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E60 (2004 - 2010)
BMW 5-Series (E60 chassis) was first seen in the Unites States in the fall of 2003 with a 2004 Model Year designation. The E60 is now available as a 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and a 535xi sports wagon! -- View the E60 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-27-2011, 07:30 PM
elcemi82 elcemi82 is offline
EL CEMI
Location: Union City, NJ
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Mein Auto: 2007 525xi
E60 Breathing Steam

Hi all! I recently purchased my first BMW, 07 525Xi. It has 100k miles on it but everything works great. However, I've recently noticed that after driving on the highway for some time and coming to a stop the car breathes out steam from the front grille. A large cloud of it comes out for about 5 secs and then stops. Have any of you had this happen? I know that's not normal!
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  #2  
Old 10-28-2011, 05:17 AM
crewzer crewzer is offline
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Location: Vienna, VA
 
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Mein Auto: 06 E61 530Xi 6-spd manual
Lightbulb Steam from 2006 E61's Front Grilles

My wife and I have seen this on occasion (not regularly) with our '06 E61 530xi. In our case, it does not appear to be a problem with the cooling system, as the coolant level is stable and the steam doesn't exhibit the telltale odor of antifreeze. It seems to only happen when the ambient air is damp and/or after rain. For example, the first time my wife noticed it was while driving early in the morning in light fog.

I've idled the car and let the engine temp reach and regulate at 99C - 100C, and there was no indication of smoke or steam.

Here are the results of a Google search on the subject. Additional research suggests that power steering fluid my typically operate in the 80C to 110C range. The Pentosin CHF 11S synthetic PS fluid used in our cars has a "system temperature" range of -40C to +130C.

My current thinking is that the hot power steering fluid cooler is heating water in the air (high humidity) and/or water that has collected under the PSF cooler. As the hot, moist air rises and hits cooler air, the water content condenses and turns to visible steam, like our exhaled breath in the winter. If the electric cooling fan is not on to pull the "steam" through the radiators, then the "steam" will naturally rise and find its way out.

I was all over this on our car last night when my wife came home and reported another occurrence. It happened once not too long after she left work to drive home, and after the car had been sitting out in the rain. One thing that I found during my inspection was that dry leaves had accumulated at both the far left and -right ends of the PSF cooler area behind the lower grill. When I cleared the leaves on the left side, I found two holes in the tray just ahead of the PSF cooler -- were these drain holes that had been blocked by the accumulation of leaves?

I'll keep an eye on this. So far, while it looks pretty goofy and is understandably unnerving, it appears to be a harmless "feature" of our cars' design.

HTH,
Jim / crewzer

Added on edit: I took the car "around the block" this morning: nothin'. The car was garaged overnight, and it's cool (37F / 3C), dry, and crisp this morning.
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E61: 2006 530xi Sports Wagon | N52B30 & 6-Speed MT w/ CDV mod | A08 Silver Gray | Premium- & Cold Weather Packages | Member BMWCCA/NCC
E3: 1972 Bavaria 3.0A, retired long, long ago...

Last edited by crewzer; 10-28-2011 at 05:56 AM.
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  #3  
Old 10-28-2011, 12:52 PM
TRS550 TRS550 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2007 550i
It is normal. It's just moisture evaporating off the radiator.

My 550 does it all the time in cooler weather. After a rainy ride home on the freeway the front end of my car literally gives off more steam than a Chinese laundry.
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  #4  
Old 10-28-2011, 01:26 PM
bkun bkun is offline
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Wow.I didn't know that. Recently, after riding thru a heavy rain storm and coming to a stop at a stop light, I thought I had seem steam or smoke coming from the hood. But, couldn't tell clearly if it was from the vehicle stopped in front or my car. After reading these posts, I think it could have been mine. Will need to check if this happens again.
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  #5  
Old 10-28-2011, 02:23 PM
crewzer crewzer is offline
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Location: Vienna, VA
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Mein Auto: 06 E61 530Xi 6-spd manual
Lightbulb

I fiddled with this a bit more this afternoon after returning from some errands. I used a cheap IR thermometer to scan around inside the front grill area, and the PSF cooler was not particularly warm. However, the top section of the engine radiator, the area exposed above the top of the a/c condenser, was quite hot, measuring 170F (~77C) after an easy run.

So, rather than the PSF cooler being the heat source, perhaps it's the top of the radiator that's the heat source. I'm becoming more comfortable with the notion that this effect is "normal", but I'd like to nail it down.

Regards,
Jim / crewzer
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E3: 1972 Bavaria 3.0A, retired long, long ago...
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  #6  
Old 10-28-2011, 05:14 PM
elcemi82 elcemi82 is offline
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Location: Union City, NJ
 
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Mein Auto: 2007 525xi
Thx for all the feedback guys..
crewzer you really put the science into it!! good job man! I also tried messing with it this morning, temp in the upper 30'sF (Northern Jersey)... it wasn't raining, no humidity and of course I didn't see any steam.

It's a bit comforting to know I'm not the only one seeing this. Seems a bit odd though that the Bavarian's would put into production a car with what seems to me like a flaw...
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  #7  
Old 10-28-2011, 05:27 PM
TRS550 TRS550 is offline
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What design flaw???

Moisture hits a hot surface and turns into steam???

That's not a design flaw, that's physics.
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  #8  
Old 10-28-2011, 11:16 PM
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2chill 2chill is offline
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I've noticed a little steam coming from the grille area on my car also on damp foggy nights. Never really gave it much thought. Just knew it to be generated from a hot radiator mixing with cool damp air.
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  #9  
Old 04-20-2012, 01:56 PM
MWM07871 MWM07871 is offline
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Location: New Jersey
 
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Mein Auto: '06 530Xi & '07 X3
Whew - thank God I'm not alone. I just bought a '06 530Xi and noticed steam from front right kidney grill. Took to dealer, they pressure tested the cooling system and said it was normal. I did smell coolant though and conditions in North Jersey when its happened have been both rainy/misty as well as sunny and cool. Its concerning me but doesn't happen regularly enough to pin it down. Thanks everyone.

This is my 1st post here - I love this site...
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  #10  
Old 02-02-2013, 09:41 PM
stevendc stevendc is offline
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E60 Over Heating

Same for me. I did find a Service Bulletin online for the E60 Engine OverHeating. Appears to be a software problem, or could be worse.

I have received the Engine Overheating Warning Twice. And while I don't like this warning when road surface temp is below freezing (and I see no way the car could be overheating when it is bitterly cold)........I have ignored this warning twice. Pulled to the side of the road, turned off the engine, restarted the engine, and pushed the Check Control only to find all systems "OK"........so I just keep driving.

Why can't BMW get it right?
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  #11  
Old 02-02-2013, 09:48 PM
NoI4plz NoI4plz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevendc View Post
Same for me. I did find a Service Bulletin online for the E60 Engine OverHeating. Appears to be a software problem, or could be worse.

I have received the Engine Overheating Warning Twice. And while I don't like this warning when road surface temp is below freezing (and I see no way the car could be overheating when it is bitterly cold)........I have ignored this warning twice. Pulled to the side of the road, turned off the engine, restarted the engine, and pushed the Check Control only to find all systems "OK"........so I just keep driving.

Why can't BMW get it right?
They did, but like all car companies they charge a great price on that improvement (ala new f10)

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  #12  
Old 02-02-2013, 09:53 PM
stevendc stevendc is offline
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Lightbulb E60 Over Heating

I am old as dirt, and a retired Engineer.........What was wrong with a dipstick and a Temp Gauge?
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