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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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Old 07-06-2005, 07:43 PM
bibi_mwewe bibi_mwewe is offline
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Location: Reno, NV
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 54
Mein Auto: 1995 325iC
stupid coolant tricks - advice?

Hello again. Just once I thought I had everything under control... Sigh...

So the dog and I hopped in the car ('95 325iC with 85K miles) to go hiking this evening, and when I started the car (which has been running like a champ since the new battery, see my previous thread) the computer warned me to check the coolant. So I did what it said, found that yes indeed the coolant was very low, and so I unloaded the dog and proceeded to make my first apparent mistake - I jumped on my bike, went to the nearest grocery store, and bought generic 50/50 coolant blend. Came home, filled 'er up, and made mistake number two - the reservoir's very opaque, so there's about an extra inch of fluid in there past the mark.

I came in to consult bimmerfest and Pelican forums while letting the coolant settle and leak if it was going to, found out how I'm not supposed to use non-BMW coolant and that this could be the sign of a very bad (i.e. expensive) problem. I went out and looked at everything agin, and I think I found the source of a leak - see attached photos. So what do y'all think, is it that big upper hose? Or is that just totally unrelated drip marks? Forgot to check my oil for milkiness, will do that soon... Oh yeah, last week when jump-starting this car, I noticed the coolant was about an inch below optimal, so it took about 5 days to get down to warning level.

So now what, should I replace that hose and clamp ASAP as well as flush out the nasty generic coolant? Can I drive it anywhere in between or is that taking a big risk? Anything else I should be looking for?

Thanks as always for any advice. Sorry if this seems very basic, but I'm a newbie at trying to do my own maintenance.

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Old 07-07-2005, 06:13 AM
my_e36 my_e36 is offline
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Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 346
Mein Auto: e36 323i coupe
How long have you had the car for? If you have no service history or don't have the hose changed ever, maybe is a good time while you're at it.

You've gotta drain all the coolant when you change the hose anyway. Do a flush as well, use dis-stilled water if you have to. Tap water have mineral that could eat into the aluminum radiator.
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Old 07-07-2005, 10:00 AM
bibi_mwewe bibi_mwewe is offline
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Location: Reno, NV
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 54
Mein Auto: 1995 325iC
I've only had this car about a month, but I have all the service records. In Jan. '03, when it was in for inspection 1, they replaced the thermostat, its housing and everything, and the water hose from the reservoir to the radiator. Haven't found anything indicating any time they messed around with the radiator or its hoses.

Well, I was just out, checked the oil and it looks normal. Tried to tighten all the hose clamps, nothing budged. The hose itself feels pliable still, no obvious issues that I can see. The 50/50 coolant I added was Prestone, supposedly safe for aluminum and claims it can be mixed with any color coolant, so I don't feel quite so bad about it being in there. No change in coolant level. I went ahead and started it, only let it run for a few minutes during which time the temperature needle didn't even leave the cold zone (still in the 60's here in Reno at this time in the AM) and I didn't see or hear anything amiss in the engine compartment.

So should I go ahead and drive it around a bit until it warms up (usually goes to halfway on the gauge) and then see how things look inside? Is the base of that upper radiator hose the spot where most BMW radiators eventually crack, and so is that a possibility instead of/in addition to the hose itself? I'm really worried about this, not just in general, but because I'd planned to drive cross-country with it next week to a family reunion, and if it's more than a hose, I'm screwed. Then again, I don't want to discover this abruptly in an inopportune spot, such as central Nevada on "the loneliest highway in America."
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Old 07-07-2005, 12:39 PM
tomas3314 tomas3314 is offline
Location: Arcadia, CA
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 54
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Mein Auto: SC 95 M3, 92 325i
I would worry more about having a plastic impeller water pump (which needs to be replaced) as well as getting an aluminum thermostat housing instead of the plastic one. I'd change the hoses and check to see if your car qualifies for the radiator cap recall (and have the dealer replace for free).

P.S. Make sure and bleed the system correctly and possible consider adding some redline water wetter!
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usA few mods too...
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Old 07-07-2005, 07:24 PM
bibi_mwewe bibi_mwewe is offline
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Location: Reno, NV
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 54
Mein Auto: 1995 325iC

Mystery solved..

So when I got home from the office, I drove it around to warm it up, then parked to check under the hood. When I was wiggling hoses around, the upper radiator hose spurted fluid and almost popped off under gentle pressure. So once it was cool enough to handle comfortably, I pulled it off completely.

I'm guessing that's the radiator neck end stuck in there? And the jagged edges on the radiator neck aren't supposed to be there? So, who on the web has a good deal on radiators that won't do this in the future?
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