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General E46 Forum
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:43 PM   #21
ac_2007
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Check your coolant temperature real-time from the dash first, then make conclusions.
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:34 PM   #22
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ok, I sometimes notice my needle would go pass the center line towards right just a little bit but never overheats. I think this is more like a gauge or sensor thing. my PS hoses are leaking so the coolant temp sensor is covered in ATF might be why its reading a bit high.
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:15 PM   #23
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After I replaced my oil pan gasket I had to top off all fluids and the anti freeze wouldn't go so I drive to the car wash and bam it was red like chilli pperz but I had half of anti freeze bottle in it ,now my needle always gues alittle right since then sorry my bad typing I live under a rock
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:26 PM   #24
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What is normal: If your car's gauge has always been a little to the right, or to the left, or dead center.

What is NOT normal: If any of the above was true, but you have recently seen a change in the position of the gauge. If this change has been to the right of the equilibrium position, although you have not overheated yet, you have started running hot and something has started to fail in your cooling system. Start with bleeding first, then move on to thermostat, water pump, etc.

If the change has been to the left, most likely it is a stuck open thermostat.
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:31 PM   #25
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I'd like to add that a stuck open t-stat can cause an overheat issue aswell.

I like to replace the waterpump and t-stat @ 50-60K miles...preventative.

Also, make sure the fan clutch isn't leaking...if you have 1.
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:36 PM   #26
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Manual states that the needle may operate anywhere between the two marks during driving. It's normal, don't worry about it as long as you have no leaks.

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Old 12-13-2011, 11:51 PM   #27
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Manual states that the needle may operate anywhere between the two marks during driving. It's normal, don't worry about it as long as you have no leaks.

Thank god for this post, now I finally know how a temp gauge operates. If only the manual told me what to do when the fuel light comes on...oh $hit I better go to the dealership so they can tell me I need to fill up the fuel tank.
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:54 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by fastjasonbmw View Post
Thank god for this post, now I finally know how a temp gauge operates. If only the manual told me what to do when the fuel light comes on...oh $hit I better go to the dealership so they can tell me I need to fill up the fuel tank.
He asked what was wrong because his temperature gauge was slightly above the middle mark. Rather than posting TFM, I figured I'd be nice and actually post it.

That's why the manual exists. To answer such questions.
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:58 PM   #29
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I've had this issue off and on since I bought my car 3 years ago. The gauge needle would read a very small amount to the right of center. About 1mm as the OP said. It would stay at that exact position until I either started the car the next day, or after a couple/few times of getting out and coming back and starting it. It's happened maybe a few times a year. I replaced all of my cooling system last year and it still has done it a couple of times. No leaking, no dropped coolant level, no codes, nothing. I don't know what it is. I've never had a problem with it overheating, but I watch it very closely.
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Old 01-12-2012, 08:14 AM   #30
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I've had this issue off and on since I bought my car 3 years ago. The gauge needle would read a very small amount to the right of center. About 1mm as the OP said. It would stay at that exact position until I either started the car the next day, or after a couple/few times of getting out and coming back and starting it. It's happened maybe a few times a year. I replaced all of my cooling system last year and it still has done it a couple of times. No leaking, no dropped coolant level, no codes, nothing. I don't know what it is. I've never had a problem with it overheating, but I watch it very closely.
I been having that too. usually when its freezing cold. it feels like the gauge is not being reset right in the morning or somehow. cuz sometimes in the morning when the engine is cool the needle would sit at left white line sometimes it would just a tad bit higher.
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Old 01-12-2012, 06:05 PM   #31
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Old 01-12-2012, 06:37 PM   #32
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If the needle is anywhere near the middle of the gauge, it is okay. Leave it alone. Certainly don't spend any money on attempts to fix it. If the needle is the thickness of the needle to the left or the right, this is fine. If the needle moves half of the scale above or below the middle, then set aside a pile of pennies for parts and labor. Until then, don't worry be happy.
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Old 01-23-2012, 12:24 AM   #33
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Just yesterday my car ('00 328i) started doing the same thing. Air temp was about 8F. I had an '01 325i and it did the same thing a couple of times and then the problem went away. In both cases the needle would always be exactly at 12 o'clock while the car was running at operating temp. When the problem showed up, the needle "shifted" slightly to the right so that the hash marks on the thermometer icon on the guage were covered by the needle instead of the vertical portion of the thermometer icon. I also noticed that with the ignition off, the needle came to rest slightly above the white mark at the left end of the guage whereas in the past it was slightly below it - as if the entire range of the guage shifted to the right. I also notice that when I turn the ignition on (but not the engine) with a warm engine, the needle instantly goes to exactly 12 o'clock, then over about a three or four second interval will climb by about one millimeter to cover the "hash marks" on the right side of the thermometer icon on the guage. My thinking is it's either the guage, sensor, wiring, or connectors.

My cooling system is pretty healthy - ET, fan switch sensor, and hoses done at 78k. T-stat and coolant were done at 87k and I did the coolant pump (EMP Stewart) and OEM BMW coolant at 95k. The car currently has 107k on it. There is a slight leak somewhere as I typically add about a cup of coolant every 3,000 miles or so. I suspect the cap on the ET. I'll do the Easter Egg trick with the trip odo button and read the exact coolant temp while driving just to see. The readings aren't erratic so I'm not sure bleeding will help.
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Old 01-23-2012, 07:19 AM   #34
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I stopped in a parking lot on the way to work and ran the odo button test sequence. Dash readout said 94C - nothing abnormal there.
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Old 01-23-2012, 10:25 AM   #35
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My 99 has always had a rock solid 12 o'clock needle, however my GFs 02 has one that is sometimes middle sometimes not, even after complete engine replacement as well as cooling system overhaul.
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Old 01-23-2012, 11:26 AM   #36
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My '96 e36 was rock solid at 12 too. My '01 as stated above displayed the 1 mm to the right condition once or twice but returned to normal. I suspect it's some sort of electrical gremlin and not a cooling system issue. Especially because I see the needle go to 12 o'clock when the key is turned to on and then after a couple of seconds the needle squeaks over about a millimeter to the right. Check out your GF's car and see if it does the same thing. Could be the sensor in the block, but then why does the easter egg test come back with 94C? Guage gremlin? Maybe a long time BMW tech knows.
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Old 01-23-2012, 11:36 AM   #37
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I think mine does it when its freezing cold outside like below 20F
do you think maybe the ECU is forcing engine to run a bit hotter just to compensate the use of heater?
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Old 01-23-2012, 12:09 PM   #38
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I think mine does it when its freezing cold outside like below 20F
do you think maybe the ECU is forcing engine to run a bit hotter just to compensate the use of heater?
No.

there is only so much heat that comes from an internal combustion engine. There are heat-limiting systems -- well, a heat-limiting system -- that does not make more heat because it is cold, or allow more heat because it is cold, or anything like that. the car warms to roughly 195F and operates there. There is an envelope of a few degrees to either side of this that are still perfectly normal. Sheesh! You guys are obsessing about the width of the needle on the gauge, which is an indiciation of a few degrees on a gauge that considers a reasonable condition to be anything that is not left of center and falling or right of center and rising to be the standard indication.

This discussion is like talking about the time. Somebody says it is a quarter to one, and you are obsessing that it is really 12:48:37. If you need to be someplace at 12:50, then the detail is important, but having the temp gauge the width of the needle above center is hardly worth the worry that the red light for an overheat condition is about to come on.
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Old 01-23-2012, 12:27 PM   #39
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Found another Easter Egg on one of the UK e46 forums that might be worth a try:

Hold left hand button in till test then release
Keep tapping til you reach 19
Now it will say on/off
When off is displayed keep tapping till you reach 21 then release
Now press one more time and all dials reset and your temp should read bang on 12o'clock again

I'll post back with results.
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Old 01-23-2012, 12:33 PM   #40
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It's not just the width of the needle I'm concerned about - It's a change in an operating condition, even if it's only a guage. I'm reasonably certain the cooling system is working just fine. I could put some thermocouple taps on cooling components and compare them with the computer readout on the dash. I'd be REALLY surprised if they're different by more than a degree or two. But I really don't think it's worth the effort. If the guage reset doesn't work - I'll just live with it.
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