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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 11-18-2006, 03:48 PM   #1
cwarner
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Lessons Learned from Coolant System Overhual:

Today I set out to replace most of my coolant system in my 2000 328Ci with manual transmission. I learned a few things, some the hard way, in doing the job, and wanted to try to help others through my experiences. The work I was doing today was to replace the waterpump, thermostat, upper and lower radiator hoses, expansion tank, both belts and all three tensioner/idler pullies.

Lessons:
1) If you are going to work on the expansion tank, remove the whole air filter box as it gives you a lot more room to work. Two bolts and releasing a rubber piece is worth it for the room it provides.

2) On Manual transmission cars, the fan is a breeze to get out, it just slides up an out after removing one screw one push type fastener, and two electrical connectors.

3) The mechanical tensioner on the AC belt has two small flanges of metal with holes in them. These are intended to allow you to put a small pin in them so that the tensioner stays in the detensioned state. This is really handy when you go to remove the upper bolt. I only realized this when I got the new one out of the box and it had a little pin in the holes so the mechanic can immediately put it on with ease (yup you can say duh). If you are replacing your tensioner that pin may come in handy later, so keep it. Otherwise use an allenwrench to lock it and then you have two free hands to remove and replace the belt.

4) The Bently manual is wrong in how to remove tension on the water pump/alternator belt. You need a allen wrench socket bit to use with a long socket wrench to apply torque in the clockwise direction to the bolt on the pulley in order to compress the hydraulic tensioner. If you keep applying torque to the bolt they say it will snap. Fortunately I did not learn that lesson, and was forwarned by others as this learning is well documented on this site and others, but I just wanted to reiterate it.

5) The drain plug on the engine block is a pain in the rear end. Someone here recommended using a 2 inch tube to help guide the coolant to your catch pan of choice. Well I was under the car on my back with all four arms working to undo the stubborn bolt and hold the two inch tube in place and nearly got a face full when it just gushed everywhere. My thought is just forget about trying to be neat and use a large short bucket or a few deep pans (disposable deep baking pans - think turkey - would be good), and an old towel that you will not mind throwing away and a trash bag under everything. Loosen the bolt, slide yourself a far out as possible then undo the bolt and get the heck out of there. Shut the garage door in respect of neighborhood animals, go wash your hands, grab a beer and some snacks, watch a football game and then go back to the garage, it should have stopped dripping by then! Well it is not quite as bad as that, but you get the gist of what I am saying.

6) The connectors on the hoses can be a SOB to remove, even with the clips properly disengaged. It seems that the o-rings get "bonded" to the plastic a bit and can be very difficult to remove. It can take a lot of force to get those to move at times. That lead to my learning #7.

7) There may be a better way to remove the expansion tank on manual transmission cars than is listed in the Bently manual. I learned this after breaking a piece on the mounting bracket for the expansion tank requiring a trip to the dealer for a special order part (grr). The problem with the manual transmission cars is that the manifold that engages the bottom of the expansion tank has two large connectors, that after 6 years in my car were really stuck. The only way I could get this off was by prying with a screwdriver, and I could get access do that with the parts in the car. My method is this: remove the upper radiator hose and the one that come in to the middle of the tank. Then remove the electrical connector to the coolant sensor. If you can get it to come off, remove the small hose that connects to the manifold at the bottom of the expansion tank (hose # 5 in the image below). If that does not come off, follow it up to the other end and remove it there as it is easier. You will have to release a connector that holds that hose to the body of the car, but that is not too hard to do from up top as there is a little tab which if you push it and then pull the hose from the body it pops free. Now remove the two screws that hold the expansion tank bracket to the radiator frame. They are torx type, and it makes the job much easier if you have torx type allen wrenches for the upper one as there is not a lot of room to other types into the bolt head. Once the screws are out you can remove the whole expansion tank, bracket and even the hose in one piece from the car. You need to pull the bottom toward the engine at first to release a plug that holds the bottom in. Now that the assembly is out of the car you can put a screwdriver in the slot between the two connectors into the bottom of the expansion tank and get the pieces apart without breaking the bracket (unlike me). Unfortunately I do not have photos. I will try to get some later when I get the replacement part, but as I am traveling this week, it will be 10 days until I get to it.

Expansion tank bracket (part #1 below)


Coolant hoses:


8) The bolts on the thermostat are the perfect size, thread and length, to remove the waterpump.

9) Getting the new waterpump in can be a little challenging at first. The studs are a little bit too short to allow you to place the pump gently into location and engage the nuts on the studs. You end up needing to push like hell on the pump to load up the o-ring a little in order to engage enough threads with the nuts. Once you do that, it is a simple process of turning the nuts in small amounts evenly on both sides of the pump to snug it into the housing.

So all in all it is not too bad of a job. The expansion tank removal is the biggest pain of the whole thing and cost me a lot of time and aggravation. Knowing what I know now I would definitely take it out of the car with the bracket and then have easy access to disengage the connectors.
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Old 11-19-2006, 01:44 PM   #2
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Some photos:

These photos show some tricks for when one performs a cooling system overhaul to a BMW E46 manual transmission car (autos differ in the expansion tank bracket and with fan removal). Photo 1 through 4 show that it may be easier to remove the expansion tank while still on the mounting bracket for manual transmission cars. In the manual transmission cars, the expansion tank is mounted via a bracket/manifold that has two plugs that fit into the two largest holes in the bottom of the tank. The Bently manual says to pull up to release it. Well that is optimistic, as shown in photo 3 you need to wedge it apart with a screwdriver. To do that it needs to be out of the car. So if yours does not dissengage easily look through photos 1 through 6 to see another way to do it. Additionally, there are some tricks to the tensioners that I did not see in the Bently manual in the remaining photos.

link to all photos:http://www.pbase.com/cliffwarner/e46_bmw_photos









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Old 11-19-2006, 04:51 PM   #3
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Two more pictures:



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Old 11-19-2006, 05:06 PM   #4
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Yep, fun project if you know basic car maintenance and own basic tools. I just did my water pump, thermostat and water pump/alternator belt tensioner. It was soo easy. Great write-up. Also the waterpump pulley bolts can be used to remove the waterpump if you dont need to replace the thermostat.
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Old 11-19-2006, 08:13 PM   #5
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FYI on that bracket you broke the manifold that the expansion tank and the hoses connect to is a separate part that can be removed. It pulls up and off though it is hooked on with a couple hooks at the top; you may have to pull it towards the back of the car to disengage those hooks. Mine popped unexpectedly free of the bracket when I had to change the expansion tank, fortunately nothing broke for me.

I should probably do this whole thing one of these days. I've got a tensioner going bad and the whole shebang (except for the expansion tank) has 143k on it. What's the parts total ballpark?

Scott
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Old 11-19-2006, 08:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pigeon View Post
FYI on that bracket you broke the manifold that the expansion tank and the hoses connect to is a separate part that can be removed. It pulls up and off though it is hooked on with a couple hooks at the top; you may have to pull it towards the back of the car to disengage those hooks. Mine popped unexpectedly free of the bracket when I had to change the expansion tank, fortunately nothing broke for me.

I should probably do this whole thing one of these days. I've got a tensioner going bad and the whole shebang (except for the expansion tank) has 143k on it. What's the parts total ballpark?

Scott
The manifold can be separated from the mounting bracket if you release a tab of plastic at the top. I saw that after I broke it at the base. The plastic tab at the top must have snaped off on yours for it to be able to be pulled up and out. Unfortunately, BMW sells the two pieces as an assembly, not individually.

All 3 tensioners, upper and lower radiator hoses, thermostat, expansion tank and belts should run around $350-$400 (bavarian autosport has good prices)

I bought the Stewart waterpump as I wanted it to be really durable as I am planning a supercharger install. The Stewart pump costs $195, which is significantly more than a stock pump which runs around $65 to $75.
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Old 11-19-2006, 08:56 PM   #7
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Excellent write-up and photos, thanks for doing this.

A couple of things that may be of further help.

First, that "big tube" that is in the way goes to the alternator from the brake duct. It is a slip-on fit and rather easy to remove. I took it off so I could hook up a small tube to the expansion tank drain screw (drains through the tube rather than letting it splash around and hopefully into the drain bucket).

Second, I have used the tube method over the engine block drain on my car and 2 friend's cars with great sucess. The secret is to run the tube behind the steering rod boot and the control arm. It is tight and holds the tube in place without any help from me. Obviously, you shold break the drain bolt free before running the tube up there. Once in place, you can reach up with one hand, pull the tube back just a bit, and slip your thumb and forefinger in to loosen the bolt. The tube should stay rather close to the engine block on its own and once the bolt is free, should travel down the tube and into your drainpan along with the old coolant. You can still grab a beer and watch the game while it drains, but when you get back, there isn't all the old coolant mess to clean up. Saves you enough time to have another beer .

Last edited by shortyb; 11-19-2006 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 11-19-2006, 09:54 PM   #8
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Well Done!!!!
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Old 11-19-2006, 11:02 PM   #9
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You must be reading my mind...this job is on my short list of things to do.

Great write up and excellent documentation..!
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Old 11-20-2006, 12:09 AM   #10
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Great right up!
Is that the original waterpump? Noticed it has a metal impeller, I thought our cars came with the inferior plastic ones?
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Old 11-20-2006, 09:45 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollo10 View Post
Great right up!
Is that the original waterpump? Noticed it has a metal impeller, I thought our cars came with the inferior plastic ones?
To the best of my knowledge it is the original waterpump (I bought the car with ~ 40,000 miles on it). BMW apparently has some cars with the plastic impeller and some with the metal during a period where they changed over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyb View Post
Excellent write-up and photos, thanks for doing this.

A couple of things that may be of further help.

First, that "big tube" that is in the way goes to the alternator from the brake duct. It is a slip-on fit and rather easy to remove. I took it off so I could hook up a small tube to the expansion tank drain screw (drains through the tube rather than letting it splash around and hopefully into the drain bucket).

Second, I have used the tube method over the engine block drain on my car and 2 friend's cars with great sucess. The secret is to run the tube behind the steering rod boot and the control arm. It is tight and holds the tube in place without any help from me. Obviously, you shold break the drain bolt free before running the tube up there. Once in place, you can reach up with one hand, pull the tube back just a bit, and slip your thumb and forefinger in to loosen the bolt. The tube should stay rather close to the engine block on its own and once the bolt is free, should travel down the tube and into your drainpan along with the old coolant. You can still grab a beer and watch the game while it drains, but when you get back, there isn't all the old coolant mess to clean up. Saves you enough time to have another beer .
Thanks for the input. After breaking the manifold/bracket from pulling up as documented in the Bently I guess I was a bit too timid! I pulled on that tube, probably way too gently, and it did not move. Next time I need to work in that area it will be removed! Once that is out you would have room to get a screwdriver in there to pop the tank free.

For the "tube" method of draining the block, I guess it did not work for me as I could not get the bolt to rotate with my fingers. I had to use a socket drive on it the whole way out. That is probably why the tube could not catch the fluid . I will likely replace it and the washer when I go back to the parts counter next Monday to pick up the expansion tank mounting bracket/manifold. The threads must be slightly buggered. I will have to get back under there and see what you are saying with respect to the routing, I clearly did not have that right.

Thanks for all the positive comments!
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Old 11-23-2006, 08:17 AM   #12
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can you list out the part #s for parts to buy and tools required?
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Old 12-08-2006, 02:36 AM   #13
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You guys are the heat, you just saved my car. It is stranded right now because there is a huge crack in my Expansion Tank. I have purchased a new one and plan on installing it tomorrow. Should I take it to the Service center and have them take a look at it? What would cause it to crack like that? I just got my Service II taken care of not even 2 months ago and there is only 69k miles on my 01 330i. Could there be something wrong with my cooling system that would cause the new tank to crack after the install? Everything seems to be in good operating condition and I think something weird just happened to the car. I did remove the air filter box around 30 days ago to allow for a short ram air filter to be installed, could that be the issue? I know I have a lot of questions but I am scary when it comes to this car. You have all been a big help already but just a little more couldn't hurt much. Thanks.


P.S. Does anyone know the part # for the Windshield wiper motor cowl for a sedan. Mine is weathered really bad and needs to be replaced (eyesore), dealership wants $250 for the install, seems pretty easy, thx again.
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Old 12-08-2006, 12:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Excaliber View Post
You guys are the heat, you just saved my car. It is stranded right now because there is a huge crack in my Expansion Tank. I have purchased a new one and plan on installing it tomorrow. Should I take it to the Service center and have them take a look at it? What would cause it to crack like that? I just got my Service II taken care of not even 2 months ago and there is only 69k miles on my 01 330i. Could there be something wrong with my cooling system that would cause the new tank to crack after the install? Everything seems to be in good operating condition and I think something weird just happened to the car. I did remove the air filter box around 30 days ago to allow for a short ram air filter to be installed, could that be the issue? I know I have a lot of questions but I am scary when it comes to this car. You have all been a big help already but just a little more couldn't hurt much. Thanks.


P.S. Does anyone know the part # for the Windshield wiper motor cowl for a sedan. Mine is weathered really bad and needs to be replaced (eyesore), dealership wants $250 for the install, seems pretty easy, thx again.
The expansion tanks fail due to the materials used and the design and method of construction. I replaced my preventatively due to the number of reported failures such as yours. Good luck with the replacement! It is not too bad.
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Old 12-31-2006, 11:51 AM   #15
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Could someone explain how to use the longer bolts to pull out the waterpump?
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Old 12-31-2006, 07:29 PM   #16
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Two days, too late....

Yesterday when I was driving on the freeway, the radiator expansion tank gave way, I could see a 5" crack on it. I was lucky that it happened close to my home. So I can slowly inch my smoking Bimmer home . After I get home I started and start my DIY plan. I went though google and BMWdiy and could not find anything on this regards. So I tried to do it myself without direction. First I called the local BMW stealership and they quoted me a $90+ for the tank. Then I seach on eBay and found one BMW supplier selling the tank for $50.00 + $8.00 shipping. What a difference on the price. I then ordered one on eBay, but since it is the Holiday seasons, I won't get it sooner than Jan 6, 2007. But I needed the car so much, and what I saw is ONLY a 5" crack, so I walked to Autozone and brought some plastic epoxy and tried to patch it. The crack was located at a location that I could not just apply the epoxy without removing the tank. There are three hosts on top which were very easy to take off. But I didn't know that there are two connections right at the bottom...it's really the pain in the a$$ to remove the tank, I tried to push, pull, left, right, but with no luck. Since it is made out of plastic, I don't really want to work too hard on it. But after about 4 hours I was so mad that I gave it a good push and I heard something broke, the holder on top snap. Now I can peeked and saw a backet at the bottom, so I tried to use my screwdriver to pry it loose, I pry and pry and pry and suddenly I heard another loud snap, and the tank finally broke loose but without avoid damaging one conner of the mounting plate. Any how if I have read this thread earlier, I might have saved a lot of time, totally almost 7 hours just to remove the tank. Now I have patched the crack with two layers of epoxy with duct tape outside. So far so good. At least I can use the car for local driving while I am waiting for the new tank to arrive. I bump for this posted thread, every DIY's should read this, because I heard that this expansion tank only last only for around 75,000 miles.
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Old 12-31-2006, 08:43 PM   #17
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Could someone explain how to use the longer bolts to pull out the waterpump?
anyone?
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Old 12-31-2006, 11:49 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by k9fxr View Post
anyone?
There are two threaded holes on both sides of the water pump that are not used to mount the pump. Thread the long bolts in these holes and tighten them down evenly. This will slowly pull the WP out and will prevent you from having to yank on it.
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Old 01-13-2007, 10:13 PM   #19
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Okay, I set out to complete a coolant flush and replace the water pump and thermostat; with new hoses, and belts. When draining the radiator and the expansion tank most posts on here talk about 2 blue plugs. I only had one blue plug on the expansion tank. The radiator had a black plug with a "handle". You turn it 1/4 turn and pull it out. On the end is an o-ring to create the seal. I got it out and flushed to coolant, have the car all back together but this o-ring seems shot. There are no cracks in it but it fits real loose around the fitting and now the radiator leaks from it. I'm going to get another o-ring and I think that will fix it. Has anyone else had this problem or seen this plug?

I have included a picture and also reposted a picture from above. From the schematic it is part number 2. If anyone has a manual can you help me out and tell me what size the 0-ring is and what that part it called. Any info would be great. Other than this issue, all when smooth with the water pump and thermostat.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:26 AM   #20
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bump...
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