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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 12-27-2006, 01:20 AM   #1
GEEZ_ITS_A_BMW
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Expansion Tank replacement

Started the car this morning, heater was blowing cold air after 10 mintues
Temp gage start to go the red zone, pulled over for about an hour filled up the expansion tank with water. ( 91,000 miles)

car ran perfectly until i got home and discovered the expansion tank had a leak.

Is this part easy to replace, do i need to buy any other items other than BMW coolant and the exp. tank?
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Old 12-27-2006, 01:31 AM   #2
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Yes, it's easy to replace.

You don't *need* to buy anything else, but with 91000 miles you probably *should* consider replacing the water pump, thermostat, belts and hoses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GEEZ_ITS_A_BMW View Post
Started the car this morning, heater was blowing cold air after 10 mintues
Temp gage start to go the red zone, pulled over for about an hour filled up the expansion tank with water. ( 91,000 miles)

car ran perfectly until i got home and discovered the expansion tank had a leak.

Is this part easy to replace, do i need to buy any other items other than BMW coolant and the exp. tank?
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Old 12-27-2006, 08:08 AM   #3
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isn't the expansion tank part of the radiator? so do you need to buy a new radiator?
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Old 12-27-2006, 08:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limited_Slip View Post
isn't the expansion tank part of the radiator? so do you need to buy a new radiator?
Nope, just take the hoses (and sensor on bottom) off the old tank (have to get under the car to reach the bottom hose) and pop a new one in. The "expansion tank crack" is a well known problem here. Easy DIY though.
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Old 12-27-2006, 11:03 AM   #5
sudeep30
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just replaced expansion tank on oct 21 ,2006..mileage -90,000 bmw 325i 2002 yr// paid $350.00 to replace the same.. ($85.00-part + labor)...Wish i had known about this forum 2 month ago..Prob started around last year when i started noticing lite on screen..started to fill up w/coolant (autozone) every 1-2 month ..till 2 months ago when it ultimately cracked..Good luck!!!!
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Old 12-27-2006, 11:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sudeep30 View Post
just replaced expansion tank on oct 21 ,2006..mileage -90,000 bmw 325i 2002 yr// paid $350.00 to replace the same.. ($85.00-part + labor)...Wish i had known about this forum 2 month ago..Prob started around last year when i started noticing lite on screen..started to fill up w/coolant (autozone) every 1-2 month ..till 2 months ago when it ultimately cracked..Good luck!!!!
Wait, you paid $350 for a new expansion tank? Its like...you pop off a couple hoses and put the new one on.

This is where learning about your car comes in real handy. DIY will save you thousands in the long run.
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Old 12-27-2006, 09:32 PM   #7
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Since you are going to change the expansion tank definitely change the water pump,T-stat,both belts,tension pulley and idler pully. I just change my waterpump and t-stat and today my idler pully came off, busted my expansion tank and broke my new belt.
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Old 12-27-2006, 09:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morgz View Post
Since you are going to change the expansion tank definitely change the water pump,T-stat,both belts,tension pulley and idler pully. I just change my waterpump and t-stat and today my idler pully came off, busted my expansion tank and broke my new belt.
You can change the expansion tank easily without having to get in the way of any of those things. Pop out/pop in, you're not going to be taking anything else off the car except for the bottom dust shield of the car to get to the tank. The rest seems excessive if it isn't something you plan on doing or doesn't need done right now.
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Old 12-28-2006, 10:46 AM   #9
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With 90,000 miles and the need for a new expansion tank, as well as the suggestions to do the water pump, hoses, and thermostat being "normal" maintenance at this point in your car's life, you should also consider replacing the radiator as well. Mike Miller who writes the tech sections for Roundel and Bimmer suggest this replacement at the 90-100,000 mile mark.

When my expansion tank on the coupe cracked this summer (53,000 miles) I did the radiator as well. I had a long conversation with my indy shop that did the work about doing it, and several weeks later when I was at my dealer, I talked to the mechanic that always works on my cars there, and he felt it is prudent to do the radiator when you replace the tank as well.

Both the mechanic at the dealer and my indy shop feel that the cracking of the expansion tank is simply the first sign, and weakest link in your cooling system, and too often they've seen radiators fail shortly after an expansion tank replacement - the tank is no longer the weak link since it's new, so the radiator is now what gives way next.................

While you'll get others that ask why spend another $350 for a radiator if you don't know you need one? - to me, it was simply for peace of mind - a radiator failure can not only be totally inconvient, but can put you in a dangerous situation, or simply cook your engine...........
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Old 02-03-2008, 10:34 PM   #10
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does anyone have any pics on replacing the expansion tank. my wifes car is leaking coolant bad. the low coolant light came on and i filled up with coolant and now 4 days later its on again and there isnt any coolant in the car. the pan under the expansion tank is wet and so are the 2 small hoses that run on the right side of the expansion tank if looking from the front of the car.
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Old 02-04-2008, 01:48 AM   #11
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Old 02-04-2008, 02:04 AM   #12
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About how much does that tensioner normally run. I just changed my belts, and it didn't have as much tension as I think it should?
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Old 10-24-2009, 07:27 PM   #13
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I also had a coolant leak. Went to my indy shop and they replaced the radiator and expansion tank. Had my thermostat replaced about four 5 months ago Only have 50, 360 miles on a 2000 323 I!
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Old 10-24-2009, 10:00 PM   #14
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Don't forget the fan

The first part to go on my then ten year old 5-speed manual cooling system was the electric radiator cooling fan. The fan actually was still working but the temp sensor-switch system that turns the fan on when needed failed to turn-on during one evening commute. This caused some over-heating and the expansion tank let go.

Since the car had 140,000 miles I changed the water pump, thermostat and hoses.

Only after the third incident of over-heating was the intermittently working electric fan identified as the root cause of over heating and then replaced.
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Old 10-24-2009, 11:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoE46s View Post
With 90,000 miles and the need for a new expansion tank, as well as the suggestions to do the water pump, hoses, and thermostat being "normal" maintenance at this point in your car's life, you should also consider replacing the radiator as well. Mike Miller who writes the tech sections for Roundel and Bimmer suggest this replacement at the 90-100,000 mile mark.

When my expansion tank on the coupe cracked this summer (53,000 miles) I did the radiator as well. I had a long conversation with my indy shop that did the work about doing it, and several weeks later when I was at my dealer, I talked to the mechanic that always works on my cars there, and he felt it is prudent to do the radiator when you replace the tank as well.

Both the mechanic at the dealer and my indy shop feel that the cracking of the expansion tank is simply the first sign, and weakest link in your cooling system, and too often they've seen radiators fail shortly after an expansion tank replacement - the tank is no longer the weak link since it's new, so the radiator is now what gives way next.................

While you'll get others that ask why spend another $350 for a radiator if you don't know you need one? - to me, it was simply for peace of mind - a radiator failure can not only be totally inconvient, but can put you in a dangerous situation, or simply cook your engine...........
You make a compelling argument, but rarely see a radiator complaint on this forum, expansion tank issues on the other hand extremely common and don't seem to be a precursor to radiator problems.
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Old 10-25-2009, 11:20 AM   #16
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Don't change your radiator at 100,000 miles. Mine lasted 177,000 miles. Therefore, change your radiator the next time your expansion tanks leaks again which should be about 50,000-70,000 miles. Also when you do finally change the radiator make sure you also replace the expansion tank mount which contains a rubber o-ring which may also leak.
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Old 10-25-2009, 02:57 PM   #17
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For guys with manuals they make aftermarket aluminum radiators priced less than OEM. I'd consider one as they claim better cooling, more flow and no plastic.

There is only one aluminum rad made for automatics. It includes a built-in expansion tank but is crazy expensive.
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Old 06-28-2010, 09:45 PM   #18
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Just replaced mine, 2001 325i 85k cracked out the side...
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Old 06-28-2010, 09:58 PM   #19
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Look at getting a new expansion tank cap at the same time....they are cheap.
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Old 06-28-2010, 11:06 PM   #20
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oops, I didnt - will get one then
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