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Old 04-24-2011, 02:28 AM   #1
DJ RaMiN
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Unhappy Suspicious Coolant Leak!!!

So, I changed my radiator and expansion tank, thermostat and the hoses less than a year ago. recently I noticed like 2, 3 drops of coolant under my car. so It wasn't that bad. it was like this for a week, and suddenly after a week like the 8th day I checked and there was like a gallon of coolant running under my car..It was suspicious because it was a small leak and after a week the whole thing came out once and it was empty..so the day before yesterday I poured coolant and water in there and made it full again.. and I checked it every day, I just saw 2,3 drops again,,, this happened 3 time already,,, few drops for couple days and and a huge amount after that. I dont know what the hell is going on!!!
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Old 04-24-2011, 02:32 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by DJ RaMiN View Post
So, I changed my radiator and expansion tank, thermostat and the hoses less than a year ago. recently I noticed like 2, 3 drops of coolant under my car. so It wasn't that bad. it was like this for a week, and suddenly after a week like the 8th day I checked and there was like a gallon of coolant running under my car..It was suspicious because it was a small leak and after a week the whole thing came out once and it was empty..so the day before yesterday I poured coolant and water in there and made it full again.. and I checked it every day, I just saw 2,3 drops again,,, this happened 3 time already,,, few drops for couple days and and a huge amount after that. I dont know what the hell is going on!!!
I'm sorry.. I've been having coolant problems too I wish mine was an actual leak like yours where I can see it (so I could try to find the source of it). I filled my coolant in the morning.. And already got the light at night that it's running low.. Sure enough next morning when I checked, it was empty...

I don't know why, but it's been doing that lately. Got it checked, there's no leaks (sometimes there's leaks from the heat). It might be escaping and coming out of my exhaust, but I'm not sure..

I'm not sure if it has to do with the mileage on my engine, or if it's just another seperate problem. My engine has 194k miles, pretty much everything except it has been replaced by now lol. My car eats oil like crazy, but that's normal because of the high mileage.. It's the coolant problem I don't understand.
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Old 04-24-2011, 07:28 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by DJ RaMiN View Post
So, I changed my radiator and expansion tank, thermostat and the hoses less than a year ago. recently I noticed like 2, 3 drops of coolant under my car. so It wasn't that bad. it was like this for a week, and suddenly after a week like the 8th day I checked and there was like a gallon of coolant running under my car..It was suspicious because it was a small leak and after a week the whole thing came out once and it was empty..so the day before yesterday I poured coolant and water in there and made it full again.. and I checked it every day, I just saw 2,3 drops again,,, this happened 3 time already,,, few drops for couple days and and a huge amount after that. I dont know what the hell is going on!!!
I think you have a leak that you need to fix!

It could be many things...but I'll try a random guess...

Maybe you'd overfilled it with coolant (keep it so the two balls straddle the top of filler neck...no higher. And fill it to 'this' level when cool.) Excess will come out the ET cap when pressure rises above 2 bar.

Check your cooling fan function, as it may be that after a long weekend run, when engine is much hotter, that it would normally run the fan, but as the fan isn't working properly, that it's causing more to push out after shutdown. I actually don't know how the fans on the auto work, if you have an auto, but suspect that the one electric fan might stay on if the coolant temp warrants it...idk for sure.

But, you do have a leak, and honestly, you should have done more investigation after the first time you saw a gallon of coolant under your car. You do know not to drive if your car is overheating, right? Otherwise you'll be spending $1-5K to fix it...just saying!

Check Bimmersgarage here...he has great vids on diagnosing coolant leaks.

HTH
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Old 04-24-2011, 11:08 AM   #4
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Thanks Doug.

@DJ RaMiN and TheCalmInsanity
If you're experiencing that much of a coolant leak where you're putting in about a half gallon or more of coolant, you really do have a serious leak.
Like Doug stated, check out my vids on coolant leak possible locations.

Sometimes your coolant is held by the plastic splash pan under engine bay (between the radiator and motor) preventing any coolant from hitting the ground, you need to remove it to get a better look to find your leak(s). Just don't do it when the motor is hot, don't get burned.

NOTE: Be very careful NEVER Overfill your expansion tank.
When/if you do... you build up extra pressure that can rupture the tank.

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Old 04-24-2011, 12:08 PM   #5
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I have something similar, it all began with the squeaky noise coming from the serpent belt and i began to investigate. I notice spots of residue on my Pulley in the beginning and the brown stuff (dried gunk) from my 'Upper Radiator Hose' and around the 'Air Bleeder Screw'.

Long story short.

After months of small unnoticeable squeaky sound from the pulley it when louder and louder, until the radiator light came on. It didn't go away this time. It stay on permanently and noise from the belt became one long squeak all the way home.

As I opened up the hood I noticed the 'Air Bleeder Screw' gave way, and the water have gotten on to the belt. It was a relief, I thought it was a Tensioners that need replace. Please see pic.



Notice the 'Upper Radiator Hose' look dry on top, but the bottom is all wet. Most people would believe is the expansion tank that gave way. luckily, I was able to trace it back to my 'Air Bleeder Screw'.

IMPORTANT: My 'Air Bleeder Screw' have snapped off. The cap with the 'X' was just resting there.
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Old 04-24-2011, 02:44 PM   #6
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I know I have no leaks from the top because I check the top... didn't see any leak..I checked the bottom, it was wet around the expansion tank mount, where it(expansion tank) seats on it..I searched that here, some people say u need to change the O ring, some say change the whole thing! @BimmersGarage, where can I see your videos?
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Old 04-24-2011, 02:58 PM   #7
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Check YouTube for their vids

Check to see if you are leaking around the water pump area
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Old 04-24-2011, 03:15 PM   #8
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Do a quick search on Youtube > BMW Expansion Tank
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Old 04-24-2011, 03:30 PM   #9
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Mine was leaking from the water pump..I couldn't find a leak too. I opened the hood while the car was on and I felt tiny drop of coolant/water hit me from the fan


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Old 04-28-2011, 02:05 AM   #10
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the thing is mine doesn't leak while driving and engine running, it leaks while its off like over night! any Ideas?
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Old 04-28-2011, 02:17 AM   #11
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the thing is mine doesn't leak while driving and engine running, it leaks while its off like over night! any Ideas?
mine did the same. check the water pump and the t-stat area... thats where mine was leaking from. check the connections to the hoses too.

i brought my car to the shop like 3 times for this, and they could NOT find the leak. it was only when i tore apart my cooling system to replace everything, i found the leak lol.
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Old 04-28-2011, 02:34 AM   #12
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@mujjuman thanks. I checked the water pump its not leaking from there..
I'm thinking if the Coolant temperature sensor doesn't work, it will effect the fan right? and when the fan doesn't work it will increase the temperature and it will make pressure in the coolant and it will cause the leak!...but Im just guessing... if this is the problem then its really easy to fix...any ideas?
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:51 AM   #13
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So you're saying that it doesn't leak while running or parked shortly, but it leaks while the car is sitting overnight or for an extended amount of time?

Sounds like the exact problem I had. Initially I thought it was the waterpump, thermostat, or expansion tank leaking. But they were all brand new and just installed about a week ago. It turned out to be that coolant was seeping out from under the upper coolant hose (new also) where it connects to the thermostat housing. This would only happen overnight when the car was cooled down. It threw me off because coolant would drip onto the drive belt, crank pulley, and eventually land to the ground near the transmission cooling coil. I thought it was the expansion tank at first because it was the nearest up top, but once I crawled underneath with a flash light. (overnight leaking) I discovered it was the upper coolant hose. the leak couldn't be seen from the top.

Check your upper or even lower hose, if its leaking where it connects to the thermostat, replace the thermostat. At night when the car is cold and have been sitting, take your hands and cuff it underneath the upper hose. Wait for a while and see if your hand gets wet with coolant. If it does, you have the same leak I did.

My new thermostat came bad out of the box, 2 weeks of headaches tracing the intermittent leak. I took it apart three times to make sure all surface was even and clean. Used a little rtv as insurance, and problem still existed like mentioned above. Even put the old upper hose back on and leak still occur. I Replaced the new thermostat with another one and been leak free since.
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:27 AM   #14
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If it only seem to leak overnight (and not while driving) then the leak is caused by a failed/failing seal > more than likely due to heat pressure... the location of the "weakest" seal in our E46 cooling system is here:


Lower Radiator Hose > the Auxiliary fan/temperature sensor.

Check this tiny O-ring (green in photo) but it could be brown in some year models.
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:29 AM   #15
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If it only seem to leak overnight (and not while driving) then the leak is caused by a failed/failing seal > more than likely due to heat pressure... the location of the "weakest" seal in our E46 cooling system is here:


Lower Radiator Hose > the Auxiliary fan/temperature sensor.

Check this tiny O-ring (green in photo) but it could be brown in some year models.
Part number for tiny green/brown washer? Do you know if it is sold by itself?
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Old 04-28-2011, 11:28 AM   #16
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Reputedly its the same as intake air temp sensor washer

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Part number for tiny green/brown washer? Do you know if it is sold by itself?


I'm on phone so if I wrote something stupid, it was probably the phone!
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Old 04-28-2011, 11:37 AM   #17
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@GRIFFIN
I don't believe they sell that O-ring by itself from the BMW dealer, they only sell the whole sensor unit.
There's a thread somewhere about where people have found a similar O-ring, but I don't have that on hand.
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Old 04-28-2011, 11:37 AM   #18
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Reputedly its the same as intake air temp sensor washer





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Old 04-28-2011, 11:57 AM   #19
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Part: 13621743299 O-Ring - Priced Each Replacement o-ring for the temperature sensor
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Old 04-28-2011, 12:16 PM   #20
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the thing is mine doesn't leak while driving and engine running, it leaks while its off like over night! any Ideas?
Its a night owl
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