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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 01-03-2013, 12:28 AM   #1
gferrer
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My Ride: '91 318is/ '03 325xi
Radiator advice

I have an annoying leak somewhere in my cooling system. I located some potential leak spots, and tried replacing some o rings to fix the problem. Only fixed the problem temporarly though and the leak is progressively getting worse now. So I decided to replace the expansion tank and hoses, as you all know the notorious 100k+ or so cooling system overhaul. I have already replace thermostat at 91k and water pump at 117k. I'm at 132k now. So my question, is the radiator something to consider problematic with these cars? And if so go ahead and replace the radiator while I'm in there. I've seen many companies include radiators in their cooling system overhaul packages.

Thanks in advance, you guys are a great help.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:50 AM   #2
miweber929
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My guess is your going to get about 50% for and against, with SEVERAL people screaming you must replace or the big bad radiator will come get you and your kids at night while you sleep if you let your car go over the 100k mark without changing.

Personally, the vast majority of failures I've read about with E46's were with the expansion tank and radiator itself failures were more in line with typical car failures and not an issue, unlike the E36's which cracked at the top and failed prematurely. I'm no expert, but when I had the Indy shop working on my car after I bought it and had no service history, I had them do the water pump, thermostat and replace any hoses that were bad and they felt the radiator was solid and should simply be flushed. All this was done per their recommendations seeing 5-6 BMW's a week in their shop. The only thing I wish I'd had them do was the expansion tank, but I'll wait until I get a few more things done and just keep a close eye on it until I decide to either have them redo the coolant and replace the tank or I'll do it this summer.

Ymmv, but this is not just an XI specific thing so search on here in the general area to make your own mind up.

Last edited by miweber929; 01-03-2013 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:29 AM   #3
SamDoe1
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Unless your radiator is cracked, leaking, bent, broken, or otherwise physically damaged just leave it alone. They can last a good long while before needing replacement.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:51 AM   #4
Kubica
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Coolant leaves a white stain when it dries. Should be fairly easy to find a leak unless it's going in your oil.

To check for a bad radiator: locate the plastic-to-metal press fittings on the bottom corners of the radiator. They are an inch or two long and face either side of the car. If your rad is leaking, there will be green coolant pooling where the metal and plastic meet or it will be damp in that area.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:08 PM   #5
gferrer
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I'll take a look at the recommended areas, I'll probably let it be since I'm almost positive the leak isn't from the radiator. Then I can focus parts money elsewhere. Thanks again guys.
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:30 PM   #6
tomoyer
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Believe you stated that you replaced the coolant tank and hoses. As silly as this seems, are you 100% sure that you seated both parts of the upper radiator hose completely to the new tank? Did you replace the tank mount at same time you replaced the tank (usually a good idea to replace both as a unit)? Recently I used a JL coolant tank for replacement and it had a hairline crack in it where the smaller hose (overflow) of the upper radiator hose went on. Had to replace the tank again (tank was under warranty), but I opted to pay the few dollars more to use a BMW original tank, no problem after doing that. Also make sure you seated all hoses correctly, you can use some light grease or dishwashing detergent and water as a lube on the plastic fittings to help push them on all the way without hurting anything.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:02 PM   #7
gferrer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomoyer View Post
Believe you stated that you replaced the coolant tank and hoses. As silly as this seems, are you 100% sure that you seated both parts of the upper radiator hose completely to the new tank? Did you replace the tank mount at same time you replaced the tank (usually a good idea to replace both as a unit)? Recently I used a JL coolant tank for replacement and it had a hairline crack in it where the smaller hose (overflow) of the upper radiator hose went on. Had to replace the tank again (tank was under warranty), but I opted to pay the few dollars more to use a BMW original tank, no problem after doing that. Also make sure you seated all hoses correctly, you can use some light grease or dishwashing detergent and water as a lube on the plastic fittings to help push them on all the way without hurting anything.
I haven't replaced the expansion tank and hoses yet that is what I'm going to do. Thanks for the info, I should probably order OEM as well.

How crucial is it to replace the tank mount? I didn't think it would be worrysome if it wasn't broken. Thanks for the help.

Last edited by gferrer; 01-03-2013 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:21 PM   #8
tomoyer
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Often you can break the Tank Mount when trying to separate the Tank from the Mount even if you remove them as an assembly and take apart outside the car. The Tank Mount usually cost a few dollars more than the Tank. Myself, I always replace both as a new unit, up to you (believe there are others here that would opt not to replace the Mount.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:14 PM   #9
2002GreenBMW
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Look at the heater core as well, mine has been leaking and I couldn't figure it out for the longest time.
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:52 PM   #10
tomoyer
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Generally if the heater core is leaking, one or both of these things will happen; when you put the front defroster on, you will get "fog" on the inside of the windshield instead of clearing it and/or the carpet on the passenger side front will be damp or wet besides the sweet smell of the antifreeze inside the passenger compartment.
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