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Old 09-26-2016, 05:43 PM   #1
Kye7
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Strange cooling system problem

Hello E46'ers!
I've come to the experts again for help.
Let me provide some background knowledge.
I have properly bled the system, and re-confirmed this many times.

20k miles ago, I overhauled my cooling system (done at 100k, I am now at 120k). I replaced the fan clutch, upper and lower hoses, water pump, thermostat, and expansion tank.

Some of these parts were no-name parts (and I suspect MIGHT have prematurely gone bad), and came from ebay and Amazon. The parts I remember being no-name were the thermostat, water pump (metal), and fan clutch. They appeared to be good quality with good reviews, so I put them in.

Last week, I was driving home from my friends house, normally, and noticed my temperature needle all the way in the red with the light illuminated. I immediately pulled over, and checked under the hood for signs of overheating. Everything seemed normal, nothing extra hot (as if it were completely normal). I turned the car back on after about 5 minutes, and the temperature was back to normal

As I kept driving, I noticed the needle start to go back to hot. Since I was already almost home, I turned the heater on all the way (heat still works), and the temperature gauge dropped back to normal. As I was almost home, even with the heat running, the needle gauge was rising again. After it had gotten to all the way to the red the first time (as stated earlier), I did not let it rise to that point again.

I suspected my thermostat, temperature sensors, or fan clutch. As of now, I have replaced the temperature sensors (including the one in the lower rad hose, and by cylinder #6 that was a real pain). Since replacing these, there has been no difference.

I am able to drive about 3 miles normally (with temperature in normal levels), and when I floor it (to test if still working well), it rises in temperature about 3 seconds after I let off the gas, and does not stop rising until I turn off the engine.

Upon inspection, the expansion tank is extremely hot, as well as the upper radiator hose. So much so, that if I open the bleeder screw, only steam escapes, no air or aqueous coolant. The outside temperature was 70f (21c). The temperature of the upper hose (using a infrared thermometer) reads about 160f (71c), and the lower coolant hose reads 74f (23c, almost room temperature). I can almost not even touch the top hose because it is so hot.

My conclusions lead me to a clogged radiator (has never been changed to my knowledge), or a stuck CLOSED thermostat (remember, no name brand) that died prematurely. I have heard the E46 thermostats are designed to fail OPEN, so this is why I am skeptical about this. I am sure there are some exceptions where they may fail closed.

I'd love to hear if you guys have any input on this, or if anyone has had this problem.
I want to know if I can find the culprit before I throw more money into my German lover.

Last edited by Kye7; 09-26-2016 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 09-27-2016, 08:53 AM   #2
markusmarkus
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Google "BMW E46 hidden OBC functions." Test #7 shows you the coolant temp as seen by the ECU. Anything in excess of 105*C is too high. Never put aftermarket cooling system parts in you BMW. Never! I bet the thermostat or the water pump is kaput.
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Old 09-28-2016, 07:46 PM   #3
Kye7
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Thanks marky mark. Ill try to find a friend with a tool that can read those.

I am also willing to bet it will be the thermostat or water pump.

The top hose holds a lot of pressure, and continues to be extremely hot to the touch. Lower coolant hose remains at about outside temperature.
When bleeding the system, only steam comes out (when engine is up to temperature). I re-read the bleeding system guide and I will attempt again tomorrow morning

In the meantime, I was able to change out my brake pads, and paint my calipers. They're a sweet red now!

Will continue to investigate and keep this thread updated. Any more info is great!
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Old 09-29-2016, 08:11 AM   #4
markusmarkus
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Google what I wrote. The on board computer will show you in the gauge cluster the temperature of the coolant. No special tools are needed. The "tool" is built into the gauge cluster.
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:18 AM   #5
hitbyastick
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Never compromise with the cheap junk cooling parts from ebay & Amazon, this has been posted many times. Genuine BMW only. Seriously people, why?
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:20 AM   #6
Mango
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eBay and Amazonian are just stores. Many BMW dealers including Century West BMW out of North Hollywood, CA and Tischer BMW (to name a couple) maintain accounts on both. It's the way of the world. Both are a large audience. Get ready for it.

The end goal is to buy quality parts.

Last edited by Mango; 09-29-2016 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 09-29-2016, 12:28 PM   #7
GhostFlame
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Before you buy parts, bleed your cooling system.

Sometimes the temp will go in the red because there is air in the system.

Also, what the first posted suggested (checking temperatures) does not require a tool.
It requires pushing a few buttons on your clutster in a specific sequence. Google it up.
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Old 09-29-2016, 12:47 PM   #8
hitbyastick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mango View Post
eBay and Amazonian are just stores. Many BMW dealers including Century West BMW out of North Hollywood, CA and Tischer BMW (to name a couple) maintain accounts on both. It's the way of the world. Both are a large audience. Get ready for it.

The end goal is to buy quality parts.

10% OE parts, 90% aftermarket for sale in these online venues, and frequently OE vs OEM vs aftermarket is a muddled point of obfuscation. Also there have been instances where people have bought what they thought and what was advertised as OE/OEM only to receive aftermarket. Ebay & Amazon are risky. I'd prefer to not deal with that hassle. I hate having to do a job twice.
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Old 09-29-2016, 12:52 PM   #9
Mango
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hitbyastick View Post
10% OE parts, 90% aftermarket for sale in these online venues, and frequently OE vs OEM vs aftermarket is a muddled point of obfuscation. Also there have been instances where people have bought what they thought and what was advertised as OE/OEM only to receive aftermarket. Ebay & Amazon are risky. I'd prefer to not deal with that hassle. I hate having to do a job twice.
As with anything, buyer beware. but usually Amazonian is much safer than eBay when it comes to parts. Amazonian prime. Certified. Reviews, etc. Just watch who you buy from.

Tons of OEM Behr Hella etc on Amazonian too.

Good if you want to order one $15 or $20 part Amazonian prime free shipping where as with some stores make you order $75 worth for shipping

Last edited by Mango; 09-29-2016 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 09-30-2016, 08:33 AM   #10
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FCPEuro FTW!
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