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  #1  
Old 09-13-2018, 04:49 PM
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Why is coolant bleeding so difficult at times. ('03 with 3.0 six cylinder)

I bought my 2003 X5 3.0 about 3 months ago. The seller told me about a slow leaking expansion tank, and after a few weeks, I bought a "BEHR" replacement. After swapping it, I went and looked up the bleeding process for this engine/vehicle and found it very similar to all the 325/328 and 740iL bleeding processes; i.e. http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...ystem-Bleeding

Interestingly, my mechanic - who I trust greatly - has varied minorly in the bleeding process outlined above whereby he says to, essentially:

Fill the expansion tank to the appropriate level, with the bleed screw open
Have someone start the engine, heat on high/fan on full, and hold the engine at about 2,500-3,000 RPMs.
Coolant flows through the little "piss hole", close the bleed screw, and continue to monitor the flow of coolant through the little hole back into the expansion tank.
Once the flow is free of any air bubbles, close the expansion tank and begin operating.
Monitor accordingly

That is a minor paraphrasal of my mechanic's recommended process. The big difference being that he says to have the engine running while most other DIY and video's just say to turn key to position 1 (without starting), heat on highest temp and fan on low.

So, after putting a different BEHR expansion tank in my vehicle (of a much newer X5 with same engine at the junk yard), I followed the above linked procedure. What was ...crazy to me was that coolant never slowly bubbled up & out of the open bleed screw hole ...I hear the internal workings of the coolant/heating system kind of wind up and then GUSH, like a geyser, it shot out the bleed hole about a foot high, and then retreated back into the hole, as I continued to pour in coolant. Then, while adding more coolant, after about 5 seconds, I heard it coming again and BLURRRRP up went the geyser. I did this about 5 or 6 times and realized it wasn't going to stop, so as it continued to flow upward, it didn't look like there were any bubbles, so I quickly re-inserted the bleed screw and tightened it down. Then I filled the expansion tank a little more until the red "fill level" stick was protruding an inch or so out of the tank and then screwed the cap back on. Rinsed it all off and took it for a drive.

Coolant temp climbed up normally to dead-on middle and stayed there. I drove about 10 minutes, accelearating a few times quite quickly and putting a good load on the engine. Got home, (No "Check Coolant" lights or anything), but when I opened the hood, I could see a minor leak from what looked like the cap. And I could hear the slight hiss of air escaping.

I'm thinking of trying a different cap, but, ...this is the game I've been playing for a few months. I could certainly run out and buy a new expansion tank, radiator, water pump, new hoses all around and then bring it to a dealer to have them "bleed" it, but, ....(obviously being a little baby here) that seems excessive.

Anyone ever had the "geyser" issue I mentioned? Can caps be this problematic? I see no cracks in the cap, it has both rubber gasket rings...

Just don't know why it's so tough to bleed these machines. Thanks in advance,

Jay
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03 X5 3.0
01 740iL
01 325Ci

00 750iL sold
95 740i sold
99 328i convert
95 325i convert
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  #2  
Old 09-13-2018, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpilk99 View Post
I bought my 2003 X5 3.0 about 3 months ago. The seller told me about a slow leaking expansion tank, and after a few weeks, I bought a "BEHR" replacement. After swapping it, I went and looked up the bleeding process for this engine/vehicle and found it very similar to all the 325/328 and 740iL bleeding processes; i.e. http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...ystem-Bleeding

Interestingly, my mechanic - who I trust greatly - has varied minorly in the bleeding process outlined above whereby he says to, essentially:

Fill the expansion tank to the appropriate level, with the bleed screw open
Have someone start the engine, heat on high/fan on full, and hold the engine at about 2,500-3,000 RPMs.
Coolant flows through the little "piss hole", close the bleed screw, and continue to monitor the flow of coolant through the little hole back into the expansion tank.
Once the flow is free of any air bubbles, close the expansion tank and begin operating.
Monitor accordingly

That is a minor paraphrasal of my mechanic's recommended process. The big difference being that he says to have the engine running while most other DIY and video's just say to turn key to position 1 (without starting), heat on highest temp and fan on low.

So, after putting a different BEHR expansion tank in my vehicle (of a much newer X5 with same engine at the junk yard), I followed the above linked procedure. What was ...crazy to me was that coolant never slowly bubbled up & out of the open bleed screw hole ...I hear the internal workings of the coolant/heating system kind of wind up and then GUSH, like a geyser, it shot out the bleed hole about a foot high, and then retreated back into the hole, as I continued to pour in coolant. Then, while adding more coolant, after about 5 seconds, I heard it coming again and BLURRRRP up went the geyser. I did this about 5 or 6 times and realized it wasn't going to stop, so as it continued to flow upward, it didn't look like there were any bubbles, so I quickly re-inserted the bleed screw and tightened it down. Then I filled the expansion tank a little more until the red "fill level" stick was protruding an inch or so out of the tank and then screwed the cap back on. Rinsed it all off and took it for a drive.

Coolant temp climbed up normally to dead-on middle and stayed there. I drove about 10 minutes, accelearating a few times quite quickly and putting a good load on the engine. Got home, (No "Check Coolant" lights or anything), but when I opened the hood, I could see a minor leak from what looked like the cap. And I could hear the slight hiss of air escaping.

I'm thinking of trying a different cap, but, ...this is the game I've been playing for a few months. I could certainly run out and buy a new expansion tank, radiator, water pump, new hoses all around and then bring it to a dealer to have them "bleed" it, but, ....(obviously being a little baby here) that seems excessive.

Anyone ever had the "geyser" issue I mentioned? Can caps be this problematic? I see no cracks in the cap, it has both rubber gasket rings...

Just don't know why it's so tough to bleed these machines. Thanks in advance,

Jay
You don't need to completely remove the bleed screw. Just open so coolant flows out. You won't get a geyser that way.
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  #3  
Old 09-13-2018, 06:35 PM
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You don't need to start the car to bleed expansion tank for 3L engine. Even for v8.

Your BMW E46 and Lexus IS Resource: The Definitive Mango BMW E46 Cooling System Blog with Complete Parts list and tips!
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  #4  
Old 09-13-2018, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fifty150hs View Post
You don't need to completely remove the bleed screw. Just open so coolant flows out. You won't get a geyser that way.
Yes, this is the main improvement you need.

BTW, on the mechanic rev'ing, I think that's typical of how they have to operate differently than an owner does. He has to basically get it all done at once, so he can give you the keys and the bill, and you'll be on your way and done. As owners, we can do it more easily and probably better, taking advantage of the fact that we can fill it, bleed it, run it, and then do the final fill adjustment more accurately the next day when it has cooled down.

In my cooling system and cylinder head problems this summer, I did a few cooling system fills/bleeds on my 3.0i. Here are my notes from the procedure I used:

Bleeding cooling system:
  • This may work best with the engine heading up on a sloping driveway like mine.
  • Install drain plugs on engine block (right side, towards front, can be reached from above and front, with left hand. 13 mm hex head) and radiator (bottom left end)
  • Bleed screw loosened to free the o-ring, but not fully removed
  • Expansion tank cap removed and set aside. Yellow funnel in top of expansion tank.
  • Fill through expansion tank until full
  • Key to ON (not START), heat set to max heat. Fan speed to low. Doing this activates the electric coolant pump. Filling before doing this step prevents damage from that pump running dry. Should now see a stream of coolant flowing diagonally when looking down into the expansion tank.
  • Keep filling the expansion tank until bubbles stop and some fluid comes out of the bleed plug opening. Can squeeze the upper radiator hose to free bubbles if that helps.
  • Close bleed plug, fill expansion tank. In theory, the tank needs to be siphoned out down to red rod max level. But there is usually enough air still in there to accommodate that, and then require a little addition on the final check.
  • Drive it around normally (the above steps should get most of the air out, even without driving, running the engine)
  • When done, let it cool down, then fill expansion tank so the floating stick is at spec, but not overfilled

Regarding the leaking you notice at the expansion tank cap ... look out. That's what I had. Turned out there was no problem with the cooling system at that point, but the head had warped, and combustion gases in the coolant (confirmed with my tester) were pressurizing the cooling system, and being released by the 2-bar cap.

If you can confirm coolant leaking out of the cap, there is a chance the cap is bad, but if not, the next step is to check for combustion gases in the coolant.

Here's my thread on my warped head problem this summer: https://xoutpost.com/bmw-sav-forums/...s-coolant.html

Hopefully yours does not require the work mine did.
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  #5  
Old 09-13-2018, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldskewel View Post
Yes, this is the main improvement you need.

BTW, on the mechanic rev'ing, I think that's typical of how they have to operate differently than an owner does. He has to basically get it all done at once, so he can give you the keys and the bill, and you'll be on your way and done. As owners, we can do it more easily and probably better, taking advantage of the fact that we can fill it, bleed it, run it, and then do the final fill adjustment more accurately the next day when it has cooled down.

In my cooling system and cylinder head problems this summer, I did a few cooling system fills/bleeds on my 3.0i. Here are my notes from the procedure I used:

Bleeding cooling system:
  • This may work best with the engine heading up on a sloping driveway like mine.
  • Install drain plugs on engine block (right side, towards front, can be reached from above and front, with left hand. 13 mm hex head) and radiator (bottom left end)
  • Bleed screw loosened to free the o-ring, but not fully removed
  • Expansion tank cap removed and set aside. Yellow funnel in top of expansion tank.
  • Fill through expansion tank until full
  • Key to ON (not START), heat set to max heat. Fan speed to low. Doing this activates the electric coolant pump. Filling before doing this step prevents damage from that pump running dry. Should now see a stream of coolant flowing diagonally when looking down into the expansion tank.
  • Keep filling the expansion tank until bubbles stop and some fluid comes out of the bleed plug opening. Can squeeze the upper radiator hose to free bubbles if that helps.
  • Close bleed plug, fill expansion tank. In theory, the tank needs to be siphoned out down to red rod max level. But there is usually enough air still in there to accommodate that, and then require a little addition on the final check.
  • Drive it around normally (the above steps should get most of the air out, even without driving, running the engine)
  • When done, let it cool down, then fill expansion tank so the floating stick is at spec, but not overfilled

Regarding the leaking you notice at the expansion tank cap ... look out. That's what I had. Turned out there was no problem with the cooling system at that point, but the head had warped, and combustion gases in the coolant (confirmed with my tester) were pressurizing the cooling system, and being released by the 2-bar cap.

If you can confirm coolant leaking out of the cap, there is a chance the cap is bad, but if not, the next step is to check for combustion gases in the coolant.

Here's my thread on my warped head problem this summer: https://xoutpost.com/bmw-sav-forums/...s-coolant.html

Hopefully yours does not require the work mine did.
Thanks Oldskewel. I guess my big question, about the "geyser" of coolant coming up/out of the bleed screw: IF I had a warped head or headgasket issue, HOW would that come into effect with the engine not running? There would be no combustion going on?

Thank you.
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01 740iL
01 325Ci

00 750iL sold
95 740i sold
99 328i convert
95 325i convert
95 325iS
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  #6  
Old 09-13-2018, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpilk99 View Post
Thanks Oldskewel. I guess my big question, about the "geyser" of coolant coming up/out of the bleed screw: IF I had a warped head or headgasket issue, HOW would that come into effect with the engine not running? There would be no combustion going on?
Yes. The geyser is just due to not having the bleed screw in. Unrelated to any combustion gases. You need to loosen the bleed screw enough that the o-ring is loose - that will allow gas + a little liquid to come out, letting you know when it is time to tighten it.

The thing related to combustion gases is when I think you mentioned that after the bleed screw is tight, expansion tank cap is on, and you get back from a drive, you notice leaking at the expansion tank cap.

Quote:
...but when I opened the hood, I could see a minor leak from what looked like the cap. And I could hear the slight hiss of air escaping ...
That's what I had - after replacing the radiator + upper/lower radiator hoses, thinking I was in the final bleeding/tuning phase ... and found out I was just getting started.
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  #7  
Old 09-13-2018, 08:38 PM
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I have an E39 5-series (1998 528i) and E53 X5, basically same tricks:

1. Engine COLD.

2. Open the bleed screw near thermostat.

3. Fill the reservoir above MAX by about 1-2 inches, the key thing is PATIENCE! Sit and wait 2-3 minutes, you will see coolant coming of the bleeder screw hole near thermostat.

4. Now close the bleeder screw (gentle, no need for force).

5. Re-install the reservoir cap.

Test drive around the blocks for a good 1/2h. Let the engine cool down. Check coolant level 1h later when engine is COLD.
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Old 09-14-2018, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I have an E39 5-series (1998 528i) and E53 X5, basically same tricks:

1. Engine COLD.

2. Open the bleed screw near thermostat.

3. Fill the reservoir above MAX by about 1-2 inches, the key thing is PATIENCE! Sit and wait 2-3 minutes, you will see coolant coming of the bleeder screw hole near thermostat.

4. Now close the bleeder screw (gentle, no need for force).

5. Re-install the reservoir cap.

Test drive around the blocks for a good 1/2h. Let the engine cool down. Check coolant level 1h later when engine is COLD.
Thanks Cn90. I could be wrong, but, I don't see a bleed screw near t-stat (as some videos have shown one there). The only one I see it right next to the expansion tank filler opening/cap.
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00 750iL sold
95 740i sold
99 328i convert
95 325i convert
95 325iS
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  #9  
Old 09-14-2018, 12:52 PM
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Correct. There is only one bleeder screw which is next to expansion tank fill cap.
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  #10  
Old 09-14-2018, 01:25 PM
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Simple steps for E53.

Set to full heat and blower on max.
Loosen the bleed screw on the expansion tank and remove the cap.
Add coolant until there are no bubbles coming out at the bleed screw.
Tighten the bleed screw and put the cap back on.
Run engine until it reaches operating temp.
After coolant has cooled check level and adjust to float max mark.
While only a precaution I check the coolant level after having driven at operation temp a few times.

There is no specific amount of time it will take for coolant to be at cooled down. I don't add coolant until front of cylinder feels cool to touch.
No need to drive anywhere for bleeding process to be successful just let the engine idle.
At no time add fluid over the max. Amount of air in system varies. Much easier to add coolant after air is gone than extract coolant if you overfilled more than the displaced air.
If you have a leak at the expansion tank you replaced check your work and the new tank for defect.
Until you have completed the bleeding process properly ignore leaks from cap.
Unless you have overheated due to not bleeding it properly the first time, based on your circumstances, I wouldn't worry about a blown head gasket. However, easy to eliminate. Coolant should feel normal, be normal color and clarity
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Last edited by bcredliner; 09-14-2018 at 02:01 PM.
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