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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E36 (1991 - 1999)

E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 01-09-2013, 07:22 PM
Bob328i Bob328i is offline
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My Bimmer is broke...Again!!!

Driving today about 25mph & not accelerating, not overheating, and a tremendous amount of steam starting coming out from under the hood. I pulled into a parking spot and radiator fluid was pouring onto the ground under the radiator area.
I added more 50/50 BMW antifreeze and drove 1 mile home with the Temp gauge right in the middle. Got home and steam started again and water started pouring underneath engine.
Had to grab another car to take my wife to work and was out all day so haven't looked at it. Tomorrow will run a pressure tester. Cooling system and hoses all replaced in May. Let you know what I find.
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  #2  
Old 01-09-2013, 07:26 PM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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Radiator replaced too? It's either split a seam on the radiator, blew off the lower hose, or the water pump seal is gone. With that much steam and coolant running out, i have to believe it's the lower hose.
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  #3  
Old 01-09-2013, 08:05 PM
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Ah, Bob and his troublesome 328!

Shouldn't need a pressure tester to find a leak that big. Can't believe you're having more issues with your 328. Exactly which parts were replaced when you had the cooling system overhauled? "Cooling system overhaul" means different things to different people, and people often accidentally exclude critical items from their overhaul.

And if whatever part broke was replaced in may, it could still be under warranty and/or the shop you had it replaced at may help you out since that would definitely be considered premature failure (again, if the part which broke was replaced in May).
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 01-09-2013 at 08:08 PM.
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  #4  
Old 01-09-2013, 08:06 PM
Bob328i Bob328i is offline
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Lower hose? Will the pressure test push water out a seam in the hose? Should I warm up the car till the thermostat opens before I do the pressure test?
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  #5  
Old 01-09-2013, 08:10 PM
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Just open the hood and get underneath for a look. I'm sure you'll find it without needing to do a pressure test. By the sound of it, either your radiator or one of the hoses had a major failure (or the shop didn't tighten the hose clams sufficiently, and one came off over time). Should be pretty obvious if you take a gander at it.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 01-09-2013 at 08:11 PM.
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  #6  
Old 01-09-2013, 08:25 PM
Bob328i Bob328i is offline
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Replaced following in May 2012:
Radiator, fan clutch, thermostat, thermostat housing(with metal one), water pump, all hoses, belts. Has not overheated yet since May even with this new episode today, although I have added BMW 50/50 antifreeze due to losing coolant periodically which is why I had a gallon jug in the trunk.
I will check it out tomorrow morning.
If it's the hose, yippee, I'll get a new one, but if it's anything else, to the shop it goes!
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  #7  
Old 01-09-2013, 08:30 PM
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As I suspected, you've got a few things missing from that list which should have been replaced when everything else was.

- Expansion tank (this is what I'd check first in your case - it's a major failure point)
- Expansion tank cap (old caps can lose their ability to seal, causing overflow)
- Bleeder screw (old bleeder screws can crack and cause coolant to overflow)
- Fan (old fans can break and send a blade into the radiator and/or hoses)

And of course, make sure all your hose clamps are tightened properly.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 01-09-2013 at 08:32 PM.
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  #8  
Old 01-09-2013, 09:58 PM
Bob328i Bob328i is offline
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Where do I look for a crack in the expansion tank and wouldn't a pressure test show that leaking? ,and I don't think the cap is leaking.
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  #9  
Old 01-09-2013, 09:59 PM
Bob328i Bob328i is offline
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Checked hose clamps today, all tight
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  #10  
Old 01-09-2013, 10:36 PM
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I think the expansion tanks typically crack along the seams, but I could be wrong. They're known for fracturing in one way or another due to becoming highly brittle with age.

Anyway, yes, a pressure test would register a leak if your expansion tank had bit the dust, but you don't need a pressure test in the first place. You already know that you're losing coolant, and you've identified that it's coming from the front of the car, underneath the radiator. Given the amount of coolant you said you were losing, it should be very obvious where it's coming from. A pressure test is typically for vastly smaller leaks than what you described - the kind where you might lose a few tablespoons over a number of hours... You've got a much bigger leak than that, so a pressure test becomes ostensibly irrelevant. Instead, what you need is a flashlight.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 01-09-2013 at 10:40 PM.
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  #11  
Old 01-09-2013, 10:59 PM
Bob328i Bob328i is offline
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If it's the expansion tank, where can I get one quick?
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  #12  
Old 01-09-2013, 11:04 PM
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Real quick - junkyard.

Then order a new one from pelican parts
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  #13  
Old 01-09-2013, 11:06 PM
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http://store.bimmerworld.com/replace...anks-p874.aspx

Normally I'd recommend Pelican, but they want over $100 for theirs?!?
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  #14  
Old 01-09-2013, 11:08 PM
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http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/cata...pg3.htm#item16

That's ludicrous. However Rock Auto has aftermarket ones for $20.
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  #15  
Old 01-09-2013, 11:09 PM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is online now
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Hmmm... I don't think parts stores like AutoZone, O'Reilly, etc. will carry expansion tanks in stock, so your next best alternative if you have to get it right away is an auto shop which specializes in BMWs or the dealership.
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  #16  
Old 01-09-2013, 11:13 PM
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Napa seems to carry them, but for $80 apiece.
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  #17  
Old 01-09-2013, 11:47 PM
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You really need to just pressure test it if you don't know where it's coming from.
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  #18  
Old 01-10-2013, 06:15 AM
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Karl is right... If he had steam coming out from under the hood, this leak should be easy to find. No need for a pressure test. Run the car and take a look.
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  #19  
Old 01-10-2013, 07:30 AM
SCJon SCJon is offline
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Is Bob328i formerly IndianBob? Same car, color, and town?
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  #20  
Old 01-10-2013, 08:51 AM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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I had the same thought. Too much of a coincidence.
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1995 318is "Bebe"; 1993 325is "Elvira" 1985 635CSi "Katja" 1984 633CSi "Sylvia"
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  #21  
Old 01-10-2013, 09:07 AM
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Not that it really matters, but there is no question that it is the same person. He mentioned before with his other screen name that parts of his cooling system were replaced in May. It's definitely IndianBob, and either his E36 is cursed, or he is... Very bad luck.
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For sale: E30/E36 front sway links
For sale: OEM E36 328 catback

Last edited by ZeGerman; 01-10-2013 at 09:08 AM.
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  #22  
Old 01-10-2013, 09:39 AM
Bob328i Bob328i is offline
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I hear Radiator fluid bubbling and it is going on the ground when doing the pressure test, can't even get 1 lb of pressure to pump up.
Getting towed to BMW mechanic I trust.
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  #23  
Old 01-10-2013, 09:42 AM
SCJon SCJon is offline
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Originally Posted by Bob328i View Post
I hear Radiator fluid bubbling and it is going on the ground when doing the pressure test, can't even get 1 lb of pressure to pump up.
Getting towed to BMW mechanic I trust.
Did you look and see if you could see where it was coming from?
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  #24  
Old 01-10-2013, 09:50 AM
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Did you look and see if you could see where it was coming from?
This... Why are you giving up so easily?? It shouldn't be hard to see!
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  #25  
Old 01-10-2013, 10:11 AM
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If its gurgling that means you have a HUGE leak, it should be like looking for the hole in a water hose while the water is running. Think about it Bob, if you can hear the gurgling it has to be easy to find. CJ's right, don't give up so easily.
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