Everything In Its Right Place

Everything In Its Right Place

Today, we’ll be looking at two jobs in the shop that involve putting things in their right places — and whether or not that’s done correctly.

There’s a problem plaguing a good deal of BMW V8s, that can result in an extremely costly service. However, there is a way to help mitigate some of that cost, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today. First off, we’ll start by saying that not every BMW V8 is affected by this issue. Every vehicle that suffers from this malady has a model year between 2002 and 2010. They include:

• 2004-2005: BMW 545i (E60)
• 2006-2010: BMW 550i (E60 & E61)
• 2004-2005: BMW 645Ci (E63 & E64)
• 2006-2010: BMW 650i (E63 & E64)
• 2002-2005: BMW 745I & IL (E65 & E66)
• 2006-2008: BMW 750I & IL (E65 & E66)
• 2004-2006: BMW X5 4.4i/4.8is (E53)
• 2007-2010: BMW X5 4.8i (E70)

Now let’s discuss the actual issue. Deep inside your motor, right in the middle of the V that gives the V8 engine both its name and shape, there lies an aluminum pipe called your coolant crossover pipe. Part of its job involves delivering coolant (the neon-hued liquid that keeps your engine cool) between the front and rear of the motor. Over time, a rubber seal on that tube will begin to break down. When that rubber fails, you’ll experience a small coolant leak, either right by the water pump (at the front of the motor) or from the back. Sometimes, it will be misdiagnosed as a water pump issue, but a properly experienced BMW technician will be able to spot the problem almost immediately.


It’s not just a quick replacement, which is where the issue arises. Not only do technicians have to disassemble a large chunk of the top half of your motor to access the pipe, but the replacement of the pipe itself can take multiple hours, as well. This can lead to repair bills that can exceed $9,000 in some cases. If you know a few engine-related technical terms, replacing OEM with OEM will require removal of the front timing cover, as well as both cylinder heads. If this could be likened to surgery, it would be defined as “very invasive.”


However, there is a better solution than replacing the failed OEM pipe with a new OEM piece. A company called All German Auto has been manufacturing and selling an aftermarket coolant expansion tube that is able to expand and contract (see the picture above). That simple action removes a great deal of labor hours from the final bill, saving you a good bit of money in the process. It’ll also get you your vehicle faster — rather than taking upwards of 80 hours to complete, the job can now be done in as few as 10 hours. No removal of the heads necessary, thanks to the AGA tube’s ability to expand and contract. It’s that simple, and makes both a happier car and a happier customer. We’ve got plenty of other jobs to do, so we’re not going to try and convince you on a process that could take up to two full workweeks to complete!


The above work constitutes the correct way of putting something in its right place. This next job, however, is an example of the opposite. Is the end result correct? Kind of. Is it done in a way that’s anywhere near remotely professional? No. A customer recently brought in a set of catalytic converter pipes that somebody else made for him. We don’t know who that somebody is, but whatever they did with it, it wasn’t an acceptable way of putting pieces of pipe together. It seems the entirety of the pipes have been covered in “exhaust paste” in order to hold them together.


Exhaust paste, which you can find at most auto parts outlets, is meant to patch small exhaust holes/cracks that would otherwise be noisy or annoying. What it’s NOT meant to do is serve as a replacement for welding. If we didn’t know what exhaust paste was, judging by the color and consistency, we’d think these pipes were held together with sidewalk cement or some kind of oatmeal. We should probably also let you know that oatmeal isn’t a proper replacement for welding, either.


To make things even more interesting, it looks like the heat shields around the cats were constructed from the side of a man’s garden shed. And the shields are welded in place. But not the pipes themselves. Weird. Either way, this is the time where we tell you that it’s much more efficient to pay for something to be done right the first time, than to get it done cheaply at first and have to fix it later. Paying a little more upfront (to, say, TIG weld the pipes together) would save both real and opportunity cost in the long run. Now, it’s up to us to get to the bottom of this and deliver our customer some pipes that will hold up to the rigors of Illinois driving.


Have a great day, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow!

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