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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-16-2010, 05:28 PM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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Location: N.W. Indiana
 
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Check Coolant warning-float 2" above filler neck???

Ever since driving from Indiana to Charlotte, NC. I have had 3 instances, each at least a full month apart, of check coolant in DIC. Car is 2000 540. Did a valley pan gasket about 8 months ago and have had not a single issue of alarms, need to bleed, etc. until last 90 days.

Get to Charlotte and check coolant comes on next day. Open reservoir cold and can't see coolant (normal) but red-tipped float is all the way up and NOT stuck! Push it down and it "bobs" right back up all the way. I add about 10 OZ of coolant so I can just see it down the reservoir and warning goes away for about a month...then comes back. Add a tad of coolant and warning goes away, but float still above neck fully. If I pull it up, it won't come up any further. Push it down, not sticky at all and it bobs right back full up.

Obviously have a defective float but did not believe they act this way. I thought if float and red-tipped tube separated, the tube would drop with no float to push it up. All seems to be normal except for not being able to put any stock in red tube. I am losing coolant somewhere, but see none on floor after parking overnight. I fear it is going into combustion chamber as I am getting a new puff of white smoke at start-up. Doesn't smell like oil, but engine has never over-heated in 3 years I have owned the car. Radiator has been changed as has valley pan gasket and many hoses.
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  #2  
Old 11-16-2010, 05:44 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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You've got a conundrum there. When was the last time the expansion tank was (if ever) replaced?

next step: do a leak down and compression test for head gasket issues.

Last edited by dvsgene; 11-16-2010 at 05:46 PM.
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  #3  
Old 11-16-2010, 06:02 PM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
You've got a conundrum there. When was the last time the expansion tank was (if ever) replaced?

next step: do a leak down and compression test for head gasket issues.
E-T was replaced with radiator at about 70K. Now at 120K and 2.5 yrs. later. Really just want to know if anyone else has had float always stay at top, but actual float and switch appear to be functioning correctly.
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:35 PM
franka franka is offline
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Twice my floats, two of them, have completely disappered. I do have a slow leak and add water, 1/2 L, once or twice a month. Too slow of a leak to bother hunting for.

Just add water and drive like hell.
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  #5  
Old 11-16-2010, 06:49 PM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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See, you hit it on the head franka. They usually sink like the Titanic...never to be seen again. I don't know why mine acts like it took to much viagra.
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  #6  
Old 11-16-2010, 06:52 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
Really just want to know if anyone else has had float always stay at top, but actual float and switch appear to be functioning correctly.
LOL, I was about to point you to this other thread then realized it was YOU TOO!
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  #7  
Old 11-16-2010, 07:17 PM
franka franka is offline
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[QUOTE=540iman;5630642]See, you hit it on the head franka. They usually sink like the Titanic...never to be seen again. [QUOTE]

I hope they disolve rather than blocking a cooling channel forever.
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  #8  
Old 11-16-2010, 08:23 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by franka View Post
Twice my floats, two of them, have completely disappered.
Actually, I think the "float" remained but the "stick" busted off the top edge of the float (ask me how I know).

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
They usually sink like the Titanic
Actually, the red "stick", which breaks off the white float, sinks like the Titanic. The white float still bobs like the iceberg.

Quote:
Originally Posted by franka View Post
I hope they disolve rather than blocking a cooling channel forever.
I've heard that "dissolving" stuff before but after having opened up my expansion tank, there's nothing water soluble about it. The stick and float are still there. Inside.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee
And, of course, at the moment, the best expansion-tank autopsy is here.[
Not any longer. I learned from that autopsy to cut the tank longitudinally, not transversally. So I think my autopsy is better because it preserved the entire float/sensor mechanism.

-
BMW E39 failed radiator & failed expansion tank pictorial autopsy


Last edited by bluebee; 11-29-2010 at 07:28 PM.
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  #9  
Old 11-16-2010, 08:43 PM
dcotti dcotti is offline
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Ok, I guess I'll come clean. I too had an enthusiastic float bobber thingy. The funny thing with mine is that it had always been that way AFTER the local dealership replaced the expansion tank under warranty! I just thought that this was the way it was when new. I say it had always been high as it has been slowly dropping over the last few months and is now closer to the level of the tank neck.
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  #10  
Old 11-17-2010, 04:38 AM
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demas demas is offline
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I replaced the radiator and expansion tank a couple of years ago and got the 'check coolant' message once and the stick was nowhere to be seen. When cold, added about a pint of water then it bobbed up (filled to the correct 20mm over the neck of the tank.. 20mm or whatever the manual stated)

about 3 months later wanted to check how the level was and the stick bobbed up about 35mm but I left it as is.

funny how it fluctuates, I presume the temperature has an effect but now I check it periodically

and.. never had this kind of issue with the I6
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