Steaming engine but no overheat - Page 2 - 5Series.net - Forums


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Old 01-09-2017, 06:55 AM   #11
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I've driven winters for 35 years and this never happens unless the radiator is wet, as would happen if you splashed through a deep puddle, or if driving through intense rain or snow. Neither condition was present. And if you think about it, any moisture that would get on the fins would very quickly evaporate and the 'steam' would not continue.

I was not able to see any leaks and tried a few test drives and the problem has not come back to the same extent. Yesterday I made a long drive to the airport and when I got home there were wisps of smoke/steam around the top of the radiator. It wouldn't condense on a cold wrench, so I'm starting to think it's an oil leak but the oil cooler connections are dry.

It's -25c today. Brrrr.
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Old 01-09-2017, 08:18 AM   #12
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I've driven winters for 35 years and this never happens unless the radiator is wet, as would happen if you splashed through a deep puddle, or if driving through intense rain or snow. Neither condition was present. And if you think about it, any moisture that would get on the fins would very quickly evaporate and the 'steam' would not continue.Exactly my experience also. Cold air is usually dry (low dew point, except when snowing) and cannot condense on hot surfaces - well actually, any moisture will not condense on a surface at a temperature that is higher than the dew point.

I was not able to see any leaks and tried a few test drives and the problem has not come back to the same extent. Yesterday I made a long drive to the airport and when I got home there were wisps of smoke/steam around the top of the radiator. It wouldn't condense on a cold wrench, so I'm starting to think it's an oil leak but the oil cooler connections are dry. Perhaps you have a small leak at the small hose at top of radiator, but you said that the antifreeze level was normal, so your thought about oil leak is possible - can you smell anything?.

It's -25c today. Brrrr.
Salut, Bob P.
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Old 01-09-2017, 02:53 PM   #13
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The wisps are coming from the side opposite the upper hose, and for the life of me I can't associate the smell with steamed coolant - it smells like dirty engine. Looked down the front and there appears to be a small puddle of fluid on the pan/crossmember/thing just below and in front of the crank pulley. I really don't want to be crawling around on my freezing floor just now. And as I'm not loosing coolant in any observable way, I'll just keep my eye on it for a while, at least until is isn't -25c...
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Old 01-09-2017, 07:14 PM   #14
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I stand by my choice and say it's an oil leak. From my experience it always is a small leak that causes it
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Old 01-10-2017, 07:03 AM   #15
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Could be right, I don't know. But as the wisps (smoke, steam, etc) are coming off the radiator, I wouldn't think the radiator would ever be so hot to turn oil into smoke??
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Old 01-10-2017, 09:55 AM   #16
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2008 535xi.

Yes, the roads were wet/slushy, but I don't think I picked up anything that was melting/steaming on a hot engine.
My 05 530 does the same thing, and many other owners have the same issue, the radiator is completely exposed by the gigantic front grill, so if the roads are wet, water gets on the rad, rad is hot = steam. DONE
Totally normal and something that I never experienced on other cars but usually the grill isn't that large. Many other E60 owners went through the same experience. I used to check for leaks all the time and realized that it was something that E60 are doing...
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Old 01-10-2017, 02:40 PM   #17
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My 05 530 does the same thing, and many other owners have the same issue, the radiator is completely exposed by the gigantic front grill, so if the roads are wet, water gets on the rad, rad is hot = steam. DONE
Totally normal and something that I never experienced on other cars but usually the grill isn't that large. Many other E60 owners went through the same experience. I used to check for leaks all the time and realized that it was something that E60 are doing...
Perhaps the reason I have never run into this issue, is the fact that I have installed a "Bra" on my E60. This also protects from bugs getting onto the radiator and causing all sorts of corrosion problems if the fins aren't cleaned regularly. What has happened in the winter, however, is that in very slushy conditions, the Bra mesh in front of the radiators and air intake gets plugged up with slush and the intake air temperature tends to soar. I have seen it go from -3C to 43C in 5 mins! The automatic heating system in the car doesn't work well at all when that happens!

Sorry if this seems like a hijack.
Salut, Bob P.
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Old 01-10-2017, 03:58 PM   #18
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I've been running this car since 2012 and it's never done it before. First time it happened it was cold and no water was sprayed up. Next time it was much colder. Neither time was there snow blowing around.

The monitoring continues.
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Old 01-10-2017, 09:41 PM   #19
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I've been running this car since 2012 and it's never done it before. First time it happened it was cold and no water was sprayed up. Next time it was much colder. Neither time was there snow blowing around.

The monitoring continues.
Sometimes the obvious is the answer.
It doesn't take much of a leak to produce a fair amount of visible steam - water/coolant expands to 40 times its volume when released as steam and then will re-condense in a small amount at the cold surfaces and then drip. This might be your case and it might take some time before you see a drop in level at the expansion tank. You must measure the level at the same temperature to really spot small leaks, since the coolant really expands/contracts with temperature. Keep monitoring and good luck. Salut, Bob P.
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Old 01-11-2017, 12:51 AM   #20
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As said I reckon it's just a small oil leak, probably falling on to the exhaust and burning up, i had this happen a while ago freaked out when I saw smoke but that's all it was,
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