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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Sun, Jul-08-2018, 06:07:15 AM   #1
Saimon69
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Default 2003 M3 overheating THE WEIRDEST THING

Hey everyone and thank you for all of you that will take part in this mystery I'm having. so... let me get right to it!


so, I recently bought the M3 (a month ago and it's a 03, 6sp with 190k miles) and right away (among other things the car needed but not relevant here) did all fluids change (brakes, power steering, diff, tranny & coolant - all OEM BMW) and also replaced the thermostat with an original BMW one. I did it for good measure not because there was a problem.

everything was fine since until this one day, like a week ago, it was a hot day (so cal) and I was driving with AC on, in traffic - but not too bad - and I noticed the temp gauge passed the center towards the 3/4 mark. I started moving again and it went back down and did not go back up for the rest of that drive.

when I got home, sitting in my parking spot (covered), engine and ac on, revving to constant 3000 revs, car overheated again and passed just slightly the 3/4 mark. shut the engine and noticed expansion tank is throwing coolant from the excess hose but also had marks of coolant all over it.

ordered new fan clutch and temp sensor (all OEM) and went to my mechanics (SWR MOTORSPORT - highly recommended if you need one). when I got there (no overheating on the way there - no AC) we looked and realized that the expansion tank "exploded" so replaced that as well (OEM that comes with the new hoses and cap). all was installed but still overheated when AC on and revving it while stationary.

we checked with a temp heat gun the temp on the upper and lower radiator hoses and there was 10 - 15 degrees difference only so we went ahead and replaced the radiator with a full aluminum CSF that promises 25% more cooling and a second coolant flush (BMW 50/50 OEM fluid). at that point, the condenser was air pressure clean and the temp difference with the new radiator came to 20 - 30 degrees between inlet and outlet but still was overheating.

next, we tried to put the OEM DME map without the B-spec tune i have (because I opt for the enhanced cooling and we thought it might doing something it shouldn't). without the tune, it seems like it's taking longer for it to overheat but it eventually did. went back to the tune at that point.

in the meantime Shane (from SWR) replaced the water pump with an all aluminum one, don't remember the brand but it was something he said he's running on his racecar (e36 with S54 swap) and it's a more efficient and durable than OEM. he also replaced the lower hose where the AUX sensor sits along with the sensor (all OEM) and did another coolant flush and it was doing the same!

he then run a similar test on his friends stock e46 m3 with 150k miles (AC on full blast when sets to 59f and revving while stationary) and it overheated same as mine!!!!!!!!!

he then just gave up and said maybe they were designed that way(?). the next day (today - Saturday) he recommended to add water/water and added 2 bottles of redline (like he did on his car) and you probably guessed it by now...it was doing the exact same thing!

I took it home, frustrated like never before. AC was set to 69f, fan speed was in the middle and on the freeway, going 90 in 6th, it went hot on me to the 3/4 again and only cooled down when I let off the gas.
when I got home, same AC temp and fan speed, while waiting for my gate to open (20 sec) it went to the 3/4 again this time while idling. it only cooled down when I pressed the AC button to turn the compressor off and revved it to about 2000 reves to help the water pump to circulate more water and faster.

the only component that wasn't replaced as of now is the auxiliary fan, and that is because Shane run a test on the fan with his scan tool and checked the 3 different speeds he needs to work on and it was as should. also, we compared that test to his friends stock m3 and values were the same.

at this point, I am really lost for words. can't think on what's next to possibly be responsible for that overheating.

BTW, head gasket likelihood was check and denied and the system was bled professionally by Shane in the shop endless times!

so..let me know what you guy's think. could definitely use all the help I could get.

thank you ALL again.
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Old Sun, Jul-08-2018, 06:19:17 AM   #2
mrgizmo04
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Default Re: 2003 M3 overheating THE WEIRDEST THING

First, why are you revving it to 3k while stationary? What does this test?

In hopes to run the water pump faster? Circulating hot water without letting it cool down somehow will not cool the engine. There needs to be a heat exchange for that to happen and a lot of airflow, standing stationary at 3k revs, there is more heat generated than the fan can suck through the radiator to cool it.

It sounds like you replaced everything, has the system been bled properly with the heater core open?

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Old Sun, Jul-08-2018, 06:28:53 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2003 M3 overheating THE WEIRDEST THING

thanks for the first reply. I do appreciate the conversation and opinions!

the revving test was meant to put a load on the cooling system to bring it faster then it idling for some time to a high load to make sure it's dealing with it properly. if it does, then it will definitely do so when idling.

I want to believe Shane (my mechanic) who is a BMW specialist, knows and did the bled process the right way like he's doing on his car and other customers that came to him with overheating issues especially this week when we had some of the hottest days this summer yet (i've seen 122 yesterday).
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Old Sun, Jul-08-2018, 11:43:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2003 M3 overheating THE WEIRDEST THING

Did you do a coolant flush, not just changing the fluid but a product to clean the walls of the coolant passages? Cast iron blocks can grunge up quickly if the coolant isn't changed regularly or if tap water was used instead of distilled water. Corrosion doesn't transfer heat very well.
An aftermarket water pump for an s54 that is better than OEM? That is hard to believe.
We would all like to hear about that pump if it exists, I'm not calling your mechanic liar but the guys on this forum have done lots of searching and have not turned up with anything better than OEM.
You could also park on a hill with the front of the car facing up hill or jack the front of the car up as high as you can, that will burp all the air out of the system for sure.
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Old Sun, Jul-08-2018, 12:29:28 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2003 M3 overheating THE WEIRDEST THING

Interested in learning about the outcome since my buddies M3 was doing the same thing.

A tech mentioned that non E46 M3s usually range between 170-220 ( not sure if this was exact or an example ) at the center line versus our M3s which are very accurate so the slightest increase in temp will move the needle.

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Old Sun, Jul-08-2018, 01:54:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2003 M3 overheating THE WEIRDEST THING

CSF radiators are hard to bleed. Do you by chance have a new oe radiator you could put on to see if behavior persists?

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Old Sun, Jul-08-2018, 02:37:35 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2003 M3 overheating THE WEIRDEST THING

When you bleed the coolant system, you need to open the heater core loop. What youíre describing is what happens when you donít.

Set the heater to 91 degrees, temp wheel on red, and fan at its lowest setting.


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Old Sun, Jul-08-2018, 02:38:25 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2003 M3 overheating THE WEIRDEST THING

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrgizmo04 View Post
CSF radiators are hard to bleed. Do you by chance have a new oe radiator you could put on to see if behavior persists?

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I never had an issue with mine. Not sure I see any reason why it would be harder to bleed.


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Old Sun, Jul-08-2018, 04:21:58 PM   #9
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Default 2003 M3 overheating THE WEIRDEST THING

The only component that wasn't replaced as of now is the Auxiliary Fan, and that is because Shane run a test on the fan with his scan tool and checked the 3 different speeds he needs to work on and it was as should.

Can you verify the Aux Fan is running at full speed when the car is overheating? You should be able to hear it running from inside the car at that point.

As mentioned you should do a Coolant Flush. Also in hot climates over 100 degrees a mixture of 70/30 (water/coolant) works best. I live in Las Vegas and have summer days from 100-120 degrees, less coolant and more distilled water works best. Good Luck...

(More Coolant equals less cooling)
•Pure Water: 32 F / 212 F
•50/50 mix of Coolant/Water: -35 F / 223 F
•70/30 mix of Coolant/Water: -67 F / 235 F

Water cools much better than coolant. Coolant allows the temp to go lower than 32 deg F and higher than 212 deg F, or whatever boiling point the pressurized cooling system allows. And it lubes the water pump, but it doesn't cool as good as water.
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Old Sun, Jul-08-2018, 05:26:02 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2003 M3 overheating THE WEIRDEST THING

Thank you for all the replies. Definitely helpful this type of brainstorming.

I did a bleed again this morning. There was no bubbles from start to finish. I took my time with it, had the on a incline, defroster on 91 and fan was sometimes on the low setting and others on the highs (just to cover all options).

I could hear the aux fan kicking in full speed and it will also engage as soon as you put the AC on and we'll go faster from there as necessary so it seems like it's functioning in a good way as should.

The car did pass the center mark towards the 3/4 when ac was on, set on 59 with fan speed in the middle like I tested after bleeding.
At that point it was just from idling, and temp outside was only 75.

I did noticed something that I found to be weird. The mechanical fan, was spinning the all time at the same speed. Now, fan clutch and temp sensor were replaced a few days ago with oem so I'm trying to think if there in anything else that is responsible for the fan to kick into a faster speed or maybe the car wasn't yet in a temp that will require it to work faster?

And no, don't have a brand new oem radiator to test but it seemed like mine that was removed and replaced had nothing wrong with it..
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Discussing 2003 M3 overheating THE WEIRDEST THING in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)