Do you get this warning message while driving or just about start your journey? Don’t know who to call? The service center is closed on Sunday and this is happening now. What's worse is your regular neighborhood mechanic is sun bathing at some beach!
Worry no more as this article will guide you what to do in order for you to contain the situation safely without too much drama.
The first thing to do when you see this warning is to take a deep breath, calm down and stop at a safe location. Find somewhere where you'll not obstruct traffic and is safe for you to check the situation. While this sounds menial, this is a very important step as we've received reports of customers who got into accidents due to panic or parking at unsafe location.
Once you're able to stop your car, pop-up the hood and check the coolant level. This is to rule out the possibility of a sensor malfunction, which can be misleading.
Important Tip #1: Remember to stop driving as soon as you can when this message appears. If it gets any worse, you will receive the next warning which is the engine overheat warning and this will lead to engine meltdown which would be disastrous and are very costly to fix.
Here are some images to help you find your expansion tanks(or coolant reservoir) in most BMW cars.
So once you have located the coolant expansion tank, the next thing you need to do is to check the actual level.
Important Tip #2: Remember not to open the coolant expansion cap when the engine is hot!!
Wait for it to cool down and open the cap slowly to ensure the pressure is released slowly.
There are 3 types of coolant level indicator:
The visual cues will allow you to decide if there's a leak. If the coolant is sufficient, we can conclude that this is due to a faulty sensor and you can continue driving. Do get the sensor replaced as soon as possible. You don't want to be not-informed when the real leak happens.
If there is leak, what should you do? Don’t panic and follow the next step.
First, assess how severe is the leak by checking the bottom of the car. If the leak is as severe as the photo below, do not drive the car as it'll soon run out of coolant.
Important Tip #3: Use a tow truck service which are covered in most of the insurance policies. Do not drive the car without coolant as it'll overheat, leading to engine meltdown (and costly repair bills).
If there are no severe leakage on the floor, but the coolant level is low, top up with coolant if you have a ready bottle. If not, your next best option is clean water. After topping up, just monitor the level to see how fast it drops. If it is holding, you may start the car and continue driving. Once you reached your destination, do check the level again once the engine cools down. If the coolant level drops, this means that there is a minor leak. This needs attention and should not be ignored or taken for granted. Remember to go to your regular mechanic or service center to check for the leak. Monitor the coolant level daily especially in the morning before starting your car and do share this information with your mechanic.
Do not worry about topping up with non-coolant substance or normal tap water as the car is safer to be driven with water than empty. Will this affect your warranty? Do check with your service center but we believe that it'll be much safer to drive with water as the coolant than no coolant at all.
So remember: If there is severe leak, use the tow truck service rather than taking the risk as the car will break down in the middle of the road. This is both dangerous to the driver and harmful to the car.
We hope that this blog post will educate and prepare our readers in case of an unfortunate situation of a coolant leak. Happy Driving!