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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 07-11-2015, 04:49 PM
fishmystic fishmystic is offline
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Intersting cooling system problem-Any Ideas?

Let me preface that I had a water pump replaced 1000 miles before this happened.

SHORT STORY:

Car starts to overheat. Tons of white smoke comes out during pressure test at repair shop. First opinion says blown head gasket. Drive it three miles to a dealer to get second opinion, starts to overheat again, still blowing smoke out of tailpipe. Goes back to normal. I take it in to the dealer to get head gasket replaced and they tell me there is nothing wrong with it. Drive it 1200 miles home with no problems.

LONG STORY:

Low coolant light comes on. I'm on the highway in Wyoming so I put two cups of water in to fill it and try to make it to my destination. 40 miles later, the temp rises rapidly and I immediately stop the car. It is leaking coolant but not much. Nonetheless, I get it towed 100 miles to Jackson, WY.

The garage performs a pressure test and the car immediately blows out tons of grey/white smoke to the point where no one in the vicinity can breath. They tell me it is a blown head gasket and it will cost $2600.

Thinking I will need to do a trade in, I have it towed another 100 miles to a BMW in Idaho Falls (and park it at a friend's house for the weekend). I drive it 3 miles to the dealer and it is blowing smoke and it hits the red just as I pull into the dealer. I take it in to get a trade in value and can't find another BMW I want so I start to drive it back and it starts to overheat again, but as I am ready to pull it over, it goes back to normal temp. When I get back to the house, the white smoke has stopped. I decide to have it repaired at $2600. The dealer pressure tests it, etc., etc. AND CAN'T FIND ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT.

As of this writing, I have just driven it 1200 miles in two days coming home (@ 33 mpg).

Any ideas? I'm guessing sticky thermometer, but what's up with the white smoke?
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  #2  
Old 07-11-2015, 05:55 PM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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1. Did you (or anyone else) ever try bleeding the system ?

2. Did you check for water in the oil/oil in the coolant ?

3. When the white smoke is present, what does the exhaust smell like ? Does it have that sickly-sweetish antifreeze smell to it ?

4. Did anyone ever perform a compression/leakdown test ? That is usually a more accurate indicator of what`s going on.
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  #3  
Old 07-11-2015, 06:24 PM
fishmystic fishmystic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
1. Did you (or anyone else) ever try bleeding the system ?

2. Did you check for water in the oil/oil in the coolant ?

3. When the white smoke is present, what does the exhaust smell like ? Does it have that sickly-sweetish antifreeze smell to it ?

4. Did anyone ever perform a compression/leakdown test ? That is usually a more accurate indicator of what`s going on.
1. I suspect that was the precursor to the overheating. I had the same thought, especially when the BMW mechanic added 2 quarts of coolant.

2. Yes, none present in either. No milkshakes.

3. Not really a sweet antifreeze smell, more like an acrid watery smell (but it's entirely possible there was no antifreeze left and just water).

4. I know he did a pressure test, but when I asked about the compression test he indicated he had checked everything. Not sure what a leakdown test is. He also said he had never seen a 325i with a blown head gasket and didn't want to replace it and have me break down from something else. Pretty honest, they could have taken me for a lot of $$.

I have had puffs of white smoke before the problem, when accelerating at high speed, but that is gone now as well.

One thing I gained from reading this forum is it might be the CCV valve? Thanks for the reply! Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

rob

Last edited by fishmystic; 07-11-2015 at 06:27 PM.
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  #4  
Old 07-11-2015, 06:39 PM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishmystic View Post
1. I suspect that was the precursor to the overheating. I had the same thought, especially when the BMW mechanic added 2 quarts of coolant.

One thing I gained from reading this forum is it might be the CCV valve? Thanks for the reply! Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

rob
Not sure if you understood question #1....did anybody bleed the system ? Air bubbles can be persistent in E46s....which is why it often has to be done more than once. Be sure the front end is raised slightly, and the heater is on full blast.

Your CVV is undoubtedly on it`s way out....they ALL fail eventually. That would cause puffs of smoke (and excessive oil consumption as well), but not contribute to overheating.
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  #5  
Old 07-11-2015, 06:40 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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I have owned BMWs for almost 20 years and been on the forums for quite a while and this is the first time I hear of a BMW overheating and blowing smoke fix itself. Not saying I don't believe it, just saying it's the first time.
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  #6  
Old 07-11-2015, 06:50 PM
fishmystic fishmystic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
Not sure if you understood question #1....did anybody bleed the system ? Air bubbles can be persistent in E46s....which is why it often has to be done more than once. Be sure the front end is raised slightly, and the heater is on full blast.

Your CVV is undoubtedly on it`s way out....they ALL fail eventually. That would cause puffs of smoke (and excessive oil consumption as well), but not contribute to overheating.
My guess is no. I had the problem of not being bled a while ago. The guy told me how to do it, but I didn't think about it as a problem until it started overheating/"leaking" on the road. I have blasted this car at 75-80 mph for two weeks straight (2400 miles) and not had the problem except those 10 miles or so.

Thanks for the advice on the CVV. I am burning a quart of oil about every 2500-3000 miles or so.
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  #7  
Old 07-11-2015, 06:53 PM
fishmystic fishmystic is offline
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Location: Macomb IL
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FredoinSF View Post
I have owned BMWs for almost 20 years and been on the forums for quite a while and this is the first time I hear of a BMW overheating and blowing smoke fix itself. Not saying I don't believe it, just saying it's the first time.
Agreed, it was/is weird which is why I'm confused. At least I'm home now so I can figure it out without the pressure of being on
the road!!!
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  #8  
Old 07-11-2015, 10:40 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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And because you've had problems, get into the habit of keeping the OBC hidden function #7 coolant temperature active while driving so you'll be able to see and report the actual coolant temperatures.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf OBC Hidden Functions.pdf (47.3 KB, 14 views)
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  #9  
Old 07-12-2015, 03:24 PM
fishmystic fishmystic is offline
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Location: Macomb IL
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoForthFast View Post
And because you've had problems, get into the habit of keeping the OBC hidden function #7 coolant temperature active while driving so you'll be able to see and report the actual coolant temperatures.
Excellent! Thanks!
That goes in the car. What is the optimum temp for the engine? Also, do these codes work for all BMWs? Obviously I'm an amateur here, just switched over from Volvos.
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  #10  
Old 07-12-2015, 04:55 PM
fishmystic fishmystic is offline
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Got it to 19, then 7.0 but not sure what to do next. Turned the car on and off, but no info.
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  #11  
Old 07-13-2015, 01:17 AM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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tricky to use till you get the knack of it. keep trying.
when you get the seven, the temp will be displayed in C.
Normal is to run @ 95 degrees
Once you turn the car off, OBC totally resets.

keep trying. took me a few times at the beginning. now I can set it on the roll.
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  #12  
Old 07-13-2015, 08:41 AM
fishmystic fishmystic is offline
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Location: Macomb IL
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
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Mein Auto: 2004 325i
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoForthFast View Post
tricky to use till you get the knack of it. keep trying.
when you get the seven, the temp will be displayed in C.
Normal is to run @ 95 degrees
Once you turn the car off, OBC totally resets.

keep trying. took me a few times at the beginning. now I can set it on the roll.
I screwed something up. When I turn the key, nothing happens, no dash lights, doesn't start, just shows the airbag dash light.

Update. Teenager Dead Battery Syndrome.

Last edited by fishmystic; 07-13-2015 at 10:42 AM.
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