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Old 09-19-2012, 07:47 AM   #1
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Overheat, Overly Joyed...NOT

So quick background. Driving home from work last night I was on an off ramp and heard what sounded like a pop sort of from my rear ended (I think) and I looked down at my dash and realized the temp was in the red. So immediately pulled over and shut the car off. A month ago, I was told by a shop that I needed to replace a faulty thermostat and last week I noticed a sort of burning smell after an hour commute (self diagnosed it to be needing to replace the VCG). So this morning I noticed what looked like burnt oil on near what looked like a heat shield near the valve cover. Also checked and I had no coolant in the tank.

Would the faulty temp assembly and bad VCG cause the overheat and combine to deplete my coolant?

Also, I am faced with trying to repair, for the VCG and thermostat assembly it seems to be roughly $100 for the parts vs going to a shop and paying close to $600.

Thoughts help and opinions are appreciated. And no need to call me stupid for not fixing the issues immediately, I realize that and kicked myself all last night for it. fuqqq
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:18 AM   #2
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First of all, I'm sorry this happened and since you know what you did wrong I'll spare you the normal cooling system lecture. I don't necessarily think your thermostat being faulty would have caused the issue if it failed open. However, if it failed closed, it is a different story. I am kind of confused about your timeline though. You said you heard the pop last night and this morning there is no coolant in the tank. Generally speaking the pop was most likely a cooling system related item bursting and allowing coolant to drain out. Did you not notice any coolant on the ground after you pulled over? Also the oil on the heat shield is almost definitely the VCG. I almost would go as far as to say it is unrelated to your overheating last night. Check your oil level just for good measure, but I think you are good in that department. For now, I would check all cooling related items (e.g. hoses, expansion tank, etc.) for holes. Obviously, you'll eventually want to get in there and see what's up with the thermostat and water pump too, but for now, check for signs of where coolant could have possibly been relieved from the system. When is the last time you checked your coolant level? Have you ever replaced any cooling related items? Just trying to pinpoint your issue. Even after the problem is fixed, I want you to also realize a warped head is very possible if you drove the car for any extended period of time while in the red. Some have even warped it with minuscule time in the red.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:23 AM   #3
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The VCG is an easy DIY so don't worry to much about it.

Unfortunately, your overheating problem sounds to me like there's alot more that will need to be replaced. Thermostats generally fail open, but even if yours has failed closed I can't see how that would cause you to lose all of your coolant. That loud pop you heard may have been your water pump breaking.

How many miles on the car?

Regardless of the mileage, 12+ year old plastic parts are bound to fail. At the very least I'd look at replacing your water pump, thermostat, and expansion tank followed by some fresh BMW coolant.

How long was the car driven in the red? Was the needle fully pegged to the right, or did it have some more room to move?
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:24 AM   #4
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If temps were high enough for long enough (which is not very long), you may need more than just the vcg. You may be looking at getting a new valve cover as well. They warp fairly easily in an overheating situation.

bad vcg alone will not cause an overheat...

your cooling system (or part thereof) failed, that is why you have no coolant... mango will be here soon to tell you how to fix this...
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:25 AM   #5
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So the pop that I heard (it sounded like it came from the rear end so I didn't think it was cooling system related then again had no idea what it was as it caught me off guard) but when this happened it was 8pm and quite dark (also I was on a busy off ramp) but I didn't look under the car. The car was then towed back to my house. As far as me checking the coolant level, I did that this morning before I left for work so I didn't have much time to look around.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:33 AM   #6
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You didn't drive your car to work, did you? If you did...oh noes!

I'd have guessed your pop was ET, and that you don't have coolant. ETs pop...and then the plastic being so brittle, crack in such a way that it's hard to see. Also, when you shut down after an ET crack, they often seal themselves...the pressure from the system is quickly relieved with a cracked anything...and the coolant could easily have been blown back off the underskirt.

You need to find the leak, the reason why you have a leak (which might be more than that the ET popped, for instance). A closed therm is definitely a reason why the system would overheat.

$300 buys you a whole system (another $150 if you need a radiator...which you might at around 150K or above typically).

I'll save you the long cooling lecture as you can find it all over the place.

VCG is straightforward...but should be fixed. Figure 4 hours the first time (another 4 hours learning how to do it)...under 2 after that.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:34 AM   #7
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Once again, your coolant obviously went somewhere if the tank is empty. It drained out either as you were sitting waiting to get towed or drained out as you were driving and overheating (I cringe thinking about the latter situation). As far as where you heard the noise. That is quite subjective at this point. The noise may very well have come from the rear of the car, but IMHO I highly doubt it. Not much, if anything relates to overheating in the rear of the car. The closest idea I have is maybe the engine made a popping noise from being so hot???(Not sure that is even possible though since I've never overheated ). However, many things can pop in the engine bay (e.g. hoses, ET, water pump, etc.) Like I said before, when you get a chance, look from above and below to see if you can spot any holes related to your cooling system. This is beating a dead horse until you get in there and tell us what you see.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:41 AM   #8
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No I did not drive it to work, though the way my stupidity is going these days, you would think I might have tried. But when I bought the car, I know they replaced the radiator at least that's what they told me. The pop and me shutting of the engine happened within 10 seconds of each other, so I am hoping that a coolant system refresh will fix my issue here.

If I fix this and wait a week to do the VCG (I only have one free day right now, figure I might as well do the plugs at the same time) would there be an issue or should I leave the car in the driveway till both are done?
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:58 AM   #9
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The VCG won't cause any issues if you don't correct it immediately. Fix your cooling system first. Put the VCG on your list.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:16 AM   #10
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The VCG won't cause any issues if you don't correct it immediately. Fix your cooling system first. Put the VCG on your list.
^this^. Many people drive around for ages with bad VCGs (I don't know why since the diy is so simple). All you'll do is lose oil very veryyy slowly paired with burning oil smell. Cooling system on the other hand determines whether your car can be driven or is going to be a stagnant comfortable abode in your garage.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:17 AM   #11
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Unless the leak from your VCG is enormous, you should be fine. Just watch your oil level if you need to put it off for some time
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:19 AM   #12
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Quote:
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The VCG won't cause any issues if you don't correct it immediately. Fix your cooling system first. Put the VCG on your list.
Absolutely.

Bad cooling system >>> severe damage

Bad VCG >>> oil smoke and frequent dipstick checks
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:38 AM   #13
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You didn't drive your car to work, did you? If you did...oh noes!

I'd have guessed your pop was ET, and that you don't have coolant. ETs pop...and then the plastic being so brittle, crack in such a way that it's hard to see. Also, when you shut down after an ET crack, they often seal themselves...the pressure from the system is quickly relieved with a cracked anything...and the coolant could easily have been blown back off the underskirt.

You need to find the leak, the reason why you have a leak (which might be more than that the ET popped, for instance). A closed therm is definitely a reason why the system would overheat.

$300 buys you a whole system (another $150 if you need a radiator...which you might at around 150K or above typically).

I'll save you the long cooling lecture as you can find it all over the place.

VCG is straightforward...but should be fixed. Figure 4 hours the first time (another 4 hours learning how to do it)...under 2 after that.

$300 won't buy you squat. You're better off taking a sledge hammer and beating your entire car with it. Cause that's what you set yourself up for when you half-ass the important parts of the cooling system. Yes yes not everyone has the funds, but you're assuming the OP is a poor skidmark. How about you recommend the best first, and spell out an option for those who can't afford it? Strong emphasis needs to be placed on excellence.

The radiator is the core of the system--it's prone to leakage at any time. It must be replaced as preventive maintenance. (Look, Wolrab, I said preventive!)

OP, the system is $500 for manual, $720 for automatic. I've driven the cost down substantially by finding BMAparts.com (before everyone used to order from ECS or Turner's Motorsports and used to pay about $750/$1,000)

Not anymore.

OP, see sig, do it all. You don't know how many times I have to repeat this weekly. Read the first link then tell me what you think. Simple as that.

Jake, we need those popups!
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:53 AM   #14
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For someone wanting to fix a broken cooling system, without enough money to replace everything, I'm just saying that the radiator seems to hold up nicely. It's rare it has a catastrophic failure at the neck, and the leak between plastic and aluminum (which I had) is commonly not seen before high mileage.

$300 gets you everything else but the radiator. That's not really squat, is it? It addresses the most common issues we have--therm, wp, and ET.

But, on the other hand, your $500-700 doesn't get you the four ancillary hoses or hard pipes...not the whole system either.

I've said many times I agree with you to do the radiator after so many miles...I think after 120K it makes sense to do. My radiator failed at 180K miles...and I can't recall threads where a radiator has failed at under 100K...though I'm sure it's happened.

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Old 09-19-2012, 10:03 AM   #15
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The radiator is the core of the system--it's prone to leakage at any time. It must be replaced as preventive maintenance. (Look, Wolrab, I said preventive!)
Very commendable, Mango! We'll make an honorary Englishman out of you yet...
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:08 AM   #16
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For someone wanting to fix a broken cooling system, without enough money to replace everything, I'm just saying that the radiator seems to hold up nicely. It's rare it has a catastrophic failure at the neck, and the leak between plastic and aluminum (which I had) is commonly not seen before high mileage.

$300 gets you everything else but the radiator. That's not really squat, is it? It addresses the most common issues we have--therm, wp, and ET.

But, on the other hand, your $500-700 doesn't get you the four ancillary hoses or hard pipes...not the whole system either.

I've said many times I agree with you to do the radiator after so many miles...I think after 120K it makes sense to do. My radiator failed at 180K miles...and I can't recall threads where a radiator has failed at under 100K...though I'm sure it's happened.

Peace brother!
Radiator failure is not rare. We get a few threads a week on that. Imagine the ones that don't post. The reason you think it's rare is because the cars are now reaching an age where the radiator plastic and rubber seals has succumbed to heat and heat cycling.

While I agree the hardpipes and other rear hoses should be done, I've basically never seen a failure. They're very hard to get to and not practical for the average DIYer to do. Doing so would prevent the entire system from being replaced and we wouldn't want that.

Those who know how to replace those particular parts are smart enough to figure out on their own if they need it. For the rest of beginner DIYers, my guide and recommendations are thorough and complete for all intents and purposes.

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Very commendable, Mango! We'll make an honorary Englishman out of you yet...
As I understand it, the English English way is actually preventative.
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:13 AM   #17
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I think that a radiator failing below 150K miles is rare...and can only recall of one radiator neck failing. My gasket failed, as I said, around 180K...11 years old at the time. It might be age and miles, but I think it fails catastrophically rarely, and thus I'm not so emphatic about it needing to be done preventatively (or preventively). Therm(stuck closed), ET, WP...when they go bad, the consequences are immediate and severe.
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:20 AM   #18
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I think that a radiator failing below 150K miles is rare...and can only recall of one radiator neck failing. My gasket failed, as I said, around 180K...11 years old at the time. It might be age and miles, but I think it fails catastrophically rarely, and thus I'm not so emphatic about it needing to be done preventatively (or preventively). Therm(stuck closed), ET, WP...when they go bad, the consequences are immediate and severe.
Radiator plastic can break while pulling off the old hoses. I've seen it happen because the radiator (like everything else) gets brittle over time. You might be fine but really you're playing with luck. $143. No brainer.

A leaking radiator will introduce air into the coolant. It will also lower the capacity enough to risk an overheat.
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:35 AM   #19
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I'm sure some necks have been pulled off when doing repairs, and that's a good point. But, at the point you've ripped apart the radiator, you'd know and certainly get a new radiator.

My leak from the gasket was a slow steady loss of 1-3 ozs/week. Once I found that it was leaking, I monitored the level frequently, replaced what I'd lost, and I was fine.

Some here, you know, really can't afford to take care of it as well as they'd like. I just want them to have this information so they can make decisions that work for them. That's all.

Of course, I'm not saying that replacing a radiator is unnecessary or unwise...just that some times, it might not be a necessity.
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:44 AM   #20
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