View Full Version : Catastrophic coolant loss

12-01-2004, 09:42 AM
When my power steering on my 2001 325i suddenly went out on a road trip to Philly last Saturday, I thought it wasn't a big deal. Although the steering wheel was difficult to turn at slow speeds, it wasn't unsafe and I planned to take the car in for service once I returned home the next day. Well, the next day, when I was just South of Baltimore on I95 and cruising comfortably along, suddenly there was a grinding noise, a pop, and a cloud of white smoke started billowing from the engine compartment. No warning lights had come on to indicate a problem, and aside from the power steering outage, there was nothing wrong with the car. I immediately pulled into the emergency lane and called for help. A tow truck came and took my car to Tischer BMW, not too far from my house.

Tishcer Service tells me that when the power steering went out, the power steering pump kept turning but had no lubrication and, over time, tore itself apart, sending the pulley or other parts of the pump flying around the engine compartment, damaging the water pump and the radiator. This, in turn, deprived the engine of coolant and rapidly destroyed it. Again, I had no warning of any kind that this was taking place until it was too late. Of course, after the sudden problem I looked down and saw the temperature needle pinned in the red, but I don't normally keep my eye on the temperature gauge while things seem to be operating fine.

Tischer Service says that even though my car is still under warranty, the warranty is inapplicable because I should have pulled the car over as soon as the power steering went out. The cost of repairs is $10,000! Youch! I cannot afford this. Has anyone heard of such a problem? Do you think the warranty should cover the damages? How was I supposed to know that a simple power steering outage could cascade into such a catastrophic problem? Thanks for your suggestions.

1996 328ti
12-01-2004, 07:11 PM
$10,000, what do you drive, a McLaren?