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Old 11-12-2012, 09:35 AM   #1
KBidd75
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Car lost power and died while driving.....and a few other problems

Hi, I am new to this forum so I will apologize in advance if this type of issue/problem has been discussed before. Also pardon my terminology and lack of known acronyms. My husband works on my car and I'm posting to get some advice while he is at work.

I have a 2003 325i with 85k miles. We think we are dealing with a few problems here.....Recently the Service Engine Soon light is on and on Friday the coolant light was on. I noticed that the temperature wasn't getting as warm as it should and when I turned the heat on, the air was cold. We checked the coolant level and filled it up and the light went off. While driving it, the car randomly lost power while driving and even if I floored it, nothing would happen and the car wouldn't move. I took my foot off the gas and eventually I was able to accelerate again as normal, but noticed the car did backfire a few times. We did notice this was while the heat was on, so we turned it off and it seemed to run ok. Later that evening it did the same thing again when the heat was not on.

This morning I went to leave the house and it was very rough starting, took longer than normal to start. After about 5 blocks, I lost all power again, this time, while in the middle of the road, the car completely died. (heater was not on). Electronics were still on and all lights on the dash lit. After pulling over, I waited a few minutes and was able to start it up and drive back home. When I got home I let it run for a while in the garage and noticed that the temperature of the heat never got hot, it was cold. I was going to take it to Auto Zone to get the code read from the service engine light, but am afraid it may die on me again.

Here is a clip of the noise that is making....


In my research I've found that I may need a new gas cap, and have been reading a lot about the fuel pump, but that is all I've got so far. Do the symptoms I describe mean anything to anyone here? I am at a loss and would really appreciate any help._a_
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:33 PM   #2
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If your service engine light is on you need to get the codes read. A local Autozone or similar will read them for free. Get those checked and post them up. Also search for the codes for background information on what they mean.

Right now we're sort of guessing in the dark and the codes will tell you what the likely problem is.

Tim
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:52 PM   #3
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For one, read up on how to bleed our cooling system as that's undoubtedly one issue you have.

How long have you had car? If you'd lost a bit of coolant, you'll want to find a leak...and, btw, your thermostat is broken...broken open. Not an emergency, but not good for your car.

As far as losing power only when heat is on, that's an odd one...but I think that sound you've got is a bad pulley...and if I'm right, you should replace all three pulleys (2 tensioner and 1 idler) and check the other pulleys.

Tim is right...of course...that you should get codes read. You could try your regional forum and ask if anyone can swing by and read your codes. You might get more offers if you also post a photo of Marisa Tomei and pretend it's you...almost all the guys here think she's beautiful and would do anything for her. I won't tell!
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:57 PM   #4
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Tim - Thank you! We plan on taking it to Auto Zone this afternoon to checkout the codes.

Dmax - I've had the car for 4 years, had to add coolant once before, but just a little each time. Actually this morning, I lost power when the heat was off. We thought it was because of the heater but this morning that theory proved us wrong. We have a book that has what the codes mean and once we get them, I will post them. Thank you.

I know I have limited information here, I was just trying to get ahead of the game.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:42 PM   #5
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Tim is the list owner, so he really can't give bad advice...me, on the other hand, I'm just a guy on the Internet and actually enjoy randomly guessing!

You don't have heat because the system wasn't bled properly...an air bubble is back there somewhere and preventing flow to the heater core...or worse, an air bubble caused the wp to cavitate, not pump coolant, and although your engine was getting hot, the wp wasn't pushing coolant to get to the temp sensor located on the lower radiator hose...and maybe the car shut itself off because of overheating...getting a 'fatal' reading from another temp sensor.

Actually, K, I don't think you should drive your car right now. I'm trying to formulate a theory of what's going on, and although it sounds like bleeding could fix you up, I do think you have a leak. That leak, if it did cause an air bubble to get to wp and cause cavitation, you'd have been overheating your engine but not knowing it. Were you hearing kind of nasty sounds from the engine before it stopped itself?

Had the temp gauge risen at all in the car or was there a red dot lit indicating overheating? Any warning lights on?

In listening to vid again, I wonder if I'm hearing a wp gone bad...the bearings don't seize often, but the impeller blades break. In your case, it might be spinning inside a dry chamber.

Don't drive your car. If your husband does most of the work on the car, I think this might be a good time to suggest he meets a guy named mango around these parts. The guy's a fruit, but has the market cornered on obsessing over his cooling system. He actually drinks coolant...though he does chase it with a beer as that is actually the proper antidote.

The simplest thing at this point is to make sure you have a working coolant system. You at least have a leak. You probably have a failed component like WP. You can buy an entire cooling system for $300 and there are diy vids here of shirtless fireman replacing the system...so you could do it yourself. On the other hand, you could spend about 3-4 hours reading cooling threads (use advanced/title search) and actually diagnose your issue and fix it. Read until you puke. It's not brain surgery, but there are a lot of details you need to know...and I don't know what you know.

My concern is that you had a leak, didn't have circulation, turning on the heater sucked coolant into heater core, out of engine, wp started to not pump, and you overheated...and maybe damaged your head gasket or cylinder head. I did it myself about 8 years ago.

Your starting point now is to follow bmw tis's method of bleeding exactly...pouring slowly...using only distilled water (because I'm ocd and most here are about that!). Mango has proper instructions. Don't follow my 'alternative instructions' as you should not be revving your car to 4K rpms for even 20 secs.

If you can fill us in on more of what happened, someone will make up other good stuff for you, I'm sure!

Oh, most important...forgot to mention this. You should do something very nice for your husband while going through your car's recovery. I won't mention anything specific...and I'll also mention that the cooling system is a known weak spot of this car of yours...so it's not his fault!
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:23 PM   #6
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...bump for the OP.

Would appreciate someone maybe confirming my suspicions that this might be a bigger issue than just lack of heat and random dying.

OP...if you've learned anything more from diagnostics, let us know.

GL!
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:31 PM   #7
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Code reader said P0128 - Engine Coolant Temperature. We got a new Thermostat and will probably replace it this weekend and go from there!
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:45 PM   #8
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I dont think the thermostat explains the horrible noise from the video. While you are replacing it, spin the pulleys (idler, deflection, and AC tensioner) to see if they sound odd or spin too easily.
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:44 PM   #9
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I hope that was mostly all it was...but if you're planning on driving it after this work, just monitor the temp gauge more than you usually would until you know you're out of the woods.

Tell your husband that the most common issue with any cooling systems work is the issue of proper bleeding...and there are, as I said, good instructions in Mango's thread above here on 'cooling.'
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:46 PM   #10
KBidd75
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I will definitely let him know! Thank you for your help.
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:49 PM   #11
KBidd75
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325kev, yes the noise is definitely a completely different issue he's working on.
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