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Old 03-30-2017, 05:18 PM   #1
newDIYer
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My e46 just died while I was driving. HELP!

Hey guys,

My 2001 325i was driving 'fine' til yesterday ('fine' as in i've been driving it with lean codes which I haven't gotten to still). JUST NOW, I took it out to my normal route but heard weird CLANKING noises under the hood while driving. It sounded as if a metal pole was loose under my car and was dragging while I was driving it.

Then I saw my battery light go on WHILE driving. Accelerator still worked but the steering wheel was stiff and hard to turn. The battery light kept going on and off. When it was off the steering wheel was fine. I kept going, hoping I'd get to my destination to see what was wrong or if my shield under my car got loose. While making a U-turn on the highway (there was traffic), my car shut off. When I turned it back on clanking noises came back and there were also screeching sounds (not like a loud screech when your starter engine fails though, more like belts turning and turning low screeches).

I then saw smoke come out from my hood and that's when I thought, I have to pull over. I wrestled with the wheel and turning on the car and off for a bit to get to a safe place to pull over and when I did, I turned off my car and popped the hood open. It was just light smoke, not black, not THICK white, but just like smoke. I searched it up and said the coolant must've been leaking and such, so I looked in and my coolant was pretty much everywhere and was dripping coolant under my car.

I let the engine cool for about 30 minutes and put in water to see if I can get to my destination (safer to park). when I put a bottle in i saw two leaks. One dripping from under one of the belts and one ONTO the bigger belt. i capped the coolant reservoir and turned the engine on. tried to drive away quick, but same symptoms, steering wheel not really responsive, battery light on, so i quickly parked it on the side of the road again and the light smoke came back.

Fast forward, my friend picked me up and now have no idea what to do. I would like to try to get it to my local auto shop, but towing isnt a great option for me...

TWO questions.

1. What is wrong with my car? How much will if be if I take it to the shop (approx.)? (I would try to do it myself, but I just don't have the time these days)

2. What can I do as of right now if I do NOT want it towed?
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:29 PM   #2
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your pulleys are probably smoked. belt certainly off. something threw it off. broken steering pump, water pump, or pumped pulleys. Go check, replace it all.
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:29 PM   #3
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I'm thinking your water pump blew out? Can you see if the belt is still connected in there, it connects your water pump, alternator and power steering pump.
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:42 PM   #4
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I'm thinking your water pump blew out? Can you see if the belt is still connected in there, it connects your water pump, alternator and power steering pump.
So...I remember seeing 4 different belts or so nothing out of the ordinary where it was like 'hey, this seems to be missing'. I left it parked and won't be going back to til later tonight.

Im just praying that one of the hoses are just old and broke...

do you think i should salvage it to get some cash out of it?
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:42 PM   #5
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Got any pictures of your belts?

It sounds like your water pump failed and leaked enough coolant onto your accessory belt to cause it to slip excessively, which would explain the battery light turning off and on and lack of power steering. If you try to drive your car any more than you already did, you could cause irreversible damage to your engine if you haven't already. You need to have it towed, whether you choose to tow it to your house or to a shop is up to you. When was the last time you replaced the cooling system (water pump, thermostat, belts, pulleys, radiator, expansion tank, hoses)?

Last edited by Ribbed; 03-30-2017 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:44 PM   #6
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your pulleys are probably smoked. belt certainly off. something threw it off. broken steering pump, water pump, or pumped pulleys. Go check, replace it all.
sounds like a lot of $$$$$$$$ or a lot of time...I would do try and do the work myself after my test and applications for grad school, but that would be after June and my dad is always on my ass about getting the inspection done and fixing it and it's come to here...oh my luck.

Last edited by Solidjake; 03-31-2017 at 04:46 AM.
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:52 PM   #7
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Got any pictures of your belts?

It sounds like your water pump failed and leaked enough coolant onto your accessory belt to cause it to slip excessively, which would explain the battery light turning off and on and lack of power steering. If you try to drive your car any more than you already did, you could cause irreversible damage to your engine if you haven't already. You need to have it towed, whether you choose to tow it to your house or to a shop is up to you. When was the last time you replaced the cooling system (water pump, thermostat, belts, pulleys, radiator, expansion tank, hoses)?
I dont have a picture, but I have a video of one of the leaks. The view is from the top looking down right to the left of the coolant reservoir.

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=T6xg-MqPjUw
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:54 PM   #8
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sounds like a lot of $$$$$$$$ or a lot of time.
yep. that's BMW ownership for you.

seriously, students. buy japanese economy cars. save the pimping for when you can afford it.

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Old 03-30-2017, 05:54 PM   #9
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sounds like a lot of $$$$$$$$ or a lot of time...I would do try and do the work myself after my test and applications for grad school, but that would be after June and my dad is always on my ass about getting the inspection done and fixing it and it's come to here...oh my luck.
Investing in preventative maintenance is required with these cars. If you had replaced your cooling system before it failed, you could've payed around $600 and been worry-free for the next 5 years. Since you didn't do that, you're now looking at spending the same $600 plus towing, plus diagnostic time and labor (if you don't fix it yourself), and possibly a new engine if you overheated it. You can either think "I'm so unlucky", or take this as a learning experience and accept that your lack of responsibility caused this to happen.

The link you posted for your video is broken, click on the video and go to Share below it, then replace that link.

Last edited by Ribbed; 03-30-2017 at 05:58 PM. Reason: Response to video
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:58 PM   #10
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yep. that's BMW ownership for you.

seriously, students. buy japanese economy cars. save the pimping for when you can afford it.
hahaha truth, but it was more of a hand me down. my dad bought to because he missed driving stick shift. then he bought a new car and gave me this one. we had this car for almost 4 years now. bought it at 230k? 238k? and now its just a bit shy of 250k.

but ferreals...now that i drove german cars, i don't know if i can go anything else. i used to drive a 99 oldsmobile intrigue before this..
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:06 PM   #11
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That's cool if it's a freebee.

No belts? No go. Do not drive. Get it towed.

First order of business is what threw off the belts. If you're on a limited budget, replace whatever caused the belts to come off.

At minimal you need new belts.

highly advise you get new pulleys.

My guess is a pulley popped. was the car squealing or making noise before this?

Your power steering pulley couldve also failed

or water pump.

or the belts themselves.
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:10 PM   #12
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Investing in preventative maintenance is required with these cars. If you had replaced your cooling system before it failed, you could've payed around $600 and been worry-free for the next 5 years. Since you didn't do that, you're now looking at spending the same $600 plus towing, plus diagnostic time and labor (if you don't fix it yourself), and possibly a new engine if you overheated it. You can either think "I'm so unlucky", or take this as a learning experience and accept that your lack of responsibility caused this to happen.

The link you posted for your video is broken, click on the video and go to Share below it, then replace that link.
Whoops, sorry. i gave u my edit page link. this one should work



Forgot to answer your last question. I wasn't the one that purchased the car first hand so i'm not really sure if it was changed and when. I DO know that we changed the coolant reservoir because it did have a crack once we did buy it. I actually started learning about DIY stuff because the mechanic who specializes in german cars I used to go to just disappeared. I went to another 'german car specialist' but he was just not good and didn't even know what a ccv was. But i do agree that I'm still in the learning curve and trying to learn about car fixing in general in my downtime as a hobby.
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:13 PM   #13
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Whoops, sorry. i gave u my edit page link. this one should work



Forgot to answer your last question. I wasn't the one that purchased the car first hand so i'm not really sure if it was changed and when. I DO know that we changed the coolant reservoir because it did have a crack once we did buy it. I actually started learning about DIY stuff because the mechanic who specializes in german cars I used to go to just disappeared. I went to another 'german car specialist' but he was just not good and didn't even know what a ccv was. But i do agree that I'm still in the learning curve and trying to learn about car fixing in general in my downtime as a hobby.

Yeah. Buy some simple tools, including torx set, and go to town. Try harbor freight.

Use the links in my sig or on my page to know all you need to know about this car for a lifetime of trouble free ownership.
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:14 PM   #14
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That's cool if it's a freebee.

No belts? No go. Do not drive. Get it towed.

First order of business is what threw off the belts. If you're on a limited budget, replace whatever caused the belts to come off.

At minimal you need new belts.

highly advise you get new pulleys.

My guess is a pulley popped. was the car squealing or making noise before this?

Your power steering pulley couldve also failed

or water pump.

or the belts themselves.
the car was not squealing or making noise at all before today. It ran really strong regardless of the lean codes that I had.

So, order of business should be:

1. replace belts and the culprit of what threw the belts off
2. pulleys (check power steering pulley)
3. water pump
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:16 PM   #15
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Yeah. Buy some simple tools, including torx set, and go to town. Try harbor freight.

Use the links in my sig or on my page to know all you need to know about this car for a lifetime of trouble free ownership.
yes, i will def check that out right now. Seems like a good idea since I can't even concentrate on studying because of my car...should learn something instead of worrying, right?

thanks for your help, mango!

I'll try to keep you guys updated
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:22 PM   #16
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the car was not squealing or making noise at all before today. It ran really strong regardless of the lean codes that I had.

So, order of business should be:

1. replace belts and the culprit of what threw the belts off
2. pulleys (check power steering pulley)
3. water pump
You'll likely find the culprit as you take your cooling system apart, assuming you're planning on replacing everything (as you should with no history of it being replaced in the past). Be sure to take pictures as you disassemble it and label bolts to make sure you can put it back together.

1. Remove intake cowl and air box
2. Remove fan and shroud
3. Remove belt and test pulleys
4. Drain and remove expansion tank
5. Remove water pump
6. Remove thermostat housing
7. Remove hoses

Let us know if you can't find the problem after removing those things.
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:28 PM   #17
newDIYer
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You'll likely find the culprit as you take your cooling system apart, assuming you're planning on replacing everything (as you should with no history of it being replaced in the past). Be sure to take pictures as you disassemble it and label bolts to make sure you can put it back together.

1. Remove intake cowl and air box
2. Remove fan and shroud
3. Remove belt and test pulleys
4. Drain and remove expansion tank
5. Remove water pump
6. Remove thermostat housing
7. Remove hoses

Let us know if you can't find the problem after removing those things.
thanks, ribbed!!

the picture taking is a good reminder. i once took apart a tv to fix it but i ended up with like 12 screws and washers. luckily everything was fine and ended up with screws, but dont wanna do that especially for a car!
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Old 03-30-2017, 07:55 PM   #18
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I had pretty much your exact scenario a few weeks ago.

One of my main pulleys went out ~20k before spec. If it's just belts+pulleys, you can easily take care of that yourself following Mango's thread. It'll be pretty cheap if you've got access to basic tools. This happened to about ~120mi from home and the day before work so I had to pay a mechanic ~$1300 for pulleys, belt, water pump, expansion tank, etc and labor. Hopefully you turned it off before things got too hot because that kind of thing can total it pretty quick.
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Old 03-31-2017, 02:11 PM   #19
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I had pretty much your exact scenario a few weeks ago.

One of my main pulleys went out ~20k before spec. If it's just belts+pulleys, you can easily take care of that yourself following Mango's thread. It'll be pretty cheap if you've got access to basic tools. This happened to about ~120mi from home and the day before work so I had to pay a mechanic ~$1300 for pulleys, belt, water pump, expansion tank, etc and labor. Hopefully you turned it off before things got too hot because that kind of thing can total it pretty quick.
1300? Jesus H Christ. Sucks being away from your own garage! Sorry that happened to you.

If anyone in the Houston area needs this type of work done, hit me up. I'll do it for free and teach you along the way.
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Old 03-31-2017, 04:00 PM   #20
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1300? Jesus H Christ. Sucks being away from your own garage! Sorry that happened to you.

If anyone in the Houston area needs this type of work done, hit me up. I'll do it for free and teach you along the way.
Dayum! Such a nice man right here! Wish i was in ur area so i can save this car. well! A little update.

I got to my car last night and opened the hood once more to see if it would be driveable. Belts were now off the pulleys so we called it quits and towed to to a shop. Mechanic tells me the waterpump has failed and that would cost a bit and probably be best to salvage it if we dont want to deal with it any longer.

My dad also wants to salvage it (he just wants it out of the driveway now). He's saying that if we fix it and sell it on craigslist we'd make a profit of at most $2-300. But if we put it in the junkyard, we'd also get 2-300 dollars...i told him I'd try by myself, but he states that not only is that the problem but we also have to fix the lean codes...guess this is goodbye for my car :'(
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