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Old 02-16-2012, 04:06 AM   #1
mkodama
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Arrow Coolant and BMW Engines

Believe it or not, the coolant you choose can weaken your hoses and expansion tank, cause premature failure of your water pump, and clog your radiator. Curious why?

What is Coolant?
For starts, the basis of coolant is usually antifreeze and water in a 50/50 ratio, mixed in with usually 3% additives. Antifreeze increases boiling point and decreases freezing point. Water conducts heat faster and holds much more heat than antifreeze. Half and half gives you a good compromise between the two, and antifreeze actually requires water to work properly.
Ethylene Glycol is moderately poisonous stuff that is the most common and best working antifreeze. It is clear, odorless, and syrupy, and has a slightly sweet taste. Usually you will not be able to taste it in coolant though as it is out flavored by bittering agents to prevent humans and animals from drinking it. Ethylene glycol does break down over time and is why coolant doesn't last forever. Just in plain air, it will breakdown within a few weeks.
Propylene glycol (or methyl ethyl glycol) is just like ethylene glycol but doesn't do as good a job as coolant and isn't toxic.

Water covers 2/3rds of the planet. It's best to use distilled/deionized water, but it's actually suitable to use tap water if you know the mineral levels and have a tap water safe coolant. What you don't want are minerals in your cooling system, and the requirements for tap water by BMW are: clear, without suspended matter, pH from 6.5-8.0, less than 357ppm calcium, less than 100mg/L Chloride, and less than 100mg/L sulfate. Some manufacturers suggest even lower calcium levels. Calcium is bad because when dissolved calcium heats up, it precipitates out of the water as sand or forms as scale on hot surfaces. Ok, so now you know about 97% of what's in coolants.
Additives - The Last 3%
The rest of the stuff is mainly corrosion protection, and a little bit for bittering agents for safety, coloring for identification, ant-foaming, etc...
Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT)
Conventional coolant that has been used for the past 60+ years made of inorganic salts, which sacrificially protect from corrosion not too different than a zinc plating on a steel bolt. The bad thing is that with hard water and/or time, these additives get used up and turn into sand, literally, hard, rocklike sand, which will grind away any seal or bearing exposed to the coolant. Usually a 2 year lifespan.
-Silicates good for preventing aluminum corrosion but precipitate with use.
-Phosphates good for preventing steel corrosions but precipitate with hard water.

Organic Acid Technology (OAT)
Doesn't use silicates and phosphates but instead use carboxylate, sebacate, or 2-ethylhexanoic acid (2-EHA). Beware of 2-EHA, because it is a plasticizer, which means it softens plastics. Usually a 3 year lifespan and slightly more expensive than inorganic acid technology.

Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT)
Same as Organic Acid Technology, but usually with a small amount of silicates or phosphates to extend the useable life without the problems. Usually Japanese manufacturers add phosphates from past problems with silicates and water pump seals, while european manufacturers add silicates due to commonly hard water in Europe. This is the primary coolant used by manufacturers due to the extremely long service life. Usually a 4+ year lifespan and slightly more expensive than organic acid technology, but the cheapest when used with extended drain intervals.

How to pick the right stuff?
The safest bet is to either use your car's recommended coolant, or look up the specifications, MSDS, or datasheets for the antifreeze you're thinking of buying and trying to avoid some of the additives that might cause problems in your situation. If you are going to use tap water, avoid phosphates. If you are going to do long service intervals, look into hybrid organic acid technologies. etc... In general, G-05 and G-48 formulations are good choices as they are hybrid technologies that have a long service interval and safe with clean tap water. The biggest difference being that G48 does not contain nitrates, which are excellent for cavitation protection but can combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic.

Good Choices:
-BMW Coolant (bluish-green) BMW Part # 82 14 1 467 704
-MINI Coolant (bluish-green) MINI Part # Part # 82 14 0 031 133
-Mercedes-Benz Coolant (bluish-green) Mercedes-Benz Part # Q 1 03 0004
-Glysantin G-48 (bluish-green)
-Glysantin G-05 (yellow)
-Zerex G-05 (yellow)

All of those products come are all from the same parent company, BASF, and all are roughly $20 per gallon of undiluted coolant.

Effect of ethylene glycol on freezing points:


Effect of ethylene glycol on boiling points:
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Old 02-16-2012, 04:20 AM   #2
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Very nice, Miles! I'm sure you've helped remove the green from insides many radiators!

(One note: just yesterday I read here that BMW coolant was really G-48 (iirc), but that the G-05 is okay, just a slightly different formulation with lower silicate content.)

If I add one of your approved yellow coolants to my BMW blue, I think I'd be the first to have a BMW-approved green coolant to match my exterior!
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Old 02-16-2012, 04:21 AM   #3
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Thanks man. A great piece of education. Appreciated.
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Old 02-16-2012, 04:51 AM   #4
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Very nice, Miles! I'm sure you've helped remove the green from insides many radiators!

(One note: just yesterday I read here that BMW coolant was really G-48 (iirc), but that the G-05 is okay, just a slightly different formulation with lower silicate content.)

If I add one of your approved yellow coolants to my BMW blue, I think I'd be the first to have a BMW-approved green coolant to match my exterior!
True! I mixed that one up. BMW's coolant is actually more similar to Zerex G-48.

The somewhat bothersome thing though, is that Zerex G-48 is no longer sold, and both G-48 and the BMW coolant MSDS lists 2-EHA in it at the time of the MSDS's printing in 2001. Whether BMW changed the mixture or not since then is unknown.
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Old 02-16-2012, 05:34 AM   #5
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Some good info here!

Great job!
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Old 02-16-2012, 05:59 AM   #6
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Miles. Win.
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Old 02-16-2012, 08:50 AM   #7
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Informative and helpful.
Thanks Miles.
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:13 AM   #8
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Good stuff. The barnyard fantasies can be put to rest now!
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:31 PM   #9
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My hose popped off my thermostat. Obviously, the engine got hot so I pulled into the first gas station. I had about 1/4-1/2 gallon of the BMW antifreeze to pour in. The gas station only has jugs of drinking water, no distilled water. Would it be ok to use this drinking water in a pinch?
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:48 PM   #10
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^ Good question. I would imagine such a small additive of minerals wouldn't be bad for the cooling system and would be way too diluted to make any difference. Now if you filled the entire thing with drinking water then you'd have mineral depositing issues later on.
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedney View Post
My hose popped off my thermostat. Obviously, the engine got hot so I pulled into the first gas station. I had about 1/4-1/2 gallon of the BMW antifreeze to pour in. The gas station only has jugs of drinking water, no distilled water. Would it be ok to use this drinking water in a pinch?
In a pinch, you could use just about anything. The less stuff is in the water, the better it is for your cooling system.

In an emergency, I would put just about anything water based or even pure antifreeze in the cooling system.
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Old 06-02-2012, 06:42 PM   #12
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Thanks guys.
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Old 06-02-2012, 09:21 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by mkodama View Post
True! I mixed that one up. BMW's coolant is actually more similar to Zerex G-48.

The somewhat bothersome thing though, is that Zerex G-48 is no longer sold, and both G-48 and the BMW coolant MSDS lists 2-EHA in it at the time of the MSDS's printing in 2001. Whether BMW changed the mixture or not since then is unknown.
The gallon of BMW coolant I just bought lists 2-EHA as an ingredient. Can't be that bad if they are still using it, can it?

BTW, thanks for posting that great info!
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Old 06-03-2012, 07:17 PM   #14
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Nice post, but I wouldn't worry too much about the 2-ethylhexanoic acid being able to soften plastic parts such as the expansion tank, the thermostat housing, etc. The 2-EHA concentration is not high - about 7% w/w in undiluted coolant - shouldn't be enough to noticeably affect the physical properties of the plastic parts.
Of course, I don't have details about the resistance of the plastic materials to organic solvents, but they can make them pretty sturdy nowadays.
If anything, we've seen evidence that the rubber hoses are more prone to solvent damage than the expansion tank.

By the way, the Zerex G-05 does not contain 2-EHA, but contains a similar amount of sodium benzoate. The benzoate would work as a plasticizer pretty much the same way as the ethylhexanoic acid.

That being said, the BMW and the Zerex G-05 coolants are good products for our cars and both can be used interchangeably (with a dist-water flush in between).
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Old 06-03-2012, 09:04 PM   #15
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Ok since I have you guys in here, what do you think about Redline water wetter? The VW crowd loves it. I searched about putting it in our cars and got a bunch of different responses.
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Old 06-03-2012, 09:28 PM   #16
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The G11 coolant is the same as G48. The G11 can be obtained from some online retailers and is made by Pentosin

http://www.amazon.com/Pentosin-Coola.../dp/B002EJUX2K
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:29 AM   #17
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Ok since I have you guys in here, what do you think about Redline water wetter? The VW crowd loves it. I searched about putting it in our cars and got a bunch of different responses.
Not needed, not helpful, nor recommended by BMW in any BMW with a thermostat. If you opt to run pure water in your cooling system, I do think it's a great option for a little corrosion protection and water pump seal lubrication.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:22 AM   #18
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Good post.


Antifreeze doesn't increase the boiling point, it's the pressurization of the cooling system that does that.
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:30 AM   #19
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Just did the cooling system on a 04 330ci that had the blue stuff in it when I cracked it apart. I have never seen a cleaner inside of the motor when taking the water pump out. That blue stuff must work. Usually when you get a used car, the PO has swapped it to something else. Happy to see someone did it right.
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Old 12-29-2012, 07:28 AM   #20
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Calcium would only come from hard water, you use distilled water, right?

BMW coolant contains 2-EHA, so I suppose that's why it causes expansion tanks to fail so regularly.

What point were you trying to make in the OP?
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