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Old 03-06-2015, 01:06 PM   #1
Mishimoto
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Mishimoto E46 Non-M Aluminum Radiator R&D

Hey guys,

We've finally started the development of a non-M E46 aluminum radiator. Check out the progress of this project on our blog or posted within this thread! Feel free to chime in with any questions or comments.

http://engineering.mishimoto.com/cat...tor-1999-2006/

Mishimoto E46 Non-M Aluminum Radiator R&D, Part 1: Stock Radiator Evaluation

This project is another one on our list that we decided to tackle after receiving numerous requests from the enthusiasts' boards, most notably you guys here. After developing and testing a very efficient radiator for M3 models of this generation, the non-M world identified a critical need for a more reliable radiator solution. As with most BMW vehicles, plastic components within the cooling system necessitate frequent replacement and have a knack for failing at the worst possible moments (like in the staging lanes of the first autocross of the season).

Along with recommendations from the forums, we also see the E46 non-M as a fantastic budget entry into performance driving, with its rear-wheel drive, sharp looks, and a reliable straight-six engine. All are characteristics of a vehicle that is ideal for soaking up mileage during the weekly commute as well as ripping around the twisties on the weekend.

Test Subject
Finding a test vehicle was pretty simple. A member of our team uses the 325ci shown below as a daily commuter.


E46 325ci test vehicle

A peek under the hood reveals a clean and entirely stock engine bay. This would be helpful because we know what components we will need to incorporate into the design of our radiator. It will also help provide clearance information in regard to how much we can increase the size of our radiator.


E46 325ci test vehicle engine bay


E46 325ci test vehicle engine bay


E46 325ci test vehicle engine bay

Removing the Stock Radiator
Once the coolant was drained we set to work and had the stock radiator removed rather quickly. The process is fairly similar compared to the M3, but the electric fan installed on our manual test vehicle made removal a bit quicker.


Stock radiator removed


Stock radiator removed

Once out, we took a good look at all the features of the radiator to determine our course of action for developing a radiator of our own.


Stock radiator removed

Along with the radiator, we removed the stock overflow tank and both the upper and lower radiator hoses. We will be evaluating the radiator expansion tank with an interest in developing an aluminum counterpart. The overflow tank on these vehicles is a common failure point, so we would like to develop a solution for that. As with the E46 M, we are planning to put together a silicone hose kit to replace the stock rubber units. If you need to replace your hoses, it makes sense to upgrade the material for greater longevity.

Take a closer look at the end tanks and hose connections featured on the stock radiator.


Stock radiator hose connection

One of the more interesting features of this radiator is the cooler port for the automatic transmission, which is located on the lower driver's side of the radiator. Much like the E90 radiator, this port supplies coolant to the liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger that cools the E46 auto transmission. On a manual model, the plug in the base of this connection blocks flow to the bottom rows of the radiator.


Stock radiator transmission cooler connection

In the automatic version, coolant flows to the base of the radiator and through a separate heat exchanger, which allows for the transfer of heat from the transmission fluid to the engine coolant. A thermostat regulates coolant temperatures for optimal efficiency. This stock system is both complex and interesting.

After numerous discussions and debates, we will be offering a radiator that functions with both manual and automatic models. Our engineers are up to the task of designing this unit, and we see a need for this radiator for auto models as well.

To connect the transmission cooler and overflow tank, a mounting plate is used to route fluid and additionally to provide a mounting point for the fan shroud.


Manual transmission radiator mounting plate


Automatic transmission radiator mounting plate

As you can see, the manual and automatic mounting plates differ. The bottom image shows the two additional ports that move fluid to the external transmission cooler. A thermostat is also incorporated into the larger overflow port. As we mentioned earlier, this is a complex system and is not something we typically see.

Collecting Stock Radiator Dimensions
After deciding on the direction of our project, our engineering team began to collect dimensional data from the stock radiator. This meant mounting the radiator to our coordinate measuring machine (CMM) table and mapping the location of critical dimensions.


Stock radiator on CMM table


Stock radiator on CMM table


Stock radiator on CMM table

Once we have all the information needed from the stock radiator, we will begin to design our aluminum unit. Check back with us next time for a look at the 3D renderings of our plans for this radiator!

Thanks for reading.
-John

Last edited by Mishimoto; 03-06-2015 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 03-06-2015, 01:17 PM   #2
JasonLI25t
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this is fantastic, and i am probably more excited about the potential aluminum expansion tank you mentioned.
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Old 03-06-2015, 01:20 PM   #3
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+1,000,000
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Old 03-06-2015, 01:28 PM   #4
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You should get your hands on a mechanical clutch fan as well, it may change how you design this.
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Old 03-06-2015, 01:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by JasonLI25t View Post
this is fantastic, and i am probably more excited about the potential aluminum expansion tank you mentioned.
Thanks! We will be starting a development thread on that component very soon as well. Like the radiator, this piece is extremely complex.

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+1,000,000
Thanks!

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You should get your hands on a mechanical clutch fan as well, it may change how you design this.
Do not worry, we have a mechanical unit on-hand to check fitment and clearances. Thanks for the tip!

-John
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:15 PM   #6
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Excellent, will be monitoring your progress!
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:18 PM   #7
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Excellent, will be monitoring your progress!
Thank you!
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:30 PM   #8
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Fantastic that you are looking into creating new products, but hopefully these will be time-proven and competitively priced to be a successful product. Based on my experience, E46 radiator failures are rare--not as common as E36 radiator failures primarily due to the structure/mounting point of the upper hose. I have seen these all aluminum radiators from companies such as yours have fitment and other issues on E36 models such as the E36 M3 while others have had good experiences. I would hope that any products you make for the E46 retain full professional OE fit and function. That's apparently more difficult to do on a low-volume production standpoint from a company with relatively limited resources.

I can see the expansion tank being of more use/interest to this community although I will say replace both your expansion tank and radiators with OE/OEM parts for $70 and $130, respectively every 75k miles and you'll never experience a failure in your lifetime.

That being said, these would have to be priced extremely aggressively to make the biggest impact on the community. They would also have to be the same weight or lighter than the stock parts as to not add additional weight at the extreme front end of the car--the exact place you don't want it. It will be interesting to see Mishimoto be successful at this challenge.

Thanks Mishimoto for looking into creating new products and I look forward to seeing what your company builds! =)
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:44 PM   #9
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Looking forward to seeing the final result and kudos for taking this project on!
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:48 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Mango View Post
Fantastic that you are looking into creating new products, but hopefully these will be time-proven and competitively priced to be a successful product. Based on my experience, E46 radiator failures are rare--not as common as E36 radiator failures primarily due to the structure/mounting point of the upper hose. I have seen these all aluminum radiators from companies such as yours have fitment and other issues on E36 models such as the E36 M3 while others have had good experiences. I would hope that any products you make for the E46 retain full professional OE fit and function. That's apparently more difficult to do on a low-volume production standpoint from a company with relatively limited resources.

I can see the expansion tank being of more use/interest to this community although I will say replace both your expansion tank and radiators with OE/OEM parts for $70 and $130, respectively every 75k miles and you'll never experience a failure in your lifetime.

That being said, these would have to be priced extremely aggressively to make the biggest impact on the community. They would also have to be the same weight or lighter than the stock parts as to not add additional weight at the extreme front end of the car--the exact place you don't want it. It will be interesting to see Mishimoto be successful at this challenge.

Thanks Mishimoto for looking into creating new products and I look forward to seeing what your company builds! =)
+1 one price concerns. I'm not concerned about the mass though. The radiator is hardly big enough to cause any real change in weight distribution. Full/empty gas tank causes far more than a pound or two on a radiator ever could.

How does Mishimoto plan to validate this radiator?
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:48 PM   #11
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I daily my E46 xit to Wilmington, if you should ever need another mule . I have also been very pleased with your rad in my Subaru!

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Old 03-06-2015, 02:59 PM   #12
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Great news! Us non-M people have been in need of a reasonably priced aluminum radiator for all too long.
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Old 03-06-2015, 03:16 PM   #13
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Holy wow this is awesome! Here's to hoping the price is somewhat competitive
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Old 03-06-2015, 03:23 PM   #14
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In for interest!
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Old 03-06-2015, 04:02 PM   #15
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This sounds great, I just hope this radiator doesn't cost $656.00 like the m3 does. If it does I'll just buy a stock radiator.
http://www.mishimoto.com/bmw-e46-m3-...tor-01-06.html
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Old 03-06-2015, 04:09 PM   #16
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I would love to have this in my cars. Can we expect some type of group buy once these are ready for some first adopters?

Very excited.

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Old 03-06-2015, 04:15 PM   #17
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+1 one price concerns. I'm not concerned about the mass though. The radiator is hardly big enough to cause any real change in weight distribution. Full/empty gas tank causes far more than a pound or two on a radiator ever could.

How does Mishimoto plan to validate this radiator?
Yeah not really a major concern in and of itself, but the idea is more that I hope this isn't a bunch of minuses, mixed in with a few unknowns, bundled with a large increase in cost. That's been the case in the E36 M3 world with same or similar all metal radiators years ago. A few there have reported failures of such products, bad welds, etc. It's kind of like the Stewart thing--An "improved" and untested (time) product for more money when the stock part works perfectly fine when replaced at regular intervals.
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Old 03-06-2015, 04:17 PM   #18
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This sounds great, I just hope this radiator doesn't cost $656.00 like the m3 does. If it does I'll just buy a stock radiator.
http://www.mishimoto.com/bmw-e46-m3-...tor-01-06.html
Right. Even assuming perfect reliability--no failures ever--@ $600, it would take 200,000+ actual driving miles to recover the cost of this radiator. And at that point, you'd only just break even. Most people move on to a different car by then.
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Old 03-06-2015, 04:20 PM   #19
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It certainly should be cheaper than the M3 version, as an OEM m3 radiator is more than twice the price of an OEM non-m radiator.
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Old 03-06-2015, 04:22 PM   #20
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In for the results! When does the group buy start??
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