet) each day.
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#11 (permalink) Old 11-22-2005, 02:34 PM
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When the head goes it not long after when the matrix (very rare) radiator (very likely) suffers. Glad to hear you got sorted and good luck with the car

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