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Several months ago I noticed the coolant level in my '99 LT had dropped below the minimum mark. I added a little BMW nitrate free coolant. Now it's low again and I'm out of the BMW antifreeze. Can I add any other brand? The service manual says to use nitrate free. Must it be nitrate free? I've had trouble finding any that say "nitrate free."

Is it normal to find the level dropped like this within just 3,000 miles? What could be happening here? It hasn't overheated. It does often run way up on the temp gauge but the fans kick in and seem to do their job OK.

Thanks for any info/advise.

Joel Adler
White Hall, Maryland
 

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dezine2000us said:
Several months ago I noticed the coolant level in my '99 LT had dropped below the minimum mark. I added a little BMW nitrate free coolant. Now it's low again and I'm out of the BMW antifreeze. Can I add any other brand? The service manual says to use nitrate free. Must it be nitrate free? I've had trouble finding any that say "nitrate free."

Is it normal to find the level dropped like this within just 3,000 miles? What could be happening here? It hasn't overheated. It does often run way up on the temp gauge but the fans kick in and seem to do their job OK.

Thanks for any info/advise.

Joel Adler
White Hall, Maryland
First, yes it does have to be what BMW specifies to avoid forming particulates in the coolant and, as I understand it, to maintain a desired film on the internal coolant passage surfaces (the film is one of the reasons is GM's so particular about not using a non-Dextron coolant in its engines).

The good news is that there are a lot more Honda dealers around than BMW, and you can use Honda's coolant if you can't find what you need at the local auto parts store.

Coolant use is not only unusual, it's virtually unheard of here. Four possibilities come to mind; look for dried coolant around each of:

1. Radiator cap -- worn out gasket
2. Overflow hose (from radiator neck to coolant bottle) -- age cracks
3. Coolant bottle -- cracked
4. Coolant pump-oil pump seal leak (worst case) -- look for coolant in oil, or oil in coolant.

The coolant pump and oil pump lie back-to-back in a common housing at the bottom front of the engine. There is a seal between the pumps. It was common on the early K-bikes for the seal to get chewed up and leak (either from solids in the coolant or corrosion of the pump shaft seal surface). BMW seems to have fixed this weakness, as current K's rarely ever have this seal fail -- but it remains a possibility which cannot be ignored, particularly on older bikes.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Mark! I'll check out your first 3 suggestions right away. I'll be changing the oil next week. How will I know if coolant has leaked into the oil?

Joel
 

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dezine2000us said:
How will I know if coolant has leaked into the oil? Joel
I won't look like Starbucks dark roast it will look more like a frappuccino.

Depending on the miles between changes and driving conditions your oil should come out slightly darker than fresh oil. Oil which is contaminated by water or coolant will come out like you added cream to you coffee again depending how much contamination occured.

Dave
 

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You may also want to look carefully at your hoses - specifically the clamps - especially with the age of your bike. A lot of times you'll get a little "weeping" there only when the engine is hot, and by the time you go looking for leaks it will have rapidly dried up due to residual engine heat.

If you can see splits at the end of the hose right past the clamp the odds are really good that's the culprit.
 

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dezine2000us said:
Several months ago I noticed the coolant level in my '99 LT had dropped below the minimum mark. I added a little BMW nitrate free coolant. Now it's low again and I'm out of the BMW antifreeze. Can I add any other brand? The service manual says to use nitrate free. Must it be nitrate free? I've had trouble finding any that say "nitrate free."

Is it normal to find the level dropped like this within just 3,000 miles? What could be happening here? It hasn't overheated. It does often run way up on the temp gauge but the fans kick in and seem to do their job OK.

Thanks for any info/advise.

Joel Adler
White Hall, Maryland
My coolant level is also dropping (an '06) and I found coolant in the oil. I have my oil analyzed (WearCheck) and they found it. The leak is still quite small and BMW could not find any leakage when they did a pressure test. The oil looked normal.

I'm now keeping track of how many ml of coolant I'm losing vs mileage. ( I used a sringe to "calibrate" the reservoir level.)I'll soon have some data to share.
 

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just a note....

....here in the warm and sticky mid-atlantic, both of my bikes have exhibited what i'll call 'overflow bottle erosion' so that we have something to call it.

1) go look at your bike.

2) look where the catalylitic converter is.

3) look where the cooling system resevior bottle is.

4) think a minute.


ok - given the proximity of the cat - which runs at what - 1400 degrees f? - to the bottle, isn't it at least possible that looked at over a long enough period, that some of this need to top up is resulting from evaporative loss?

i won't claim that all of the previous suggested faults can't happen, but at least with my bike, the top ups seemed to be easily explained by something easy, instead of something hard. ;-)

just another data point.

oh, and for what its worth - harley davidson branded antifreeze -no, really! designed for the porsche-designed VROD motor -- also meets the spec, and is premixed to the proper concentration with distilled water....
 

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hmmmm90s said:
....here in the warm and sticky mid-atlantic, both of my bikes have exhibited what i'll call 'overflow bottle erosion' so that we have something to call it.

1) go look at your bike.

2) look where the catalylitic converter is.

3) look where the cooling system resevior bottle is.

4) think a minute.


ok - given the proximity of the cat - which runs at what - 1400 degrees f? - to the bottle, isn't it at least possible that looked at over a long enough period, that some of this need to top up is resulting from evaporative loss?

i won't claim that all of the previous suggested faults can't happen, but at least with my bike, the top ups seemed to be easily explained by something easy, instead of something hard. ;-)

just another data point.

oh, and for what its worth - harley davidson branded antifreeze -no, really! designed for the porsche-designed VROD motor -- also meets the spec, and is premixed to the proper concentration with distilled water....
Thanks for the post, Greg -- good info on the VRod coolant; I have a HD dealer literally on the otherside of the hill from my house -- nice to know the option is there.

On the evaporation issue, I won't argue the potential for that as a source, but will just note that none of my LTs have ever lost any significant coolant in this environment (I'm on the other side of D.C., a hop, skip, and a suicide run on the beltway from ya :)). Another data point for the pile!
 

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mneblett said:
Thanks for the post, Greg -- good info on the VRod coolant; I have a HD dealer literally on the otherside of the hill from my house -- nice to know the option is there.

On the evaporation issue, I won't argue the potential for that as a source, but will just note that none of my LTs have ever lost any significant coolant in this environment (I'm on the other side of D.C., a hop, skip, and a suicide run on the beltway from ya :)). Another data point for the pile!
The spec coolant for BMW is "Glysantin G48"

A .pdf is attached.
 

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I live in the hot Southern California, and coolant level was never an issue neither on my previus 1999 nor on my current 2002.
I would rule out the 'evaporation' idea. I had been riding in temperatures over 100F for the whole summer and I never had to complete the level so far.
 
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