Check your engine. Only the M60 and the European M52
engines are affected.
The M60 was fitted to all the E34 530i and 540i V8
cars. It was not fitted to the earlier E28 5 Series or the later E39
5 Series. Also, the early E34 3.0 cars (pre-1991) were M30 powered 6-cylinder cars
and were not affected.
The M52 was fitted to the European E36 3 Series, E34
and E39 5 Series. The early models had the M50 (no VANOS) engine, and the
later ones had the M54 (double VANOS) engine. It is only the
European single VANOS
M52 units that were affected, and even then, not all of these
Check the casting number on your engine. As
Koala Motorsport, the M60 Nikasil engines are:
1 725 970 or 1 741 212
1 725 963 or 1 742 998
On the M60 block, the casting number is stamped on the
engine, on the right side of the car directly alongside the 3rd cylinder,
and slightly above the coolant drain bolt.
Take the vehicle to a qualified mechanic for a "leakdown"
compression check. The leakdown test detects a lack of effective sealing
(loss of compression) in one or more cylinders.
If you take the vehicle to
a BMW dealer, the mechanic can quickly check the idle quality using a BMW
diagnostic computer system. BMW extended the warranty on Nikasil engines
up to 6 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Remember, the higher the octane, the lower the sulfur.
If the previous owner had always used high octane fuel, then you may never
have a Nikasil problem. Beware if the prior owner always bought the
Because of the quality of the fuel in certain
locations, some areas are more likely than others to have high sulfur
fuel. Unfortunately for BMW, the USA and the UK are two of these areas.
These also happen to be two of BMW's largest markets! Incidentally,
Germany and Continental Europe appears to be largely unaffected by the
Everything else being equal, if you are in the market,
you want a car with an Alusil engine (the M62).