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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-24-2013, 08:07 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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Noticed today 2.0 98 e39 temp gauge went to red...

then corrected itself - it's always just sat in the middle before now. it's done about 84k miles and has had a new water pump and thermostat about 8 months ago. No wearning lights came on, i just noticed it was high, is this normal? does not seem to have lost any collant but its obviously very hot right now.. any advice appreciated!



Jason
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  #2  
Old 10-24-2013, 08:37 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluejmc2005 View Post
then corrected itself - it's always just sat in the middle before now. it's done about 84k miles and has had a new water pump and thermostat about 8 months ago. No wearning lights came on, i just noticed it was high, is this normal? does not seem to have lost any collant but its obviously very hot right now.. any advice appreciated!



Jason
First thing I'd do is re-bleed the cooling system and make sure it has no trapped air pockets. Did you recently begin using the heater?
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  #3  
Old 10-24-2013, 08:44 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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Hi thanks for the reply. yes, been using it to clear thew windows in the mornings lately - always been at 16c before now 20c and much higher fan.

I just went outside and put the ignition on, let it run for a bit, it got to middle and sat there. fan at front on etc. rev'ed it a bit and it started to ri8se. got close to red so i stopped the engine as I didnt want to do any damage. started to steam from the expansion cap and water eventually sipped out and steam ;-(

is a bleed something a novice like me can do? im so gutted :-(
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  #4  
Old 10-24-2013, 09:37 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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You can do it. Bleeding is crucial but you need to be sure the cooling system has no faulty parts or leaks. You should -not- be seeing steam/coolant coming out. That's a sign of a leak. Maybe the expansion tank cap or one of the bleed screws there is leaking? Or a cracked expansion tank? It may very well be that the system is overheating because it actually IS leaking and has lost enough coolant to matter. When they lose coolant, air also gets inside.

Anyway, to the bleed.....

I am not familiar with your model or the engine but here's the usual procedure (someone will probably step in and modify this....)

If your driveway is inclined, maybe point the car "uphill."

Let engine cool completely. Do not run the engine for this. It is performed -cold-.

Remove the exp. tank cap. Loosen bleeder screws. Your car should have one or two. (Mine has two -- one on the tstat housing, the other on top of the exp. tank.) They are plastic, don't break them.

Turn the ignition key to position 2. Turn on the heater fan to LOW. Adjust the cabin temp settings to MAX (90 F here in the US).

If the coolant level bar in the exp tank is at the proper level (for COLD coolant), everything may be okay, but if the system has an air pocket inside (sometimes trapped in the heater core), you should see bubbles coming out of the tstat bleeder screwhole. If you are seeing that, you can add coolant through the exp. tank until bubbles have stopped and solid coolant is coming out. Re-tighten the bleeder screw there.

Watch for bubbles coming out the bleeder vent on top of the exp tank. When solid coolant is flowing out, close off that screw (don't torque too tight, they'll break).

At this point, the coolant level bar should be close to where it should be for a -cold- engine. Tighten the exp. tank cap, crank the car, let it warm up, and then rev it to 3000 RPM or so for a few secs. Or take the car for a short (short = not too far from home) drive.

If air is still in the system, it should find its way into the exp. tank. DON'T open a hot system, though.

Let the car cool down a couple hours. Check level in exp. tank, adjust as necessary. Do NOT overfill. Worship the level bar. Overfilling can cause system parts to leak due to expansion of the coolant inside even before it is under thermal pressure.
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  #5  
Old 10-24-2013, 10:16 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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Thanks so much for the info. I noticed that the pipe where the air vent is was red hot at the top, but barely warm at the bottom of the left of the engine if that means anything. I just had a quick look at the air screw/vent on the expansion pipe has obviously been used before by someone with too small a screwdriver as the heads almost completely gone :-(

air inside the car is not warm either, either when max and engine was in the middle of overheat
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  #6  
Old 10-24-2013, 10:22 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Originally Posted by bluejmc2005 View Post
Thanks so much for the info. I noticed that the pipe where the air vent is was red hot at the top, but barely warm at the bottom of the left of the engine if that means anything. I just had a quick look at the air screw/vent on the expansion pipe has obviously been used before by someone with too small a screwdriver as the heads almost completely gone :-(

air inside the car is not warm either, either when max and engine was in the middle of overheat

Your tstat may be failed in the closed state. The lower rad hose should warm up when the engine is at operating temp.

Do not re-use those bleeder screws. Buy new ones at the dealer. They are inexpensive. The screws have a channel through the threaded sides to allow for bleeding even without being removed completely, but they can age and snap off.
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  #7  
Old 10-24-2013, 10:24 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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It was not cold - it was warm - but nowhere near as hot as the top, does that rule out a re-bleed solution? the thermostat was only replaced 8 months ago
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  #8  
Old 10-24-2013, 10:26 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Originally Posted by bluejmc2005 View Post
It was not cold - it was warm - but nowhere near as hot as the top, does that rule out a re-bleed solution? the thermostat was only replaced 8 months ago
Re-bleeding is free. Start with that first.
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  #9  
Old 10-24-2013, 10:28 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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OK I'll give it a go tomorrow - I really do appreciate you taking the time to help me, I realise I am a complete cretin with this kind of thing. Will the bleed woek with only 1 bleeding screw opened? ie could i leave the one on the expansion tank as it is for now and try with the one on the pipe, or would that be insufficient?
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  #10  
Old 10-24-2013, 10:34 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Originally Posted by bluejmc2005 View Post
OK I'll give it a go tomorrow - I really do appreciate you taking the time to help me, I realise I am a complete cretin with this kind of thing. Will the bleed woek with only 1 bleeding screw opened? ie could i leave the one on the expansion tank as it is for now and try with the one on the pipe, or would that be insufficient?
You should open both as bleeding air from the tstat housing only may leave air higher up, in the rad and before the exp tank bleeder vent.

If you are worried about breaking a bleeder screw, buy new ones first. They are probably the price of a good beer.
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  #11  
Old 10-24-2013, 10:35 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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Originally Posted by pleiades View Post
You should open both as bleeding air from the tstat housing only may leave air higher up, in the rad and before the exp tank bleeder vent.

If you are worried about breaking a bleeder screw, buy new ones first. They are probably the price of a good beer.
OK thanks - fingers crossed for tomorrow, I'll give it a go after work. Again, thank you for your help it is much appreciated.
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  #12  
Old 10-24-2013, 10:45 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Originally Posted by bluejmc2005 View Post
OK thanks - fingers crossed for tomorrow, I'll give it a go after work. Again, thank you for your help it is much appreciated.
Since you mentioned steam/coolant leaking from the exp. tank cap, I'd recommend you get a new cap at a minimum. The seals and O-rings do wear out on them after awhile, and they are known to be a leak source when they age. Not sure about your local market there, good luck, hope you have a dealer nearby.
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  #13  
Old 10-24-2013, 10:47 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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I think it was loose - when I looked a second ago it seemed to be loose. I am going to have enough trouble getting the air vent screw off the head is non existent!
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  #14  
Old 10-24-2013, 10:57 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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I think it was loose - when I looked a second ago it seemed to be loose. I am going to have enough trouble getting the air vent screw off the head is non existent!
You'll have to replace that. Buy three! As mentioned, the thread has a rib through the side so that you can bleed without entirely removing the screw, but I would not trust a plastic screw that had any sign of damage. They have an O-ring underneath the head and generally work fine until someone goes at them with the wrong tool or cranks them down too tight.

Let us know how things turn out. Lots of threads on this topic here as someone is having this kind of problem routinely on these cars.
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  #15  
Old 10-24-2013, 11:05 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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I'll call the BMW dealership not too far away tomorrow and get some of those screws, I'll need some coolant as well so ill get some too. I'll then hope it works. One last tbhing - should the A/C be on when the fans are at max?
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  #16  
Old 10-24-2013, 11:26 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Originally Posted by bluejmc2005 View Post
I'll call the BMW dealership not too far away tomorrow and get some of those screws, I'll need some coolant as well so ill get some too. I'll then hope it works. One last tbhing - should the A/C be on when the fans are at max?
Not sure I'm understanding this question but.... if you mean your auxiliary electric fan on the front of the car is running at max even with the AC off, that's because it is responding to a coolant sensor that says things are getting too hot without it.

Normally, the electric fan in front of the rad doesn't come on unless you are driving around in the summer with the AC on.

---------

If you were asking about something re the bleeding procedure, when the car is turned off (but electricals on with key in position 2), the fan should not be running. Is it?

As described in the bleed procedure, you will want to turn the heat on at max temp setting and lowest blower fan setting. This will open the heater valve and turn on a small electric pump in the cooling system circuit that pumps coolant out of the heater core under the dash. That's how you ensure you are getting any air in the heater core replaced with coolant.
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  #17  
Old 10-24-2013, 11:52 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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ignore my silly question regarding A/C - been a long day. I'll report back tomorrow. Again, thank you!
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  #18  
Old 10-25-2013, 01:22 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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Ok I followed your instructions - but using water and not coolant - and it seems to have worked! Been on a 3 mile drive and no overheating, got up to the middle and not moved :-) I guess I now simply do the same again letting all of the water out and replacing with coolant mix. You are a star thank you!!
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  #19  
Old 10-25-2013, 01:48 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Sounds good but it takes these cars more than 3 miles to get warmed up to normal operating temps. Hopefully you've got it worked out. Learning how to bleed the air out is essential on the e39s.

Bear in mind, the temp gauge on the dash is an idiot-gauge that's buffered to show the needle straight up in the middle despite actual temps over a wider range. It won't start moving toward the red zone until the car is already in danger.
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  #20  
Old 10-26-2013, 10:58 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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I have had a nightmare today - bear in mind I am a complete mechanical novice, I teach R.E for crying out load!

Anyway here's the story. As I said before, i thought I had fixed the car. Took to to work, no problems.Today, I decided to take my wife and kids to town to buy some winter jackets. Within about a mile of the trip the car made a loud bang. Oh no i thought. What was it? well - when i bought the car (there is a thread here) it was evident the rad. shroud had been damaged. the previous owner told me he leaned on it and snapped it, and had it glued back together as a new one was a lot of money. never been an issue. Except now. I opened the bonnet, and the shroud had broken off (I assume the ehat from the overheat weakened it) and smashed into the cooling fan. the cooling fan blades were all smashed to piece, broken off. The radiator back part (with the small metel links/vents? - the bit facing the fan that broke) had taken a few battle wounds but no leaking etc that i could see. I gathered all of the broken bits, and decided to drive home. by the time I got home (1 mile) the car had overheated (as no fan)

I realised i could unbolt the fan, and buy a new one. I ordered a new one (well - they gave me the wrong one first, so I had to go back and get the correct one), took the old one off (cutting my arms and hands up pretty bad as it was very sternly on) and put the new one on. I then let it run, took her for a drive and overheated again. I figure the fact it overheated before means that air could of got into the system again? I waited by the road for an hour, drove her home, let her cool for a while and have just spent the last 2 hours gouing through the bleed situation again. I think i got it right, the coolant (water) is a little higher than i'd like but i wanted to do up the bleed screws quickly once they were showing a good flow of water. there was quite a lot of bubbles on the top of the expansion tank, and once that showed pure water i did it up. One or two small ones followed from the pipe bleed screw, once that was clear running water i did it up. I revved a bit, let it hit temperature - warm/hot air coming through the vents and not overheating. sat running for 15 minutes like this, unlock computer said 98.

My plan is to now let it cool down completely, and then in 90 minutes or so go for a drive and hope it does not overheat. I will check the water level first, and if its too high still I will use a straw and get rid of some as you said overfilling is an issue. Obviously if it has reduced a great deal i assume I have a leak? how much should one exxpect it to reduce ones cold? if its below the line, can i simply put more water in while cold until it gets to the line?

I am supposed to be driving 200 miles to my parents tomorrow with my daughter, so fingers crossed this works. if it does not - I give up, and I will assume the knocks that the radiator took have caused a problem. It's hard to tell if any water is leaking because its obviously leaking from the bleed plugs. i marked where the coolant was when it was hot a few minutes ago

I have attached some pics for those interested, The shroud has had it and will need replacing but i assume if allas well its OK to drive still.

thanks all

Jason
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  #21  
Old 10-26-2013, 11:50 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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First, if you don't have another car, rent one for your trip tomorrow.... No sense risking being stranded somewhere with family.

Never open to measure coolant level when the system is still hot. The level bar will be far out of the top (normally) and give you no idea how much you need to add (or not add). It might also allow air into the system. Worst of all, you could be seriously scalded.

A warning: Keep overheating this car and you will need a new engine or enough in labor expenses that you'll probably not want to drive it again. These sixes can only handle so much ....

You are extremely fortunate that the fan blades didn't slice hoses and hood or cause other damage. The rad may have leaks now that you cannot see. The fan blades on many e39s eventually break due to age but also if the motor mounts are worn out, allowing the engine to sag and the blades to hit the shroud when the engine is under load.

Since certain things you say about your abilities (novice level) suggest you've never really done a full cooling system overhaul, I say it's time you either learned (start reading more here) and budget for that or pay someone who knows what they are doing.

There are several things that need immediate attention, to check for collateral damage. It might very well be overheating now due to a blown head gasket.

Buy yourself a copy of the Bentley e39 service manuals. (Sometimes used copies are for sale on amazon, ebay, or here in the classifieds.) You can also find some sites with PDF versions that are "free" to use.

Exploit the search features of this forum, or use google (many DIY write-ups are here but also on other e39 forums around the net). I concede there's a certain amount of jargon that you have to assimilate to be able to search effectively.

If I were in your situation, I would park the car until everything is fixed.

cn90 has a very good DIY write-up here on complete cooling system overhaul, with many excellent pics and tips.
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  #22  
Old 10-26-2013, 12:00 PM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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Just took it out - overheated again. :-( Got to about 106/7 then 109/10 then seemed to reduce to 102 ish, then it rose and was at 122 in no time. I stopped at that point. No obvious leaks, water not rising to the top, the bleed screws suck and are in bad shape but no sign of a leak there (coudl that cause an overheat) so I'm really not sure. I'll have to take my wife's focus tomorrow and think again when back, any advice would be greatly appreciated. The air in the cabin was warm at first, but never got to "hot" like it was when i was in the bleed process. Gutted.
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  #23  
Old 10-26-2013, 12:03 PM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pleiades View Post
First, if you don't have another car, rent one for your trip tomorrow.... No sense risking being stranded somewhere with family.

Never open to measure coolant level when the system is still hot. The level bar will be far out of the top (normally) and give you no idea how much you need to add (or not add). It might also allow air into the system. Worst of all, you could be seriously scalded.

A warning: Keep overheating this car and you will need a new engine or enough in labor expenses that you'll probably not want to drive it again. These sixes can only handle so much ....

You are extremely fortunate that the fan blades didn't slice hoses and hood or cause other damage. The rad may have leaks now that you cannot see. The fan blades on many e39s eventually break due to age but also if the motor mounts are worn out, allowing the engine to sag and the blades to hit the shroud when the engine is under load.

Since certain things you say about your abilities (novice level) suggest you've never really done a full cooling system overhaul, I say it's time you either learned (start reading more here) and budget for that or pay someone who knows what they are doing.

There are several things that need immediate attention, to check for collateral damage. It might very well be overheating now due to a blown head gasket.

Buy yourself a copy of the Bentley e39 service manuals. (Sometimes used copies are for sale on amazon, ebay, or here in the classifieds.) You can also find some sites with PDF versions that are "free" to use.

Exploit the search features of this forum, or use google (many DIY write-ups are here but also on other e39 forums around the net). I concede there's a certain amount of jargon that you have to assimilate to be able to search effectively.

If I were in your situation, I would park the car until everything is fixed.

cn90 has a very good DIY write-up here on complete cooling system overhaul, with many excellent pics and tips.
Sound advice that I will follow. I wont let it overheat again - I think i will take it to a garage as I don't have the time to learn what I need to right now with work etc.

I'll see what the garage says and if it's not looking good it will be a case of selling it with the issue as is to someone whom knows what they are doing.

Again - thank you, it really is appreciated

Jason
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  #24  
Old 10-29-2013, 03:31 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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Hi,

just using plain water to see if it works, if it does ill replace with coolant straight away

pump was replaced in June because it was whining, elected to change thermo at same time

it has overheated but it has never "got" to the red i have stopped it straight away. Though I fear the worse now that something serious has been done.
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  #25  
Old 10-29-2013, 04:34 AM
bluejmc2005 bluejmc2005 is offline
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I figured I could do no harm trying to cold bleed.
I think the blades that came off have damaged the radiator as there appears to be a leak when I have tried to bleed the system, from the bottom left. I am not a mechanic so i have no intention of trying to do much else Im a teacher lol but its clear that the radiator will need to be repaired or replaced and thats beyond my expertise :-(
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