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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 06-06-2011, 01:40 PM   #1
Chocolate Lab
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Help, engine blew up on me

Well, the engine didn't really blow up, I hope. But I was idling in line at the bank, and there was suddenly a POW! and water shot everywhere. I actually don't know if my engine shut down -- I think I immediately shut it off myself.

Pushed it out of the way, and didn't see any broken belts or hoses, or really what was wrong -- just a pool of water/coolant in the bottom.

I know the oil and coolant levels were okay, because I checked them just last week.

I change my own oil and do routine maintenance on my cars, but I'm no mechanic. A buddy of mine suspected a failed water pump, and that the engine itself is probably okay.

Does that sound likely to you guys? Or do you suspect something much worse happened?

Thanks for any guidance.
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:42 PM   #2
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your expansion tank exploded

easy fix. search for a diy
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:50 PM   #3
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your expansion tank exploded

easy fix. search for a diy
Yup. Please don't be like everyone else that posts here and "only limp it 300 miles home on the interstate".
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:58 PM   #4
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+1 for expansion tank.

Good call not driving it. You saved yourself alot of cash.

Check out cooling overhaul kits if youre into some more thorough preventative maintenance. Comes with water pump, expansion tank, thermostat, etc. All heavy duty. Can find these at places like ECS, Tischer BMW, and others.

Or just repalce the faulty tank.

Good luck!

Brandon
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Old 06-06-2011, 02:39 PM   #5
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Thanks much, guys... I know I'm lucky that I wasn't actually on the road at the time... It couldn't have run literally one second before I shut it down.

I did search on the topic, and those kits look great, but unfortunately I suspect that's outside my area of expertise. Not sure I would/should trust myself on something as essential as cooling the engine, so I may have to pay someone which undoubtedly will cost a ton.

But thanks again for the advice, I know it could've been a lot worse (and hopefully this is all it is)!
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Old 06-06-2011, 02:43 PM   #6
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Although it most likely is ET, best is to read up on it and verify that, and then, based on that, decide what you all want to do. Depending on mileage, and your finances, an overhaul is a pretty good idea, but you can usually get by with fixing what's broken if need be.

Thing is, though, working with new parts is a lot easier and more secure (aka, hoses don't last forever), so, if ET, say, then doing the upper, lower hose and therm makes sense. Then you'll read about how WP fail all the time, etc...so again, whole thing minus radiator is around $300 give or take. You don't need super WP or need or want anything other than OEM stuff for this most vital system of ours...just saying!
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:10 PM   #7
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Although it most likely is ET, best is to read up on it and verify that, and then, based on that, decide what you all want to do. Depending on mileage, and your finances, an overhaul is a pretty good idea, but you can usually get by with fixing what's broken if need be.

Thing is, though, working with new parts is a lot easier and more secure (aka, hoses don't last forever), so, if ET, say, then doing the upper, lower hose and therm makes sense. Then you'll read about how WP fail all the time, etc...so again, whole thing minus radiator is around $300 give or take. You don't need super WP or need or want anything other than OEM stuff for this most vital system of ours...just saying!
I actually spent quite a bit of $$$ on new belts and hoses on everything about 10-15k miles ago, but I can't remember if the water pump was done then or not... As soon as I can go tow the car over here after work I can check and see. (As much as it cost me, I would hope it was, but I honestly can't remember.)

Would anyone have any idea how much this would all cost from the stealership? The only independent BMW mechanic around here has moved many miles away, and frankly is barely (if any) cheaper anyway.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:16 PM   #8
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Pow!!! Psshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!


Fock!!!
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:23 PM   #9
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Honestly, +1 for a DIY.

BMW cut corners on cooling in the E46 no doubt. But OEM might be the best way to handle the situation.

Get a tank, and some hoses, and a wrench.

Do it up. You can do it.

Also, to throw a wrench into your "trusting yourself" argument. Many people trust themselves to change spark plugs... which essentially means trusting themsleves to start their engines on fire and have them still function.

You also add gasoline to your car, which essentially means you're trying to make that engine fire last longer.

Its a twisted argument, but I'm just tryin to boost your confidence.

Last edited by falcon1209; 06-06-2011 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:25 PM   #10
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Honestly, +1 for a DIY.

BMW cut corners on cooling in the E46 no doubt. But OEM might be the best way to handle the situation.

Get a tank, and some hoses, and a wrench.

Do it up. You can do it.

It is an easy DIY. It may be hard on the lower back though.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:27 PM   #11
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I actually spent quite a bit of $$$ on new belts and hoses on everything about 10-15k miles ago, but I can't remember if the water pump was done then or not... As soon as I can go tow the car over here after work I can check and see. (As much as it cost me, I would hope it was, but I honestly can't remember.)

Would anyone have any idea how much this would all cost from the stealership? The only independent BMW mechanic around here has moved many miles away, and frankly is barely (if any) cheaper anyway.
Installing your $300 worth of parts, if I had to guess, would be around $6-700 for all the parts (of complete overhaul) and maybe another $600 labor to install...from a dealer, if I had to guess...and it is a guess. Maybe a couple hundred less all told, but everything. Since you don't need everything, maybe a little less, but the labor would be the same, I've little doubt.

Certainly Dealer would make enough in profit that you could have bought all the tools you'd ever need to do practically everything on your car.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:28 PM   #12
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It is an easy DIY. It may be hard on the lower back though.
Could be worse, could be headers/exhaust, which is hard on the back, fingers, hands, face, eyes, nose, hair, patience, etc.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:30 PM   #13
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Installing your $300 worth of parts, if I had to guess, would be around $6-700 for all the parts (of complete overhaul) and maybe another $600 labor to install...from a dealer, if I had to guess...and it is a guess. Maybe a couple hundred less all told, but everything. Since you don't need everything, maybe a little less, but the labor would be the same, I've little doubt.

Certainly Dealer would make enough in profit that you could have bought all the tools you'd ever need to do practically everything on your car.
Was just thinkin that, Doug.

With how much I have saved from doing the work myself, I could potentially buy myself all the tools I could ever need.

But alas, I have other hobbies...




Like women...





Who are also on BMW levels of maintenance.




She does let me twist her bleed screws to her expansion tanks, if you know what I mean...

Last edited by falcon1209; 06-06-2011 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 06-06-2011, 07:51 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by falcon1209 View Post
Honestly, +1 for a DIY.

BMW cut corners on cooling in the E46 no doubt. But OEM might be the best way to handle the situation.

Get a tank, and some hoses, and a wrench.

Do it up. You can do it.

Also, to throw a wrench into your "trusting yourself" argument. Many people trust themselves to change spark plugs... which essentially means trusting themsleves to start their engines on fire and have them still function.

You also add gasoline to your car, which essentially means you're trying to make that engine fire last longer.

Its a twisted argument, but I'm just tryin to boost your confidence.
Ha, thanks man. Much appreciated.

This is actually my old car that I kept when the dealer offered me so little for it in trade. So I looked in my current X3, and now that I have a better idea of what I'm looking at, it does look simpler than I thought. So I may well look up 100 or so DIYs and give it a shot.

And FWIW, I've had this X3 a little over a year, and never loved it that much. Just the last couple of weeks, I've been driving the 328 and remembering how great it is. Really think I'm going to ditch the X3 and get me another e46 -- just like the one I have only newer.
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:13 AM   #15
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Like women...





Who are also on BMW levels of maintenance.

Where do you find women that reliable?
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:43 AM   #16
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+1 for expansion tank and DIY.
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Old 06-13-2011, 04:37 PM   #17
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Well, hope you guys don't mind my bumping this, but I went ahead and towed it the easy three blocks from our office to the Stealer and he just quoted me $395 to install the new tank alone! Unbelievable! Does that even sound right? I know the tank is like $54 and the new coolant is only around $20 per gallon. WTF!

The kicker is that this is my old car, and usually I might really try this myself like you guys are saying because I could take my time with it. But my current driver, an X3, has some kind of serious compressor problem and it's literally 105 degrees here in Texas. So I'm kind of desperate to get it fixed ASAP.

Ugh!

Seriously, where do you guys learn how to do all this? I'm handy enough and willing to try, but when I'm talking about my engine I get kind of skittish. I need to go to BMW mechanics school for adults! (Maybe seriously, I assume these things exist...)
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Old 06-13-2011, 04:46 PM   #18
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Where are you located? PM me if you're in DFW. I might be able to give you a hand.
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Old 06-13-2011, 05:40 PM   #19
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Aggie, (fairly) close but no cigar... I'm actually up in Wichita Falls. Thanks much for the offer, though!
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Old 06-13-2011, 05:49 PM   #20
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Well, hope you guys don't mind my bumping this, but I went ahead and towed it the easy three blocks from our office to the Stealer and he just quoted me $395 to install the new tank alone! Unbelievable! Does that even sound right? I know the tank is like $54 and the new coolant is only around $20 per gallon. WTF!

The kicker is that this is my old car, and usually I might really try this myself like you guys are saying because I could take my time with it. But my current driver, an X3, has some kind of serious compressor problem and it's literally 105 degrees here in Texas. So I'm kind of desperate to get it fixed ASAP.

Ugh!

Seriously, where do you guys learn how to do all this? I'm handy enough and willing to try, but when I'm talking about my engine I get kind of skittish. I need to go to BMW mechanics school for adults! (Maybe seriously, I assume these things exist...)
That is ridiculous! It can't be more than a 30 minute job. If that was me I would drain what was left of my coolant in their parking lot, fix it, and drive away. Find a good indy shop.
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