Materials to Maintain Your ZHP IIIII Hand Protection IIIII Tools to Maintain Your ZHP
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Alpharetta, Georgia
    Posts
    109

    Sad Story - Blown Engine - Seeking Opinions

    Been a while since I've posted, but I have a sad story to tell.

    While driving I-85 thru SC from my home in GA my car overheated in a section just north of Spartanburg I later learned the locals call "the chute". It's a several mile section of roadwork that has concrete wall barriers on both sides of 2-lanes - no shoulders or safety lanes. We were in middle of "the chute" in stop-and-go traffic inching along in 90º+ heat when my 2004 ZHP convertible began to overheat and pegged full-on red. With traffic already a parking lot and nowhere to pull over (and no way to get a tow truck in if I just stopped in the lane), I had to keep going to the next exist about a mile further on, regardless of what it was doing to the engine. That took a good 15-minutes inching along a car length at a time to get to it. By the time we got off and limped into a gas station to call for a tow, I knew I'd done major damage.

    So, the engine is blown. The culprit, it appears, was the water pump. The car has 124K miles on it, and I'd had a full cooling system refresh done at 100K. I know, of course, how susceptible the engines are to damage from overheating. Had this happened just about any place except where it did I would have pulled over right away and probably be facing no more than a new water pump, hoses, and a belt. But what's done is done.

    And now the question is, what's to be done about it?

    Option 1: Replace the engine = $10K. This is clearly the best, but very expensive. The independent BMW specialist I've dealt with for many years was able to find an engine, but after pricing one from a reliable source it's more than he thought. Initially he was thinking $5,500 to about $8,500, depending on mileage. But it seems the price of good M54B30 engines from his source has gone up quite a bit. That price does include the engine supplier warrantying installation labor, so if the replacement turns out to be bad, we're covered. Still, not really a good option since I estimate the value of the car once repaired at about the same $10K as the cost to repair.

    Option 2: Repair the engine = $5,500. Sounds better, but there are two drawbacks. According to the shop there's an 80% chance of a favorable outcome. But there's still a chance the inserts they'll put in the block for the head bolts won't hold and the repair is no good. No guarantee on this - it's entirely my $$$ risk. If it does take then I'll be out the entire cost and only have a worthless block and freshly machined head to show for it. There is, however, a slight chance we may be able to file a claim with SC DOT since their own stated regulations require safety lanes on the Interstate.

    Option 3: Buy another car = ??? Likely $10K+ if I opt for another ZHP. Considerably more for anything else I'd be interested in. I'm guessing I'd only get maybe $1,500 for the car as it sits with the engine blown. More if I parted it out, but I'm not sure I'm up to that (ongoing back issues and limited mobility). OTOH, there are parts on this one I might like to have to transfer on to a new one such as NB interior, Konis, some Dinan bits, recently restored wheels w/ fairly new Michelins, etc...

    Would love to hear some opinions. What would you do?

    Name:  ZHP-1.JPG
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Size:  1.79 MB
    Last edited by Bird-Dog; 06-30-2023 at 09:04 PM.
    _________________________________
    2004 ZHP Convertible (OB/NB) - current
    2004 ZHP Coupe (SG/Alcantara) - *sold*

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Independence KY
    Posts
    2,849
    I don’t know much about rebuilding engines but I find it hard to believe that it’s on 80% success rate. Maybe the guy is right idk.

    I also find it hard to believe that used M54 engines are selling for what S54 engines cost (or even more than some S54 swaps).

    If you’re going to get a different motor rather than rebuilding, I’d look into an S54 swap since you’ll already (apparently) be spending the same amount of money on a used M54.

    Generally speaking, that situation sucks. Sorry it happened and nope you get the car back on the road sooner than later!
    2005 BMW 330i ZHP - BMWP calipers/intake/strut bar/shifter, M3 CSL front/M3 rear rotors, Coby wraps interior, BBS CH wheels, Eagle Eye LED tails, LED fog lights, GC coilovers, Sprint Booster/sport button mod, 4.5 LCM w/ programming, Xtrons 9inch HU, BSW stg1, dynamat, M3 sedan dead pedal, oCarbon CF interior trim, CF seat backs, 2x2 CF MTECH2 diffuser, CF cabin filter cover



  3. #3
    Ouch....If you don't mind me asking, what brand water pump and how long ago (time wise) was the cooling refresh?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Austin, Tx
    Posts
    298
    If you think the value of the car as is $1500, then I assume this is an automatic car?

    Are you sentimentally attached to this particular car?

    Are you in a position to spend $10k replacing or repairing this one?

    I've repaired or helped repair about 2 dozen M54s with blown headgaskets (I've owned the Baum Tools jig for about 15yrs). 100% success rate including (2) that had cracked heads which we replaced. BUT sometimes when they really melt down the rings overheat and they burn a little oil or have a rough idle. The cost + potential for irregular running generally means its not a good option for someone to pay me to put a head gasket on their engine. I can't recall what the labor time for a HG is off the top of my head but its probably something around 40hrs when you are all said and done, plus parts, machine work and potentially a head its a good chunk of change.

    I push people towards replacing an engine. BUT I've seen enough garbage M54s from junkyards that were supposed to be "good" that I won't install one that I can't hear run first. Which means buying a car. I'm in a position where I keep a couple B30 parts car on hand so I have some reserves and I don't mind parting the car out to help offset the purchase price but this isn't something I would expect most shops to do.

    One thing though you don't need a ZHP engine, you could source a B30 and swap your cams in, replace the valve cover gasket and freshen the vanos and its not that much more work while you are in there. Likely your cams will have some scouring on the bearing journals which can be polished and are fine.

    But even that option is not cheap, generally similar in cost to the HG, but just with a higher chance of success.

    Option #3, does it have to be a vert? Could you buy a B30 car and then move all your ZHP stuff over to it?
    Current Garage... '00 R11S, '09 HP2S, '12 R12GSA, '00 Black 323iT (wife's), '02 Alpine 325iT (Eileen, Track Wagon), '02 Japan Rot 325iT

    Instagram @ HillPerformanceBimmers
    Email to George@HillPerformance.com

  5. #5
    Damn! Sorry to hear this happen to your ZHP. Guess I won't be heading down to that area when I leave New England in a few weeks for my vacation in Florida.
    Reading this makes me glad I did a lot of maintenance to my ZHP before taking it on a long-distance road trip this summer...

    Hope you're able to find a workable solution that works best for your car. Good luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Alpharetta, Georgia
    Posts
    109
    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeH View Post
    If you think the value of the car as is $1500, then I assume this is an automatic car?

    Are you sentimentally attached to this particular car?

    Are you in a position to spend $10k replacing or repairing this one?

    I've repaired or helped repair about 2 dozen M54s with blown headgaskets (I've owned the Baum Tools jig for about 15yrs). 100% success rate including (2) that had cracked heads which we replaced. BUT sometimes when they really melt down the rings overheat and they burn a little oil or have a rough idle. The cost + potential for irregular running generally means its not a good option for someone to pay me to put a head gasket on their engine. I can't recall what the labor time for a HG is off the top of my head but its probably something around 40hrs when you are all said and done, plus parts, machine work and potentially a head its a good chunk of change.

    I push people towards replacing an engine. BUT I've seen enough garbage M54s from junkyards that were supposed to be "good" that I won't install one that I can't hear run first. Which means buying a car. I'm in a position where I keep a couple B30 parts car on hand so I have some reserves and I don't mind parting the car out to help offset the purchase price but this isn't something I would expect most shops to do.

    One thing though you don't need a ZHP engine, you could source a B30 and swap your cams in, replace the valve cover gasket and freshen the vanos and its not that much more work while you are in there. Likely your cams will have some scouring on the bearing journals which can be polished and are fine.

    But even that option is not cheap, generally similar in cost to the HG, but just with a higher chance of success.

    Option #3, does it have to be a vert? Could you buy a B30 car and then move all your ZHP stuff over to it?
    Yep, it's automatic. And, yes, I do have a certain amount of sentimental attachment. But dollars and cents count more.

    If I replace it with another e46 it would have to be a convertible. And I would much prefer a ZHP.

    I can afford to fix it or to buy another. I don't think I see the value in putting $10K into this one if - and I know it's a big if - fi I could find another lower mileage one in a color combo I like at a price I'm comfortable with.
    _________________________________
    2004 ZHP Convertible (OB/NB) - current
    2004 ZHP Coupe (SG/Alcantara) - *sold*

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Alpharetta, Georgia
    Posts
    109
    Quote Originally Posted by cakM3 View Post
    Damn! Sorry to hear this happen to your ZHP. Guess I won't be heading down to that area when I leave New England in a few weeks for my vacation in Florida.
    Reading this makes me glad I did a lot of maintenance to my ZHP before taking it on a long-distance road trip this summer...

    Hope you're able to find a workable solution that works best for your car. Good luck!
    I'm not sure how I-95 looks lately, but it's gotta' be better than I-85. Just about every state is doing extensive road construction on 85. And, at least once you get down around Charleston, US1 is close to 95 if you need to bypass a bad section.
    _________________________________
    2004 ZHP Convertible (OB/NB) - current
    2004 ZHP Coupe (SG/Alcantara) - *sold*

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Bird-Dog View Post
    I'm not sure how I-95 looks lately, but it's gotta' be better than I-85. Just about every state is doing extensive road construction on 85. And, at least once you get down around Charleston, US1 is close to 95 if you need to bypass a bad section.
    It's always a crap-shoot when going on any long-distance road trip. I was considering driving the Tail of the Dragon on my way down but after reading your post decided to save this for another day when I have my M3 instead . . .

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    1,193
    This is horrible. I know exactly which section of the road you're talking about.
    Like George said, if the car is valuable to you and has a sentimental value, then it makes sense to save it. Otherwise, finding a replacement probably a wise idea.
    10k for M54 engine replacement sounds a bit too much.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2023
    Location
    Metro NYC
    Posts
    16
    Car-part.com has many M54 3.0 engines - I’d say in the 2500 - 3500 range should get you a decent motor. I think I would avoid the one in the car. That could be a nightmare. That would maybe put you closer to 6 or 7k - I have an 01 330 vert - also automatic - not zhp, but it grew on me fast. I have about 6500 in mine - 5k buy in, the rest in parts.

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