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Discussion Starter #1
I've searched through the boards, but couldn't find this exact problem, so I'm giving this a try. If I missed a thread, feel free to just point me there.

So, just got the M5 today (2001, 92K miles), picked it up about 45 mins from home with a friend. As we were driving back on the highway, at 60mph, the engine just stopped, completely died. Temperature gauge was not even at mid mark. Tried to restart it, no go. Some lights came up on the dashboard, including "CHECK COOLANT LEVEL" and "ENGINE FAILSAFE PROG". But, engine wouldn't start again. Had a hard time even parking it, just coasting.

When parked, we opened up the hood, and there was some smoke coming out, looked like water vapor. Engine bay was pretty clean though. Some water was dripping on the ground, not much. I thought "well, so a cooling hose or the coolant expansion tank just died, dropped all the coolant on the highway, and this is just the remaining stuff". Checked the oil, it looked fine. So, went for a bite, and came back an hour later with some distilled water. We tried to put 3 gallons in, and we could see coolant dripping on the floor, not at a fast rate though. Definitely not at the rate I was pouring it in. So, it's definitely not keeping water in, but that's not the major issue.

I tried to restart engine multiple times, after it had been left to cool for a little while. First thing it says is "CHECK COOLANT LEVEL", and when I wait a few seconds, and actually try to crank it, it displays "ENGINE FAILSAFE PROG" again, albeit the dashboard lights dim significantly when it displays that. Almost as if the starter is trying to crank the engine, but it's stuck somehow, or doesn't have enough amps. I know that just having low coolant shouldn't block the engine from cranking or starting (had this issue on my 540i for a while), so I'm somewhat baffled.

I don't currently have a way to read the codes, so I guess that's all the info I have. Any clues/tips on what I could try or what else I can check, before just throwing it on a tow truck and sending it to my local indy shop? It's currently just parked out on the road, and I may try a couple of things tomorrow morning before just sending it to the shop. Hoping it's just a minor/fixable issue =/

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

Marcos
 

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Marcos,

This is sad; I predict you are in big trouble. It sounds to me like you just bought a used car, although you didn't say that. So what if the engine bay was clean? You seem impressed by the wrong stuff. The engine bay was clean because it was steam cleaned with coolant for some period by the previous owner. Does that help explain things? It also appears you had no coolant in the motor while driving it for over 50 miles!! The temp gauge sensor only works when in direct contact with fluid. I will not function when fluid is replaced with gas, so it will not indicate overheat if the engine has no coolant in it. This is a recipe for catastrophic failure of the sort you experienced. If you suddenly lost coolant you would have likely known it long before the engine quit turning. You would have seen dash lights, heard chimes and saw steam. When coolant is suddenly lost a plume of steam is witnessed, allowing the engine to be shut off by key within a mile and saved from damage. Ignoring the plume will result in run-to-failure and total engine loss, generally within 5 to 10 miles.

Therefore I deduce that you never checked coolant level but the car had a SERIOUS existing defect. It was dangerously low on fluid (virtually empty) from a leak before you drove off. This is why you saw no steam until the end. Again, you can't drive an S62 with low fluid for a significant distance or the engine will catastrophically fail to the point of requiring replacement. We're talking a couple miles, not 30+ minutes for gosh sakes.

I strongly believe the engine is destroyed and it was surely defective before you bought it or it would not be missing 3 gallons of coolant. These engines do not forgive gross neglect like an old cast iron pedestrian V8. This car may be a total loss because the cost to repair will likely exceed the value of the car.

You should immediately tow the car to the original owner and demand your money back. Use any laws (legal protection) in your favor and make the former owner own this existing problem. As-is does not necessarily mean you're screwed or stuck because misrepresentation is possibly a factor here. Get a lawyer TODAY for advice how to reverse an as-is purchase in Texas where the car blows up 45 minutes from pick up. This may be the best $500 you spent in your life.

There's almost no chance the engine survived. I'd put the odds at 1 in 20 or worse. An engine replacement (used with little or no warranty) runs about $15K. You should act accordingly. If you're praying or hoping you're super lucky and wish to confirm the reason for no engine turnover, fluid loss and wish to determine exactly what damage was done from a long drive on low fluid, don't let that diminish your ability to reverse this purchase. Such an investigation could take weeks and cost a lot. The exact scope of such damage can not be reliably predicted until all repairs are performed and proper function is verified. This means dumping lots of coin and time. It's a one way street to big money spent for diagnosis with possibly poor outcome.

Did you inspect systems on this car before buying it? I ALWAYS check coolant and oil level and monitor level closely when driving home. When I arrive home, all fluids get changed because I don't trust any seller's claim and wish to minimize the effects of any neglect. Coolant and engine oil level are #1 and #2 on my list followed by evidence of crash damage, tranny fluid level and about 100 other things. Seat wear, paint condition and engine bay cleanliness are on the very BOTTOM of my list of concerns when buying an M5.

Please don't take my post wrong. I am trying to help by shocking you into quick action by explaining the potential seriousness of this situation (with stark honesty). Towing to your shop could result in accepting fault, losing precious time and total financial loss. My diagnosis is based upon somewhat sketchy information and I could be wrong, but I doubt it. You laid out the scenario and symptoms fairly clearly. If you knew me well you would take my recommendation serious.
 

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Marcos,

This is sad; I predict you are in big trouble. It sounds to me like you just bought a used car, although you didn't say that. So what if the engine bay was clean? You seem impressed by the wrong stuff. The engine bay was clean because it was steam cleaned with coolant for some period by the previous owner. Does that help explain things? It also appears you had no coolant in the motor while driving it for over 50 miles!! The temp gauge sensor only works when in direct contact with fluid. I will not function when fluid is replaced with gas, so it will not indicate overheat if the engine has no coolant in it. This is a recipe for catastrophic failure of the sort you experienced. If you suddenly lost coolant you would have likely known it long before the engine quit turning. You would have seen dash lights, heard chimes and saw steam. When coolant is suddenly lost a plume of steam is witnessed, allowing the engine to be shut off by key within a mile and saved from damage. Ignoring the plume will result in run-to-failure and total engine loss, generally within 5 to 10 miles.

Therefore I deduce that you never checked coolant level but the car had a SERIOUS existing defect. It was dangerously low on fluid (virtually empty) from a leak before you drove off. This is why you saw no steam until the end. Again, you can't drive an S62 with low fluid for a significant distance or the engine will catastrophically fail to the point of requiring replacement. We're talking a couple miles, not 30+ minutes for gosh sakes.

I strongly believe the engine is destroyed and it was surely defective before you bought it or it would not be missing 3 gallons of coolant. These engines do not forgive gross neglect like an old cast iron pedestrian V8. This car may be a total loss because the cost to repair will likely exceed the value of the car.

You should immediately tow the car to the original owner and demand your money back. Use any laws (legal protection) in your favor and make the former owner own this existing problem. As-is does not necessarily mean you're screwed or stuck because misrepresentation is possibly a factor here. Get a lawyer TODAY for advice how to reverse an as-is purchase in Texas where the car blows up 45 minutes from pick up. This may be the best $500 you spent in your life.

There's almost no chance the engine survived. I'd put the odds at 1 in 20 or worse. An engine replacement (used with little or no warranty) runs about $15K. You should act accordingly. If you're praying or hoping you're super lucky and wish to confirm the reason for no engine turnover, fluid loss and wish to determine exactly what damage was done from a long drive on low fluid, don't let that diminish your ability to reverse this purchase. Such an investigation could take weeks and cost a lot. The exact scope of such damage can not be reliably predicted until all repairs are performed and proper function is verified. This means dumping lots of coin and time. It's a one way street to big money spent for diagnosis with possibly poor outcome.

Did you inspect systems on this car before buying it? I ALWAYS check coolant and oil level and monitor level closely when driving home. When I arrive home, all fluids get changed because I don't trust any seller's claim and wish to minimize the effects of any neglect. Coolant and engine oil level are #1 and #2 on my list followed by evidence of crash damage, tranny fluid level and about 100 other things. Seat wear, paint condition and engine bay cleanliness are on the very BOTTOM of my list of concerns when buying an M5.

Please don't take my post wrong. I am trying to help by shocking you into quick action by explaining the potential seriousness of this situation (with stark honesty). Towing to your shop could result in accepting fault, losing precious time and total financial loss. My diagnosis is based upon somewhat sketchy information and I could be wrong, but I doubt it. You laid out the scenario and symptoms fairly clearly. If you knew me well you would take my recommendation serious.

I agree 100%.. Buying AS-IS doesn't mean you should accept a lemon that died within 45 minutes of taking delivery.
Do not take teh car to the shop. Hire a lawyer ASAP!!!! and file a police report for Fraud if you have to.
If you ANY information on where the Previous owner took the car for service, contact them in the meantime and see if they worked on a coolant /T-Stat/Heating up related issue on the car.
The PO is going to try to plead ignorance.

There is no way to know but your engine has at the least gone through a over heat cycle, if its not destroyed, its at least passed the point of wonership for long term. You will always be worried about the engine even if it does come alive.

Spend all your money and effort to return the car and NOT to make it run

Did you dio a PPI?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the replies. I have a couple more questions.

When I started up the car, there was no CHECK COOLANT indicator. Even if the temperature gauge was not working, if the engine had no coolant at all, why did it not display that? The only time the car showed a CHECK COOLANT indicator was right after the engine stopped.

And yes, I did have a PPI inspection done at a local indy shop, and have the estimate. They found a few issues, and estimated $4K to fix all of them (valve and timing chain cover gaskets, a couple of suspension issues, and the throttle body). They didn't mention any coolant leaks. And that's what I don't get. The guy drove the car from Fort Hood to Round Rock just last night (almost an hour drive), and he had driven it to and from the indy shop for the PPI before (almost 70 miles each way).

Still trying to figure out what I'm going to do.

Marcos
 

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I feel bad for you, the guys here are right though, you should NOT accept what's been sold to you.

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Is your indy coming to check her out?
 

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That really sucks. Sorry to hear about this situation.

Did you really need to add 3 gallons of water/coolant? I am not even sure what the cooling system capacity is?

Did you ever pay attention to the oil temp? The oil temp in these cars typically runs slightly above the first dot to about the 6 o'clock position. The 6 o'clock position is usually only during hot weather and hard beatings from what I can tell.

If you know how to get to the OBC secret menu (you can search this here) bring up the battery Voltage #9 and see what you read for battery Voltage. You should have at least 12.1-12.3 Volts with the OBC display, also see what happens when cranking.

Sounds like the engine is in limp mode. Hopefully you just lost the water pump and the engine died due to something like the alternator or something unrelated.

You could try to jump start the car, however, some here feel it is better to either charge or replace the battery if needed.

Reading codes would let you know why the car appears to be in "limp" mode. Maybe you can try to unplug the MAF's as I have read a number of comments about a MAF causing "limp" mode. Other common problems can be cam sensors as well.

But you need to make sure you get the coolant filled up and see if and where it is leaking.

If the thermostat has been replaced lately, the outer O-rings can be easily damaged and you cannot really tell where the coolant is leaking from.

Good luck.
 

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Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry9550/5.0.0.320 Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/105)

Sorry to hear about the issue with the new car. I don't think you're quite to the "don't fix it and lawyer up" stage quite yet, IMO. Find the real issue before you go too crazy.
 

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You can get a code reader from any auto parts store, it may not have ALL the BMW specific codes, but it will show you the codes and you can cross reference them on this site with a search, or just type them into google.
 

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I'd at least make contact with the seller in front of witnesses (phone or otherwise) to let him know what happened. The dude just might have been adding coolant the whole way to the PPI knowing the issue. Prolly figured once you bought it it'd be your problem.

I guess there's a chance something failed after you bought. If the thing was overheating why the F wasn't there a warning ahead of time? Damn the car tells you the trunklid is open, but not that you're overheating?
 

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Marcos,

Sympathies, this has got be a sinking feeling.... I'm in Austin (Parmer/Mopac area) and have a Peake reader if you want to get together to get the codes off the car late today or sometime tomorrow. Which indy are you working with in town? I use Black Forest, they've done well by me so far.

Weird about the coolant level. When I had my thermostat replaced they broke an o-ring or seal and I had a slow coolant leak, the car was very good about telling me the level was even slightly off. I topped off the coolant after every trip (short trips) and never had above normal temps on the oil or water for the few days it took to get the car back in to get the seals fixed.
 

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First of all, congrats on your excellent attitude. I would be steaming mad if this happened to me. It sounds like you are keeping your cool, and that you did the right thing with the PPI and all that.

BMWs are notorious for having weak cooling systems that general fail around 90K miles. It could have been a problem waiting to happen that the PPI couldn't have seen and you just had incredibly poor timing.

My first thought was head gasket and maybe some kind of problem related to that since the starter can't turn over the engine, but that's a worse-case scenario. Maybe it's something simple like a bad battery?

I fear that it will require a tow to a qualified BMW shop that can properly diagnose it.

And money spent on a good code reader will not be wasted, trust me. You'll be needing it again. I'd suggest the Peake reader so that you can get the BMW codes, reset service intervals, etc. Surely a BMW CCA member in your area could loan you one, or maybe a board member (the two should not be mutually exclusive BTW).

Best of luck to you, keep us posted, we'll try to help as best we can. The folks here are a great resource.

Michael
 
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Scratch that....just re read original post....if temp gauge was not straight up, there is a possibility of the thermostat sticking or failing or a frozen water pump....nonetheless, total bummer....
 

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Sorry to hear, but if a PPI showed $4000 in work i would have run, since that is only the visible known problems,
 

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That $4k may not mean much, could be a slew of small DIY type item given what some indys charge for parts and labor. My PPI showed $2k of stuff, nearly $1000 of that was crank case vent hoses, separators, PS hoses, fuel filter and the associated labor. I had them do a ball joint, adjust a strut, repair a couple of rims and did the rest myself ended up around $750 out of pocket.
 

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Like lolcatsbeast mentioned, Black Forest is an excellent choice and there is also Pauls Motor Werks further up north off of 2222 just south of 620. I have been told Paul is very familiar with our M5s. You might even try Soulspeed, but it's likely they would refer you to one of the above if you haven't worked with them before. Pretty terrible situation to be in, and I hope you can get this sorted out affordably with either a lawyer or an indy shop. By the way, what shop did you use for your PPI?
 

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In the event this goes south between you and seller I would start filing ALL your correspondence with him as well as the ad and any other claims he may have made that gave you the comfort level to purchase the car. The PPI may hurt you as an "expert" did not diagnose/determine an issue but with a good lawyer I assume that can be explained away. Also, since its your car pull the DCS or DWS I cant recall the name to determine if owner had any previous repairs to cooling system done at a BMW dealer to prove a prior/existing condition. It would not hurt as someone mentioned to look into retaining counsel should the inspection return what the gentleman had predicted of your motor. And take it to a different place than did the PPI

Just my .02 and good luck. Time is of the essence to start creating timelines and doing your due diligence. Keep us informed of outcome.
 

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I know that just having low coolant shouldn't block the engine from cranking or starting (had this issue on my 540i for a while), so I'm somewhat baffled.
OK now what's this about? Are you telling me that these cars (assuming the 540i was same vintage) will not start if the coolant is low? How is that accomplished? If this is the case could a failed coolant level sensor be the reason he won't even crank, why the car up and died on the road, and the check coolant error?

mjuarez what was the fix on this on the 540i?
 

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Overheat causing a blown head gasket and water getting into the cylinder would/could cause the engine to hyrolock, liquid is not compressible,so it could cause the engine not to crank over.

Not necessarily a good idea, but if you bump the start, you can usually force the liquid past the piston rings and valves and then crank the engine if coolant is not pouring into the cylinders.

Just ask anyone that had not destroyed an engine driving through high water and sucking into the intake.

If the person was unlucky driving their car through high water, the will end up with bent and/or broken reciprocating parts!
 

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You mentioned something about PPI throttle body issue...

Is it possible that it is a throttle position sensor issue?
This explains the failsafe...

Otherwise that it does not even crank over,lscman is spot on,me thinks...
 
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