Sunday, 30 May 2021

BMW E30 Heater Matrix Hoses Configuration - Right and Wrong way round + how to bleed matrix / remove air-lock

My E30 had little or no hot air from the blower inside the cabin. I have heard it is common for the two hoses running to the heater matrix to be fitted back to front, so the flow of coolant through the core is reversed. This causes air locks and severely reduces the amount of coolant flowing through the heater matrix, thus no hot air. 

The reason these hoses so often get fitted incorrectly is due to their location and the way they look when fitted. It appears obvious that the upper hose (back of cyl.-head to heater) goes to the upper stub on the heater-matrix and the lower hose (side of block to heater) goes to the lower stub on the matrix. The hoses look happier this way round, but the matrix and heater-valve are designed in such a way that flow is interrupted and causes the air-lock. 

The correct way round is actually with the upper hose connected to the lower stub and the lower hose to the upper stub, which does of course appear to be back to front, but is essential for correct flow of coolant round the whole engine, not just the heater-core. The correct and incorrect hose configurations are shown in the pictures below.

RIGHT:

WRONG:

How to Bleed system and remove air-lock from Heater-Matrix:

** This is not the normal air-bleeding process when refilling an empty system with coolant, this process is to bleed a system with the air-lock at the back of the head and / or the heater-matrix full of air. **

1. Ensure heater-matrix hoses are fitted the correct way round, if not swap them over. [You should notice if there is an air-lock that no coolant comes out of the hoses when removed from the matrix and the stubs appear dry].

2. Fully tighten the lower [inlet] hose.

3. Leave the upper hose disconnected from the matrix. 

4. Remove the radiator bottle cap. Assuming the coolant level is up to the halfway / max. mark, there should be some gulps of air and the coolant level should drop slightly in the rad. bottle.

5. Cut the bottom off a 2-litre drinks bottle and fill it with water, holding your hand over the lid.

6. Dump the water from the drinks bottle into the radiator bottle, allowing the weight of water to push the remaining air though the system. Water should start to come out of the upper heater-matrix hose from the head. Block this hose with a finger.

7. Continue to top up the radiator bottle with water until water begins to flow out of the upper stub on the heater matrix and quickly refit the upper hose, which can now be fully tightened.

8. Drain the radiator bottle back down the halfway /max. / fill line.

** You should be good to go, but can now bleed / top-up the system using the usual bleeding procedure if necessary. **

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