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  #1  
Old 04-16-2018, 06:26 PM
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N62 Coolant Leak

148k miles, unknown history. As far as I know nothing on the coolant system has been touched. We've owned it since about 128k.

Wife just sent me a picture of the low coolant warning. From nearly the time we've owned it I've been able to smell coolant if we go back out to it while it's still warm. However there's never been any evidence underneath and this is the first time we've gotten a warning, nearly two years into owning it. So it's an extremely slow leak.

Just curious if anything is known that follows these symptoms. I'm fully aware of the coolant valley leak, and I think that rarely drips down to the ground, but I would imagine it would be a faster leak.

I've looked pretty extensively a couple times and can't find any steam nor dried coolant marks.

Thoughts?

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  #2  
Old 04-17-2018, 12:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanniepoo View Post
148k miles, unknown history. As far as I know nothing on the coolant system has been touched. We've owned it since about 128k.

Wife just sent me a picture of the low coolant warning. From nearly the time we've owned it I've been able to smell coolant if we go back out to it while it's still warm. However there's never been any evidence underneath and this is the first time we've gotten a warning, nearly two years into owning it. So it's an extremely slow leak.

Just curious if anything is known that follows these symptoms. I'm fully aware of the coolant valley leak, and I think that rarely drips down to the ground, but I would imagine it would be a faster leak.

I've looked pretty extensively a couple times and can't find any steam nor dried coolant marks.

Thoughts?

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It smells like it's time to change the Head Gaskets.
Slowely burns away, nothing on the drive, but you can smell it.
Not too bad a job on that engine.
Some nice kits on ebay, and reasonably priced.
Not too bad. Good luck
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Old 04-17-2018, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Daniel View Post
It smells like it's time to change the Head Gaskets.
Slowely burns away, nothing on the drive, but you can smell it.
Not too bad a job on that engine.
Some nice kits on ebay, and reasonably priced.
Not too bad. Good luck
Perhaps. Except for one recently I haven't read about any head gasket/head failures and seems to me that's the worst case situation. I haven't noticed any smoking from the tailpipes and coolant smell is definitely from the front.

I'm thinking more pin-hole leak in rad or hoses. Topping it up this morning there was white dried crustiness around the expansion tank cap so things could be as simple as a weak cap or could've just been from the PO spilling last time he filled up.

Really what will probably happen, since the coolant loss rate is at around ~2 years and 20k miles, I'll probably just monitor and see if it gets bad enough to find the leak.
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Old 04-17-2018, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Nanniepoo View Post
Really what will probably happen, since the coolant loss rate is at around ~2 years and 20k miles, I'll probably just monitor and see if it gets bad enough to find the leak.
Or, you can replace the expansion tank, which is where I think your leak is, and then end up replacing the rest of the coolant system; because when you replaced the expansion tank, you have just patched a weak spot and then created a whole bunch of others while doing so.

Just monitor the leak and keep topping it off. I'd also drive around with an OBD adapter to keep an eye on the coolant temperature and make sure the temps won't go even one degree north of 110 C.
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  #5  
Old 04-17-2018, 10:00 AM
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Check the hoses and take a second look at the fittings.

On mine, the upper radiator hose was leaking for a while before I found it (even the two Indy's I went to didn't find that leak). The fitting was rotting out and was discolored. It was only after I took it off that I was able to determine that was the source.

That hose has a small nipple for a y hose that runs under the intake manifold, which crumbled as soon as I tried to remove it. There was never any obvious signs of a coolant leak except the low coolant warning (once) and once or twice the smell. (1 and 5 in the image)

Bought both hoses and no more leak, at least til the valley pan leaked later. I went ahead and replaced the reservoir cap too. All cheap, easy and time friendly fixes along with little more peace of mind that I wasn't going to be driving down the road and see steam billowing from under the hood without (much) warning.
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:58 AM
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Sweet! I was hoping to hear a story like that. I'll definitely check them out.

I know I'll eventually have to diagnose on my own. It's just that I have a habit of collecting parts and then not finding the time to do them, so I'd rather know for sure the project needs to be done before ordering. We're also on contract for a house, in addition to it still being 30 deg here in mid April. I'd rather not have to worry about cars for the moment.
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Old 04-17-2018, 11:35 AM
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It is likely the coolant pipe seals. They fail (eventually) on every N62 engine. The coolant pipe runs in the engine valley under the intake manifold. Not a fun job, but DIYable.
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Old 04-17-2018, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Nanniepoo View Post
Sweet! I was hoping to hear a story like that. I'll definitely check them out.
Hopefully it's not one of the more labor intensive problems mentioned above!

Also, something that would have helped me find it much sooner was looking with a mirror. All the signs of a leak were on the bottom side of the hose fitting, of course. I have a bunch of mirrors, but assumed a coolant leak would be easy enough to find without one, or at least with a pressure test. Sometimes the simplest of steps can make all the difference.

The way I verified my valley pan leak was with a little bit of UV dye in the reservoir. the seal around the valley pan lit up like a Christmas tree on steroids. This was especially helpful as I couldn't see the coolant pooling at the rear (visually obstructed, dark, etc). It also allowed me to check every single point, including the underbelly, for leaks.

I still have two gallons of unused (thankfully!) BMW coolant as I knew I was going to find more leaks, but haven't yet.
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Old 04-17-2018, 12:37 PM
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I second the internal coolant pipe. If no visible signs of loss that is probably the culprit. Not too hard of a job and I highly recommend AGA's expandable pipe for the replacement. A bit more expensive than some copies, but the quality is top notch!
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Old 04-17-2018, 01:12 PM
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I'll check the hoses first, and maybe change water pump, t-stat, and expansion tank as worst case it'll be preventative maintenance.

I hope it's not the valley pan/coolant pipe, not because I'm particularly scared of the work, but I'm not convinced if the valve stem seals are bad and I know that will be a perfect time to address them. We lose a quart of oil in about 4k miles, but I haven't had a chance to poke around to see if valve cover gaskets or anything else is leaking, and I do have new PCV valves ready to be swapped in.
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