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    E46 #Transmission-oil-cooler / #BMW-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-E46-Transmission-oil-cooler / #GM-automatic

    I recently went to look at a #2004 #BMW-320d-E46 auto Touring with a view to buying it – apparently it had oil in the coolant, diagnosed as a head gasket problem, which is fixable if the car’s cheap enough. Sure enough, the coolant header tank was full of oily mayonnaise but there were pointers that this was another problem because the engine ran and idled perfectly, didn’t overheat and the oil level on the dipstick hadn’t dropped at all. However, when I put the shifter into D, it took a second or two to engage forward drive at which point the engine started ‘hunting’ as if the gearbox was struggling to maintain drive.

    It had been driven like that for quite a while and, with discretion being the better part of valour, I left it there – heaving automatic gearboxes in and out is no fun and the #GM unit used in these is a heavy old brute. But I did tell the owner what I thought the trouble may be – a split auto box heat exchanger. These fit to the base of the radiator with one of those spring clips and the auto box cooler pipes fit on with the horrid push fit expanding clips and they can rupture inside. #Gearbox oil then seeps out of the split into the coolant and often, vice versa. A phone call a few days later from the seller informed me my hunch was right. As well as flushing the cooling system out and fitting a good used cooler, the gearbox needed a full flush as well. The gearbox began working again as it should but with a faint noticeable whine. So, keep an eye on the coolant and at the first sign of oil and coolant mixing, check out both the engine and transmission coolers.
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    Cheap X5s… / #2001 / #BMW-X5-E53 / #BMW-E53 / #BMW /

    ‘There’s no such thing,’ quipped a trade contact when the term ‘cheap X5’ was mentioned. ‘There’s buying one cheap, but then you have to run it and fix it.’ He then claimed that the best budget model is the 3.0i petrol. And, I have to agree with him. With 231hp they’re not a bad drive and, if truth be known, the difference in economy between this and the 3.0d isn’t that huge. The 3.0i manual is a very rare model favoured mainly by farmers but it’s a great old bus. It’s also more reliable – the #M54 engine really is a tough old boot as long as the cooling system is maintained (new water pump at 100k). Most sub-£3000 X5s are heaps just waiting to go very badly wrong – things like the #GM-automatic gearbox, air springs, differentials as well as other old high mileage diesel maladies. The 4.4i V8 is just too heavy on fuel and it has the same gearbox and diff problems in old age as the diesels. The 3.0i, though, seems a lot better as it hasn’t got the torque to cause the diffs any great harm. They’re unloved as well so for the price of a stretcher case diesel or V8 (‘gearbox needs attention’ and other such nonsense) you can get into a decent fully-working 3.0i.

    The other killer is potentially road tax. Anything juicy registered after March 2001 (so most old X5s then) could soon be paying the full Class M £505 a year in road tax although at the moment you’ll be paying £290 as Class K (registered before March 23, 2006). The 3.0d is pumping out 259 g/km compared to the 214 g/km of a 2012 3.0d X5 and the 3.0i petrol’s 310 g/km, but be prepared for an anti-diesel backlash following the well publicised VW faux pas. The government could well put an anti-pollution policy into place (an amendment to the London Low Emission Zone anyone?) and old pre-DPF diesels will be right in the firing line with old #BMW-X5 smokers being a prime target.
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