Wednesday 10 September 2014

E36 316i Compact: New head-gasket.

Well, it's been a busy month again in Beemer Lab and I've just bought a new house which hasn't helped. Firstly, I finally removed the stuck head-bolts from the E60, got the head off and found where my oil leak is coming from... The lower timing case has a big crack in it! It's too big a job to replace that and do the new piston, so it looks like the 530d does need a new engine after all, what a shame after my £500+ spend.

As there is no E46 progress still, I decided a cheap runaround BMW was needed on a temporary basis so I shelled out a quick £200 on an X-reg E36 316i Compact, again in Titansilver. It has 4 months tax and 10 months MOT so seemed ideal as a stop gap. That was until I went to pick up a fridge and it majorly overheated. After I limped home I found oil in the water, water in the oil and a constant bubbling from the radiator. Blown head gasket then!

I had to use it for 2 weeks in this state, only doing the 2 mile trip to work and no further, but still it was getting to max temp as I pulled up on the drive. The gasket was only £18 off eBay and is FAI. The job only took about 4 hours (oh the joys of working with a single cam!) and it is back on the road and running quite cool so far, though I will need to put it through its paces to find out if it was just a dodgy gasket or if there is a real cooling problem that's caused it.

I will cover the poor E60 and it's future in more detail soon. Oh, and I've also bought a new secondary air-pump or the E46 so watch this space. 3 Beemers and counting...

£18 delivered. eBay FTW still.
By gosh, that looks like some hot oil.
The centre two head-bolts [1 and 2] were finger loose when removed!
This has obviously allowed oil and water to mingle. Blast marks round
the front cylinder show where combustion was stopping water entering the head.
This whole head-gasket swap took about 4 hours, so how
hastily the last one was thrown on is disturbing...
Lots of burnt oil and split gasket over the head, but it cleaned up well.
Think I will leave cleaning the cooling system for another day though. The head is caked with 'rad-weld' type stuff.
Amazingly, after all that overheating, the head is straight as anything! BMW alloy heads are forgiving to say the least.
10 minutes with a razor-blade and the block is good as new. PIston don't look half bad either.
New gasket on. The re-tightening sequence is 30nm, 90 degrees and
another 90 degrees. I wonder if the last guy to work on it only did
the 30nm and forgot about the torque angling?


  1. Hey mate, perfect job! I have E46 316i with same M43 engine and will have to replace head gasket due to oil leak... Do you have more photoes or more detailed approach? Thanks

  2. He i need a photos of camshaft timing for e36 316 dolphine shape

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