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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW Head Gasket

Difficulty Level: 9
Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one
Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten

 This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series.  The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts.   With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.
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[click to enlarge]

     BMW engines are known for weak cooling systems. It’s not uncommon to have a water pump fail or a thermostat get stuck, which can result in engine overheating. The car typically runs fine for a few hundred miles after overheating, but it eventually begins to leak coolant and ultimately requires a complex head gasket replacement.

     This project incorporates steps and procedures from many other projects. Here are the tasks that you need to perform prior to the specific steps outlined below:

Jack up the car: Raise the front of the car to gain access to the coolant drain plug on the engine block, as well as the engine oil drain plug.

Empty engine oil: Drain out the oil that has been contaminated with engine coolant.

Remove coolant: Empty the coolant from the system prior to removing the cylinder head.

Remove radiator and fan: Remove the fan to gain access to the front of the engine. Also, remove and flush the radiator, and replace the hoses.

Remove drive belts: You will need to remove the belts in order to gain access to the water pump.

Remove water pump: You should remove the water pump in order to clean it out or replace it with an upgraded unit.

Spark plugs: Remove the ignition coils from the head, and remove the spark plugs.

Valve cover gasket: Remove the valve cover to access the head bolts.

Camshaft removal: It’s possible to replace the head gasket without removing the camshafts. However, you should have the head resurfaced by a machine shop, and this process requires that you remove the camshafts.

Intake manifold removal: The intake manifold covers a lot of items in the engine compartment and is attached to the cylinder head, so it needs to be removed.

VANOS installation/cam timing: To remove the cylinder head, you must first remove the VANOS unit. To reinstall the head, you need to retime the camshafts and properly adjust the VANOS unit.

Cam sensor replacement: Remove this sensor from the cylinder head and have a new one handy.

Crankshaft sensor replacement: This sensor is only accessible with the intake manifold off, so it might be a good time to replace it.

Tensioner update: Remove the lower chain tensioner to loosen the chain on the camshafts and upgrade to the new style if applicable.

VANOS oil line replacement: Disconnect the VANOS oil line prior to removal of the head.

Machine shop 101: Send your cylinder head out to a machine shop that will resurface it and check for cracks.

     The remainder of this project is presented step–by–step in the accompanying photos and captions.

     If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs.  If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one.  Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one.  As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

Figure 1
If you see this kind of mess with your car, you know you’re in trouble. This is a perfect example of oil mixed with coolant due to a head gasket leak. The light-colored milky texture of contaminated oil is a sure sign of head gasket problems. For a quick analysis, remove the oil filler cap and compare it to the photo (upper left). Also take note if steam comes out of your tailpipe. Some condensation is normal upon startup, but if it continues well after the car is warmed up, you have a problem. Of course, the first clue is that your low coolant warning lamp will turn on, even after filling the reservoir multiple times.
Figure 2
More carnage can be seen under the valve covers. The underside of the valve cover is coated with a mixture of coolant and oil. At this point, we’ve emptied the oil and coolant, and removed the fan, radiator, drive belts, water pump, spark plugs, and valve cover.
Figure 3
Before you remove the cylinder head, lock the engine at top dead center (TDC) for cylinder number 1 to accurately time the camshafts when you reassemble the engine. There is a special tool that needs to be inserted into a hole in the engine block, which then mates with a corresponding hole in the flywheel. The intake manifold has been removed in this photo (see our intake manifold removal article), and the yellow arrow indicates the general area where the tool needs to be inserted (see also Photo 4). You can rotate the engine’s crankshaft by placing a 22-millimeter deep socket on the front pulley and rotating clockwise (photo inset). Install the camshaft alignment tool (see our article on Camshaft Timing and Vanos Unit Installation). If your camshaft alignment tool doesn’t seem to fit, your car may have had the camshaft timing tweaked as part of a BMW service campaign to correct an uneven idle (affected engines built up to August 1992). Loosen the tool to allow it to fit in this situation.
Figure 4
Here’s a close-up of the spot in the engine case where you insert the flywheel locking tool. Your car should have a small blue plug that covers the hole (inset photo). The flywheel locking tool itself is a long, thin rod with a smaller insert tip on its end (inset, lower right). Insert this tool into the engine block and rotate the crankshaft pulley until the pin fits into the matching hole on the back side of the flywheel.
Figure 5
At TDC for cylinder number 1, the exhaust camshaft sprocket should have a small arrow that points upward, perpendicular to the plane of the head gasket. Double- check this if you’re trying to find TDC when you’re turning the engine over by hand.
Figure 6
Also check the front crankshaft pulley itself. The line by the yellow arrow will match up with the boss in the engine block (blue arrow) when the engine is at TDC for cylinder number 1 and cylinder number 6. Check the arrow on the exhaust camshaft sprocket shown in Photo 5—it should only pointing upward, not downward, when the engine is at TDC for cylinder number 1.
Figure 7
Shown here is the front of the VANOS unit prior to removal. The VANOS unit advances the camshaft timing at higher rpm, which translates into better engine performance while driving. Undo the nuts that attach the unit to the cylinder head. The cable for the crankshaft sensor (see also Project 15) is integrated with a small plastic cable guide that ties into the studs that also hold the thermostat housing and the VANOS housing (yellow arrows). Remove the thermostat in order to remove the VANOS unit.
Figure 8
With everything disconnected, you can now remove the front VANOS unit. Disconnect the VANOS oil line (blue arrow), and disconnect the electrical connection to the VANOS solenoid, as indicated by the green arrow (see our article on VANOS Oil Line & Solenoid Replacement). Remove the unit from the front of the cylinder head and place it aside on your workbench. Push the upper VANOS chain tensioner down and lock it in place with small pins (red arrow). You can use a small Allen key as shown, or even large paper clips will do.
Figure 9
Remove the sprocket assemblies from the front of each camshaft (see our article on Camshaft Timing and Vanos Unit Installation). Use a zip tie or some wire to secure the timing chain (blue arrow)—you don’t want this to fall into the recesses of the engine when you remove the cylinder head.
Figure 10
Remove the cylinder head bolts with a special BMW Torx deep socket tool (11-2-250). The bolts will be tight and difficult to remove, but if your tool is in good condition, you should have no problems removing all of them (14 total for six-cylinder engines). The bolts are hidden underneath the camshafts, so you will have to maneuver your tool past the camshafts to reach them.
Figure 11
Remove the camshaft position sensor (see photos in Project 14) and disconnect the last remaining connections to the cylinder head. The small electrical connections pull out after releasing the small spring wire retainer. Don’t forget the hose attached to the rear of the cylinder head that supplies the heater core (inset). Also disconnect and loosen the exhaust manifold (see our Exhaust Manifold Replacement article).
Figure 12
With everything disconnected, the cylinder head should be loose on the engine block. Tap it with a rubber mallet and it should start to lift off of the block. If it doesn’t budge, then chances are that you forgot to disconnect something that is holding it down. It’s not uncommon to forget to remove a cylinder head bolt. Count the cylinder head bolts and make sure that you have 14 of them prior to your removal attempt (six-cylinder engines). As the head begins to lift off of the engine block, tilt it slightly toward the exhaust manifold and grab the timing chain. Tie off the timing chain with some wire or a zip tie so it will not fall into the recesses of the engine block.
Figure 13
Shown here is the head is coming off of the engine. Untie the timing chain from the top of the head, and secure it at the top of the engine block (blue arrow). Triple-check that everything attached to the head is now disconnected. The cylinder head is very heavy, and the angle for lifting while you’re standing in front of it is very challenging. I do not recommend lifting the head off the car by yourself—get someone to help you lift the rearmost part of the head. If you attempt to lift the head off of the engine and something catches on your way up, it will be difficult to put it back down again without crushing or potentially damaging something.
Figure 14
Since you are removing the cylinder head from the engine, I recommend that you take it to a machine shop for evaluation and reconditioning (see Photo 17). Prior to taking it to the shop, you can remove the camshafts. Most machine shops won’t have the specific knowledge or the BMW factory tool to remove the camshafts safely. You can remove them yourself without the tool by following Project 11. Be careful, though—if you don’t proceed cautiously, you can bend and break the camshafts. In this photo, the long, thin BMW E36 six-cylinder camshaft has been removed from the cylinder head.
Figure 15
BMW calls this the camshaft bearing ledge; it keeps the hydraulic lifters in place and also supports and provides lubrication to the camshafts as they are running. The inset photo shows the hydraulic lifters in place. When you lift the bearing ledge out of the head, the lifters will fall out of their respective bores. Pay close attention to each lifter’s location—you’ll need to replace each lifter into its original bore to reduce wear on the bearing ledge and camshafts.
Figure 16
Here’s a close-up of the bearing ledge with the hydraulic lifters. When removing the bearing ledge, I quickly put the hydraulic lifters back into their bores so there’s no chance of misplacing or inserting any into the wrong bore. Also, keep the intake and exhaust bearing ledges separate. Although they look similar, they are very different and cannot be interchanged. With the lifters removed, clean out any sludge in the recesses of the bearing ledge. Flip the bearing ledges upside down and drop in each of the lifters. Don’t accidentally turn the bearing ledge around so the lifter that should go in one end actually goes in the other end. Take the entire assembly, with the lifters, and store it in a safe place, covered in plastic.
Figure 17
After the head is off the car, take it to your machine shop. Have the shop remove all the valves and clean it up in the bead blaster and parts washer. When the head is clean, problems like the one shown in this photo are easier to see. This particular head has a rather nasty crack in it (red arrows). Left undiscovered, this problem would have caused the replacement head gasket to fail shortly after it was installed, as coolant would have leaked around this crack. The moral of the story is that if you are doing all the work to get your cylinder head off the engine, take it to a machine shop to be inspected and freshened up.
Figure 18
The repair process is not too difficult for an experienced machinist. The area around the crack is machined out so no traces of the crack remain. After the head is preheated in an oven to several hundred degrees, the aluminum is welded and the area is filled with replacement aluminum material. Finally, the area is reground and the mating surface machined flat. In this photo, it’s difficult to see any remaining traces of the machine work, other than a few grinding scratches on the inside of the combustion chamber.
Figure 19
This is what the freshened head has returned from the machine shop. All the valves have been measured, ground, and lapped to the valve seat. The crack has been repaired, and the entire mating surface has been machined flat. Don’t forget to reinstall the oil pressure check valve on the bottom of the cylinder head. If you forget this piece, you will have engine oil pressure problems. Nothing is worse than buttoning up your entire engine—only to look over at your workbench and see this tiny check valve still sitting there.
Figure 20
A typical cylinder head gasket set. Depending on the make or model of your car, you might have one or two small sealing rings or O-rings left over. Don’t be alarmed, as this is somewhat normal. A: Front VANOS seal (metal). B: Valve cover gasket. C: Cylinder head gasket. D: Oil filter housing O-ring (small O-ring for oil filter too). E: Camshaft position sensor O-ring. F: Fuel injector O-rings: G: Valve seals and protective boots. H: Assorted copper and aluminum sealing rings. I: Rear heater core hose fitting seal. J: Intake manifold to throttle body seal. K: Thermostat housing seal. L: Exhaust manifold gaskets. M: Lower exhaust gaskets. N: Intake manifold to cylinder head seals. O: Spark plug hole seals. Additional sealing rings and O-rings: oil filter set (one tiny black O-ring, one big black O-ring, three small crush gaskets) VANOS oil line sealing rings (four), and VANOS solenoid O-ring.
Figure 21
Before mounting the cylinder head back onto the engine, clean up the engine block and pistons a bit. Using a plastic cleaning wheel attached to an electric drill, carefully brush off the dirt and debris from the cylinder head mating surface on the engine block. Do not drop any gasket material or debris into the oil or cooling ducts on the surface. First, remove the larger chunks of gasket material with a razor blade, but be sure not to scratch the mating surface. Try to get it as clean as possible. Do not spill any oil or debris into the threaded holes in the engine block where the cylinder head bolts attach. These must be kept perfectly clean, or you will not achieve the proper torque settings for the head bolts. If oil or dirt does get into these holes, clean them out with brake cleaner and lint-free cloths. To clean the tops of the pistons, remove the flywheel lock and rotate the engine until each piston is at the top of the engine block surface (inset, upper right). Then clean each one with the drill and brush. When you’re done, go over each surface with alcohol and a lint-free cloth to ensure the surface is as clean as possible, and to help prevent dirt from contaminating your head gasket.
Figure 22
If your car displayed fuel injection trouble codes prior to the head gasket problem, now would be a good time to revisit them (see Project 28 and Project 29 for instructions on reading the fault codes). There are a few sensors that are best accessed and replaced when the intake manifold has been removed, including the cam position sensor (see our cam sensor replacement article), the crankshaft position sensor (see Project 15), and the two knock sensors. This photo shows the knock sensor for cylinders 1 through 3. If you have had problems with your car knocking, or the computer has shown you a fault code for one of the two knock sensors, replace them now. They are impossible to replace with the intake manifold in place.
Figure 23
Clean each lifter carefully with a lint-free cloth. I recommend using Kimwipes, which I discovered while working in clean rooms, building satellites. You can find them at They are perfect for cleaning intricate engine parts where you don’t want paper fibers or debris contaminating tiny oil passages. When each lifter is clean, dip it in fresh motor oil. Use whatever motor oil you plan to use when you refill the car. Press down on the inside of the lifter while it’s submerged so that you can clean out the internal passages as well as possible. (This car had its entire oil system contaminated with coolant, so it was especially important to clean everything.) Failure to do this carefully may result in what is known as a noisy lifter—one that doesn’t completely engage. This can lead to degradation in engine performance.
Figure 24
Carefully clean the inside of each lifter bore with lint-free Kimwipes Use isopropyl alcohol or brake cleaner if there is any gunk or grime you can’t remove with elbow grease alone. Soak each lifter in oil prior to putting it back into the bearing ledge. Be liberal with the engine oil, as the oil supply to the engine will be sparse when you first start it up.
Figure 25
With the bearing ledge and lifters liberally coated in engine oil, tip the cylinder head on its side and insert the lifters into the head. Make sure none of the lifters fall out of the ledge as you reinstall it onto the cylinder head. Carefully balance the head on its side while holding the bearing ledge with one hand (you should be able to do this alone). Install the intake ledge on the intake side, and the exhaust ledge on the exhaust side. When the first ledge is placed onto the head, keep it in place by installing two camshaft bearing caps on either end. When you go to install the second bearing ledge, the first one won’t fall out.
Figure 26
This photo shows the head with the camshafts installed. This installation process is tricky and can easily break the camshafts. See Project 11 for more information on removing and installing the camshafts.
Figure 27
Install the head sensors back into their respective ports with new sealing rings. If these were to leak after you start the engine, it would be necessary to remove the intake manifold again. Insert a new O-ring into the cam sensor hole. Double-check that you have properly installed the oil pressure check valve that seats into the bottom of the cylinder head (see Photo 19). If you forget to install it, you will have to tear down and remove the head all over again or you will forever have oil pressure problems with your engine.
Figure 28
Install the flange for the heater core hose onto the rear of the cylinder head. Don’t forget to reattach this hose when you reinstall the head on the engine block. Use a new gasket for this flange.
Figure 29
Clean the surface of the head and the engine block with brake cleaner and lint-free Kimwipes. If you didn’t have the cylinder head resurfaced at a machine shop (recommended), make sure that any residue from the old head gasket has been removed. The head needs to be perfectly clean in order to maintain a proper seal. Don’t skimp on the cleaning process—it is of paramount importance.
Figure 30
When the engine block is clean enough to eat off of, lay the new head gasket on the block. For machined cylinder heads, there is a 0.3-millimeter-thicker gasket available to compensate for the reduced material thickness on the head. If you don’t use this gasket, the head will be slightly closer to the pistons, and the engine will have a slightly higher compression ratio. In most cases, using the standard thickness gasket is fine (you have to buy the thicker gasket separately, as it is more expensive than the standard thickness gasket and is not included in gasket sets). Before you install the cylinder head, remove the flywheel lock and rotate the engine about 30 degrees all the pistons off the top of the engine block. Doing this prevents the valves from touching the tops of the pistons when you install the cylinder head and time the cams. This step is very important, so don’t forget or skip it.
Figure 31
Each cylinder head bolt has a special washer that goes underneath it. Use only the special washers—don’t substitute them with others. Lining the washer up with the hole can be tricky. I use a long screwdriver to help with this. Place the washer on the screwdriver. Then place the screwdriver in the hole, while holding the washer. Then let go of the washer, and it should fall down right over the hole.
Figure 32
Placing the head back on the engine block is a two-person job. As one person lowers the head, the other must thread the timing chain up through the front of the cylinder head. Do not let it drop into the recesses of the engine, as it can be difficult to fish out and align with the lower crankshaft sprocket. Once the chain is through the front of the head, tie it up with a zip tie or some wire. In this photo, the head carefully rests on top of the engine block as we manipulate the chain. After the chain is secured, move the head and locate it onto the top of the head gasket.
Figure 33
Tighten the head bolts with a calibrated torque wrench. The cylinder head bolts are a stretch-bolt design, which means they deform when tightened to their desired torque setting and should only be tightened once. If you find that you’ve forgotten to install something or made some other mistake and need to remove the cylinder head again, you must use new cylinder head bolts, since the ones that have already been tightened are no longer any good. After you tighten the cylinder head bolts, install and tighten the two small Torx bolts that attach the head to the front timing chain cover (holes shown by blue arrows on the right).
Figure 34
Shown here is the tightening order for the cylinder head. Start with the first one and work your way out to number 14. The cylinder head bolts are tightened using a special process. The bolts are tightened to a specific value, and then they are turned a number of additional degrees (typically 90 degrees). This ensures a more accurate value for tightening the bolts. For the cylinder head, torque each of the bolts up to 80 percent of the jointing torque value, following the order in this photo. Then go back in the same order and torque them up to the final jointing torque. After that, turn the torque wrench through the specified torque angle. You can find the specifications for each of the E36 engines at
Figure 35
With the cylinder head attached to the engine block, you can now time the camshafts. First, align the camshafts at TDC and install the camshaft alignment tool (BMW tool 11-3-240). The two dots on the camshafts should face upward. Only after the camshafts have been properly aligned at TDC, move the crankshaft back to TDC and reinstall the flywheel lock pin. You are now ready to set the camshaft timing (see our article on Camshaft Timing and Vanos Unit Installation).
Figure 36
Don’t forget to attach the heater core hose to the rear of the cylinder head. If you don’t attach this hose, the coolant will spill all over the ground, and you will sit there wondering what you forgot to connect.
Figure 37
With the camshafts properly timed and the camshaft tool removed, add the engine oil. I prefer to add the oil at this point because I can pour it all over the camshafts and lifters to ensure that they are properly lubricated when I start the engine. When you’ve completed the installation and are ready to start it up, pull out the fuel injection computer (DME) relay and let the engine turn over a few times to build up oil pressure. On this particular car, I encountered a sticky lifter problem, which resulted in a “clack-clack-clack” noise when the car started up. This is normal in the first few minutes after the head gasket replacement. If the sticky lifter problem doesn’t go away, then I recommend changing your oil to a thinner viscosity. On this car, the sticky lifter refused to go away until I emptied the oil and replaced it with Mobil-1 synthetic. If the engine was highly contaminated with coolant, try changing the oil three times within the first 50 miles to flush any remnants of the coolant out of the system.
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Comments and Suggestions:
MarkOsideComments: I am going to open her up again to re-check the timing. Is it possible that when I did the timing last time, that I had the crankshaft off by one full rotation, i.e. the car think that it is on the compression stroke vs the purge stroke?
April 18, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the crankshaft was locked with the special locking pin tool, it should be OK. If cylinder 1 is up, it does not matter if it is compression or exhaust. The camshaft timing can be 180¯ out.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
DERComments: Yes, there is coolant flowing through the hole under the cap when idling.
What does the thermostat at the bottom of the expansion tank actually do?
April 12, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It stops and blocks coolant flow depending on temperature. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DERComments: Love your Tech articles! Very helpful.
I have a 2001 330ci with M54, Auto. Head gasket was blown and head warped. Replaced with verified "good" used rebuilt head. Went back together great and timed perfectly. Runs great...BUT still overheating. I have replaced water pump, thermostat, radiator and ex tank caponly. Filled and bled system but still will cook over after a day of driving. Have not replaced expansion tank or thermostat at the bottom of it. Water seems to remain in ex tank but not in upper radiator hose. Help!
April 11, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is coolant spraying out of the bleeder hole in the reservoir when the engine is idling? Have you checked if the engine thermostat is opening? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
markosideComments: Better description of previous post:
I just replaced the head on my e36 97 328i convertible. It will not run. It will crank a couple of times then fire up and then die immediately. I can keep the engine running if I give it some gas, but it does not sound "right". Hard to explain. Does this sound like timing?
April 10, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: TIming could be off. Easiest this to do at this point would be to lock the engine down again using timing tools, double check mechanical engine timing. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
cjsraleComments: Hi Nick,
I have an M42 94 318i...the car runs well for about 10 minutes but then I get a tremendous amount of pressure in the cooling system... Took the thermostat out and it didn't change anything...Thinking that the head gasket is shot and is allowing exhaust gas into the cooling system...Anything to check before I tear it apart? Great book by the way. Just bought it and lots of great advise.
April 9, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Does sound like a faulty head gasket. You can check for co2 in the cooling system. if you do not have that capability, I would pressure test the cooling system. If the system does not hold pressure and there are no external leaks, you may have a faulty head gasket.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
dboyComments: Hi guys I'm in the process of buying a 2006 E90 320i that blew the head gasket. I've just spoken to some people to do research and I was advised by one that even the block might be warped. Can this be? And what other problems could I pick up as a result of this?
April 7, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check for deck warping and the condition of the head bolt bores in the block. Be sure they are in good condition and will accept a torqued fastener. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bap215xComments: Hi I've got a 91 325ic. Noticed water leaking slowly the past Couple months and bought a radiator a few weeks ago since I saw traces of water near the top front by the fan. Long story short jiffy lube pulled out my whole oil guide tube and now is not secured-just sitting in its whole. Also ordered a new bracket for that. Since that incident a few weeks ago I've noticed a loud honing noise once I hit 2k rpm... What could this mean? Thanks so much
April 6, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Honking could be a faulty crankcase vent. It sounds like you repaired other faults. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
HNC512Comments: Hi there, I have a 1993 BMW 325i with a blown head gasket. I took off my head cylinder but there is a lot of coolant in my engine block. Does that mean my engine have a crack?
April 4, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Where in the block? If in the cylinders, that may have leaked in when you puled the head off. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
MarkOsideComments: Thanks for the guide. I just replaced the head on my e36 97 328i convertible. It will not start. It will crank a couple of times then fire up and then die immediately. Any ideas?
March 22, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I can't help without knowing what is missing from the system when you are trying to start it. When your engine doesn’t start you’ll want to check the basics. Check spark, fuel injector pulse and pressure fuel, volume and quality. Are there any fault codes? Once you figure out what is missing, it will be easier to diagnose.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
JohnmclaughlinComments: Great article - thank you! I have a 2000 323t and suspect I have a head gasket or head problem: coolant lose under load, no visible leaks. The car did overheat. 2 questions:

is there always coolant in the oil or vice versa? I my fluids do not seem contaminated but I do smell coolant in the exhaust but minimum steam at idle.

I see it recommended to test if the head bolts can be re-torqued before removing the head to validate that the threads in the block have not been damaged. Does one simply loosen the bolt and try tightening the the old bolt? Are damaged threads fairly obvious?
March 22, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Do not loosen the bolts first, just check to see if they are tight. See this tech article: Nick at Pelican Parts
bema323Comments: hello, i have 323i 1999 240,000km - was driving when coolant tank split, pulling over - could not put water back in as resovor tank was split had to drive 1km easy - then trailered home - replaced split tank, check water pump - replace thermostat & housing - top & bottom radiator hoses - coolant bleed system - problem started misfiring - test coils & plugs - all plug working - no water in oil-no small bubbles in radiator when warm & misfiring looked in each cylinder with camera - found plug causeing dead cylinder as i found dead cylinder then change to other cylinder - replaced all spark plugs, run fine for around 80km then misfired for about 10km - had to get to work so kept driving - after 10km it ran fine again - done another 40km with no issue - should i retenstion cyl head or somthing else, thanks Glenn
March 22, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like the head gasket may have failed. I would pressure test the cooling system. If the system does not hold pressure and there are no external leaks, you may have a faulty head gasket.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
KarlComments: Hello and thank you for the great DIY info. I have been following the guide to replace the head gasket on my 2002 325i. The head is at the machine shop and while cleaning the block I saw a gouge by the cylinder bore that really concerns me. Will this cause the head gasket to leak again?? If so, what should I do? Machine the block? Thanks for your input.
February 18, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hard to say without measuring the depth and seeing it myself. You may be able to have it repaired by a machine shop. This may be your best bet. They may be able to add material, then remachine it. I would take a photo of the damage to whoever is machining the head and get some advice. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Chris MastersComments: Hi,

I've got a Euro e36 with an M52B28 lump in, I'm removing the head, can anyone tell me what size E socket I need for the two smaller torx bolts at the front of the cylinder head? I undone the main 14 studs and
February 16, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think the are E8. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jimmyComments: why am I having a hard time removing the clutch fan on my 92 bmw 325i?
February 8, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure, what part of the procedure are you having trouble with? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
peteComments: Replaced head gasket, timing correct, replaced crank sensor, engine cranks but wont start. Cant hear fuel pump, immobiliser says active, and crank error code still present please help
February 7, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Immobiliser active means the theft system will not allow the vehicle to start. Try a different key, or relearn the EWS.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
Michael H.Comments: Maybe I am not looking hard enough, but do you guys mention anything special about disconnecting the exhaust off the head? Or is it self explanatory? Thanks!
February 2, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will have to unbolt the manifolds. It is pretty straight forward. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
cbpageComments: 2007 328i, Oil POOR! Even smoking from oil dripping down onto exhaust manifold. Replaced valve cover gasket, but had horrible knocking noise afterwards. Towed to BMW dealer to see what went wrong. They called and said that valve cover gasket replacement was fine, and the noise was simply the lifters. They flushed the oil twice & noise is gone. However, they are now saying that they noticed traces of water in the oil when the car was brought in; and probably due to a failing water pump. I only find this hard to belive because I've never had to add coolant, never had any kind of warning light, and car never overheated! They are also stating that water pump failure probably caused the oil leak at valve cover.
Make sense to you?
January 22, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I do not see how the water pump could cause a valve cover leak or vice a versa. I would get a second opinion. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jpComments: hi ive just replaced the head gasket on my bmw x5 i followed to the letter on replacing it had new filter and oil too and starting it back up but for some reason it wont fire up although there is a good spark there :/
January 11, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Do you have fuel? If so, check engine compression. The timing may be off. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
MMCanComments: I likely have a blown head gasket on my M44. Radiator expansion tank is almost empty. I see the cream color on my oil filler cap and the same cream color on the top of my oil dipstick. I smelt burnt oil and found that oil had escaped from around the oil filler cap. When I opened the cap a lot of fumes escaped under a lot of pressure. But the engine never overheated, it idles and runs smoothly and I don't have excessive white steam in the exhaust. I have not heard about the excessive pressure in the valve cover before so I'm wondering if this is an indication that I have cracked the head or worse the block rather than just a blown gasket? Thanks for the write up and thanks in advance for your reply.
December 14, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: if you suspect a bad head gasket, you will have to test for the presence of co2 in the cooling system. This is the most accurate way ti be sure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
RobotJackComments: I am getting ready to re-install the head on my 1993 BMW 325i. Do I put anti-seize, seal-tite, or oil on the bolts threads for the Flange for the heater core? What is the torque specification for the heater core Flange bolts? When installing the head sensors and O-rings, do I need to use anti-seize, seal-tite, or oil to the threads? For some reason the studs came out when I was removing the exhaust manifold nuts. Do I use anti-seize on the stud threads going into the block or do I just put anti-seize on the nuts?
December 14, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would lubricate the seals or O-rings with what fluid they are sealing.

I don't have the torque specs handy. I opened a post in our forums. A community memmber might be able to answer your questions.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
amirsalarComments: Hi guys
I am changing my bmw 318 ti head gasket but I am not sure how much do I have to tighten up the bolts. please help me know about it.
December 11, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You didn't mention the year of your vehicle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mpower2kComments: 1998 528i leaking something?
The car has been sitting for three days. Came home today and saw a beer foam looking leak on the driveway. Car has been driving fine, but has had a slight oil leak that I haven't fixed. I've never seen a leak like's whitish yellow and there is alot.
December 5, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like a mix of coolant and oil all foamed up. Check oil dipstick and look carefully at the far end (bottom) of the dipstick. Similarly, look inside the radiator top and look for that foam. If you find it, it's a possible indication of a blown head gasket. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DresComments: I have a 1989 325i that has oil in the coolant reservoir, but it is NOT chalky white rather, there are beads of properly colored oil floating in the reservoir and on the surface and the oil on the dipstick and in the pan is perfectly fine. Engine performance is also where it should be. Am I looking at a blown head gasket, or is there something else wrong? I can't figure it out.
November 28, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: This could be a faulty head gasket or a faulty transmission cooler.

I would pressure test the cooling system. If the system does not hold pressure and there are no external leaks, you may have a faulty head gasket.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
VESA_local_busComments: I followed these instructions to the letter, only I made my camshaft holding blocks, and the project was a huge success. My 95 E36 is running better than she ever has, got the parts from you as well!!! Thanks for the article otherwise I never would of attempted this and it saved me a minimum of 1200 hundred!!! Thanks Pelican!
November 24, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Glad we could help - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
CosmoComments: 1994 318is..
Radiator ring was bad that holds the hose coming from the engine.Causing hose to pop off and engine to over heat. happened 1 time. Replaced rad/therm. No leaks when tested.Car had not overheated yet because I have keep up with refiling the coolant... Keeps losing coolant when I drive and have white smoke coming out of exhaust with a strange smell. Am getting coolant in the oil.. Blown/Cracked head gasket? Or what else could it be?
Any advice? Thanks
November 20, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like a bad head gasket. I would pressure test the cooling system. If it doesn't hold pressure and there are no external leaks, the head gasket may be faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jakester75Comments: Nick,
Thanks for the info. With the key on, i tested the green + and brown - wires, OK. The 97 318ti has only one coil, the brick bolted to the pass side strut tower. As for the DME trigger wire you referred to as the third wire, i tested the remaining three wires on the female plug that attaches to the coil, and found no power, the key is still on. My motorcycle tech said that i would not be able to detect the DME trigger, as it is a micro pules and would need a digital multimeter to complete the test. I'm still lost, but feel close, is he right, or could it be this mysterious "immobilizer"? one my clue please and thanks.
November 19, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can test the coil trigger using a scope. If your vehicle start is being blocked my immobilizer, there will be a fault code stored. You might want to check this before digging any deeper. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jakester75Comments: I swapped the head gasket on my 97 318ti 1.9 m44 and now it won't start. engine turns over but no spark. all wires and plugs found their home during reassembly. pulled a relay and it would not turn over, put it back in and turned but no start. ECU or immobilizer?
November 17, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: With the key on you should have power at the green wire of the coil and ground on the brown wire. The third wire will be the trigger from the dme. Check for power, ground and a signal from the dme, this will help you figure out where to start.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
JaredComments: What thickness of gasket do you recommend for a standard a e46? 0.70mm, or + 0.3 1.0mm?
October 28, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the head has not been machined use the stock gasket, the thicker gaskets are for heads that have been cut. On a stock head a thicker gasket will lower compression.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
TuanComments: I just removed the head today. It turned out there were 2 more smaller star bolts in the front of the head that need to be removed. One near the thermostat housing and the other one on the exhaust side. My head didn't budge and I was trying to figure out why. I use the E8 star socket for them. My question is whether I need to replace these bolts also or I can reuse them.
October 16, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The small bolts at the timing cover can be reused. The had bolts cannot. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
dj288Comments: Thanks but I have a follow up question. Started the tear down and I am ready to loosen and try to re-torque. Before doing so, if I am not prepared to swap the motor, and if you assume the bolts will not re-torque/hold, would I be better off leaving it alone, reassembling, maybe trying some to Barrs or similar product. My concern is that the bolts are tight now, so if I loosen and then they don't hold, am I accelerating the ultimate end of the motor. I recognize that the present situation means a failure down the line, but that would at least allow for a few more miles.

October 8, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the bolts will not re-torque then you will find the head will also be warped, you can try Barrs but from my experience it is a waste of time,
- Nick at Pelican Parts
DJ288Comments: Trying to determine if a have bad head gasket/cracked/warped head in my 2001 330Ci. 225k miles. Loosing coolant without overheat last few weeks than wife drove and backpressure in system caused leak through overflow. Checked compression and get 190/190/175/150/115/190 so not good in the mid range an #5 spot but oil is clean and combustion test came up clean liquid held blue. Did have prior overheat last summer, fixed but got vapor locked and overheated again so car ended up be driven short stints until would hit red, then pulled over, cooled down, add coolant, repeat until back to garage to fix my error. Never went into limp mode but gauge hit the red light. History, symptom and compression test suggest head gasket but combustion tests and oil check suggest otherwise. Any other possibilities for I tear into the motor?
September 17, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Seems like the head gasket or the head might be damaged, you can perform a leak down test to see where it it leaking. I would also loosen the head bolts and retorque one at a time. Start with the bolts around cylinder 4 and 5. The threads are known to pull out in blocks that have been overheated. If you can't retorque them you will have to replace the whole motor.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
bass66Comments: had a cracked head changed head on 528i some time had passed before putting it back together started it up lots of white smoke from exhaust is that normal
September 16, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Some smoke after you start it is normal, but it should stop after the car has ran for 15 or 20 min. After that you should look for coolant leaking at the head gasket.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
ExWrenchComments: Thanks for input. How strongly would you recommend the need for specialty tools such as the TDC flywheel pin and cam alignment locks? I am experienced and used to fashioning my own specialty tools but have experienced sometimes it is better to work around vs. just buy for a one time job. I would likely only do a single valve job and would have specialty tools gathering dust in my tool box afterwards. Is it worth it to buy the dealer tools vs. working around on my own?
September 9, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You do need the blocks and pin to time the engine it is almost impossible to do it without them.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
ExWrenchComments: I have a 2005 X5 3.0i. It is setting code fault for cylinder #1 misfire and Cylinder #1 has low compression ~65psi cranking as compared to ~95psi on cylinder 2.

1 What is best way to set engine to cylinder 1 compression TDC to do a proper leakdown is there a clear crank pulley mark?
2 Is there anything to check that could cause a poor valve seal before removing the head. Can a lifter stick leaving a valve slightly open? Is there any way to check lifter travel or cam clearance or is it a good bet a valve leak would be caused by a valve / seat issue?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
September 6, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is a small mark on the crank pulley, or you could install the crank pin in the flywheel to hold it at TDC. A lifter could stick in the bore of the lifter carrier but that is going to be very hard to see and measure because of the design of the cams. A bent valve would hang open, or damage to the valve seat would cause leak down at he valve. Also make sure that you don't have a leaking fuel injector, this will wash down the cylinder wall and cause low compression. If you add some oil to the cylinder through the spark plug hole and crank the motor and recheck compression and it goes up the problem in in the rings if it stays the same it is in the head gasket or valves.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
normComments: 1996 328is changing head gasket and using a new head do I still need flywheel lock and cam positioning lock?
September 2, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. You will still have to properly time the engine. If not, valve damage can occur. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jackiesprattComments: I found oil in my coolant tank after the coolant light came on. The car also overheated. The radiator is new, the fan clutch is new, the coolant tank and sensor are new. No white smoke from exhaust pipe. What could be my problem?
September 1, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a leaking head gasket or a cracked head, perform a compression and leak down test to see where the problem is. Both tests require special tools. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right tool.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
BOSSComments: hi i am currently in the proccess of a complete head gasket and head replacement on my 94 325i vanos m50 and i have taken my cracked head off at tdc and the block is locked with the flywheel locking pin.however the camshafts on my new head are not set at tdc how do i adjust those camshafts so i can set them at tdc and install the alignment/lockin tool so i can finish timing my camshafts and vanos unit??
August 16, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the head if off the car just turn the cams with a wrench, if the head is on the car and bolted down, remove the crank pin, hold the timing chain in one hand and turn the motor backwards about 15 degrees. This should put all of the pistons down in the bore so you can turn the cams without damage, after setting the cam timing hold the chain and turn the motor back and install the locking pin and blocks to time the motor
- Nick at Pelican Parts
MuammarComments: i recently changed bent valves inlets on my BMW 330i, the engine still does not start and it sounds like its having a free run. could they valves have bent again before starting? please help
August 3, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the engine wasn't timed correctly before you started it, you may have bent the new valve. Check engine compression to see if is infact faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
chuy66Comments: HI. I have a '94 325i. When you use the crank locking tool. The piston is actually at TDC and the marks of damper pulley and timming cover cioncide? Or may be a little offset? Because when I install it, the piston is little lower and the marks do not match. I appreciate any response.
July 30, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The crank pin is not in the correct hole in the flywheel the toning marks should line up with the crank pin installed correctly, spray some lube on the pin, it will make it easier to get it in the hole.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
TwofaceComments: Well its me again. You were right, totally missed a vacuum leak under the intake. Idles much better :D Buuuuuut, I have a slight other problem :/ Now it idles, but it seems like it has a small miss, and it hesitates when you first give it the gas. Do you think it could be out of time just a hair? But it smooths out when its at like 800 rpms +
July 21, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check fuel pressure and volume, and scan for codes, make sure there are no more vacuum leaks.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
RonComments: I have a 1995 525ia; I am in the process of removing the cylinder head due to overheating and low compression in the #3 cylinder. My problem is my Vanos unit removal! The Vanos unit taps free to about 1/2” out and sticks! When I pull and push back and forth on it, it makes a loud oily type sucking sound then sticks, I then push it back into position and repeated the pulling it off and on, every time it stops approximately 1/2" out. I cannot find or see any scratches, visible marks, or burs on the Vanos gear plunger. Has anyone come across this problem before? I do not want to force or pry on the unit to remove it. Is there something I have missed or another step that might remedy this unit from sliding off easily? Can I remove the cylinder head with the Vanos unit attached?
July 17, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like you have to rotate the exhaust camshaft slightly to release the VANOS acutator. Try wiggling the actuator back and forth while rotating the camshaft sprocket. BMW makes a special tool to rotate the exhaust camshaft sprocket.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Two FaceComments: I prob shoulda explained it a little better. It wont idle at all when you let off the gas. You have to hold the pedal to around 800 rpms on up. Once its around 1500 its pretty smooth. But if you let off, it gets rough below 800 and dies. Done a recent head swap off a M3 but the head casting was the same so no loss of compression. Bimmers are common to have a cracked head, mine was in 4 places :/ But we do have an exhaust leak where the manifold bolts to the head and its pretty bad. So im wondering if that could be effecting it.
July 16, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Exhaust leak probably not. Sounds more like a vacuum leak. Spray carb spray around till you find the leak - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Two faceComments: There are quite a few connectors that are the same. The car dose t want to idle right. If you give it the gas and hold it around 1000 rpms it smooths out. Any ideas?
July 16, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like you might have a vacuum leak affecting your idle speed. Try spraying carb spray around the intake and see if you spray in a certain area and the rpm smooths out you have found your leak - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Two faceComments: Do you have a plug in diagram for this engine. I can't seem to figure it out
July 15, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: No. The connectors will end up in about the place they came out, you will then have to match them up. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bass66Comments: got head gasket kit for 528i do any of the gaskets need gasket sealer
July 11, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You'll want to apply some silicone sealant along the the joining edges of the timing cover and cylinder head. That is allt hat comes to mind. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DmillsComments: I have a 1995 BMW 325i with a blown head gasket and a radiator leak... how much do you estimate the labor and parts to cost all together
July 3, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Prices vary by region. Give a local BMW shop a call and have them quote the repair for you. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
18Pukas525i5speedComments: Input for figure 30. Check and insure that the crank position sensor wire is clear of the cylinder head during instal. It may be crushed or interfere.
June 14, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional information. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
niecyComments: I have a 2002BMW745LI, I got a reading saying low coolant,then the engine malfuction light came on my car shook .When i got home car was smoking, when i lift the hood I say coolant.Do u think thats my radiator?
June 9, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: When the low coolant light comes on. you want to immediately pull over and check the coolant level.

You may have overheated your engine. Start by locating the coolant leak, pressure test the cooling system. Then once you can get engine t hold coolant, run and check that it doesn't overheat. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Bass66Comments: I can't get head off am I missing a bolt somewhere? 1998 528i the head is loose in the back and tight in the front near the water pump housing - maybe just stuck? PLEASE HELP
May 13, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check that you didn't miss the bolts near the timing cover. if I remember correctly, there are 16 or 17 bolts that have to be removed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
omendezComments: Hi Ben, I have a 2006 E90 320i, my question is, I was loosing coolant through the cap of the expansion tank, I replaced the cap and the expansion tank, and still leaks, also every time I open the expansion tank to check the level it releases air pressure, it has never overheated, but the head was removed like 9 months ago for replacing valve stems seals, cause it was consuming oil. this problem started like 1 month ago. Do you think is the head gasket? The oil doesn't seem to have any coolant in it as the coolant doesn't seem to have any oil in it.
May 4, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If your vehicle is running hotter than normal and you have excess pressure in your cooling system, ther emay be an issue witht he headgasket. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BMW511Comments: Hello to Wayne and tech staff at PP....
In the I was seeking ADVISE on how to get my 1990 525ibaby from overheating.... no response.... did you guys my mail? here.... can you all resposed so I know that my mail being received.......Thx
April 26, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would inspect your cooling system components. Start with the thermostat and water pump. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
iryti71Comments: Just to make sure before I dive into this....this procedure will work with a 2002 330ci e46 with an m54 engine?
April 26, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The procedure is similar but an M54 engine has different camshaft timing componenets and a few other differences. I suggest grabbing a repair manual. Give our parts specialists a call, they will help you find the right one: 1-888-280-7799 - Nick at Pelican Parts  
HandshakeComments: 2001 325ci recently changed water pump and thermostat, thought I kicked a fat hog until starting it up and it's running hot. Have added about 2 gallons of coolant and seems to be disappearing. Thermostat doesn't appear stuck, no water visible on dipstick. How do I find if head gasket or possibly getting into transmission?..
April 25, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can look for mixed oil in the engine or transmission. It is also wise to check the cooling system for CO2, if present this indicates a faulty head gasket. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
n/aComments: looking for a crank sensor for a bmw 523i 2005
and price
February 14, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call, they will help you find the right part: 1-888-280-7799 - Nick at Pelican Parts  
MKM455GPComments: Thank you for a great write up, I followed every step when I was replacing my headgasket it took me 2 days to do the whole job. Thanks to Pelican Team, you are the best you saved me some money and helped to know my car Thanks a million times
December 14, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback, glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
salteedogComments: Don't forget to do a valve adjust/ lash if needed. I also flushed the coolant and changed the filter and oil as it was almost impossible to me, anyway, to ensure no debris fell into the oil and coolant passages in the engine block as I cleaned the block mating surface. Make sure the cylinder head is at TDC before you bolt it to the block. Assuming the block is still at TDC where you left it, the cylinder head COULD come back from the shop not at TDC. So, use the alignment marks on the cylinder head and camshaft sprocket to check. If not at TDC, you can correct.
December 7, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional information. We appreciate the help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
salteedogComments: I pulled the head on my '87 325 2.7L straight 6. I took it to a trusted shop and had it milled and inspected. I had the shop check the valve guides for wear and replace all of the the valve stem oil seals. I pulled the camshaft and disassembled the head and bagged and tagged the parts before giving to the shop. This way I could see the condition of parts, etc. I provided the shop with a head gasket kit which contain the seals used with the head so they could use the kit for their reassembly and return it to me so I could finish the rest of the job. Always use new head bolts, and you can re-use the head bolt washers. You must follow the proper torque sequence and have a good torque wrench. The other thing to consider is removing any carbon from the piston heads and ensuring the block mating surface to the cylinder head is super clean too. I didn't use old school gasket scrapers but a scotch-brite type pad that attached to my drill. This cleaned the piston heads and block mating surface well. I used silver rtv for anything with coolant water pump, thermostat housing, water neck, and sensors body and black for anything with oil like the end plugs on the cyl. head and oil pan gasket and also for the intake manifold gaskets. Of course, no rtv for the valve cover or head gasket. It's a good time to consider a timing belt change, if applicable, new o-rings for the injectors, and coolant hoses.
December 7, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional information. We appreciate the help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Damon EarlComments: I've noticed through many forums people that follow your guide get stuck on taking the head off. There is no mention of the front small three bolts that are usually covered in oil. I think that updating the page to include those instructions would help many people out in the future.
December 2, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
stanmiguelComments: hi i bought ARP studs... helicoiled every hole on my 528i and on the last torque,..sires of 3 to 85 lbs the rear two dont wanna click off on my snap on torque wrench.... what do i do.... fack !!!
November 17, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Are the rear studs pulling out? If the Hel-coils are not holding, you might have to repair the thread using a Timesert kit. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
miky59Comments: when replacing the head gasket on my 323i i noticed 2 head bolthole threads in aliminuim block are strpped how can i repair these
October 17, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: This is very common. You can use Timeserts to repair the holes. However, I prefer to replace the engine at this point. If some of the bolt holes are faulty, the other may not be far behind. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tony GComments: Does it matter if the engine is t TDC on compression or exhaust?
October 11, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The pistons no, As long as they are in the right orientation before you install the cylinder head. The camshafts yes. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JuniorComments: I need my 1997 328i head gasket replaced and I work for a dealer willing to do it for me at a good price. I just need to find the tools to get the job done.
October 1, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The dealer should have the tool set. If you need to buy a set, give our parts specialists a call, they will set you up: 888-280-7799 - Nick at Pelican Parts  
leoComments: Hello, i have been searching around but i can not find the torque specification for the cylinder head, can i please get some help?. Also Is there any other torque specification i should know about while installing my engine? Thank you
August 31, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The caption for figure 34 mentions how tofind the torque specs:

You can find the specifications for each of the E36 engines at Nick at Pelican Parts
minnie123Comments: We rent the tools out for $31.00 per week Includes shipping to you! USPS $140.00 deposit paid with PAY-PAL

and when the tools are returned to me we refund the difference back to you the same way , PAYPAL So the

total is $141.00 minus the $31.00 for the week refunded back to Pay-Pal is $109.00 You pay the return

shipping when you return the tools back to us around $6.00 USPS MUST HAVE TRACKING NUMBER! with this you


Set of five tools include

1. Cam set Ref: 113240 used for proper alignment and securing of BMW cam shaft while assembling timing


2. Plus T.D.C. Pin Ref: 112300 TDC Locking Pin. Applicable: BMW Model M42, M44, M50, M52, M52TU

3. Plus Vanos - Sprocket Turning Tool 115490 For turning sprockets when removing and installing VANOS unit


applications include: BMW Engine M50, M52, M50 US, M52 US

4. Plus Tensioner/Lock Pin 113292 Applicable: M50, M52, M54

5. Headbolt Tool for BMW Removing cylinder Head Bolts
Item: MK-5011-E12 BMW Torx deep socket tool 11-2-250.
August 10, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the info. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
islandman911Comments: im redoing the head gasket on my 82 320i do i need to change the bolts with new ones
July 29, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. Always replace your head bolts when they are removed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JamesComments: Also, would it be possible for a tool list? And any part replacements. Just so I can be prepared. Thanks again!
May 15, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. The parts are listed at the article beginning. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JamesComments: So I have a '96 328i, it's got a coolant leak in the passenger side of the engine, dripping down to my exhaust, it starts smoking unless I turn on my fan in the car. It also has trouble starting from a cold start. Aswell as has a rough idle. In addition I seem to be losing oil. I'm pretty sure it's a warped/blown headgasket, but any idea on something else? Thanks for any thoughts on this!
May 15, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would pressure test the cooling system, inspect the area of the leak. It could be the head gasket, there are not a lot of item on the right side of the engine to leak coolant. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ryan2298Comments: Just put new cylinder head on my '96 328i. I started it up afterwards and it started smoking on the exhaust side of the head.i know my exhaust manifolds are on properly and all gaskets are replaced. Please help. I have spent far to much time and money on this project for it not to work. Is this smoking normal? If so how long will it last?
May 12, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: First you have to determine if it is engine exhaust or a fluid burning off the engine. If it is a fluid burning off, the smoke should not last long. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bruceComments: y can i not find the 4 cylinder head gaskit chang on this site am i doing sumthink rong
May 8, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, the 4-cylinder engine is not listed. Grab yourself a repair manual. It will have the steps, torque specs and special tools needed for the repair. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bruceComments: i need step by step instruction on haw to remove and replace my timing chain on my bmw 1.6 coupe is a e36 becouse i need to chang my head gaskit and is a 4 cylinder thanks ps ples help me
May 8, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, the 4-cylinder engine is not listed. Grab yourself a repair manual. It will have the steps, torque specs and special tools needed for the repair. - Nick at Pelican Parts - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ChuckgM3Comments: I'm trying to determine if I have a blown head gasket in my 99 M3.

Reasons to think it is: Losing about 1qt of coolant per 100 mi., No visible coolant leak, Misfire codes on all 6 cyls.

Reasons to think it's not: Car never overheats assuming I keep coolant topped up, No loss in power, no water in the oil or vice versa.

Any help is much appreciated.
May 8, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Pressure test your cooling system. If it losing pressure and has no external leaks it could be the head gasket. Check the cylinders for signs of coolant intrusion. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
coolredlichComments: replaced head gasket head machined water droplets under valve cover after running not in oil help
May 3, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: you could have coolant remaining in the engine. Try changing the oil again. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
zezar32Comments: i have a 1999 bmw 328i e46, it overheated and water pass to the oil but it still runs.
i have removed all and when i replaced the head bolts, they cranked!
does the Cylinder Head Rethreader, 14mm Tap/Reamer will work ?
March 29, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The head bolt threads will have to repaired. You can use a system like the timesert. However, when a few fail, the others are not far behind. I prefer to replace the engine at this point. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
naco23Comments: I have a 1995 318i which I've been trying to start for almost a year. I ordered an unlocked dme and installed it and the car started up, although it didn't stay on. Like if it had a vacuum line disconnected. While it was running it was letting out a lot of smoke. Wasn't sure if it was white or blue because it was dark. I checked the oil and there didn't seem to be any sign of coolant or water. And the smoke smelled sorta like fireworks. I really want this car to run, I've spent a lot of money on it. Can you give me any advice??? I would really appreciate it. Thanks!!
March 16, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Pressure test the cooling system. If it hold pressure, check engine compression. Start with the basics. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ChicagoBobComments: I there a tool list for this job. Even a special tool list?
That would help a great deal.
And TDC. Do you have a picture for finding TDC?
Does the book contain more information?
Does anyone have a video?

March 13, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. We are working on the tool list. In the mean time, you could grab a repair manual, it would list all the tools required. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Got It Wrong AgainComments: Having probs getting refarence pics for valve timing on 2004 e46 316ti 1.8 N42b18..After renewing head gasket..Dont have Bm tool for C/shaft..or Cams...Or 200 hundred pound to buy what a have got is various other C/shaft locking pins..but nothing that would do the slots in the back of the camshafts.However i did mark everything up with a bottle of the wifes white nail polish before the strip down. bar the two front cam gears to the camshafts.'thought they would have been on location pegs or woodruffs..How WRONG was i could be doing with a bit help in the way of pics for this car...looks so differant from the other pics that show VANOS...this aint got it does have a variable valve timing inlet only Ajdjuster running along the top of the INNLET cam. Adjusted by an electric spiral motor ....not worked on this model before .any asistance would be V.V.V ERY MUCH APPRECIATED.
February 29, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: We don't have your engine in the US. I would grab a repair manual, it will have the photos and procedure steps you are looking for. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jo Comments: I am trying to remove the double vanos from a 99 bmw 528i I got the intake side off but cant get the exhaust side out any idea or how to's would be appreciated
February 27, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: This tech article should help you out: - Nick at Pelican Parts  
SongComments: Special tools for 97 BMW 328is engine head
February 17, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right tools. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
TimComments: Typically, what can I expect to pay for this service for my 1997 740i? Thank you Tim
February 6, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hard to say. Labor and part rates vary throughout the country. I would call and ask your local mechanic. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
99323Comments: The process of removing and replacing the cylinder head and doing the timing, why do you need to blow 2 to 8 bars of air in to the vanos system in that process? and what would happen if you did not do that step?
February 2, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The air helps to release the VANOS actuator by rotating it.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
rtwaitsComments: Hi
I just replaced my head with a rebuilt one. I did not know about the locator pin/dowel. I accidentally discovered one near Cylinder #1 and mistakenly thought it was an oil feed tube roughly positioned above the oil pump. I thought it convenient to also use to keep the head gasket in place. But it was the only one so I positioned the back part of the gasket by gently placing a head bolt into the engine towards the back, then adding the rest, getting them finger tight until I began the torque process. So after all that, I "found" the other dowel on the old head, near cylinder #6. Too late.

So do I need to redo all of this? Wont the bolts all line everything up, and the locator dowels more of a convenience? I suppose I *might* be able to inspect the hole from the topo of the head to be sure I dont see any part of the gasket in the way, but really dont see how it would be possible. This is my first foray into this area I've done timing belts and such, but never a head.
January 26, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the dowel ended up in the right hole, and everything is aligned, I think you will be OK. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JohnComments: Hi I have a 318i Executive 1992 E36, i have replaced the head gasket and now trying to time the engine but it not starting and yet I can't find any timing mark to set the correct timing.. are you able to help please the engine is a four cylinder... thank you
January 17, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would grab a repair manual. It will list the special tools and each step of the procedure. Give our parts specialists a call: 1-888-280-7799 They will help you find what you need. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
andreComments: hi ive got a 1994 m3 3.0l my cam box of my enjin is cracked on the exhaust side.i want to know if i can take of the cam box to weld the crack but witout removing the head is that possible?if possible can you explain how to do it,what to remove and what parts i must order thank you
January 16, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hi, not sure what you mean by cam box. I would suggest replacing the part if it is broken. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JasonComments: #1: Question on figure 21: What was your technique for protecting the passages and bolt holes from contaminants whilst cleaning the block surface and piston crowns? I was figuring old bolts M8? would do for the empty head bolt holes and some clean old socks for the water jacket passages.
#2: Can you point me in the right direction for the OEM P/N's of the cam and knock sensors on the 94 M50? I've been diggin though and can't seem to find them.
#3: Just a comment. I had a bad valve tick in #6 cylinder so I pulled off the head and it turned out to have a hair line/micro crack! While I was at it I also installed the oil pump gear upgrade kit and had baffling installed in the oil pan.
#4: Great write up! This article has been getting me through my winter project and I can't wait to get back out on the track. I don't know where I'd be without your article and a Bently manual.
January 11, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: #1 - You can fill the holes with anything suitable that you can remove afterward. Also, blow them out with low pressure compressed air.

#2Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.

#3, #4 - Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help- Nick at Pelican Parts
OakesyComments: I have a 2002 e46 318 coupé, n42b20 engine, since owning it for the past few months it has been going through a liter of oil a week. Whilst topping the oil up today i thought id check the coolant level and noticed the coolant was a thick consistency, and when you touch it, it feels like it is oil. The car has never overheated but after checking the coolant level and noticing what appears to be oil i got in car and started it and teperature needle was up in the red, however the red warning light was not illuminated. After i drove for approx 1.5 miles the temperature gauge went back down to midway where it normally sits. Im thinking that this is the head gasket gone but need confirmation, can i do this myself or do i need special tools to fix this?
January 5, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like a head gasket. If you are unsure, have it looked at by a mechanic. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
IrshaadComments: I have a 1989 320i. About 250 000km on the clock. Recently purchased it. First week, it ran fine, then i noticed it had a slight oil leak. I then noticed that once i start it after its parked for a while, smoke bellows out of the exhaust. it stops just as quick. Just wanted to know what could be the problem? please help...
January 2, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Well, with that many miles on the engine, it's bound to have some valve guide or piston ring wear. I don't really find that to be too atypical. If you find that the car doesn't pass smog, or has really bad oil consumption issues, then it's probably time for a rebuild. You might want to check my article on engine rebuilding here: - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
rider94bemComments: I need to know if some one could tell me if the head from a 96 328i will fit no a 94 325is or would it be better too change the whole engine
December 24, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't think they will fit. I would replace the part with the same year. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
blazeComments: what is the resistance value of a crank and cam sensor on 93 325is please and thankyou..
December 8, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: That information may be in a repair manual. Check resistance only shows coil integrity. It does not show the sensors ability to create a signal. I suggest testing the signal. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
billComments: My 95 M3 is loosing a little coolant. I replaced all the hoses underneath the intake manifold. I see now that I have a drip coming from the head in the rear of the motor from where the head meets the block. I know I probably need to do a head gasket but before I do I thought I sould ask you people. Besides loosing coolant you would never know there is a problem with the car it runs so well. Thanks for any advice you have for me.
November 22, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Eventually it will leak enough to overheat. I would repair it before the problem worsens. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
November 11, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It depends on what color the smoke is. White smoke - coolant, black smoke - fuel , grey - engine oil. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ryanComments: Hello my name is ryan. I recently purchased a 98 528i. I was trying to find an oil leak and while cleaning under the car found coolant leaking from between the head and the block slight drip. So I decided to pull the ng and replace. Sent the head to a machine shop, they machined and everything checked out. Followed your write-up and put everything back together.wouldn't idle right, figured out that vanos was put in wrong... fixed that. Now car overheats while driving but not idle. Lots if pressure in upper radiator hose I suspected thermostat,clogged radiator or water pump. Replaced thermostat and housing....waterpump and resivour and cap,bled properly several times with heat on low. I also put a water hose I was upper radiator hose and water flowed through nicely. Put everything back together and bled with heater on still same symptoms. Wondering if hg was put in wrong or I am missing something...water car doesn't overheat while idle...but when I go drive it pressure builds up and coolant comes out from under radiator cap. Any thoughts?
November 8, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The head gasket may be faulty, even after the repair, or you could have a cracked head. Overheating under driving or load indicates a faulty head gasket. As engine load increases so does cylinder volume and pressure, bleeding it into the cooling system, causing the overheating condition. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
glacierblueComments: bought victor reinz head bolts and gasket kit. All went well until last 90 deg turn on the last head bolt14 against the back wall. Top of Torx looks like it yeilded. Now socket will not stay on bolt for last 70 degrees. Do I need to remove all and redo?
November 6, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the head of the bolt is damaged and you cannot tighten it, replace just that bolt. As long as you are still in sequence. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Red foxComments: I have a BMW 325 is it has a ticking noise in the engine.i dont really know where its coming from its really anoying anyone has any clue why it makes that sound
November 3, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Without hearing the noise it's hard to guess. Try to pinpoint the ticking. Is it coming from the cylinder head, crankcase, timing cover, etc. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
HiltonComments: Hi! I just want to know i have a bmw 325i E30 boxshape, isit posible if i can fit a 320i cylinder head with a thick gasket set.
October 29, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure. I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
drew1281Comments: Hey will this manual work to replace a head gasket on a 1997 bmw 528i thanks
October 20, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, it's the same engine (basically) that was used in the 3-Series. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
DallasladyComments: Hello Wayne,

I have a 2005 BMW 325I. The main belts broke and I had to replace the belts ang the pullys. Done by a shop. Two weeks later the car would not give any power and acted like it wanted to die but would eventually pick speed up. Took back to the shop and they stated I need Tune up and to bring it back the next day. On my way to the shop car overheated and died. Shop determined head gaskler blown. I took car to dealership and they are replacing heads for 2700. Which Im guessing a good deal but I had another problem, the car runs out of gas when the gas hand is on 1/4 of a tank. What can I do about this? Is there something also wrong with the fuel system?
September 21, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: There could be a problem with the siphon unit in the fuel tank. Have your mechanic inspect it during the head gasket repair. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
vicmanComments: Hi, my 1997 m3 overheated and as result burn the head gasket :, went to a mechanic and ask about the work it has to be done and he told me that the head could have a crack and in that case the entire engine wold have to be replaced because when taking out the head the bolt holes in the block will be damage, is that right?? Thanks!
August 30, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: This could be the case. If the heads is cracked, it will have to be replaced, at the minimum. A lot of the time, the head bolt threads in the block also fail. Then you would need to replace your engine. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
AllenComments: How do I know if I have a blown head gasket? I have a 93 525i sadan
August 28, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can pressure test the cooling system, if the system will not hold pressure and there are no external leaks, the head gasket could be faulty. Another option is to check the cooling system for co2. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
GibbyComments: Question: I just replaced the the head gasket on my 2000 528i. After tightening the head bolts following the torque specs and procedure the head bolts do not seem very tight. I made sure all the bolt holes were cleaned prior to installing the head gasket and head. I also installed new bolts and oiled the threads as per the instructions. Wondering why the bolts wont get tight?? Procedure says 40Nm the 90deg two times. BTW this is an aluminum block engine and I did make sure to get the correct bolts it.
August 22, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The head bolt threads int he block may be faulty. This is common when an engine is overheated. If the bolts will not tighten, I would assume this is your problem. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DComments: Do you have to use different bolts for the heads? I've seen people saying that they stretch
August 14, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The head bolts have to be replaced each time they are removed. They are torque to yield bolts, meaning they stretch when you tighten them. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DanComments: If you were using a torque wrench what would it be
August 13, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The torque values vary by engine - check the Bentley manual, they are listed in there for the various models. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
DanComments: What is the torque sequence for the heads
August 13, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: See Figure 34 - it's shown in the photo. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
danComments: does anyone have the tool to remove the heads i could use/buy for cheap. im in new jersey, ocean county. 732 779 7992. call/text
August 10, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the tools you need. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DanComments: Were replacing the head gasket is it possible to remove the head without disconnecting the timing chain and cams? Does the heads have everything self contained? Valves pushrods etc. It is a 325i 1993 6 cyl
August 10, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, the timing chains have to be removed from the camshafts. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
umemaComments: Hi, Thanks for nice articles. I have a 2002 325i sedan with 150,000 miles. My car burns oil. I need to add oil before oil change at 3000-5000 mile. When I stop at red light sometimes I can see smoke coming from under the hood. Any suggestion. Also, what kind of oil should I use for my car I live in California?
August 8, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be the crankcase vent valve or could be a worn motor, and compression test and checking the vacuum on the motor will tell you which one it is.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
DriesComments: I need to replace the head gasket on my 2002 318i E46 but am unable to determine what the torque settings of the associated bolts are. Can you maybe help? Thank you.
July 11, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would grab a repair manual. It will list the special tools and each step of the procedure including torque specs. Give our parts specialists a call: 1-888-280-7799 They will help you find what you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
togariComments: Is recommended to hone the cylinder when replancing the head gasket? If no honing is complete, what is the best method to remove the carbon build up around the top inside edge of the cylinder? My machine shops says to only wipe the cylinder clean, as honing could cause carbon to get caught in the piston rings causing ring failure.
July 2, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would not hone it, you will remove the cylinder wall coating. Just wipe it down with a carbon cleaner. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
WillComments: I see a few msgs with no reply, but I'm hoping you get to this one as soon as you can : I was a little preoccupied when my Radiator blew, and first noticed a loss in power couldn't stay above 50 going uphill and then I saw smoke/Steam. I Immediately pulled over,Elapsed time approx 1 minute and popped the hood. Water was spraying from the Radiator and onto the motor. I had it towed to a Bav auto shop, and the car turns over like there's no compression, and wont start. It has 110k on her 94 325i E36 and there saying replace the motor. but have done no Diagnostics I found a perfect head from another 94 and I'm thinking of installing it. What are the odds of lower end Damage given the limited info provided?
June 15, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can remove the old head and inspect the engine before repairing it. This would be your best bet, before spending money on the new head.

Check that the block is not warped and the cylinders are in good shape. - Nick at Pelican Parts
ddavison512Comments: I am in the process of doing this very thing on a 92 535 E34 , got the flywheel locking tool from you just a bit ago, but I am having a devil of a time getting it in. I pulled the plastic thingy that "seals" the hole, but the tool goes in about 2 mm, then stops. Light tapping does not move it. There is a bump bolt head? kinda in the way on the block. I cant tell, it *might* be angling the tool up a bit. Doesnt really look like it.

Any advise?
June 10, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The problem is usually corrosion build up in the hole. Try to clean it with a small wire brush. I find that helps the locking tool slide in easier. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
FlashComments: Great sitem, I just found out that my 2002 530i has a blown head gasket, I was told that the block could be jacked too. I need the torque specs to see if the block is screwed. Does any have this information to share ??

June 1, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Before removing the head. Check if the bolts can be tightened. If they spin free when tightening, the block is damaged. You will need a new engine. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
matrixComments: I just need to know which head gasket kit to use. I have a 731 head which I am going to put on an M20b27 short block. Am I using the "i" head or the "e"?
May 21, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
nutterComments: how can i tell if my cam lifters are worn in your book it says that u can push the button in to clean them out but bmw said if u can push them in by hand then they are worn
April 21, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: They should resist when you push, but the oil will come out, then they will move easier. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
GOODNIGHTComments: What are necessary actions in the event that the sprocket on the end of the camshaft has been removed? The one that is never supposed to be loosened?
April 11, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not completely sure what you're referring to, you have to remove that off of the camshaft on an E36, see the article here: I'm going to copy this question to the forums and perhaps we can clarify it there? - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
TaylorComments: So I'm going to replace my head gasket. I have a few questions.

1 will this help my rough idle?
2 will it give me anymore power?
3 what else should i replace since i will have a lot open
4 i don't think my heads are cracked but should i get the resurfaced anyway? if so, will i notice a difference in my car?

i have a 98 323is with 200k
thanks in advance!!!
March 31, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hi there.
1- It might help a rough idle if there were a serious head gasket problem with the engine. Most likely not.

2- Nope, replacement will not increase power unless it's fixing something that was seriously broken.

3- You might want to replace the camshaft sensor and the knock sensors - those are very difficult to reach with the manifold on.

4- Have a good, trustworthy machine shop check out the head - they should be able to tell you what it needs. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
EricComments: Thanks for the advise earlier. I got the new oil pressure valve installed and am putting everything back together. I have the double vanos on my car. Do you have any knowledge of how to time that without the specialty part and pressurizing the system with air? I don't want to button everything back up and then take it all back apart if my vanos isn't timed quite right. Thanks in advance for any help.
March 29, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, I don't have an article on this right now, but we have identified this as an issue that we will be covering in some future E46 technical articles. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
JsackComments: I need help any ideas??!! I have a 95 325ic and I have an oil leak on the passenger side of engine towards the top. It's leaking down on to the exhaust or the lower part of the headers, I have replaced the valve cover gasket twice and still leaking. It's not a lot but enough to smell like burning oil and it smokes a little.. Could it be the head gasket?? Any help would be great
March 26, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I suppose it could be the head gasket, but it's not likely - they don't typically leak there. I think you need to just clean off the entire car, and then start it up and see where the oil is coming from (from underneath). - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
MattComments: Hey i started up my bmw 1988 325i 270000kms and put my foot down was in a hurry then the car cut out. I started it up again ran fine for a while but then it continued to cut out and blow white smoke from exhaust. Car was gutless compared to normal. Could you please help tell me what to do and what is wrong? Thanks
March 25, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: White smoke could be an issue with water leaking past the head gasket, or it simply could be a fuel issue. The first thing I would check would be for vacuum leaks. Sometimes when cold and you stomp on the gas, you can put some pressure on older hoses and cause them to crack and create vacuum leaks. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Ben HComments: Wayne, Thanks for response, there was not a huge amount of oil in the top, but thinking about it the oil in the top was fairly clean yet the oil in the bottom was in a bad way, and with contsant steam from the tail pipes, the head gasket project was commenced! Think I will also check the oil pump!! Thanks Ben, P.s big day today as the head is comming off!
March 20, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Cool deal, good luck! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
DaveComments: Hi Wayne,
I hope you can help.
I am about to put the cyl head back on my 316.
It's the gasket that's puzzling me, not the way it fits, etc But the small holes +- 3mm for the cooling system!
On cylinders 1 to 3 the holes in the gasket are 3mm whilst the water ducts are much larger see arrors on cyl No 1.
I highlighted the gaskets holes and ducts on cyl No 1.
Whilst on No 4 the gasket apetures are almost the same size as the ducts, only slighlty out of alignment. No 4 is where it ocer heated! The old gasket is the same as the new one - regarding hole sizes, placing & alignment.
sould i makes the holes bigger?
What do you suggest I do?
March 18, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I remember having the same thoughts when I installed / replaced my head gasket on my 3-Series engine (shown in the article). In the end, I just installed it and went on my way, as I figured that the new one and old one were the same, and the factory seemed to know what they were doing. In other words, I wouldn't worry about it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
EricComments: Thanks for the great write up. I just got most of my parts in and got my head back all cleaned up and ready to start putting my car back together. Do I need to replace the oil pressure check valve on the head? If so, do you have a part number? I think that my machine shop left it in while they worked on it and cleaned the head. I don't want to have to do this job again if that valve is likly to fail.
March 15, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you're at all uncertain about the valve, then I would indeed replace it. It's a special order BMW item - our sales reps at 1-888-280-7799 can assist you with looking up the part number and getting one for you. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
RaulComments: Wayne,

I learned the following though:

1. Some exhaust studs came off with the nuts as I tried loosening them up. There isn’t enough room to use two nuts and remove the studs from the head. Therefore the head had to be tilted slightly to be lifted. Had to reverse the procedure during installation.

2. I asked the machine shop about checking for flatness. They said it could be done with the cams on. However most often than not, the head needs to be milled. I decided to remove the cams at home (following your write up), bagging and label everything. Took the head to the shop and they determined that it needed milling.

3. Fuel hoses at the rear of the rail. I could not find accurate information anywhere. Ended up at the dealership who sold me (ripped me off) a plastic removal tool for $34, non-refundable. Turns out a Ford fuel line removal tool for $7 would have done the work.

4. The radiator does not need to come out on the E39 (6 cyl.) for this work

5. Could not find the engine plug on my car to drain the block. I ended up putting rags in the water pump inlet to try to wick-out as much of the coolant left.

6. I saw a photo on a forum where someone claimed having to use a very long breaker bar to remove the head bolts. I don’t know if this person really needed to do that or exaggerated on purpose but it was misleading at the very least. I was able to remove the head bolts with my 18-inch breaker bar. I also found that your write up did not mention the small bolts at the front of the head, near the timing chain. There are 3 if I recall correctly.

7. Looking into “realoem” for diagrams, I found a non-return valve (while the head was at the machine shop). I could not find information anywhere as to what it does, where it is located and whether it should be replaced during this work. I determined its location when I got the head back but left it in. Again, no one could tell me if it had to be replaced.

8. I found two sleeves/guides. One between cylinders 1 & 2 on the intake side and one between cylinders 5 & 6 near the exhaust side. These were not mentioned anywhere, write-ups, forum posts, etc. The shop took them off and handed them back to me. Luckily I had taken pictures and just put them back in their original place on the block..

9. During installation, I was very concerned about scratching the head and aligning it properly. I had a lot of difficulty with this. I was installing the head slightly tilted towards the exhaust side because of the exhaust studs and then once level, tried thin long screw drivers to align the bolt holes in the head and those in the block. With very short sliding moves, it finally found its spot. Then used the head bolts (new ones) to gently pull it in.

I hope this does not sound like a complaint. I appreciate the time and effort you place on sharing your knowledge and putting write-ups together. I guess it is when one has to go through a major repair like the head gasket that one finds out the missing small details that can take a long time to figure out.

I was lucky that Ria in your shop replied to my email for parts and she was extremely helpful. She will hear from me in the next few days as I tried to figure out what is wrong with the sunroof.

Thank you for your note.


March 14, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info - most helpful!

DaveComments: Hi Wayne,
Spot on, as usuall.
Thanks a ton.
March 13, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
daveComments: Hi Wayne, you assistance a couple of weeks ago was invaluable.
I have a 316i, I see all your photo's are for bigger engines with double overhead cams. I downloaded the workshop manual & between the two I got the cyl head off. I dropped a small cylinder when I took out the head, see pic. I can't find its home! Please tell me where it goes. Thanks very much. Dave in sunny Port Elizabeth SA

March 12, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The picture is a bit fuzzy, but it looks like an alignment pin that sits in the block and holds the head in place when you bolt the block back on. See figure 21 in the article here: , you can see there are two of them in the block. I think this is what you're referring to? - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
ben hComments: Wayne, i would like to tap into your immense knowledge on BMW engines if i may. I'm attempting a rebuild on mt m3 3.0l, due a loud clacking noise coming from the top of the engine on either 4 or 5, harsh metal on metal sound the kind that makes you pull a funny face!!. Anyway on removing the valve cover the cams have a blue color tinge to them where they have been in contact with the cam followers as if they have got very hot, is the normal or not?
March 10, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: What you appear to be seeing here is some camshaft staining. Typically when the camshafts wear, you will see little chunks of camshaft surface missing, sometimes also known as pitting. From your photo here, I don't really see that. You'll also tend to see pitting on the lifters, which I cannot see from your photo either. That said, the blue tinge is not a good sign either if that is what it is (can't really tell from the photo). It does indicate an oil starvation problem. Was there a lot of oil in the top of the valve cover? I'm guessing that there's something clogging one or more oil passages, and that is what is causing both the noise and the blue tinge on your camshafts. Just a guess though.- Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Huero95Comments: Does anyone have a diagram on which conectors go where... Im talking about the ones that are under the intake manifold close to the back of the alternanor... Its about 8 conections i think...
93 E36
March 8, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The best recommendation I have is to check out the bonus photos associated with this project (link is at the bottom of the article). I have a whole host of photos showing what goes where in the photos. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
wardpowerComments: Is the procedure for the timing chain and VANOS any different on an e46 than in this write up?
February 16, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The E46 uses the dual-VANOS system, which is indeed slightly different, but somewhat similar. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
johnnyComments: I am thinking my BMW 1992 non vanos 325IS needs a head gasket. Radiator top hose cracked and pushed out all the fluid, stopped right away but I put a radiator in and it looks like white smoke and lost coolant. Its low mileage 115k so I think the bottom end and rings are likely in good shape only driven about a mile since installing the radiator, my question is it better to try replacing the head, or just installing a whole used engine? I am on a whole different budget then most BMW owners but have a decent amount of mechanical experience. I am fairly sure if carefull enough I can do the job correctly but I see a lot of posts about the machine shop failing to find the cracks and such. tools to buy and rent and machine work , for all that I could likely get a engine from wrecked vanos car from a later model and possibly have more horsepower but the computer syetem might be a obstacle, of course maybe the car is just a loss but its otherwise in great shape. I suppose any advice the what would do if your budget was low and this was you, and curse the BMW cooling system designers, extra little metal maybe would not have crack but maybe there was a issue but it never indicated ANY problems and the junk yard says that part is way to weak.
January 19, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you're having issues like the ones indicated in the article, then I would just replace the head gasket. Any good competant machine shop should be able to surface / clean your head and find cracks along the way. The car in this article had similar problems, but with the new gasket and head welding was perfectly fine. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
egrantComments: I have a 2003 325 that overheated. While replacing the head gasket the torque pulled the threads out of the block. What can I do?
January 19, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Do you have an aluminum or steel block? You need to get the proper bolts for each one. The aluminum head blocks require longer (I think) bolts than the steel ones. If you use the short bolts on the AL block, you may pull them out. I would try to order the proper bolts for your block and then see if they will bit in the threads. I'm assuming you have an aluminum block since it would be very difficult to pull threads on a steel block. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Ryan P.Comments: Machine shop found 8 bent exhaust valves. No damage to pistons, timing was dead on when I pulled the head, chain isn't stretched either... any ideas?
January 18, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'd say the only other plausible explanation is that the engine had some type of over-rev event. Such could easily come from a mis-shift while shifting. Having all eight valves bent seems to point to this scenario. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Ryan P.Comments: The dowels that are supposed to be in the block came out in the head. Is it possible to pull them out of the head and re install them into the block or do I need to get new dowels to put into the block? They are the ones that are in Figure 30 that are keeping the head gasket in place.
January 13, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yup, they should be able to be plucked out. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
PaulComments: I have a 1998 528i and am way too scared to do the head gasket myself. Does any one know a mechanic that can do this for me. On long island, ny.
December 20, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Ask a friend for a referral or ask your local BMWCCA chapter. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
monyComments: I have a 325i stick shift 1995 - 240k miles, was running very well with good maintinance - had lately a few heating ups and after changing radiator, water pump, thermostat, fan....was finaly told its likely likely the head gasket. Any idea how much it would cost and a reasonible recommended shop in blue bell or vasinity PA?
December 16, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure about the cost, but overheating issues wouldn't really be a head gasket issue. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
MattComments: Hey Wayne, first off your articles are the only reason why i am able to afford maintain my BMW, they are the best. I know it says the remove the radiator, but does that mean i have to remove the condenser as-well? I paid to have my A/C recharged about 2 months ago and would like to keep it like that. Is it possible to do without removing the condenser or any other A/C parts?
November 25, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the kudos. Nope, you don't need to remove the condenser - simply disconnect it from the front of the radiator and let it hang in the front of the car. You do have to remove the auto transmission cooler if you have one. See the article on radiator replacement in our tech section. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
KyleComments: I've got a 1995 325i and the coolant leaks down after about a week of driving. I do not smell anti-freeze coming out the exhaust or mixing with the oil and there is no leaks in the cooling system that I can see. Could it be a head gasket leak?
November 18, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: A head gasket leak will leak coolant either into the exhaust or the oil. So, the coolant has to go *somewhere*. Usually when you can't easily find where it's going, it's leaking past the head gasket into the exhaust. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
daveComments: 1st time visitor 2this site and i have a fairly extensive amount of experience working on the 7BMW"s i've owned thru the years and i am very impressed with the information and care u are giving to your patrons. well done and thank you!
November 13, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the kudos! - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
carlosComments: Hello Wayne, i purchase from you guys all the parts needed for the cooling system thinking that my car had this problem from getting hot. well now is the head gasket. Can you tell me if this article will work in the 1999 bmw 528. please advise. thank you
November 2, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hi there. Sure will, as the engine in your 528 is the same engine as in the 3-Series detailed here. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
Eddie ZComments: How many BMW tools are needed for this job. If you have the information handy how about a list of tools needed to complete this job.
October 17, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The tools needed are listed in the article. In general you need the crankshaft holding tool, the camshaft holding tool, a tool to hold the upper chain tensioner, the main chain tensioner tool (optional), the long female Torx tool, and probably the fan holding tool. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
RamComments: while removing the head I accidently snapped the chain tensioner rail. Is there a quick way to replace this or will I now have to remove the timing cover and the dreaded crankshaft bolt to get in there? My main concern is the crankshaft bolt. Please help.
October 16, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It depends on what engine. There may be bolts on the outside of the crankcase, at the front you can remove. Then slide the rail up and out of engine. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Shmoe84Comments: Okay, I'm a little confused about the wiring harness. I'm installing my intake manifold and not sure what pugs into what. I can't believe that many of the plugs are the same. Where does the vanos plug into?
October 5, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: In general, the plugs look the same, but they are often not. They will have little tabs on them that prevent them from being plugged into the incorrect spot. The best way to go is to layout the wire harness - the natural flow of the harness from being in place for many years will typically point you in the right direction. But you need to have a little bit of patience with the process too. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
bruno rodriguesComments: the head gasket set 11121436822 from Victor Heinz comes with normal or oversized head gasket 0.75 or 1 mm?
September 20, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: My listing shows that as a normal thickness gasket. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
shmoe84Comments: No, the head bolts are not bottoming out. I checked and they are the same length as the set that I took out. I just don't want to break the bolt or strip the threads on the block. Torquing the bolts to 30nm seemed like a fairly low torque setting, so it just doesn't seem like it should take this much torque to turn the bolt another 180 degrees. What do you think the total torque value is after you have turned them to the specified angles? I would like to know how much resistance is normal.
September 7, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: That's the correct spec, I would just tighten them and don't worry about it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
shmoe84Comments: I just put a resurfaced head on a 1996 328i, and I experienced something rather odd when I was tightening the new head bolts. I torqued them to 30nm in the right order and had no issues, but the same can't be said when I attempted the torque angle. The torque angle seemed like it was extremely tight even with an 18" ratchet. This is my first time using these stretch bolts, so I have no idea how they behave. The threads are clean, and I had no problem hand threading the bolts into the block. Also, the bolts are not bottoming out. So, what do you think is the problem or is this normal?
September 7, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Did you mean the bolts *are* bottoming out? They are not supposed to, obviously. Head bolts are supposed to be attached quite tightly, it's not unusual to use some significant force to get them in there. I would have also double-checked to make sure the bolts you removed are the same length as the ones that you took out? - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
neneracoComments: I need help timing my 2006 325I cramshaft,i want to find out how much it will cost me to do that.
September 2, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Pricing for repairs change depending on region. Contact a local BMW work shop for your answer. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
RichardComments: I own a BMW 325i 1992. I just purchased the vehicle. It shows no sign of coolant leak or any other typr of fluid leak. But i did notice the resevoir tank looses its fluid after 10min of idle.Any idea? Also when stationary and reved at above like 5k rpm i hear a metal knocking at the top of the engine. Only when its rved at above 5k any feedback would help
August 26, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's difficult to diagnose noises over the Internet, but it's normal for the coolant level to rise and fall during the normal operation of the engine. It should not fall below the coolant level sensor. Sounds like it might just be slightly low on coolant, or need to be rebled. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
Shmoe84Comments: The book says that the head bolt torque specs for the m52 are posted on the pelican website, but I can't find them anywhere. From what I understand the correct specs are: 30 nm then 90 deg then 90 deg. Is this correct?
August 24, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: That is what the Bentley manual says, so I would think that's correct. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
nickComments: no when i removed it, i let theim plug in the distributor so im sure theyre ok
the thing to set is the magneto, the rotor in the cap
how can i do to know where to put it
August 22, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Neat color on the car there. The E30 rotor has an index on it, as long as it's seated properly, there's really no way to put it on incorrectly. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
chafComments: can you tell me how to time the distributor on a m30b35
cause i just rebuilt it but it doesnt start
i think that is the reason
August 22, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The distributor is part of the camshaft on this car, and you should only be able to put the rotor and cap on one way? Unless you took the heads off and the camshafts are off 180 degrees from where they should be? More likely, I would guess that you may have confused the spark plug wires (which I have done many times in the past). Triple check them (the numbers should be printed on the cap itself). - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
e30robComments: Anybody know where I can get an e30 m3 cylinder head new or useful for under 800 dollars in decent shape?
August 20, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would keep checking eBay. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
BullComments: Hey. I have a e36 325i. It over heated, thought it was the thermostat removed that and it overheated again. Water pump also looks fine. Was just wondering if it could be anything else before I do the head gasket?
August 18, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Bleed the system 3-4 times - there may be an air bubble in there. Also check the radiator to make sure that it's not clogged. If it's overheating, I doubt there is a problem with the head gasket, unless it's losing coolant. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
PhilComments: After 5 weeks of work at home between me and my father. We disassembled my 1998 328i replaced the Head gasket and cylinder head. Put it all back together taking tedious care for every detail and every part.

Replaced all fluids and started her up, just as when the head gasket originally blew white smoke fuming out one of the two exhaust pipes.

Ran a compression test on all 6 cylinders and came back around 155 everytime.

Any ideas? Please help!

August 15, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: That's going to happen when you first start it up because you still have all that gunk in the exhaust. You need to run it for an hour on the road, and then see if it all burns off. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
RobComments: My son's e30 M3 looks like it blew a headgasket. White smoke out the back and another peculiar thing is the spark plugs were pushed up. Anybody have any ideas on this? Also, anybody know a reasonably priced shop in West LA to work on this?
August 12, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I recommend Callas Rennsport in Torrance 310-370-7038. I'm also not sure what you mean by "spark plugs were pushed up". - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
ImanComments: Thanks for answering my previous questions. I followed your suggestions and your feedback has been priceless. I have one more hopefully final question, and that is regarding the pressure relief valve that's embedded into the cylinder head. I need to take the one out of mine and put it into the new one, but I cannot find out how to take it out. Is there some special tool I need to pull it out?
August 11, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's slotted, so a HUGE screwdriver will work. I think I just used the end of a chisel that was shaped like a screwdriver to remove it. This is very important not to forget - I missed it on the first installation of my head, and had to go back and reinstall it (bummer). - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
ImanComments: Finally got the cylinder head off! Just like you said, it was the bolts at the front including the one holding the chain guide. Just one other you know where I can get the torque specs for the cylinder head bolts? I checked the link at 101 Projects but the page said "Coming Soon". I have a 1994 325i convertible, 5spd. Thanks for a great series of articles!
August 8, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The Bentley manuals (which everyone should have) has all of the torque specs for the various E30/E36 models. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
ImanComments: I am having a tough time getting the cylinder head off. I removed the 14 bolts, removed the nuts and some studs holding the manifold onto the head but it won't budge. I saw 2 bolts 7 mm? towards the front of the head on the left and right and am wondering if they are holding it on. The only problem is that I cannot remove them as they are chewing up my 7mm sockets they seem to be tapered a little but they are hard to see. Do you think something else can be holding the head down? If so, what do I need to get it off?
August 6, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You probably missed the small bolts on the front of the head. They are discussed in the Camshaft article mentioned above, and also at this link here: With all of the bolts undone from the head, it should easily tap off. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
somerandomdudeComments: Wayne, did the head give you any problems after the shop welded it and running the motor after putting it back together?

Mine failed after 100 miles and I discovered a crack in the same spot. I hate to do it a 3rd time and my resources are limited. Please get back to me.
July 26, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would suspect that your machine shop didn't grind / drill out enough of the head prior to rewelding it. You need to have experience doing this. I used EMS in the Los Angeles area to repair my head, and as far as I can tell - no issues since... - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
somerandomdudeComments: There directions saved my life. I had no issues what so ever following these. Except that I broke the bleeder screw and I just ordered a new one. Also, my lifters didn't tap or tick at all so I guess I did something right. It also fired right up after the 2nd try because the fuel had to be pumped to the injectors and it purge and smoothed out.

White smoke did come out of the tail pipe. That's because there was still some water in the pipe plus it rained like crazy the day before and it went away after driving around for 15 minutes and it hasn't come back since. Still a little sluggish but time will tell.
July 15, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Cool, glad I was able to help with the article! - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
CortezComments: Thank you for the info. Would this work for a 1993 525i?
If not do you have a step by step for this year and model?
is a V6. Thanks again.
July 13, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, the 1993 325is detailed in this article is the same as the engine in the 1993 525i - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
dgagneComments: Can anyone tell me why the coolant holes on a head gasket for a 1997 318i are so Small on three of the cylinders?
June 15, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure, on my six-cylinder in the article, they are about a 1/2 inch diameter. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
VadimComments: Followup to Pelican Staff: Well the thing is, when I removed the head,they were not in the block. I guess they were stuck somewhere in the cylinder head, because I had no clue about them till I looked through the little bag the machine shop gave me with the sensors and covers they took off the head, and spotted them. It was too late, the head was on by then. I attatched a pic from the TIS where those pins were shown, but the explanation there was vague. I wasn't sure if its a dealer only tool, or they are extra parts to buy. Either way, the heads on and bolts tightened down so it doesn't matter. I just wanted to know if they came with the car or not. They definitly were not pressed into the block, otherwise I would see them when I removed the head.
June 13, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yup, they should be there for locating the gasket on the head. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
VadimComments: Sorry, my below message was a bit off. The machine shop found the pins in the head, which is why I had no clue they existed till I looked in the bag the machine shop gave me with the things they removed off the head.
June 3, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: ETK probably doesn't list them because they are probably pressed into the block, and are considered part of the block, which would be a single part number. If you have them, I would definitely use them. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
VadimComments: Does the M54B30 come with those dowel pins I believe I see in the pics? Small hollow cylinder like things to keep the gasket in place. Because my TIS doesn't mention them, and I've heard this motor doesn't include them. Funny thing is, my machine shop seemed to find them in the block. Whats going on around here? Is it okay that I put the head on without those pins? It was hard, but I got it done without those guiding pins. Would this affect anything?
June 3, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: There should be two of them in the block. Sometimes they get stuck in the head when you remove it but they should be in the block when you put it back together, the hold the gasket in place and they do line up the head perfectly.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
luccheComments: My mechanic told me I need a new head gasket in my 1998 bmw 528i. He quoted 18.8 hours labor at a rate of $100 per hour. Total estimate is about $3k Is this possible?
March 31, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Anything is possible, depends on exactly what is damaged and reauires replacing. If you think the estimate is high, take it to a few local shops for comparison. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JACComments: Hi, I got a e36 318i se auto, and recently I paid a lot of money for a coolant leek at the back of the engine. The temp gage kept going in the red, and after having the leak fixed it kept going back into the red! I noticed that when I paid for my repairs the mechanic said the gasket had slightly swelled at the back but it wasn't anything critical. However, as soon as I drove out of the garage it went in teh red! I opened up the bonnet and the is a sizzling noise coming from the back of the engine head gasket?? Any feedback on this is much appreciated, thanks.
February 19, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would pressure test the cooling system. If the system does not hold pressure look for where the leak is coming from, and if there are no external leaks, you may have a faulty head gasket.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Alpine AssassinComments: Doing the head gasket on my 1995, one of the steps is to submerge the lifters in oil and depress them a few times. I could not get the first lifter to depress at all, I used the back of a screw driver and used quite a bit of force. Same with the second lifter. The third lifter depressed very easily, in fact I could depress it with my finger. One other lifter depressed a little bit with my finger but all the rest wont budge at all. What is going on? Is the one that will depress very easily broken? Are the rest seized? I had no odd lifter noise before the head gasket blew. Any Ideas? All help will be appreciated.
January 12, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The lifters that wouldn't move are all ready bottomed out. This is normal.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Gumbus62Comments: I have a crack in my head in the exact location shown on Project 17 figures 17 crack and 18 welded/ground fixed. I can email a pic. I haven't found anyone that will do the type work mentioned in the article in the Houston area. Any ideas on where I can ship it to and how much $ that would be to do the complete job fix crack/valve job/resurface? Trying to decide between that and a used head off of eBay.
Thanks! Project going great until I found the crack. Have gasket set and head bolts from Pelican waiting to go in.
December 21, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Buying a used head off of Ebay, it might have the same problem, I would keep looking for a machine shop that can repair you head of buy a reman head, Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
KoruptdjComments: All running was the battery..was only putting out 2v, i never new a car would not jump if the battery was really dead..learn something new everyday.And thanks guys, would never have attempted this gasket change without you..followed step by step and shes fine now...and if anyones reading and hasnt got a quote yet, an independent garage wanted £890 for the job!! It cost me £158 in the end and alot of my time. Craig
December 1, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
koruptdjComments: i have just done this and was so happy when i finished, but...i put the key in the ignition after re-connecting the battery and now she wont even attempt to turn over..the lights come on, central locking works etc but just wont turn battery was a bit iffy before so i tried jumping it and nothing..she turned over fine before the head gasket 1992 E34 525i manual
December 1, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the battery voltage if it is low charge or replace it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
TravisComments: I just got done using your guide and replaced my cams and head gasket. I was wondering if there is a breaking period for the head gasket? It is the Victor Reinz gasket. Thanks
November 19, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: No there is not, and thanks for the update.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
RossComments: Hi, Great post... Been studying it and working... Now the head is out, Gasket set and other parts are ordered, and just removed the cams... During removal following the instructions I felt somewhat crackling noise while working on 2-6. How can I tell if the cams have cracked or that is normal... The only place the cam was puching was C1.
Also, unfortunately I failed to keep the lifters in the same order... How bad is that and is there any way I can fix the mistake now?
October 31, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not much you can do about the lifters. Other than having the camshaft checked by a machine shop, there's not too much you can do. You might be able to hold it in a vise and then tap it with a hammer and compare the sound to the other one. If there is a big crack in the camshaft, I believe it will make a different sound than the other one. But I'm not 100% sure this method would work 100% reliably to detect a small crack. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
ADOLFOComments: I'm replacing my head gasket, as i was cleaning the hydraulic lifters I noticed 8 of them were stuckor wouldn't push in. I also tried to leave them in oil for a few hours to get out old oil & so that they'd stay lubricated, but they were still stuck. I now realize thats what the knocking on my car waswhen the cam lobes hit the lifters that don't engage. Was there any other way to fix these? The Bentley Manual stated caution: When the camshafts are removed, the hydraulic lifters can expand. This expansion can cause increased valve lift, resulting in open valves and piston contact.... I went ahead & ordered some new ones from here, but the Brand New ones are Also Stuck. Called the dealer, as if I was buying new ones, he checked them & it wasn't stuck. I've been reading that this is a common BMW problems, but not with new ones. You guys have been great with the service you provide, but I'm concerned that if i put these new lifters i got, that it will continue to knock & create valve problems. Can you please advise....
Thank you,
October 23, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: New lifters need to be pre-filled with oil - submerge them in oil and squish them a few times, this will help with the "sticky lifter" problem that is common. I'm not sure what you mean by "stuck", but new one should be stiff from the factory - they are spring loaded inside. When the lifters are too short, that is what causes the knocking / ticking sound. If they are too long, then you can get piston / valve contact (although I've never seen that in reality). I'll forward your email to my parts manager, who might have an additional tech bulletin on this.

Okay, he added:
Is he trying to move hydraulic lifter with his finger? new ones are loaded with oil (at least the ones I have seen) and there is no way I am aware of to evaluate a hydraulic lifter without a special tool. I checked several and there is no way I can move them with my fingers. If that's how the customer is determining if they are functional I don't think that's going to indicate much.
- Wayne at Pelican Parts
HefftoneComments: When replacing the head gasket, are there different thickness gaskets to make up for resurfacing? If so, how do I determine the thickness of the failed gasket? part numbers, micrometer, etc?
October 9, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: In general, this has to do with how much material the machine shop takes off when you have the head resurfaced. If you don't resurface the head, you can use a stock gasket. If you have the head resurfaced significantly, then you might want to use a thicker gasket. On this replacement, I did not use the thicker gasket - the machine shop only lightly machined the head. If you don't use the thicker gasket, you will raise the compression ratio very slightly, which on this particular car probably won't make too terribly much of a difference. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
The DrycleanerComments: Hi Wayne aka Bmw Guru

I just bought your book and recieved it today and was reading through it, and i was on project 17 head gasket repl. And your warning worried me Low coolant warning light the light has been on for the past 1-2 weeks.

The level when engine is cold is above the cold line, is this a problem? And other than that the car runs great.

October 1, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Does the light come on when the fluid is above that line? If so, then you probably have a bad sensor, which is located at the bottom of the reservoir tank. I would replace it with a new one and see if that solves the problem. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
RJDComments: Just completed the replacement on a '96 328i. When trying to startup it will turnover but not start. Any suggestions why will not start?
September 25, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: There's a lot of stuff under the hood. Get the code reader and plug it in and see what it's telling you. I'd be willing to bet that you left an important sensor unplugged, and the car is having problems getting the proper signals. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
militant1Comments: I have a BMW 316i 2001 There is a coolant leak, The expansion tank leaks all coolant by the end of each day & coolant light comes on. The expansion tank & rad hose has been changed. The thermostat always shows normal reading& car has never overheated. Been advised head gasket needs changing?
September 19, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: There's a sensor at the bottom of the tank that can leak, is that where it's coming from? It doesn't sound like a head gasket to me - those only lose fluid when the car is running. Maybe there's a crack in one of the hoses that lead to the tank - you'll have to get in there with a flashlight and look around. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
blownheadgasketComments: Will the head bolt torx tool 11-2-250 work on a M54 engine? it's not listed on the description of the tool so I guess it doesn't work, or would a regular torx socket, extensions and a ratchet work?

excellent write up
September 13, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think that both would work - the tool is pretty standard on all of the modern BMW engines, and they haven't changed the design of the bolts, as far as I can tell. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
SteveComments: When did you disconnect the exhaust manifold ?

I was looking at the Bentley manual, and it appears that they want you to disconnect the manifold from the first exhaust pipe. Perhaps you disconnect the manifold after the cylinder head is removed from the engine ?
September 3, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's really tough to get the cylinder head off of the engine by yourself. I'm not even sure if you can remove the head and the manifold together. There doesn't seem to be too much point in doing that, as you need to remove the manifold anyway. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
GaryComments: How long should the total head gasket replacement job take, and what would be a good price to have a garage do it.
August 29, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure, it took me several weeks to complete, working a few nights in my garage, and completely documenting the process with photos. I would call around to a few shops and see what they have to say. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
525 diegoComments: Hi I am in the process of putting back the head of a 95 525i and i was reading the Bently book to try to get all the torque specs but i came across something that said i need a special tool to tighten the head bolts to a specified "torque angle" can anybody tell me how to possible find this or if i can do it with a regular torque wrench.. any help greatly apprieciated. oh and the tool no. is 11 2 110
August 19, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The tool is the standard one shown in the photos. Simply, you tighten the bolts to the torque spec and then turn an additional 90 degrees or so. The specs are slightly different for various cars - I believe they are in the Bentley workshop manuals. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
eaglestrikeComments: I know it is too late too edit your book but may I recommend you update each heading preamble on the web pages to include nomenclature and special tool part number. It would make it easier. Thank you
August 15, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the note, I will keep that for the next edition! - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
JamesComments: Response to Henry, the o2 sensor wire is in the way on m52/s52 engines. You could use an open ended wrench but removing the the o2 sensor will let you get a socket and ratchet on it. Just break the bolt, replace the o2 so you dont get coolant in there, unscrew the bolt and be prepared for a shower.
August 14, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
jc43089Comments: I just did a full engine rebuild on a 94 325i, bored block, maxsil pistons all new bearings, etc. After cranking to build up oil pressure installed fuel pump relay and started it up and idled for approx 15 mins, it ran good up to operating temp and stayed there, shut it off and went back to it a couple days later to finish putting the car together and now it seems to be burning coolant, sweet white smoke from exhaust. the bolts were torqued properly to bmw spec and the headgasket was Victor rienz. also the head was a remanufactured one. could the gasket have been defective? or some people have said smoking for a while after a new HG is normal but that doesn't seem right to me. Is there anything I could have done wrong?
August 13, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, a bit of smoke on run-in of a rebuilt engine is normal. I would check the coolant level and monitor it to see if you are indeed actually losing coolant. Also, get out and drive the car, but keep an eye on the temp gauge for any problems. Bring a couple of milk jugs of water with you just in case. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
Nikg323Comments: Nevermind I got that drill bit out with a magnet pickup tool. I'm so happy now that it's out!!!!
August 12, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: i>- Nick at Pelican Parts  
nikg323Comments: I was changing my head gasket on my e46 323i and a drill bit fell into the bottom engine recesses!!!! Does anyone know of any way to get it out besides a magnet pickup tool?
August 11, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You could take the engine out and turn it upside down and then shake it? Seriously, magnet tool is the only way that I know of. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
TripleB7Comments: dude this is the most helpful site I have ever found.... I have a 92' 525i and it's been hell working on it until this site... Thank you so much :D
August 6, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: i>- Nick at Pelican Parts  
DaleComments: I have a 95 M3 3.0L and the BMW TIS says the head cannot be machined and I don't see anyone offering extra thick gaskets. I have an external coolant leak from the right rear corner and am afraid I may find that the coolant etched the head. Any options besides a new head if I find a problem? Can the machine shop fill any etching without removing material?
July 29, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I had my 325is head machined - it's basically the same head. There were also thicker gaskets available when I replaced the head gasket (in this article). In reality, your head probably only needs a tiny surface amount taken off - I used a stock head gasket with no problems. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
yamhillComments: I'm doing this right now, checking on the procedure after a perplexing few minutes in the garage. Here is what may be an important note. The camshaft holding tool must be removed before loosening the rear-most head bolts.
July 20, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Right - the camshaft tool is used mainly to time the camshafts when you reassemble and to hold them in place when removing the front sprockets. Then you can remove the tool. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
gfureszComments: Answer to Question below: while on some models the intake camshaft might be slightly adjusted respect to the exhaust camshaft due to rough idleing, such adjustment would be small, 5 deg. On my '97 528i, as it turns out, the VANOS unit stopped working and got stuck at the mentioned 15 deg advanced position. Look carefully at the thrust washer: if the 3 oil marks caused by the 3 slots of the intake timing sprocket have very well defines, sharp perimeter, that could be a sign that your VANOS unit got stuck. See images 13 and 14 of the also great VANOS / cam timing article, and the comments of Fig 17. For single VANOS units with 3 discrete positions you should see at least some shading-steps in the marks. For double-VANOS systems with continous adjustment you should see a smooth, washed-out ends, not the sharp half-circle like ones as shown on the mentoned photos. The spring belleville washer must be NOT fully compressed, the 20 NM torque of the nuts should hold against the solid end surface of the studs, not the spring washer. What I did is that i set the mentioned edges of the square end blocks of the camshafts parallel before re-installing the VANOS unit. The car now has definitely noticeable acceleration increase in situations like entering highways. The VANOS unit is a great thing, make sure it works when you put it together. And be SUSPICOUS if you find your camshafts timed so much off that you can not use the camshaft locking tool. You should be able to although i just used a hardwood block cut out with a saw - worked just fine and saved me 80 bucks. Happy wrench-turning - and one more time, THANKS for the great DIY guides of this site!
June 29, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
gfureszComments: Quiestion: on my '97 528i the intake cam had been adjusted. For some reason unknown to me the edge of the square blocks at the end of the intake and exhaust camshafts are not parallel, but have a ~15 degree angle. The special BMW locking tool and any aftermarket ones seem to work only for parallel-edge blocks, based on the pictures of these tools. I made a special tool to lock the cams in the as-is position, but should I be concerned about such default timing difference? Thanks in advance!
June 16, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: There was a BMW Technical bulletin a few years after the E36 cars came out that addressed rough idling. They suggested altering the timing slightly from the factory position. If your car has this "update", then the timing will be off just slightly (15 degrees or so). If so, then simply put the camshafts back in place using the factory tool, and then change the timing back to where it was when you first took it apart.- Wayne at Pelican Parts 
gfureszComments: Hi - very useful instructions, thanks! A quick comment for '97 528i owners: after removing the 14 head bolts you also have to remove 4 smaller torx head bolts! All of these are in bottom of the VANOS compartment: two is well visible, the other two are the ones holding the VANOS chain guide to the head see Figure 12 and 13, dark brown piece in front. These are long bolts, ending in the cylinder block, so remove them. Also, on my engine the oxygen sensor wires were secured to the head, so when I tried to lift it off the engine block I almost broke those, so remove the bracket of the wires fromt he very back of the head before lifting it out.
June 16, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Right - for this article, I also removed all of the VANOS components and front housing. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
JerryComments: Reading your alternate method of removing cams; doesn't the head either have to be removed first, or remove flywheel locking pin? Thanks!

Also, can't find the extra deep torx socket on your site. Am I just missing it, or is there a workaround?
June 13, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can take the cams off with the engine in the car - it's just a bit more of a hassle and you have to lean over quite a bit.

The Head Bolt Torx Socket tool is PN: 83-30-0-490-856-BOE and can be found on this page:

- Wayne at Pelican Parts
SebastianComments: problem getting my mark on timmiming the cam!! it hard i broke my A cam shaft!
June 4, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: ??? - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
ttocsmijComments: Maybe here, maybe on 12, you might wish to add a caveat about gently twisting back and forth while pressing the fuel injectors back into the fuel delivery rail to prevent the O-rings from getting twisted or deformed in some way.

May 27, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
12 beamerComments: HI I cant seam to find the specifications on the e36 engines anyware one the site, as it says in figure 34 for tightening The cylinder head bolts

Could you give me a link?

May 26, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hi there. This information isn't on the web right now, but I believe it's contained in the Bentley Workshop Manual: Wayne at Pelican Parts 
maxhammerComments: I've got an 03 325xi. Does this engine have the the smae hole for TDC locking tool? I cant seem to find it.
May 18, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It should be in the same spot - it's somewhat difficult to find the first time that you hunt for it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
Jan ToreComments: Got any advice on how to place the top and head gasket on the block? We had problems with the head gasket sliding down and misplacing itself on the block when we put the top down on it.

Any advice?
May 17, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: That's odd. If you look at this photo: you will see that there are locating pins on the block that should hold the gasket in place while you are positioning it. These are important - perhaps someone removed them and forgot to put them back in? - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
X-freakComments: I've got'a say this guide and also others on this site helped me through my headgasket replacement on my 325iC M50B25. Back then i was 21 and turned 22 during the time, im also a PC-technician besides this so my experience in engine's isn't big at all. Instead of using special-tools i made my own one's to losen the beltdriven fan, lock the engine in TDC TDC-pin that's it! The rest is patience and alot of hard work.

Right now it's working like a charm. My dad thought i would scew up everything inside during the startup :D
That's what i call a 3-day early christmas present!
May 11, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
112xxbatE39 DimtriComments: Is this also a good guide to follow if I wanted to change the head gasket for my '97 528i?
May 11, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes! I have a '99 528i (love it!), and except for a few minor things, the motor is basically the same as in this article. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
Jan ToreComments: I see you use this plastic cleaning wheel to clean the engine block surface. Bought one myself, but I see you got loads of scratches on the surface. Won't the cooling fluid "run" into the oil in the scratches?

May 4, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Nope, not a concern, as the soft gasket will seal the head to the engine block and prevent any leakage. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
SolidjakeComments: Very very very good write up!!!
April 22, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
will83Comments: How hard is it to get to the last 2 head blots, it looks like a tight squeeze?
April 17, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't recall having a problem getting in there with the factory head bolt tool. If I remember correctly, it's the proper height so that you can put your driver on the end and it won't hit the top of the firewall / cowl area. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 

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