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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Was driving to work last week and noticed my coolant light come on. Came to a set of traffic lights and it went off, thought maybe needs topping up a little, but before I got a chance to pull over I noticed steam coming from the front of the car, I pulled over and had a look, but couldn't see exactly where it was coming from. It seems to be emerging from the right grille, above the radiator.

I had the expansion bottle and lower hose replaced a couple of months ago and I could only guess it was something to do with this.

I'm not loosing any coolant. Just steam, on random occasions, not constantly?

I have no heat whatsoever from the blowers in the car.

Anyway, took it to my friends garage yesterday, had a compression test done on the cooling system, seems ok. No steam which is typical when I'm trying to show someone the problem! But the light is still on the dash when driving.

Did a block test/combustion test on the coolant, the blue liquid turned greeny/blue. Nowhere near yellow. Head gasket on its way out? :thumbsdown

My mechanic found it strange that the top of the rad was boiling hot and the bottom cold, as well as the lower hose being cold/luke warm.

He has a feeling its a stuck thermostat or blocked rad, would this be right?

He's a Mercedes specialist and doesn't know a lot about BMW's so is finding it harder to find the problem.

Has anyone experienced this problem before? Any info would be much appreciated right now!

Thanks in advance

Dan

Oh its a 2003 BMW 318i SE E46 2.0L N42
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi possible air block requires possible bleeding.
Hi thanks for your reply. He bled the system yesterday but couldn't tell if it made a difference. The steaming didn't occur at any point when I was there! Which was annoying.

I left it with him and he's working on it as we speak, I am expecting a phone call from him at some point today with a possible verdict of what's wrong. I'll keep this thread updated.

A video of the steam - this was the worst I've ever seen it, its only happened once or twice in the week I've been driving it daily:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Could be, I f****ing hope its that! If its rad then or hose/oring of some sort i'll be happy, but could the head gasket be related to the problem or is that a different story altogether?

Bear in mind this only occurs randomly, for around 2 mins then doesn't happen again for a few days! regardless of speed or temperature. Done a 20 mile trip with 16 of those being motorway miles at 100mph max. No steam whatsoever. but can drive down the road 5 mins at 30-40 and it steams up.

Temp gauge never goes past half way.

Thanks
 

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What's happening is your car is reaching normal temp the bottom of radiator & steam is rising causing your fan switch to operate fan pushing the coolant and steam through where the radiator is shot and then through the condenser rad.


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Discussion Starter #10
What's happening is your car is reaching normal temp the bottom of radiator & steam is rising causing your fan switch to operate fan pushing the coolant and steam through where the radiator is shot and then through the condenser rad.
Fan is not operating when this happens..
 

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Seems like rad as gone for sure ! It seems like you have enough water in the expansion tank as it retains the coolant! But the rest of your rad seems like just steam & pressure which in turn not activating the coolant solenoid to let hot coolant to the matrix,which is why your most likely not getting any warmth from the heater blower. I would certainly disconnect the radiator hoses & take radiator out and check. Mine had gone in 2 places between the condenser & and back of radiator.

Regards Johnathon


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Struggling to understand how your mech has pressure tested the cooling system and not come across that obvious leak?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Spoke to mechanic. He said he found a broken o ring upon removing the expansion bottle, reckons either the guy who fitted it didn't replace ring or he nicked it when fitting the new bottle. He still hasn't experienced any steam since he's had the car so can't say this is the problem, in fact he said it can't be the problem because it wouldn't affect the heater not working inside the car. He said he gave the hose a little pull and the coolant pissed out which shouldn't happen. New seals going in first then further investigation. He thinks it's the rad but I won't find out until Tuesday now.

Will keep you informed


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No heat going to the cabin may be the water valve.
 

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some garage spanner monkeys are planks i wouldn't even call them mechanics more garage gibbons that walk upright and sup tea...
 

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Just replaced my radiator last week had a slight leak bottom left corner of the radiator changed it ECP had a spring sale £100 down to £50 and another £150 down to £100 like an idiot went for the £50 one two days later it failed due to a dodgey drain plug wasnt sealing properly so had to strip it back out take it back and exchange on warranty then pay the extra £50 for the better radiator

My old one looked like this after 12yrs so was ready to be binned you can see how badly bowed it was...oh and my mpg has gone up approx 3 to 4 mpg after fitting new radiator too
 

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Spoke to mechanic. He said he found a broken o ring upon removing the expansion bottle, reckons either the guy who fitted it didn't replace ring or he nicked it when fitting the new bottle. He still hasn't experienced any steam since he's had the car so can't say this is the problem, in fact he said it can't be the problem because it wouldn't affect the heater not working inside the car. He said he gave the hose a little pull and the coolant pissed out which shouldn't happen. New seals going in first then further investigation. He thinks it's the rad but I won't find out until Tuesday now.

Will keep you informed


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Knew it might be an O-ring. These are always overlooked when new cooling components are being replaced, my brother had the same issue as you with his 330 when he had his alternator replaced, the loony mech took apart almost all the cooling system to get to it and broke an oring going to the expansion tank creating a leak when the car was hot.
 

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I changed my expansion the other week its mad they dont supply the new tank with a new drian plug and o-ring i had to by one from bmw for £3. ECP didnt even supply a new cap with their exapansion tanks and wanted another £10 so i just got one off ebay complete minus he drain plug and o-ring...crazy
 
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