Question about 1999 BMW 323 Series

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BMW 323 bell housing water leak

Hi I have a 1996 BMW 323 that has a water leak that i am having problems locating. It appears to be coming from the drivers side where the exhaust manifold downpipe connects to the mid section of the box. The head is dry and the pipes do not appear to be perished or leaking. It looks like it is coming from a bolt that connects to thebell housing. Any suggestions?

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Water pump is in that area

Posted on Sep 11, 2008

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Location of engine number identification?


I am not 100% positive on your engine, but most later BMWs put the engine serial number on the back side of the head and/or the ledge of the bell-housing on a decal/sticker. These are usually very hard to see, and will require a mirror at the least. It may be easier to just call the dealership with your VIN and ask for the serial number.

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If you have antifreeze leaking from what appears to be coming from the transmission bell housing, the leak is most likely (although possible) not at the rear of the engine.

There COULD be a freeze plug at the back side of the engine between the engine and transmission leaking. However, on the 4.6L engines, it is most commonly caused by either a water pump, heater hose, or intake manifold leaking at the FRONT of the engine.

Leaks in these areas will fill the area between the cylinder heads with coolant, which will run to the back of the engine and out the hole in the cylinder block that is located just above the transmission bell housing. This makes it LOOK like the leak is in the rear.

To verify this condition use a flashlight to look under the intake manifold just past the alternator. Sometimes it is also very helpful to remove the serpentine belt and remove the alternator (very easy to do) to verify that this is the problem.

Take a hard look at the coolant cross-over pipe on the front of the intake manifold assembly. These are notorious for leaking on both sides and VERY LIKELY to be leaking on the driver's side where the thermostat is located.

This problem is so common that an aftermarket company named DORMAN has come up with an aftermarket replacement intake manifold to correct the problem. The DORMAN part number for your vehicle is Part Number: 615-175 It is available at many aftermarket parts suppliers including AutoZone, O'Reilly's, and Advance, for around $230 (USD). (See picture below)


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Second, need to check that the thermostat isn't stuck shut... follow the big hose from the radiator to the thermostat housing, it should look like this..

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/BMW-318-323-325-328-M3-Z3-Thermostat-Housing-1991-1999-_W0QQitemZ170216855929QQcmdZViewItem

remove the hoses, loosen the bolts on the bottom of the housing...remove it and you should see the thermostat.. it will look like this


http://www.autopartswarehouse.com/mmp/bmw~318i~thermostat~parts.html

Take it inside you house, put it in a pan with water covering it, put it on the stove over medium heat...add salt and pepper to taste... errrr I mean... just watch it as the water heats up, and see if it opens, if not replace it with a new one.

even if it opens, try putting the thermostat housing back on the car without the thermostat...hook the hoses up and and start the car, let it run and see if it still over heats, if so...maybe buy some radiator flush and use it per instructions on the bottle.

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If none of that works... could be the water pump, most have a seep hole so they start leaking when they are going bad...notice any water dripping under the car anywhere?

Othyer than that, could be a blown head gasket, or a number of other things making the car run hot.... check everything in the order I showed.. it starts at the cheapest fix.

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