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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 04-19-2008, 12:38 PM
maggiefitz maggiefitz is offline
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Mein Auto: '91 325i
Unhappy '91 325i overheating

Last night I drove my car about 3 miles and I noticed the temp gauge climbing, nearly into the red zone, turned around and drove home.

When I got home I lifted the hood and saw steam (??) rising from, what appeared to be, the radiator hoses. First I cried, and then called my dad to see if he could help me. Since it was dark, I decided to close the hood and worry about it for the rest of the night.

Today I went out to check it out, and to see if there was anything I could do to fix it. At least get fluid into the radiator so I could see where the leak is.

Anyway, I can't even tell where the freaking radiator cap is. I have the repair manual for the car, but am having a problem figuring out where to put the fluid. I took a picture of it with my phone and sent to my dad, but he can't remember how he'd put the fluid in either. He used to work on the car himself, replaced radiator and everything. Since I live in another state, he can't help me. So, today, all I did was fill the reservoir.

Where is the radiator cap?

I see that round metal cap, with spokes, and a bolt on top -- housed near the engine.

On top of the radiator all I see is the translucent container that says "cold/and then something in german???"

How in the world do I add fluid to this radiator?

I'm going crazy!

I realize that I'm going to have to get the car towed and taken to a shop, but I'd like to be able to test it out myself first.


As you can tell, besides checking fluid levels, fuses, and other routine checks, I know NOTHING about cars -- especially this BMW. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a ton, in advance.



-Megan
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  #2  
Old 04-19-2008, 04:00 PM
playz playz is offline
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Mein Auto: E36 325i
could be the water pump has packed it in. Which isn't uncommon.
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  #3  
Old 04-19-2008, 04:02 PM
playz playz is offline
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my old 318i had water pump and the fan go...prob not at the same time...but the fan was found when replacing pump.

could also be heater hose, radiator hose, thermostat, radiator....????

as long as you didn't let the engine too hot it should be ok after cooling system repair.
Other wise it may lead to more dramas, like warped or crack head....etc
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  #4  
Old 04-19-2008, 04:03 PM
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Calm down. Lol. On many modern BMW's, you don't put fluid in the radiator, just the expansion tank. Its not like many cars from the same era where they have easily accessible radiators and then a separate expansion tank connected with hoses and such, this one is directly connected to the radiator. It is the *only* way to put fluid in there, no other openings.

The reservoir that says COLD/KALT has a cap on it. Put fluid in it. Done.
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  #5  
Old 04-19-2008, 04:22 PM
playz playz is offline
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or the other option it could have just run out of fluid...
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Old 04-19-2008, 05:39 PM
maggiefitz maggiefitz is offline
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Thank you both so much.

I'm going to go check it again right now.

I'm VERY vigilant in checking the dash for warnings =), and this was the first time this has happened. It is my hope that driving it home the few miles didn't cause any further damage to the car.

Oh, and the steam (or whatever it is) looks to be coming from the rubber hoses. Since no garages seem to be open on Saturday, I'm going to have to wait 'til Monday to have it towed (on a flatbed) to a mechanic. I plan on finding a mechanic through the Car Talk guys website. Does this seem to be an okay idea? I'm new to the area so I don't have much to go on re: finding someone reliable and honest.

Thanks again!
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Old 04-19-2008, 10:07 PM
playz playz is offline
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could be a the radiator neck that the hose attaches to. They crack after 'x' amount of time.
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Old 04-19-2008, 11:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maggiefitz View Post
Thank you both so much.

I'm going to go check it again right now.

I'm VERY vigilant in checking the dash for warnings =), and this was the first time this has happened. It is my hope that driving it home the few miles didn't cause any further damage to the car.
Yes, it is possible that you could have started to cause a small problem. The heads on these cars are very susceptible to warping. Heads warp and headgaskets blow from overheating. Those are very, very expensive repairs.

In the future, as soon as your gauge gets close to the red (ie, more than 2/3 of the way there from normal), PULL OVER and let it cool back to normal FIRST, THEN drive home. If you're any more than a few miles away, have it towed to an indy (independent European mechanic, not the dealer) without driving home. Overheating is NOT something to mess around with, especially on these cars.

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Originally Posted by maggiefitz View Post
Oh, and the steam (or whatever it is) looks to be coming from the rubber hoses. Since no garages seem to be open on Saturday, I'm going to have to wait 'til Monday to have it towed (on a flatbed) to a mechanic. I plan on finding a mechanic through the Car Talk guys website. Does this seem to be an okay idea? I'm new to the area so I don't have much to go on re: finding someone reliable and honest.

Thanks again!
As much as I love Tom & Ray, they are not Bimmerheads. I'd check with your local BMW CCA chapter or the regional section on here for BMW mechanics that people have had repeated good experience with. I personally would only take my car to Eduardo at Fremont Foreign Auto unless there was a major emergency that couldn't be dealt with at home (I'm away at college). But for the majority of things that need fixing/adjusting/replacing, I'd drive back and have him do it. Find a mechanic like that, that you'd trust. He's actually recognized me at places in the city before and said "Hi" when I wasn't even looking his way! That's the kind of relationship you want with your mechanic, so find one where you feel that you can trust him and who comes recommended by others, not just guys who have to take numerous requests/day and can only give a few minutes to each request.

Also, there are numerous rubber hoses running throughout your engine. Some of them are even in really fun places to get to.....(like the one that was entirely between my engine and the firewall on my Supra...clamps and all). Which area of the engine does it look like its coming from, if you are standing in front of the car facing it? Front left, front right, back left, back right? etc. See if you can pinpoint the damaged hose. It most likely has a minor crack and is allowing some or most of your coolant to drain out, or the clamp could have failed.
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// Chad //
// 2001 BMW 740i M-Sport // 2002 Lexus LX470 //
// 2009 Kawasaki Concours 14 // 2006 Kawasaki Ninja 250 //
// 1999 Chevy Tahoe //



Quote:
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You're a derbanana
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  #9  
Old 04-20-2008, 01:24 AM
Chris S Chris S is offline
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probably dont have any damage to your engine ... had mine overheated last year ( actually went to the red for a few mins and had the light flashing... a few time too before i got it back then took it to the mechanic...my bad but didnt know back then ) but the car seems to be perfectly fine still and runs real smooth so id say you should be right.
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Old 04-23-2008, 12:38 PM
maggiefitz maggiefitz is offline
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Mein Auto: '91 325i
Hey Everyone,

Thanks so much for the responses, and for the help. I picked up my car from the shop today. 24 hours later, a new radiator, and $500 poorer, my car is back to normal.

Just something that I think is kind of funny:

For the past two years or so, when I'd start the car, the control panel would flash "check coolant level" -- When I'd check it everything seemed fine, so I figured it was just something weird with the car.
Well, when I got in the car this morning and started it, that warning did not flash. I'm thinking that there has been a small problem for the past couple years that waited until now to manifest itself. With driving cross-country a couple times and countless trips through the desert, I'm glad the car waited 'til I was one mile from home.

Again, thanks for the help.

Enjoy your cars!

Megan
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  #11  
Old 04-23-2008, 07:43 PM
playz playz is offline
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glad to hear it wasn't anything to major...
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