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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 10-16-2012, 09:41 AM
webwiz webwiz is offline
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I'll Put the Seat Down, But Should I Flush?

I've got a 2003 330i (e46) with 113,000 miles. About a month ago, the "check coolant" light started coming on intermittently (maybe 1 in 6 driving "sessions"). It would also go off without me doing anything. I checked the level and it seemed fine. But the liquid was not the bright green it is fresh from the bottle.

I've seen conflicting advice about changing the coolant. Some say it's "lifetime", at least for model year 2004 and newer. (But I've seen "lifetime" defined as 100,000 miles.) And some say do it every 3-4 years.

Here's my situation: I'm not going to DIY because it sounds like there are some tricky aspects and I don't want to end up with air in the system. So that means I have to pay someone (dealer or independent mechanic) to do it. But, I really don't know how much longer I'm keeping this car and how much more money I want to put it into.

I'd love to hear your opinion on 1) Given my situation, should I even worry about changing the coolant at all, and 2) If "yes", must I do it at the dealer or could an independent mechanic do it, assuming I can get OEM coolant?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 10-16-2012, 11:39 AM
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smolck smolck is offline
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Changing coolant is so easy it isnt even funny. Was the coolant blue? It should be, BMW uses blue coolant. Might be why it isnt green
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Old 10-16-2012, 11:39 AM
jdauria jdauria is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webwiz View Post
I've got a 2003 330i (e46) with 113,000 miles. About a month ago, the "check coolant" light started coming on intermittently (maybe 1 in 6 driving "sessions"). It would also go off without me doing anything. I checked the level and it seemed fine. But the liquid was not the bright green it is fresh from the bottle.

I've seen conflicting advice about changing the coolant. Some say it's "lifetime", at least for model year 2004 and newer. (But I've seen "lifetime" defined as 100,000 miles.) And some say do it every 3-4 years.

Here's my situation: I'm not going to DIY because it sounds like there are some tricky aspects and I don't want to end up with air in the system. So that means I have to pay someone (dealer or independent mechanic) to do it. But, I really don't know how much longer I'm keeping this car and how much more money I want to put it into.

I'd love to hear your opinion on 1) Given my situation, should I even worry about changing the coolant at all, and 2) If "yes", must I do it at the dealer or could an independent mechanic do it, assuming I can get OEM coolant?

Thanks!
May just need to top it off with some distilled water. I need to do the same actually, my coolant light came on this morning during a cold start then went away after the engine reached normal operating temperature.

If your cooling system hasn't been replaced yet, you probably need to do it. Around 100,000 miles these bmw cooling systems tend to fail. I replaced my entire cooling system around 90,000 miles just as preventive maintenance and I haven't looked back. No issues whatsoever and we'll worth the money. I bought the cooling system overhaul kit (thermostat, all hoses, belts etc) from ECS Tuning for about ~$400. I would definitely recommend using a local reputable bmw mechanic over the stealership.

If your not having any other issues besides an intermittent cooling light you should definitely keep your e46, the engine is just starting to break-in!
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  #4  
Old 10-16-2012, 12:00 PM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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"Lifetime", in BMW-speak, translates to "while the car is under warranty"....after that, you`re on your own. Coolant *should be* changed every 2 to 3 years....1 gallon of (BMW) coolant and 5 quarts of distilled H2O will only set you back around $25 bucks, and will keep you protected down to 25 below zero or so, sufficient for all but the most Northern US locations.
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