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-   -   checking coolant fluid levels (http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=180988)

dennisuy 12-22-2006 08:52 PM

checking coolant fluid levels
 
guys...
I was preparing for a long trip out of town....and while cleaning the engine compartment I felt the urge to open the coolant cap ..to check the level....
i was shocked to see that the coolant level was below minimum...and so I was tempted to look for coolant fluids to replenish the reservoir....
good thing I thought of calling the BMW shop to ask for possible coolant brands
then to my surprise the service personnel directed me to visit the shop right away...since according to them...I opened the reservoir...thus possibly introducing air into the cooling system of the car....
duh!!....sorry... really new to BMW...but they started talking on correct coolant pressure and required bleeding procedures....

what's the story behind this? sorry..but my former Japanese cars...didn't have SEALED cooling systems...

vrrooom 12-23-2006 07:22 AM

Not sure about the closed system, but the loss of coolant seems to be a known issue with the X3. Search the X3 board for some prior info on this. ROL.

dennisuy 12-23-2006 08:38 AM

thanks for that tip...

I was told just to wait for the indicator to light up ...before attempting to tinker with the coolant level...but wouldn't this be too late... especially prior to a long road trip?

:)

IMR 12-23-2006 02:31 PM

Same thing happened to me. Coolant was low from the factory. I thought ours was an abberation. I'd recommend checking your coolant level. You must fill with BMW coolant or it'll void your cooling system warranty.

WHITEX 12-23-2006 05:08 PM

My LOW coolant indicator lit up last week. I went to BMW and the service writer said to top it off. He offered to have a tech take care of it if I want to wait a few minutes. I went to Pep Boys and bought 50/50 mix and added some. Read the operators manual. Add coolant until red marker comes up to a cretain level.

dennisuy 12-24-2006 06:51 PM

thanks for you post...but 50/50 mix?...is this a generic coolant?...or as IMR posted...only BMW coolant should be used...

also read in another post that this refilling should only be done in the morning ...when the engine is cool...... any reason for this?

:)

WHITEX 12-24-2006 08:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WHITEX (Post 2086917)
My LOW coolant indicator lit up last week. I went to BMW and the service writer said to top it off. He offered to have a tech take care of it if I want to wait a few minutes. I went to Pep Boys and bought 50/50 mix and added some. Read the operators manual. Add coolant until red marker comes up to a cretain level.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dennisuy (Post 2087710)
thanks for you post...but 50/50 mix?...is this a generic coolant?...or as IMR posted...only BMW coolant should be used...

also read in another post that this refilling should only be done in the morning ...when the engine is cool...... any reason for this?

:)

50/50 mix is 50% coolant - 50% water. It's pre mixed.
The service writer whispered to me that a good grade of Auto store coolant can be used. I added a few ounces only. I just topped off the level.
ALWAYS service the coolant when the engine is cold. Such as MORNING or if car sits all day and has not been started. REASON BEING>>>HOT COOLANT IS UNDER PRESSURE. IT WILL CAUSE SERIOUS HARM TO YOUR FACE, EYES, SKIN, BODY, ETC. IT IS BOILING HOT. Do not remove the coolant cap when engine temp is hot.
Please be careful. One accident is too much. Take your X3 to BMW if you have any doubt about topping off. Thanks, Frank

IMR 12-25-2006 10:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dennisuy (Post 2087710)
thanks for you post...but 50/50 mix?...is this a generic coolant?...or as IMR posted...only BMW coolant should be used... :)

The reason BMW can (and do) specify specific fluids for maintaining your warranty is that they provide them as part of the maintenance program. Otherwise, they'd have to let you use "equivalent products". But not BMW, which is why the service person had to whisper. Personally, I don't think using any major brand of "green" coolant will do a BMW any harm (don't use Dexcool), but BMW has a similar policy with differential fluid, transfer case fluid, transmission fluid... the only exceptions being brake fluid (DOT-4) and motor oil, where they have a list of "special oils" they support.

WHITEX 12-26-2006 05:28 AM

IMR. Thanks for the info. I'm not suggesting to use non-BMW coolant..just mentioning what I did. You correct about having BMW service the X3.

AzNMpower32 12-26-2006 03:12 PM

I top our X3 off with the generic Prestone green coolant. I mean, it's not terribly low so I don't think it'll hurt if I add just a bit.

duckster17 01-26-2012 09:15 AM

in the morning the coolant light comes on when starting the car. It goes foo a few minutes later.
Can I simply add coolant if it is low or is there some unique way to deal with it? First BMW X-3 2005

sjladopoulos 01-27-2012 09:57 AM

Mine comes on too when its too cold outside, but after a few minutes it goes off.

Probably its the sensor freezing up, and once it gets warmer it reads the coolant level correctly and goes off.

I m planning to have it checked since my coolant levels are A-OK!

scuzzlebutt 01-27-2012 02:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sjladopoulos (Post 6590993)
Mine comes on too when its too cold outside, but after a few minutes it goes off.

Probably its the sensor freezing up, and once it gets warmer it reads the coolant level correctly and goes off.

I m planning to have it checked since my coolant levels are A-OK!

We just started having the same problem, light goes off after it warms up...

sjladopoulos 01-28-2012 08:48 PM

The sensor costs 23 bucks so I hope its that and nothing else :)

grgry 11-18-2012 01:20 PM

The reason the light comes on when the engine is cold is that the coolant is at it's densest level (shrink) and as it heats up it expands in size. So if the level is at the limit of the sensor, it may be below when cold and rise above when hot....

twincam-88 11-18-2012 10:43 PM

low coolant
 
I purcahsed a 2012 x35i six months ago and the temperature gauge would insidiously light up. So, I called the service department at my shop and he told me to poor a small amount of distiled water in the system. It fixed the problem, therefore, one must be able to open add and reshut without any problems. They never mentioned air getting into the system.

X3emist 11-19-2012 08:50 AM

Why cut corners- here is the real scoop-
 
I have been on various Bimmer boards for over 12 years and learned long ago not to use anything buy BMW recommended fluids. For a few more dollars why risk unnecessary issues. Here is the scoop on why- credit to Bimmer Magazine and Mike Miller ---

"BMWs are incredibly sensitive to operating fluids, including coolant. I've always felt this is due to the metallurgy used in the engine construction, but there is no way to know for sure. On neglected cars, aluminum oxidation builds up in various places within the engine, including on older models, between coolant hoses and aluminum fittings. That is the most obvious manifestation of aluminum oxidation. It causes the worst problems inside the sometimes tiny coolant passages of the cylinder head, where it can act like hardening of the arteries, restricing or even cutting off the supply of coolant to various parts of the cylinder head. This sometimes presents itself as phantom overheating with no known cause, though more often than not the cylinder head gasket blows before that.

I learned long ago that using phosphate free Original BMW anit freeze mixed 50-50 with distilled water and changing it every 2 years, of even four years on hotter running OBD-II modles essentially eliminates aluminum oxidation. The cars I mantain don't blow head gaskets or have cronic overheating problems. ......................."

todd92 11-20-2012 03:45 AM

Mike Miller is, of course, totally wrong.

usaret 11-20-2012 06:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by todd92 (Post 7204605)
Mike Miller is, of course, totally wrong.

I know it......

I mean who are you going to listen to? Some anonymous person on a message board or the BMW CCA Roundel Magazine Technical Editor?:rolleyes:

http://www.bmwblog.com/2010/10/18/in...mmer-magazine/

todd92 11-20-2012 08:56 AM

He is the classic over-maintainer, utterly clueless, with a cult like following of the equally clueless. The only reason for the existance of phosphate free coolant is that it is more compatible with hard water. It has nothing to do with engine metallurgy. Very hard water + phosphate inhibitor coolant can result in precipitates, hence the clogged cooling passages reports. Of course, even a moron knows to use distilled water in a cooling system, right? Phosphate inhibited coolants provide superior corrosion protection and unmatched water pump erosion protection. Why BMW speced an inferior coolant to guard against idiots using hard tap water is a mystery.

Cutting and pasting completely wrong asserstions and assumptions from your guru makes niether him nor you correct.

x3brian 11-20-2012 10:16 AM

Your points sound valid based on chemistry, so I'll take your word for it...

Mike miller solely writes those recommendations for those that take the long view on ownership.

With that in mind his 270,000+ miles on the original 3.0 cs engine in my book does give him a level of credibility. Do I agree with 2 year coolant changes, 1 year brake fluid, and 60k mile spark plug (although valve cover leaks is a solid argument for) recommendations? No because my similar experience to 300k miles on multiple cars from new has proven that as unnecessary...but...everything else he says is nearly identical to my proven maintenance areas...I would argue he suggests UNDER maintaining auto transmissions/differentials and transfer case.

My sole point here is...there is nothing wrong with over maintaining if your view point is well past 100k miles of ownership.

Otherwise your are 100% right what's the point of following his advise as it is just over maintaining.

todd92 11-20-2012 10:25 AM

Best practice is niether over nor undermaintaining. Condition based maintainence is what I practice, on 8 cars, 5 motorcycles, 3 watercraft and 2 airplanes. Condition based maintainence is what the military, airlines, industry and anyone else to who reliability matters practices. Just changing parts and fliuds on some random or accelerated schedule is NOT good practice. But what do i know, right? Just some random guy on the internet...

usaret 11-20-2012 11:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by todd92 (Post 7205162)
Just some random guy on the internet...

Actually you are "Just some random anonymous guy on the internet...". Just like the rest of us.

Get yourself hired as the Tech Editor of Bimmer and Roundel magazines and more people will respect your opinion. But until then.................

x3brian 11-20-2012 12:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by todd92 (Post 7205162)
Best practice is niether over nor undermaintaining. Condition based maintainence is what I practice, on 8 cars, 5 motorcycles, 3 watercraft and 2 airplanes. Condition based maintainence is what the military, airlines, industry and anyone else to who reliability matters practices. Just changing parts and fliuds on some random or accelerated schedule is NOT good practice. But what do i know, right? Just some random guy on the internet...

Excellent points and a great topic actually!

My question for you though is what is your definition of Condition Based Maintenance?

Based on your garage.... 2 of your 3 BMWs do not have CBS (e46 zhp and e83). What are your conditions you monitor for maintenance? Are you sending stuff to labs? Basing it off known wear levels? Testing for boiling points?

With my e83, I follow the following:

Oil change half mile count down (approx 7,500 miles). Oil sample currently at black stone to confirm milage duration.

Outside of that how do you know what fluids to change without inspecting?

Factory says differential and transfer case is lifetime. We know that isn't true. I change mine at 25k as a best practice.

Factory says change transmission fluid at 100k. Yikes that's a long time...I'll give you that one though...I am guessing on best practice. I change mine at 25k like clock work...experience here only...I did get 300k miles with no issues on a gm 4l60e previously using this method....

Everything else is just basic routine in my opinion (air filter, cabin filter, top up washer fluid, brake fluid every 2 years, etc).

todd92 11-20-2012 12:52 PM

Done the oil analysis thing enough to know that BMW's OCI are not too long, so I go with that. 5 Years on coolant, never had an issue. 100K on spark plugs. Diff, manual trans, transfer case, trans fluid 75K. As for hard parts, the rule is simple. If it ain't broke (or showing signs of distress), don't fix it. You do know that FAR more related/unrelated mechanical problems are caused when maintainence is performed than the maintainence was supposed to fix. How many times have you heard of people getting something fixed and then having several others things wrong after the repair? It's incredibly common.


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