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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 Thu, Jun-06-2019, 01:55:38 PM   #1
mcfreid
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Unhappy At wits end bleeding coolant

This is both a rant and a plea for help. Please help. God please help me.

A week ago I replaced the water pump and thermostat housing in my 2001 325xi. I filled up the cooling system till the coolant ran out of the bleeder valve. Then I closed the valve and reservoir cap, ran the engine till the coolant got up to temperature, and then loosened the bleeder valve again to let off any excess air and bubbles.

Afterwards, went on a short drive and around 5-10 minutes my coolant temperatures quickly started to climb (just ticking past the operational temp window). Immediately I turned the engine off and pulled over, opened the hood, and let things cool down. Once cooled down I opened the radiator cap to find that the coolant was very low. I repeated the procedure to fill the coolant, run the engine, and bleed off the excess air.

This time when I went to drive, the coolant light turned on letting me know that the coolant was low. I pulled over to double-check the level and it was full. Carefully I continued to drive, one eye fixed on the coolant temp gauge. It was a long drive and for six hours the temperature never moved from its middle buffer. Periodically I pulled over to let things cool down and double-check the coolant level. I also used this opportunity to continue to bleed off air from the bleeder valve.

Fast forward a week and nothing has changed. The coolant light is still on. I drive everyday and the temperatures are perfect (even under uphill heavy loads on the engine). Continually bleeding air from the bleeder valve and checking the level of the coolant. Barely any air is coming out now from the bleeder valve (just a split-second quiet hiss and then nothing). The coolant level itself is beyond max (I can see coolant when looking down).

I've also tried repeating the bleeding and fill procedure while the car is jacked up in the front, but this made no difference. There's definitely air in the system. I can squeeze the upper driver side radiator hose with the bleeder valve open and can literally push the air out by doing this - and I have a number of times done this, but still doesn't seem enough.

Just don't know what do anymore. That coolant light taunts me every time I drive with its yellow glow. Please, please help me.

Last edited by mcfreid; Thu, Jun-06-2019 at 02:55:58 PM.
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Old Thu, Jun-06-2019, 02:26:54 PM   #2
wahsm
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Default Re: At wits end bleeding coolant

You turn on the heat in the car while you were doing this?
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Old Thu, Jun-06-2019, 02:32:03 PM   #3
mcfreid
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Default Re: At wits end bleeding coolant

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You turn on the heat in the car while you were doing this?
Yes - everytime. Good point though- should have put that in the OP.
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Old Thu, Jun-06-2019, 02:37:36 PM   #4
Obioban
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Default Re: At wits end bleeding coolant

If the levels are good (i’d take it down so you’re not above max), I vote faulty or not fully plugged in sensor.
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Old Thu, Jun-06-2019, 03:00:45 PM   #5
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Default Re: At wits end bleeding coolant

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If the levels are good (id take it down so youre not above max), I vote faulty or not fully plugged in sensor.
I'll double-check the sensor connection. The sensor is new (replaced it when I replaced the reservoir) - but could definitely be faulty. My understanding was a faulty sensor wouldn't register low coolant at all (and wouldn't trip the coolant light) - but not sure...

Yeah, also thinking I should knock down the coolant level (fortunately the m54 has a reservoir drain plug which makes this easy) - but also not sure if the reason it appears overfilled is just because there's air trapped in the system which is preventing the coolant from dropping down (but is being compressed when the coolant expands during operational temperature).
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Old Thu, Jun-06-2019, 04:44:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: At wits end bleeding coolant

Id also have to vote for sensor or leak somewhere. In my experience its very very easy to bleed these systems. On my M3 I didn't even have to bleed its believe it or not.

My buddys e46 330 was a different story. Took many many drives, constantly pulling over and opening the radiator cap. Checking the level and then adding more.

A lot of times when we pulled over to check the level it would be exactly the same. If we got lucky we would open it to find an empty expansion tank.

Point is be patient. Keep at it. Check for any leaks and maybe replace the sensor
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Old Thu, Jun-06-2019, 04:55:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: At wits end bleeding coolant

The s54 is way easier to bleed than the m54.

But the sensor being new doubly makes me think it’s the issue.
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Old Thu, Jun-06-2019, 05:12:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: At wits end bleeding coolant

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcfreid View Post
This is both a rant and a plea for help. Please help. God please help me.

A week ago I replaced the water pump and thermostat housing in my 2001 325xi. I filled up the cooling system till the coolant ran out of the bleeder valve. Then I closed the valve and reservoir cap, ran the engine till the coolant got up to temperature, and then loosened the bleeder valve again to let off any excess air and bubbles.

Afterwards, went on a short drive and around 5-10 minutes my coolant temperatures quickly started to climb (just ticking past the operational temp window). Immediately I turned the engine off and pulled over, opened the hood, and let things cool down. Once cooled down I opened the radiator cap to find that the coolant was very low. I repeated the procedure to fill the coolant, run the engine, and bleed off the excess air.

This time when I went to drive, the coolant light turned on letting me know that the coolant was low. I pulled over to double-check the level and it was full. Carefully I continued to drive, one eye fixed on the coolant temp gauge. It was a long drive and for six hours the temperature never moved from its middle buffer. Periodically I pulled over to let things cool down and double-check the coolant level. I also used this opportunity to continue to bleed off air from the bleeder valve.

Fast forward a week and nothing has changed. The coolant light is still on. I drive everyday and the temperatures are perfect (even under uphill heavy loads on the engine). Continually bleeding air from the bleeder valve and checking the level of the coolant. Barely any air is coming out now from the bleeder valve (just a split-second quiet hiss and then nothing). The coolant level itself is beyond max (I can see coolant when looking down).

I've also tried repeating the bleeding and fill procedure while the car is jacked up in the front, but this made no difference. There's definitely air in the system. I can squeeze the upper driver side radiator hose with the bleeder valve open and can literally push the air out by doing this - and I have a number of times done this, but still doesn't seem enough.

Just don't know what do anymore. That coolant light taunts me every time I drive with its yellow glow. Please, please help me.

did you change the expansion tank? I had this issue last year and the problem was the behr expansion tank was defective. The float was installed backwards.
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Old Thu, Jun-06-2019, 05:41:52 PM   #9
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Default Re: At wits end bleeding coolant

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did you change the expansion tank? I had this issue last year and the problem was the behr expansion tank was defective. The float was installed backwards.
Hmmmm - I did change the expansion tank. The float *was* working though (at least I thought it was) when I was first filling it up. Not sure I understand how it could be installed backwards - a float floats, no?
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Old Thu, Jun-06-2019, 05:44:01 PM   #10
sev
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Default Re: At wits end bleeding coolant

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Originally Posted by mcfreid View Post
Hmmmm - I did change the expansion tank. The float *was* working though (at least I thought it was) when I was first filling it up. Not sure I understand how it could be installed backwards - a float floats, no?
What brand is it? I had the *EXACT* same issue on my 330cic and drove myself nuts changing the sensor and bleeding it. And every time it warmed up the light would come on. There was 0 air in the system.


I was reading on e46 fanatics that a batch of behr expansion tanks were defective and from the factory the float was installed upside down. So the magnet that triggers the sensor is not in the correct position.

I put in a OEM tank and it worked perfectly on first bleed.
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Discussing At wits end bleeding coolant 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)