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Discussion Starter #1
Right, from the beginning.

Driving home from work when I noticed the engine temp needle was creeping past 12 o'clock. Pull over, top hose blown off radiator (along with plastic neck on radiator) steam pouring out.
I diagnosed this as thermostat and took it to my local garage, he fitted me a new radiator and water pump (the part which had actually failed) and checked my thermostat, which was working just fine.

Car was fine for a few weeks after this (running just above blue on temp gauge, hot air from vents) apart from sounding a bit rough on start up, until overheating again, again i took it to my local garage and he this time replaced the thermostat and said he had run it up to temperature and all was good.

I got in the car after picking it up from the garage and after driving the car for a few hundred yards i had no power, engine was rough, and white smoke pouring out the back and to top it all off, overheating again.

Obvious answer would be a head gasket, right? BUT.....

When the mechanic installed the thermostat, he also compression tested and hydrocarbon tested the car and both came back fine (150psi or thereabouts in all 4 cylinders and no sign of exhaust gas in the water) . Also there is no creamy substance in the filler cap, no bubbles in coolant and no noticeable drop in coolant level. All of these things lead me to believe it is not a head gasket, but what it is remains a mystery.

Any advice would be appreciated as i don't want to spend the estimated £500 (reasonable?) on replacing the head gasket if the problem will not go away.

Very reluctant to scrap the car:

1. Because its the first car i've owned and its been awesome until now (immaculate inside and out).
2. Because of the amount of money ive spent on it up to this point.
3. Because the guy who takes me to work when my car is off the road has a diesel clio.

Please help
Or if all goes tits up....

FOR SALE - Very Clean 316i spares or repairs

Cheers
 

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as the expansion tank is at the front of the car the best way to do it is get the front of the car up as high as you can on axil stands as air rises to the highest point set the heater to full hot and then fill it up and bleed it
then leave it running until up to temp then switch off let it cool then recheck the level
 
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Next to the radiator cap is a black plastic bleed screw, its easy to snap so be careful undoing it. Loosen it and start the car, leave it running until the engine gets hot and begin filling the radiator with fluid until the liquid pouring out of the bleed screw is running clear ( no bubbles ) There is no need to jack the car up as the fluid is pumped round. Make sure you tighten the bleed screw carefully when you have finished and tighten the radiator cap up firmly, leave it to idle for a few mins and keep an eye on your temperature dial. As long as everything seems ok take her out for a local drive and see how she is :thumbsup
 

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Next to the radiator cap is a black plastic bleed screw, its easy to snap so be careful undoing it. Loosen it and start the car, leave it running until the engine gets hot and begin filling the radiator with fluid until the liquid pouring out of the bleed screw is running clear ( no bubbles ) There is no need to jack the car up as the fluid is pumped round. Make sure you tighten the bleed screw carefully when you have finished and tighten the radiator cap up firmly, leave it to idle for a few mins and keep an eye on your temperature dial. As long as everything seems ok take her out for a local drive and see how she is
he is trying to get rid of an air lock jacking it up helps the air lock flow to the highest point
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Cheers guys,
bled the system last night, momentarily got hot air out of the vents and took longer for temp gauge to get up to 12 o clock.
Gonna give it another go tonight.
Any other tricks to make sure there is no more air?
 

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I had a 1998 E36 316i (previous car) and I remember when the head blew. It had rough running (misfire), white smoke from the rear, and bubbles in coolant bottle. No gunk in oil and temp needle stayed in the middle. I replaced the HG and all was well after that.

I remember the car overheated approximately a year prior as a pipe came apart. I replaced the pipe and the car didn't overheat and was running perfect. I thought that was the end of that. A few months later the expansion bottle popped (maybe the cooling system was getting pressurized and found the weakest spot, an old plastic bottle). Replaced the expansion bottle, and everything was fine. Then I had to go to BMW meet in Brighton. Got to Brighton and opened up the bonnet (car meet stuff) and there was evidence of coolant leaving the radiator cap. I found it bizarre but thought nothing of it at time. Then a few months later, the car started to misfire when I just finished a parking maneuver, but no white smoke. The next day there was white smoke. The mechanic gave me back my old HG and i could see that some of the holes that allows the coolant to flow were blocked, and there were also newly formed holes near the combustion chamber circles (where the coolant leaked into the chamber).

It might be the Head Gasket. Have you tried getting a 2nd opinion?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
2nd opinion is my next step.
If it looks like head gasket is the culprit, what should i expect to pay?
The garage that replaced all my cooling bits said around £500 but im not gonna take it there anyway because the guy seems a bit clueless.
My uncle raised an interesting pint the other day, he suspected the head gasket had gone on his Audi A4 1.8T, and got a quote from a local mechanic (£650), he then rang Audi who quoted him £400. When he took it to get the work done audi diagnosed the problem as something else and fixed it for him. Just wondering for the sake of messing about how expensive it would be to get the work done by a BMW centre in comparison to an independent garage.
 

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Taking an E36 316 to a BMW dealership would incur a cost more than the cars value most likely. First car or not, it's not an option I wouldn't think, I've been in that boat.
 

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Nothing better than trying. You can phone them up and see. Just shop around :) My friend has an E36 328 and took it to BMW for an oil service. They charged him £150...which is cheaper than going to Halfords Autocentres.
 

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Is it difficult to do the head gasket yourself? I wouldn't think it would be too terribly bad if you have some mechanical ability
 
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