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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 06-25-2013, 07:15 AM
JayTeeDee JayTeeDee is offline
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Location: Birmingham
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 10
Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 330I
Coolant Leaking Problem Please Help

Hi,

I have a 2002 BMW 330i that was recently purchased as of a week and a half ago from a credit union repo it had a little over 145K miles on it but still drove very smooth and it also had been sitting idle for a year prior to our purchase. Our family mechanic looked the car over and didn't see any major pressing issues but he did caution us about a possible slow coolant leak due and just to check it every couple days to see if it becomes a issue. We didn't drive it much because it didn't have a tag yet just about 3-5 times and only short distances with no issues. Well the other day it became an issue while sitting in a gas station parking lot for about 20 minutes waiting for a friend we had the car running with the air on (Alabama Summer) and just as my wife got out of the car I noticed that the radiator warning light had come on. When I got out to check something I noticed that all the coolant had leaked out onto the ground. After a couple failed attempts to try to refill with coolant and drive it a few miles home we had to get it towed to her parents house until I could figure out the problem. After some research I thought it might be a loose or broken hose or worse case scenario the coolant tank. So I got under the vehicle to diagnose and we poured water in the tank and I saw that the leak was coming from the automatic transmission cooler where it connects to the coolant tank. It was able to easily slide it out with no resistance and I saw that the two O-rings on either side were kind of warn and loose so I replaced the O-rings and put it back in snug or at least I thought tested it for further leaks which I didn't find any and I thought it was solved and I filled it back up with coolant and drove it around the cul-de-sac but after about a few minutes on the way back I noticed the temperature meter creeping back up to the engine over heating and I parked it again and saw that it was leaking again, it may have slipped back out. I also noticed a faint rattling noise coming from the fan area but I couldn't recall if it existed before because the cabin is fairly quiet when driving. I thought this might be a quick DIY fix but I may be out of my league I'm not a big car guy but I was hoping to avoid a expensive repair. Please help, any advise you can give in diagnosing and/or fixing the problem would help.


Thank you!



Thats how it looks connected, the fluid was coming from the two connections on above the black tabs


I replaced those two faulty o-rings thinking that would solve the problem
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  #2  
Old 06-25-2013, 07:15 AM
JayTeeDee JayTeeDee is offline
Registered User
Location: Birmingham
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 10
Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 330I
Coolant Leaking Problem Please Help

Hi,

I have a 2002 BMW 330i that was recently purchased as of a week and a half ago from a credit union repo it had a little over 145K miles on it but still drove very smooth and it also had been sitting idle for a year prior to our purchase. Our family mechanic looked the car over and didn't see any major pressing issues but he did caution us about a possible slow coolant leak due and just to check it every couple days to see if it becomes a issue. We didn't drive it much because it didn't have a tag yet just about 3-5 times and only short distances with no issues. Well the other day it became an issue while sitting in a gas station parking lot for about 20 minutes waiting for a friend we had the car running with the air on (Alabama Summer) and just as my wife got out of the car I noticed that the radiator warning light had come on. When I got out to check something I noticed that all the coolant had leaked out onto the ground. After a couple failed attempts to try to refill with coolant and drive it a few miles home we had to get it towed to her parents house until I could figure out the problem. After some research I thought it might be a loose or broken hose or worse case scenario the coolant tank. So I got under the vehicle to diagnose and we poured water in the tank and I saw that the leak was coming from the automatic transmission cooler where it connects to the coolant tank. It was able to easily slide it out with no resistance and I saw that the two O-rings on either side were kind of warn and loose so I replaced the O-rings and put it back in snug or at least I thought tested it for further leaks which I didn't find any and I thought it was solved and I filled it back up with coolant and drove it around the cul-de-sac but after about a few minutes on the way back I noticed the temperature meter creeping back up to the engine over heating and I parked it again and saw that it was leaking again, it may have slipped back out. I also noticed a faint rattling noise coming from the fan area but I couldn't recall if it existed before because the cabin is fairly quiet when driving. I thought this might be a quick DIY fix but I may be out of my league I'm not a big car guy but I was hoping to avoid a expensive repair. Please help, any advise you can give in diagnosing and/or fixing the problem would help.


Thank you!



Thats how it looks connected, the fluid was coming from the two connections on above the black tabs


I replaced those two faulty o-rings thinking that would solve the problem
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  #3  
Old 06-25-2013, 09:53 AM
mr_bean mr_bean is offline
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Location: NJ
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 699
Mein Auto: 2000 328i
There's a metal clip that holds the cooler in place, it shouldn't slide out easily unless the clip has been removed. I can't really tell in the pictures but I don't see the clip.

Also, it may be the tank. They are an extremely common failure on these cars.
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  #4  
Old 06-25-2013, 11:04 AM
JayTeeDee JayTeeDee is offline
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Location: Birmingham
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 10
Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 330I
Doh

I think that may be it. I noticed when I took the full cover from the bottom to expose all the parts I saw a little metal ring just sitting there. It looked warped and had some plastic chipping on it. Do you know what exactly is it called and where I may be able to find it or order it and anything else I might need?

Thanks



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  #5  
Old 06-25-2013, 10:16 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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Location: New York
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 2,476
Mein Auto: '04 330Ci 6-speed
When parts are in doubt in our cooling systems, we replace them and anything close to them. They are disposable.
Advise you to avoid really big problems by following the advice put forth here:
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=914109
Study post #1 please.
Come back with questions.
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  #6  
Old 06-26-2013, 08:02 AM
ahull's Avatar
ahull ahull is offline
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Location: Carolina
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 3,851
Mein Auto: ist schnell! (03 330i SC)
You're right in the neighborhood of needing a new radiator anyway at that mileage. Might be due for other stuff as well unless new parts there recently. Overheating these engines will ruin the engine head/headgasket in a matter of minutes = $$$$ rebuild or used engine swap in. As stated above, read that post and get on the program.
__________________
2003 330i TiAg Sport Pkg ~90k miles
DIY MODS: AA Stage I supercharger, Meyle HD FCAs w Powerflex CABs, Bilstein shocks, Meyle HD Rtabs, Angel Eyes, Clear Corners/Markers w/ LEDs, LED tails, ZHP rims, Akebono pads, AUX input
DIY E46 Merit Badges: Sunroof resurrection, CCV, OFHG, VCG w/ VANOS seals, DISA, Cooling Refresh I, steering giubo, window regs, Magnetic Infandibulator (see wiki)
DIY On deck: Rear Diff bushing. UUC SSK, clutch job eventually, Wavetrac LSD
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  #7  
Old 06-26-2013, 03:04 PM
JayTeeDee JayTeeDee is offline
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Location: Birmingham
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 10
Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 330I
I ordered the clip from the BMW dealership and it should be here in a couple days. I hope it's an easy install because I couldn't find a how to guide to install it. I did find a rough diagram of where it should go.

It's #2 on the diagram.
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  #8  
Old 06-26-2013, 03:38 PM
mr_bean mr_bean is offline
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Location: NJ
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 699
Mein Auto: 2000 328i
The clip slides onto the center plastic boss from the bottom. Each "leg" of the clip should ride in the respective groove in the plastic. Double check it's doing it's job by pulling firmly on the cooler after you install it.
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2013, 04:45 PM
JayTeeDee JayTeeDee is offline
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Location: Birmingham
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 10
Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 330I
Eureka

The clip worked great. It slid right in and locked the cooler to the coolant tank and it held securely. I added the coolant and checked for further leaks and drips from it and other sources but didn't find any. I did a test drive and it started to overheat again but I figured out that I should check for air pockets. So after a cool down I bleed the system, got the air out and eureka, it worked. I've had no issues with it since then. Eventually I'm going to get an overhaul done on it but I'm glad I was able to fix the minor problem myself relatively easily and only a few bucks spent. Thanks for your help! I appreciate it!
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