One rule about BMW cooling systems.
You have aluminum heads, the temperature guage is meant to sit right in the middle and never go past it, if it moves away from that center mark, you have a problem, pull over and get it towed. That said, I don't always keep an eagle eye on my temp sensor, I've overheated my car several times due to a few odds and ends breaking... I've even pegged it into the red once. I managed to survive.
It might be advisable to get the heads checked if the car has been repeatedly, and severley overheated. Go to a mechanic you trust and know for this. Heads are an expensive job...90% of mechanics, and 100% of dealers, will simply just tell you the heads need to be replaced. Your problem may not specifically be the head gasket, but those aluminum heads could have warped under the heat. This is the worst case scenerio, but is one you need to consider. If you're just burning oil, check the spark plugs and figure out whether you're oil fouling them. Then you can start troubleshooting that. One step at a time, start with common problems and work your way up. But that kind of overheating needs to be resolved immediatley. The overheating is not your current main headache as you said, you're worried about the head gasket...but it won't get any better until you resolve your cooling issues.
If you do continue to drive the car, do so VERY carefully and watch that temperature guage.
Last edited by d3ity; 06-01-2006 at 12:04 AM.