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General E46 Forum
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:30 PM   #1
Korsa
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Exclamation E46 Coolant light & Steam? Please help...

Hey guys so I'm having the same problem that a few E46 that I've searched for seem to be having. Ie coolant light was intermittent on/off when I seem to back off the accelerator the light goes out, but now it just seems to stay on? I'm also getting inconsistent heat through the heaters sometimes 32deg fine but then sometimes drops off...

And also after a long motorway run I came to stop at lights and there was what looked like steam coming from under the bonnet??? Tried to replicate this at home seemed to be coming from the rear left side of the engine bay as you look straight onto it, somewhere down low... Any ideas what this is I've seen the posts about air in the tank and sensor failures but the steam concerns me.

Also sorry if the thread looks messy I'm writing on my iPhone!

Btw just to check the coolant light is a small orange tank with fluid in the bottom lol?

Thanks Kurtis
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:50 PM   #2
jdstrickland
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Left or right should be as seen from the driver seat.

Your car is a 316, and since many of the people here are from the States, and we don't have your car in our market, it might be a while before you get information you can use.

Tomorrow morning, BEFORE you start the car, open the radiator cap and look inside. Add coolant as needed.
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:55 PM   #3
Korsa
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Left or right should be as seen from the driver seat.

Your car is a 316, and since many of the people here are from the States, and we don't have your car in our market, it might be a while before you get information you can use.

Tomorrow morning, BEFORE you start the car, open the radiator cap and look inside. Add coolant as needed.
Yea I have checked to see if the fluid is low and it seems to be fine, level doesn't change. The engine bay layout is surely the same though?

Thanks for your reply though
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:10 PM   #4
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Could be:
Air in the system
Leak causing a pressure drop and boilover
Bad sensor
Low pump pressure (danger)
When was the last time you did a cooling system refresh?

Last edited by scarede46er; 11-20-2012 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:19 PM   #5
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My advice is read cooling threads until you're nauseous and figure out what specifically it could be. Start with bleeding...search my 'alternative bleeding' thread.

There is a cooling level sensor in bottom of ET...in ours...and it's in a sealed container so won't leak if you replace it.

Inspect for leaks...remove underskirt, check pulleys and belts...if an auto, check fan clutch for proper operation.

But, if you don't want to learn what the issue is, the simplest thing to do is just replace the whole thing. If you have the money for parts, just do that...wp, therm, et, hoses, belts, pulleys, temp sensor (or at least o-ring on it). Check realoem.com for every part on every bmw ever made! tis.spaghettidecoder.org.

If you want to save money and just fix what's broken, you'll need to get nauseous. Sorry...that's the way it goes!
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:23 PM   #6
Korsa
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I did have a good read around here but saw nothing with this problem with the steam as I mentioned... Is there anything the coolant tank or one of the hoses is above to cause this steam? Don't want the car to burst into flames! Guessits gonna have to be a garage job!

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Old 11-20-2012, 07:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Korsa View Post
Yea I have checked to see if the fluid is low and it seems to be fine, level doesn't change. The engine bay layout is surely the same though?

Thanks for your reply though
If the coolant is good when cold, then the Low Coolant Sensor is failing. You can ignore this light if you are sure that the coolant is infact full.

I was going to say that the Valve Cover Gasket is leaking oil onto the exhaust manifold, but I believe that is mainly a problem for the 6-cylinder engines, and the 4-cylinders don't have this problem.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:44 PM   #8
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The only issue I can think of is bleeding any air out of the system. Some people make this mistake when changing any cooling components. Make sure the heater is on when filling coolant. You have a heater core (like a small radiator) that needs fluid in it also. If you run your heater and it's still cool then you know coolant didn't make it in there.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:55 PM   #9
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On your steam on left rear looking in...know your smells. Undoubtedly oil from VC leaking or coolant...which could be a fine misting. On our intake side there are a few connections that could be under the intake...there are hard pipes going into the block, connecting with a rubber engine cooling hose...I'm sure you have something similar.

See realoem.com and find your engine layout. If you notice burning smell when idling mostly, usually is vcg, but you should monitor your fluid levels until you sort this out...PS fluid too...can leak and get onto hot stuff and burn up.

GL...hth
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:43 PM   #10
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If you see steam under your hood then likely your coolant/water got too hot. It got too hot cause the cooling system can't cool your running engine. Failure to cool could mean leaks, air in the system, a failed thermostat, fan switch, or the fan itself. Maybe even a blockage in the system or radiator. Maybe the water pump impellar blades. Could be anything. Not sure what the 316 uses but my advice would be to replace it all.

GL, mate!
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