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  #1  
Old 05-20-2019, 09:31 PM
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Coolant Temp Warning - pegged to red. Holy crap.

2003 X5 3.0

Every new yorkers nightmare, getting stuck in the lincoln tunnel. Luckily the coolant temp warning came out just as I was getting out of the tunnel. I then pulled over and shut the car off right away. I got out and looked in the engine bay, no coolant leak, nothing smoking. I got back in the car, turned it on and went to see if the large radiator fan was turning, it was - so i got back in the car and watch the temp sensor go right back to the middle, exactly where it always is for 16 years. Car then drove fine for next 15 minutes, I parked it, then drove again another 15 and then another 15. No more issues.

So - any suggestion on what is going wrong here... thermostat was replace already by me, a few years ago. Do you think the water pump is going? Could it be the big fan control? I have not replace the hoses, but they look okay, nothing looks crushed (but I think there are some hoses that run under the exhaust manifold that I cannot see).

Thanks. Definitely need this sorted out. Can't risk getting stuck!
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  #2  
Old 05-20-2019, 09:47 PM
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A couple of things to look at would be the mechanical fan (clutch) might not be engaging properly. They wear out. Was your AC on at the time?

Waterpump is a high failure part on every Iíve ever had.

All sorts of things to check. Are the upper and lower radiator hoses really tight? Or just spongy? Do they stay tight several hours after you have stopped driving? Or relax as it cools?

Others can add their input.




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Old 05-20-2019, 09:57 PM
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AC was definitely on at the time...

when you say mechanical fan clutch, are you referring to the big fan, that I pull out when working on the car? Are you saying that big fan might not be running properly or starting to fail?

How can I determine if the water pump is going?

Car has 144.7k miles. Been real good to me!
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:03 PM
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How old is the coolant temp sensor? It's not common, but they do fail.

I forgot if the sensor is built into the thermostat and comes with a new thermostat which you replaced already. I also don't remember if there are two coolant temp sensors as there are on some BMW's. Hopefully someone more familiar with the m54 can come in.
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:07 PM
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Once it cools down of course, check the coolant level.

The sensor is in the lower radiator hose on the starboard side of the radiator. I would at least consider a problem with that.

Air bubble is another thing to consider.

So far, your symptoms indicate nothing at all wrong other than the gauge, so hopefully the engine did not really overheat.

This post from crowz + overboost shows what temperature the gauge needle actually points to:
PA Soft 1.4 | Crowz Nest

So 115*C would still be pretty much straight up, and 125*C is pegged hot, in case that makes you feel any better.

I don't know what pressure 125*C correponds to with your antifreeze mix (50/50?), but your expansion tank has a 2-bar (about 30 psi) release valve. If the coolant actually got to that pressure, you would definitely see the aftermath of that sprayed out of the expansion tank cap.
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:07 PM
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Yes, the spinning fan.

The center part of the fan reacts to heat and as the viscous fluid inside heats up the fan spins faster and pulls more air across the radiator. On cool startup the fan will lope but as the car heats it will spin faster. The test is to put a rolled up newspaper into the spinning fan after itís warmed up. If the fan doesnít seem tight then the clutch needs replacing. Obviously, not something you want to do without taking care.

Also, look around for coolant leaks. Maybe put a cardboard underneath the radiator, look for drips overnight.

Lastly, once cooled off, open the coolant cap and check the level. If way low, good chance it has air in the system.

Check utube for bleeding procedure. Air in the cooling system can definitely cause overheating.


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Old 05-20-2019, 11:13 PM
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If I remember correctly, the coolant system is self purging of any air. Unlike an e30 for example, where bleeding the coolant system was required after making any alterations with that oversized plastic philips screw on the top of the expansion tank.

Have you thrown a multi-meter on the temp sensor to see if it is within specification? All you do is unplug the wiring harness and read across the connectors on the sensor. Actual numbers +/- you’re gonna need to source.

Bad thermostat? Once your rig is nearly up to operating temp, there will be a distinct change in temperature at the return hose to the radiator as the thermostat opens. Just don’t lose any fingers on any belts or your fan. Ideally if you had a digital infrared thermometer you could watch the coolant hoses safely. If there is no change, ie one hose is super warm and the other is luke warm, your thermostat isn’t opening.
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Old 05-20-2019, 11:23 PM
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If the temp dropped right back to "noon" then you may have just had an occurrence of a known bug in the DME that will randomly set the temp needle to max.

It happened to me once. I pulled over and put my hand on the radiator hose without difficulty I knew it wasn't actually overheating so I figured was a bad sensor.

Turned the car off and back on and needle went back to normal.

The dial on the dash is not a proper gauge. It for all intents and purposes is a three position idiot light:

Cool, normalish, overheated.

I'm willing to bet your case was like mine.

Use the hidden menu to monitor ECT (engine core temp) to confirm the cooling system is behaving properly.

I think it might be test 7. It will show the engine temp in įC
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewwynn View Post
If the temp dropped right back to "noon" then you may have just had an occurrence of a known bug in the DME that will randomly set the temp needle to max.
I agree with this. If it had really overheated, the temp would have increased while it was off. From engine residual heat soak.

I think youíre safe, but keep an eye on coolant level.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewwynn View Post
If the temp dropped right back to "noon" then you may have just had an occurrence of a known bug in the DME that will randomly set the temp needle to max.

It happened to me once. I pulled over and put my hand on the radiator hose without difficulty I knew it wasn't actually overheating so I figured was a bad sensor.

Turned the car off and back on and needle went back to normal.

The dial on the dash is not a proper gauge. It for all intents and purposes is a three position idiot light:

Cool, normalish, overheated.

I'm willing to bet your case was like mine.

Use the hidden menu to monitor ECT (engine core temp) to confirm the cooling system is behaving properly.

I think it might be test 7. It will show the engine temp in įC

Quote:
Originally Posted by stiubhartach View Post
I agree with this. If it had really overheated, the temp would have increased while it was off. From engine residual heat soak.

I think youíre safe, but keep an eye on coolant level.
Correct. There is no way the temp was pegged into the red and then a minute later be normal again. As Andrew pointed out, there is a known DME glitch that has happened to a few cars before.
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