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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 05-29-2011, 11:04 AM   #1
TR4G-
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Expansion tank of radiator? cant tell (PICS)

I have a leak in my coolant system but I'm not sure if its my radiator or my expansion tank. It seems like the coolant stains are on the radiator not the expansion tank, but i am not sure. What do you guys think? (bout to clean it off and take out to see more, but I'm assuming you guys have seen all this before)

TOP looking DOWN:

looking from top towards front of car:







Side of ET doesnt look too bad....





any thoughts would be appreciated
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Old 05-29-2011, 12:49 PM   #2
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I would say the radiator is leaking at the junction between the neck and side tank. Your expansion tank has been replaced, the red colored level stick is the improved version. Another potential leak is the upper radiator hose connection, but that hose appears to be a replacement too.

I just did a cooling system overhaul and the key is to apply coolant to the o ring prior to install. Also, your car is running the wrong coolant, it should be blue and not green.

Last edited by Optio; 05-30-2011 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 05-29-2011, 01:06 PM   #3
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I would say the radiator is leaking at the junction between the neck and side tank. Your expansion tank has been replaced, the red colored level stick is the improved version. Another potential leak is the upper radiator hose connection, but that hose appears to be be a replacement too.

I just did a cooling system overhaul and the key is to apply coolant to the o rinf pripr to install. Also, your car is running the wrong coolant, it should be blue and not green.
Yes, the upper radiator hose is new as well. So there might be a possibility that neither the radiator or the ET are broken?
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Old 05-29-2011, 02:35 PM   #4
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Check the connections of the hoses to the ET and radiator. You might just have a slighly loose connection and the pressure popped it out even more
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:43 PM   #5
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Check the connections of the hoses to the ET and radiator. You might just have a slighly loose connection and the pressure popped it out even more
i'm taking out the ET, from what i could tell all the connecitons were sealed. I think its on the radiator. Ive got the hose to the ET off and drained. but i can't wedge that sucker out.

Any tips on how to pry out the ET? I only remove the upper radiator hose, the one on the side that goes to the heater or something, and then the clip on the bottom i undo.

Thats what i've done so far and i cannot for the life of me pull it out! I've been yanking from the top and feebly pushing from the bottom for over 40 minutes. Any help???
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:53 PM   #6
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Clean the area and run the car with full coolant until leak appears for a better idea where it might be coming from. If you can, pressure test the cooling system.
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Old 05-29-2011, 08:26 PM   #7
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i'm taking out the ET, from what i could tell all the connecitons were sealed. I think its on the radiator. Ive got the hose to the ET off and drained. but i can't wedge that sucker out.

Any tips on how to pry out the ET? I only remove the upper radiator hose, the one on the side that goes to the heater or something, and then the clip on the bottom i undo.

Thats what i've done so far and i cannot for the life of me pull it out! I've been yanking from the top and feebly pushing from the bottom for over 40 minutes. Any help???
DON'T PULL/YANK WHIL IT'S ATTACHED TO THE BRACKET!

You will break it if you're not careful Unplug all the hoses and coolant level sensor attached to the ET and remove the bracket that the ET is attached to first. This plastic bracket is very fragile and will crack if you try to remove the ET while it's still under the hood. To remove the bracket you'll need a Torx-20 socket to unscrew two screws, one at the top facing the passenger side (if you're looking at it from the hood) and the other underneath facing outwards towards the front of the car.

Once the bracket is out it will take alot of hand-strength + WD40 (or PB Blaster) to wiggle it loose. Detach the old ET, clean off the plugs and then put in new ET
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Old 05-30-2011, 08:43 AM   #8
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Do you haves picture of this bracket. I don't think I quite understand. And no instructions Ive come across mention this...
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:45 AM   #9
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Part #10

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Old 05-30-2011, 12:06 PM   #10
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You should have cleaned everything off like someone else said and run the car. If you have a hairline crack, that may be the only way you'll be able to see it. Especially if it's along a seam somewhere.

I removed my expansion tank on the car without removing the bracket. If you have an automatic, be careful not to break the top of the ATF thermostat that sits in the larger opening on the bracket.

I had a similar leak after replacing my cooling system. It turned out to be a small crack on the radiator near the upper connection.
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Old 05-30-2011, 02:19 PM   #11
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Thanks for the replies guys. I'll take that piece out and see if I can see anything. If not, I'll hook it back up and run it
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Old 05-30-2011, 02:26 PM   #12
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Remove the fan shroud first, as it will make removing the bracket alot easier. Once you remove the bracket w/ ET attached spray some WD40 and wiggle the thing off. If it's been on there for some years (like mine was) it may be seized up and need some negotiating
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Old 05-30-2011, 06:38 PM   #13
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ok so I finally got out the ET with the removal of the fan shroud an the bracket you spoke of. Thank you. And once it was out I still could not get the bracket off ha. Anyway, I removed the radiator, washed it clean, and of course i couldnt see the crack. So after all that mess, I put everything back together (which took like 10 minutes....) and now I'm going to fill it up with coolant, and let it idle, and watch for leaks.....

Now, before I do this, I drained the radiator, and the ET, but NOT the engine block. Do I have to drain the engine block as well or can I fill up the ET with coolant/distilled water and bleed it all.... Thanks guys, it's amazing how easy it becomes once you finally do something more than once....
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Old 05-30-2011, 09:37 PM   #14
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Its the rad, I had a similar leak
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:52 PM   #15
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If you're just testing the system to see the leak I don't see why draining the engine block would be necessary? Clean the entire area that looks affected by the leak and then start up the car and watch. There's a thread in the general section about coolant leaks with ppl who seem to have problems in the same area...

As far as getting the ET off the bracket, try using a rubber jar-opener (rubber pad) for a better grip and wiggle that SOB.
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:04 AM   #16
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If you're just testing the system to see the leak I don't see why draining the engine block would be necessary? Clean the entire area that looks affected by the leak and then start up the car and watch. There's a thread in the general section about coolant leaks with ppl who seem to have problems in the same area...

As far as getting the ET off the bracket, try using a rubber jar-opener (rubber pad) for a better grip and wiggle that SOB.
Nvm. I was Just making sure I didn't have to start from scratch when adding more Coolant. Anywho, asummjng the test doesn't go well, is this the cheapest place I can find a radiator?

http://www.turnermotorsport.com/p-12...-radiator.aspx
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:20 AM   #17
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Its the radiator leaking at the seem.... the pics make it look pretty clear in my opinion....

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Old 05-31-2011, 08:50 AM   #18
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Looks like the radiator.

Autohausaz.com has them for around 140 shipped.
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Old 05-31-2011, 11:37 AM   #19
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Looks like the radiator.

Autohausaz.com has them for around 140 shipped.
Wow. Thanks alot that site is great.

What hoses in the cooling system have o rings? And when do I need to replace these?
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