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Old 01-10-2013, 09:24 AM   #61
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Sterling...what components of your system haven't been replaced yet? And, although you've been in for a number of parts, it sounds like, has the coolant ever been completely drained do you know?

Also, have you checked to see that your condenser isn't totally clogged up...so your radiator really isn't cooling efficiently at all? Pulleys, belts...can affect strength of wp...and some belts, you know, have been routed incorrectly. (Low odds...but obviously, you're getting close to exhausting the obvious).

I doubt the answer is the DME reprogramming...don't know why exactly...just doubt it...sounds like a random guess/hope from that tech.

Fan clutch, condenser cleaning, fresh fluid and good bleeding, OE therm, ET, etc.

Also, monitor fluid level precisely. Are you adding any? If you have even a small leak, air can get in, cause wp to cavitate, and you won't push coolant around as well.

Maybe try my 'alternate bleeding method' just discussed in some cooling thread...and posted in Mango's sticky.

Make sure the basics are addressed first...and in terms of work done by shops...trust, but verify.

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Old 01-10-2013, 11:46 AM   #62
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Thanks for the replies jfoj and dmax!

dmax:
That's a good question! which haven't been replaced... not much.
To take no chances I completely drained and flushed coolant during every thermostat and radiator install. so.. to answer that question, yes several complete flushes have been done.

Forgot to mention that along with a new radiator and electric fan up front, also replaced the a/c condensor and expansion tank etc... had an overheat there along with that road damage and basically rebuilt the whole cooling system at the time, all new hoses, expansion tank, a/c condenser, radiator (although I've now replaced that again). So, I doubt the a/c condensor is to blame. I also agree the DME SW thing is doubtful. Fan-clutch is brand-new with the second new radiator I just installed 2 days ago, this fan-clutch seems to be operating perfectly.

During all of this, I've never had any low-fluid issues or leaks. I've never had to keep topping up coolant at all. So, no leak to blame.

jfoj:

I will be performing the steps described in earlier posts today to take a look at what the DME thinks the coolant temp is, I'll watch the monitored temp and follow up. Good question, haven't had the time to do that yet.

Yes, the engine is warm running when I'm having the issue. Warms right up normally and just keeps going to slightly past the dead-center position as I've described.

When I replaced the first thermostat and water-pump, I went with an EMP/Stewart High Performace Water Pump described as:

"This high performance water pump is a direct replacement pump designed to fit a wide range of BMW engines with no modifications. That includes accepting the Factory Fan Clutch. The front of the BMW High Performance Water Pump is stock appearing giving it that classic BMW look while the back is all business. Features up to 20% increase of water flow over stock pump, and it TWICE as efficient as factory pump, much less parasitic drag than other pumps, stainless steel impeller, heavy duty bearing, high quality water seal. Manufactured by EMP / Stewart Components."

So, I don't think plastic impeller is a possible problem. I would hate to think the increase in flow-rate could be causing this issue? or perhaps that this water pump is simply defective? I read a lot of good feed-back on this pump and it was recommended by Turner Motorsport here in Mass (I often buy certain kinds of parts from them), so I would hate to think that maybe the pump is somehow to blame. It seems to be operating properly...

Thanks,

- Sterling
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Old 01-10-2013, 11:55 AM   #63
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Now my car has been doing this for a few months and it runs right at 93-96C all day long with no problems at all. If I reset the instrument cluster using the OBC controls it will be fine for two weeks and sit dead in the middle. After a few weeks or once the weather gets cold outside it goes back to the slightly off position. Water pump, fan clutch, expansion tank, upper hose are all new. Car uses no coolant, at all. The only thing I didn't replace was the thermostat because it's only a few years old and it wasn't showing any signs of failing. I believe somebody on this exact thread said he replaced his old battery and his gauge returned to normal. My battery has a stamped date of 5/07, so it's time to replace it. Still starts fine, but I don't trust a 6 year old battery. Voltage does funny things to these cars and I don't doubt that is causing part of my issue.

Also, from re-reading your post my car just sits at the line slightly above and when I turn the car off the gauge goes down to 0. You might have actual cluster issues though. My car acts and behaves normally, but yours is different than mine.
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:07 PM   #64
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WHAT DOES "SLIGHTLY OFF" MEAN?

If the needle is "off" by the thickness of the needle, then there is NOTHING wrong. If the needle is off by the lines on the gauge, either to the Cold side or to the Hot side, then you have something to look for, otherwise leave your car alone.
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:12 PM   #65
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WHAT DOES "SLIGHTLY OFF" MEAN?

If the needle is "off" by the thickness of the needle, then there is NOTHING wrong. If the needle is off by the lines on the gauge, either to the Cold side or to the Hot side, then you have something to look for, otherwise leave your car alone.
That's what I always thought too. Mine is off by less than the thickness of the needle, so I never worried about it.
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:19 PM   #66
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If the gauge on the instrument cluster is supposed to be dead-center when the engine temp is between say.. 80-100C (as an example, not sure what actual range is) due to the "buffered" nature of the gauge. Then what reason would the needle have for moving to the right or fluctuating at all if the engine temp from computer says its between 90-95C, especially if it normally rested in the center for the first 10 years of the car's life (6 of which I owned it for)? None. In fact the "buffered" nature of the gauge is a reason why it should STILL sit in the dead-center buffered position if the temp is reading within that range.

If the needle position changed then something is responsible or something is failing. Stop saying a shift in the normal needle position is "ok" without giving a good reason.

I'm trying to solve a problem not be disregarded or blown off. Something changed and/or is failing in my system and I want to know what. So, please help or stop typing.

Also, update for those interested:

Test 19 for actual coolant temp display on my car is as follows- started car and as it warmed up I watched the temp over a short drive. Coolant temp was at 70c when the needle reached middle and then proceeded to approx 3mm to the right of normal center. See pic. Its now says 92C in the pic and hasn't changed. I've been parked since 70C. Spirited drive to follow, look for updates and temp info.

Thanks,

- Sterling
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:30 PM   #67
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Quick update: since being parked with the temp at 92C and stable, I went for a "spirited" drive about a mile down around a rotary and back. Coolant temp dipped to 80C while accelerating to 80mph in 3rd and then quickly rose back to 92-93 after I slowed back down. Needle position didn't move noticeably.

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Old 01-10-2013, 12:35 PM   #68
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Coolant should never go down to 80c no matter what. Needle should also always be in the middle while under operating temp. If not, needle itself is not set properly (gauge work, etc?)
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:42 PM   #69
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Question to OP... how old is your battery?
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:57 PM   #70
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Well there is some normal operating temp within which the temp will fluctuate without the needle actually moving.

But, what is that range? Is 80C too low? Anyone know? Also, why would the "buffered" normal temp position for the needle suddenly shift? If 80C is too low why would needle stay in the buffered position at all, even if that buffered position had shifted a little?

Could the calibration on the DME board for the coolant temp loop be shifted down to think that a normal range is 75-90C (as an example) so, it thinks that 92-3C is slightly hot? Does the DME board have a failing capacitor or resistor that could cause the stable voltage to the instrument gauge to be slightly high?

Also until 2-3 days ago when I did the second radiator swap the slightly high needle was always accompanied by P0128- coolant temp below regulating temp. Why no light now? Usually after a system reset it takes a couple starts and some driving before the needle leaves the dead-center position for its new home slightly to the right and within minutes of that shift the SES light for P0128 comes on. That happened for a year with every other part replacement I've done. Always had to wait 36hrs of normal driving to happen to see if needle would shift and code would come back. Only since the latest radiator swap has the needle shifted with no SES light. That's one of the reasons its a difficult problem to "ignore" as so many suggest.
SES lights are annoying.

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Old 01-10-2013, 01:00 PM   #71
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OP posted in 2010 and not sure is still around or not.

My battery is almost 3yrs old. Had the alternator replaced 2 weeks ago and I believe they said the battery tested fine. Holds a good charge and has no signs of being on the downhill slide.

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Old 01-10-2013, 01:17 PM   #72
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Lol I meant you ... But you know what I meant. I was asking because somebody on this thread had needle symptoms like you and I and he replaced his battery and it went away.
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:27 PM   #73
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Coolant should never go down to 80c no matter what. Needle should also always be in the middle while under operating temp. If not, needle itself is not set properly (gauge work, etc?)
So, a couple hours ago before I left work: needle was still the same 1-4mm offset above the cold line where it usually rests. So, it seems like whatever creates this offset in needle position, it stays that way until it's reset.

Knowing I would be able to monitor the coolant temp using the Test19, then Test 7 on dashboard during the trip home, I reset the dash instruments using the Test21 procedure. This way I could see the actual coolant temp whenever the needle shift occurred. Using the Test21 function everything reset as expected, I let the engine warm up and needle was dead-center again- Coolant temp maintained 92-93C.

*I've found elsewhere that normal Operating Temp for the e46 seems to be between 86C and 97C (187F to 207F approx)? and even better I've found that anything between 82C and 104C (180F to 220F) supposedly shouldn't budge the needle from it's middle "buffered" position, anyone differ on this?*

On the drive I watched the coolant temp the whole way.
Ambient temp on drive home was 45F(7C). My drive home included a 30mile highway stretch and 10-15 minutes of driving around in the city.

On the hway averaged 82-88C: extreme range 79-92C.

In the city averaged 93-96C: extreme range 91-97C.

Needle is still dead-center but only a 1 hour trip since I did the instrument reset. Usually takes about 24-36hrs of driving for it to shift over again.
I'll keep updating.

Thanks,

- Sterling

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Old 01-10-2013, 07:53 PM   #74
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First, I just reported in jfoj's 'thermostat' thread that my temp was at 80 C when I was on the highway in third...the therm will open up over 3K rpms, based on engine load, speed, ambient temp...shanneba posted the signals...

Anyway, don't let the 80 or Mango worry you...they're both fine!

So you tested the cluster functions and it now seems to be okay?

Check your voltage too, as mentioned...especially since you replaced the alt recently. Did you do that yourself? You know you got the proper 90 or 120 amp...whatever was called for? And if you didn't do it...if the problem happens again, look there.

Anyway, check voltage with car off and on...just to make sure that wasn't causing your issues.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:00 PM   #75
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dmax:

Thanks! Yeah I didn't think that the engine seemed to be behaving abnormally, nonetheless I wanted to report those temps to get everyone's input to make sure.
I reset the cluster gauges just before leaving work, so it remained fine for the trip home during which I was watching the temp display to make sure it seemed like normal.

I did not replace the alternator myself, as it just happened to die half-way on my way to work one day 2 weeks ago so, I unfortunately pulled into the local dealer and let them do the replacement for me. It reduced my downtime as given the sudden failure I did not have a spare alternator on hand and didn't want to wait the 2-3 days for shipment of one. So I sucked it up and paid them for it. They installed a 120amp alternator.

In the past, every time I do some work and disconnect the battery, it seems to reset the instrument gauges for a period of time and the needle will be dead-center again. It used to fool me into thinking that whatever job I had done, had indeed fixed the issue. Then, in either 1 or 2 days (and thinking about it that could have been dependent on how long that "night" was or how long I actually go without driving it), I'll start it up and it will -randomly- just go past dead-center and be slightly high again.

Using the Test9 function on dash today I recorded voltages of 13.9-14.0V with car on and alternator charging. With the car off system voltage dropped to about 12.3V after 5min. I did not stay longer this evening to watch how far it would have fallen.

Thinking about the system voltage though, has me wondering... if the instrument gauge always seems to start reading high again after a fairly long amount of time off, perhaps a long night or a day without driving, I wonder what the voltage on my battery would be reading then? first thing after a night off? In previous responses I said my battery is less than 3 years old but, I've been thinking about it and for about 6months of that time the car was not started more than 2 or 3 times so, that of course immediately made me realize the performance of the battery could have suffered as a result. And now with an alternator that wasn't charging it properly, it may not be dead but impaired - or vice versa... maybe the battery isn't -dead- but impaired and it put too much draw on my alternator causing it to fail... along this line of thinking:

Perhaps the battery loses too much voltage in the evenings- then on a cold-start and during initial warm-up the alternator hasn't recharged the system to normal 14V levels yet. Which could impair the system just long enough to mess up the instrument gauge; since it has already been established that low voltage situations do in fact mess the gauges up. There may be no other symptoms since shortly after start the alternator is providing enough power for other functions.

In this impaired battery situation, it may remain at high enough voltage when I use the car frequently and if I let it sit and the battery voltage drops, I start it up and then my mystery needle problem appears. I may not notice other problems until the battery flat-out dies instead of being in limbo.

Anyway, that's a theory and I'll be checking the voltage before I start it tomorrow morning to see what the cold-start voltage is on the system, before a long drive where the alternator has had time to charge it back up.
Because even though I reset the gauge today and it was fine on the drive home, I'll be willing to bet that after an evening off, it'll start and go right back to higher than dead-center.

I'll keep you posted. Thanks very much for your help!

- Sterling
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:25 AM   #76
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Update since the morning drive to work.

System voltage after a cold night before start: 12.3V (seems normal to me) so there go all my theories about the battery being impaired and lower voltage in the morning.

Gauge looked normal, at zero, car started fine. No issues, I set it up so I could watch the coolant temp using Test7 as it warmed up on my trip to work.
Coolant temp was 75C when the needle hit middle and kept going to just past dead-center as usual (even though I had done the Test21 OBC system reset the night before and needle was dead-center when I shut the car off and parked it). Temp kept rising as normal until temp reached 92-93C with no more needle movement, it stayed just to the right of dead-center from 75C on.

Normal coolant temps followed for the rest of the drive, no unusual fluctuations.

About 10min before reaching work I pulled over and did another Test21 OBC reset and watched all the Gauge servos mash themselves to the left and reset. Once completed the needle was dead-center 12 oclock again. Stayed that way till I got to work and parked it.

So, it seems that whatever is causing my needle to shift is in fact, isolated to the gauge/ instrument cluster and has something to do with several hours of being off or perhaps hours of being off in cold temperature. Temp last night dropped to about 30F (I think) here in the Boston area. Cold or time not used or both. Without spending the money on a new instrument cluster I guess I won't know 100% that its just the gauge but its seeming pretty damn likely now. And of course, after all the other crap I've replaced... why not the cluster now? lol

I'll keep you posted on any changes or updates.

Thanks,

- Sterling

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Old 01-11-2013, 08:55 AM   #77
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Update since the morning drive to work.

System voltage after a cold night before start: 12.3V (seems normal to me) so there go all my theories about the battery being impaired and lower voltage in the morning.

Gauge looked normal, at zero, car started fine. No issues, I set it up so I could watch the coolant temp using Test7 as it warmed up on my trip to work.
Coolant temp was 75C when the needle hit middle and kept going to just past dead-center as usual (even though I had done the Test21 OBC system reset the night before and needle was dead-center when I shut the car off and parked it). Temp kept rising as normal until temp reached 92-93C with no more needle movement, it stayed just to the right of dead-center from 75C on.

Normal coolant temps followed for the rest of the drive, no unusual fluctuations.

About 10min before reaching work I pulled over and did another Test21 OBC reset and watched all the Gauge servos mash themselves to the left and reset. Once completed the needle was dead-center 12 oclock again. Stayed that way till I got to work and parked it.

So, it seems that whatever is causing my needle to shift is in fact, isolated to the gauge/ instrument cluster and has something to do with several hours of being off or perhaps hours of being off in cold temperature. Temp last night dropped to about 30F (I think) here in the Boston area. Cold or time not used or both. Without spending the money on a new instrument cluster I guess I won't know 100% that its just the gauge but its seeming pretty damn likely now. And of course, after all the other crap I've replaced... why not the cluster now? lol

I'll keep you posted on any changes or updates.

Thanks,

- Sterling
This is exactly what my car does related to the cold weather. I've just learned to live with it .
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:05 PM   #78
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The big difference for me now, since a few days ago when I replaced my radiator again. Is that now I don't have an SES light for code P0128 in addition to the needle issue.
They had always seemed to be related, until now I never suspected the needle thing was a separate issue.
For me it all started/happened with the first thermostat and an overheat, second thermostat and a damn-near overheat. Now third thermostat and no overheats but needle was high and SES for P0128 was always on.
Replacing the radiator again seems to have solved the SES issue.
So, I'm glad I at least now have the cooling system issues resolved. A needle issue I can certainly live with, now that its the only thing left.

- Sterling

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Old 01-12-2013, 09:01 AM   #79
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I too have the shifted coolant gauge syndrome. It seems to manifest itself if the car sits outside in temperatures below 25°F. I'll do the "Easter Egg" gauge reset when the temperatures warm and the gauge will go back to normal. I bought a new battery last spring, reset the gauges and I was 12 o'clock high with the gauge until the car saw 25°F overnight, and then it shifted again. The telltale is the zero position of the gauge when it's dead cold. It's about 1 mm clockwise from normal. The center reading is similarly offset.

When I first encountered the shifte gauge syndrome I reset the gauges multiple times and it just wouldn't stay permanently "fixed". The battery I had was nine years old so installed a new DuraLast battery and then the reset took semi-permanently.

I used the "Easter Egg" gauge cluster info to read the actual coolant temp - it's a consistent 93 - 94°C. When I got the car in 2011 it had the original coolant pump in it so I replaced it with the high zoot EMP Stewart pump which has a 25% higher flow rate than stock.

SterlingArcher - For what you've spent on cooling system components you could have installed a complete Zionsville All Aluminum retrofit including the $400 metal thermostat housing. Go to Zionsville.com to have a look at what they make for the e46. If you go that route you'll never worry about your cooling system anymore regardless of the silly gauge antics - unless you've got parts from a disintegrated pump lodged somewhere.

As I said before - I'm convinced that the cooling gauge offset is an electrical issue and has nothing to do with the health of your cooling system - unless you're actually seeing gauge EXCURSIONS as you drive and that's a different matter. For more peace of mind try getting a DVM with a thermocouple adapter (I've got a Fluke that I use) and actually read the surface temperature of the expansion tank. See if it fluctuates or is different from what the #21 test reading tells you.
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:12 AM   #80
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Hey folks,

This morning my engine temperature needle was sitting just 1 mm to the right hand side of the middle mark (during 30 miles hwy drive). Is that normal?

Thanks.
The guage is just a guide. The best way to check coolant and oil temperatures is through a scanner. These values are monitored and stored in DME. I don't think you can really draw any conclusions from the fact that the needle is 1 mm to the right of the middle mark. I certainly would not go spending **** loads of money on anything until I had run time values from the DME.

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