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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, new here. I recently purchased a 2000 328i with 96k miles all factory. Few issues however, can't help but think they are all related.
-coolant light pops on and off randomly.
-heater only starts to work after running for about 20 mins and only works under acceleration.
-after driving i smell coolant or a sweet smell from under the hood with slight white smoke/steam.

Car doesn't overheat at all and runs great, no CEL. Coolant isn't low and do not see any leaks on the payment.

And help would be great, thanks guys. I'm brand new to beamers but have worked on plenty of cars(moderate driveway mechanic)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Nope, not wet inside at all. The coolant smell is only after running/driving for a while and can only be smelt from the engine bay.
 

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Update**** I completely misunderstood the way to check coolant levels. With that being said, while the engine is cold the "float stick" is way below the ET neck, can I top of with distilled water or get bmw blue coolant?
 

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2003 330i ZPP
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Update**** I completely misunderstood the way to check coolant levels. With that being said, while the engine is cold the "float stick" is way below the ET neck, can I top of with distilled water or get bmw blue coolant?
Use coolant. I think a cooling system overhaul might be in order. That's step number 1 when buying an E46. FCP Euro has an overhaul kit. Also, there are two pipes that run beneath the intake manifold. Might want to look at those while you're at it.
 

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2005 330xi Auto, 2006 330ci Vert Auto
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Update**** I completely misunderstood the way to check coolant levels. With that being said, while the engine is cold the "float stick" is way below the ET neck, can I top of with distilled water or get bmw blue coolant?
If you smell coolant after a drive, you have a leak. Do you see any white spots due to dried up coolant?

Given that you're probably going to have to do cooling system work, I would just top off with distilled water for now, UNLESS you're really low. If you put in blue coolant, you're going to have to drain it soon :). One quart of distilled water won't affect the coolant capabilities very much.

Search this website. BMW E46 is notorious for cooling system failures. Get ahead of it and don't overheat. That may warp your head or blow your head gasket.
 

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2004 325i automagic
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Update**** I completely misunderstood the way to check coolant levels. With that being said, while the engine is cold the "float stick" is way below the ET neck, can I top of with distilled water or get bmw blue coolant?
Find the leak otherwise you may soon have an overheat and be looking for a new engine. Chances are decent that the previous owner sold it to avoid dealing with mounting issues, like a cooling system replacement.

The expansion tank is a common leak source, as is the water pump, thermostat, the hard plastic coolant pipes under the intake manifold, and the plastic endcaps of the radiator. Strongly consider doing a cooling system refresh. Then refill with coolant. The plastic splash tray underneath can keep leaks off the ground. Also some leaks mist out and evaporate or collect on the waffle pattern behind the oil filter housing (under power steering reservior). You need to go in and look.

The 50sKid youtube channel has a good video on "Common Repair Steps" that will let you make room around the front and side of the engine to inspect and find the leak. It may also help to rent for free a cooling system pressure tester from Autozone to pressurize the system and reveal a leak.

 

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Wow thanks. That helps alot. That kits exactly what I'm looking for too.
You're welcome! The forum is full of great people who are willing to help. The above replies are more than sufficient, btw! If you do a cooling system overhaul, don't forget about the hard pipes. Good luck chasing down that leak (y)
 

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Adding distilled temporarily is fine UNLESS you are in freezing temps...a less than 50/50 coolant/distilled mix will freeze.

You have to find the leak...many possibilities.

BTW the top of the bobber should be "bobbing" but should be at or below the neck of the expansion tank. The coolant needs room to expand in the expansion tank.
 
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