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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 12-26-2006, 05:09 PM
jtsailjt jtsailjt is offline
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Mein Auto: '95 325i auto
Coolant leak

My '95, 325i, auto, 106K miles, needed the water pump replaced about a year ago and the mechanic said that the water pump impeller blades had totally disappeared. So they replaced the pump with an aftermarket one also with a plastic impeller, but that one leaked (mechanic said it leaked around shaft) so they replaced it with another one but that one leaked too and they replaced it with a different brand pump with metal impeller but that one leaked too so they went back to a plastic impeller pump and that one seemed to not leak for about 5000 miles last summer. Now the leak has reappeared.

When the car has been driven and is then put up on a lift coolant runs down and drips off the bottom front of the engine from under the shaft area but it's impossible to see precisely where it's coming from (definitely aft of the fan). We also just replaced the radiator reservoir cap last week to see if it might help but it made no impact. I'm thinking the odds of having 5 defective water pumps in a row is pretty slim and want to see if anyone here can think of some other logical explanation to what I just described. My mechanic is planning to replace the pump yet again next week, this time with a non-aftermarket BMW pump and he's not charging me for any of this but it's getting old and I feel bad for the poor mechanic! Any good ideas or suggestions or even helpful educated guesses that I could mention to him? Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 12-26-2006, 06:13 PM
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PJBIMMER PJBIMMER is offline
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What abot the themostat and it's housing? did you replace it aswell?....PJ
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  #3  
Old 12-26-2006, 08:39 PM
jtsailjt jtsailjt is offline
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thermostat loc

Thanks, we haven't done that yet and I will mention it to him.

Is the thermostat and housing located so that when you looked at it from the top of the engine you wouldn't see any liquid and is it near enough to the water pump so it would look like it was leaking from that area when you are looking up at it on the lift?
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  #4  
Old 12-27-2006, 07:12 AM
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PJBIMMER PJBIMMER is offline
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If your looking at engine standing in front of car, it's to the left, it's probably black plastic housing, switch to the aluminum upgrade one, cost is about 23.00. let us know what the results are?......PJ


and yes, it's near the waterpump.
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  #5  
Old 12-30-2006, 07:46 PM
jtsailjt jtsailjt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJBIMMER View Post
If your looking at engine standing in front of car, it's to the left, it's probably black plastic housing, switch to the aluminum upgrade one, cost is about 23.00. let us know what the results are?......PJ


and yes, it's near the waterpump.
Taking car in Tuesday and will talk this over with them and let you know what they find and have to say about it. I'm REALLY interested in having this little problem solved! I appreciate your taking the time to think about this and share your ideas. Fingers crossed!
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  #6  
Old 12-31-2006, 03:28 PM
CrAzYMuTT CrAzYMuTT is offline
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Well best suggestion. Replace the water pump and yes keep the pully plastic the metal pullies will break off all the time. Take the fan out throw it in the garbage and switch to en electrical fan. I had the same problem after I did that things have been great!!
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  #7  
Old 01-01-2007, 05:16 PM
jtsailjt jtsailjt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzYMuTT View Post
Well best suggestion. Replace the water pump and yes keep the pully plastic the metal pullies will break off all the time. Take the fan out throw it in the garbage and switch to en electrical fan. I had the same problem after I did that things have been great!!
I don't understand, would you please elaborate on plastic pullies? I was referring to plastic water pump impellers. What fan are you talking about when you say replace with electrical fan? Thanx.
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  #8  
Old 01-01-2007, 05:27 PM
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PJBIMMER PJBIMMER is offline
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They meant take the old clutchfan off and put and electric one in its place, its a good idea I haven,t tried it myself yet....PJ



just wondering if you checked to see if that thermostat housing is the cause of your leak??
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Last edited by PJBIMMER; 01-01-2007 at 05:30 PM.
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  #9  
Old 01-02-2007, 04:56 AM
jtsailjt jtsailjt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJBIMMER View Post
They meant take the old clutchfan off and put and electric one in its place, its a good idea I haven,t tried it myself yet....PJ



just wondering if you checked to see if that thermostat housing is the cause of your leak??
No, my mechanic has been closed all weekend and I am going to take it in today.
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  #10  
Old 01-03-2007, 09:05 AM
jtsailjt jtsailjt is offline
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Well, the latest is that the new BMW waterpump is installed and the mechanic determined that the old (actually not so old) pump was leaking. Hopefully this pump will hold up.

Before he took it apart I looked closely at the thermostat housing and there was no fluid leaking out of that. It was leaking out of something lower and slightly further back.

I mentioned replacing the clutch fan with an electric one and the mechanic seemed to think that was a good idea too to reduce strain on the pump bearings, but since he had the pump already in stock he elected to install it now and we can remove/replace the clutchfan when we can get an electric one in.

He just called and said that now it's all back together, he pressure tested the system and apparently under pressure the coolant is leaking out of both ENDS(?) of the radiator so he wants to replace the radiator too. I don't doubt him since he is a very experienced and conscientious mechanic but I've never seen anything leak out of the radiator (except for around a loose hose clamp that we tightened up) in all the times I've stuck my head under there with the engine hot or cold. Radiators are kind of expensive so before we go ahead with this, any alternatives or thoughts? Can the radiator be repaired or is it likely to be something besides the radiator itself?
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  #11  
Old 01-03-2007, 01:21 PM
kudos328 kudos328 is offline
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There really is no need IMO to pressure test the system. As long as it holds and doesn't leak when the system has full fluid and running under normal condition. If the pressure is made to simulate normal operating situation then first replace all the hoses.
Worst case scenario for some reason you are not getting a good seal where the waterpump goes and the block has a sliver. Good luck fixing it cause i don't think 5 waterpumps could be defective. Also never replace your stock waterpump with another plastic impeller use the metal one.
Here's a list of places that could be leaking.
Thermostat housing, pipes, radiator hoses, radiator.

Replace all the cheap stuff first and then if it doesn't solve it replace radiator. They aren't too expensive i think you can find some on bimmerforums.com in the parts from a parts car for about 100 bucks or so.
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  #12  
Old 01-03-2007, 09:06 PM
jtsailjt jtsailjt is offline
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Thanx for the thoughts. I told my mechanic that I would pass on the new radiator for now because I've never seen it leak there (and I've looked!) but if it does leak that's always an option. The aftermarket radiator he had there costs $350 so if I eventually do need one I'll shop around.

The mechanic said that the pump was leaking (dripping steadily) out of the weep hole so he thought the shaft seal inside the pump had failed.

I do intend to do as suggested above and get an electric fan to replace the cluthchfan.

Thanx to all who helped.
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  #13  
Old 01-08-2007, 08:44 PM
nicko nicko is offline
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aftermarket rad off ebay

hi:

I bought an aftermarket rad off ebay (Nissans). I paid $129 which included shipping.

I installed it on the weekend and it fit like a charm.

My previous rad had a hairline crack in the endtank. I believe the OE rads have a seal between the endtanks and the core that are prone to leaking.

Also as far as switching to an electric fan, in principle it is a good idea however be careful with the wiring and fusing so as not to start a fire. In order to replace the viscious fan you will probably need a fan that draws 30 - 40 Amps.

Be careful also to make sure your alternator can handle the extra current draw.

Also how is the fan controlledl by temp. sensor or switch. If a switch by careful not to forget to turn the fan on and overheat your engine. Also use a relay, do not bring that kind of current under the dash to a switch.
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  #14  
Old 01-09-2007, 06:20 AM
jtsailjt jtsailjt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nicko View Post
hi:

I bought an aftermarket rad off ebay (Nissans). I paid $129 which included shipping.

I installed it on the weekend and it fit like a charm.

My previous rad had a hairline crack in the endtank. I believe the OE rads have a seal between the endtanks and the core that are prone to leaking.

Also as far as switching to an electric fan, in principle it is a good idea however be careful with the wiring and fusing so as not to start a fire. In order to replace the viscious fan you will probably need a fan that draws 30 - 40 Amps.

Be careful also to make sure your alternator can handle the extra current draw.

Also how is the fan controlledl by temp. sensor or switch. If a switch by careful not to forget to turn the fan on and overheat your engine. Also use a relay, do not bring that kind of current under the dash to a switch.
Nicko, Thanks for your input. It's been about a week and everything seems to be holding together so far. During the pressure test you could see just a very little coolant weeping from both ends of the radiator right where the plastic part touches the metal. But so far the radiator reservoir is still full and there's no dripping or even wetness at the bottom of the radiator at all so I am going to leave things alone and keep checking the coolant regularly. But if it turns out that I need a radiator, it's nice to know that they don't cost over $350 for an after market one.
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  #15  
Old 02-03-2011, 09:22 AM
bmw4jie bmw4jie is offline
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1997 328i with about 100k miles. Low coolant light comes on frequently and with no overheating. HOWEVER, as soon as I add coolant (to the expansion tank ccrrect level line), the engine temp gauge will overheat when I drive it! It happened many times! Mechanic says air bubble in cooling system, but that can't make sense if all I did was add coolant to the expansion tank (engine temp never overheated even with low coolant light on before I added coolant). Any advice?
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  #16  
Old 02-03-2011, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4jie View Post
1997 328i with about 100k miles. Low coolant light comes on frequently and with no overheating. HOWEVER, as soon as I add coolant (to the expansion tank ccrrect level line), the engine temp gauge will overheat when I drive it! It happened many times! Mechanic says air bubble in cooling system, but that can't make sense if all I did was add coolant to the expansion tank (engine temp never overheated even with low coolant light on before I added coolant). Any advice?
BMW cooling systems have some weird tendencies that no one can seem to explain, if I were you then the first place I would start would be with bleeding the cooling system. It isn't too hard to do yourself, check out the pelican parts website for a good set of DIY instructions.

Edit: Also, +1 on the use of the search button! This is an epic thread revival, but that means you went digging through the archives. Kudos.
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Oh your talking about THAT hole.. yeah thats an inspection hole

Last edited by Killjoy; 02-03-2011 at 09:36 AM.
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  #17  
Old 02-03-2011, 09:47 AM
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night_raven9 night_raven9 is offline
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Slightly related coolant question:
car will "overheat" when in neutral, whether vehicle is going 50 or not moving at all. when it starts to overheat the blower stops blowing hot air and send cool air into the car instead. When I put it back in gear, it slowly goes back down. I bought a new thermostat, but also noticed that I have some coolant sitting along the lip of the reservoir, reservoir stays full and doesn't seem to be actually leaking. Any ideas?
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  #18  
Old 02-03-2011, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by night_raven9 View Post
Slightly related coolant question:
car will "overheat" when in neutral, whether vehicle is going 50 or not moving at all. when it starts to overheat the blower stops blowing hot air and send cool air into the car instead. When I put it back in gear, it slowly goes back down. I bought a new thermostat, but also noticed that I have some coolant sitting along the lip of the reservoir, reservoir stays full and doesn't seem to be actually leaking. Any ideas?
When was the last time you had your water pump replaced? Does it have the plastic impeller?
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Oh your talking about THAT hole.. yeah thats an inspection hole
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  #19  
Old 02-03-2011, 10:03 AM
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^ No clue, I've owned the car less than a year, and I haven't done anything to the water pump
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:12 AM
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The reason I ask is-
my theory is that if it has plastic blades on the impeller, maybe some, but not all, of the blades have sheared off, and the engine might need to be above idle in order for the water pump to move sufficient amounts of coolant for proper cooling.

Also, have you tried bleeding your system?

Is this a problem that has been happening all along, or did it just spring up in the last day or two?
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  #21  
Old 02-03-2011, 10:51 AM
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it started happening before I replaced the MAF, but didn't go away, and is slowly getting worse. The RPMs at idle (when not moving) are just a hair below 1000, and when moving are usually between 1000 and 2000, but not jumping around

Edit: I haven't bled the system in about 6 months
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  #22  
Old 02-03-2011, 02:17 PM
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+1 to possibly bad water pump impeller. The early E36s (such as yours) came equipped with plastic impellers on the water pumps, which could come partially (or fully) disconnected from the impeller shaft causing it to spin somewhat, but not fast enough to keep the car cool at idle. If your water pump has never been changed, I'd start there. If you haven't bled the cooling system in 6 months and this is a fairly recent development, I doubt this is being caused by trapped air.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 02-03-2011 at 02:18 PM.
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  #23  
Old 02-03-2011, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeGerman View Post
plastic impellers on the water pumps, which could come partially (or fully) disconnected from the impeller shaft
It might not apply to the 3 series, but, over in the E39 forums, we've practically determined the material of the impeller in the water pump isn't really all that meaningful in practice ...

- What brand of waterpump to buy (1)
BMW E39 Water Pump Suppliers:
--- top tier (I think) ---
1. Stewart EMP (some say they beef up the bearings to handle the metal)
2. Hepu (Cam like's em but I don't know much about 'em)
3. Geba (heavy cast metal impeller, bearings sometimes fail)
4. Graf welded steel impeller (better but also occasional bearing failure)
5. GMB (I think this is OE with composite plastic impellers???)
--- lower tier (I think) ---
6. Hella (I think this is OEM with composite plastic impellers)
7. Bosch (I don't know of any users who reported back on these)
8. Beck Arnley (they sell 'em but I don't know anyone using them)
9. Airtex (again, they sell 'em, but we'd have to hear from users first)
10. AC Delco (same as the last two above, they sell 'em)
11. A1 Cardone (they sell 'em, don't know much about 'em)
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  #24  
Old 02-03-2011, 04:14 PM
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Not to steal this thread, (sorry op) but I also have a partially dismantled AC setup. Bad compressor, missing bracket and tensioner, and no belt. Does this effect the function of my Aux fan? and I will check the water pump, I don't like panicking when stuck in traffic that I'll have to pull over and wait for my car to cool down. (I will be fixing the AC issues at some point but reliable driveability is my first concern)
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