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Old 04-06-2012, 04:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Angry 2003 540i Dead in Garage

Hello all, this is my first post on the boards and hoping someone can help or point me in the right direction. As I am ready to blow up my 540i.

Some info:

2003 540i (M-Sport Package)
Mileage: 111,642
Purchased as a certified pre-own from BMW 4/2006

2007 - replaced electronics that control door locks and battery (at dealer)
2008 - Radiator leaked, and then replaced (at dealer)
2009 - all 4 tires replaced (at dealer)
2010 - Coolant leak, dealer replaced hoses upper & lower.
2010 - during oil change dealer determines oil leak and need valve cover gaskets replaced,
valve cover gaskets replaced (at dealer)
2010 - Coolant warning, back to dealer, they add antifreeze but can't find leak.
2010 - Oil leak, not comfortable with dealer, go to an independent shop, they see issue
valve cover gaskets, I then take car back to dealer to have them warranty work the
valve cover gaskets (only 3 months old), they argue but eventually replace them
again. Last trip to dealer
2010 - Independent shop replaces water pump.
2011 - Coolant leak issue again, Independent shop feels it is either hose or valley pan
issue, the try sealant. Car runs fine until now ...

2012 - 7 days ago (3/30/12), Trans feels odd under 2k rpm / 30 mph feels a bit rough
almost like going over small bumps, once above 2k rpm / 30mph everything is
great. Worried about trans, plug in OBD scanner no codes or SES light. Next day
SES light is on and scanner pulls code P0741(Torque Converter), I then take car
straight to Independent shop. They determine I will either need a new Trans or
rebuild. I elect for rebuild, and they advise they have a partner shop that does
rebuilds for them nearby. They schedule the appointment for 4/4/12, then the
really bad news !! I get a call during the day that while driving the car
(Guess they felt it was drivable) to the trans rebuild shop, it over heats and they
pulled over to see the radiator hose ruptured antifreeze everywhere and car won't
start. They have it towed to their shop and determine the car now needs a new
head gasket. I tell them not to do the work as the combined Head Gasket and trans
rebuild work would be in the ballpark of $10k. I then have the car towed to my
house. Decided to do some investigating and here are some of my findings:

1. Check oil to see if any antifreeze is mixed in since Head Gasket is supposed to be bad?
no antifreeze, oil looks normal.

2. Battery low, engine cranks slow but does not catch, jump starting does not help. Take battery to auto parts store for testing, battery bad, buy and install new battery. Car cranks but will not catch, smells like gasoline in engine compartment.

3. Inspected the fluid that was splashed around the engine compartment with a friend, and it looks like oil not antifreeze all over the place, especially pooled up on the plastic undercover for the engine compartment.

4. SES light still on, get a few codes then the codes disappeared but SES light still on, the codes were "Engine Failsafe Prog" "P0120 / p0123 / P0222 - Pedal Position".

5. Checked Radiator, level was low, added about 2 quarts worth of antifreeze.

6. After trying to crank it one more time still did not start but now the SES light is off, no codes are registering and not that this matters at this point but the door lock button on the center console no longer activates the door locks.

I have taken a video of what the car looks/sound like from the engine compartment while trying to start. Can email if anyone wants to see it.

At my wits end, can't continue to spend money on this thing, the repairs so far plus what the shop said about head gasket and trans will be than what I paid for car initially + what it is currently worth. Looking for guidance willing to try and attempt repairs myself -or- find a reputable mechanic to get car running if cost effective. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. Hate to have to get rid of this car since it is in excellent condition and has all the M-sport trim and bells and whistles.
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to Bimmerwerkz.

I'll touch on a few things. If the shop was driving your car when it overheated and it overheated bad enough to blow the headgasket then thu should be the ones paying for that! These cars don't like overheating but you gotta run it pretty hot to blow the headgasket. I would be livid and demand they fix it on their dollar as the car was in their control.

Overheating issues are common as BMW used plastic components which became brittle and failed over time. The best way to resolve the issue was upgrading to aluminum parts such as the Stewart water pump. If they replaced all these parts such as water pump and fan clutch with OEM parts then it's likely they will fail again.

BMW stated that their transmissions contained a "lifetime synthetic" fluid and did not need changing over the life of the transmission. However the "life" of the transmission was till whenever it failed. ALL fluids break down over time including BMWs transmission fluid. Manufacturers stated that because replacing the transmission made them more money then fluid changes.

At this point your cheapest option is a new transmision and possibly new engine. With the price their quoting you, you could pick up a wrecked or scrap E39 and swap in the engine and tranny. There are several auctions that specialize in selling written off vehicles so if you find one that was rear ended or something you can get em for cheap and do an engine swap. Numerous people have done this before. A head gasket job runs about $1,000. The gasket itself is about $125-150 but it's te labour that adds the cost up. It's DIY capable if you have some tools and decent skills it can be done in a weekend. I rather chane the headgasket on my BMW then my gmc...

Any other questions feel free to ask. Please excuse spelling mistakes as I'm on my iPhone.
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Are there any other steps I can take to diagnose if in fact the head gasket is damaged ? As for the Transmission, when I took it in to the shop it was driveable and did not present a very noticeable issue. Anyhow I would like to focus on getting the engine to start. Thanks for the quick reply and info.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The most common signs of a blown head gasket is thick white smoke out of the exhaust, loss of cookant with no leaks and the oil looking milky brown. Like coffee with cream. Those are signs of it, but only a compression test can tell for sure. Usually if you have all 3 it's pretty much confirmed it needs to be replaced.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Vader View Post
The most common signs of a blown head gasket is thick white smoke out of the exhaust, loss of coolant with no leaks and the oil looking milky brown. Like coffee with cream. Those are signs of it, but only a compression test can tell for sure. Usually if you have all 3 it's pretty much confirmed it needs to be replaced.
Checked oil on dipstick as well as opening the oil cap on the block, oil looks normal, can't tell what color exhaust smoke there is since the car only cranks but wont start, coolant level looks ok.

If you have a moment, here is a link of a video I took regarding the engine cranking and how it sounds, it's about 30 seconds long.

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Old 04-06-2012, 09:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well it sounds like its got power but doesn't want to get fuel. When you turn the ignition on can you hear the fuel pump priming? On some models this requires a friend. Check to make sure our battery is well connected and check your ground connection. Make sure all electrical connections are snug.
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Old 04-08-2012, 01:02 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Yeah, It sound like it starving for fuel. Check your fuel pump, if you can.
Or try to take it tow to another shop for diagnostic? I'd get 2nd opinion, before spending thousands.

Best of Luck.
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