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  #1  
Old 12-24-2023, 05:49 PM
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It's Dead, Jim ('01 3.0i)

2001 (09/2000 mfr date) X5 3.0i, 180k miles. While staying 3 hours out of town for a couple nights, we overheated and likely lost the engine. Hoping to document and discuss here the process of diagnosing and possibly repairing the damage.



Brief summary of events (thinking back; did not register all of these as related at the time):
  1. Cold wet morning, quite a lot of vapor coming out of the exhaust while the car was idling as we loaded up. In hindsight, it was "steaming" out the tailpipes more than I normally see on any of our cars (M54 Z3 and S54 M3 included).
  2. Parked near our first stop of the day in town and we notices steam coming from the driver's front wheel well. Figured after the last 24 hours of rain, it was from remaining water and puddles on the roads.
  3. On our way to our 2nd stop for the day, we noticed the engine was having a tough time idling. By the time I found a spot to park, the car was barely running. That's when I noticed the temp gauge was pegged at max. Opened the hood and saw coolant splashed everywhere and a bit of steam.
  4. Got a U-Haul + trailer and towed the stricken vehicle home.
In trying to piece together what happened, my best guess is: head gasket. Coolant got into a cylinder over night or at idle, then highway/city driving and increased cylinder pressure sent gases into the cooling system causing it to pop and leak the coolant out.


I'm planning on doing a compression test later this week, but I am assuming the block or head will be warped after such an egregious overheating episode. My wife and I have a decision: fix it or look for a new one. We have put a lot of work into this X5 over the last few years, and we just bought all the parts to do an HVAC system overhaul. As I dig into it, it'll probably become clear what we need to do. Anyone have experience getting an overheated 3.0i back on the road?
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Old 12-24-2023, 06:10 PM
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If you didn't get the overheat until the last minute it's quite likey no head damage. There are numerous threads on replace head gasket on m54 and apparently one of the easiest engines to do this repair.


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Old 12-24-2023, 06:28 PM
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My guess is that you were leaking coolant on start-up... and maybe before that.

In CA, I bet this car has seen some traffic... I would check to see if both fans are working..Do the newspaper test on the mech fan... The fans do fail and will not generally give a code.

I have done a head gasket on my '05 3.0...It's easy...even for a first-timer. We can talk you through it.

I rent the time-sert tools.

Up to you whether to buy another one..They are pretty cheap...But if your X5 is in good shape and you like it, I would fix it.

You can try and put more coolant in it and see if it holds, but I think the head has to come off... it will give you a chance to replace coolant pipes and a few other things.. Compression test might not tell you much...I had coolant pooling in cylinder 6 yet I had good compression on all 6 cylinders. I think swabbing the cylinders for coolant the morning after running it to op temp is a better test.

Blocks can and do warp, but the likely issue in your case is that the head is warped and the block is okay...

Dive in, man...
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Old 12-25-2023, 03:51 AM
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Thanks for the encouraging words. You’re right, it was probably leaking coolant before that morning startup. First objective when I start digging in is to find the coolant leak. I just want to know what failed there. Fans are in good operating order; mech fan passes the newspaper test and the electric fan seems to operate normally. The coolant pipes under the intake are only about a year old and the hoses all looked intact, so my money is in the expansion tank or radiator.

I worry about head warpage mainly because I do not know how long the temps were so high. I did not have the presence of mind to glance at the coolant temp gauge until I shut the engine off. The engine developed a knocking sound right before I shut it off; could have just been detonation?
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Old 12-25-2023, 07:57 AM
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Did you see the $1500 X5 on the Craigslist post? It needs a head gasket.

Wow! One more reason for me to replace a new installed expansion tank. The coolant level warning won't turn off. I would say without a current refresh, we should check fluids once a week. Even pressure test before a long trip.

Good luck!
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Old 12-25-2023, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nahvkolaj View Post
I worry about head warpage mainly because I do not know how long the temps were so high.
Don't worry about head being warped...it is...but most of the time a machinist will take care of that for $250-$300.

If it is too far gone, - which I and my machinist believe is when it is warped 12 thousandths of an inch or more - I just go find a good used cylinder head..

The M54/M52tu cylinder head is really the key to life to these engines. I have 3 on the shelf ready to go.
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Old 12-25-2023, 11:38 AM
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It's Dead, Jim ('01 3.0i)

This is sounding more encouraging! Thankfully there are at least a couple machinists in town (small town) I can get it measured and machined at.

I saw that Craigslist X5. Super tempting if it was local to me since it’s an LCI. I’ve put so much into my ‘01 though: factory tow hitch, t-case rebuild and front propshaft, new brakes and master cylinder, oil pan gasket, cats, windshield, airbag module, window regulators, door handle carriers…plus it was spec’d with the sport package which is fun.
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Old 12-25-2023, 11:45 AM
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There is a part of me that wants to fly into Dallas or wherever that X5 with blown head gasket is, with a fresh cylinder head, gaskets, bolts, some tools ..fix it in 2 days, and drive it home.

Not wild about its gray interior, but that's a preference...and one that could be changed also...
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Old 12-25-2023, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Effduration View Post
There is a part of me that wants to fly into Dallas or wherever that X5 with blown head gasket is, with a fresh cylinder head, gaskets, bolts, some tools ..fix it in 2 days, and drive it home.

Not wild about its gray interior, but that's a preference...and one that could be changed also...
If I had the time to do that... Imagine trying to get a cylinder head through TSA, much less hoist it into the overhead. 🤣

The prior owner of my X changed out the beige seats and everything else below the beltline with black stuff from a donor, including door panels, and aside from the seatbelts. That must have been a LOT of work. I dislike black interiors though, gets super-hot in the summer.
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Old 12-25-2023, 02:19 PM
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The hot in summer is ok in winter. I park facing south in winter to get pre heated seats. My first X5 was black everything and when I bought the AC wasn't working so for a road trip was hell. After vacuum and fill of freon find out the damned pressure switch wasn't plugged in!
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