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  #1  
Old 12-26-2009, 01:54 PM
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2002 X5 3.0L 125K Overheat and Head Gasket Problem

To Whom May Concerns,

Three days ago I was realized the temperature gauge was all the way up on the hot side. I turned the engine off and restarted the car. The temperature gauge was back to the normal position (little over to the hot side). I drove the car the day before yesterday, everything seems fine, except the "check oil level" message came up couple times. I was planned to bring the car in today for maintenance / checking out for any problems. Unfortunately, yesterday morning, I warmed up the car for about 20 minutes before I hit the road. I hit the road for less than a mile and started smelling some thing burning. I looked back and saw a lot of smoke came out from my exhaust pipe. I could say it was the white smoke. Then I saw the smoke came out under the hood on passenger side. I stopped the car immediately, turned off the engine and check under the hood. There was a lot of smoke came off from the lower half of the engine, where the spark plugs at (I guess). There was oil leak every where and it's burning due to the hot engine. I checked the oil level, it was almost empty. I put in a quart of oil for it (guy at autozone recommended me always to keep a quart of oil in my car, now it became handy). I started the engine and slowed drove it back home. On the way home, the engine was shaken couple times at the stop lights. I parked the car and let's the engine run just for a few seconds and the engine was doing fine, no knocking or weir noise, but the oil was spurring all over the ground on passenger side. Shut down the engine and checking the oil again. Below is the short version of what was happening:
1. Temperature gauge was all the up way on the hot side the day before.
2. Check Oil Level message came up couple times, but the temperature gauge was shown normal after shut down and restarted the engine.
3. White smoke came out from the tail pipe next day.
4. Engine oil was spurring every where around the passenger side spark plugs location.
5. Yellow (milky) substance found in the oil cap.
6. Slightly yellow (milky) substance also found at the end of oil dip stick.
7. No evidence of anti-freeze is mixing with the engine oil.
8. Anti-freeze reservoir is low / or empty.

I called the shop in town, the mechanic told me it was the overheat/head gasket problem and also depends on how bad the damage to the engine was. It will cost me around $2.5K to have the head gasket job done but no warranty on it, because he said the engine head might be crack and a lot more problems will come after this catastrophe. Another option is another engine for around $6K or more.
I'm really appreciate any advices / inputs from your professionalism and your expertize of how to handle this matter. Thanks in advance.

Vivian
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  #2  
Old 12-26-2009, 02:12 PM
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From your description, it sounds as if antifreeze/coolant has may have made it into the oil sump. That doesn't fit with all of the symptoms, but it does explain the coolant being low, the milky emulsion on the dipstick, and the white smoke out the tailpipe.

The check oil message, oil leak, and smoke from the engine compartment is consistent with an oil leak causing oil to run onto the hot exhaust manifold. This can be caused by the oil separator (crankcase ventilation valve) but it sounds as if you may have more problems than just the separator.

If it has been very cold where you are, the separator is something to have your mechanic check out. It can present symptoms similar to a failed head gasket, as it can freeze up and that can draw oil into the engine, or push oil out a gasket and cause a leak similar to what you report. The trouble is, diagnosing remotely is difficult and not conclusive, so we can't say anything for sure from just a description. You do want to ask your mechanic if the oil separator could have contributed, as it is a known failure on these models. I would investigate the separator before pulling off the cylinder head to do a cylinder head gasket.

It is true that it is difficult to determine the extent of the damage before getting into the engine. If there is a crack in the head, or something similar, the price can be much higher than a simple head gasket. It is possible to check a head for cracks when it is off to do a head gasket.

BMW engines do not deal well with overheating. The first time it overheats is the time to get it checked, as continued operation can be expensive.

Hope this helps. Recommend you ensure that your mechanic is familiar with BMW engines, as there are some nuances that may save you some money over an otherwise competent mechanic who has never seen one before. Ask away if you have additional questions.

Jeff
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Old 12-26-2009, 02:47 PM
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Thank you for your quickly response.
Yes, the weather was very cold in the Midwest. However this car had a history of "drinking" oil, thus I have to put in at least 3/4 quart of oil for ~ 1200 miles. I told the shop about that when they did the oil change and they assured me that common to the BMW X5. That's why I always have a quart of oil in my car. I might not a good descriptor but the "milky" emulsion is more likely has bright yellow color to me. Let's assume it was not the headgasket for now, I'm just curiosity how the oil can be push-out the engine block ?
Is that true even though I have the head gasket job and its associate root causes done properly by a certified BMW mechanic (assume no crack in the head), the engine won't be last long after this event ? I'm really frustrate, because I feel bad for the next owner when I trade it in after I got it fixed ?
Thanks again -- Vivian.
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Old 12-26-2009, 03:10 PM
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When the oil separator fails, oil can be drawn into the engine combustion chambers (via the intake), or the separator can freeze closed, which pressurizes the crankcase. In that case, the pressure blows out the weakest gasket (usually the valve cover gasket), and the oil then runs down the outside of the engine on to the exhaust manifold, where it creates a lot of smoke. Although you said you had white smoke out the tailpipe, were you stopped and looking at the tailpipe (in which case the oil was in the combustion chamber), or could it have simply been the oil on the exhaust manifold that was visible behind the vehicle as you were driving? If the latter, then I would be looking to the separator more than the head gasket.

If the head gasket is repaired (assuming it needs to be), and there is no crack in the head (if there was, you would know soon after restarting it after the repair), then the engine will be fine after the repair. The mechanic isn't saying that it will have a shorter life, simply that it may not be completely repaired if there is indeed a crack. In other words, he is warranting only his repair of the headgasket, not other damage that may still exist with the head.
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Old 12-26-2009, 03:46 PM
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Dear Jeff,
I've checked the tailpipe, it's dry, and no visible fluid i.e. oil or any mixture.
You could be right. The white smoke I saw is probably from the exhaust manifold. If my damage brain is still working fine, I remembered did not see any extremely smoke came out the back of the car after I filled a quart of oil, and slowly drove it home. I'm crossing my finger for a OSV problem, not the headgasket or overheat problem. We only have two BMW certified shop in town, the stealer and Bavarian. I really don't want to bring it to the stealer, because last time they charged me $950 for the final stage resistor replacement which I could paid only half if I had Bavarian did the job. The only down side with Bavarian, they always always busy and my car won't get fix at least couple weeks later. Thanks again /// Vivian
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Old 12-26-2009, 03:59 PM
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Does anyone know a good BMW indy mechanic in Wichita, Kansas ? Thank you.
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Old 12-26-2009, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vivian View Post
if I had Bavarian did the job. The only down side with Bavarian, they always always busy and my car won't get fix at least couple weeks later. Thanks again /// Vivian
Always busy is usually a good sign. Call them and explain what happened and most times even busy shops are able to shuffle things around.
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Old 01-01-2010, 01:13 PM
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I'm seeing the same issue with my 2002 X5 with 110000 miles. These are the issues.
1-a lot of oil under the hood is leaking, mainly on the passenger side.
2-yellow substance on the oil cap.

Vivian,
What was the final outcome of your repair job?
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Old 05-14-2010, 10:38 AM
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vivian,

what was the outcome?
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