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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-25-2018, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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1997 318i Overheating

I'm looking at a BMW tomorrow that a friend of a friend has for sale. It is overheating. He says it's the thermostat. He says it's the thermostat because his friend checked it out. I'm going to see this car in the morning. I've only owned BMW motorcycles, so I'm not too familiar with their engines and cooling systems. I got a block test kit from a parts store (to test for blown head gasket). Has anyone out there used one on a BMW? Do they work? Besides checking oil, I was wondering if anyone out there knows which relay controls cooling fan and what terminals I need to bridge to just turn it on to see if the cooling fan is the problem. He says it overheats in 3 minutes of driving time, which seems super fast to me. Sincere thanks for any advise members can give me.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-30-2018, 09:41 AM
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Hi fella,

I am assuming the engine is the M43 8 valve. If it's overheating that fast, I am pretty sure the head gasket has blown. The block test thing does not always show a blown gasket. My old 318i, the head had corroded and leaked into the number 3 cylinder bore. Yet it did not show up on the test for CO in the coolant.

As for the fan, there is a plug on the (RHD) drivers side of the raditator near the top. Disconnect it and short it with a peice of wire, that will put the fan on all the time.

Unless you're able to fix this yourself, i'd stay clear, and if you do, don't skimp on the gaskets, I did and mine pissed oil out from the front of the head becasue I was on a budget and didn't replace the gasket on the timing cover

Good luck.


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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-30-2018, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by mustang_john View Post
Hi fella,

Unless you're able to fix this yourself, i'd stay clear,

So would I

Warm the car up and watch the temp gauge.
If it goes straight into the red turn it off and walk away

BMW's don't like overheating at all.
Blown head gasket or cracked head is usually the result

If temp goes past normal then drops back it may be a sticking thermostat
If the seller really thinks it's only a thermostat get him to change it first

My daily is a Mitsubishi HSGR (but I wouldn't mind an e34 525i)

Last edited by Penngwyne; 06-30-2018 at 09:24 PM.
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