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View Full Version : BMW-approved coolant?? (URGENT)


TD
10-28-2002, 06:46 AM
My OBC flashed at me this morning to "Check Coolant Level - See Owners Manual".

Before anyone mentions it, YES, I have the Owners Manual in front of me as I'm typing this...

And it is very vague as to the specs for coolant. All it says is "never use anything other than factory-approved nitrite and amino-free long-term antifreeze and corrosion protectant"

Um, okay. But what is approved? Anything that could be found at an auto parts store? Or will I have to go to a dealer?

in_d_haus
10-28-2002, 07:12 AM
I don't know for sure but I'd guess the only anti freeze BMW approves is their own. FWIW I've been using the big name brands in my '90 525 for years and it's working great.

JPinTO
10-28-2002, 07:30 AM
Bmw recommends BMW coolant. I remember a source (Bimmer mag, Bentleys??) saying to just stick with the OEM coolant.

teamdfl
10-28-2002, 07:35 AM
BMW uses the pink long-life stuff like most other European manufacturers. Get a gallon from the dealer if you can. If you are really in a bind and the car only needs a little fluid, just add water for now until you can get your hands on the proper stuff.



Ed

TD
10-28-2002, 07:38 AM
Huh. I just called BMW of Sterling (the closest BMW dealer to my office) and they said...

"Well, BMW, of course, wants you to use their BMW-branded coolant but, really, as long as you use one of the high-end national brand coolants, you'll be fine. Just don't cheap out."

Alrighty then...

Jetfire
10-28-2002, 07:49 AM
Originally posted by TD
Huh. I just called BMW of Sterling (the closest BMW dealer to my office) and they said...

"Well, BMW, of course, wants you to use their BMW-branded coolant but, really, as long as you use one of the high-end national brand coolants, you'll be fine. Just don't cheap out."

Alrighty then...

Hey TD, what color is your coolant? Someone else in this thread said that BMW uses the pink long-life stuff, but I swear my reservoir doesn't have pink fluid in it. :eeps: I'm hoping this is either a recent switch...

JST
10-28-2002, 07:55 AM
Originally posted by Jetfire


Hey TD, what color is your coolant? Someone else in this thread said that BMW uses the pink long-life stuff, but I swear my reservoir doesn't have pink fluid in it. :eeps: I'm hoping this is either a recent switch...

If they switched, it's recent. The BMW coolant that I bought for my 2000 323 in 2001 was blue, and it's the same stuff that's in my 98 M3.

Mine also was missing coolant a couple of weeks back. Maybe it's the coolant gnomes?

TD, search the Org or bimmerforums for answers on this. There is a very specific substance, the name of which escapes me (sulfites? that's wine, I think), that you need to make sure is not in the coolant you buy.

TD
10-28-2002, 07:58 AM
Originally posted by JST


If they switched, it's recent. The BMW coolant that I bought for my 2000 323 in 2001 was blue, and it's the same stuff that's in my 98 M3.

Mine also was missing coolant a couple of weeks back. Maybe it's the coolant gnomes?

TD, search the Org or bimmerforums for answers on this. There is a very specific substance, the name of which escapes me (sulfites? that's wine, I think), that you need to make sure is not in the coolant you buy.

See my original post where I quote the owners manual. I think nitrite is what you're thinking of.

And mine is NOT pink either (although it's hard to tell exactly). The OBC lit up as I started the car to go to work. I peeked in and decided to worry about it tonight. I watched the temp gauge and it never moved past the midpoint. I'll buy some coolant on the way home tonight and top it off when I get home.

CD-55
10-28-2002, 08:04 AM
Be sure to use de-ionized (distilled) water. Chlorine and minerals found in tap water are corrosive.

TD
10-28-2002, 08:30 AM
Originally posted by DougDogs


Don't use spring water either. Funny thing, I saw a gallon of distilled water for sale in a car parts store for 3.99 a gallon. I saw the exact same bottle in a supermarket (for use in steam irons) for 1.39 a gallon:dunno: :dunno: exact same stuff.

Don't buy it in an autoparts store:thumbdwn: go to supermarket, look in the cleaning supplies isle.:thumbup:

We have purified water delivered to our house in 5 gallon bottles for use on our water cooler. Purified, de-ionized, etc, etc... but NOT spring water. I planned on using that.

LilEccentricJ
10-28-2002, 08:59 AM
Just food for thought and regrettably from past failure…

Back when they threw 1000 lbs of steel under a hood and called it an engine, you could dump water and any anti-freeze you wanted and never saw ill effects. But as they went to bi-metal engines, whether steel block/aluminum heads or vise versa, they had to also change the coolant to a formulation that did not promote electrolysis. It would appear that as the fluid moved across the transition from steel to aluminum, an electrolysis effect would erode the joint to the point where it would just become a hole, In my case, the metal heater line just eroded off the engine block… something that was not very fixable without welding.

In my case, this was a GM product and though I did use their coolant, they also sell tablets to counter the effect which I was unaware of. 2 years later the heater line fell off and there were other signs of damage including the need for a re-core on the radiator.

Anyway, I’m sure topping off is fine with most any product. I actually bought a gallon of BMW fluid to top off with. But anyone flushing the whole system.. beware. Buy the BMW stuff.

RKT BMR
10-28-2002, 05:37 PM
Originally posted by LilEccentricJ
But as they went to bi-metal engines, whether steel block/aluminum heads or vise versa, they had to also change the coolant to a formulation that did not promote electrolysis. It would appear that as the fluid moved across the transition from steel to aluminum, an electrolysis effect would erode the joint...
BINGO!

It's not actually due to the fluid moving past the interface, but rather the presence of the fluid in contact with two dissimilar metals. If the fluid contains any ions at all, it will act as an electrolyte, and basically turn the bimetal/coolant combination into a battery. The electrochemical processes involved will then result in depositing of whatever ion molecule is dissolved in the coolant on one of the metal surfaces, while corroding away atoms from the other surface as they go in to solution.

For boaters out there this is the exact same process that takes place on a boat hull, and the reason for the sacrificial anode (cathode?) that is attached to any metal boat hull. In the case of a boat, it is mainly dissolved salt that provides the ions (Na+ and Cl-) for charge transport.

Bottom line: Don't be casual about coolant -- you could cause some expensive problems years down the road. Best to buy a gallon of BMW juice next time you're near the dealer, pick up a bottle of distilled water at the grocery store, and leave it in your garage. VERY cheap insurance.

I even went so far as to make the 50/50 mix, and store it in the original BMW coolant bottle and the distilled water bottle --ready to go when I need it.