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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Mechanical Maintenance: Break-in / Oil & Fluids / Servicing / Warranty > How many low coolant alerts before adding coolant instead of just water?



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      10-05-2009, 04:15 PM   #1
Omghi2u
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How many low coolant alerts before adding coolant instead of just water?

Have my '08 335i for almost two years now, had my first low coolant alert about 10 months ago, and got it again this weekend. Took it to dealership both times, and all they did was add tap water and no coolant. I ask them how come they didnt add any coolant and they said I have to buy the coolant since its not under maintenance plan.

My question is how many low coolant alert intervals before I should actually add 50/50 coolant/water instead of just water? I ask him how much coolants cost and they said around $20 for a gallon and that i should add 50/50 coolant every other alert interval. Should I worry and buy some coolant now? I searched here, and most people say just to add distilled water, is there is a big difference between distilled and tap water? Since I am in SOCAL, i read i could probably just do 20% coolant and 80% water, which is what my precentage is at now after two water top offs. and lastly, are there any schedule maintenance that will flush the coolant and refill with fresh coolant during my first 4 years? Thanks.
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      10-05-2009, 04:58 PM   #2
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Since when is coolant not covered under the original scheduled maintenance plan? Our '07 750i said it needed coolant a few weeks ago (after 45k miles) and the dealer topped it off no questions asked.

Sorry I don't have any answers to your questions, but I'm curious to hear what other people experienced when needing coolant.
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      10-05-2009, 05:12 PM   #3
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Did you actually see them open a coolant bottle and pour it in your car? Yea, they will top off, but with water only for free. or if you buy the coolant from them, they will then fill it for you. Even oil has to be brought if the low oil alert comes on.

at least with engine oil, you get it changed every 15k or yearly, but I have no idea if they ever flush the coolant.
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      10-05-2009, 09:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omghi2u View Post
Did you actually see them open a coolant bottle and pour it in your car? Yea, they will top off, but with water only for free. or if you buy the coolant from them, they will then fill it for you. Even oil has to be brought if the low oil alert comes on.

at least with engine oil, you get it changed every 15k or yearly, but I have no idea if they ever flush the coolant.
Nope, didn't see it first hand. Left the car at the dealer for a couple of days for the 45k service appointment and they took car of an oil change, front brakes, and microfilter/coolant warnings on the iDrive. Guess I assumed they wouldn't just dump a bunch of water in there.
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      10-06-2009, 07:22 AM   #5
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I would ask them to pressure test the system next time it happens.
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      10-06-2009, 09:02 AM   #6
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20% coolant / 80% water is very bad mix. The coolant helps keep the water from freezing and from boiling over. You should always keep the mix around 50/50 or at lest 60/40. The fact that they are just adding tap water is very very bad for two reasons.

1) They are diluting the coolant/water mix which is very bad. You could end up overheating and then your will have to fix a lot more then just adding coolant.

2) The metals in the water will mess up the cooling system overtime.

Anyway, if I were you, I would take the car to a different dealer next time.
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      10-06-2009, 09:41 AM   #7
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Yea I sorta understand the diluted part, thats why I was wondering how often I should add coolant as well. Is there is a scheduled maintenance some time in the future that will flush the coolant and refill with proper 50/50? I will differently buy the coolant and bottle water next time the alert comes on, just wondering how the tap water has affect from now on without a flush.

it was weird because I drove up to the service department, and told him the alert. He came back within a minute with a used anti freeze gallon jugs, but filled with water. He started to pour in both, the windshield wipers and the radiator. Thats when I ask him what was in that bottle, and he was like water...... and I ask him, just regular tap water? he said yup, I thought windshield liquid was some type of soap, but apparently its just water as well, lol.
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      10-06-2009, 09:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omghi2u View Post
Yea I sorta understand the diluted part, thats why I was wondering how often I should add coolant as well. Is there is a scheduled maintenance some time in the future that will flush the coolant and refill with proper 50/50? I will differently buy the coolant and bottle water next time the alert comes on, just wondering how the tap water has affect from now on without a flush.

it was weird because I drove up to the service department, and told him the alert. He came back within a minute with a used anti freeze gallon jugs, but filled with water. He started to pour in both, the windshield wipers and the radiator. Thats when I ask him what was in that bottle, and he was like water...... and I ask him, just regular tap water? he said yup, I thought windshield liquid was some type of soap, but apparently its just water as well, lol.
First, the windshield washer fluid is not just water. The good news is that you can buy any windshield washer fluid. There is nothing special about it.

The bad news is that the coolant is special. Get it from a BMW dealer or at a BMW parts place on the Internet. Do not use anything that you might get at Pep Boys. So get it now; don't wait until you need it.

Only add coolant when the car is stone cold. This is for your safety, and is very important.

There is no scheduled coolant replacement. However I just did mine at 3 years of age and will continue the practice.
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      10-06-2009, 10:31 AM   #9
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How much did you pay to get yours flushed and refilled? Yea, I already ask the dealership on how much they charge for oem coolant and will buy from them. I am not in a rush now because they filled it to the max already. I just checked the gauge, and I cant add anymore liquid in right now, but will in the future. there is really nothing i can do now besides flushing it.

I always thought the windshield washer was some type of liquid soap, but I guess when they top those off, they just adding water now....
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      10-06-2009, 11:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omghi2u View Post
I always thought the windshield washer was some type of liquid soap, but I guess when they top those off, they just adding water now....
Yeah, I noticed that the seatlership that I take my car to does the same for the windshield washer fluid.
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      10-06-2009, 11:18 AM   #11
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There is no way you have diluted the coolant mix to 20% coolant and 80% water by just having it topped off two times. There is over 2 gallons of coolant in the cooling system. The dealer would have had to put over 1.5 gallons of plain water in the system to get a 20/80 ratio. There is not a dealer in the world that would do that because your car would have either a leak or blown head gasket to use that much coolant in that amount of time. The low coolant light comes on with less that about 8 ounces of lost coolant. You are close enough to the proper mix.

The best thing to do is get some BMW coolant and premix it as necessary to 50/50 and add some when necessary. Change the coolant at 100,000 miles.
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      10-06-2009, 11:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omghi2u View Post
How much did you pay to get yours flushed and refilled? Yea, I already ask the dealership on how much they charge for oem coolant and will buy from them. I am not in a rush now because they filled it to the max already. I just checked the gauge, and I cant add anymore liquid in right now, but will in the future. there is really nothing i can do now besides flushing it.

I always thought the windshield washer was some type of liquid soap, but I guess when they top those off, they just adding water now....

It amazes me what the dealerships will do sometimes. The washer fluid is a special fluid. Of course you can put water in the tank but why when they make a fluid for it. Those guys are such idiots and obviously don't care very much about your car. The tap water is bad for your cooling system because of the heat cycles that the fluid actually goes through, it will cause damge to the cooling system, and the tap water will break down in the washer tank and cause the little pump to fail as well.

With the coolant issue, did they even check the car or run a pressure test on the cooling system to check for leaks because your car is not supposed to use that much coolant especially when its only 2 years old. My wifes 325i is 3 years old and I have never had to add coolant. If the Low Coolant light came on then most likely you have a small leak somewhere and it needs to be pressure tested to check for a leak. I guess that is just too much for them to do for you and they would rather put you off until the car is out of warranty and then it will break and they will make more off repairing it then instead of under the warranty period.
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      10-06-2009, 12:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
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How much did you pay to get yours flushed and refilled?....
$125.
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      10-09-2009, 02:25 AM   #14
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Always keep the ratio 50/50 between your coolant and distilled water.

Be sure the product you put is a coolant AND anti-freeze.
Some products out there are just coolants.
You never know you can use the anti-freeze if you go in a trip somewhere cold.

Always use distilled water in the radiator tank and the windshiled tank because normal tap water is calcareous, and that damages your pipes, pumps and other parts in the long term. it leaves a residue that cannot be washed away obstructing the pumps and pipes. Distilled water is not mineralized, it does not leave bad residues and it helps keep your internal parts clean and working to its full potential.

Also you have a 335 with two turbos, the engine needs to be cooled perfectly to avoid other problems.
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      10-09-2009, 08:31 AM   #15
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Also you have a 335 with two turbos, the engine needs to be cooled perfectly to avoid other problems.
Exactly, this is why I find it so odd that BMW will just add water to the system. If the car overheats or a turbo goes, BMW will have to fix it under warranty.
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      10-09-2009, 11:57 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FCPGroton View Post
20% coolant / 80% water is very bad mix. The coolant helps keep the water from freezing and from boiling over. You should always keep the mix around 50/50 or at lest 60/40. The fact that they are just adding tap water is very very bad for two reasons.

1) They are diluting the coolant/water mix which is very bad. You could end up overheating and then your will have to fix a lot more then just adding coolant.

2) The metals in the water will mess up the cooling system overtime.

Anyway, if I were you, I would take the car to a different dealer next time.
A 20/80 mix is bad for your area, but really not a big deal for LA, where it doesn't really freeze ever. Water transfers heat better than coolant....coolant is just added to keep the water from freezing and for corrosion protection. A 20/80 mix still provides plenty of corrosion protection. Hell 100% water is fine if you use Water Wetter, in areas that don't freeze of course.
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      10-09-2009, 02:09 PM   #17
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Correct. 100% water is a superior coolant to a mix of water/glycol. You dont really even need water wetter either. Its a decent surfactant and lubricant but Ive also used 100% water with a sacrificial anode in the radiator. Freezing is only an issue if its going to be sitting shutdown in the cold.
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      10-09-2009, 03:16 PM   #18
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Yeah, the water wetter only really used as a corrosion inhibitor...but your method definitely works too.
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