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Old 03-07-2014, 02:45 AM   #1
Volga
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Talking Another cooling system overhaul! Feedback appreciated

If you don't want to waste your time with the long story, skip the first two paragraphs

I imagine this will come as a shocker to most of you, so prepare yourself... my cooling system failed! I was driving along, and the temp gauge started to climb higher than it should. I pulled off to the side of the road and opened the little radiator cap that says don't open when hot. Lucky for me/unlucky for my car there was no coolant visible in the reservoir. On to the car: it is a 2001 325ci with about 140k miles on it. I bought it about a month ago (somewhat aware of what I was getting myself into) from a friend who had been the only owner, and was punctual in regards to professional service.

I started diagnostic by taking out the coolant reservoir to see if I could find any cracks, but to no avail. Upon further research, I discovered the expansion tank had been replaced around 100k, so it probably wasn't the culprit anyway. My next best guess is that the thermostat that controls flow to the radiator broke, because the car had been running pretty cold. I attributed this to the fact that it was 10 degrees outside, but I also felt like was about to go down. At some point this wonderful forum informed me that the thermostat is supposed to break open, although I hadn't quite put all the pieces together. Come to think of it, I'm still about 99 pieces from solving a 100 piece puzzle, but that's a personal problem and i digress i know, sorry. I knew (insert german accent here) "das auto" needed a cooling overhaul anyway, so I decided this was the perfect opportunity.

If you skipped the story, this is where you should tune in:

Basically I took the entire cooling system out to see if I could pinpoint the problem, with no luck. I'm hoping that replacing the whole system should solve my problem. I've spent the last couple days scouring the info this community of (generic but heartfelt compliment goes here) has provided me. I've seen several posts with people asking about their rebuild plan, everyone a little different. I'm new to the forum and BMW maintenance in general, so I would appreciate any constructive criticism you can give (non-constructive criticism is ok too, just not as appreciated. I don't get upset when the internet berates me).

Probably pertinent to tell you that I am mechanically inclined enough for all procedures necessary in this process, contrary to all the evidence that might suggest otherwise. I DID read Mango's incredibly helpful guide on the subject. Variations were only due to availability or better prices for the most part. And before you ask, I have the mechanical tensioner NOT the hydraulic one.

Alrighty here's what I've got in mind:

OEMBimmerparts.com:

OEM expansion tank - $76
OEM radiator cap - $11
Saleri OEM water pump - $59
Rein OEM upper radiator hose - $33
Rein OEM lower radiator hose - $32
Rein OEM lower expansion take hose - $27
(coolant return I believe)

BMAParts.com:

engine oil drain plug gasket - $.12
(this is supposedly the same as mango's coolant crush washer)
"genuine" engine cooling fan switch - $15
Ruville belt tensioner pulley - $21
(this one has the offset center)
Behr radiator - $107
Behr thermostat - $45
Uro water pump pulley - $25
Continental AC belt - $8
(hopefully) continental (definitely a) serpentine belt - $15

ECS tuning:

ECS Oil service kit - $59
(bmw 5w30, Mann filter, drain plug, washer, housing o-ring)
BMW expansion tank mounting plate - $50
BMW fluid lvl sensor - $15
BMW antifreeze(1 gallon) - $21
uro coolant bleeder screw - $1.5
Vaico coolant drain plug - $4
4 hex bolts w/ washer (WP pulley P#07119904524) - $1 ea

The amazing Amazon.com

2 dayco idler pulleys - @$20 ea
6 NGK BKR6EQUP Laser super Platinum pewpewpew spark plugs - $$8.50 ea

That comes out to about $720 before you whip your calculator out. And if you already figured that out, good job Rain-man

I'm going to buy a new battery locally ASAP, the one in it is pretty old. Suggestions appreciated. I've tried reading through a couple forums on the matter, but they're either inconclusive or a competition of who can type the loudest...

Well I guess that's the short of it. since I have the mechanical tensioner, the daycos should work for both pulleys. The ones I have now are INA (or something like that) and they look identical as far as I can tell. I heard that the dayco is made by INA but the internet is full of misplaced truths so that might be a thing.

If anybody wants more info on any of the parts, I can give you the part number, just ask. Also, prices were lazily rounded if you haven't figured that out yet.

And If I'm wrong about anything I said, you may be right, I'm still learning all this Bimmer stuff. Although the internet is full of holes, so that's the other option

Last edited by Volga; 03-07-2014 at 02:49 AM.
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Old 03-07-2014, 07:50 AM   #2
Sansho
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Recommend expansion tank from BMW. TheBMWPartStore.com (discounting BMW dealer sponsor) has it for $77.60.

On the coolant bleeder screw in the upper radiator hose, I put a metal one as shown here. No worries about stripping anything plastic over time.

When you drain the engine block of coolant, there is a new washer required for the bolt on the passenger side of the engine lock, which I believe is part # 07119963200. $0.26 from TheBMWPartStore.com. I may have missed that on your list ...

Autohausaz.com has the Continental belts here.

Dayco pulleys are mfg'd by INA, at least the one I bought several years ago was.
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Old 03-07-2014, 11:45 AM   #3
Houstonian
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I'm personally overdue for the cooling system overhaul myself, so can't comment too much on that. But regarding the battery, I replaced mine with the Duralast 49-DL 1-2 yrs ago, but I hear those are discontinued. Another option is the Bosch 49-850b from pepboys.

Good luck!
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Old 03-07-2014, 11:58 AM   #4
slowlanemcvane
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Is your car an auto? If it is, add the automatic transmission thermostat, as those frequently break during expansion tank removal. Also, add the auto transmission cooler o-rings (where the cooler mounts up under the expansion tank) as those tend to get flattened and leak with age.

Also, when you replace the lower radiator hose, there is a temperature sensor on that hose. It's optional to replace the sensor, but if you're going to reuse the one that you have, you will want to replace the o-ring that seals it.
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Old 03-07-2014, 12:01 PM   #5
mr.robot-o
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I just did the coolant overhaul. I compared websites just like you and found the pelicanparts was the cheapest by still offering OEM or OE supplier parts. I paid around $425 total (upper rad hose, lower rad hose, expansion tank, lower rad hose temp sensor, water pump, water pump pulley, radiator, BMW Coolant (already replaced thermostat)).
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Old 03-07-2014, 01:25 PM   #6
Volga
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The expansion tank is the updated bmw one with thicker plastic

Found the proper coolant drain washer (thanks for the part# it helped)

Called BMA, it is a continental belt

Any other experiences with that Bosch battery?

Wouldn't have bought auto trans, I'm no trophy wife

Replacing that thermostat I think I have it labeled cooling fan switch

Already looked up pelican I might save a couple bucks, but I don't really want to order from five different websites.

Thanks for all the feedback everyone! You guys are awesome!

Last edited by Volga; 03-07-2014 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 03-07-2014, 01:38 PM   #7
Sansho
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A number of people have used a battery from Walmart, comes with 3 year warranty, as I recall.
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Old 03-07-2014, 01:46 PM   #8
Volga
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You mean like some Wal-Mart double A's? I kid, you have any more details on that battery?

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Old 03-07-2014, 01:49 PM   #9
Xoutas
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Very nice write up, I'll be doing mine also in a couple of weeks once the weather gets better over here. Let us know how it goes.
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Last edited by Xoutas; 03-07-2014 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 03-07-2014, 02:14 PM   #10
Sansho
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You should go to Walmart and see which Maxx or Everstart battery works (should be an H7 or H8). Some have posted that the Everstart Maxx H7 (prev known as 94R) fits well.
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Old 03-08-2014, 09:58 AM   #11
jbretz
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i just purchased my coolant overhaul and i had a quick question about draining the engine coolant. i purchased the expansion tank/radiator kit/hoses/new cap/water pump/thermostat housing. is it necessary to drain the engine block? if so what is the best option for replacing the plug/o ring?
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Old 03-08-2014, 10:49 AM   #12
Sansho
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Yes, you should drain the engine block also. The bolt is on the passenger side of the engine block, and you just need a new aluminum washer and can reuse the bolt/plug. Part #5 in the diagram:

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Old 03-08-2014, 11:02 AM   #13
jbretz
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thanks sansho.
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Old 03-09-2014, 05:26 PM   #14
I8UrCat
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Check your Uro water pump pulley when you get it, they can be hit-or-miss. Put your new pump in a vise (hold on flange, not tight!), put the pulley on it backwards (to clear the vise) with a few bolts snug. If you can spin the pump and see no deviation in the pulley grooves, you're fine. Mine had over 0.040" movement in the axial direction, would have vibrated like crazy. Returned it, and got a nice German-made Meyle pulley which ran 100% true.
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Old 03-09-2014, 06:55 PM   #15
Volga
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Thanks for the heads up cat eater! Ordered all my parts yesterday, now to play the waiting game. More updates to come in a week or so when my parts show up and I put them in!

Last edited by Volga; 03-09-2014 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 03-09-2014, 07:01 PM   #16
Volga
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@Jbretz: look up a diy that advises on how to keep from getting coolant everywhere. The engine block plug is horizontal, so it's a bit tricky to keep from making a mess. I saw someone suggest using dryer vent hose as a catch. I used one of my old radiator hoses, but that made more of a mess than it did good. Not only did coolant get all over the car, but I got drenched too. Definitely a learning experience

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Old 03-10-2014, 06:04 PM   #17
jbretz
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ok ill look into it. thanks
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:14 PM   #18
Volga
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Another cooling system overhaul! Feedback appreciated

alright guys, I finished the overhaul today, and I thought I'd add my final 2 cents worth about how it went. First of All I discovered the source of my problem. I had a very small crack in my expansion tank. The leak was so slow, you could hardly notice it. My thermostat was also bad. This explains why my car had been running so cold, also why coolant temperature fluctuated so much with air temperature (since thermostat goes full open when it breaks).

Tips for people about to overhaul their system:
- the Behr radiator has its own drain plug. You don't need another one, and it's different anyway
- Behr radiator didn't line up with driver side mounting screw hole. not sure why, solved the problem with a zip tie and some safety wire (A little ghetto, but it's not going anywhere, plus the fan hold it on too)
- upper cooling hose comes with a bleeder screw (the one on my list does at least), but you want the metal one anyway. you have to tighten and loosen this screw a lot, and it is easy to strip even if you're careful
- when you're bleeding the cooling system, put paper towels around bleeder hole. I guess they intended you to get coolant everywhere
- somehow don't spill coolant all over your car/self when you drain the block (I have no suggestions, I made a huge mess)
- really, try to avoid getting coolant on anything (this is actually pretty tough to do, especially the first time)

Enjoy the satisfaction of knowing the ins and outs of your new cooling system. Also you can make fun of the people who can't point to their water pump, let alone know what it does.

Enjoy Your Bimmers guys, and feel free to ask me any questions about your build. I can't claim to be an expert, but I will help as much as I can

Boom Goes the Dynamite!!! (not my engine)

Last edited by Volga; 03-17-2014 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 03-18-2014, 08:57 AM   #19
jbretz
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just finished my overhaul yesterday. took only acouple hours and that was with me taking time to clean up excess coolant and dirt while i was in there. job was super easy and highly recommend anyone trying this before going out and spending thousands at a garage.
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:17 PM   #20
Aleman
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Hey guys - newb question here - Why do people replace the expansion tank mounting plate? If mine's not broken, should I still replace it?
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