E36 Over heat problem

Hi all,
I was wondering if anyone here could help me with a problem that happened today with my 2.5L - 6 cylinder E36 on a K plate.
Basically the car has been as good as gold.. it's done 119,000...
So today I was on a 4 mile journey to the next town. As I drove into the town I noticed that the temp gauge had crept up above the 1/2 way mark. Well as I stopped in the car park I noticed a little waif of smoke from under the left hand side of the bonnet, and then the red temperature light came on. So I switched it off, I then opened the bonnet, waited for about 40 mins for the engine to cool completely, I opened the cap on the side of the radiator to check the water level and it was fine.
So I decided to drive back home, upon getting home it done the same thing again, so I opened the bonnet whilst the engine was running, and could see at the top of the engine block, nearest the front, you have two hoses going into what I can only assume is the water pump. Well the steam seems to be coming from the back underside of the pump. All the hoses seems ok and the radiator is fine.
The odd thing about it was, whilst on idol the temperature drops, back down to 3/4, but under load it goes straight back up.
Now am I right in thinking that the reason it does that is because some of the blades have come off or the pump is failing ? hence when its under load it can't keep up ? common problem I've heard ?
I don't think its the head gasket as there was no smoke at any time from the exhaust, plus the car hasn't really used any water at all, maybe 100ml ? and when the temperature was low it was fine.
Whats more of a pain is that I phoned the garage up, and they can't even look at it next Monday !
Any help would be grateful !
Thanks
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Correct. Early pumps have a metal shaft and plastic impeller, yours is failing. Newer pumps are metal, 25 quid from euro car parts. Change the thermostat at the same time, six quid.
--
Who needs a life when you've got Unix? :-)
Email: snipped-for-privacy@unixnerd.demon.co.uk, John G.Burns B.Eng, Bonny Scotland
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John Burns wrote:

But it sounds like you will need to diagnose the "waif of smoke" (steam actually). Under the higher pressure of the overtemp you may have ruptured a hose or it may be leaking from the pump you will be replacing. You'll want to know in advance so you can get new hoses if needed.
--
-Fred W

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Thanx for that,
I will mention that on Monday when I take it in !

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I agree with John. Further, have your garage check to see whether your themostat housing is plastic or aluminum. If plastic, replace with an aluminum one:
http://69.0.158.19/live/G401062812MTC.JPG
It should cost you about $30-35US.
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I've just got into E36s after many, many years in E23/24/34s so I've not had the M52 engine prior to this vehicle. Can I just ask why change the plastic t'stat housing for the ali one? Was there a problem? Just curious really, as I swapped out a failing stat the other week and couldn't see any problems with the plastic one at the time. Cheers, JB
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Why change the plastic t'stat housing? I don't know, call me conservative, but I would think plastic will deteriorate alot faster than aluminum. I hate that BMW uses plastic just about everywhere in its cooling system. If you're paranoid like me, I would change that plastic radiator, t'stat, coolant reservior every 80K-100K. Otherwise, you might be in for a big, and wet, surprise.
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I've checked and its alloy !!
So thats one thing.. and the interm hose that joins to the other two is plastic..but new.. so it's had problems before I guess !!

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