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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 04-14-2009, 04:37 PM   #41
kataE46
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Need Help!!!! I was on my way to replace my cooling system and have the DIY for it. I was wondering if anybody had the same issue that I am having right now. Here are the pics:
here's an update. Finally I was able to replace my cooling system. Just when I thought I was done I notice something. There is a leak coming from the blue screw. I think it is where it is screwed in. What is this part called? Thanks. I guess i can still drive the car as long as I keep checking the water level.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:17 AM   #42
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that would be your drain plug/screw, have you tried tightening it a tad more ? I believe there is an oring either on the screw or the inside of that hole, it could be messed up
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Old 06-04-2009, 08:52 PM   #43
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I've noticed a leak has started to develop on my lower radiator hose (labeled water hose by BMW) near the sensor. What are the proper steps to just change out this hose? I don't think I need to drain the coolant out. Thinking of catching it in a container....let me know if that assumption is wrong. Any other pointers as well?
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Old 06-13-2009, 11:11 PM   #44
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Great write-up. Did this today.
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:58 PM   #45
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Gonna do this this weekend. Did my thermostat and pump but stopped short of the tank and hoses. Noticed my tank has a 01/03/2001 sticker on it so I think it NEEDs to go! Going to do belts too while I am in there.

Can I use bottled spring water instead of distilled water????
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:03 PM   #46
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why?? just go to your local walmart/target and pick up the distilled water gallon for $.99, that's what's recommended
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Old 09-29-2009, 10:14 PM   #47
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Yeah, I will probably do that. I might have some RO/DI water sitting around for my fish tank too.

(I live in the city so hitting up a decent sized market requires driving in traffic)
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Last edited by Sixracer; 09-29-2009 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 09-29-2009, 11:02 PM   #48
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I'm glad I have the target 1 block away, good luck
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:51 PM   #49
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Paul, thanks so much for the writeup in the initial post!

A few comments based on my own experience this past weekend:

1) I found removing the lower hose by tapping its edge with a flat screwdriver and a mallet worked fairly well. You can get a little bit of an angle on the screwdriver holding it just under the front spoiler.

2) When re-installing the expansion tank, I used a helper. I laid under the car and supported the plastic parts that the tank snaps into. Then he pressed the tank down from the top. It took a lot of force to snap it in. I don't know how you could do that by yourself without breaking the plastic pieces on the bottom!

3) My thermostat had been leaking on the original water pump for who knows how long. The water pump mounts broke as I removed it, they were so brittle. Who knows how soon that entire thing would have died!! If you have a leaky thermostat housing, replace that pump ASAP!

4) I ordered a lower radiator hose from AutohausAZ. However, I didn't order a new temp sensor for it. I just reused the original. Well, once I had everything hooked up and starting filling the system, the hose was leaking at the temp sensor fitting. I ended up tearing everything apart and reinstalling the original hose with the original sensor -- no leaks. So I know I didn't mess up the sensor's "clogging" ability during all this, it simply doesn't fit in the new hose correctly. I called around and it seems neither the sensor or the hose has changed for the entire span of the E46s so I'm going to return the hose to AutohausAZ assuming it's defective. I'll probably go to the dealer for a new hose and sensor, despite them costing twice as much.

Saved $500 in labor costs from my local shop and it was well worth it! Thanks again!
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Old 10-28-2009, 04:03 PM   #50
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What did you do about your broken water pump mounts?

Did you replace the stud bolts?

http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...68&hg=11&fg=10
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Last edited by Sixracer; 10-28-2009 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 10-28-2009, 07:45 PM   #51
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I should clarify. The mounting studs are fine. It was the water pump itself that broke -- the "arms" that you slide the mounting studs through broke when I tightened the hex screws to pop the water pump out of the motor.

Scared me at first because I thought the water pump was stuck in there but I was able to pull it out by hand at that point.
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Old 12-15-2009, 02:50 PM   #52
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I, for one, would like to say that even if you have a high mileage car, if things don't need replacing, I don't think they need to be replaced. Sure, things like the water pump which have a bad reputation and are hard to inspect might be a very good idea--I upgraded to a Stewart pump myself based on just that concern. But hoses, for example, you should be able to manually inspect for wear and age. If they're fine, there really isn't any point in replacing them. When the thermostat goes bad, you'll know about it, just stay on top of inspecting your car and reading codes regularly and I think you can save a lot of money by not replacing perfectly good parts. Just my two cents!

That said, good writeup, thanks! I'm a big fan of your site.
So, my expansion tank just popped, luckily I was only a couple miles away from home and some duct tape and cold weather managed to get me home safely! I took out the old one to inspect damage and found I also had a bad radiator cap (the bottom O-ring section broke off) and I have a hose going bad connecting to the expansion tank...also a bad idler pulley.

Anyway, in light of this, I think it may make sense to preemptively replace the expansion tank. It fails because it gets brittle over time and heat cycles (NOT because of overfilling, as lots of people will say...you basically can't overfill this system if the cap is functioning properly, it will just overflow to the right level).

It's a $40 part online (autohausaz is my shop of choice), and it is kind of a PITA but it's probably worthwhile. Now, I have 152k on the clock, so I think replacing it every 60k might be excessive...that said, some will break earlier, and perhaps it's hard to prevent that. Maybe replacing it every 100k is a good policy--hoses I still believe you can inspect/feel and watch for signs of failure, but brittle plastic is hard to tell from new plastic, and that's why I'd replace it early. I'm driving from GA to NJ next week, and I'm lucky this didn't happen then.

This has got me thinking, though...there are plastic end tanks on that radiator, which is probably the same age. Is this a good time to replace that as well? Hmmm. It costs more like $140, so I'm a little less eager to do so, but perhaps I should learn my lesson. On the other hand, expansion tanks have a much worse reputation, and the end tanks look a little better-designed (reinforcing ribs and such)...

...shall we find out?

Last edited by frogg320; 12-15-2009 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 12-16-2009, 03:26 PM   #53
01-ADANA
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I need to do this pretty soon as I just found out today that I have a crack in the expansion tank, anyone in Northern VA area would like to do this together?
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Old 12-17-2009, 06:28 PM   #54
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in step 5 under the expansion tank...what does that little tab that slides in and out do? what is it for?
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Old 12-29-2009, 08:27 AM   #55
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in step 5 under the expansion tank...what does that little tab that slides in and out do? what is it for?
It is the lock mechanism that holds the tank down.
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:37 AM   #56
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amazing thanks!
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Old 01-14-2010, 08:06 PM   #57
01-ADANA
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Finally did this today, but no heat ?

Finally I just did this today. Believe it or not it took me 8 hours but I also had to replace my tensoner pulley (upgraded it to a hydraulic one) and idler pulley with new belts, all my beautiful sunny day was gone for my beautfil car. Well worth it! I also found that the lower radiator hose was a bit*h to get it off, it took me a good half an hour if not more. Once finished, I started the car and the temprature stayed in the middle, but I couldnt get the heater going. I bleed the system three times and as of now still it is blowing cold air! I didnt take it for a drive yet, since I am dead tired and will give it an another shot tomorrow again!

Great write up Paul - YOU ARE THE MAN!!!
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Old 01-15-2010, 08:21 AM   #58
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Your heater core isn't bled--make sure you follow the instructions about opening the valve when you're bleeding. This is what I did:

(starting with a cold car)
-Turn key to ignition position (position 2?), but do not start engine
-Move dial on vents to full hot
-Set temp control to max (it goes up to 90 something, I think)
-Select foot mid and defrost blowers
-Set fan to LOWEST setting. You could run higher, but there is no point.

One or more of these steps may be unnecessary, but since you have to kind of trick the temp controls into doing what you want I felt like I should cover all the bases...anyway, this worked for me, and definitely gets the car trying hard to use the heater core.

Now with this going, open the bleeder screw and then open the radiator cap and start filling until it pours out of the bleeder screw without bubbles. As it's pouring out, close the screw, then put the cap back on. Start her up, get up to temp, check for issues. At this point sometimes I crack the bleeder screw again, and hot coolant will start spraying out...be careful! Perhaps not necessary. You can skip right to the last step, which is waiting a really long time for it to get all the way cold again and then repeating the process.

After 2 of these you should definitely have it overfull, and you'll see some dried spots where it flows out of the cap afterward. This is healthy, do not listen to the stories about expansion tanks cracking because someone overfilled them, it's not true.

For me, the best test to see that I had gotten every bubble out (besides the big signs: normal temp, hot air blowing) was that I didn't hear any gurgling from the heater core in the cabin when I revved at a stop. Before it was bled all the way, I would.

Good luck
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Old 01-16-2010, 02:07 PM   #59
01-ADANA
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Where is my coolant going?

Frogg - I did exactly what u said and the heater is back on; however my light comes on and off again. So I checked my coolant level it is not full, and there are no leaks. Where is my coolant going? Very interesting.
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Old 01-17-2010, 03:34 AM   #60
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My coolant light comes on and off too... But I cannot find any leaks. Will this coolant show if it is dry? For example white residue or something... I checked before and after driving and I see no wettness or leaks or puddles. Yet my coolant level drops.
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