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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
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  #1  
Old 10-21-2013, 05:42 PM
locustgrove locustgrove is offline
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2009 328i Heater Blows Cold

Hello all, new to BMW, and the forum.
I searched for this issue first, but didn't really find much. My heater worked fine last winter, but this year I'm getting warm air (Not warm enough) from the passenger side vents and cold air from the driver side vents. Heat turned up all the way, all knobs set to the red zone, etc. Blower works fine, air conditioning ice cold in all zones, just not much warm air. Of course I'm 3 months past the warranty, lol.
I've read a few things about clogged heater cores, but wouldn't that effect both sides? Thanks for any ideas!
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  #2  
Old 10-21-2013, 05:56 PM
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DSXMachina DSXMachina is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by locustgrove View Post
Hello all, new to BMW, and the forum.
I searched for this issue first, but didn't really find much. My heater worked fine last winter, but this year I'm getting warm air (Not warm enough) from the passenger side vents and cold air from the driver side vents. Heat turned up all the way, all knobs set to the red zone, etc. Blower works fine, air conditioning ice cold in all zones, just not much warm air. Of course I'm 3 months past the warranty, lol.
I've read a few things about clogged heater cores, but wouldn't that effect both sides? Thanks for any ideas!
It does not have to affect both sides. If the heater core is partially clogged then heat will only be transferred in the unclogged areas. This results in a normal laminar flow of air, but some of which is warm and some of which is cold. The laminar flow then has to turn several corners before being emitted into the cabin. The cold air, being heavier, goes to the outside of each turn and consequently tends to stay separate from the cooler air. Whichever vents are on the 'outside' of a turn will get the cool air, the ones on the 'inside' will get the warmer air.
What is your engine temperature? How long have you owned the car? Did you have ANY work done between last winter and now?

Last edited by DSXMachina; 10-21-2013 at 05:58 PM.
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  #3  
Old 10-21-2013, 06:44 PM
locustgrove locustgrove is offline
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Thanks for the quick reply. The only work I had done was the recall for the battery connection. I looked to see if anything may have been disconnected during that repair, but everything seems to be connected. I bought the car a little over a year ago with 29000 miles on it; It now has 48000. I have not verified the engine operating temperature. I just read some information on another group about changing the heater core. Wow, what a job that will be if it is clogged!
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  #4  
Old 10-21-2013, 08:03 PM
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DSXMachina DSXMachina is offline
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Originally Posted by locustgrove View Post
Thanks for the quick reply. The only work I had done was the recall for the battery connection. I looked to see if anything may have been disconnected during that repair, but everything seems to be connected. I bought the car a little over a year ago with 29000 miles on it; It now has 48000. I have not verified the engine operating temperature. I just read some information on another group about changing the heater core. Wow, what a job that will be if it is clogged!
Aha!
It is possible that you need to 'relearn' your HVAC system. Sometimes disconnecting the battery will cause the control head to lose track of where doors need to be to properly control temperature. The doors are moved by stepper motors which after factory installation 'learn' how much movement one pulse-or a hundred pulses- of command signal will move the door. Losing power kills the memory and it goes dumb. I know that sounds ridiculous but anyone who has ever had their windows or sunroof partially open when changing the battery will tell you what can happen.

I'll check in the morning. A relearn should be an easy procedure if required.

Edit: FYI I have never in 36 years changed a heater core due to clogging. I've had many hundreds which were clogged, but cleaned every single one of them out with the appropriate agent and proper reverse scouring with the judicious application of air and water. We can discuss that later if need be.

Last edited by DSXMachina; 10-21-2013 at 08:08 PM.
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  #5  
Old 10-22-2013, 05:34 AM
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CALWATERBOY CALWATERBOY is offline
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Originally Posted by DSXMachina View Post
I have never in 36 years changed a heater core due to clogging. I've had many hundreds which were clogged, but cleaned every single one of them out with the appropriate agent and proper reverse scouring with the judicious application of air and water. We can discuss that later if need be.

Ho! You acid cleaned, reverse flushed; air bumped?
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  #6  
Old 10-22-2013, 09:54 AM
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DSXMachina DSXMachina is offline
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Originally Posted by CALWATERBOY View Post
Ho! You acid cleaned, reverse flushed; air bumped?
The first step is to try and identify what is clogging the heater core, the second is to know what the heater is made of.

Example 1: Rust chunks from an engine block will pack themselves into a heater quite solidly. A mild caustic soda solution will work great on loosening them enough for a mixed air/water purge to force them out. Works great on copper and brass heaters. It will dissolve an aluminum heater in seconds. Very bad for your BMW. Gotta use another way.

Example 2: Sealant used to block leaks does a good job of blocking heater core passageways. Lestoil is the miracle cleaning agent against sealant for two types of heaters; solid brass and solid aluminum. If the heater core is aluminum but uses rubber gaskets instead of welded joints we have to use another cleaning agent. And on and on.

It's a little brain science and a little rocket surgery. As usual in this business, we get paid more for what we know than what we do.
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  #7  
Old 10-22-2013, 10:19 AM
locustgrove locustgrove is offline
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The "relearn" sounds promising. I'm assuming the dealer would need to do this? It's interesting that you've had success with flushing the core. The other posts I've read say that it didn't help them, but I will definitely try that first before replacement.

I will try to access my temp information when I leave work tonight.

Thanks again!
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  #8  
Old 10-22-2013, 01:02 PM
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DSXMachina DSXMachina is offline
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Originally Posted by locustgrove View Post
The "relearn" sounds promising. I'm assuming the dealer would need to do this? It's interesting that you've had success with flushing the core. The other posts I've read say that it didn't help them, but I will definitely try that first before replacement.

I will try to access my temp information when I leave work tonight.

Thanks again!
I couldn't find anything which you can do yourself in regards to a reset without having the BMW HVAC interface which is done through the ALDL connector under the dash.

If your car came to my shop the first thing we would do is check for codes. Just as the engine/emission system can set a code so can several other systems. The only difference is that they don't make a "Check HVAC" light go on on the dash while the engine will put up a "Check Engine". The good news is that if the computer recognizes a problem it will store a code describing the area in which it thinks there is a problem. Some codes only pertain to the HVAC system, such as a code for a blend door motor not capable of going full sweep. Others such as coolant not reaching temperature within a certain time may also set a "Check Engine" light.

The second thing we would do is check the temperatures of the heater inlet and outlet hoses at the firewall. If they are not within 15-20F of each other you have a clogged heater. When the heater is clogged the flow is restricted and what coolant does get through drops rapidly in temperature. This is a definite indicator of core blockage and means that the next step would be to clear out the core.

The HVAC system's failsafe position is full heat. That means that it is designed so that any sensor or motor failure should result in you getting roasted out of the car. There are a few exceptions, but when there is no heat there is usually either no hot coolant getting through the core, or the temp. blend door has failed in an AC request position.

Check with the engine fully warmed up and idling with the heater on the highest temp. setting and medium to high fan speed.
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  #9  
Old 10-22-2013, 01:23 PM
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Zooks527 Zooks527 is offline
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Originally Posted by DSXMachina View Post
It's a little brain science and a little rocket surgery. As usual in this business, we get paid more for what we know than what we do.
"$1 to turn the screw. $99 for knowing which screw to turn."
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ED May 12, 2009, Munich dropoff May 16, Redelivery June 22, 2009




Prior 33 years of cars: 1967 BelAir wagon / 1968 LeMans Tempest / 1970 Mustang Mach 1 / 1972 El Dorado / 1978 Corvette (kept until first Bronco) / 1981 Subaru GL wagon AWD / 1983 s10 Blazer 4x4 (big mistake) / 1985 Bronco 4x4 / 1996 Bronco 4x4 / 2004 Passat 4motion
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  #10  
Old 10-22-2013, 04:35 PM
locustgrove locustgrove is offline
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Thanks for the tips! I'll look into it more when I get a chance. I keep my vehicles for a long time, over 200,000 on some and I haven't had a heater core fail on me. Is this a common thing with BMW?
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  #11  
Old 10-22-2013, 06:08 PM
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CALWATERBOY CALWATERBOY is offline
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Originally Posted by DSXMachina View Post
I couldn't find anything which you can do yourself in regards to a reset without having the BMW HVAC interface which is done through the ALDL connector under the dash.

INPA do the job?

Full-on Roast default....Bavarians....
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  #12  
Old 10-22-2013, 07:29 PM
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DSXMachina DSXMachina is offline
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Originally Posted by CALWATERBOY View Post
INPA do the job?

Full-on Roast default....Bavarians....
Don't know for sure Cal, it probably could. I use a Snap-On Solus and/or Verus.
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  #13  
Old 10-22-2013, 07:37 PM
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DSXMachina DSXMachina is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by locustgrove View Post
Thanks for the tips! I'll look into it more when I get a chance. I keep my vehicles for a long time, over 200,000 on some and I haven't had a heater core fail on me. Is this a common thing with BMW?
No, but it gets its share of attention because of it being a royal pain to replace, and the cost involved. Aluminum heaters don't self clog like the old copper/brass/solder units. What clogs modern heaters is stuff coming from elsewhere. Usually it's either owner installed sealer, precipitate from incorrect coolant, flaking from old hoses, or rust/corrosion from the head or block.
In my experience, airtight systems using proper coolant type and never overheated while being changed at least every 100k miles (even though "lifetime") will never clog a heater.
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  #14  
Old 10-22-2013, 07:40 PM
locustgrove locustgrove is offline
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Fingers crossed it's not the heater core then. Will try to dig into it more this weekend.
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  #15  
Old 10-25-2013, 02:41 PM
locustgrove locustgrove is offline
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Update, back flushed the heater core and I have my heat back. I started with compressed air which cleared the line initially, and then continued with the back flush. I saw some sandy looking particles in the catch pan, but that may have already been in the pan (didn't clean it out first like I should have). The old coolant that came out really didn't have much color to it, so I'm not sure what the previous owner may have put in there or if it had ever been changed. It was a one owner lease vehicle when I bought it.
Thanks DSX for your help.
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  #16  
Old 10-25-2013, 04:58 PM
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DSXMachina DSXMachina is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by locustgrove View Post
Update, back flushed the heater core and I have my heat back. I started with compressed air which cleared the line initially, and then continued with the back flush. I saw some sandy looking particles in the catch pan, but that may have already been in the pan (didn't clean it out first like I should have). The old coolant that came out really didn't have much color to it, so I'm not sure what the previous owner may have put in there or if it had ever been changed. It was a one owner lease vehicle when I bought it.
Thanks DSX for your help.
Saved a couple thousand dollars. Have a dinner out and keep the change.
The sandy looking particles probably were sand. Core sand. Left in the block after the molding and cleaning process. Heaters sieve it out and eventually get blocked. Rare but it happens. Worst case I ever saw was about a shot glass amount of sand. Amazingly we don't usually see leaking coolant pumps with the sand. How the seals stand up to it I don't know.
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