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BMW M3 Coolant

I recently took my car to Jiffy Lube and had the oil changed (synthetic like always). They suggested that I get my radiator flushed since it had been over three years. So I did as recommended. Not long after my check coolant level light came on. I took it back and they said they fixed it. They did not. It appears that every day this light comes on and the level is below the cool fill line. I have not seen any leak and I do bellieve that there may be a slight burning smell but not confirmed. Can you tell me what you think it is and perhaps a reliable place where I can take my car and won’t rip me off (since I’m a woman)…

Thank you

Jiffy XXXX is the last place that should be working on your M3. Find an independent BMW mechanic here:

Take it to them, ask for their help.

What year is your M3? IIRC most M3’s require a very specific and sometimes hard to find type of motor oil. It’s not something that the typical jiffy lube is likely to keep on hand.

my car is a 1998

Find a local independent mechanic. A European mechanic is favorable.

There may be excess air in the system, a bad sensor(common issue), or a leak somewhere(likely on a 12 year old car).

Good luck.

Never go back to Jiffy Lube, they don’t employ the cream of the crop for mechanics.

AJ has a typo, it should read: “they don’t employ mechanics”…

A '98 M3 is a highly prized model among enthusiasts. Take good care of it. This is not a cheap car to own, but it is worth every penny that it costs to keep it up. Please don’t take it to places like Jiffy lube.

I have learned from bitter experience to use only BMW coolant in my BMWs. I think that BMW coolant is made by BASF, but I have never found it anywhere in the US except in BMW branded containers sold at the BMW dealer or at on-line BMW parts vendors. Since I am confident that Jiffy Lube did not go down to the BMW dealer and buy your coolant, you need to replace what they put in there with BMW coolant and distilled water.

As for your warning light problem. The check coolant light can be caused by any one of several problems, such as surging water level in the reservoir due to air in your cooling system, or internal cracks in the reservoir.

The fact that you are smelling something and you need to add water every day means that you are loosing water somewhere. Look for steam rising right after you shut off the car when it is good and hot. It is possible that they pulled the lower radiator hose to get the water out and it did not seal tight when they put it back. They also could have stripped or not tightened the drain which is on the passenger side of the engine block. It would drip right on the exhaust manifold which would smell.

The plastic radiators in these cars last about 8 years, and the plastic external reservoirs last about 12 years, so you should be on your second radiator, and just about due for a new external reservoir. You are also due for all new hoses if they have not already been replaced. Don’t forget the hose beneath the intake manifold. Depending on your miles, you are about due for a water pump as well, if it has not already been replaced.

If there is a BMW club in your city, ask for suggestions for a good competent honest mechanic. Here in Sacramento we are fortunate to have several excellent BMW specialty shops. Check the Car Talk mechanics files as well. You need someone who knows what they are doing to check over your cooling system and replace the coolant that Jiffy lube put in there.

If something blows and steam comes out from under the hood and the temperature gauge rises, shut the car off immediately!!! Do not drive to the nearest good place to pull over, just get it off the road and stop. Your engine is a very expensive precision machine, and running even a minute with no water in it can destroy it.

Taking care of this car is a lot cheaper if you buy the parts on line and put them on yourself. You can buy a Bentley manual and some tools, but it would be better if you could make friends with someone who is familiar with BMWs to help you get started. Join the local BMW club. My daughters each drive high mileage '97 328s, and I make them do all their own work with me looking over their shoulders. All the stuff I have mentioned here, and much more, they have done. Small hands are a big plus when working on a BMW.

I would never take an M3 to a quick-lube place.