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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 06-24-2014, 08:25 PM   #1
Fire731
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Cooling system replacement?

I purchased my first and only BMW last July and I love it. Without a doubt the best vehicle I have ever driven. It is a 2001 325i sedan and I bought it at 40k miles. The first owner used it as a 3rd vehicle for him and his wife, so it was mainly highway miles on weekend trips. I am the second (and hopefully the last) owner. It is now quickly approaching 60k. I plan to have the inspection II done next month at the shop.

I have had no problems with the car so far, but I am getting a little concerned with the cooling system. I did a little research before I bought the car and I understood that the cooling systems were a little fragile. The car does not even have 60k miles on it yet, but it is almost 14 years old. I am on the fence about replacing the cooling system myself as preventative maintenance (it shows no sign of failure). I am by no means a mechanic, but I have done some work on vehicles before. I've replaced a window motor and some speakers in the car, I change the oil in it, and I replaced a radiator in my old Nissan. I have plenty of time to do the job, but I'm curious to know if this is something I can do with some youtube assistance or not. I have read before that replacing an E46's cooling system was relatively simple, but it all depends on the person. I am looking for any advice as far as if this is something I can tackle, whether or not to replace it now (or replace certain parts of it now?), or just have someone else do it. Any advice is much appreciated. Thank you!
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Old 06-25-2014, 02:56 AM   #2
TurnersInOz
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For the most part, the E46 is surprisingly easy to work on. Replacing the cooling system is a good induction for someone with reasonable knowledge and skill around a car.
If you've done basic maintenance on your cars before, there is no reason you could not do this yourself. Reading and watching YT videos is a good place to start, as is getting a Bentley or similar reference manual.

This shouldn't take you more than a few hours to do.
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:55 AM   #3
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Welcome to e46fanatics!

Refreshing the cooling system is pretty easy to-do. There are a number of DIY guides here, as well as YouTube video's. I would recommend staying with the BMW expansion tank, however, most other parts can be BMW or OEM, i.e. CRP/Continental belts, Wahler or Behr thermostat, etc. At 60K miles, you shouldn't need to replace the radiator, even as preventative maintenance. I went with a Stewart water pump, although many go other brands.

If you have an automatic transmission, consider replacing the fluid and filter. BMW specs are every 100K miles, however, ZF recommends earlier under heavy usage (2001 325i has a ZF transmission, 2001 325 xi has a GM transmission). You can do this yourself if you have 4 jack stands. Again, there are DIY guides, and may be YouTube video's.

There's a DIY area of e46fanatics located here
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Old 06-25-2014, 05:42 PM   #4
Fire731
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Thank you guys. Have you been pleased with the Stewart water pump? I have been toying with the idea of getting that one
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:23 PM   #5
Sansho
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I've had the Stewart water pump for several years, no issues with it or the cooling system (I did a refresh just before 60K miles). I like that it pumps more water and has a lifetime warranty.
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Old 06-26-2014, 10:59 AM   #6
Bim3Por911
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+1 on the Stewart pump. Some feel it's overkill unless you race or drive in the tropics. I have one and have had no issues either. Radiators generally last to 120k or so. The expansion tank is the weakest component in the system IMO. 60 - 70k is a good replacement interval - and I agree on using an OEM BMW unit. Something else to watch for is ATF seeping from the power steering hose connections onto one of the heater hoses beneath them. Look for a damp spot on the engine under-tray on the left side of the car (right side standing in front of the car). The typically seeping hose connectors are just left (outboard) of the expansion tank.
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Old 06-26-2014, 11:45 AM   #7
ELCID86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurnersInOz View Post
For the most part, the E46 is surprisingly easy to work on. Replacing the cooling system is a good induction for someone with reasonable knowledge and skill around a car.
If you've done basic maintenance on your cars before, there is no reason you could not do this yourself. Reading and watching YT videos is a good place to start, as is getting a Bentley or similar reference manual.

This shouldn't take you more than a few hours to do.
+1. This was my first mechanical project on my first E46.
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