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The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 08-05-2019, 07:57 AM   #1
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Overheating in Traffic | Electric Fan, No leaks?

Hey guys,

I had recently purchased a 2003 325xi (Manual), a little over a month ago. Everything up to last week had been perfectly fine until I was sitting in some pretty bad stop/go traffic and looked down to see the temperature gauge rising rapidly. I immediately pulled over and shut the engine off.

I popped open the hood and looked to check for any visible leaks - I couldn't find any. I started the car briefly to check if the electric fan came on and it did. I ended up waiting a bit for the car to cool down and then drove it off the freeway, with the temperature gauge at normal, and then parked the car for 40ish minutes, after which I added some water into the expansion tank (the level was slightly low, but it was the same when I checked it a couple weeks prior, so I wouldn't think that there was a leak).

After that, I started the car and drove down the freeway, now in normal 65 MPH speeds, about 20 minutes home. I was very closely monitoring the temperature gauge, and it stayed dead center the entire way home.

I'm presuming this has something to do with the electric fan not coming on during stop/go traffic, but I really don't know.

What could this be? I flew out the next day for the next month, my car is sitting in my garage awaiting my arrival.
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Old 08-05-2019, 10:18 AM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 221
At a min, I'd replace the t-stat and install some fresh BMW blue coolant. The overheating in traffic sounded like a rad that needs replacement. For me, when our cars hit 100k(did them @ 80k on our 986), I change them out. They seem to loose there ability to cool around that time. It's also a good idea to clean out the condenser while in there. Rads are cheap for these cars, and they like to run cool(especially wt all the plastics).
My guess is the t-stat stuck for a moment. You might test the fan to see if it's working. On age alone, I'd replace the sensor in the hose. For me, it's a service item(like the head temp sensor), especially as these cars age. Good luck with it.
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Old 08-07-2019, 04:47 PM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 1,086
My Ride: 03 325XI Sprt Prem
Year: 2003
Model: 325XI
Transmission: Manual
I ran into a lot of the same issues last summer. I ended up replacing my electric fan.

2003 325XI 5-speed ZSP ZPP
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Old 09-02-2019, 10:02 AM   #4
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: NYC
Posts: 978
My Ride: BMW
I had the same issue with mine some time ago... the electric fan module was bad

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Old 09-02-2019, 05:39 PM   #5
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 4,956
My Ride: 03 325xi 98 328is
Year: 2003
Model: 325xi
Transmission: Steptronic
Mine never overheats, 150K and the 'crap' viscose fan. At least it turns whenever the engine is running.
Alternative to expensive xi control arm bushings https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1231503

Bad outer xi ball joint? https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1127077

2003 325xi auto Stahlgrau

1998 328is 5sp
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cooling system, electric cooling fan, overheating

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