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Re: overheating problem on a 1998 BMW 318ti
Perform a liquid block test (with the bottle of fluid over the radiator mouth.) If the blue liquid turns yellow or clear, you have hydrocarbons entering the cooling system (usually via head gskt.) If not, you have ruled out a costly repair.
Sounds like it overheats pretty easily, without t-stat! This block testing liquid is cheap, and will verify a suspected leaking head gasket without lengthy diagnosis. Hope it's better news, but good luck!
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The overheating probably came from the coolant being too low. The coolant in the reservoir won't go back into the radiator if the coolant in the radiator is too low. Until you get it fixed, check and fill up the radiator every time you want to use it. Overheating is very bad for engines and can cause expensive engine repairs.
Where is it leaking, from the engine or the radiator? You didn't say, but wherever it is leaking is the place to start. If at the radiator, and it is not a loose or leaking hose, I would be looking for a new radiator. If it is leaking at the front of the engine and dripping down from there, you could have a bad water pump. This could be an expensive repair at a shop-not the pump itself-they are not too expensive-but the labor cost in replacing a water pump will add up.
The thermostat would not cause it to leak. But when all is said and done, you will want a new thermostat, after the leak is fixed. They are very cheap and it is just good insurance.
REPLACE THE THERMOSTAT AND RADIATOR PRESSURE CAP.IF COOLANT LOW, ADD MORE COOLANT THROUGH COOLANT OVERFLOW UNTIL COOLANT LEVEL IN THE COOLANT OVERFLOW STAY AT FULL COLD MARK.REASON POUR COOLANT THROUGH COOLANT OVERFLOW MOST GM CARS DONT HAVE RADIATOR CAP.WHEN YOU GET COOLANT LEVEL OKAY, CRANK CAR LET IT IDLE UNTIL ENGINE GET HOT BUILD UP PRESSURE THEN TURN OFF CAR.CHECK FOR COOLANTS LEAKS AT THE RADIATOR HOSES,CHECK FOR LEAKS AT THE RADIATOR, CHECK FOR LEAKS AT WATER PUMP WEEP HOLE IF YOU SEE COOLANT LEAKING FROM WEEP HOLE REPLACE WATER PUMP. IF CAR OVERHEATING WHILE IDLING YOUR COOLING FANS NOT WORKING CHECK COOLING FANS FUSE AND RELAYS.IF FUSE AND RELAYS OKAY THE ENGINECOOLANT TEMPERATURE SENSOR BAD.
I'd start with replacing thermostat (that's the most common fault) Other possibilities; waterpump,leaky hose, radiator cap (not holding pressure), fan belt broken. I'd inspect for belt & leaks - if good replace thermostat.
Overheating can seriously damage a car's engine if left unchecked. Although overheating simply means that a car's engine temperature exceeds normal operating temperatures, the causes of overheating are varied. What follows is a brief list of some of the most common causes of engine overheating.
A car that overheats will often have a faulty radiator. A radiator is responsible for cooling hot engine coolant that picks up heat from inside a car's running engine. A radiator "radiates" the heat from engine coolant out into the outside air. A faulty radiator loses its "radiating" effects and allows engine coolant to become overheated, thus rendering it ineffective at adequately cooling and engine.
Faulty Water Pump
A faulty or malfunctioning water pump prevents adequate engine coolant flow and can cause a car to overheat. A water pump serves to pressurize and propel engine coolant throughout a car's engine and radiator to increase the heat-reducing capabilities of engine coolant. A faulty water pump loses its ability to adequately pump and propel engine coolant, and can cause a car to overheat.
Coolant System Leaks
A leaky engine coolant system reduces the level of circulating engine coolant, which increases engine temperature and leads to engine overheating. Radiators, water pumps, and coolant system hoses and seals--all of these coolant system parts can develop leaks, which can result in low coolant levels and engine overheating.
A car thermostat regulates the flow of engine coolant. A thermostat is a heat-sensitive valve that opens when a car engine reaches a set operating temperature and closes when a car engine is cold and warming up. If a thermostat gets stuck in the closed position, coolant will be prevented from reaching the engine, which will quickly lead to engine overheating and potential engine damage.
Low Engine Oil Level
Engine oil, in addition to lubricating an engine's internal parts, helps to keep engine operating temperatures reduced by eliminating friction within the engine. If engine oil levels are low, friction and heat build up inside an engine, a condition that causes increased engine operating temperatures and can lead to engine overheating.
After the car is cool and has been sitting for a while, remove the radiator cap, have someone start the car, the coolant in the radiator should drop a little, and there should be movement, if there is no movement, let the car run for a while, with some systems it won't cycle enough to notice until the engine warms up. If there is still no movement, you likely have a bad water pump and/or thermostat.
Another method as a "just to be sure", drain the coolant overflow tank, and fill it with clean distilled water. Drive the car for a few days (carefully not to overheat it obviously, if the engine is getting too hot to drive normally don't do this test). If after a few days of driving the fluid in the overflow tank is still clear (water), then there is no circulation in the system.
It's usually best to start by replacing the thermostat, and then re-check. If that doesn't fix the problem it is most likely a water pump, or in very rare cases a plugged radiator or coolant passage.
Hello Ranger Joe, eight months and two radiators is very uncommon. Question, Have you visually confirmed the leak in the radiators or is the leak near the hose connections? Replacing the radiator, cap, water pump, & the thermostat leaves only two others, the hoses and the engine block/heads. Far fitched will be something or somebody poking holes in the radiator.
You actually need the thermostat in to pressurize your cooling system or the coolant won't cyle through the radiator, it'll just cycle around the engine. Most people think without the thermostat in the coolant will just pump freely through the engine and radiator, but it doesn't.
Chuck in a new thermostat, purge the air out of the system and see if it overheats then. I gaurentee it won't, if it does then you've got head problems (but they should already be obvious by now).