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-   -   Radiators - Zionsville vrs OEM (http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=675980)

bigjae1976 05-19-2009 01:17 AM

Radiators - Zionsville vrs OEM
My dilemna. I'm almost at 90k and its time for preventive radiator replacement. My fan sometimes stays on after I shut the car off so I think I'll be replacing the fan as well. I plan on keeping the car for another 10 year +. I have a SC and go to the track a couple of times per year.

Tischer prices the fan and radiator at $615 plus shipping. I'm debating whether to stay OEM or upgrade to the Zionsville radiator/fan kit as seen below.


Its expensive but if the fan becomes a regular maintenance item, I'm looking at $675 every 90k for the radiator, expansion tank, and fan. Not to mention the minor hassle of installing everything.

The zionsville unit has an integrated aluminum expansion tank and removable fan. Comes with a lifetime warranty. This could be the last radiator/expansion tank that I would ever buy for this car.

Before, I didn't feel that $1700 wasn't worth it. Now that the fan issue seems to becoming more common on the board...I wonder if this will. Not to mention that is unit will probably cool better than the OEM unit.

mrshelley 05-19-2009 08:47 AM

What is so wrong with the OEM unit? Are radiator fans a real problem? This is what I'd do:
1. Buy a new radiator, expansion tank, cap, and expansion tank plate - $270
2. Buy a thermostat and new front hoses - $115
3. Antifreeze - about $20
4. Water Pump - $65

So, here you've spent around $470 and replaced the majority of the coolant system. If the fan goes out, you can replace it by pulling it right out of the top. The fan costs $360. So, for $830, you've gone through about everything. Remember, the hoses, thermostat and water pump don't last forever either.

As for that other radiator, you'll spend $1700 and that's just for the radiator. Now you must use the BMW coolant and change it every two years. So, you need to include that in your cost ($200 over 10 years) and the time it takes to change the coolant. I can tell you that a Spal fan doesn't last forever either.

If you think about it, your current cooling system has lasted (and is still working) for 90K and five years. Not bad for the price of the OEM parts. Then, you might want to keep the car for another 10 years and that might sound great today but things change (buy a new BMW, your car could get totaled, financial situation might change). So, do you spend $1660 over the next 10 years for a complete cooling system overhaul, or $1900 for only the radiator and fan? Then that radiator will loose efficiency as they get dirty just like every other radiator.

If you really are looking to spend some money, put an oil cooler on it. There's a reason why BMW doesn't put an oil temp gauge on their cars. Everyone would freak out.

bluejeansonfire 05-19-2009 09:52 AM

Zionsville is the most severely overpriced cooling system parts for our cars EVER. And that's saying a lot, a whole lot. Zionsville is cool though in that they allow you to run all the factory hosing and even make an all-metal thermostat housing. However, there are other tig-welded alternatives. PWR makes two thicknesses of radiators for like 480-500$. If can fit the thicker one, I would definitely run it, I don't know the difference between the two and what fan/condenser combo will work with the wider radiator. If possible, I would try to stick with the factory plastic electric fan, it has a factory interface for the computer. I know that it does fail, but mine has been great, I've witnessed some pretty horrible stuff caused by one of these fans fail, I've also heard of fires from their control modules.

For the pump, either stock factory replacement, or emp stewart.

For the housing, either stock or zionsville.... which i think is like $500+

aggieE46 05-19-2009 11:31 AM

Why not the PWR? Direct replacement.


aggieE46 05-19-2009 11:35 AM

I linked to the 40mm, but there's a 57mm available for $500, too.

bigjae1976 05-19-2009 06:42 PM

Everyone has good points, thanks for the input.:)

Yes, the zionsville unit is expensive but it has an integrated expansion tank and a lifetime warranty. I know I will still have to replace the thermostat and hoses. I already have the stewart pump.


good point about the oil cooler. I might have to explore that option. Any direct fit options available?


Originally Posted by aggieE46 (Post 9984709)
Why not the PWR? Direct replacement.


Is the PWR unit new? That definitely changes things. Have you tried this out?

aggieE46 05-20-2009 09:12 AM

Not new, it's been out there for a while.

Heck no! You know I'm always broke :)


Originally Posted by bigjae1976 (Post 9987276)

Is the PWR unit new? That definitely changes things. Have you tried this out?

Mr Paddle.Shift 05-21-2009 12:53 AM


SC here too. Track several times a year. In fact 64 events with the SC since 2003. Still OEM radiator, water pump, thermostat etc.

Though I have to confess that I intercepted the thermostat map cooling circuit so that I can open the stat earlier when needed, especially track in summer months.

mrshelley 05-21-2009 10:34 AM

I'll post this in the FS section but since we are talking about cooling systems, I have a used BMW Motorsport thermostat. It came from Turner ( M54-M52TU-MSPORT-THERMOSTAT) and has 20 hrs of time on it. It does work and looks like brand new. I suggest going on the Turner site and look at the specs to determine if you want or need it. Since it sells for $481, I'll sell this one for $200.

mkodama 05-23-2009 04:32 AM

I'm confused. I could have sworn Mr Paddle.shift said in his track blog an oil cooler was not needed for a non supercharged car, and now mrshelley is saying oil temps on an E46 would freak people out.:huh:

EDIT, here's the quote from VS Engineering:

For those who buy the VPD Competition kit to be installed on an E46 WITHOUT a supercharger setup, you will be overcooling your engine oil. We have data to show that. Yes, we do research before we sell anything.

elite53 05-24-2009 06:34 PM

Mishimoto.com has an aluminum radiator for our cars for $450. I just saw the add for it in Eurotuner magazine. I don't know anymore about it but you can check it out if you like. :)

mrshelley 05-25-2009 01:33 PM


Originally Posted by mkodama (Post 10007607)
I'm confused. I could have sworn Mr Paddle.shift said in his track blog an oil cooler was not needed for a non supercharged car, and now mrshelley is saying oil temps on an E46 would freak people out.:huh:

EDIT, here's the quote from VS Engineering:

I log data on my car with an AIM dash. It does log the oil temp. A few years ago, I did not run an oil cooler. Oil temps ran around 300 F at tracks like Barber (outside temps around 95 F) and Trois Rivieres. With the oil cooler, it runs around 240F at those tracks (and about 225F everywhere else). Problem for me was that when it came time for a pit stop, the heat soak would make the water temp skyrocket thus it would start pushing water out. Also, the engine makes less power once the oil temps get real high because the ECU is trying to save the engine.

Every 330 that's in Koni, runs an oil cooler. So, I'm not the only one who has found this out.

You have to remember, the car is run flat out for 2.5 to 6 hrs at a time. The data tells me, the oil temp peaks at after 20 minutes of runtime with the cooler and 40 minutes without.

vaio76109 05-25-2009 02:34 PM

What kind of oil cooler setup do you run John?

mrshelley 05-26-2009 03:26 PM

I run BMW Motorsport housing PN - 11 41 7 740 923. Then a Setrab Oil cooler and some -10 lines. I use the filter housing because it has -10 fittings on it and the Setrab Oil Cooler because BSR carries them on their truck at every GA race. As for the -10 lines, I can make those up in the field. The Oil Cooler is mounted behind the radiator for a number of reasons. Main reason is because it's protected quite well and so far has lasted many seasons. One other reason, is because it is mounted in such a way to make engine changes much easier. It's not the cheapest way but it works for me and offers ease of service when I'm at the track. Plus, my fully dressed spare motor is plumbed for this, which saves me a boatload of time on engine changes. So far, my personal record is 2 hours and 35 minutes.

bigjae1976 05-26-2009 03:48 PM

mrshelley...good info on the oil cooler. Mind sharing some pics with us?

phamine 07-05-2010 10:49 AM

^^Bumping this. I need to find a easy oil cooler swap for my 330i.

buildingcode 07-07-2010 02:23 PM

I installed Zionsville "Fat Boy" in my M3 e36 track car great fit and super to deal with. Recommended highly.

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