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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 12-20-2013, 04:27 PM
computerwhiz1 computerwhiz1 is offline
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What is normal coolant useage?

I recently redid my entire cooling system. I replaced everything that there is to replace including the pipes under the intake manifold as those were the source of the leak. Anyways, now about 5,000 miles later, I chekced my coolant level today just as a routine fliuds check and noticed it was about 2-3 oz low. Topped it back off with distilled water. Is that normal? I feel like such a small amount to have leaked out that perhaps thats normal? Or do I have a tiny leak hiding somewhere?
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  #2  
Old 12-20-2013, 06:07 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is offline
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Normal useage is none, nothing, zero, zip, nada. It's a sealed system so if you have coolant loss, it's leaking somewhere it shoudn't.
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  #3  
Old 12-20-2013, 06:42 PM
Starless Starless is offline
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What is normal coolant useage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FredoinSF View Post
Normal useage is none, nothing, zero, zip, nada. It's a sealed system so if you have coolant loss, it's leaking somewhere it shoudn't.
In perfect world you are right, but I do have to top it off once or twice a year too, probably small leak somewhere. My cooling system is completely refreshed too.


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  #4  
Old 12-20-2013, 07:13 PM
e46_platform e46_platform is offline
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also there are dozens of factors which introduce uncertainties in the coolant level measurement
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  #5  
Old 12-20-2013, 07:26 PM
computerwhiz1 computerwhiz1 is offline
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So basically the fact that the little bobber thing was only about 1 inch low, maybe less than that, either means I lost it to various environmental factors or because I have a small leak some where. If it is a leak i'm not really worried about it seeing as it is such a small amount, and I know the coolins system is solid because I replaced every last part and o-ring not long ago. Regardless its pretty typical and I shouldn't worry about it?
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  #6  
Old 12-20-2013, 07:37 PM
CitizenOfDreams CitizenOfDreams is offline
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Zero usage = ideal.
Gallon a day = bad.
2-3oz after 5000 miles = acceptable.

In a good working car you do not have to top up the coolant between changes (every 2 years or so). So it's not "normal" and it can be improved. Whether it's worth it to you is another question.

Last edited by CitizenOfDreams; 12-20-2013 at 07:42 PM.
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  #7  
Old 12-20-2013, 07:47 PM
computerwhiz1 computerwhiz1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitizenOfDreams View Post
Zero usage = ideal.
Gallon a day = bad.
2-3oz after 5000 miles = acceptable.

In a good working car you do not have to top up the coolant between changes (every 2 years or so). So it's not "normal" and it can be improved. Whether it's worth it to you is another question.
Well, I have looked around and there are not any apparent leaks. I feel like since I know the cooling system isn't going to blow up or have any sort of critical failure that I should not really worry about it and just top it off when it gets low.

Are there any places that are known for causing really small leaks like this?
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  #8  
Old 12-20-2013, 08:12 PM
CitizenOfDreams CitizenOfDreams is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by computerwhiz1 View Post
Are there any places that are known for causing really small leaks like this?
Hose clamps, temperature sensors, drain plug, water pump gasket, water pump shaft seal... Can be anywhere.

Usually the leak is in the least accessible place so you have to take half of the car apart to get to it.
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  #9  
Old 12-21-2013, 08:22 AM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starless View Post
In perfect world you are right, but I do have to top it off once or twice a year too, My cooling system is completely refreshed too.
+1
My car is cherry. Never had a problem with the original cooling system, nor with my completely refreshed system (including radiator). But in all my 99K miles of ownership it has always been normal for me to add a few ounces of coolant every few months.
Relax, this is totally OK.
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Old 12-21-2013, 08:33 AM
cvx5832 cvx5832 is offline
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Normal usage (in my whopping sample of 2) is none. At least not enough to make a difference on the bobber between water pump changes.
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Old 12-21-2013, 08:34 AM
cvx5832 cvx5832 is offline
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I will add that it does seem to "lose" a little until the bobber is at the low mark, then stays there.
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  #12  
Old 12-21-2013, 11:55 AM
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Re: What is normal coolant useage?

If you didn't "top off" after it cooled down from the bleed procedure then you probably didn't get it full. I'd only worry if you continue to lose fluid.

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  #13  
Old 12-21-2013, 04:14 PM
computerwhiz1 computerwhiz1 is offline
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I'm going to give another couple of days and then check it again to see if it went down any noticeable amount. Hopefully smolck is right, because at this point if I have a leak I have no idea where it would be from. When I say I refreshed the cooling system, I mean every part on the car that has anything to do with cooling has been replaced.
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  #14  
Old 12-22-2013, 03:15 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by computerwhiz1 View Post
When I say I refreshed the cooling system, I mean every part on the car that has anything to do with cooling has been replaced.
You replaced the composite coolant pipes that requires removal of the intake manifold for replacement, and the rubber hoses that run to the heater core? And the heater core valve?
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  #15  
Old 12-22-2013, 09:18 PM
computerwhiz1 computerwhiz1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoForthFast View Post
You replaced the composite coolant pipes that requires removal of the intake manifold for replacement, and the rubber hoses that run to the heater core? And the heater core valve?
The composite pipes have been replaced (removing the intake was fun). The hoses that run to the heater core and the heater core valve have not been.

Other than that, the radiator, water pump, upper radiator hose, lower radiator hose, expansion tank, transmission cooler o-rings, thermostat, and maybe a few other things I am forgetting to mention have been replaced.
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  #16  
Old 12-22-2013, 10:03 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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You put in a new O-ring for the sensor in the lower radiator hose? Just trying to cover every possibility.
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  #17  
Old 12-22-2013, 10:06 PM
computerwhiz1 computerwhiz1 is offline
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What is normal coolant useage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoForthFast View Post
You put in a new O-ring for the sensor in the lower radiator hose? Just trying to cover every possibility.
Yes, I have also looked around without removing anything and can confirm that's not what is leaking.


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