Subject: 318i M42 Profile Gasket Problem
Background on the Profile Gasket Problem:
Many BMW 318's were produced from the factory with a major engine defect.
This defect ensures loss of all engine coolant, either slowly or suddenly.
BMW acknowledges the problem, but will NOT guarantee any assistance to cover
their defect, unless your car is under warranty. What follows below are all
the details I have uncovered during my research.
[ Help ]
- Who is affected?
Any and every BMW 318 with an M42 (16 valve twin-cam 4-cylinder) engine
built prior to 11/93. This includes the E30 chassis sold as a 1991 model
and 1992-1994 E36 chassis models.
- What is the problem?
A rubberized gasket (officially known as the "Timing Case Profile
Gasket", often incorrectly referred to as the Head Gasket) measuring
approximately 10 inches long and approximately 1.5 inches high that resides
between the cylinder head and timing case is defective. I hesitate to put
any exact statistics on it, but this gasket is failing at an EXTREMELY HIGH
rate...I would guess a 95-97% failure rate. When it fails, coolant leaks
from the engine into the engine compartment, usually near the vicinity of
the passenger side of the steering rack/onto the AC compressor/onto the ground.
- When does this occur?
I have had contact with 318 owners whose gaskets have failed before
30,000 miles (in which case their BMW warranty covered all costs to repair),
but the *average* failure appears to be betwen 68,000 miles and 77,000
miles. Some of these gaskets gradually deteriorate, leaving telltale drops
of coolant on garage floors, while there have been documented cases of
others failing suddenly, leaving cars overheated, stalled, and slick coolant
all over road surfaces. NOT good.
- Why does this occur?
According to BMW Technical Service Bulletin Number 11 10 93 (3885) dated
11/93, the Timing Case Profile Gaskets fail due to inferior/defective rubber
used in the manufacture of the actual gasket. Cars built after 10/93 have
Timing Case Profile Gaskets made with "an optimized rubber material
- How is the repair done?
Removal of the cylinder head is necessary for repair. This is very labor
intensive, with most BMW dealers charging approximately $800 for
labor, and $400 for parts. Once the head is off, its simply a
matter of scraping/removing the old gasket off, repairing any pitting of the
metal surfaces using a JB Weld type compound, allowing ample time for the JB
Weld to dry, then installing a new/improved gasket.
- Is the new gasket really any better?
Hard to say, I have no evidence either way. However, I have not heard of
any new/replacement gaskets failing. That's not to say they haven't/aren't.
- Why doesn't BMWNA issue a recall for this?
I asked BMWNA this via their Website, and was ignored over 8 times. A
certified letter to BMWNA did get a response, but did not address the actual
question of why they won't issue a recall for this problem. I have been
told by a reliable BMW source (under the condition of anonymity), that BMWNA
technical reps are well aware of the widespread failure of this gasket, and
recognize the seriousness of it, but BMWNA has NO plans to issue a recall
due to the financial cost they would incur.
- Does BMWNA offer ANY type of assistance if this fails post-warranty?
Several sources have told me the answer to this question is..."it
depends". Apparently, BMWNA will assess each post-warranty situation
individually. One of the main factors besides mileage is whether or not you
have been using a BMW dealer for all of your maintenance. If you have been
spending big bucks at your dealer, then they will probably offer you some
sort of "goodwill adjustment" to your bill. Several people have written me
with instances of BMW paying the "$400 for the parts bill as a good-will
gesture", but "made me cover the labor costs". This seems to be a very
common move on BMW''s part. By the way, this $400 in parts actually costs
BMW around $150 to $175, so dont think they are actually "giving" you $400
worth of stuff. Regardless, if BMW offers any assistance, its a decision
usually made by the local BMWNA representative for your regional area.
- Is there any type of preventative maintenance I can do to ward off this problem?
Basically, no. The only thing you can do is ensure you change your
coolant at least once every two years, using a phosphate-free coolant.
BMW's coolant meets this criteria, and I suggest using it. It's probably
worth the extra couple of bucks. Besides, it looks good in court if you
decide to go that route. ;-)
- I think I want to tackle this job myself, do you have a parts list?
Below is the actual list of parts from the BMW receipt issued to me after
my Timing Case Profile Gasket failed on my 1992 318is. This repair was
performed by an authorized BMW dealer. Note: Some dealers may or may not
decide to replace the water pump/belts while they perform this repair. It's
a judgement call. My dealer stated that my pump and belts looked fine, so
they didn't replace them. Here is the parts list, with prices as of 10/96.
> QUANTITY PART # DESCRIPTION PRICE
> 1 11121721546 GASKET $75.08
> 1 11121721939 BOLT SET $50.69
> 1 11121721876 VALVE COVER $34.74
> 1 11121721476 VALVE COVER $ 5.56
> 3 11121721475 VALVE COVER $ 7.20(Each)
> 1 11141247849 GASKET $ 9.66
> 1 11141247837 GASKET $ 8.66
> 1 12141727220 O-RING $ 1.46
> 1 07119963355 SEAL-RING $ 1.10
> 1 11611734490 GASKET $ 4.24
> 1 11611734684 GASKET $20.52
> 1 11531721218 O-RING $ 3.50
> 1 11531721172 GASKET $ 8.21
> 1 82141467704 ANTI-FREEZE $13.95
> 2 13541247400 THROTTLE-B $ 1.78(Each)
> 1 18301711969 GASKET $33.48
> 4 18301737774 NUT M10 $ .60(Each)
> 1 11141721919 GASKET SET $16.70
- This whole thing really sounds unfair. BMW should issue a recall if the
problem is so widespread. Is there anything I can do?
Sure. You can always call the BMWNA Customer Service line and complain.
The number is 1-800-831-1117. You may feel you want to write a letter. You
can send it to the headquarters at P.O Box 1227, Westwood, NJ 07675-1227.
You can also file a complaint with the National Highway Transportation
Administration (NHTSA). They have the authority to force an automaker issue
a recall. Their 1-800 hotline for complaints is 1-800-424-9393, or you can
fill out an online form at WWW.NHTSA.DOT.GOV/CARS/PROBLEMS/. I (as well as
many others) have done all the above, to no avail so far. Small claims
court is an option. A class-action lawsuit may even be an appropriate
action. It all comes down to time, money, and willingness to pursue.
- Profile Gasket