exploding radiator [Archive] - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

: exploding radiator

04-29-2008, 12:26 AM
I was browsing through some of the earlier posts and i couldn't find anything that sounded like my problem. Basically i was pulling out of a parking spot this evening and i heard loud cranking noise so i pull over thinking that I ran over something, but there was nothing there. I noticed coolant leaking and bits of the fan lying on the road behind me. I'm hoping that this is just a radiator issue and that I did not hurt my car more by driving it home (about 1.5 miles). The check engine light did not come on and the temperature did not rise during the drive home. Is it safe to drive the car to a local shop or should I get it towed to be safe? any reason why the fan broke the radiator like that? Anybody know a good reliable shop in Los Angeles?


04-29-2008, 05:22 AM
tow it....the radiator is the achilles heel of the E36 M3.

04-30-2008, 02:17 AM
Tow. If the coolant level drops, the temp sensor can be in air, not coolant and be giving you a false reding.

Let me guess, about 110,000 - 125,000 miles on teh car?

Known problem, check the sticky at the top of the E36 M3 page for known problems.

04-30-2008, 10:02 AM
My car has been leaking 2/3rds of the coolant overflow every week. Should I go get a new radiator?

04-30-2008, 01:28 PM
you need to figure out where it is going before throwing parts at the problem. first suspect is the thermostat housing,

05-01-2008, 02:34 AM
Water pump or thermostat housing are my first two guesses.

Radiator is normally catostrophic with lots of steam and hot coolant spraying everywhere.

05-03-2008, 12:01 PM
I would also check the radiator seam where the aluminum is crimped to the plastic. I have changed so many of these on E36's I have lost count but clearly replacing the radiator, t-stat houseing, t-stat, water pump, hoses and belts will provide peace of mind for 70K miles.
As was said for the OP you need to have the car towed and talk to the tech doing the work. If he suggests replacing all the items I mentioned above he is not trying to take advantage he is trying to get you a car that will last.
Throwing a fan blade does happen once in a while and yes it usually punches a hole in the rad.

As was mentioned locate where the coolant is going and for your sake I hope it is physically leaking out someplace and not a head gasket. As mentioned above once the leak is located and depending upon the miles you have on your ride decide what to replace. Really smart in the long run to replace all the usual suspects meaning t-stat, t-stat housing, water pump, radiator and if your hoses are old like over 100K and 10 years old replace them as well. Belts also if they are old...

05-03-2008, 09:11 PM
I'm thinking that it might be leaking from one of the hoses that link into the radiator. Is that common or anything?

05-03-2008, 10:00 PM
I was loosing coolant slowly and it ended up being the crush washer for the drain plug on the block. It was easy to see (maybe because I have no heat shield, fix-it item #8,000).

06-02-2008, 02:36 PM
Early 95's have a tendency to leek at the top where the hose connects to the radiator in my experiance. When it happed to me i was like wtf where is all my fluid going? Then the thing just blew off on the highway. tale a look on the underside of that connection. Same thing happend to my buddies car too.

OP- i have herd that the fan can shred your rad because your engen mounts are old and have settled as well. I have seen wierder stuff happen

06-15-2008, 06:28 PM
I have a 99 M3 iwith 125k miles and blew the top radiator hose off the radiator neck when the car overheated few weeks ago on a long trip. The stealer...I mean dealer told me the neck of the radiator was cracked when the hose blew off and the cause of the problem was either the thermostat or water pump all of which are known problems in E36 M3s.

To be on the safe side I had them install a new radiator, expansion tank, water pump, thermostat and housing, belts, hoses and radiator fan. It cost me $1,800 parts and labor which was a tough pill to swallow but the cooling systems on e36 M3s don't last much past 75k or 100k miles.

If you have 100k miles or more on your M and haven't upgraded the entire cooling system including the radiator fan chances are you will be stuck doing it piece by piece as the car breaks down at inconvenient times or you can bite the bullet and upgrade everything at the same time.