E36 Overheating / Head Problems - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
3-Series (E36) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1992-1999. Autodoodad Specific models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318iS/ti, BMW 320, BMW 323, BMW 320, BMW 324, BMW 325, BMW 328.

 
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#1 (permalink) Old 10-03-2005, 08:23 AM
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E36 Overheating / Head Problems

Dear Forum / fellow BM Drivers,

I see that some of you have had overheating problems with your BMW's but would like to know if this has had a major impact on the engine block head as it is aluminium. From what I have read on this forum, there have been no lasting problems, so let me tell my story and please let me know your opinions / advice.

I bought my (first BMW!) a 1996 (E36) 2.8i Auto Tourer (ca 115 K miles) about 6 weeks ago and bar some earthing problems on the drivers display console (which are on-going!!) everything mechanically was running fine. I live in the Netherlands and following a fairly long drive back to the UK, I got the message from the on-board computer that the coolant level was low! I just guessed that it needed topping up (not unusual) and did so. About 2 weeks later following another long drive, I got the same message again and upon closer inspection, found what looked like a small leak from somewhere by the radiator (whit flecks / splatters could be seen on some plastic components!) but did not trace it as I had to use the car, so I topped it up again and decided that I would go back to the garage and get them to check the coolant system / radiator as I have a warranty until mid November.

As I was reaching the end of my journey I noticed that the temp gauge was showing red but as I was literally on my doorstep and decided to drive slowly and get home. Unfortunately the radiator blew up (seemed to have split just by the main fill up reservoir) just around the corner from my house and she had to be towed back to the garage. When speaking the road-side assistance (AA), they told me that they had been called out to the same car a few months earlier (twice within a month) with 'cooling system problems' but they could not be more specific.

From what I know, for a radiator to blow it is a very old radiator (not know in this case could be the original and hence 9 years old) or the whole system has to become pressurised and this normally only happens when there is a faulty head gasket or head itself. This of course can be fixed with a new head gasket or if needed, re-skimming the aluminium head and necessary parts. I did not get the opportunity to check if coolant had leaked into the block. I did start the car after it has cooled down to move it off the side of the road and did NOT recall seeing any white smoke.

As mentioned, I would like to know if anyone has had similar problems (which I see a few have) and would like to know if a new head gasket / skimming the head solved the problem without any long-term issues.

The last time I had a similar problem with a car (1985 Opel Manta 1.8) the problem never really went away, but then again the it wasn't a BMW and I am hoping that BMW reputation will live up to what it is.

Thanks in advance for any help and advice,
Sean
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#2 (permalink) Old 10-03-2005, 12:53 PM
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if it were the head gasket i'm pretty sure you would have noticed the white smoke even before your overheating issues.
other possibilities are waterpump is bad or thermostat is stuck closed. since your radiator blew up i assume you'll be getting a new one anyway.
older waterpumps are known to fail on e36s. the plastic parts on the radiators are also known to crack.
also, i don't know how serious a problem this would ultimately cause, but improperly or incompletely bleeding the system after refilling or flushing it can cause air pockets and overheating.
goed geluk.

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#3 (permalink) Old 10-03-2005, 03:48 PM
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Water pumps and thermostats fail commonly. The radiators are also notoriously weak because they use plastic end tanks. I can virtually guarantee that your head is fine. If you want to be sure, check your oil pan for coolant.


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#4 (permalink) Old 10-03-2005, 04:15 PM
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SOunds like fun. This happened recently to my 318i, which is now engine-less and prepped for my super-duper modded S50 motor. YAY!. As Desmo suggested, improper bleeding of the system can indeed cause severe problems. My car was improperly serviced after a waterpump replacement, and that resulted in a blown head gasket. It overheated several times, with no leaks or smoke, so we reserviced and bled again, several times. Finally, one day it just overheated and started running like crap. This is why I will never let friends work on my car unsupervised again, no matter how much experience they have with European cars. I can't say anything to them now, especially since they believe they can do no wrong. Anyway, replace your waterpump and thermostat + tstat housing now, while you have the radiator replaced. You will save time and money in the long run, and you might as well replace all the major components in your cooling system at once, and ensure it is bled properly.

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#5 (permalink) Old 10-04-2005, 05:17 AM
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Guys - Many thanks for the top info and tips. It puts my mind at rest and I now know what other questions to ask / what to have replaced when I go back to the garage.

Cheers!
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#6 (permalink) Old 10-04-2005, 05:48 AM
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Hi,

I have overtheating problems with my 320i and was wondering what you all meant by "bleeding the system" correctly?

I recently had a front end bump in the car and as a result I cracked my radiator and made my fan spin off centre. I replaced the radiator (as well as the bonnet, lights, bumper etc) but left the fan as it still seemed to work.

After replacing the radiator, I just filled it up with water as I would normally. I didn;t do anything special to make sure there was no air pockets etc. I started the engine and after about 30 mins the car started overheating. I stopped the engine and let the car cool down. When I opened the radiator cap there was quite a lot less water in it, even though none had leaked onto my garage floor. I topped it back up and ran the car for another 30 mins the next day, to which the same thing happened, although this time the water didn;t drop nearly as much (maybe due to the fact I didn't let the engine get too hot before turning it off).

The water in the radiator gets really hot but doesn't seem to leak anywhere. Also when i re-open the radiator cap the next day (after its coolled down) i hear a hiss like a bottle of coke opening. (i can't remember if this is normal or not)

Can anyone help me??

My greatest fear is that when my car was taken away after my accident, some worker at the recovery yard has taken my car for a nice spin and ragged it to bits. Also I am a bit worried as the radiator i bought to replace the broken one is second hand and I think from a different e36 (it has a 2 pin electrical plug at the bottom which my old one didn't have)

does anyone know how I can check what the problem is?

or can anyone tell me how i should have refilled the radiator system, or what i should do now to correct it?

Many thanks in advance.
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#7 (permalink) Old 10-04-2005, 06:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KILOCHARLIE
or can anyone tell me how i should have refilled the radiator system, or what i should do now to correct it?
there is a vent screw near the filler cap.

remove bleeder screw. overfill expansion tank past KALT line until it comes out of bleeder screw hole. warning: be ready for spillage. keep adding until there are no bubbles coming out. reinstall screw.

start car, it will suck the coolant down through the system. let it run until it warms up, you may want to cycle the heater on/off a couple of times. stop, let it cool, and refill to the KALT line.

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#8 (permalink) Old 10-05-2005, 06:45 AM
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thanks man,

i've been reading this site all yesterday and i'm gonna do the following tonight to see if i can fix it

1. refill radiator properly
2. check the heaters
3. remove thermostat and do boiling water trick
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