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      12-09-2018, 01:24 AM   #1
Blacksport
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170 degree Chevy thermostat

I bought a P3 Cars digital gauge last year, it fits in the A/C vent to the left of the steering wheel and plugs into the OBD. Was monitoring the coolant temp and was shocked how hot it runs...it'll go up to maybe 225 then drop to 205 when the thermos opens. I know it's to reduce emissions, but that's hot...too hot IMO. There's nothing out there in lower temp thermos, trust me...Mishimoto makes one, which I bought, but it doesn't fit the thermo housing. I bitched up a storm to ECS and posted a bad review...they still have it listed but did post my review. I put the stock thermo & housing back, then bought a new one to play with. No other thermo will fit this housing, so I bought an inline-type housing with 1.5" inlet/outlet, and a Chevy 170 thermostat (it's important to get the temp over 160 to get out of fuel enrichment mode). Anyway, before I installed everything, I play around with the BMW thermo housing...the thermostat is huge, but I soon realized that the Chevy thermo would fit perfectly inside the outer flange of the BMW thermo. I destroyed the big BMW thermostat, keeping the outer flange and dropped it back in the housing...the Chevy thermo sat right in the middle and was held in place by the BMW housing...amazing! I dropped the assembled housing in a pot of water & turned the heat on...it opened well before the water was at full boil...perfect. I installed it that weekend, slowly adding coolant as it warmed up...the BMW electric thermostat opener does not operate the Chevy thermo, so you have to be careful at initial startup...I took the car for a long drive...highway, town traffic, etc. and it worked perfectly. The temp goes up to 185 or so, then drops to 175 when the thermo opens...at a long stop, it went up to like 195, but immediately dropped once the car was rolling. Can't believe how well this worked out...and no more 225 degree temps.
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      12-09-2018, 07:30 AM   #2
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I will be interested to know if you experience a significant change in fuel economy as a result of the lower operating temps. It's also worth noting that the bearing and sealing surfaces in your engine were designed to run at those higher temps, so you may see increased oil consumption and possibly lower total service life (though this would take quite a bit of time to materialize, if indeed it happens at all).
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      12-09-2018, 09:50 AM   #3
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I think you are missing a few details that's will likely show up in a different season and your results will likely be variable.

The DME makes changes to the thermostat, coolant pump speed and the radiator fan based on several factors all programmed to manage engine temperatures between 95-105c depending on the operating mode, economy, power, faults present etc.

As per the programs the thermostat stays closed to about 80c degrees and then largely stays open. After initial warm up, The Coolant pump speed and Radiator fan speeds perform the bulk of the the actual coolant temperature. If you experience really cold weather, the DME will likely require the thermostat to keep minimum safe coolant pump speeds. I live in Florida and could never data log this condition.

There are moderators to this programming. When the climate control is activated the coolant pump runs faster, regardless of the engine temp. If the air conditioner is running, the radiator fan will run faster to the keep the condenser cool.

With my old E85/N52, I logged lower temps running with the AC on then no AC. Same holds true for the heater but to a lesser extent.

A few years back, this feature caused me to freak out. Long drive holding a steady 95c and I decided to open the windows and turn off the AC. The coolant jumped to 105c in two minutes. I thought something failed. Turned on the AC, back to 95c.

I later logged the pump and fan speeds to confirm it was normal behavior .

I'm not sure what you are trying to achieve but BMW did get the temperature programming correct. Many people including myself managed to get over 200,000 miles on them without significant internal engine wear. I'd leave this part of the engine alone.

My two cents.
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      12-09-2018, 11:52 AM   #4
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02 Pilot: Any bearing, sealant, or gasket that can withstand water temp of 230-240 degrees, will have no problem with 180 degrees.


rjahl: I monitored my cooling temp and IMO, being between 205 & 225 after reaching operating temp, that's hotter than I like it, especially in a 5-6 year-old engine. Keeping the engine hot and mixture lean is good for corporate CAFE, but I'd rather be in the 180-190 range. Yes, it's a computer-controlled thermo (2 wires attach to a heating element on the thermo), but it does not open until 197 degrees, which is stamped on it; unless you actuate the "cooling-system fill mode", which allows easy and safe filling of the system. The bypass circulatory system still works as designed. The traditional thermostat, which has worked well for 100 years, does an excellent job in this system, since it's not attempting to keep the coolant temp just below the "danger" level, for emission purposes. My engine has Stage 3, AA headers & tune, MF cat-back, aFe intake, plus a few other trinkets...if this engine isn't near 300 flywheel HP, it's doing a damn good impression of one...if I get a little more fuel because of lower coolant temp, that's just fine with me...not to mention longer engine life...
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      12-09-2018, 12:14 PM   #5
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BTW, got to use my new Quick Jack 5000...this thing is incredible; it picks up the old Durango without even straining...tried to upload a video of it picking up the BMW but it didn't work. Goes up about 21 inches, perfect with a creeper. It fits the BMW jack points perfectly...There are quick disconnects on the hoses, so when you disconnect them, you don't lose hydraulic fluid or get any air in the system...very cool.

I have jack stands for sale, LOL...
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      12-09-2018, 12:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacksport View Post
02 Pilot: Any bearing, sealant, or gasket that can withstand water temp of 230-240 degrees, will have no problem with 180 degrees.
You misunderstand my point. Bearing and especially ring clearances depend upon thermal expansion to operate in their intended spec. Reducing the heat at which they run by a significant amount will likely reduce their expansion, leading to larger gaps than they were designed for. Whether or not this will cause real issues within the expected service life of the engine is a different question, but certainly one worth considering.

Your assertion that a cooler engine automatically equates to longer engine life is flawed. An engine that runs above its designed operating temperature (say, an iron block and head carburated V8 running at 210F when designed for 180F) may indeed see reduced service life from the additional heat, but running at 150F may cause problems as well. You are dropping the operating temperature 50-60F from the design spec in an aluminum block (well, hybrid aluminum-magnesium, but the cylinders are aluminum).

Have a look at this: https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/t...als-d_859.html . Note that cast iron expands at less than half the rate of aluminum. I am no engineer and have only a limited knowledge of materials science, but my interpretation of this suggests that the relative dimensions of the rotating components of your engine may well deviate significantly from spec.

It's your car and I'm sure you will proceed as you see fit, but it must be made clear that reducing heat is no panacea, and indeed may have considerable negative consequences.
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      12-09-2018, 01:02 PM   #7
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I bought this Mishimoto radiator last year, when I was contemplating ways to reduce the excessively high coolant temp in the BMW. Both my new Cherokee and my Ducati Supersport have coolant temp monitoring, and they stay in the 195 range, not 215-225 like the BMW. I haven't installed it yet, because the thermostat modification has done wonders, but I will install it soon, as the stock radiators are known to fail around the plastic tanks. This radiator is all aluminum and the core is deeper than the stock 135i radiator. I might have to do a little fabricating since it's a 135 radiator, but that won't be a problem...
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      12-09-2018, 01:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 02Pilot View Post
I am no engineer
I am...mechanical.
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      12-09-2018, 01:11 PM   #9
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Just drive the car harder.

As soon as you start "spirited driving" the MAP thermostat heater is turned on by the DME and lowers coolant temp.
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      12-09-2018, 02:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MightyMouseTech View Post
Just drive the car harder.

As soon as you start "spirited driving" the MAP thermostat heater is turned on by the DME and lowers coolant temp.
Guys, some of you are missing my point. The DME program controls the operating temp.

The coolant pump speed is infinitely variable via a DME supplied PWM. Log it, it's constantly changing speed based on the demands while the DME controlled thermostat stays at 100%. Make sure you do the log with the ac fan and heater turned off. Log the fan speed and return coolant temp as well.

The primary function of the " thermostat" in the N52 is a bypass valve to allow good coolant circulation through the engine block during warm up and extreme cold weather.

If you really wanted to alter the operating temp, the best way is through an engine tune. This way will DME will not throttle back the coolant pump and potentially cause hot spots in the cooling system.
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      12-09-2018, 08:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacksport View Post
I am...mechanical.
So as a mechanical engineer, you do not believe that a ~50F difference in temperature will have an appreciable effect on the rings' ability to seal, even though the tolerances are measured in thousands? And what is it in particular about the specified operating temperature that is problematic other than being higher than traditionally expected for internal combustion engines?
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      12-09-2018, 11:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 02Pilot View Post
So as a mechanical engineer, you do not believe that a ~50F difference in temperature will have an appreciable effect on the rings' ability to seal, even though the tolerances are measured in thousands? And what is it in particular about the specified operating temperature that is problematic other than being higher than traditionally expected for internal combustion engines?
No. Every car see a difference of a lot more than 50 degrees every day...piston ring temp might go from a low of 40/50 degrees at startup to 600 degrees at full operating temp...the slight expansion of rings & pistons over this wide temp will not affect cylinder sealing nor accelerate wear beyond normal. Nonetheless, I consider a 25-30 degree drop in operating coolant temp to be beneficial in maintaining engine compression, reducing component stress, and a very lean fuel ratio, especially when that excessive temperature is emission related.
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Last edited by Blacksport; 12-11-2018 at 03:15 PM.
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      12-11-2018, 01:30 PM   #13
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I like the idea of this, but pulling a very carefully-engineered engine this far out of its intended operating ranges isn't for me (for now). FWIW, my car has 182k miles (23k of which were under my lead foot) and has been performing flawlessly with a totally stock cooling system (other than a water-oil heat exchanger), regardless of whether I'm on a -14*F daily drive, or a 90*F track day. It is amazing how quickly the DME will change the temperatures around based on your 'driving mode', which might be a reason for the absence of the coolant temperature gauge that's been on most BMW's prior.

But seriously, props to you for doing it, though! It's a cool mod that some of the more performance-oriented drivers here may appreciate, and it's from a completely unexpected source lol.

Cooler is usually better, and I'm curious to see how it pans out...
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      12-11-2018, 03:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
I like the idea of this, but pulling a very carefully-engineered engine this far out of its intended operating ranges isn't for me (for now). FWIW, my car has 182k miles (23k of which were under my lead foot) and has been performing flawlessly with a totally stock cooling system (other than a water-oil heat exchanger), regardless of whether I'm on a -14*F daily drive, or a 90*F track day. It is amazing how quickly the DME will change the temperatures around based on your 'driving mode', which might be a reason for the absence of the coolant temperature gauge that's been on most BMW's prior.

But seriously, props to you for doing it, though! It's a cool mod that some of the more performance-oriented drivers here may appreciate, and it's from a completely unexpected source lol.

Cooler is usually better, and I'm curious to see how it pans out...

Thanks for your reply...wow, you got some miles racked up! I only have 18k on my '13...it's not my daily driver...

I've wondered, and am still wondering, if maybe something was wrong with mine...after installing the P3 Cars gauge, I was driving up to Orlando last December, running pretty hard and watching the coolant temp on the gauge...it would go to almost 230 before going down to maybe 205...that seems hot in cool December weather running 85-90. Yesterday, I had to run up to Palm Beach, what a difference; 190 on the high end, then down to 180...not only lower, but a 10 degree delta instead of a 25 degree swing...BTW, my '19 Cherokee (all-aluminum 3.2) is exactly the same on the highway, staying in the low 190's...


Tell me more about this "water-oil heat exchanger"...I need details...thanks for any info (sorry, I'm just mechanically curious...)
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      12-11-2018, 03:56 PM   #15
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From documents found on the Web,

Four different temperature ranges can be implemented:
* 112°C ECO mode (economy)
* 105°C Normal mode
* 95°C High mode
* 80°C High + mapped thermostat mode

I was able to log three, never saw the 80c
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      12-11-2018, 05:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacksport View Post
Thanks for your reply...wow, you got some miles racked up! I only have 18k on my '13...it's not my daily driver...

Tell me more about this "water-oil heat exchanger"...I need details...thanks for any info (sorry, I'm just mechanically curious...)
That was mostly the previous owner. I bought the car in March of last year with 159k on it. I regret nothing, it's been entirely reliable (nothing unexpected, at least).

Yeah, the water-oil heat exchanger was used on the "HD" applications of the N52; the 5'er, X3, X5, etc. It's an oil cooler, but instead of being air-oil like one you'd mount in a wheel well, it's water-oil so the coolant carries the heat away (or helps warm the oil faster). I wasn't having any temp issues, that I knew of (I didn't have an oil temp gauge in the car at that point), so it was mostly a preventative/preemptive mod.

You need an oil filter housing from one of those HD N52's or from an N20, but I also think it's the same housing as the N54/N55 cars that came with an oil cooler. You also need the coolant pipe running from the water pump to the block from an automatic car, and then a hose that runs across the front of the engine, from the heat exchanger to a barb on that pipe.
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      12-11-2018, 07:17 PM   #17
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Maybe on the track, this might be a useful mod. But I feel like daily driven (or even spirited canyon cruise), the stock thermo is just fine. Also, with all the damn sensors in these cars, I personally wouldn't bother with potential warning lights and gremlins. My N51 SULEV warranty covers the cooling system, and I don't want it voided with a different thermo. Agree with you, OP, regarding the cooler temps being safer though. My old Explorer V8 thermostat failed open, only thing that suffered was mpg and my heater blew coldish air. Never over heated for damn sure! Some owners even just delete the thermostat and have an open loop of coolant, when it they wanted heat they would throw a piece of cardboard in grill so fan wouldn't suck air and she would warm up! Very useful for track oriented drivers out there!!
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      12-12-2018, 12:42 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_flies View Post
I bought the car in March of last year with 159k on it. I regret nothing, it's been entirely reliable (nothing unexpected, at least).

It's an oil cooler, but instead of being air-oil like one you'd mount in a wheel well, it's water-oil so the coolant carries the heat away (or helps warm the oil faster).
I don't know...coolant cooling of auto trans fluid is common, but I'm not on board with trying to cool 240-250 degree oil with 220-230 degree coolant...you may be right, it's probably to heat the oil. IMO, and in my experience with a half dozen competition cards, a regular air/oil cooler is best for oil...One year at Daytona, it was so cold, we had the brake ducts taped over on the RX-7, the oil cooler covered, and half the radiator covered...

If that cooler/(heater?) was on my car, I'd remove it...and with the mileage you have, I'd do a rebuild...pistons, maybe .020 over, rings, main & rod bearings, you'd probably have to go down .010 on the journals...on the head, do a valve re-seat, new valve springs are a must, new vanos too...you'd have an engine good for another 160 mi...
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      12-12-2018, 08:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacksport View Post
I don't know...coolant cooling of auto trans fluid is common, but I'm not on board with trying to cool 240-250 degree oil with 220-230 degree coolant...you may be right, it's probably to heat the oil. IMO, and in my experience with a half dozen competition cards, a regular air/oil cooler is best for oil...One year at Daytona, it was so cold, we had the brake ducts taped over on the RX-7, the oil cooler covered, and half the radiator covered...

If that cooler/(heater?) was on my car, I'd remove it...and with the mileage you have, I'd do a rebuild...pistons, maybe .020 over, rings, main & rod bearings, you'd probably have to go down .010 on the journals...on the head, do a valve re-seat, new valve springs are a must, new vanos too...you'd have an engine good for another 160 mi...
It's not about total cooling power, there are no oil temp issues that I've experienced. It is about, as I said, warming the oil up in the morning quicker, and keeping the oil temp more stable than it was before. Water has a high thermal stability, and this takes advantage of that.

And seriously, this isn't a car from long ago that needs a rebuild every 100k miles or whatever, this is a thoroughly modern engine, built on many decades of engineering developments, material improvements, and running on far better fuels, oils, and coolants than anyone could have dreamed of back then. It's also not an S-motor that eats rod bearings for breakfast, lunch, and then dinner, either.
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      01-09-2019, 02:43 PM   #20
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My degree is also mechanical engineering. I think the way that BMW has the car set up is why there is no coolant gauge. I ran the Torque application on a small tablet for awhile to create gauges of data from the OBDII port including coolant temperature. I was surprised to see coolant running high on a steady cruise and then go down if I accelerated. But it is managed that way for fuel economy as the OP assumed - I also assume.

But I agree with the other posts that changing one portion of the cooling system without changing the others is not a great idea. It creates a situation where the car may overcompensate in other areas like the coolant pump speed and create a problem. I used to change thermostats like the OP but I do not on modern engines. They are just too complex. Oil is better now too so higher temperatures are not the same level of concern.
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