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BMWDoc
BMWDoc, Independent BMW shop owner
Category: BMW
Satisfied Customers: 6456
Experience:  20 years of experience working with BMW's. Independent European shop owner and technician.
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325i: My coolant fluid drained out the bottom (in my garage)

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My coolant fluid drained out the bottom (in my garage) -- what should I do? Can I fix myself?

BMWDoc :

Hello, I'm Jason. I will do my best to answer your question quickly and accurately using the information you have provided.

BMWDoc :

You do need specific BMW coolant from the dealer

BMWDoc :

but just refilling it won't help if there is a leak

Customer:

Once I buy the BMW coolant, should I least re-fill to see where the leak is coming from?

BMWDoc :

What I would recommend first, since the BMW coolant is expensive, is to add water to the system to determine the leak source.

BMWDoc :

After you have it repaired, or repair it yourself, only then do you put a 50/50 coolant/water mix in

Customer:

OK -- so I can just pour water in the coolant compartment, and try to look for the leak underneath -- should I check a specific hose?

Customer:

Can I even start w/ out coolant? (I assume the engine could overheat?)

BMWDoc :

All coolant does is raises the boiling point, and lower the freezing point of water, so plain water is fine for initial leak testing...

BMWDoc :

As far as leaks go, the common areas are the expansion tank (where you fill the coolant) and radiator. Then less common are the radiator hoses

Customer:

If it's the expansion tank or radiator, would I be able to see this below (vs. above) the engine?

Customer:

Can I start or drive with water in, in case I need to drive 5 mi. to BMW repair shop?

BMWDoc :

This depends on where on the tank the crack is (if there is one). If the leak is minor.....just a slight drip.........................drip..........................drip, then the drive should be ok

BMWDoc :

If it's coming out steadily, don't drive it

BMWDoc :

but yes, you can drive it with just water if the leak is slow

Customer:

OK -- that helps -- I will start by putting in water, and then checking the leak (how fast), and where it's coming from. If it's the expansion tank or radiator, can I repair myself (i.e. is there a way to "seal" without replacing this large part?)

BMWDoc :

No sealants. You will damage your car

BMWDoc :

but somewhat impossible for me to determine if you can do this yourself, as I have no idea your mechanical ability or store of tools

Customer:

OK -- I'm not sure either -- depends on the complexity -- let's say I can identify the leak from the radiator, is replacing this with a new one a difficult project (i.e. not having to move major parts, etc...?)

BMWDoc :

It's about a 2.5 hour job for an experienced mechanic. About a 4-5 on a level from 1-10 in difficulty

Customer:

OK -- that helps -- I think my last questions unless you have any other "word of wisdom"? (you've been very helpful!)

BMWDoc :

I'm very glad to help. I do actually enjoy this.

BMWDoc :

And nope, I think we covered all of the highlights

Customer:

One last question on this service -- if I have any new questions, I assume that I start a new chat session (with the $29 fee)? I"m OK with this, but just wanted to be sure.

BMWDoc :

Yes, correct

Customer:

OK -- thanks again. I'll exit now.

BMWDoc :

thanks!

BMWDoc and 3 other BMW Specialists are ready to help you