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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 10-24-2005, 08:00 AM
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yamato yamato is offline
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Add Coolant

I have my coolant warning light on for a few seconds yesterday morning. Checked this morning and it was really low. Can I just add some coolant (Prestone?) myself? I have some in my garage. I don't want to drive to a dealer just to get a BMW coolant which I think there is no difference.

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 10-24-2005, 09:30 AM
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I called my SAs. They said I can add coolant as long as it is the green stuff. Just don't add those 'long life' ones which are pink or yellow. Should I trust them? The problem is I don't want to risk overheating by driving to the dealer to pick up the OEM coolants. They are not sure if roadside assistance has them.

If really necessary I will take the bus to the dealer. Thanks.
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  #3  
Old 10-24-2005, 10:11 AM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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Just remember that you`re looking in *the overflow tank*, not the radiator....if there`s any coolant in there, you stand little chance of overheating. If you`re *that* paranoid, just add a little plain water(distilled, preferably) to get you by....the car is 2 years old, so it`s time to dump that old coolant & replace it with some fresh stuff. Buy it from the dealer....it`s not all that expensive when you figure the cost over a couple of years....

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  #4  
Old 10-24-2005, 10:44 AM
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yamato yamato is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Bob
Just remember that you`re looking in *the overflow tank*, not the radiator....if there`s any coolant in there, you stand little chance of overheating. If you`re *that* paranoid, just add a little plain water(distilled, preferably) to get you by....the car is 2 years old, so it`s time to dump that old coolant & replace it with some fresh stuff. Buy it from the dealer....it`s not all that expensive when you figure the cost over a couple of years....

Regards,
Bob
There is an overflow tank? I got to check the manual again when I am home. I thought the manual told me to open up the cap on top of the radiator to check the float position. I found I almost couldn't even see the float. I am scheduled to do coolant flush in May, the 3rd year anniversary during Inspection I.

Thanks
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  #5  
Old 10-24-2005, 12:23 PM
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Salvator Salvator is offline
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My owners manual states:







Add coolant The coolant level is too low. Top off the coolant at the earliest opportunity.




Note that it does not say "immediately"... I interpret this (and the fact that the light turns off after a few seconds) that you are in need of more coolant, but not in dire need / risk of overheating... In fact, my wife drove around like this for a couple of weeks because she thought it was the windshield washer fluid light... Get thee to the dealership and pick up a bottle of bimmer coolant and you'll be good to go... (of course, while you are there you could request that they top it off, but may as well be prepared and get your own bottle... )


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  #6  
Old 10-24-2005, 12:48 PM
LDV330i LDV330i is offline
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If you do not have the correct coolant I woud add enough water to bring up the float up to the minimum. Then when you get the BMW coolant continue to top it off.


I would not go by what dealer staff member says. Do what the Owner's manual says. Remember rule #1 in contract law, verbal agreements do not supercede or modify written agreements (your Owner's manual).
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  #7  
Old 10-24-2005, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LDV330i
If you do not have the correct coolant I woud add enough water to bring up the float up to the minimum. Then when you get the BMW coolant continue to top it off.


I would not go by what dealer staff member says. Do what the Owner's manual says. Remember rule #1 in contract law, verbal agreements do not supercede or modify written agreements (your Owner's manual).
I searched the entire office building and there is no single drop of distilled water! Would water from a Brita filter works? It seems better than tap water.

How much liquid would it take to bring the float, say from min to max? I never did it before I am afraid it will take too much water just to bring the level up to the minumum. What's the total capacity of the coolant reservoir? Just want to get an idea if I would dilute the coolant too much.

Thanks!
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  #8  
Old 10-24-2005, 03:30 PM
TRWham TRWham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yamato
I searched the entire office building and there is no single drop of distilled water! Would water from a Brita filter works? It seems better than tap water.

How much liquid would it take to bring the float, say from min to max? I never did it before I am afraid it will take too much water just to bring the level up to the minumum. What's the total capacity of the coolant reservoir? Just want to get an idea if I would dilute the coolant too much.

Thanks!
You can buy distilled water at a supermarket.
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  #9  
Old 10-24-2005, 04:04 PM
LDV330i LDV330i is offline
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Distilled water will have no minerals since basically it is the condensate (cooled steam) of boiling water. In an emergency you can use tap/drinking water.
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  #10  
Old 10-24-2005, 05:54 PM
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operknockity operknockity is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yamato
How much liquid would it take to bring the float, say from min to max? I never did it before I am afraid it will take too much water just to bring the level up to the minumum. What's the total capacity of the coolant reservoir? Just want to get an idea if I would dilute the coolant too much.
A couple of cups should do ya. But I wouldn't worry too much about it..... Just fill it up with distilled water for now, and keep an eye on it, since you are not driving in "extreme" conditions. Then make an apointment to have your system flushed under the maintenance plan (assuming you are still under maintenance).
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  #11  
Old 10-24-2005, 09:16 PM
Jon325iT Jon325iT is offline
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I had the coolent light flash for a few seconds too. This is the first time this has happened. Coolent level is fine - no evidence of leak. I would think that if the coolent was really low the light would stay on. I'm confused....
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  #12  
Old 10-25-2005, 05:05 AM
jeff330i jeff330i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by operknockity
A couple of cups should do ya. But I wouldn't worry too much about it..... Just fill it up with distilled water for now, and keep an eye on it, since you are not driving in "extreme" conditions. Then make an apointment to have your system flushed under the maintenance plan (assuming you are still under maintenance).
I was in this jam once - just added distilled water from a local mini-mart in a red dixie cup and marked the line that i filled the cup up with. Then I went home and filled the cup up to the same line with coolant and poured it in and pushed the front of the car up and down a bit to mix it all.
PS: I wouldn't use tap water because it's got a lot of crap in it. It's not hard to find distilled water.
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  #13  
Old 10-25-2005, 08:32 AM
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yamato yamato is offline
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I put half quart of distill water in. The float is near min now. I read in another thread that the total capacity of the radiator is 2 gal. So I think half quart doesn't dilute the coolant much. I think I will just leave it like this thru the winter until May when I'll do the scheduled coolant flush.

Thanks!
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  #14  
Old 10-25-2005, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yamato
I put half quart of distill water in. The float is near min now. I read in another thread that the total capacity of the radiator is 2 gal. So I think half quart doesn't dilute the coolant much. I think I will just leave it like this thru the winter until May when I'll do the scheduled coolant flush.

Thanks!
May is 6 months away!

I'm not sure if you live in an area that freezes, but if you are, you might want to consider purchasing a jug of BMW antifreeze and bringing your indicator up to right level by adding the antifreeze... if you have it at min, it's just going to come on again in a little while... and having even slightly diluted coolant would bother me (personally) due to the amount of damage that can occur if you are wrong (i.e. frozen block, blown freeze plugs, etc... )
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  #15  
Old 10-25-2005, 10:59 AM
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yamato yamato is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salvator
May is 6 months away!

I'm not sure if you live in an area that freezes, but if you are, you might want to consider purchasing a jug of BMW antifreeze and bringing your indicator up to right level by adding the antifreeze... if you have it at min, it's just going to come on again in a little while... and having even slightly diluted coolant would bother me (personally) due to the amount of damage that can occur if you are wrong (i.e. frozen block, blown freeze plugs, etc... )
I was actually worrying about this also. I think I should go to dealer this weekend to buy some coolant. Thanks man.
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  #16  
Old 10-25-2005, 11:01 AM
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yamato yamato is offline
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Actually where does the coolant go? Why does it disappear over time?
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  #17  
Old 10-25-2005, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yamato
Actually where does the coolant go? Why does it disappear over time?
There have been discussions about this, but I'll cut to the chase... no one knows for sure... various theories... perhaps you have a leak (you'd probably notice it) or your engine is burning it (but that would mean a cracked head, and you'd probably notice that too...) or maybe the engine uses it up somehow... (evaporation? But its a closed system? ) Don't know... and some cars do, and some cars don't (have not had to top up my car, ever... oil, yes, coolant, no... my wife's old 323iT needed it... so far, not her 525iT)... Of course, if you start seeing your temperature guage going through the roof, you got a problem, but otherwise, it's just another of one of those BMW idiosyncracies... it happens so that you feel more involved with your car... yeah, thats the ticket!
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  #18  
Old 10-25-2005, 06:24 PM
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The same thing happened to my '04 325i yesterday and today. After driving for a while the coolant heats and expands and the light goes out. Tomorrow I'll add some destilled water. Where I live I don't have to worry about extremely low temps. I am sure the car comes from the factory protected to withstand Wisconsin winters.
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  #19  
Old 10-26-2005, 10:23 AM
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yamato yamato is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HughH
The same thing happened to my '04 325i yesterday and today. After driving for a while the coolant heats and expands and the light goes out. Tomorrow I'll add some destilled water. Where I live I don't have to worry about extremely low temps. I am sure the car comes from the factory protected to withstand Wisconsin winters.
apparently the dealer doesn't check coolant level when we bring the cars in for service!
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  #20  
Old 10-28-2005, 05:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yamato
I have my coolant warning light on for a few seconds yesterday morning. Checked this morning and it was really low. Can I just add some coolant (Prestone?) myself? I have some in my garage. I don't want to drive to a dealer just to get a BMW coolant which I think there is no difference.

Thanks.

BMW uses G-48 coolant. You can buy G-48 coolant at your friendly neighborhood SAAB dealer for about $8-9 per gallon. Make sure to ask for "blue" antifreeze. It is exactly the same thing that BMW dealers sell for $14-18/gal.

G-05 is good, too. $10/gal at Mercedes dealers. This uses different chemistry than the original BMW stuff, so a flush will be necessary.
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  #21  
Old 12-07-2005, 05:50 PM
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My "add coolant" indicator has been coming on for about 30 seconds the last couple of mornings--it's been a bit cold here at about 20-30 degrees. How important is it to add the BMW coolant? THe closest BMW dealer in this po-dunk West Texas town is about 190 miles away. I do have an appointment with them on 19 December for a door problem. Should I add some distilled water and wait or what?
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  #22  
Old 12-07-2005, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tboogie
How important is it to add the BMW coolant?
It's a bad idea to use the "wrong" coolant, as there could be unforeseen issues... VW had a problem a while back whereas if you mixed the usual green coolant with their orange coolant, the coolant would turn into a gel, which is not good for the engine! Recently, I've seen a Prestone coolant advertised that supposedly works with "all" coolants... you could look into that, or as other have done, top off with a little distilled water and then get a full flush at your Dec. 19 appointment... Personally, I'm paranoid about using only distilled water if the outside temp gets below freezing, so if I were in your shoes (which probably wouldn't fit... ) I'd check into the new Prestone (verify that it works with BMW coolant) and top off with it... then, go ahead and get a full flush on the 19th... Good luck!
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Old 12-12-2005, 06:24 PM
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I've also had my light come twice in the last week or so. Today I called and asked SA what kind of coolent I need and he said to just add water. I live in SW Fla. and there's not a problem with cold weather here. My first service won't be until April. Do you think it's a good idea to just add water with this much time before the service?
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Old 12-12-2005, 06:34 PM
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Hey, I just noticed my coolant light coming on a few times over the past 2 weeks. I can't believe we're all posting about this at the same time. It only happens right when I start the car and its been cold out (yes, it does get cold here in AZ in the morning during December). My guess is that it has something to do with the engine being cold on startup since once the engine temp guage moves up towards the top of the blue marker the Coolant light goes off. Also (an even more important data point), if I've driven the car in the morning and then come back out later in the day and start it....no coolant light ! The engine is already fairly warm.

FYI - My car is 10 months old and has less than 7000 miles on it.
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Old 12-12-2005, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetstream23
Hey, I just noticed my coolant light coming on a few times over the past 2 weeks. I can't believe we're all posting about this at the same time. It only happens right when I start the car and its been cold out (yes, it does get cold here in AZ in the morning during December). My guess is that it has something to do with the engine being cold on startup since once the engine temp guage moves up towards the top of the blue marker the Coolant light goes off. Also (an even more important data point), if I've driven the car in the morning and then come back out later in the day and start it....no coolant light ! The engine is already fairly warm.

FYI - My car is 10 months old and has less than 7000 miles on it.
It is weird that we're all seeing the same thing

I only see my light in the mornings. When I go home after work, the light doesn't come on. My car is 8 months old and has 9400 miles. But I did go on a 3,000 trip this summer.
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