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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 05-04-2009, 06:57 AM
SVO SVO is offline
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E46 pre-fl 320d Loosing coolant

I have a 2001 320d e46 pre-face lift. I have been through many of the blogs and done most of the suggestions but here is my problem. I have been loosing coolant over the past few months, usually 250-500ml over a week. I have replace the thermostat, radiator and done the head gasket. But i still have the same problem. I had a pressure test and it was fine but done a sniffer test which showed gases in the cooling system. Can anyone help with this problem?
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  #2  
Old 05-04-2009, 09:37 AM
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Mo.licious Mo.licious is offline
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It's great that you've replaced your thermostat, radiator, and head gasket, but you should know that the Coolant Expansion Tank is really the weakest link in your whole cooling system. Because of all these plastic parts (expansion tank included), your cooling system is prone to a horrible death. So I would start there. Try and get underneath the car to take a look and see if you can trace where the coolant is coming from, revealing the culprit.
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  #3  
Old 05-04-2009, 09:53 AM
Latoilette Latoilette is offline
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+1 on expansion tank. If you are losing coolant, you have a leak. external leak or into your engine.

Look at your coolant, do you see engine oil? they have quick chemical test kits available at local walmart and autozone for 20 bucks. buy it and test it.
then you will know for sure. -1 on your sniffer test.
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  #4  
Old 05-04-2009, 09:55 AM
akhbhaat akhbhaat is offline
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Head gasket? Did the engine overheat at some point?

As the poster above pointed out, the expansion tank and associated hoses/clamps/connectors is a major weak point. It's common practice to preventatively replace the entire cooling system (except the radiator) when the car gets close to 100k miles because a serious failure or leak could develop anywhere.

Another thing: most of the posters here live in North America, and so we have very limited familiarity with the diesel engines. There may be a diesel-specific problem here that we wouldn't know how to diagnose.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:10 PM
SVO SVO is offline
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Thanks for the input. At no point during this ordeal did the car overheat not even slightly. I have replaced all the hoses as well. I have check the coolant and there is no sign of oil. I have been under the car and there is no apparent leaks. I have been to a BMW dealership and they have checked for diesel related leaks and found nothing. Do you think the expansion tank could be a culprit without showing any visible leaks?
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  #6  
Old 05-04-2009, 11:15 PM
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Mo.licious Mo.licious is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVO View Post
Do you think the expansion tank could be a culprit without showing any visible leaks?
I doubt it, but there might be a possibility. This was my expansion tank on its last leg...

Photobucket

When you looked underneath your car, was the engine running? Or had it been recently?
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  #7  
Old 05-04-2009, 11:16 PM
jimybonz 528 jimybonz 528 is offline
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i had a leak on my bmw after i did a cooling system over-haul and it still leaked a little, but it was because one of the bolts on the thremostat housing wasnt tight enough, also did you replace the thermostat housing they are prone to corrode on the inside and that could cause a leak, also make sure its secruly tightened. If its not the expansion tank.
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  #8  
Old 05-05-2009, 05:28 AM
SVO SVO is offline
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It had been running.
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  #9  
Old 05-05-2009, 05:28 AM
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I have change the the housing as well.
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  #10  
Old 05-05-2009, 05:30 AM
SVO SVO is offline
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I have been told that the engine block could have a slight crack! Does anyone know if it is possible?
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  #11  
Old 05-05-2009, 06:38 AM
Latoilette Latoilette is offline
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why did you do the head gasket? did your car overheat in the past? if yes.. you might have cracked block. (that's why you gotta take your head to machine shop when doing head gasket.)
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  #12  
Old 05-05-2009, 12:10 PM
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Solidjake Solidjake is offline
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I would check the radiator hoses for any leaks, if it's not that, go under the car and look for any leaks coming from the expansion tank.
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  #13  
Old 03-18-2015, 12:08 AM
jamest1 jamest1 is offline
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I have the same problem with my Bmw e36i its loosing water so fast and i checked everywhere for a leak but nothing. i really really wonder where the water is going. the main thing which surprise me is: if i open the breather screw and the cap the water start to rise to the top so my question is: does it mean that there is enough water while it looks very low before i open breath screw and cap. really worried


pliz help m
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  #14  
Old 03-19-2015, 08:27 AM
phil0464 phil0464 is offline
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jamest1,
I have had similar on my 330ci, change the expansion tank, cap and level sender, bleed the system properly
with coolant system all back together and before refilling

1 Switch on ingnition DO NOT start the engine
2 set cabin temp to maximum, fan on half
3 remove bleed screw from top hose and re fill system until coolant comes out of bleed screw hole, replace bleed screw, and check for leaks
4 start engine and top up ET as required,
5 once you can no longer top up and the indicator stick is at normal height, replace the cap
6 if you have a C110 connect it and go to the engine temperature screen if not use the hidden menu and display the engine temp (i perfer the C110 as you can see both the radiator inlet and outlet temps which will tell you if and when the thermostat has opened
7 periodically open the bleed screw and let out any air
8 once the engine has reached temp and has been there a few minutes, or until the radiator fan cuts in, switch the engine off and leave to cool
9 check coolant level do not be surprised if it takes another 0.5 litres
10 take for a drive and monitor the coolant level over the next week or so

You can raise the front of the car so that the filling spout is higher than the rest of the car but i find this is not necessary

cheers

Phil
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