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  1. #1
    Cliff
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    Erroneous "Check coolant level" warnings?

    OK, I admit it, I'm a BMW newbie but ya gotta start somewhere. Pardon me if this is a dumb question:

    I've just acquired a 2000 740 iL with 28k miles - after every engine start, the instrument cluster warning message appears "Check coolant level". Message disappears after about 15 seconds. During driving, message does not reappear and analog temperature gauge is squarely in the normal range at all times. At engine switch-off, the same "Check coolant level" message appears and then disappears after 15 seconds.

    Being a particularly talented college graduate, I of course checked the coolant level. Yikes! The coolant level device is a little..............different. Pix in the manual suggest that with the cap removed, the top of the measuring stick should be level with the top of the reservoir. With the cap removed, my measuring stick is higher than the top of the reservoir by about 2". Adding a cup of coolant only makes the measuring stick ride higher (hmm, that's logical). Could it be that the warning message is appearing because the coolant level is too *high* and that I need to drain some off?

    Constructive replies greatly appreciated. Minor ridicule, tinged with veiled sarcasm, of BMW newbie is permitted.



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    FWIW, my coolant stick also pops up above

    the expansion tank rim. I believe that part is normal. As for your coolant warning lite, I don't have any answer. But, welcome to the board. Enjoy your new 7!! What color is it?

    <== Steptronic Sam
    2000 740iS, oxford green/tan 42k
    1995 525i, also oxford green/tan 123k

  3. #3
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    Welcome!

    And congrats on your new e38. I wish I had an answer for you...


    www.e38.org has links for everything about your 7-series E38.

  4. #4
    Waldheim
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    Check it stone-cold

    I had that mystery too. Eventually found that if I checked when the system was completely cooled to ambient temperature (like first thing in the morning), the level was in fact low - but just a little. Turned out to be evidence of a small leak, an early warning that averted a more disastrous radiator failure. (You'll read on David Cecil's e38.org and elsewhere, that it isn't IF our radiators will fail, but WHEN.) Most go at 60-70K miles but mine was still under warranty at 45K. Keep an eye on that plastic hose connector on top of the radiator, and watch for telltale white residue that's evidence of hot coolant spraying out.

  5. #5
    Cliff
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    Re: FWIW, my coolant stick also pops up above

    Black exterior with beige interior - not my idea of a perfect color combination but when you buy used you can't get everything. Apart from this annoying (and hopefully erroneous) coolant warning, the rest of the car seems to be in excellent condition. I think I've finally figured out most of the bells and whistles - mostly thanks to David Cecil and his excellent e38.org site's documentation.

    Thanks for responding.

  6. #6
    Cliff
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    Re: Welcome!

    Hi David - good to see that you also frequent this den of iniquity!

  7. #7
    Cliff
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    Re: Check it stone-cold

    Thanks for the response - I'll recheck as you describe.

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    Re: Erroneous

    Check w/car level and cool. Leave cap off. Turn heater to max (90) and fan low. Start engine (run for less than 30 seconds) and rev engine briefly to 4000 rpm. Check coolant level. Replace cap. Repeat after another complete cool down to see if level has changed. Also, immediately after driving the car open the bleed screw (phillips head plastic just south of filler cap) and bleed off any air trapped in system. Hope this helps.

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    Re: Erroneous

    Cliff,

    I had the same problem. If you bleed the system it should go away for a few days. If it doesn't, you may need to replace the sensor (very easy to do).

    My guess is, like I had, you have a leak somewhere. Most likely the little nipple at the top of the radiator is leaking. As mentioned in another post you will see whitish residue. The good news is a competent tech. can replace just the nipple ($3). A shady tech will hit you up for a new radiator. If you do it yourself be careful not to break the mounting tabs or you will need a new radiator (unless you want to trust an epoxy fix).

    Mark M.

  10. #10
    Cliff
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    Re: Erroneous

    Excellent information! Thank you so much.

  11. #11
    Cliff
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    Re: Erroneous

    Mark

    Great information! Thank you for responding.

  12. #12
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    Re: FWIW, my coolant stick also pops up above

    I also had the coolant stick pops up above the cap when removed and the coolant low warning message after I acquired the 1995 750iL from the car dealer three days later. I really don't quite understand as the coolant level is at the maximum so there should be nothing related to the coolant level. Coolant temperature is perfectly fine ay upright in the middle even at 32-33 degree C. amient temperature.

    The coolant low warning message was seen before I inspect the car before the purchase and the dealer reckoned it was just a mis-reading of the OBC and disabled it then.

    Do I need a bleeding on the radiator or something else I should check on?

    Thank you all.

  13. #13
    Dustin
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    No!

    You need to rip out the coolant level sensor and plug a new one in, the float disintegrates if the coolant wasn't changed enough...

    Should set you back 20-30$

    but go ahead and do it to minimixe the amount of floaty stuff that disintigrates into the radiator...

    It's extremely easy to do... You can find a pic of the sensor online and then check yours to see if its damaged...

  14. #14
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    Cooling system is an issue with the E38...


    The E38 MID display doesn't keep telling you about a warning. It sleeps with two inward pointing arrows. To wake it up, push the right cluster button. No, the coolant wasn't filling up on is own as you were driving. That's in the 2006 models.

    And yes, like the other posts say, bleed the system during hot w/ temp set to 90. Don't crank down on the bleed screw. Just good and snug is enough. Then cool overnight and top off the level in the morning. Top it so that the stick is just at the rim of the neck.

    The next morning after that, when cold the level should be the same or lower (leak).




    98 740i d e a d s t o c k

  15. #15
    Rob
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    Radiator Problems 2000 740iL

    I have a 2000 740iL with approximately 84K miles. I have had a lot of trouble with my radiator system. The check coolant light comes on often and the service at the dealer cannot find leaks. However, the car has overheated twice. We have replaced most parts (probably not the smartest thing to do, yet here I am with more problems than solutions) Are there any recommendations on possible fixes I can point out to BMW service?

  16. #16
    Rob
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    Re:Radiator Problems 2000 740iL

    Do you have any thoughts on the overheating problem? Could I have added too much coolant?

  17. #17
    Steve Carter
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    Re: Erroneous Check Coolant Message

    I had this happening for a couple of years after the block had been changed. The dealer changed the radiator and the water pump to no avail. I worked out what the problem was - when the car was cold and I opened the water filler cap there would be hissing due to pressure build up. Now Boyles law states that pressure can only exist if either the temperature or volume changes - as neither had changed (the engine had cooled down overnight) the pressure had to be an 'outside' influence. I pulled the engine out and removed the cylinder heads and the head bolts on one bank hadn't been tightened properly and there had been tracking on the head gasket. The engine was pressurising the coolant system. I had both heads lightly skimmed and replaced the head gaskets - reassembled and the dreaded 'check coolant' message hasn't reappeared in the last 18 months I'm glad to say!

    Having done this job, I am amazed that the engine ran for so long in this state without causing any real damage. Also the job was a treat to do - everything is so well made and designed to come apart and put back together. My faith in dealers is now reduced to zero!

    Steve


  18. #18
    Mike White
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    Re: FWIW, my coolant stick also pops up above

    Hi,
    I am new to this site I have a 98 740il (bought in august of 03) I just got the check coolant message and noticed that there was coolant leaking out under the car behind the engine, is this where the overflow runs out at?. I have not had any problems with this before.My mechanic just changed my brake pads and he checked fluids and may have added coolant.Could he have added too much?
    also my check brake linings message is still on , do I nedd to replce the sensor?
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks
    Mike W.

  19. #19
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    Just happened to me on holiday weekend



    I got the check coolant light last week, stopped and put coolant in.

    Today got check coolant again, stoped and put coolant in.

    Took my boy out to breakfast and when we parked I saw that steam was coming out from under the hood. It appears that the raditor is leaking, and of course the dealer's service dept is closed until Tuesday. My car is a 2000 with 55K (warranty till 3/06) however this is the forth BMW that I have had and between this and the power steering hose problems, I am not sure that I will ever buy another, it seems that the quality is progressivly getting worse. I have read to expect this radiator problem (when is BMW going to acknowledge the problem and recall the carrs?) but the timing really s*cks

    My friend that bought a new lexus for the same price I paid for the BMW is laughing at me, which does not make one very happy to spend this kind of money for a car that has one problem after the other and the manufacturer just hopes that it happens after the warranty expires.


  20. #20
    derek
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    Re: Erroneous

    I have a 728i, with 165000 miles on the clock ( new in 1998).

    Last year, I had two warning messages " check coolant temperature", "check coolant level". Because of these, I had a new thermostat and a new water pump (550 all told). No problems until this year, when they reappeared. This time i had a new plastic connector ( between end of top hose and cyclinder block ) and because the temperature guage went skywards when stationery ( and in the heat) a new viscous fanj coupling.....enough you may think.( another 350)

    I know the rad's ok, I know the head gasked is ok.

    But on first starting on coldish mornings, I have the same message as you i.e. "check coolant level".

    I am keeping an eye on things, as the collant level is fine.

    Elsewhere on the Web though I have read that the header tank can split - causing the sensor to think that there's not enough fluid....

    Hope this helps

    Derek

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