E36 Overheating / Head Problems
Dear Forum / fellow BM Drivers,
I see that some of you have had overheating problems with your BMW's but would like to know if this has had a major impact on the engine block head as it is aluminium. From what I have read on this forum, there have been no lasting problems, so let me tell my story and please let me know your opinions / advice.
I bought my (first BMW!) a 1996 (E36) 2.8i Auto Tourer (ca 115 K miles) about 6 weeks ago and bar some earthing problems on the drivers display console (which are on-going!!) everything mechanically was running fine. I live in the Netherlands and following a fairly long drive back to the UK, I got the message from the on-board computer that the coolant level was low! I just guessed that it needed topping up (not unusual) and did so. About 2 weeks later following another long drive, I got the same message again and upon closer inspection, found what looked like a small leak from somewhere by the radiator (whit flecks / splatters could be seen on some plastic components!) but did not trace it as I had to use the car, so I topped it up again and decided that I would go back to the garage and get them to check the coolant system / radiator as I have a warranty until mid November.
As I was reaching the end of my journey I noticed that the temp gauge was showing red but as I was literally on my doorstep and decided to drive slowly and get home. Unfortunately the radiator blew up (seemed to have split just by the main fill up reservoir) just around the corner from my house and she had to be towed back to the garage. When speaking the road-side assistance (AA), they told me that they had been called out to the same car a few months earlier (twice within a month) with 'cooling system problems' but they could not be more specific.
From what I know, for a radiator to blow it is a very old radiator (not know in this case could be the original and hence 9 years old) or the whole system has to become pressurised and this normally only happens when there is a faulty head gasket or head itself. This of course can be fixed with a new head gasket or if needed, re-skimming the aluminium head and necessary parts. I did not get the opportunity to check if coolant had leaked into the block. I did start the car after it has cooled down to move it off the side of the road and did NOT recall seeing any white smoke.
As mentioned, I would like to know if anyone has had similar problems (which I see a few have) and would like to know if a new head gasket / skimming the head solved the problem without any long-term issues.
The last time I had a similar problem with a car (1985 Opel Manta 1.8) the problem never really went away, but then again the it wasn't a BMW and I am hoping that BMW reputation will live up to what it is.
Thanks in advance for any help and advice,