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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 04-06-2013, 05:34 AM
kfmedlin kfmedlin is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 330 ci
Disasterous introduction to BMW

A good friend in PA called and said he had a friend with a beautiful, 1 owner 2002 330 ci with 90k miles that had been well taken care of and the owner wanted the car to go to a good home. My wife had always wanted one, so on a lark I agreed to buy the car. I flew from NC to PA to meet my friend and get the car. After the test drive, we did the deal and headed to my friend's home. By the time we got to his house, the car barely made up his driveway. Short version of the story is that the expansion tank cracked and had a total loss of coolant. I changed the tank, cap and upper hose and all seemed well. On the drive from PA to NC, the low cooland indicator came on twice and I stopped and put in approximately .5 gallon each time, and the engine did not overheat. After getting home, I isolated the problem to the expansion tank cap and got a new one, but still have a leak at the cap. I have properly bled the system and have turned the cap as tight as I can get it.

My question is, with the engine cool and properly adding coolant with the ignition on and heater set to high until the coolant drains out of the vent hole, then putting on the expansion tank cap, should I expect any fluid to escape while driving? Since this is a venting cap, is this a means of letting any excess fluid escape? I did several test drives and each time there was a little fluid leak and I tightened the cap a little more, and finally there is no leaking. Now after driving, I can hear the escaping of air at the cap when I turn the engine off... is this normal? I love the car, but am a bit spooked by my first encounter.
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  #2  
Old 04-06-2013, 07:07 AM
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ahull ahull is offline
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I wouldn't call this disastrous. Just about every e46 needs a refresh of cooling components around 80-100k miles. Go to the "View the e46 wiki" link near the top of this page and read up on the cooling system issues. Sometimes it can be difficult to get a proper bleed on the system. Do not overfill the system as that will overpressurize it and there's a good chance it will rupture an aged expansion tank. The cap is supposed to let off excess pressure and if present, excess coolant.

If it seems to have stabilized, you may be fine. I would check the level when cold.

What you probably are hearing at shutdown is the crankcase vent CCV letting off pressure. It's a quick woosh a few seconds after shutdown. Perfectly normal.

Read up in the wiki and it will all make sense - you may need to consider a proper refresh of the cooling system at this point if not done (tank, pump, upper hose, t-stat)- it's good insurance. If you overheat the engine, there's a good chance you'll blow the head gasket and possibly warp the engine head (engine replacement). Tell your wife if she ever sees the temp gauge go anywhere near the red to pull over immediately and shut it off (good advice for any car). These cars a far from perfect, but well maintained, they are a dream to drive.
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2003 330i TiAg Sport Pkg ~90k miles
DIY MODS: AA Stage I supercharger, Meyle HD FCAs w Powerflex CABs, Bilstein shocks, Meyle HD Rtabs, Angel Eyes, Clear Corners/Markers w/ LEDs, LED tails, ZHP rims, Akebono pads, AUX input
DIY E46 Merit Badges: Sunroof resurrection, CCV, OFHG, VCG w/ VANOS seals, DISA, Cooling Refresh I, steering giubo, window regs, Magnetic Infandibulator (see wiki)
DIY On deck: Rear Diff bushing. UUC SSK, clutch job eventually, Wavetrac LSD

Last edited by ahull; 04-06-2013 at 07:15 AM.
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  #3  
Old 04-06-2013, 10:46 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kfmedlin View Post
My question is, with the engine cool and properly adding coolant with the ignition on and heater set to high until the coolant drains out of the vent hole, then putting on the expansion tank cap, should I expect any fluid to escape while driving?
STOP, you are drastically overfilling the ET!

Don't you have an ET with a built in measuring rod? That rod has marks to indicate low and high levels. Fill only till the rod barely meets the high level. This will leave the coolant level way down below the level of the cap. This is how you fill your system.

Start with #1 on this thread to completely educate yourself on the e46 cooling system.
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...914109&page=56
Did you get a new ET cap? Mandatory.

And just in case you don't know it, stop driving whenever you get anything approaching a serious leak in your system. Or you will be putting in a used engine!
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:22 AM
vandyboy vandyboy is offline
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Settle down, Beavis.

You are definitely not experiencing a disaster, which would more likely happen in form of a violent collision, blown engine or ruined tranny. Refreshing the coolant system, doing some front-end work and replacing a few other wear items (alternator, battery) are necessary and expected for a 3-series of your vintage. It is part of the price of owning such a great car.

If you want to talk about disaster, I have a Land Rover sitting in my driveway that has more things wrong with it than the federal government. I still drive it and nothing keeps me from loving every minute I own it.
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  #5  
Old 04-07-2013, 10:06 AM
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av98 av98 is offline
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Make sure you properly let the air out aka burping the system with the screw on top close to the reservoir cap.
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  #6  
Old 04-07-2013, 10:50 AM
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MMME30W MMME30W is offline
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Originally Posted by vandyboy View Post

If you want to talk about disaster, I have a Land Rover sitting in my driveway that has more things wrong with it than the federal government. I still drive it and nothing keeps me from loving every minute I own it.
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  #7  
Old 04-07-2013, 10:51 AM
MMME30W's Avatar
MMME30W MMME30W is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoForthFast View Post
STOP, you are drastically overfilling the ET!

Don't you have an ET with a built in measuring rod? That rod has marks to indicate low and high levels. Fill only till the rod barely meets the high level. This will leave the coolant level way down below the level of the cap. This is how you fill your system.

Start with #1 on this thread to completely educate yourself on the e46 cooling system.
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...914109&page=56
Did you get a new ET cap? Mandatory.

And just in case you don't know it, stop driving whenever you get anything approaching a serious leak in your system. Or you will be putting in a used engine!
^^^ This.
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  #8  
Old 04-07-2013, 10:52 AM
MMME30W's Avatar
MMME30W MMME30W is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kfmedlin View Post
My question is, with the engine cool and properly adding coolant with the ignition on and heater set to high until the coolant drains out of the vent hole, then putting on the expansion tank cap, should I expect any fluid to escape while driving? Since this is a venting cap, is this a means of letting any excess fluid escape? I did several test drives and each time there was a little fluid leak and I tightened the cap a little more, and finally there is no leaking. Now after driving, I can hear the escaping of air at the cap when I turn the engine off... is this normal? I love the car, but am a bit spooked by my first encounter.
How did you bleed the system?
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