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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:25 PM
Kate33 Kate33 is offline
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Location: GA
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Mein Auto: BMW X3
Unhappy X3 Coolant issue

I drove an hour to the airport to park my car leaving for a business trip. Well in the parking garage I notice all this smoke coming out of under the hood. So I jump out and yes it is my car smoking. There were no red or orange indicators on the panel however some fluid is leaking underneath and the smoke is getting thicker. I also noticed the temperature was at normal. I quickly park and right before I turn off the car the coolant light comes on. I pop the hood open and wait for the smoke to stop. I had to decide if to make my flight or deal with this. I decided to park the car and catch my flight which was leaving in 20 minutes since I have a conference presentation to make. I called the BMW dealership later since they completed a service 2 weeks ago which included flushing out the engine fluids including the coolant among other things that cost me $800 dollars. Well they let me know they did flush the coolant but cannot determine what is going on. I will be headed back now to deal with this but does anyone have any ideas and also can I risk driving even 10 miles to a repair facility or have the car towed?

Last edited by Kate33; 09-24-2012 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:53 PM
Supercourse Supercourse is offline
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Don't drive it before getting some water poured into the coolant recovery/expansion tank (just to the right of the radiator).

Sounds like there was coolant leaking from the drain plug on the upper passenger side of the engine block.
Dripping onto the hot exhaust caused the excessive steam/smoke, well before the low coolant light triggered.

No harm done - fortunate it happened just when you were parking it.

If water added does not immediately leak out, probably O.K. to drive out of the airport.

Watch temp. gauge carefully.

A yellow low coolant light is just a caution, red light should stop immediately (or avoid getting to that point).

Could be unrelated to the $800 service if a hose has gone, or some other part of the cooling system.

But let them talk their way out of it. Good luck.
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:44 PM
Kate33 Kate33 is offline
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Location: GA
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Mein Auto: BMW X3
Red face Thanks

Truly appreciate the feedback there. What a relief. I can sleep tonight.

I will pour water into the tank and look for an immediate leak as you advised before moving it when I get back and keep and eye on the temp too. Was also able to locate a BMW dealership in Atlanta not far from the airport, and set up an appointment and they can see me the moment I land.

For a minute there was not sure if I would find my beloved car or a toasted shell when I returned since it was still smoking a little when I left. Thanks again for the peace of mind. Will post the outcome when I get things situated.

Last edited by Kate33; 09-24-2012 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 09-25-2012, 07:27 AM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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Kate, many airports also have emergency car service (dead battery, flat tire, etc) for their parking lots. You might need this to get some water into your radiator and as a stand by 2nd pair of eyes in case there is something major amiss (busted hose, etc.). Good luck and let us know what transpired.

Last edited by UncleJ; 09-25-2012 at 07:29 AM.
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:07 AM
Kate33 Kate33 is offline
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Location: GA
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Mein Auto: BMW X3
Smile X3 Coolant Issue

Guys thanks so much for reaching out to me. Your feedback really helped and I learned that airports have vehicle emergency service. Had no idea about that. Well made it back to Atlanta and poured some water into the expansion tank. There was no immediate leak so I jumped in and drove slowly to the nearest BMW dealer about 9 miles, keeping an eye on the temp gauge which remained normal. Interestingly the coolant light was coming on then off.

Anyway, turns out there was a crack in the Expansion tank and a faulty thermostat. The dealer replaced the Expansion tank, radiator cap, thermostat and coolant. They also found the oil filter housing gasket leaking and oil cooler gasket leaking (I copied this straight from the service report since it makes no sense to me), both of which were replaced. I had to leave the car overnight and drove the cutest little Mini Cooper for a loaner. Good part is the warranty covered the repairs and I was able to get on with my life.

I cannot say thanks enough for this forum and your help guys in educating me not to mention keeping me sane while I was away. Thanks again...Kate

Last edited by Kate33; 10-01-2012 at 08:08 AM.
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