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Q: My mechanic suggest to replace the engine instead of getting the head fixed!!! on 2001 BMW X5

Yesterday I had very heavy white smoke coming out of the exhaust, smell something like burning rubber (temperature guage shows everything normal, needle right in centre). I stopped my car immediatley and turned it off, got it towed to the mechanic.
Mechanic told me that he was sure that the I have a blown head gasket and he is not sure if the head is cracked too. That he will find out after he take the head out.
After sometime he called me and told me that I will be better off if I get a used replacement engine instead of getting this repaired. As per him, it will take him too much time to take the head out and to send it to test (to mill it - that was the word he used- I am not a technical person at all). As per him, it will cost me much in labor hours for him to take it out and test it and if the head is cracked then I have to buy a new head. He told me that if its only the blown head gasket then it will cost me about $2k to get it fixed and if the head is cracked then total cost may go upto $3k. He also said that he don't guarentee the head repair and in his experience all the BMW face over heating issues after the head is repaired and its not worth it.
So he strongly recommend to get the engine replaced.

I will appreciate any feedback ASAP as I am without wheels right now and its affecting my work.

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Find a more confident and competent mechanic. It is no big deal to take off the head, have it pressure checked and resurfaced. It is a routine repair. It easier for the shop to just put in a new engine, because they don't have to set up the VANOS, ( computer controlled valve system )which is VERY tricky. He may also not have the special tools and training that is required to set up VANOS. We do BMW heads from time to time and set up the VANOS, so it does get done. Beside, how good is a used engine ????? Find a good German car shop that KNOW BMW in your area and call them? BMW makes an excellent engine, the bottom ends can go for 300k, any engine will wear out a head gasket, but that is not the end of the world, unless the engine was really, really cooked or run completely out of coolant, but you stated that it never severely over heated.

Hello Dandd,
Thanks for your feedback, really appreciated. I will make some calls around for some german car shops. By your feed back I am sure that you are an expert on this.
Yes, the engine is never overheated (at least the temp gauge never showed overheating). I am very carefull and smooth driver.
I also have to tell you that when the mechanic checked, there was almost no coolant in it. He put a gallon of coolant and ran the engine again. The coolant just disappeared with a minute and there was lots of smoke coming out of exhaust. He told me that it is due to the head gasket. I didn't understand it quite well though. I think he wanted to say that there was some leak and the coolant was going in the engine (it may be due to the head gasket- I have no technical knowledge at all)
Can you give me an approximate cost that a shop should charge me for this work. I mean, first, only to replace the head gasket and second, to repair the head if its is cracked (or wraped or whatever technical language you experts use- as I said before, I am not a techie).
By any chance (I know its a long shot), Do you know anyone near centreville, VA (DC metro area) who you can recommend.
Thanks for all your help.
A great answer from Dan.
I'd strongly suggest a BMW specialty shop, since they should have the tool kit to remove, install and set the VANOS. Since the VANOS will be removed, I also suggest to replace the internal seals. A good shop will know about the available teflon seals.
If the engine wasn't severely overheated there is a good chance to be able to replace the head gasket and fix it correctly. If it was badly overheated though there is a big chance that the cyl.head bolts pulled out the threads from the engine block and this will make the job a lot more expensive, since it takes more time a special repair kit - called time-sert - and a jig to fix the thread, otherwise a new short block, or a used engine will be necessary.
It is absolutely necessary to check the threads before of the cyl. head removal by loosen and re-tight ALL the head bolts to specs.
During the repair all the cyl. head bolts has to be replaced for new ones.
Another important thing is to use the original blue BMW coolant and not anything else to keep the entire cooling and heating system parts - also the head gasket - in good condition. Make sure the shop will replace the entire PCV (breather) system, including the hoses, unless it was just replaced recently.
I hope you can find a good BMW shop in your area, they will know exactly what and how to do. Follow their advice.
I hope it will be just a routine head gasket job and not more.

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engine has been overheated and is now a boat anchor. DO NOT consider a repair; it will not be worth it. just get a good used engine, new stat, hoses, belts. your guy is
100% correct.
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