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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 03-27-2013, 02:06 PM   #1
Nateweav
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Pennsylvania
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My Ride: 2001 330Xi
'01 330xi Coolant rebuild

I am getting ready to start the task of a coolant system rebuild on my E46. It's an auto trans. I bought the exp. tank, upper and lower hose, new radiator, water pump with upgraded metal impeller, thermostat, coolant level sending unit, exp tank bleeder screw, coolant temp sensor, and of course BMW coolant. So, my question is did I miss anything and do you know of any tips or tricks? I am hoping Mango chimes in. Also, can I vacuum the system down to refill it?
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Old 03-27-2013, 02:22 PM   #2
SamDoe1
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That should be more than enough. Did you get a new expansion tank cap? If not, you'll need one of those.

What do you mean vacuum the system down?
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Old 03-27-2013, 02:42 PM   #3
Nateweav
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I bought the kit from www.bavauto.com I guess I assumed the tank would come with a cap. That will be here tomorrow. Better check on that. I have a tool that sits inside the rad and when u hook the air hose to it it blows across the rubber stop sucking the air out of the entire system. It's a handy tool for checking for leaks before you lose coolant on the floor. If the vacuum doesn't hold. Once the vac holds u put the hose in the coolant and it sucks the new stuff right into the block and rad.Here is a youtube vid on the process.
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Old 03-27-2013, 02:58 PM   #4
SamDoe1
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You can bleed your system without that thing. Just turn your car to the ON, (but don't turn the engine over) position, set fan to low, set temp to high, and open the bleed screw. As soon as you open the screw, it'll start filling the system with whatever fluid is in the reservoir so make sure you keep filling the tank as it gets consumed. When you see fluid coming out of the bleed screw, your system is bled and you should top off the tank and seal it all up.
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Old 03-27-2013, 03:02 PM   #5
Nateweav
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Ok. Thanks!
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:11 PM   #6
Kubica
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Belts and pulleys.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:03 PM   #7
Nateweav
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubica View Post
Belts and pulleys.
Prolly not going to do pulleys. I've been working on cars for nearly 20 years. Don't see any benefit to replacing good pulleys for no reason. Unless u can give me a reason to replace them. My local parts store has the belts.
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:59 PM   #8
White_Knuckles
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There is a second, lower thermostat in the Steptronic autos that hides in the lower E-tank coupling. That sucker is easy to damage when the tank releases from the assembly. Mine shattered from the tank finally separating while using a bottle-jack to force it upward. Of course I didn't have one and was glad the dealer was open that day.

Lessons learned: Support the E-tank lower bracket when yanking, prying or jacking or the bracket may snap. Use a hair dryer to heat up and soften the plastic hose couplings to remove the existing and install the new fittings. A small dab of vasiline or silicone grease smeared on the O-rings helps assembly. Make sure you get the bleeding procedure down before attempting. I had to bleed a couple of times to clear all the air from the system. They call these "quick" release hose fittings. That is a bold trick. They are not quick by any means and may test your patience. Apply heat and they will comply!

Edit: here's a good reason to replace the water pump pulley. They're composite plastic and over time they often become brittle. When you torque them down they're known to crack. I found an aluminum flavor for around $20. As not removing the others, I didn't replace them at that time. I did install new belts "while you're in there" concept. You may need the fan removal tools (slim long wrench and pump rotation holding tool). Got my set off Ebay for $25 and glad I had it. The fan is hard to break free if it's original. When you pull the fan off, store it upright against the wall or something. They are viscous clutched and laying them down is reported to be bad for them.

Vacuum the system down? You're on your own with that one.
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Last edited by White_Knuckles; 03-27-2013 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:30 AM   #9
Nateweav
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Quote:
Originally Posted by White_Knuckles View Post
There is a second, lower thermostat in the Steptronic autos that hides in the lower E-tank coupling. That sucker is easy to damage when the tank releases from the assembly. Mine shattered from the tank finally separating while using a bottle-jack to force it upward. Of course I didn't have one and was glad the dealer was open that day.

Lessons learned: Support the E-tank lower bracket when yanking, prying or jacking or the bracket may snap. Use a hair dryer to heat up and soften the plastic hose couplings to remove the existing and install the new fittings. A small dab of vasiline or silicone grease smeared on the O-rings helps assembly. Make sure you get the bleeding procedure down before attempting. I had to bleed a couple of times to clear all the air from the system. They call these "quick" release hose fittings. That is a bold trick. They are not quick by any means and may test your patience. Apply heat and they will comply!

Edit: here's a good reason to replace the water pump pulley. They're composite plastic and over time they often become brittle. When you torque them down they're known to crack. I found an aluminum flavor for around $20. As not removing the others, I didn't replace them at that time. I did install new belts "while you're in there" concept. You may need the fan removal tools (slim long wrench and pump rotation holding tool). Got my set off Ebay for $25 and glad I had it. The fan is hard to break free if it's original. When you pull the fan off, store it upright against the wall or something. They are viscous clutched and laying them down is reported to be bad for them.

Vacuum the system down? You're on your own with that one.
Good tips to have! Thanks! I will definitely heat up the hoses and tank. Now, I hope I don't break anything. Vacuuming the system down should eliminate any air pockets. Every other vehicle I have ever worked on I have used it and have never had a problem with air pockets or having to revisit the coolant. I was hoping someone could tell me it was ok to do, I don't want to screw any components up doing it. As far as the fan tool, I am pretty sure I have a snap-on tool that will fit it. If I don't, the machine shop next door to the garage can make one for me. Also, I read that the block should be drained. Do you recommend this, or can I skip it? I've done lots of water pumps on foreign and domestics and never had to drain the block. (Unless theer is a contamination issue... i.e. metal, rust.)
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Old 03-28-2013, 10:04 PM   #10
White_Knuckles
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Block drain is to remove as much as possible contaminated, old coolant. The effort isn't that bad and makes for a new, fresh system. Diluting old coolant by adding fresh of course can be done but I don't recommend it. The entire coolant should be flushed every 3 years or so. If you have no history how old it is, just do it. See post #5 in this thread link. It works without all the wrench extension/swivel drama.

http://www.e46fanatics.com/forum/sho...d.php?t=871538
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:10 PM   #11
E46@46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nateweav View Post
Prolly not going to do pulleys. I've been working on cars for nearly 20 years. Don't see any benefit to replacing good pulleys for no reason. Unless u can give me a reason to replace them. My local parts store has the belts.
The pulleys are plastic, when replacing my WP it was impossible for me to get off without cracking the plastic pulley. I bought a aluminum replacement. At least be ready with one or you may have to go to the dealer during the middle of the job. Good luck. I did all this a few months back and the trouble I had was getting the fan nut off. Also when I put the Auto Trans cooler back on, I didn't do it right and most of the brand new coolant leaked out the next day coming home from work.
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:35 PM   #12
Nateweav
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Well the job is done. Pretty simple. Took me about 3 hours on the lift. I didn't replace the pulleys, the wp pulley come off really easy. I didn't drain the block either, the coolant was clean. I struggled with the over flow tank for a few minutes. Then I got a long pry bar and a hammer. It tapped right up and off without any struggles at all. The biggest help was a little lube on the seals as I put it back together. I suggest using silicone or some other kind of o-ring safe lube. Lastly I vacuumed the system down with a snap-on Radkitplus. Worked like a charm. It held 28 hg. Thanks to all for the helpful insights and tips.
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:37 PM   #13
Nateweav
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One more thing, the fan nut on my auto is left hand thread and I used a 1-1/4" open end wrench and a fan removal tool to secure the pulley as I wrenched on it.
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