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Thread: Do S52/Z3 heaters in general tend to be somewhat weak?

  1. #1
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    Do S52/Z3 heaters in general tend to be somewhat weak?

    I turned on my heater last night for the first time since I bought my now ~137k '00 M Roadster... I was quite let down by the temperature of the heat. I've owned a lot of different cars since I started driving, mostly japanese and they've all had much more effective and high-temperature heaters. Even my MR2 Turbo which has an oddball cooling system got a fair amount warmer.

    Does relatively poor heater performance sound normal or should I start shopping around for a mechanic to perform a bypass or a replacement of my heater core before it completely fails or gets blocked up or whatever?

    Normal engine operating temperature for me is like a millimeter below the halfway mark.

  2. #2
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    Everything I've found on the subject (and I have the same issue) says that the heat should be very hot (like other cars) and something is wrong/clogged.

  3. #3
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    Heaters are good. On mine you get hot or cold...and hot is only the last 1/2" of travel on the control. Also check if you are getting hot at idle as well as when moving. If there is air in the system you can will have limited heat at idle.

  4. #4
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    Few things can cause low heat. The most troublesome and unlikely is air in your heater core. If your car never heats up to operating temperature (should be in the middle, not under, as I learned from my old car) maybe your thermostat is stuck.

    Take it to a mechanic to have it diagnosed if you arent comfortable doing so yourself. It should definitely produce substantial heat. Enough that I could drive with the top down blasting the heat in very cold weather (yes, I'm that guy) and be comfortable.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BenFenner View Post
    Everything I've found on the subject (and I have the same issue) says that the heat should be very hot (like other cars) and something is wrong/clogged.
    Sigh. Perhaps a flush of some sort will take care of it... Probably not. I'm finally a true BMW owner though! My first four-digit repair bill!

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackxs View Post
    Few things can cause low heat. The most troublesome and unlikely is air in your heater core. If your car never heats up to operating temperature (should be in the middle, not under, as I learned from my old car) maybe your thermostat is stuck.

    Take it to a mechanic to have it diagnosed if you arent comfortable doing so yourself. It should definitely produce substantial heat. Enough that I could drive with the top down blasting the heat in very cold weather (yes, I'm that guy) and be comfortable.
    I'll take a picture when I arrive at work, I'll let you be the judge.

    I've replaced t-stats before and would probably be comfortable doing it on this vehicle assuming it's not buried under two tons of crap.

  6. #6
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    A picture is useless as the gauge is heavily buffered and dampened. It shows the same at 70C and it does at 90C. The two most common things I've seen that cause low heater output is a thermostat problem, and a misadjusted / broken heater control knob and cable.


    /.randy

  7. #7
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    Alright, I'll go ahead and replace that then. Does anybody have any diagrams or should I stop being cheap and buy a service manual of some sort?


  8. #8
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    I seem to recall my oil temp running a tad low when my thermo was bad, but perhaps I am mistaken on that Been a long time since I owned that car

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackxs View Post
    I seem to recall my oil temp running a tad low when my thermo was bad, but perhaps I am mistaken on that Been a long time since I owned that car
    Actually now that you mention it ever since I changed my oil to 0w40 mobil, the oil seems to take an excruciatingly long time to heat up. But it was the first time I had changed the oil, and I have no idea what was in there before. It does eventually get up to around the halfway mark, but it takes a lot of sustained driving to even come close.

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    What's the preferred service manual?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Alright had a decent conversation with this place

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/belmont-motor-works-belmont-2

    The guy owns a 99 coupe and seems quite knowledgeable, he said that oil temp taking an eternity to reach temp is normal and actually a good thing, that I probably don't need a new heater core and that my t-stat is probably also fine... I'm kind of perplexed as to what he thinks the actual cause may be. He did also mention that it could be a pocket of air/gas in the heater core, the heater core is at the top of the cooling loop (what the hell?) or that the linkage in my temperature dial could be fubar.

  10. #10
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    I prefer the BMW TIS and WDS. Nothing like factory info.

    My first step would be to plug in a scanner and see what the engine temp really is running. If it's normal, no need to replace the thermostat.

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    Yes, the heater is the highest section of the cooling system, the first to lose flow. The symptom of air in the heater is no heat at idle, but lots of heat at higher revs.

    And yes, as said, linkage is a common problem. Unforch, it's hard to describe a check over the forum. It will show as excessive slop in the control knob when turned back and forth. There is always some, so describing excessive is tough without a good reference.


    /.randy

  11. #11
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    The heater in my 98 roasts me out. I'll bet you have air trapped in your heater core.

    Lift up the front end a little and burp the cooling system. It won't take much effort, but if you're unfamiliar with how or what to do, make sure you ask or read around first. There are some easy ways to hurt yourself if you're not careful.

  12. #12
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    I'm dropping by this shop on saturday, I do feel like I'm walking into a bit of a trap if the resolution is going to be a simple burping, but maybe I shouldn't be so mistrusting of people. I don't have any coolant to top it off with so there's really no sense in DIY'ing it before then.

  13. #13
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    I've dropped by that shop before, the old guy is a grouch but the younger guy seems polite and knowledgeable. Air bubble in the radiator core is very plausible.

  14. #14
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    I did not have good heat when I got my car. At the same time my temperature dial was sticky. I followed this link and it cured both problems. Blazing hot heat now.

    http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...r+cable+adjust

    Start at post #11.
    1999 M Coupe Boston Green, Beige, H&R/Bilsteins, Underdrive Pulleys, Euro 6 speed, UUC SSK and Randy Forbes in the back
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wertles View Post
    I did not have good heat when I got my car. At the same time my temperature dial was sticky. I followed this link and it cured both problems. Blazing hot heat now.

    http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...r+cable+adjust

    Start at post #11.
    Ahhh very interesting. Thank you!

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    Somebody on another board asked to see the condition of my coolant... figured I might as well also put it here



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    Looks like I'm due for a flush and refill with the good stuff

    http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?1815445-BMW-coolant-color

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wertles View Post
    I did not have good heat when I got my car. At the same time my temperature dial was sticky. I followed this link and it cured both problems. Blazing hot heat now.

    http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...r+cable+adjust

    Start at post #11.
    Exactly. Was going to suggest adjusting the bowden cables.

  17. #17
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    Don't forget to check the coolant level--I've found that no or low heat is often the first symptom of low coolant in the system.

  18. #18
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    My heat was weak 'till I replaced the Tstat...now it's very hot, though all the heat happens in the last little bit of control travel. If you're doing your own Tstat (not a big job), be ABSOLUTELY SURE there's no air remaining in the system...easy to do, just follow the directions posted elsewhere here. Most important seems to be to do the air bleed with the car parked on a decent hill or a set of ramps so that the bleed screw is the highest point in the system. If there's an air pocket in the system, you run a big risk of overheating, which is like kryptonite for our engines...kills 'em deader than Dillinger.

    As far as the oil staying cool, that's why the factory made it so we have to put seven quarts in, rather than five!

  19. #19
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    Coolant flush and refill did the trick. Heater is very strong now.

    Mixed feelings about the shop I mentioned earlier in the thread, I'll probably go back but I might also look around.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinci View Post
    The heater in my 98 roasts me out. I'll bet you have air trapped in your heater core.

    Lift up the front end a little and burp the cooling system. It won't take much effort, but if you're unfamiliar with how or what to do, make sure you ask or read around first. There are some easy ways to hurt yourself if you're not careful.
    The issue I'm having is no heat at idle so it's probably due to air in my heater core.
    I replaced most of the cooling system items since I had the manifold off so my bet is the heater core. (new hoses, sensor, thermostat)

    I did a quick search on burping the system and shouldn't have a problem doing it. Though since I have the zionsville expansion tank I don't have a bleed screw to make it somewhat easier.
    -Phil

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