What’s up in the Forums: Heating up a Cold E60 BMW

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Is it normal for an E60 heater to take forever to warm up, or is there a more complex, underlying issue?

For most of us, riding around this time of year means cranking up the old heater. Freezing temperatures aren’t all that comfortable to cruise around in, of course. So what do you do when you turn the little dial toward that welcoming red and nothing happens? Or worse, cold air blows from the vents like some kind of bad omen? Such is the reality for 5Series member insomvamp and his E60 BMW, so he headed to the forums seeking a solution:

“I’ve done some searching around and found lots of problems with no heat. Or just the dash gauge taking a while to show warmed up, but none concerning this. I live in Ohio, and it’s quite cold these days. My 530xi takes forever to produce heat from the vents. (about 20 minutes at least). I’ve got the heat set all the way to 80 on both sides and the back, and in the iDrive, it’s set to max heat as well. I’m not sure if this is normal or if maybe the thermostat is stuck open. But until it gets down to the final two bars of the fake temp gauge, I certifiably have no heat.”

E60 BMW climate control

A chilling problem, indeed. But amesser325 has some advice to help warm up the OP’s E60:

“Feel the hose coming out of the driver’s side of the radiator. If it’s cold, then there is no coolant circulating through it. Have you connected via OBD port, either at Autozone or INPA/ISTA? Operating temperature will impact emissions and would thus likely throw a fault (i.e. electric thermostat has an error). If no codes, then the coolant control valve could have failed. That valve controls coolant to the cabin. You can feel the inlet and outlet hoses to that valve as another step.”

But as FormerE30Owner points out, there might not necessarily be anything wrong with the car to begin with:

“Is this at a cold start and waiting for the car to heat up before driving? If so, try driving immediately after starting from cold and note how long it takes to heat up. My 545i takes forever to warm up from start and just idling, but only maybe 5 minutes when driving off immediately. I appreciate the heated seats and backs plus heated steering wheel. Just wish the manual shift knob was heated also.

When it’s very cold outside, the engine management system will struggle to keep the engine at optimum operating temperatures, especially if there is no load, so it doesn’t allow coolant to the heating core since that would further cool it down. The radiator is probably bypassed also. Once under load (highway driving), the management system can then afford to send coolant to the heater core. That’s my thinking.”


It certainly makes sense. But FormerE30Owner also has some advice on how to check and see if something is actually wrong, or if this is totally normal:

“If you have a chance, when the heating is working as you expect, i.e. cabin nice and warm, check the hoses for pressure and temperature so that you can recognize what normal heating operation looks and feels like. That will help you for future troubleshooting.

There seems to be one way to beat the system, and that is to set the heating system controls to windshield defrost ONLY. For safety reasons, the system will give priority to the defrost system and will start to heat the windshield only – at least you will get that. Of course, to speed that up you have to start moving the car.”

We’re still waiting to hear back on the results of that little test. In the meantime, do you have similar problems with the heater in your E60? Head over here and chime in, and be sure and add any advice you might have for the OP!


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