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Discussion Starter #1
I have been reading these forums for years learning about these cars and am an avid and knowledgeable DIY’er. I own a 94 325i and 2004 325XIT(wife’s car). The worst case scenario happened to me yesterday while driving the e46. We were driving through a high mountain pass, Trailridge Road in Rocky Mtn Natl Park. We were crossing the continental divide and my low coolant light came on. Being well versed in the weaknesses of the cooling system on these cars, I began watching the temp gauge intensely to see if I was about to have a real problem. Within a few minutes the gauge was lit up red and the needle was pinned. I knew I should have already stopped but the road I was on a narrow 2 lane road with no shoulder. One side of the road was sheer rock, the other was a literally a cliff. I had to drive another 10-15 minutes to get to a safe place to stop. The car was sputtering by then and smoking. Looking under the hood after I stopped, I saw steam coming out of a melted spot on the radiator by the bleeder screw. Wow, I am so bummed.
Now the somewhat good news, the car has 66K miles and has a month left on the CPO warranty. The car was towed to my dealer and I have not spoken with them yet. I am looking for advice as to what I should expect from them and what I should ask for under these circumstances. Any idea what my financial exposure may be under the CPO?
The irony here is that the car was due to go in for service this Thursday for inspection to see if there were any problems that may be covered by the CPO before it expires. And, I intended to purchase the Tischer cooling system kit to install right after the CPO was expired.
Thanks.
 

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Michael,

My first reaction is that they'll give you a hard time about covering a new head (you prolly went beyond just head gasket), but your argument would be "cooling system failed first" and road conditions prevented me from pulling over. You might also mention that you've asked on e46fanatics and that at least one guy thinks they should make it easy on you to get your car repaired!

I believe that there is a leak down test used to confirm head/head gasket failure...think at that point, they open things up to see whether it's both...don't honestly know if you can go beyond that to the block itself.

BTW, turning on heat to full will lower temp a little bit and give you just a tad more time, but not for much longer.

Doug
 

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This is going to be interesting. I often wondered how cooling system failures resulting in engine damage are handled through CPO. I have to believe the dealership will really be the deciding factor in how this is handled.

My argument is that if the cooling system failed and engine damage resulted, that should be covered. Especially since road conditions prohibited you from pulling over
 

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Discussion Starter #4
SO here is the rest of the story. I've waited a while to see it to conclusion. The dealer found that the bleeder nut had loosened and coolant was lost from there. I have no idea how that happened. The upper hose and radiator were replaced. Apparently, the steam escaping from the bleeder nut caused the upper neck of the radiator to fail, actually melt along with the bleeder screw area on the hose connection. There was a high oil temp code, so I had the oil changed and also the remainder of the coolant flushed. The hose and radiator was covered under CPO as were pulleys and tensioners that were also replaced (not broken, just squeaking). The dealer said that the engine had apparently survived. I was suspect. So, the next week the engine is running hot, but not overheating. Back into the dealer where they decide to change the fan clutch. A week later its still running hot so back to the dealer. This time I am a bit upset and insist that they test for engine damage at no charge to me. When I go to pick up the car I am assured that there is no coolant/oil cross contamination, that the system was pressure tested, and that the head bolts were checked for loosening. They said that these tests ruled out engine damage. This time they changed the thermostat on the ATF cooler on the radiator. That was a month ago and the car is running fine at normal temp. The CPO expired Oct. 30. The dealer assured me that if the head gasket or other related problems develop in the next year that they would cover it as a courtesy; I made note of anyone there that heard that statement, we will see. Hopefully that will not be necessary. I changed the water pump, thermostat, expansion tank this past weekend (70K on odometer) to try to avoid other cooling system problems. I am still suspect of the soundness of this engine due to the overheat but for now it is running great and am beginning to believe that I may have gotten real lucky, but I do not understand why.
 

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Good news. If your block or head were warped, I don't think they could disguise it. My guess is you are good to go.
 

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I'll tell you the symptoms of my cracked head in my e36 (M50)...poor baby.

One month after I drove for maybe 5-8 miles with engine overheating I began to notice just a tad of sputtering when starting...just for like 100'...up the driveway. Maybe had lost an ounce of coolant...after another month or two, couldn't explain it away...it was now losing maybe 3ozs/week...and sputtering longer.

After initial rough running...it'd get better...the tiny amount of coolant was combusting without too much effect.

The crack was miniscule but there.

If I'd known that an idiot would total my car (another idiot...not me!) 5 months after replacing a new head ($2500 or so), I'd have seriously considered one of those stupid head gasket/crack fillers and driven my car until it wouldn't drive...at the point you're going to lose an engine anyway...might as well have fun with it.

So, that's what I think...and why I do think you should monitor things (and lube ET cap with coolant!)...and make sure level is between min and max when cool...and read lots of cooling threads...

And, I really hope nothing happened, but given the story, I'm rather surprised...and being the suspicious sort...I'd say it might not be a bad idea to change completely both your oil and coolant pretty soon...send oil to get analyzed and plan on doing the same with next change...on coolant...I'm sure there are tests for tiny amount of coolant...local indy should have them...heard of them.

And, I'm suggesting your drain just in case some idiot decided that to save bmw the cost of replacing an engine...they sealed if for another year with that 'stuff,' but hate to think that they'd consider such a thing...no way...right guys...or am I too trusting while being suspicious?

Oh, and if any symptoms warrant, however small...get to respected local indy for second opinion and appropriate tests.

Doug
 

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I highly doubt that any M54 will be "fine" after 10-15 minutes of overheating.

I think the dealer just tried to change the "cheap" things before the warranty expired and didnt want to replace the whole motor.

When the dealer said he would change the head gasket if anything happened, he obviously didnt put it on paper, did he? If not, thats all BS and it never happened. Dont you know business, if its not on paper then it never happened.

I wish you luck BTW.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I highly doubt that any M54 will be "fine" after 10-15 minutes of overheating.

I think the dealer just tried to change the "cheap" things before the warranty expired and didnt want to replace the whole motor.

When the dealer said he would change the head gasket if anything happened, he obviously didnt put it on paper, did he? If not, thats all BS and it never happened. Dont you know business, if its not on paper then it never happened.

I wish you luck BTW.
I do know business and it's not in writing, so you may be right. But after doing business with this dealership for over 15 years, and being on a first name basis with many of the employees, and living in a small affluent community where a business's reputation is important, they may honor their word. They didn't have to give it to me. Not all dealers are unscrupulous and untrustworthy. You may be right but I hope I don't have to find out.
And, I too doubt that an M54 can survive a severe overheating. So this story may be continued.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'll tell you the symptoms of my cracked head in my e36 (M50)...poor baby.

One month after I drove for maybe 5-8 miles with engine overheating I began to notice just a tad of sputtering when starting...just for like 100'...up the driveway. Maybe had lost an ounce of coolant...after another month or two, couldn't explain it away...it was now losing maybe 3ozs/week...and sputtering longer.

After initial rough running...it'd get better...the tiny amount of coolant was combusting without too much effect.

The crack was miniscule but there.

If I'd known that an idiot would total my car (another idiot...not me!) 5 months after replacing a new head ($2500 or so), I'd have seriously considered one of those stupid head gasket/crack fillers and driven my car until it wouldn't drive...at the point you're going to lose an engine anyway...might as well have fun with it.

So, that's what I think...and why I do think you should monitor things (and lube ET cap with coolant!)...and make sure level is between min and max when cool...and read lots of cooling threads...

And, I really hope nothing happened, but given the story, I'm rather surprised...and being the suspicious sort...I'd say it might not be a bad idea to change completely both your oil and coolant pretty soon...send oil to get analyzed and plan on doing the same with next bath...coolant...I'm sure there are tests for tiny amount of coolant...local indy should have them...heard of them.

And, I'm suggesting your drain just in case some idiot decided that to save bmw the cost of replacing an engine...they sealed if for another year with that 'stuff,' but hate to think that they'd consider such a thing...no way...right guys...or am I too trusting while being suspicious?

Oh, and if any symptoms warrant, however small...get to respected local indy for second opinion and appropriate tests.

Doug
Doug, thanks for the suggestion of another oil change and sending the oil to be analyzed. That will probably get me some answers. Never heard of coolant analysis, I will look into that.
 
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