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General E46 Forum
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Old 10-11-2011, 05:33 PM   #1
BMWCaptain
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Buying Parts (and dealer only) locally and my experience with a Radiator

I recently had my radiator spring a leak because my fan blade descintigrated and put a small hole in it. Since I needed my car repaired quickly I went to Advance Autoparts and got the Ready-Rad Radiator. It was about the same price as ordering an OEM radiator from the online vendors. I talked to the salesman and asked if they had any problems with them and he said no, very few. I installed the radiator and could not get the drain plug in. They manufactured the drain plug with 4 tabs and the radiator only has 2 slots. There is no way that the drain plug will fit into the radiator. I went back to Advance Auto parts to get a replacement. They did not have one and they ordered one in for Morning delivery. I contacted the Manufacture, Vista-pro about the drain plug problem and they said they have not had problem with the drain plugs, only that the drain plugs have been missing in the box. He also said they have not sold those radiators with those drain plugs for along time. It must have been old stock radiator. The new one's have screw-in drain plugs like my Behr Radiator. I got the replacement radiator in the morning and found it had the new design drain plug. Great! Not so fast. I could not mount the expansion tank holding bracket on the new radiator. Go figure. These radiators are made in China and it shows. No matter what I did, the screw holes were not aligned so that I could fit the part on the radiator. What, this same part fit on the defective radiator I returned. Again, I contacted the manufacturer about this problem and sent them photos of the problem I was experiencing. He thanked me and I asked him what he could do for me for my inconvenience and additional cost. He said he could not do anything for me.

No one carries the OEM radaitor locally other than the BMW dealer. I had been buying a few parts at Car Quest recently and found out they do sell the Behr radiator for the BMW. It cost me $195 for the Behr. If you ordered it online and asked for Overnight delivery, it would cost about the same. The Behr went in with no problems and in an hour my car was back to running without a leak. Thank you Behr for your quality!

Here is what I learned:

- Don't buy 3rd party radiators Ready-Rad (432528) or Proliance (432528) Made in China. Poor Quality, incovienence, aggrivation, manufacturer response and cost do not make it worth while. Ready-Rad cost $156 and Behr online is $148.

- If you need Dealer only parts, try your local Car Quest parts store. They are the only local parts store that carries Dealer-only parts or specific BMW parts. They have even had parts my BMW Dealer did not have in stock like Expansion Holding Bracket and injector o-rings.

_ Behr parts look like actual BMW parts with BMW icon scratched out or ground out. I have bought the Behr Thermostat and the Behr radiator and see that it is identical to my BMW with the exception of the BMW logo being scratched out or ground out. Behr 1 year warranty, BMW 2 years, but over 2x times the cost. I will try to use Behr when ever I can. I also saw this with my Upper and Lower radiator hoses made by Contech.

- If you replace cooling system parts, use distilled water first to test for leaks and then flush with 50/50 mix. If your system leaks, you will only loose water and not waste the BMW antifreeze you need to fill it with when you do get it all together leak free.

- If you think you are going to be doing your radiator or expansion tank in the future, buy them online ahead of time so you can do the repair quickly.


Hoping to save you some time, money and aggrevation by buying real parts and avoiding the bad parts from China.

Last edited by BMWCaptain; 10-11-2011 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 10-11-2011, 05:48 PM   #2
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Yup! And chalk this up as "proof" for our special resident clown here (and all the rest who think like him) that you should be leaving old plastic parts in your car until they break. This is also for those who think that after a "cooling kit" from our favorite 3-letter vendor here constitutes anything close to a "refresh."

You need to replace all the parts, and this means fan blade and clutch for auto cars.
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Old 10-11-2011, 09:23 PM   #3
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the bmw scratch out is an issue with service vs. production parts. contract stuff. i scored a new behr rad on ebay for a really great deal and have had zero issues with it. i also found the behr thermostat has a better gasket design than the Wahler. I used to work for Behr and their automotive bmw stuff is pretty good. they also do service replacements for competitors like valeo. that might also be what is causing the logo scratch out.

i found that coolant can sometimes leak when water will not, especially with tank to header joints and o-rings.
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Old 10-14-2011, 09:47 PM   #4
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regarding the drain plug with 4 tabs...two of the tabs on opposite sides need to be gently pushed in while putting pressure against the plug into the radiator. I just encountered this and not having any instructions took me a few minutes to figure out. The hex plug is then rotated 90 degrees to lock into place then the screw-in plug can be installed.
My radiator also came with 2 different plugs- the long one is for auto trans and should have 2 o-rings, the shorter is for manual trans and only has 1 o-ring. The screw-in plug should fit either and also has 1 o-ring.
Hope this helps the next person
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Old 10-15-2011, 03:44 PM   #5
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When I talked to the manufacture's tech support, they did not even understand the 4 tabs. I would recommend people stay away from these aftermarket radiators because the plastic and drain plugs did not seem as hefty as the Behr.
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