Coolant sign bmw

Coolant sign bmw DEFAULT

If the coolant warning light becomes illuminated on your dashboard as you’re driving along, it’s a certain sign that your engine is overheating.

In order for your car to work, a series of explosions are created in the combustion chamber. These explosions move the pistons up and down which, in very simple terms, starts to power your engine. The side effect of all these explosions is a huge amount of heat.

In order to keep your engine from welding itself together, coolant is pumped around the engine. When this process fails, the engine temperature increases and triggers the coolant warning light.

What causes the coolant warning light to come on?

The most common reason for the coolant light to become illuminated is simply that the coolant level is too low. There may be a floating sensor in your coolant tank that triggers the warning light when the level drops. You may need to book a coolant change.

Low coolant levels are usually caused by leaks, either in the reservoir or somewhere in the lines. These leaks can be a serious problem, as they’re not easily diagnosed and easily fixed. As coolant travels around your engine, there are various places where it can leak from, such as hoses, the water pump or the radiator.

If you suspect a leak, you should call your local garage or breakdown service for recovery of your vehicle as soon as possible.

Call us for advice

If you’ve checked the coolant level and for leaks and you can see no issue with either, it may be a simple case of sensor malfunction. The sensor may be sending incorrect information to the engine’s computer, which in turn is triggering the coolant warning light.

Again, this isn’t something you can fix yourself. Your local garage can perform a diagnostic check of your car’s computer which should highlight the problem being a faulty sensor. You can then have the sensor replaced, which should solve the problem.

What should you do if the coolant warning light comes on?

First and foremost, you should stop your car as soon as it’s safe to do so. As we’ve said, the coolant light is telling you that your engine’s temperature is getting too high and this requires your immediate attention.

If you continue to drive, ignoring the warning light, you are submitting your engine to temperatures that could cause permanent damage, resulting in expensive repairs. It is far more sensible to stop your car and let the engine cool down.

Before you check anything, it’s vitally important that you let the engine cool down for at least thirty minutes first. If you try and open the coolant reservoir or the radiator cap whilst the engine is still hot, you run the risk of allowing hot, pressurised steam to blow out and burn you.

Once the engine has cooled down, slowly open the coolant reservoir cap, allowing any remaining pressure to be released. Once the pressure has subsided, you can remove the cap fully, check the level of the coolant and top up as required.

You can then have a look for any obvious leaks in the coolant reservoir or hoses, although these may be extremely hard to see. If you notice any leaks, do not continue your journey. Call your local garage or breakdown service for recovery.

If you don’t notice any leaks and the coolant warning light goes out once you’ve topped up the reservoir, you are alright to continue your journey, although you should keep an eye for the light coming back on again as it may be symptomatic of a problem that may return.

It may be a good idea to have your coolant system checked at your local garage at your earliest opportunity just to make sure there isn’t an underlying problem.

Call us for advice

Remember, don’t ignore the coolant warning light. It’s a sign that your engine is overheating and ignoring it could cause significant damage to your engine.

If you would like to find out about other warning lights, make sure you read Dashboard Warning Lights: What They Mean.


Factors that Lead to the Glowing of the Low Coolant Light in BMW

While BMWs are well-known worldwide for their stamina, endurance, and exceptional quality of engineering and design, they still encounter issues like every other mechanically-engineered item. Caring for your BMW is the best way to combat problems from affecting your vehicle’s performance and reliability. However, when something does come up, it’s critical that we pay attention to the warning signs our car is trying to communicate to us.

Being aware of the ways our car attempts to alert us of issues is nearly as important as following through with ongoing maintenance. Noticing the lights that illuminate in the dashboard is the most common way that problems are communicated to the driver—and to automotive professionals for that matter. For instance, when your BMW’s dash displays the “low coolant” light, it emits a code that lets the diagnosing professional know what avenue to take for treatment. In this article, you’ll discover some of the potential issues that could contribute to the low coolant light coming on, and what you can do to prevent these issues.

BMW Low Coolant Light

What Factors Might Cause the Coolant Light to Come on?

You might be surprised to learn that a “low coolant” light doesn’t necessarily mean that coolant is low; but there could be other issues, including failing parts leading to coolant becoming low over time. Since most modern vehicles, including most BMWs, utilize coolant that’s developed to last a significant amount of time, the low coolant light is concerning.

Low Coolant

Of course, it is highly possible that the illuminated light is indeed correct and that your coolant level is not where it should be. Low coolant is a problem for your car’s cooling system, especially in a performance vehicle like a BMW that requires higher quality conditions to run optimally.

Faulty Sensors

BMWs are basically a complex network of communicating technology. The car’s warning system runs off of a series of sensors for various parts and functions of your vehicle. There are sensors that are specifically purposed to determine the coolant level and the functioning of the cooling system. These sensors can also fail on their own, communicating to the driver that there’s a problem when indeed there isn’t.

Failing Radiator Seal

The radiator circulates the coolant. In order to do this, it must contain the coolant but it also must contain the pressure in the system. It does so by way of airtight seals, which can become damaged or corroded. When the cooling system reaches a low pressure, the car might perceive this as low coolant. In this case, the sensor will likely need to be replaced.

Coolant Leak

Coolant leaks can occur due to a number of reasons, including a broken radiator seal or a compromised radiator. It’s important to have your coolant levels inspected and keep an eye out for leaks beneath your car or throughout your engine to detect leaks in a timely manner—otherwise you might wind up on the side of the road with an overheated engine.

What You Can Do To Prevent Coolant Issues in Your BMW

Many drivers abstain from engaging in ongoing car maintenance because it can be expensive; however, it’s often surprising to learn that automotive maintenance is not nearly as costly as the repairs that can result from lack of maintenance. By maintaining your BMW’s overall health, including inspecting and servicing the cooling system, you can prevent coolant leaks, radiator seal issues, and other problems that could lead to problems with low or inadequate coolant.

BMW 3 Series

How We Can Help

The BMW experts here at Ultimate Bimmer Service have serviced a variety of different BMW vehicles in the areas of Carrolton, and Dallas, Texas. Our experience with these German-engineered machines is vast, and our degree of expertise shines in our quality of work. Since we value your BMW as much as you do, we want to make sure your Bimmer lasts a lifetime and remains in perfect running condition with ongoing maintenance and exceptional care. If your “low coolant” light is illuminated, or you’d like to speak to one of our professionals, please contact us directly—we would be honored to become your trusted BMW specialist and take care of any issues you’re experiencing quickly, efficiently, and affordably.

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How to Check BMW Coolant Level

Checking the coolant level on a BMW is easy and takes less than five minutes. It is crucial to follow the correct procedure to avoid injuries and get an accurate coolant level low warning


  • Engine coolant level light on
  • Message on iDrive stating Low engine coolant level
  • Engine Overheats
  • Coolant warning on, then off after driving
  • Engine coolant level too low Message:
    • Risk of engine damage! Top up the coolant at the earliest opportunity; see the owner's handbook. Caution: Risk of scalding!

How to Check BMW Engine Coolant Level

Follow these easy steps to check the coolant level on any BMW.

For this procedure, you will need OEM BMW Engine Coolant recommended in your owner's manual and mixed at 50/50.

  1. Park the BMW in a safe location and set the parking check coolant level
  2. Allow the engine to cool down. Ensure the engine is cooled down before removing the cap from your coolant reservoir or risk getting burned. 
  3. Open the hood. Pull the hood release under the dash bmw hood to check engine coolant level
  4. Locate the coolant expansion tank in the engine bay. As you open the hood, look at the left of the engine bay. This is the typical coolant expansion reservoir location. Some BMW models, such as the 3-series, have the coolant expansion reservoir on the engine bay's right side.
  5. Remove the coolant reservoir cap. Turn it slowly counterclockwise. It will allow residual pressure to release without blowing off the cap. 

    bmw check coolant level message
  6. Determine the coolant fluid level. There are two different float designs. The red float may have two balls, indicating the low and the second indicating the full level. The level is full when the bottom of the float reaches flush with the top of the cap.

    how to check coolant level in bmw 1 3 5 6 series z4 e46 e39 x1 x5
  7. Add OEM BMW Engine Coolant mixed at 50/50. If the float is all the way down, you need to add coolant. If the float is sticking up, your BMW coolant level is full. In other words, the BMW coolant level is correct if the red float is aligned with the top edge of the filler opening. A schematic diagram stamped on top of the coolant reservoir, illustrating the min and max level. Rember, the level reading should be performed on a cooled-down engine for proper measurement.

BMW Coolant

BMW Coolant
  • Only use the BMW OEM engine coolant (PN: 82141467704) or a coolant that meets the requirements listed in your owner's manual. BMWs have specific coolant requirements to prevent build-up and corrosion of aluminum components, therefore do not use off-the-shelf antifreeze without checking compatibility. 


  • The cap may not be holding the pressure and could be leaking coolant. Replace the cap. Also, clean the cap as there can be a buildup of solids, not allowing the rubber to seal the system and cause a leak. 
  • Typically, you don't need to add more than one quart/liter to top off the system. To make the float move from the minimum level to the maxim, you need less than a quart of coolant.
  • If you have to add more than one quart, you may have a coolant leak. If you are constantly adding coolant to your BMW or have to add more than one gallon of antifreeze, you may have a major coolant leak or a serious engine problem such as a blown head gasket.
  • BMW uses a closed pressurized coolant system with an expansion tank. It operates differently than most coolant systems that have an overflow reservoir.
  • Always check the BMW coolant level when the car is cold and the engine is turned off. The coolant system pressurizes, and if you remove the cap right after the engine has been running, it will still be hot.
  • The hot coolant will cause injuries. To avoid getting burned, let the engine cool down for at least thirty minutes. If you are stuck on the side of the road and have no choice but to add coolant, remove the expansion cap very slowly.
  • Keep your face and body as far aways you can.
  • Allowing the BMW to idle and setting the heat on allows the air pockets in the cooling system to escape. If you suspected an air pocket in the engine and used this method, recheck the coolant level with the engine off. This will ensure you didn't overfill the system.
  • If your BMW is under warranty, take your car to the dealer, and they will top off the cooling system free of charge.

Coolant level full, I still get low coolant warning light.

bmw coolant level warning on idrive message navigation

It is possible to get a Coolant Level too Low warning still even if you add coolant. The first thing that you need to inspect is the coolant level sensor if your BMW has one.

There may be an electrical issue with the sensor causing it to trigger the warning message.

If you are extremely low in coolant, you may get the low coolant warning light even if you add coolant. The car was either neglected or was extremely low in the coolant.

Run the car for one minute and recheck the coolant level. It is possible that you need to add more coolant.

Is the BMW coolant warning message on, even though the coolant level is correct?

This may be caused by outside temperature fluctuations or when using certain incompatible aftermarket coolant brands.

Other possibilities include a defective water pump, bad engine temperature sensor, or bad coolant level sensor.

Older BMWs had a translucent coolant reservoir with a line that shows the high and low levels. Back then, it wasn't necessary to remove the cap to get a coolant reading.

BMW redesigned the cooling system, and now they use an expansion tank. Instead of the transparent tank, they implement the float design ( the rod that pops up).

What BMW engine coolant should I use?

Use the OEM BMW Engine Coolant recommended in your owner's manual mixed 50/50.

BMW Coolant Alternatives

Not all aftermarket coolant is compatible with BMW cars. Here are a few coolant/antifreeze brands that are compatible with BMW:

Regardless of the coolant brand you use, including OEM BMW Coolant, always pre-mix it at 50% coolant and 50% water.

Full-strength coolant is not mixed, and you will need to mix it yourself before adding it to the cooling system. Use distilled water instead of tap water.

Tap water will work, but it is not recommended because it can introduce impurities and minerals and cause corrosion to the cooling system.

You do not need any extra additives. The 50/50 mixture ratio can be used year-round.

Should I drive my BMW with the coolant warning light on?

NO.  If the temperature gets above normal or you get a warning light that the engine is overheating, stop driving your BMW. Get it towed to a mechanic ASAP.

Frequently Asked Questions

When I check the coolant level, my BMW does not have a floating dipstick.

  • The coolant level may be shallow, causing the float to be much lower than the min. In this case, it may be hard to see the float. Use a flashlight to look inside the coolant reservoir. If the float device is not present, it may be removed or broken.

Would BMW's low coolant level trigger the check engine light?

  • No. Low coolant level warning should not turn on the service engine soon or check the engine light. Unless the coolant system is almost empty, the engine temperature sensor may malfunction, triggering the check engine light.

What happens if you overfill the BMW cooling system?

  • If you overfill the cooling system, it may cause it to be overpressurized. Excessive coolant will be released via the release valve on the cap.

What color is the BMW coolant?

Is it ok to mix or use a different brand coolant on BMW?

  • Yes, but it's not recommended. With that said, it is better to have some coolant than driving a BMW with no coolant at all. Once you get your car to a mechanic, you may want to do a full system flush and install the correct BMW coolant.

Intermittent Cooling Warning Light

  • If BMW coolant too low warning light comes on and then turns off, the level may have dropped slightly. Check the coolant level and add as necessary.

How can I tell if I have a coolant leak?

  • When you have a BMW coolant leak, you will notice a distinct sweet smell that wasn't there before. You may smell coolant in the cabin. Or you may smell the coolant leak when the car is parked. After driving the BMW for a few minutes, open the hood and inspect for a coolant leak.


Bmw coolant sign


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