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E46 General discussion and technical help for 1999-2004 3 series cars.

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Old 11-16-2007, 11:59 AM   #1
f1indycar
 
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Engine coolant

I need to add engine coolant, my dash light stays on for about 1 -2 minutes after it is started. I looked in the owners manual, and it said to contact dealer for proper fluid. Does anyone know what I can buy at a local auto store? I have a 2001 330i auto w/steptronic.
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:36 PM   #2
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Most likely any old fluid will work. coolant is coolant. I have heard, however, that mixing different types of coolant is bad. I don't know why, but that is what i have heard.

btw, i use mostly water in my '95 325, and a little green coolant to keep it from freezing, and no problem so far...
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Old 11-16-2007, 01:08 PM   #3
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i would stay away from experimenting, go to the bmw dealer and get the blue stuff, 20 bux, then mix half and half with distilled water in a sperate container (1/2 coolant and 1/2 distilled water).

if you only need to add a bit to your exapnsion tank, just add distilled water.
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Old 11-16-2007, 01:58 PM   #4
Dudesky

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If you're not going to use BMW coolant, read the label of the brand you're buying. It should be nitrate, amine and phosphate free. And never use that long-life stuff (Dex-Cool). Very bad for your Bimmer's water pump and other parts. I use Zerex G-05, which is very close to BMW's stuff.
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:51 PM   #5
TECH

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If there are no leaks, then it's just the water evaporating, so just add some distilled water. Antifreeze isn't disappearing, it's the water.
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:28 PM   #6
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BMW engine question

For a number of years now, Napa has been selling an all makes, all models engine coolant which means one does not have to go to the BMW dealership for their coolant. If the engine coolant LIGHT has come on & it is an emergency one can use water to bring the level up. Hope this helps. iT
(I drive a 2003 525i wagon)

Last edited by jasperg55; 06-06-2011 at 12:30 PM..
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Old 06-10-2011, 08:36 AM   #7
Manolito

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1) Do NOT use the organic acid long life coolants (aka Dexcool) in a BMW.
2) Use distilled water with your coolant unless you are fortunate enough to have really soft (snowmelt) water where you live. Don't use salt-softened water. A cup or two of distilled water is fine for occasional topoffs. You won't add enough water to appreciably change the 50/50 coolant/water proportional mix over the 3 years between coolant changes.
3) Best to use BMW branded coolant. It is ethylene glycol with no silicates, phosphates, or nitrates. BMW sells only one coolant to the best of my knowledge. You can buy it on line from Pelican or Tischer BMW or Autohaus or several other vendors for about $21/gal, which is cheaper than you can get it from the dealer, even after paying shipping.
4) Yes, you read correctly on item #2. Change your coolant every three years. On a 2001, you should be changing it for the third time by now.

Unrelated but while I am preaching - Change your brake fluid every three years as well. On a 2001, every drop of fluid in that car is due for replacement if it has not been replaced already. I know BMW says that your power steering fluid and transmission fluid are 'permanent'. Synthetic ATF lasts a very long time, but NO fluid is permanent if you plan on driving your car 300k miles as I do. I recently sold one with 300k miles that still looks and runs great, and my daughter is driving one with over 250k on it. If you have a manual, don't forget to flush the brake fluid from the clutch slave cylinder.

If you find that you are getting the warning light although the water level is up, you may have air in the coolant. Not sure about the e46, but on the e36s, chronic air in the coolant can be caused by the reservoir getting brittle and crumbling inside.

Last edited by Manolito; 06-10-2011 at 08:50 AM..
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