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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 06-13-2013, 02:21 PM   #1
yetieater
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Lightbulb BMW E46 Cooling System: Improving on Expansion Tank and More

Without a doubt, the biggest pain in the ass in our cooling systems is the plastic expansion tank, which is fickle as a motherf*cker.

I'm starting this thread with the intention of finding a solution to improve on the cooling system after my car decided to take a dump on me. Specifically, let's catalogue the ready made solutions that are available on the market to address this weak link.

I am happy to go into a history of my own cooling system if anyone wants to read it. It's really a typical user story. Plastic breaks. Idler pulley seizes, belts take out a hose in their final good bye. Sob stories galore.

I will be using suggestions gleaned from this thread to bring my machine back to fighting condition.

Mango has already written up an excellent thread that details the parts required to do an overhaul of the cooling system, but we're looking to make this system better.

Undoubtedly, some of you will point to the water pump as another weak link in the cooling system. I'm not saying that it isn't, but many of us have found that the OE water pump holds up for at least 60,000 miles.

Some discussion points to kick us off..

- German Auto Solutions (GAS) has produced a 1.2 bar coolant cap for BMW E46, which they claim will improve on the reliability of the cooling system
- Zionsville Autosport has produced an aluminum radiator for BMW E46 that integrates the expansion tank as a one-piece design. Supposed plug and play fitment, though it comes with a $1,564.00 price tag

Discuss.
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Old 06-13-2013, 02:27 PM   #2
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Thanks for the support. But objectively, this thread blows. Maintain your car and worry about more important things in life. The system does the job when serviced. Nothing to discuss.
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Old 06-13-2013, 02:34 PM   #3
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The system does the job when serviced.
+1
The system does the job for those of us in the know who service it properly.
If there was an easy to obtain improved component, I'd jump. But nothing attractive out there currently from my perspective.


PS--please point out the place where it is explained that the Al radiator integrates an ET option?

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Old 06-13-2013, 02:50 PM   #4
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Directions as to how to properly maintanin the cooling system? Links, threads?
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Old 06-13-2013, 02:52 PM   #5
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Directions as to how to properly maintanin the cooling system? Links, threads?
Just click on Mango's --Cooling-- under his pic..
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Old 06-13-2013, 03:12 PM   #6
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My first ET lasted 2 years...when I replaced mine 9 years later, I found the date stamp from 2 years after manufacture.

I don't think the ET is the weak link...I think it's the owner, overfilling it. I did mine entirely 70K miles ago, but I do have a spare WP in the garage!
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Old 06-13-2013, 03:47 PM   #7
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Thanks for the support. But objectively, this thread blows. Maintain your car and worry about more important things in life. The system does the job when serviced. Nothing to discuss.
I was worried that this would happen.

ET and hoses replaced less than three years ago. Average 10k miles per year.

Last night the ET failed on me.

Coolant changes done as prescribed. Water pump is still kicking.

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Old 06-13-2013, 03:57 PM   #8
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My car will be someone else's problem in 60,000 miles, from which I understand, is the expected life of the cooling system.
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Old 06-13-2013, 04:04 PM   #9
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BMW E46 Cooling System: Improving on Expansion Tank and More

Hey guys I've tried this seems to work. Aluminum et from jegs 150 bucks for a v8 doesn't really matter. Some fab required cut hoses on one end use hose clamps fill and bleed buy squeezing hoses because there is no bleed screw. Problem solved waiting for something else to brake. Buy the way aluminum radiator 199 jegs you need to fit hoses a few trips to autozone. 350 total.


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Old 06-13-2013, 04:11 PM   #10
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BMW E46 Cooling System: Improving on Expansion Tank and More

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Hey guys I've tried this seems to work. Aluminum et from jegs 150 bucks for a v8 doesn't really matter. Some fab required cut hoses on one end use hose clamps fill and bleed buy squeezing hoses because there is no bleed screw. Problem solved waiting for something else to brake. Buy the way aluminum radiator 199 jegs you need to fit hoses a few trips to autozone. 350 total.


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Old 06-13-2013, 04:12 PM   #11
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BMW E46 Cooling System: Improving on Expansion Tank and More

Oh if you get the aluminum radiator you can delete et all together just get cap on right side where et was. Plus custom hoses


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Old 06-13-2013, 06:32 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Stinger9 View Post
The system does the job for those of us in the know who service it properly.
If there was an easy to obtain improved component, I'd jump. But nothing attractive out there currently from my perspective.


PS--please point out the place where it is explained that the Al radiator integrates an ET option?
Linked to the wrong aluminum radiator. Correct link now in 1st post.

Reading up on 1.2 bar expansion tank cap now. Interesting references..
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1985785
http://www.stewartcomponents.com/tec...ech_Tips_2.htm
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:08 PM   #13
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BMW E46 Cooling System: Improving on Expansion Tank and More

The aluminum radiator with built in ET looks interesting. Hefty price tag but if it works and if you plan on keeping the car for years it may be worth it. I would love to hear a review by someone that has had this installed for a while.


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Old 06-13-2013, 07:43 PM   #14
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Linked to the wrong aluminum radiator. Correct link now in 1st post.

Reading up on 1.2 bar expansion tank cap now. Interesting references.
I'm running the 1.2 bar ET cap myself right now. Will be interesting to monitor the temp with OBC over the summer. So far I run a pretty steady 95C, unlike what appears in the dire urging to purchase the all Al dynasty model.
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:47 PM   #15
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The aluminum radiator with built in ET looks interesting. Hefty price tag but if it works and if you plan on keeping the car for years it may be worth it. I would love to hear a review by someone that has had this installed for a while.
Do the math again for our ten year old cars. Doubtful it's a good move to get this super expensive unit. Perhaps when our cars were young it might have paid off. Considering our new rads are under $150 and easy to swap in a new one! And they work fine. They just don't last forever.

I'll not hold my breath for a review. I'd bet against anyone reading this will be an owner of this esoteric piece.
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Old 06-13-2013, 07:59 PM   #16
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Don't hit it, don't overfill it, don't change it.

190000kms and 10 years old, just checked my coolant level today, haven't lost a drop.
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:02 PM   #17
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BMW E46 Cooling System: Improving on Expansion Tank and More

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Originally Posted by Stinger9 View Post
Do the math again for our ten year old cars. Doubtful it's a good move to get this super expensive unit. Perhaps when our cars were young it might have paid off. Considering our new rads are under $150 and easy to swap in a new one! And they work fine. They just don't last forever.

I'll not hold my breath for a review. I'd bet against anyone reading this will be an owner of this esoteric piece.
I somewhat agree with you but considering the damage and high repair costs that can and does occur during a failure this purchase would be alot like buying insurance. You may not ever get to cash in but its there protecting you if you need it. Some of us drive our cars very little and plan on keeping them for years. I have other vehicles that I drive but the e46 is and hopefully will be for a long time in the rotation. So for someone like me this is an interesting product. My e46 will see around 5,000 miles a year and no winter driving. Now for someone that has over 100k miles on their car and will drive it into the ground in the next few years that is another story. The price is a little high though. If it were under $1000 I would give it a shot for sure.


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Old 06-13-2013, 08:38 PM   #18
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I somewhat agree with you but considering the damage and high repair costs that can and does occur during a failure this purchase would be alot like buying insurance.
Agree with you if you're flush and want to own an exotic piece under the hood. It is a form of insurance.
But then again those of us who change the radiator every 70K miles or so have that as another form of insurance. Very rarely does anyone PM conscious report here that their ET exploded. And even the oe rad is a slo fail, so no harm done by that typically.

One more interjection. You have to own the Al beast many years to realize the payout. But minds and things change. You may think you'll hold onto this for many more years, but might decide differently five years from now. Or your circumstances change underneath you. Happens; happened to me in many ways before. Never say never.
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Old 06-14-2013, 02:46 PM   #19
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can't assume a part will be effective or reliable simply due to the material it is constructed out of.

service the car and it will run great for years. period
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Old 06-14-2013, 06:33 PM   #20
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BMW E46 Cooling System: Improving on Expansion Tank and More

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can't assume a part will be effective or reliable simply due to the material it is constructed out of.

service the car and it will run great for years. period
Agreed. Nothing beats preventative maintenance on our cars. Doesn't hurt to listen to different options though. Obviously if there was a fix out there we would be doing it.


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