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Old 10-03-2011, 06:48 PM   #1
E Dub
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Just Replaced Waterpump and Thermostat and Now I Have Steam Coming From The Fan? HELP

My e46 is really frustrating me right now. I took it to an indy shop last week because I noticed my car would smell like coolant after every drive. They told me that I was leaking coolant from the thermostat and water pump. So I drove the car home and changed the water pump and thermostat myself! (saved myself $550) I bled the system and went for a test drive and steam started coming from what seems to be the radiator fan? I thought that maybe it's coolant that got on the fan, So I removed the fan cleaned it up put it back in and I am still getting steam from what seems to be the radiator? The thing that is driving me nuts is that my car is not overheating and I don't see any leaks? I thought if the radiator had a leak that I would be able to see it... At this point I don't Know what to do and I was wondering if this has happened to any of you? Any help will be greatly appreciated.


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Old 10-03-2011, 07:29 PM   #2
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The main weakness of the E46 cooling system in order of fail rate:

1. Expansion Tank

2. Expansion Tank Cap

3. Water Pump

4. Thermostat

5. Upper and Lower Hoses

....



98. Radiator


So I would make sure to check and replace the Expansion Tank and Hoses before replacing the radiator.

Steam suggest what ever is leaking is leaking under extreme pressure at a point in the system where the coolant is very very very hot.

Coolant is most hot and most under pressure when it is leaving the engine and heading back to the radiator so I would start there. By the time it gets to the radiator it is under little pressure and it is relatively cooler.
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarco View Post
The main weakness of the E46 cooling system in order of fail rate:

1. Expansion Tank

2. Expansion Tank Cap

3. Water Pump

4. Thermostat

5. Upper and Lower Hoses

....



98. Radiator


So I would make sure to check and replace the Expansion Tank and Hoses before replacing the radiator.

Steam suggest what ever is leaking is leaking under extreme pressure at a point in the system where the coolant is very very very hot.

Coolant is most hot and most under pressure when it is leaving the engine and heading back to the radiator so I would start there. By the time it gets to the radiator it is under little pressure and it is relatively cooler.
I would disagree with you. In my case, at 120K radiator failed and everything else was good.

OP if u cant find a leak yourself then best thing to do is take it to the shop and do pressure test.
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Old 10-06-2011, 10:00 AM   #4
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I would disagree with you. In my case, at 120K radiator failed and everything else was good.

OP if u cant find a leak yourself then best thing to do is take it to the shop and do pressure test.
No actually you are agreeing with me.

Radiators wait to fail after 120,000 miles

Water Pump, Thermostat, Expansion Tanks.... and everything else will fail as soon as 50,000 miles.

Most likely by the time you bought your car the previous owners had replaced all that already.
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Old 10-05-2011, 03:26 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by delmarco View Post
The main weakness of the E46 cooling system in order of fail rate:

1. Expansion Tank

2. Expansion Tank Cap

3. Water Pump

4. Thermostat

5. Upper and Lower Hoses

....



98. Radiator


So I would make sure to check and replace the Expansion Tank and Hoses before replacing the radiator.

Steam suggest what ever is leaking is leaking under extreme pressure at a point in the system where the coolant is very very very hot.

Coolant is most hot and most under pressure when it is leaving the engine and heading back to the radiator so I would start there. By the time it gets to the radiator it is under little pressure and it is relatively cooler.
(6) Heater inlet pipe and water pipe

Don't forget the Heater inlet pipe and water pipe under the intake manifold. No one mentions these plastic pipes when updating their cooling system. Leaks very slowly from the front of the pipes behind the water pump. Need to remove intake manifold to replace these. If you are going to do your CVV, then replace your water pipes at the same time.
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Old 10-03-2011, 08:19 PM   #6
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when you were changing the waterpump and thermostat did you put a piece of cardboard over the radiator? you may have nicked it and put a tiny hole in it, get a pressure tester and remove the fan clutch. see if it is leaking from the fins of the radiator.
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:32 AM   #7
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when you were changing the waterpump and thermostat did you put a piece of cardboard over the radiator? you may have nicked it and put a tiny hole in it, get a pressure tester and remove the fan clutch. see if it is leaking from the fins of the radiator.
+1 on checking the radiator.

Not to threadjack but has anyone ever replaced the heater hoses. Those are the ones that connect to the water valve and i believe the heater core.
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Old 10-04-2011, 04:58 AM   #8
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+1 on checking the radiator.

Not to threadjack but has anyone ever replaced the heater hoses. Those are the ones that connect to the water valve and i believe the heater core.
Yes I have. They are kind of a ***** to get at back behind the motor and you have to do it by feel I recall with out having to remove a ton of stuff. I did this once when I was trying to find the source of my coolant leak.

OP...

Yeah the radiator can leak. Others on here had it happen and so did I. However, as posted above it is not usually the first thing to go but it does. I was forntunate enough that mine was covered under CPO. They did a pressure and dye test and found the radiator had a small leak. I never would see it actually leak, but once replaced, it was fixed.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:04 AM   #9
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Yes I have. They are kind of a ***** to get at back behind the motor and you have to do it by feel I recall with out having to remove a ton of stuff. I did this once when I was trying to find the source of my coolant leak.

OP...

Yeah the radiator can leak. Others on here had it happen and so did I. However, as posted above it is not usually the first thing to go but it does. I was forntunate enough that mine was covered under CPO. They did a pressure and dye test and found the radiator had a small leak. I never would see it actually leak, but once replaced, it was fixed.
Yeah I thought it was a pain in the a@* to get at I need to replace the water valve and was thinking about doing those hoses also. Their part of the cooling system also. I did everything else except those hoses bentleys manual doesn't mention this and neither does the TIS. They only talk about the water valve. Thanks phoenix
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Old 10-05-2011, 03:30 PM   #10
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This reinforces what myself and others have been saying. Your cooling system is only as strong as its weakest link. This is why all components need to be replaced during a refresh.

This is classic. You get steam from point a and replace a part. Then point b starts to leak, then point c and so on.

BMW cooling systems shouldn't be treated like a chinese restaurant menu. You can't pick and choose what you'd like to replace.


Replace the radiator definitely.
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Old 10-05-2011, 04:02 PM   #11
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I have to completely disagree with the above post. Replace what is broken, when it breaks. There is no reason to do a several-hundred dollar overhaul with parts that are still guaranteed to wear out at some point. Preventative maintenance does not mean a completely new cooling system every 100K miles...pound wise, penny foolish? Something to that effect. It's not like the cooling systems on these cars are any more sophisticated than any other...with all the plastic, sometimes I think they're just cheaply made.

OP, I would search for leaks. Again, and more diligently. They do sell those UV dye kits...but really, you should be able to find it without one of those.

My guess is radiator as well.
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Old 10-05-2011, 04:36 PM   #12
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I have to completely disagree with the above post. Replace what is broken, when it breaks. There is no reason to do a several-hundred dollar overhaul with parts that are still guaranteed to wear out at some point. Preventative maintenance does not mean a completely new cooling system every 100K miles...pound wise, penny foolish? Something to that effect. It's not like the cooling systems on these cars are any more sophisticated than any other...with all the plastic, sometimes I think they're just cheaply made.

OP, I would search for leaks. Again, and more diligently. They do sell those UV dye kits...but really, you should be able to find it without one of those.

My guess is radiator as well.
lol same old generic response. you don't believe in preventative maintenance?

you're driving the wrong car. you contradict yourself by saying the cooling systems in BMWs don't need special maintenance, then you go onto say the cooling system is cheaply made.

which is it?

you can't spare $500 once every 80k miles or every 5 years to ensure the reliability of your cooling system and the general wellbeing of your motor?

seriously now?
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Old 10-06-2011, 09:30 AM   #13
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lol same old generic response. you don't believe in preventative maintenance?

you're driving the wrong car. you contradict yourself by saying the cooling systems in BMWs don't need special maintenance, then you go onto say the cooling system is cheaply made.

which is it?

you can't spare $500 once every 80k miles or every 5 years to ensure the reliability of your cooling system and the general wellbeing of your motor?

seriously now?
I ditched my e46 a long time ago. I had lots of little annoying piss-ant issues that really bugged me. For me, it's not a matter of being able to afford it, it's a matter of when the cost is justified--being willing to afford it. I can say with absolute certainty that $500 (and isn't that a low estimate for the entire system?) every 5 years is ridiculous. Almost any Japanese crapbox can run for that long with no major service, and the average person doesn't ever change the coolant in those. Yes, my personal observations on the e46 cooling system lead me to believe that the quality is sub-par...same with a lot of the components on these cars, but that's another rant entirely.

Cheaply made does not correlate to needing special maintenance, it correlates to replacing broken parts more often.

That being the case, how does it make sense to drop the coin to replace these cheaply-made parts unless there is a need? I get it from the peace of mind standpoint, but how do you justify it financially? I treat them as wear items and replace as necessary. For as many failed expansion tanks as there are noted on this forum, there are that many more out there with 150K+ miles and running strong. Should those people have replaced the entire cooling system twice at this point? Wouldn't that have been a total waste?

When I say preventative maintenance, I'm referring to things like thoroughly flushing coolant and adding a 50/50 mix with the Blue stuff every 2 years. Electrolysis is preventable, parts failures are not. I'm a big proponent of brake fluid changes, too. Do you replace your rapidly-deteriorating rubber brake lines every few years? Or do you have SS lines, which are supposed to be replaced even more often?

Regardless of how you present it, the bottom line is that you are replacing parts that aren't broken...parts that don't "halfway" function, they're either working or leaking. Something like spark plugs, yeah sure, change those a little sooner than necessary. A perfectly good radiator? No, I just don't get the logic there.

For what it's worth, I now drive the right car. '87 e30, all stock cooling system. Well, a new WP, but the radiator and hoses are all original as best I can tell. It handles the added stress of water-cooling my GT3076 just fine, too.

They don't make 'em like they used to...which really helps part sales.
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Old 10-06-2011, 09:49 AM   #14
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I ditched my e46 a long time ago. I had lots of little annoying piss-ant issues that really bugged me. For me, it's not a matter of being able to afford it, it's a matter of when the cost is justified--being willing to afford it. I can say with absolute certainty that $500 (and isn't that a low estimate for the entire system?) every 5 years is ridiculous. Almost any Japanese crapbox can run for that long with no major service, and the average person doesn't ever change the coolant in those. Yes, my personal observations on the e46 cooling system lead me to believe that the quality is sub-par...same with a lot of the components on these cars, but that's another rant entirely.

Cheaply made does not correlate to needing special maintenance, it correlates to replacing broken parts more often.

That being the case, how does it make sense to drop the coin to replace these cheaply-made parts unless there is a need? I get it from the peace of mind standpoint, but how do you justify it financially? I treat them as wear items and replace as necessary. For as many failed expansion tanks as there are noted on this forum, there are that many more out there with 150K+ miles and running strong. Should those people have replaced the entire cooling system twice at this point? Wouldn't that have been a total waste?

When I say preventative maintenance, I'm referring to things like thoroughly flushing coolant and adding a 50/50 mix with the Blue stuff every 2 years. Electrolysis is preventable, parts failures are not. I'm a big proponent of brake fluid changes, too. Do you replace your rapidly-deteriorating rubber brake lines every few years? Or do you have SS lines, which are supposed to be replaced even more often?

Regardless of how you present it, the bottom line is that you are replacing parts that aren't broken...parts that don't "halfway" function, they're either working or leaking. Something like spark plugs, yeah sure, change those a little sooner than necessary. A perfectly good radiator? No, I just don't get the logic there.

For what it's worth, I now drive the right car. '87 e30, all stock cooling system. Well, a new WP, but the radiator and hoses are all original as best I can tell. It handles the added stress of water-cooling my GT3076 just fine, too.

They don't make 'em like they used to...which really helps part sales.
I read two lines into that then ignored the rest. I suppose parts are perfectly good up until they fail and leave you stranded on the side of the road eh? Sorry you're so poor!
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Old 10-06-2011, 10:30 AM   #15
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:59 AM   #16
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My e46 is really frustrating me right now. I took it to an indy shop last week because I noticed my car would smell like coolant after every drive. They told me that I was leaking coolant from the thermostat and water pump. So I drove the car home and changed the water pump and thermostat myself! (saved myself $550) I bled the system and went for a test drive and steam started coming from what seems to be the radiator fan? I thought that maybe it's coolant that got on the fan, So I removed the fan cleaned it up put it back in and I am still getting steam from what seems to be the radiator? The thing that is driving me nuts is that my car is not overheating and I don't see any leaks? I thought if the radiator had a leak that I would be able to see it... At this point I don't Know what to do and I was wondering if this has happened to any of you? Any help will be greatly appreciated.


-Eric

What you have is a pin hole in the radiator. My fan blade descintigrated and put a pin hole in my radiator. It was wet, but not leaking. When I drove the car home, the engine got hot and steam started coming out from the radiator. Be ready to buy additional cooling parts. When I took the expansion tank off, the Auto thermostat was broken. Then taking it out, cracked the expansion tank holding bracket. This plastic is so brittle when it has been heated for many cycles.

I don't think you had a leak in the thermostat and water pump at the same time. That would be very very rare. Maybe your mechanic did not know what was leaking. If your car is over 5 years old or has a lot of miles, check behind your water pump to see if your water pipes are leaking behind the waterpump/oil filter.

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Old 10-06-2011, 10:04 AM   #17
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Yep. The radiators on the E46s are strong, but do fail. On the E36s, they fail around 50-80k just like the other components which do fail around 50-80k. People will argue OH YOU DONT NEEDZ TO REPLACE EVERYTHING!

you're right. you don't. But if one plastic part has failed--what makes you think the next plastic part will last a life time? Besides, it's not like anything else in the car. Any failure of the cooling system will leave you stranded. Is that a chance you want to take? People get ran over while stranded on the side of the road all the time. You want to risk being roadkill over a few hundred bucks (not to mention ruin your engine) then by all means have at it!
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Old 10-06-2011, 10:25 AM   #18
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I don't think you had a leak in the thermostat and water pump at the same time. That would be very very rare
umm, I'm gonna have to disagree with that.

My old car had this happen and I have seen it on others.

Why would it be hard for them both to leak at the same time?
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Old 10-15-2011, 03:58 PM   #19
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umm, I'm gonna have to disagree with that.

My old car had this happen and I have seen it on others.

Why would it be hard for them both to leak at the same time?

Yes, it can happen, but is very very rare. The thermostat and water pump are different parts and fail differently. Yes, you may have had this happen to you, but that does not make it a common occurrence. When evaluating situations you have to look at the overall picture and not take your own situation as being everyone experience. If you read the many posts on cooling system failures, you will usually only find 1 item broke or sprung a leak.
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Old 10-06-2011, 10:41 AM   #20
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I was hoping you would actually engage in debate about this--I try to respect people's opinions, even if I feel they're completely wrong. Instead, you ignore my post, and start lobbing personal insults. I'll refrain from entering a pissing contest with you, but here is my mentality about cars:

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