Sister in-law's Bimmer milkshake.

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2,564
Location
Suffolk County, NY
My wife and her sister and mother went shopping today. I get a call from my wife saying that every single dash light went on and the car is running funny. I told her to park it and observe. She says it looks like a milkshake under the car! We all know what that means.. 2004 BMW 325i. I'm told it's a big pain in the as... ahem, wallet to do a head gasket job, it that's where the problem is.. I feel bad for her.. She's not one to keep up with maintenance, as much as her boyfriend and I tell her to.. Can anyone fill me in on what's involved with a gasket on these cars? I try to stay away from European cars, they seem complicated beyond necessity.. Thanks!
 
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138
Location
Virginia
I dont think it will be too bad. If it's a 2004 it's a 4th generation with the m54 series engine which can be worked on by European car shops outside the dealer network. If it were an e90 with the n52 engine, that would be more expensive.
 
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9,808
Location
New Jersey
Did the car overheat? if it is a cracked head or bad head gasket make sure that the anti freeze does not mix with the oil because those bearings will be destroyed...Those engines are not cheap! We do a lot of BMW engines here and the parts are not cheap either
 
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6,990
Location
Everett, Washington
That's with ethylene glycol. I use propylene glycol which does not toast bearings. Hence the reason I use it.
Originally Posted By: crazyoildude
Did the car overheat? if it is a cracked head or bad head gasket make sure that the anti freeze does not mix with the oil because those bearings will be destroyed...Those engines are not cheap! We do a lot of BMW engines here and the parts are not cheap either
 
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252
Location
Kansas
I don't feel bad for anyone, who owns a "luxury" car, and can't afford to fix it. Tell her to suck it up, and if she can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
 
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252
Location
Kansas
Originally Posted By: antonmnster
Watch the stereotyping. The owner of a pickup can easily spend more than a BMW owner for maintenance. It all depends on who is making the decisions.
True. And I would feel bad for the guy who owns a pickup with expensive repairs, and can't afford them. I'm not stereotyping. It's just that if someone thinks they need to drive a European luxury car, they shouldn't have any problems or trouble paying to get it worked on. Oh, by the way, I went on a motorcycle trip, in August, up to Duluth. Beautiful state you have up there! Took the north shore ride up to Canada. Had a great time.
 
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19,686
Location
Sunny Florida
Be careful talking about BMW's here! The 'truth squad' may get you! Like it or not, the repair will most likely be costly. I've owned 3 BMW's and I would say IMO they are more expensive per mile driven than ANY of the many PU's I now own or have owned!
 
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7,256
Location
USA
Get a diagnosis from a decent independent mechanic. A head gasket is labor intensive not parts where BMW gets expensive. If a mechanic who is competent with BMW or generally should be able to perform this. A head gasket repair on BMW vs a domestic is not that different. People put BMW out on a pedestal but most of the story of repair cost stems from dealership prices not independent. Yes parts are more expensive but it mostly is due to labor rate. Locally a BMW specialist charges $75/hr yet dealer is at $120/hr.
 
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17,298
Location
OH
The only way in which I could imagine that this was her fault would be if the car developed a coolant leak (common on some BMWs) and she just kept driving it while the temperature gauge crept up into the red, and the backlight on the red zone went on. Did she actually drive the car while it was seriously overheated? If so, I think she's going to need more than just a head gasket. These engines really don't tolerate overheating well. Have someone competent with BMWs check it out, preferably an indie. Worst case scenario, a junkyard engine might be the cheapest fix, although it is not as easy as it once was to swap an engine into a car. The electronics have to match up.
 

hardcore302

Thread starter
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2,564
Location
Suffolk County, NY
I was told she had the check engine light on for a while but never overheated. It was a sudden development. Her boyfriend actually topped the oil off the other day and he's pretty decent with cars. I find out Monday, I think.
 
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7,180
Location
CT
Those little 3's seem to be pretty durable, sounds like a coolant hose let go. I'd have it towed to the dealer. At least she stopped I have seen women melt engines down to nothing by ignoring smoke and warning lights.
 
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40,850
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Great Lakes
Originally Posted By: hattaresguy
sounds like a coolant hose let go.
Or an expansion tank cracked. Very common. Actually, the entire cooling system on these cars is very fragile and requires frequent overhaul.
 
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19,479
Location
Chicago Area
I don't know what is actually wrong. Most likely, a bad head gasket, but could be a cracked head, block, or a combination. Just because you find one problem does not mean there are no others! I have learned this lesson! This is a job for one with tools and experience [and some special tools]. If you have to ask on a forum like this, I'd say do plenty of homework first, or avoid the job.
 
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7,180
Location
CT
Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
Originally Posted By: hattaresguy
sounds like a coolant hose let go.
Or an expansion tank cracked. Very common. Actually, the entire cooling system on these cars is very fragile and requires frequent overhaul.
Yeah that's one of the reasons I'm not a huge BMW fan, they are a bit fragile compared to Porsche and Mercedes. BMW seems to love plastic in the cooling system like VW.
 
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