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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 06-14-2012, 05:48 PM   #1
m_unawar
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Steam from Radiator

Hi Guys Need your help!!!!!!


I have E46 316. I had a water pump failure so replaced it flushed & refilled the cooling system.

Other day I noticed steam coming from the front end. I went to investigate and it seems to come from the top of radiator. The whole radiator was stone cold not even luke warm while the top hose was very hot to touch.

The engine temperature needle stays in the middle and heater give very warm air as well when set on hot. The other thing I noticed was the radiator fan hadn't kicked in.

I have check the fuse and its ok..

I am sorry if this has been asked before.

Thanks in advance....
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Old 06-14-2012, 08:44 PM   #2
tomoyer
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When you re-filled the cooling system, did you properly bleed the air out? Is the coolant recovery tank or tank mount leaking? The plastic tank and mount are prone to leaking. Did you push the hoses on all the way until they were completely seated? Some times hard to seat the hoses with those plastic "quick connectors". Is the radiator full?
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Old 06-14-2012, 08:46 PM   #3
White_Knuckles
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You need to find the source location where and when it's steaming. Does a 316 have a mechanical belt-driven fan or just an electric unit? As the temp gauge remained normal, it's not unusual for the elec. fan to not cycle on. You need to inspect for where the steam is escaping. Look for dried coolant trails, wet coolant collection pools etc.

A breach in a closed cooling system is bad. Pressure may not be building properly. Basically, where there may be a leak, lets say a crack or failing O-ring, it could blow and yield an instant temp spike resulting in catastrophic melt-down. Okay just scaring you but it needs sorting out quickly.
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Old 06-15-2012, 05:17 AM   #4
m_unawar
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Thanks guys for your replies. I will have a good look over the weekend and report back. I think it may be garage job to be honest. I do not like hot radiators since i got badly burn once. Can it be faulty thermostat in closed position causing all this?
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Old 06-15-2012, 10:51 PM   #5
White_Knuckles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m_unawar View Post
Thanks guys for your replies. I will have a good look over the weekend and report back. I think it may be garage job to be honest. I do not like hot radiators since i got badly burn once. Can it be faulty thermostat in closed position causing all this?
No, these are a closed, "expansion" type system. The coolant is sealed completely from any air source. Unlike conventional systems that have an over-flow tank. These also use less fluid, just a couple gallons total. Steam means water vapor is escaping somewhere. Check your level when cold.

You're losing water somewhere like a cracked expansion tank or a hose connection etc. When the water temp goes up, the coolant level raises in the expansion tank normally. If temp increases so does pressure where at some point the radiator cap releases a pressure valve blasting out water and steam. A defective cap can release steam so it should be checked.

Your thermostat would have symptoms of running hot (stuck closed)or taking forever to heat up (stuck open) not a steam show.
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:38 AM   #6
Bobby330xi
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Also check the radiator end caps and look for steam shooting out from broken passes(tubes) in the radiator. The end caps are crimped on and can spring a leak. A stick or rock can puncture the radiator and make it leak, so check the front too for damage.
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Old 06-16-2012, 05:16 PM   #7
m_unawar
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First of All I am very thank full for all who are trying to help me it is much appreciated.

@ Tomoyer. Yes I have checked the hoses and and I also took great care in bleeding the system..

@ White_Knuckles ...How do you know all this Man!!!! 316 has Electric fan.... I can not figure out where the hell the steam is coming out from. Please do not scare me as I am in between buying a house and money is tight..... The radiator cap looks Ok ...


Here is what I did today....

Spend some time trying to find the problem. I pulled the top hose off to do some visual inspection. It looked OK. So now I put the hose back fill the system pumped the hose coming from the bottom of radiator and the going into engine I believe it is the thermostat. So after warming the car up to the temperature pressure started to built up.

Now comes the time to look for steam ...... after a while top hose was so hot that I could not even touch it on other hand the hose coming from the bottom of radiator was not. I can not figure this out. Why the top hose is so hot and hard while the bottom one is not even warm and soft. When I put the heart on full warm air the pressure seems to reduce. What can it bee????

I am started to loose hope and thinking of getting rid while I can
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Old 06-16-2012, 05:57 PM   #8
White_Knuckles
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Sorry to scare you but a little leak may not warrant getting rid of the car!! Post this question on the General Form where many more will see it. What you're describing isn't that strange with hard/soft hoses but we don't have that design over here. Maybe someone in the UK will assist?
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:29 AM   #9
jctopete
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Steam coming out of the upper coolant hose

I have the same problem. Aparently this is consistent with a cracked head gasket. I have replaced the thermostat and the water pump. No luck. The steam is still coming out. However, I have heard that with the cracked head basket I should be seeing milky Oil in my engine, but that is not the case...

Can anybody with the same problem post some guidance for us?

Thanks,
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:52 AM   #10
SamDoe1
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^ are you getting steam out of your radiator or your engine block? Any check engine lights or poor performance?
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:19 PM   #11
fastjasonbmw
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Get a block test kit to check for hydrocarbons (exhaust fumes/fuel) in the cooling sys.

http://www.napaonline.com/Catalog/Ca...006_0006398563

Basically you suck up vapor from the cooling system, if the blue fluid changes color, this indicate hydrocarbons are present. Most likely a warped cylinder head, cracked head or bad head gasket.
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:25 PM   #12
jmo69
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The upper and lower hoses are supposed to be different temps, hot coolant going into the top of the radiator and cooler coming out of the lower hose. It could be a thermostat not opening enough and the heat on high is like adding an extra smaller radiator. A friends e34 had a bad thermostat and would overheat unless on the highway with lots of airflow or with the heat on high. But that still doesn't explain the steam, see if you can find a cooling system pressure tester, that way you can pressurize the system without it being hot or running, making it easier to find leaks.
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Last edited by jmo69; 03-12-2014 at 10:28 PM.
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Old 03-20-2014, 10:22 AM   #13
Bino5150
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If you have steam, water is escaping the cooling system. You're not overheating and the heater works, so water is circulating the system. Blown head gaskets and stuck thermostats do not vent steam into the atmosphere from the radiator. Somewhere, there is a leak or crack.
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