Are BMW Head Gaskets Hard to Replace?


While BMWs are known to be pretty reliable vehicles, unfortunately, blown head gaskets are fairly common. While many BMW head gaskets will last for up to 100,000 miles, it’s not uncommon for them to fail much sooner – and when they do, it can quickly become a serious problem.
Some of the most common signs of BMW head gasket failure include oil contamination, engine overheating, and blue or white smoke billowing out of your BMW’s exhaust. If you’ve noticed any of these issues, this is potentially very bad news for both you and your BMW.

BMW head gasket repairs tend to be quite expensive, not because the repair itself is difficult, but because getting to the head gasket presents a real challenge. Replacing a head gasket requires removing a substantial number of parts, carefully cleaning and preparing a number of surfaces, and methodically replacing and reassembling the engine’s components.
Even if you know how to replace a BMW head gasket, there’s a good chance that you’ll run into some potentially serious issues along the way. Here’s a look at some of the most common problems that you’re likely to encounter.

1. Difficulty Accessing the Head Gasket

One of the biggest problems with repairing or replacing a head gasket is that the entire front part of the vehicle’s engine is in the way. To get to the head gasket, you’ll need to remove the water pump, intake manifold, spark plugs, and cylinder head. Sometimes, you’ll also need to remove the fuel line and/or the AC compressor. This requires you to remove hoses, wires, assemblies, belts, and pulleys.
As you’re doing this, it’s critical to pay close attention to how you’re taking each item apart and to properly catalog every bolt, washer, and screw you remove. You’ll need to note the alignment of your serpentine belt and consult your repair manual for specifications, such as the amount of torque to apply to certain bolts. One tiny mistake at any point in this process could lead to serious problems.

2. Damage to Other Parts

If coolant and/or oil have been spewing inside your BMW due to a head gasket leak, there’s a good chance that other parts of your vehicle will also need to be replaced. For example, it’s common for the spark plugs to be ruined. This is an easy fix. However, if the coolant or oil blew into your air compressor, you may need to replace it as well.
Once you get into the job, you may find that the cylinder head is warped, cracked, or tunneling. Warping is often caused by overheating and may be fixable by machining it flat again. Cracks are rarely fixable and may also be difficult to detect through a visual inspection. Tunneling often happens when coolant leaks and erodes metal on the head. Sometimes this can be fixed with welding, but in many cases, the head casting is ruined.
It’s also not uncommon to find that the head gasket leak has caused damage to the engine block or bearings. If this happens, it’s often better to replace the entire engine, since the repair will stop the leak but does not address the additional damage that has been done.

3. Logistical Issues

Once you get to the head gasket, you may find that replacing it is harder than you thought. It’s common for screws to get stuck. Since the space is so tight, you may not be able to easily get the wrench into the area you need to remove a part or loosen a screw. It’s these types of problems that often leave people wishing they had spent the extra money on a professional engine repair service.
You also run the risk of accidentally spilling debris or liquid out of parts while you’re removing them, contaminating other areas. This is one reason why experts often recommend draining the oil and coolant before attempting a head gasket replacement and replacing it after the engine has been reassembled.
Even if everything goes exactly as it should, you’re still looking at about eight hours of time to complete the job – much longer if you run into any difficulties along the way. If you need to machine the cylinder head, that will hold things up for another day or two, and if you find that you need to replace additional parts, you’ll be without your BMW while you wait for them to arrive.
Even worse, if anything went wrong during the process, you may find that your BMW still has the same or new problems after the job is done.

Turn to The Haus for Your Head Gasket Repairs

The bottom line? Just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. While a professional head gasket repair or replacement isn’t cheap, trying to do it yourself will bring you more headaches than it’s worth.
At The Haus, we provide ourselves by offering the area’s most competitive prices and can take care of your head gasket issues without the hassle. Contact us today to request a repair estimate.

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