We had our second BMW within a month come in with this same problem, so I figured it was worth posting about. The first one was on a 2001 X5, and the second was a 2005 545i, both with a 4.4L V8 engine. This post is about the 545i.
The 545i had 120k miles on it, and a history with us of fluid leaks, usually oil. In this case, our customer brought the car to us with a major coolant leak. When I say major, I mean this engine is spraying coolant out of the front of it with the velocity of a garden hose.
We could tell the leak was directly in the center of the engine in the valley, but in an area that you couldn’t tell precisely where it was coming from.
Side note: This was two weeks ago. See the snow? April. In Minnesota. Neat.
Anyway, since we knew the coolant leak on this BMW was in the valley, we advised the customer that we had to remove the intake manifold and valley cover to see what had happened. Here’s what we found:
That is the factory crossover pipe, which has an o-ring on either end of it where it attaches to the block. The o-ring is supposed to be part of the pipe, and it had corroded apart and become disconnected from the crossover pipe, causing the coolant leak.
Further research yielded an interesting and terrifying fact: To repair this at the dealer, the engine is removed and dismantled. We’re talking a 15-30 hour job, somewhere around $9,000-$12,000 just in labor alone!
Luckily for this customer, there is an aftermarket solution available which is far less expensive for the customer and much less time consuming for the technician. The factory crossover pipe is a solid pipe. The aftermarket replacement is a telescoping pipe with a threaded shaft. You basically cut the factory one in half, remove the halves, lay this replacement pipe in the valley, and thread it outword until it seals. All that’s left after that is replacement of all the other gaskets and seals that you had to remove to get to the valley area.
There are a few places online where you can said pipe and gasket kit, and here’s what the (better) pipe itself looks like:
Here’s part of the kit that we were given by the customer:
…and what it looked like installed:
All told, this customer shelled out $2,400 for this repair, which sounds like a lot, but not when compared to the 15+ hours it could’ve been. It instead was under 8 hours of labor.