Nikasil problems on BMW engines.
"A look at the BMW Nikasil Issue"
The Nikasil issue is a problem that affects all BMWs with M60 and M52 engines.
We will take a look at the causes of this issue, the models affected and the likelyhood of your BMW being affected by it.
The M60 from 1993 to 1996 used a Nikasil liner on the block, as did the M52 from 1995 to 1998. M52s produced after this used a steel liner.
The problem occurred due to the high sulphur content that existed in low quality fuels.
The sulphur reacted with the nickel lining and once damaged the alloy block was quickly worn beyond repair.
BMW did not test the block with high sulphur fuel and therefore did not know about the problem until it was too late.
It was discovered that ‘cheap’ supermarket fuel contained high sulphur levels, found in particular to be present in the North-West of the United Kingdom.
However, if the car was run on high quality fuel with low sulphur content the engine would not experience any problems. It is possible that some Nikasil engines are still going strong.
Symptoms include a rough idle (which be attributed to a number of causes), uneven bore wear, loss of power, oil consumption rises dramatically and some M52s were known not to start in the cold.
The simplest way to check is to get a leakdown test done. One of our members was recently quoted £110 at a local independent garage.
BMW replaced blocks that were rendered useless and changed the lining used. V8s got an alusil lining and M52s switched to iron liners. Some Nikasil engines have failed as early as 30,000 miles! It is unknown how many blocks were affected and replaced.
If you have a Nikasil engine then chances are it is perfectly fine (due to luck, one would presume) but for peace of mind TorqueCars would suggest a leakdown test is done ASAP. There is no reason why the car should not be fine assuming the correct fuel was used. High sulphur fuel is now uncommon and the problem should no longer exist (or worsen) due to this.
Written by Matt Ayling (a.k.a. forum member Prince)
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