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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-14-2012, 03:45 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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Exclamation What the heck happened to my fan???

Alright so I am currently waiting for my phone to charge so that I can take a picture. I was pulling into the parking lot after work today when my coolant light came on. Last time this happened the little screw on the hose was loose so I didn't think much of it. Regardless I quickly pulled into the nearest spot to check it out. I opened the hood and the entire left front part of my engine bay was covered in coolant. All I had for light was the glovebox flashlight so I couldn't really tell all that much about where the source of the leak was. When I followed the coolant system I saw my fan which has absolutely no blades on it. They appear to all have been sheered off somehow. Does anyone know how this could have possibly happened?? What do you think is the most likely culprit?? I'm supposed to be driving from Providence, RI to Columbia, SC tomorrow but I really dont see that happening depending on how difficult of a fix this is. PLEASE HELP!!
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  #2  
Old 11-14-2012, 04:06 PM
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MalibuMafiaV MalibuMafiaV is offline
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Very hard to tell without pictures..... I could take a million guesses of what it could be without those.
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  #3  
Old 11-14-2012, 04:21 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christopherr117 View Post
Alright so I am currently waiting for my phone to charge so that I can take a picture. I was pulling into the parking lot after work today when my coolant light came on. Last time this happened the little screw on the hose was loose so I didn't think much of it. Regardless I quickly pulled into the nearest spot to check it out. I opened the hood and the entire left front part of my engine bay was covered in coolant. All I had for light was the glovebox flashlight so I couldn't really tell all that much about where the source of the leak was. When I followed the coolant system I saw my fan which has absolutely no blades on it. They appear to all have been sheered off somehow. Does anyone know how this could have possibly happened?? What do you think is the most likely culprit?? I'm supposed to be driving from Providence, RI to Columbia, SC tomorrow but I really dont see that happening depending on how difficult of a fix this is. PLEASE HELP!!
Yes, upload pictures. My guess is that your water pump went and the pulley along with it that broke the fan blades. That's a hell of guess though. Upload whatever pictures you can.
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  #4  
Old 11-14-2012, 04:30 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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I think I've found it. Fan blades were chipping off and eating away at the radiator and one finally got all the way through. I'm thinking thats what happened. I still dont know what was causing the fan to break apart. I did find one single plastic screw, a lot like the screw that goes on the hose from the coolant tank. I didnt see any pulleys or anything loose that would have knocked into anything. I literally just had my water pump, cooling system, fan, and radiator replaced less than 5 months ago from a really reliable indy shop. Is there some sort of installation error that could have prompted this???? Thank in advance for the help.
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  #5  
Old 11-14-2012, 04:35 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Originally Posted by christopherr117 View Post
I think I've found it. Fan blades were chipping off and eating away at the radiator and one finally got all the way through. I'm thinking thats what happened. I still dont know what was causing the fan to break apart. I did find one single plastic screw, a lot like the screw that goes on the hose from the coolant tank. I didnt see any pulleys or anything loose that would have knocked into anything. I literally just had my water pump, cooling system, fan, and radiator replaced less than 5 months ago from a really reliable indy shop. Is there some sort of installation error that could have prompted this???? Thank in advance for the help.
From the looks of it, it appears that the coolant leak is from the radiator. SO unfortunately, this is going to suck for you because you're going to need a new fan, new radiator, drive belt and who knows what else.

Regarding an installation error, personally I see it but five months is too much time. If they messed up it seems like something would have happened sooner. How many miles have you put on the car since then? And is there anything else that might missing? For example, do you still have a power steering cap that could have otherwise done this damage?
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Last edited by halltristan; 11-14-2012 at 04:37 PM.
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  #6  
Old 11-14-2012, 04:41 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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I'll go tomorrow and double check everything again to make sure nothing popped off and hit anything. I've put at least 8k miles on it since the radiator was replaced. Any ideas about price to fix this mess?? From what I'm looking at its gonna be at least $400 just in parts (Fan, Shroud, radiator, and God knows what else).
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  #7  
Old 11-14-2012, 04:49 PM
RivMcLean RivMcLean is offline
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I remember reading something here that you have to be very careful with the fans, watch for nicks, scratches as they can cause a failure. I found this info when I was replacing my fan clutch and it was mentioned. Sorry to hear about your troubles, I'll be overhauling my cooling system pretty soon.
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  #8  
Old 11-14-2012, 04:50 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Originally Posted by christopherr117 View Post
I'll go tomorrow and double check everything again to make sure nothing popped off and hit anything. I've put at least 8k miles on it since the radiator was replaced. Any ideas about price to fix this mess?? From what I'm looking at its gonna be at least $400 just in parts (Fan, Shroud, radiator, and God knows what else).
I only see about $200 in parts. If you go to bavauto.com you can find the radiator for $120. If you're lucky you should only have to replace the fan blade and not the entire unit. If so, you can get just the fan blade for $25. Throw in a new drive belt for $16 and with shipping and maybe some more odds and ends you should be right around $200. (They have free shipping for orders over $150.00)

GO back to the same place you went before, plead your case and maybe they'll give you a break. Won't hurt to try.
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Last edited by halltristan; 11-14-2012 at 04:51 PM.
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  #9  
Old 11-14-2012, 04:57 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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GO back to the same place you went before, plead your case and maybe they'll give you a break. Won't hurt to try.
Impossible. I live in South Carolina where I got the work done, but I go to school in Providence, Rhode Island. What is really bothering me is that I had the oil changed less than a week ago and they supposedly did an inspection, but didn't find any damage on the fan.
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  #10  
Old 11-14-2012, 04:59 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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I am SURE that I need a new fan shroud seeing as there is nothing resembling on at the moment. Hopefully I can make this happen seeing as money just got tight with me transitioning between jobs.
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  #11  
Old 11-14-2012, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by christopherr117 View Post
Impossible. I live in South Carolina where I got the work done, but I go to school in Providence, Rhode Island. What is really bothering me is that I had the oil changed less than a week ago and they supposedly did an inspection, but didn't find any damage on the fan.
This is what you need to put some thought into. What did they screw up?
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  #12  
Old 11-14-2012, 05:05 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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Originally Posted by halltristan View Post
This is what you need to put some thought into. What did they screw up?
Thats whats blowing my mind. Do you think that the fan wasn't tightened properly and over time wobbled and broke?? Or maybe the wrong size fan or shroud were used? How would the malfunction not be sooner though? I really do not think that I know enough to figure out what caused this. This repair will put me dangerously close to $5k worth of maintenance for the year which is unacceptable to me. I'm get very impatient with this problem child.
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  #13  
Old 11-14-2012, 05:28 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Originally Posted by christopherr117 View Post
Thats whats blowing my mind. Do you think that the fan wasn't tightened properly and over time wobbled and broke?? Or maybe the wrong size fan or shroud were used? How would the malfunction not be sooner though? I really do not think that I know enough to figure out what caused this. This repair will put me dangerously close to $5k worth of maintenance for the year which is unacceptable to me. I'm get very impatient with this problem child.
I don't think they put the wrong fan in. Your car is, at oldest a 2000, unless I'm wrong. The fan is specific - the only choices are really the fan for an automatic or manual vehicle. But the wobbling over time is definitely worth considering. My thought, however, is that the simplest answer is usually the correct answer. In this case, considering you just had an oil change a week ago, I wonder if that shop didn't screw up on something. Honestly, I think this is a case where we may never know and unless you can find proof of something oil change related that they screwed up on and caused this tragedy, I don't know what else to say.

It is possible too that that they aren't familiar with BMWs and thought the oil filter was somewhere else. Maybe they started "digging" around and in the process loosened something up that cause this. If you search long enough, surely you'll find clues. Something has to be missing from somewhere that caused it. If not, the fan is the only culprit.

$5000 for maintenance is WAYYYYYYYYY too much. What the hell have you done this year? New engine or transmission?
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Last edited by halltristan; 11-14-2012 at 05:31 PM.
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  #14  
Old 11-14-2012, 05:42 PM
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By the way, if you drive this car anywhere, be sure to keep a couple gallons of water on you. You're definitely going to start overheating with the radiator like that.
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  #15  
Old 11-14-2012, 05:48 PM
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MalibuMafiaV MalibuMafiaV is offline
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Originally Posted by halltristan View Post
By the way, if you drive this car anywhere, be sure to keep a couple gallons of water on you. You're definitely going to start overheating with the radiator like that.
I'd hope that he doesn't drive the car like that at all lol.
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  #16  
Old 11-14-2012, 07:01 PM
Halby28 Halby28 is offline
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Kind of the same thing happened to my 323i. The bearing went bad in my fan and i had to replace my fan assembly and radiator to fix the whole problem. i recommend 1-800 radiator, that's where i got my parts from and they work great.
Good luck
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  #17  
Old 11-14-2012, 07:38 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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I'd hope that he doesn't drive the car like that at all lol.
You guys don't think that I can limp it over to Elite Auto Works?? I always keep coolant in the trunk just in case. I'm thinking if I take it in the morning when it's still freezing here plus topping it off with coolant should get me there right?
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  #18  
Old 11-14-2012, 07:45 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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You guys don't think that I can limp it over to Elite Auto Works?? I always keep coolant in the trunk just in case. I'm thinking if I take it in the morning when it's still freezing here plus topping it off with coolant should get me there right?
You'll be fine to do that. Use water though since its going to come right back out anyway. Save the coolant. Just pull over if the car starts to overheat and refill.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:48 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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Alright. Thanks so much for the help guys. I'll be sure to let you all know what the culprit is when (and if) it is discovered. Hopefully I can still be on schedule with my road trip and leave tomorrow!! Doubt it though hahaha
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:57 PM
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Are your other pulleys ok? If one went south and the belt came off... there could be your problem.
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  #21  
Old 11-14-2012, 09:05 PM
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looks like **** hit the fan...
sorry had to get it out there
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  #22  
Old 11-14-2012, 09:06 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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Are your other pulleys ok? If one went south and the belt came off... there could be your problem.
All pulleys appear to be fine. They are all on track with hold tension. I can't really see too well due to the darkness. I'll be able to look much more in depth tomorrow morning, and I'll be sure to get them to check on them just in case. I've been putting more thought into this. Do you think that this entire deterioration of the fan happened quickly? Like over a matter of miles?? Or do you think that the fan was gradually chipping away until there was nothing left? If it is the later I dont see an excuse for the shop that inspected it to have missed it. If it happened quickly I might be able to understand, however, there has been very little mileage put on the car since the inspection. It all seems fishy to me.
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  #23  
Old 11-14-2012, 10:09 PM
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The exploding fan is at least a somewhat known issue. It has happened to quite a few people. It's been a while since I've seen a thread about it, but there was a time when it was not an uncommon occurrence.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:51 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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If you go to bavauto.com you can find the radiator for $120.
Put in a cheap crap Nissans for $120 and you'll regret it sooner rather than later.
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  #25  
Old 11-15-2012, 06:23 AM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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Just got home from dropping off the car at Elite Auto Repair. Their looking at everything for me now. I'm praying that the fan, shroud, and radiator are the only problems. I'm also praying that its all covered under parts warranty seeing as this stuff was JUST replaced.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
The exploding fan is at least a somewhat known issue. It has happened to quite a few people. It's been a while since I've seen a thread about it, but there was a time when it was not an uncommon occurrence.
I was told this at the shop. Its due to the cheap/thin plastics that are used to make things like the fan. I'm really hoping that the fan had a chip or a flaw in it that caused this and not something else like the water pump. (Which I also JUST had replaced 5 months ago). I'll keep everyone up to date on the happenings. Thanks all for the speedy responses!!
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