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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Thu, Apr-20-2017, 01:24:34 PM   #1
thirtysixnick
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Default Top End Rebuild vs. Engine Swap

Here's my situation, if you don't already know:

Money shifted at 70mph into second
Cylinder head definitely needs work
Car runs doesn't smoke,leak, or make strange noises; just shakes at idle and has CEL for misfire cyl 4/5
Engine has 164k (likely hard driven) miles on it

Would it be better to swap in a lower mileage warrantied S52B32 or rebuild the head? Both are around the same price, just don't know too much about either.

If new engine would be best option where's the best place to source one?? I've checked a few sites, just not sure if they're the best sooooo

Appreciate the help everyone.

Last edited by thirtysixnick; Thu, Apr-20-2017 at 01:28:56 PM.
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Old Thu, Apr-20-2017, 01:35:58 PM   #2
englishtom1596q
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Default Re: Top End Rebuild vs. Engine Swap

I would rebuild the head. The bottom end on these motors is very stout. You can get away with a refreshed head and gaskets for another 200k. If you buy a used long block who knows how long it will be until the head gasket goes. Also for what it's worth these engines do better being abused than sitting, they need to run and vanos actuated regularly. It's the oil changes that really matter (which you can tell from a glance under the valve cover)
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Old Thu, Apr-20-2017, 03:21:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: Top End Rebuild vs. Engine Swap

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Originally Posted by englishtom1596q View Post
I would rebuild the head. The bottom end on these motors is very stout. You can get away with a refreshed head and gaskets for another 200k. If you buy a used long block who knows how long it will be until the head gasket goes. Also for what it's worth these engines do better being abused than sitting, they need to run and vanos actuated regularly. It's the oil changes that really matter (which you can tell from a glance under the valve cover)
Honestly I would love to get the head worked on vs a new engine. It sounds like it would increase the engines rigidity by a lot too tbh. I'll discuss this a little more with my pops soon. A friend who has a boosted M52 E30 said he'd be willing to come over and pull the head for me and inspect it... Hard part would be finding a replacement head and swapping the cams over. For some reason the cams spook me out a lot. I would rather a "new" head over sending mine off because my valves HAVE to be bent lol.
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Old Thu, Apr-20-2017, 07:06:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: Top End Rebuild vs. Engine Swap

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Originally Posted by englishtom1596q View Post
If you buy a used long block who knows how long it will be until the head gasket goes.
I like your thinking. One of my car buddies was always a proponent of "better the devil you know".
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Old Thu, Apr-20-2017, 07:07:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: Top End Rebuild vs. Engine Swap

Bent valves doesn't mean the head is scrap. There have been hundreds of people in your situation who had their heads redone with replaced valves and guides just fine. The only way you'd need a new head would be if it cracked (which a machine shop will check). If you have a friend who will pull and install the head with you for beer then you'd have your car up and running for around $500.
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Old Thu, Apr-20-2017, 07:48:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: Top End Rebuild vs. Engine Swap

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Originally Posted by englishtom1596q View Post
Bent valves doesn't mean the head is scrap. There have been hundreds of people in your situation who had their heads redone with replaced valves and guides just fine. The only way you'd need a new head would be if it cracked (which a machine shop will check). If you have a friend who will pull and install the head with you for beer then you'd have your car up and running for around $500.
I think 500 is DEFINITELY on the low side, lol.

Just the gasket set is going to be 300 bucks. Then machine work will range from 250-450 bucks depending on what is done.

At a minimum you should have all the guides replaced, which is a couple hundred in labor and a solid 100-150 in parts.

Then a 3 angle valve job will be needed. That's another 250-300 bucks.

That's not even including any parts. If you have an earlier engine then all the retainers should be replaced. Plus the bent valves.

I'd say $1000 is more realistic. That's not including labor.

You can buy a rebuilt head for 640 bucks. It might be the better way to go, depending on what is needed.
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Old Thu, Apr-20-2017, 10:02:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: Top End Rebuild vs. Engine Swap

Just had my head rebuilt for second time in four years on my E36 race car. Bottom end is still stock. Roughly $3K each rebuild but overbuilt with race parts and did none of the labor myself.

I do ask myself why I don't buy a spare engine or at least a spare head to have on hand.
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Old Thu, Apr-20-2017, 10:28:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: Top End Rebuild vs. Engine Swap

If you do rebuild, make sure you get quality gaskets. Genuine Bmw or Elring not victor reinz crap.
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Old Thu, Apr-20-2017, 11:51:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Top End Rebuild vs. Engine Swap

Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinwilly View Post
I think 500 is DEFINITELY on the low side, lol.

Just the gasket set is going to be 300 bucks. Then machine work will range from 250-450 bucks depending on what is done.

At a minimum you should have all the guides replaced, which is a couple hundred in labor and a solid 100-150 in parts.

Then a 3 angle valve job will be needed. That's another 250-300 bucks.

That's not even including any parts. If you have an earlier engine then all the retainers should be replaced. Plus the bent valves.

I'd say $1000 is more realistic. That's not including labor.

You can buy a rebuilt head for 640 bucks. It might be the better way to go, depending on what is needed.
I wasn't counting gaskets as part of the $500. Just the head refresh which is very doable for $500 if you don't go crazy with upgrading everything. Just replace the bent valves, replace guides (if they're worn), replace guide seals, LAP the valve seats and skim the head. We're talking about getting it on the road, not getting a race ready head.
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Old Fri, Apr-21-2017, 01:15:34 PM   #10
thirtysixnick
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Default Re: Top End Rebuild vs. Engine Swap

Quote:
Originally Posted by haus View Post
I like your thinking. One of my car buddies was always a proponent of "better the devil you know".
I've found a shop who's only charging $90 to get the car "diagnosed" and they only charge the $90 if I don't get it fixed with them. I'd much rather have a rebuilt top end after the few posts on this thread. Seems like a pretty prestigious place as they do a LOT of performance builds on track and drag cars. They do A LOT of their work on domestics (mainly mustangs it seems), but they said they work on imports also so I'm fine with it. I highly doubt a BMW inline six is anymore difficult than a Ford V8, just more expensive lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by englishtom1596q View Post
Bent valves doesn't mean the head is scrap. There have been hundreds of people in your situation who had their heads redone with replaced valves and guides just fine. The only way you'd need a new head would be if it cracked (which a machine shop will check). If you have a friend who will pull and install the head with you for beer then you'd have your car up and running for around $500.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinwilly View Post
I think 500 is DEFINITELY on the low side, lol.

Just the gasket set is going to be 300 bucks. Then machine work will range from 250-450 bucks depending on what is done.

At a minimum you should have all the guides replaced, which is a couple hundred in labor and a solid 100-150 in parts.

Then a 3 angle valve job will be needed. That's another 250-300 bucks.

That's not even including any parts. If you have an earlier engine then all the retainers should be replaced. Plus the bent valves.

I'd say $1000 is more realistic. That's not including labor.

You can buy a rebuilt head for 640 bucks. It might be the better way to go, depending on what is needed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaynardZed View Post
Just had my head rebuilt for second time in four years on my E36 race car. Bottom end is still stock. Roughly $3K each rebuild but overbuilt with race parts and did none of the labor myself.

I do ask myself why I don't buy a spare engine or at least a spare head to have on hand.
I plan to spend around $2K-$3K for the whole head rebuild. If I wanted to go the DIY route I'd have to get tools and do a lot of things I don't feel comfy with. If my car wasn't planned to be my "daily" for a while I'd have no problem messing around with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pat533i View Post
If you do rebuild, make sure you get quality gaskets. Genuine Bmw or Elring not victor reinz crap.
I'm sure the shop I'm using will only use quality parts as I doubt they wanna deal with me coming back
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Discussing Top End Rebuild vs. Engine Swap in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)